Saturday, December 28, 2013

From Jonestown, With Love

Our dear friend, Paula Kissinger, created these one-of-a-kind gifts for our children this year.  Thank you so much, Paula, for your love and creativity!  These photos are for you!

From Iquique, With Love

My sister Stephanie and her family are missionaries in Iquique, Chile.  They sent back some gifts with our parents after their trip to Chile in November.  Thanks, Garcia family, for thinking of us!  These photos are for you!

Christmas 2013, Part 3

Dave says his favorite part of Christmas morning is watching the kids open their stockings.  I hate wrapping those little gifts, but the joy of seeing the kids dig in and find their little gems is worth the hours of labor.  :)

This year Sophia sort of got the idea of opening gifts...after she chucked a few across the room, that is.  Overall, however, she did seem to remember what we do on Christmas morning, and wasn't quite so overwhelmed as the last couple of years.  Hard to believe this was her third Christmas with us already!

One of our children was missing again this year.  This is Jonathan's second year in a residential treatment facility over Christmas.  Dave and I were able to visit with him the Saturday before Christmas and give him a couple of gifts.  We continue to pray that God will heal his mind and heart and that someday, he will be able to enjoy Christmas with the family again.

Christmas 2013, Part 2

One of our annual traditions is the opening of one gift on Christmas Christmas pajamas.  And, of course, the requisite photo must be taken in the pajamas in front of the tree.  This year I didn't try to be matchy-matchy with everyone, much to Sabastian's relief.  And, of course, I couldn't get all of them looking in one direction, either, so thus, two photos to share with you.  Sigh.  Maybe one of these Christmases...

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013, Part 1

It's hard to believe that we are at the end of 2013 already!  I have been a neglectful blogger this year...but I have plans for this blog in the new year, so stay tuned!

This Christmas was a blessed one, yet again.  For the second year in a row Dave is unemployed at the end of the year, yet we have seen God's grace so clearly and freely given to us.  Every gift under our tree was given to us by a friend, family member, or total stranger this year.  I bought the items that filled their stockings, as is our tradition, but the gifts were blessings from God given through others.  As I mentioned on Facebook on Christmas day, the lessons learned through our times of unemployment could not have been learned any other way, and the blessings from those lessons are worth more then any job.  Praise the Lord!  God has been working in our lives in very specific ways this year (which is a blog post unto itself!) and we are so thankful!

One of our special friends is Nancy.  We met at church and she just adopted our family as her own.  She has been such a blessing to us in so many ways.  When Nathaniel said he wanted to make cut out cookies and gingerbread men this Christmas, I knew Nancy, as a former home economics teacher, would love to help us out.  We enjoyed a fun morning together, and Nathaniel was in his glory.  We might have a future chef on our hands!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Mid-Summer (Almost!) Post

In four days, this handsome young man and I will be boarding an airplane bound for Santiago, Chile, Lord willing.  If you were to ask me about my summer agenda a couple of months ago, my answer would not have included a trip to South America, but God had other plans.  Thanks to the prayers and generosity of many friends and family, God provided for Benjamin and me to take this trip in order to serve the Lord in various ways, including in service teaching at my high school alma mater, Santiago Christian Academy.  It is Benjamin's first time in an airplane, and he is excited to be spending time with his cousins in Chile.  It is really the highlight of his summer vacation, but he has also enjoyed swimming in our little backyard pool and studying the various species of ants in our yard.

This young man just returned from a week of camp at Camp Conquest in Lancaster County.  He has been attending camp there since he was in second or third grade, and this was his last opportunity to be a camper, due to his age.  He has worked a lot this summer in a variety of jobs, and has graciously taken his dear old parents on "dates" to the movies with his earnings.  While I'm in Chile, he will be attending a basketball camp at Messiah College and helping his grandparents care for his younger two siblings.  I think all in all, it's been a good summer thus far for Sabastian!

Nathaniel has another hole in his head, as he lost his second tooth just last week!  He is enjoying his backyard swimming pool, too, and has learned to hold his breath under water and swim around with his goggles on.  I'm going to miss this little guy while I'm in Chile, as he tells me several times a day, "I love you, Mommy."  We are working on writing his loooong name and reviewing his letters and sounds in anticipation of kindergarten at our home school in the fall.

And then there's Sophia.  Home for two years earlier this summer, she is growing and maturing, albeit at her own sweet pace!  Hopefully she will be as excited as this when she realizes she is spending almost three weeks at her grandparents' home beginning this Tuesday!  She amuses herself in a variety of ways during the day, but truly loves to be out and about with the family.  She is much more interested at being outside these days, and we have to watch that she doesn't run out into the road before she gets into the house after disembarking the van!  She certainly keeps us on our toes!

And as for my sweet hubby, he will be holding down the fort and working hard to meet the needs of our family.  His job is going well, but is very physically demanding, especially in the heat we've been having.  I'm very thankful for Dave and his commitment to me and the kids.  Lord willing, he will be visiting our oldest son, Jonathan, while I'm away.  It will be the first time Jonathan has sat down and talked with one of us face to face in almost a year.  It will be good for both of them.

Many thanks to my dear friend and sister in Christ, Naomi Atkins, for taking these lovely photos of our family earlier this summer.  You can find her and her partner's work on Facebook or their blog.  We highly recommend them!  Happy rest of the summer to all!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Our 2013 Summer Bucket List

Our last day of home schooling for the year, and Sabastian's last day of school, was Friday.  So, Monday was our official first day of summer vacation!  To celebrate, we made our Summer Bucket List of activities that we would like to try and do during the course of the summer.  I found the idea at this site and we printed the list and got to work choosing our summer fun.  We actually checked off most of the ideas on the list, and then added a few of our own.  Monday evening we went to the store and picked up a few cheap items to help us accomplish some items on our list, like water guns, a small pool, and a few pool noodles (the latter of which is not for what you might think!).

On Tuesday, we were able to check off swimming (in our little kiddie pool, but who cares?) and water guns.  I'm sure they will actually be almost daily occurrences when the weather cooperates.  On Wednesday, we checked off strawberry picking and play date with friends at the park.  We have been super blessed with wonderfully cool weather for summer the last couple of days, which made it very nice to be outside.  Here are some photos from our adventures!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

First Kiss

Today she gave me my first kiss...ever...almost two years after we became mother and daughter.  It came as many of her "firsts" have...suddenly, unexpectedly, blink and you miss it.  It gave me hope for other "firsts" we have yet to see and hear.  Interestingly, she kissed my cheek while holding the little white dress her foster mother had her dressed in the day she became ours forever. Makes me wonder what she remembers...hopefully someday she will be able to tell me...another "first".  But today, she gave me my first kiss.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

In Memoriam...Rushing Russia

Last night a beloved member of our family passed away.  Russia (a Russian hamster...thus the name!) was a part of our family for almost two years.  Russia "belonged" to Benjamin; she was his first real pet, aside from our family cats.  She was a spur of the moment purchase one evening as Benjamin and I were perusing Pet Smart, as she reminded me of my beloved childhood hamster, Hammy.  She was an albino, just like he was, and, like Hammy, she loved to climb the walls of her cage and try to cross the top upside down.  She earned her nickname, "Rushing Russia", because she loved to run on her wheel--and run through the house on her myriad escapee adventures!  She lived to the average age of hamsters, and in people years, was over 70 years old.  (That last piece of information, garnered from the internet, really seemed to put her death into perspective for Benjamin.)  We all loved little Russia, and she will be greatly missed.

Rest in peace, Rushing Russia!

You can read more about Russia on Benjamin's blog, where he wrote several posts about his special pet:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Happy 8th Birthday, Benjamin!

Dear Benjamin,

Today, on your 8th birthday, I wanted to tell you how special you are and how much you are loved.  You were our first miracle baby, a total surprise after we were told by many doctors that we would be unable to have biological children.  Every day you amaze us with your ingenuity, creativity, sincerity, and compassion for others.  Daddy and I pray that you will never lose that boyish enthusiasm for life or the compassionate servant's heart that God has given you.  Your goals for life right now include building churches around the world for missionaries to be able to share about Jesus, and building cities so that everyone can have a home to live in that is inexpensive to maintain.  You want everyone to have enough food and shelter.  Your heart amazes me.  I can't wait to see what God's plans for your life include!  I love that you still want to snuggle with your mama, and every once and awhile, you still pick up that dingy white favorite blankie and take it to bed with you.  You love your brothers and sister, and you enjoy helping around the house, especially with the laundry.  And you always remind me when I forget to give you your $2 allowance!  You enjoy ink pen drawing (you are constantly designing new cities!) and playing your weekend video game time.  But your most favorite activity would be building things, and this year, we hope to help you do more of that!

You are a special young man, and I love you so much.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, Benjamin, and He will direct your paths!