Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!

We hope you are overwhelmed in a new way by the meaning of Christmas this year. We look forward in anticipation to see God work in 2010.




Merry Christmas!

Love,

TJ, Lindz, Ben and Collin

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Joy Joy Joy!!!

Here is a REALLY encouraging post from a fave blog I have mentioned before called "(In)Courage"

It's about JOY! I loved it and thought I would share it with you!

You can read it here!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Not Me! Monday

Here we go again! Better late than never, right?!?!?! I looooove starting out my week with a good laugh, and what better way to do that then to share with all of you of what a "perfect" mother I've been and what I HAVE NOT been up to this week......

Not Me! Monday is a blog carnival started by the one and only MckMama where we all gather together to share about how UNperfect we are in a creative way. Link up to MckMama's blog and see what other moms have NOT been up to this week......

Like me, I'm sure all of you have shopped for clothing, scheduled a photographer way in advance, and had haircuts and coloring done in a perfect timed schedule for your holiday cards this year......

That is why I certainly did NOT take my kids out in -10 weather to shoot our family's happy-smiley-putonyourbestchurchoutfit-Christmas card this year. And, because their health IS my top priority, I certainly did NOT rip their coats off, with them screaming and a-hollerin' saying "we WILL have our Winter Wonderland shot this year".......

The picture will be cute......because I certainly did NOT dance like a drunken reindeer behind the photographer at Santa's Village to get the kids to laugh...NOT ME!!! I am always composed, serious, and always prefer the 1900's style picture where NO ONE can smile......

Also, because of my ahead of time planning, AND because I am so romantic like that....I certainly did NOT go to bed this week dressed as if I was about to shovel the driveway......I have all of my flannel jammies bought, washed and ready to wear before bedtime....

That is why I did NOT wear, wool socks, long johns, pajama pants, 3 shirts, gloves and a hat to bed this week......this always feels WAY more romantic to me....I wonder how my hubby feels.....



Want to join in the fun!?!?!?! C'mon! Don't be a chicken! Link up to MckMama's site and read what others have NOT been up to either!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Crazy Love baby!

So, my hubby and I are doing a small group in our home starting the end of January for couples in our community to study the book "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. I am so so so excited about this because we are going to get our group out and serving the community of Fargo. I love doing small groups but what excites me more is when we can get out and serve together. Have you read this book? I LOVE IT! Here is a clip all about the study.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Overhaul

...my blog will be going through some changes in the near future...I apologize if it looks a-muck!!!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Orphan care through sponsorship

I'm sure you are familiar with the many commercials you have seen that show pictures of babies all over the world who are starving, who are becoming blind as a result of the saliva that is spit into their eyes from flies who infest them and are drinking water from pit latrines because they simply do not have the resources for any other choice. . . or worse.



Commercials like these are easy for us to flip the channel to and pretend we didn't see it, because we think "why is it my problem". Don't worry, I've been there before.

When I travelled to Africa for the first time in 2002, I was swept off my feet by the most precious girl, named Priscillah. She is more like a daughter to me now than a random child overseas. She and I have dialogued over the phone and through letters. It's a relationship only God could have made. "Precious" only begins to describe her life.



Rialee found her child to sponsor through the Children's HopeChest weekend we hosted last weekend. Rialee met Mary Charity last April, not thinking sponsorship at the time. We found Mary Charity's photo amongst the hundreds of sponsor-needing kids lined up on her studio walls and then she tracked her personal photos of the trip. Check out today's exciting blog post here. Amazing story. Sponsorship is just one of the ways you can give back to children around the world.

You've been cordially invited to break your heart is another story to read to see how one woman's heart was shattered when she met her sponsored child.

Sponsorship is more about writing a check every month.

It changes lives.

Imagine yourself and a mother or father who has to watch your son or daughter starve because you do not have the food to give to him/her to keep them nurished. Consider Children's HopeChest or Mattaw Children's Village as 2 vessels to pursue in child sponsorship.

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Not Me" Monday

Not Me! Monday is a blog carnival started by MckMama, for all of us mothers to safely confess all of our imperfections we have at home, behind closed doors. Check out MckMama's site to see other bloggers who are just as perfect as all of us are.

Typically, I am a very well-rounded, organized person. I have things in neat order around my home, always know where my cell phone, work documents and my car keys are in the event of a work emergency.

That is why I certainly did NOT call my husband frantically last week at 9:30pm when I was getting off work and found that the car ignition was in LOCK and the car wouldn't start. I certainly did NOT start screaming at him, becuase, clearly, it was his fault that the car didn't work. I SO love his $3000 commuter car he drives these days, so that is why I did NOT yell at him, reminding me what a pile of crap he drives.

No, I'm a calm, Godly, Proverbs 31 woman....yes I am.....

That is why I certainly did NOT make him rise our children out of their cozy slumber, pack them in our mini van to drive 10 miles to fix HIS commuter car......no, I am a collected, patient mom who would never ask him to do that....

That is also why I called him back, saying he didn't need to come anymore, as he was packing our screaming, tired 3 yr old in our iced-over van, because.........

.......I was using the wrong keys to try to start the commuter car.


....Because I always know where my keys are....because I'm organized like that.


Do you have a story you want to share about just how PERFECT you are too??? Link up to MckMama.com!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Giving back weekend recap!

.....

..........

I can't find the words.

.....ever been that way, when something completely takes your breath away and you have to sit and process if you were in a dream or if it really happened?

That is me in this moment right now. Speachless.

Brandi and Vince from Children's HopeChest came to Fargo this weekend (which I'm sure you know this by now) to launch our own Community Connect with Bukedea, Uganda.

Guys, this community is OURS! We had a weekend filled with sponsorships, donations, and sales of Ugandan Bead necklaces and aprons. Our total for the weekend came in just below $4000.



4,000 bucks baby. We have 60% to go to get these kiddos a sheltered kitchen so they may be fed daily.

I was completely swept off my feet in seeing the Lord work. Because of YOU and your participation, we are almost half way there! Are you still willing to spread the word about Uganda?

If you missed the weekend and are still interested in sponsorship, beaded necklaces or aprons, contact me directly. We have also started a Facebook group titled "Bukedea: Orphan Hope". Please, if you can, join this group and receive updates on what is going on towards progress for the kitchen and also about future fundraisers, open houses, and even trips to Uganda!!!

Look at this sweet Ethiopian girl, Maya, who stopped by. She couldn't get enough of these necklaces!!!!



I will have a link posted on my blog with ways to keep giving back-by purchasing necklaces or sponsoring a child so stay tuned.

Thanks to Rialee Photography, Lyz and Ilene for hosting parties and to those of you who sponsored children this weekend.

I'm speachless....I feel like words cannot bring justice to what happened this weekend. My prayer is that you do not let these kids leave your minds. Write their names on your heart and pray for them as you wear those necklaces!

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ria Lee Photography and Uganda

All I have to say is.....Ria Lee Photography rocks my world.


Check her out, here!




Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone and give back to these precious lives this weekend?

Children's HopeChest Weekend-new schedule!

CHANGES!!! CHANGES!!!!! Thank you to those of you who found me this morning and said you want to host a party on Friday! Anyone up for Thursday evening? It could be an open house style or a formal presentation!!! Up to you!

Thursday, December 3rd

-6-8pm ??? WIDE OPEN ?????

Friday, December 4th

-Total Fitness 1461 Broadway N Fargo 9-11am

-Ilene Anderson home party 2-5pm 1241 N 1st street Fargo

-Open house @ Ria Lee Photography Fargo downtown Broadway studio from 5-8pm

Saturday, December 5th

-Open House @ Liz's home Saturday 9-11am (call/email me for address)
Saturday afternoon Open House @ Ria Lee Photography downtown Broadway Fargo 1-4pm

Saturday night @ Believer's Fellowship Church starting at 6:30pm Moorhead


****************

ORIGINAL POST:

I, with my college friend Rachel Antoine have decided to rally a group of people who are interested in helping orphans in Uganda. We have been working with an organization called Children's HopeChest (CHC), who has hooked us up with a village called Bukedea in Uganda, where 256 orphans are looking for sponsors. During the first weekend in December, two representatives from CHC are coming to the Fargo-Moorhead area to host a number of sweet parties to gain sponsors and fundraise for Bukedea. The parties will include selling aprons ($25-35) and Authentic Ugandan paperbead necklaces ($10). You will also be able to see the children's faces that need sponsorship-to keep their tummies full. All proceeds from aprons and necklaces will go towards building a kitchen for these orphans. The kitchen will cost $10,000.

Bukedea is an identified orphan care point. That means it is a village of hundreds of children who have lost their parents from many reasons such as war or HIV/AIDS and the older children are responsible for raising the little ones left behind. They are starving. Currently, if a meal is provided somewhere in their area, kids will walk miles just to get to it. By building a kitchen and providing sponsorship to kids, meals could be provided at this kitchen up to twice a day!

We are looking for men and women in the Fargo-Moorhead community to sponsor and be advocates with us for these kids. If you are interested in helping build an online community to organize future fundraisers, trips to visit the kids, etc, please contact Lindsay or Rachel. If you are considering sponsoring a child from this village, we will have an on-line community with updates of the kids and Bukedea and an opportunity for us (all the sponsors) to stay connect by blogging. Sponsorship includes: 1. Praying for your child 2. Giving $34 a month 3. Writing letters and e-mails 4. Visiting!!! (this is not a requirement, just a fun possibility).

What a fun way to give back during this holiday season!

Here is the weekend line up!

Friday, December 4th open house @ Ria Lee Photography from 5-8pm

Saturday Open House @ Liz's home Saturday 9-11am call 701-552-1203 for address

Saturday afternoon @ Ria Lee Photography 1-4pm

Saturday night @ Believer's Fellowship Church starting at 6:30pm

If you are interested in hosting a party, we still have openings for Thursday evening and all day Friday.

Please email me at tlkenya@yahoo.com with questions!

Hope you can make it!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

why me!?!?!

You know guys, I have to say. I am simply overwhelmed by the response we have received from those of you who have been ignited to serve "the least of these"-both globally and locally in our community.

I have reconnected with people I haven't spoken to in years and it has absolutely humbled me to know now how God used seeds planted through me in other people's lives. I'm so thankful to hear others' stories, and read about what other people feel called to do in the ministry of orphan care.

I received 4 huge boxes of school kits, croc shoes and a monetary donation from two tiny churches just South of Fargo. Who would've known that God would stir into the hearts of those women from those churches to love on a group of kids they have never met.

THANK YOU to those of you who have poured your heart out to the children at Mattaw Children's Village.

There have been so many confirmations from people close to us and through other means that have shown TJ and I that we are exactly where we are supposed to be in this journey leading to us serving the people of Kenya. It leaves us speachless.

I have to admit, there are days that I feel like I don't want to go-WHY ME!?!?! I look at our home, our dog, celebrating Christmas with snow and decorating cookies that we have started to have become a regularity. Thoughts of leaving friends and family behind, not seeing my boys sing in school programs or play on a T-Ball team sometimes overwhelms me.

But then I think of our Savior, and all He did for us and those things quickly become very small worries. God is preparing the hearts of my kids, and I am thankful for that, because that task alone seems impossible for me, as a mom, to do.

I'm not a superwoman, nor do I have any special powers (though, I'd choose to be invisible, or to have the ability to 'beam' myself wherever I wanted if I could have my pick) but simply a woman, who is loved by God and by chance has given me the desire to care for orphans across the world.

God has orchestrated my life just so-giving me a man who shares a passion for the same ministry and two amazing kids who are very adaptable to challenging situations. I look forward to the day where we are blogging from Kenya, sharing about all that God is doing in that country and in the lives of little ones who need a place to call home.

Friday, November 13, 2009

HUGE Christmas deal!!!!

I couldn't let the weekend go by without sharing this deal with you!

Check out Michelle's blog here to get a steal of a deal for the Leap Frog TAG Junior Reading System.

She, with the help of handy dandy coupons, was able to get it for $8.99. I've got mind in hand ready to go!

And the winner is. . .

Brandi!!!!!!!!

Congrats! I hope you love them!

I was hoping to have the finalized schedule for Bukedea weekend ready to go for today. We had a huge answer to prayer this week so the schedule is going to take a bit of a tweeking to this weekend and I will post early next week.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Giveaway Wednesday!!!

Yahoo!!! I love these days! I find it so fun to share things that mean a lot to me, or things I hope you find inspiration from, that I have found to be encouraging.

Recently, my family was featured on the cover of On The Minds of Moms Magazine. The article spoke about the story about how God has given me the desire to create awareness about orphan care-both locally and globally-specifically in Africa. It also spoke about the journey our family is taking as we feel led to commit a year of our lives to serving in Kenya.

If you know me well, you know I am a classic first-born, Type A kind of a personality. I am a work in progress. Daily I ask God to humble me and remind me that I was put on this earth to be a vessel and to be His hands and feet...that this life is a gift.

The pastor that married TJ and I almost 6 years ago had a really neat way to remind him of how good God is, even in the tough moments. He called it "miracle debris". He took a stone, a stick, a remnant of SOMETHING from an area where he saw miracles and put it in his office as a visual reminder of what God did that day. Soon, he had a collection of debris from all over the United States and the World as he had seen people's lives changed.

I have found myself to be a very visual person too. I have to be shown how a problem is solved in order to understand it. I have to see music notes to play them. I have to have a power point in front of me-or a video to help me understand how something is done.

In the fall of 2008, TJ and I spent time in Kampala, Uganda. It was just for a few days, but we were flooded with video, live music, and hugged children who had been rescued from the LRA who had served as sex slaves - amongst other things for years-some of them so severely brainwashed, they, as an 8 yr old, were forced to murder their younger siblings, sometimes their parents.

It still haunts me.

Today, I am giving away one authentic Ugandan paper bead necklace. One just like the one I was wearing in the photos in On The Minds of Moms Magazine.

These beads are a visual reminder to me of the precious children living in Uganda today still suffering. It reminds me to pray for their lives, that they would be protected and know who Jesus is.

December 3-6, you will also have an opportunity to purchase these beaded necklaces for $10. We will be offering parties around town and 100% of the proceeds go towards building a kitchen for an identified care point in Bukedea, Uganda.

Here is how you can win!!!

1. Leave a comment on this post by 12am Midnight (CST) Thursday and tell me if you are Type A like me!
2. Become a public follower on my blog.
3. Follow me on Twitter and Tweet (RT) the giveaway
Please leave a comment for each of the things you do to increase your chance to win!! Please leave your twitter ID and/or link it into your comment so I can be sure!

The winner will be posted Friday!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Orphan Sunday

It only takes ONE individual to make a life-long difference in the life of a child.

That one person could be YOU.

This Sunday is Orphan Sunday.

Orphan Sunday from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.



How do YOU want to be involved?

Stay tuned. This week I will be sharing about a special weekend, happening right here in Fargo, where you CAN be involved.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fevers and headaches and _____ OH MY!

Ugh! What a week! Our family has been hit by the flu bug and it has not been a fun ride! This bug is a teaser-one day fevers will be looking as if they are clearing up and then

JUST KIDDING

it comes back, roaring it's ugly head, and fevers are spiked again. Why does it seem that night time is the worst?

Local schools are now making it mandatory that kiddos stay home minimun of 5 days if they have fever accompanied with a stomachache, fever, etc.

This week has given me plenty of time to bake goodies, make home made soups and get PLENTY of snuggle time in with my kiddos while watching their favorite movies. They are troopers.

Ben has been super disappointed when he learns that he is not able to be in school this week. Poor thing...I hope that lasts all the way through high school :)

In speaking with a good friend, whose husband is a Chiropractor, she gives her kiddos, ages 5 and 3, doses of Vitamin D. She, herself, takes an increased amount of Vitamin D and it has so far kept her healthy. Do any of you go the natural route with treating illnesses?

I hope you have had a better week than our household has!

Monday, October 19, 2009

(in) Couragement!

Gals-this site has been such an encouragement to me since it started recently. If you are not a regular reader, I encourage you to be! On days we need a pick-me-up, THIS is a great site to jump into to get a tender moment from other women who just may understand where you are coming from.

http://www.incourage.me/

Friday, October 16, 2009

A different kind of home party!

I have a cool opportunity for those of you that may be interested learning more about orphan care in Uganda and ways you can get involved by staying in your home or getting out and about!

Brandi is coming to Fargo the weekend of December 3, 4, 5 and 6 and is eager to share with you what Christ is doing in her heart and how God gave her this beautiful group of kids who need help!

The village in Uganda is called "Bukedea". There are 250 identified kids there that are literally starving. There are about 1000 orphans living in this District, just 2 hours from where our family may be living in Kenya. In this post, Brandi writes about the day they met these kids and fed them and 700 more kids came to them hungry and they had to turn them away and because they had no more food.

And they went away hungry.

I want to raise money for these voiceless kids who desperately need their tummies full. I would love your help!

What I am looking for are for people willing to host a home party (similar to what you may do with Mary Kay, Tastefully Simple, etc) in their home and invite 10 women or more and have them bring a friend. If the home parties get too big to host at your home, we may move to some other location. Brandi will be bringing THE CUTEST aprons you have ever seen and paperbead necklaces to sell as well as speak about what God is doing in Uganda. You will also have a chance to sponsor a child if you so desire.





Are any of you willing? Think Christmas gifts for your family! What a precious gift to give other women in your family as well as a cool story to share about where it came from. Or, what a precious reminder for you to pray for these kids each time you wear them. All (100%) of the proceeds from the aprons and beads go TO THE KIDDOS as part of an annual fundraiser I will head up to raise money to build bigger bridges for these kids to have access to things such as clean water, medical care and school.

If you would like to be a part of this weekend and join with me to help fundraise for these precious kids, email me or leave a comment. The more brain power, the more creativity! The sky is the limit. If you have an idea, let me know!

If you are interested in hosting a paper bead necklace/apron party that weekend, please email me at tlkenya@yahoo.com or leave a comment at the end of this post and I will get you the details.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dying to myself

I've been submerged in a Bible Study in my church for the past few weeks studying the parable Jesus gives in Luke 15 regarding the 2 brothers-one asks his father for his inheritance, spends if foolishly, and returns to his father who accepts him with a grand party to celebrate his homecoming. The second brother, always being a rule-follower, and honoring to his father, sees this homecoming and becomes bitter and greatly offended, as a party like the one thrown for his younger brother has never been thrown for himself.

I'm learning that either side-being rebellious or a rule follower leads us away from the Lord.

Huh? Did I say that right? I've always identified myself with beind a structured rule-follower. I was raised in a home where obeying rules-specifically ones that dealt with spiritual issues were very important to follow. I did go through a time in my life where I could identify with the younger brother-looking at people as a resource rather than appreciating the person. But today, I struggle with identifying with the elder brother in this parable.

So, I've been trying to wrap my head around "how could the elder brother be in the wrong"?????? It has taken me 3-4 weeks now, as well as last week's sermon to start to grasp this concept.

See, I struggle with pride, and I didn't even know it. I want to be an encourager to others. I want to serve kiddos overseas and be a mama to kids to do not have a safe home.

But why? Is it because I may look better in the eyes of God? SURELY NOT!! But I do! I have learned that I do.....

Last Sunday's sermon was all about what it means to "Die to Myself". Wow. That struck me.

Am I willing to serve others even though I may not get credit for it, or others may get credit for it but not me?

Am I willing to serve in doing menial tasks?

Do I serve because I love God? Or, because I feel like it will help God love me more???

I have learned that there is NOTHING I can do to make God love me more. God loves me for me. God desires me to serve others because I love him.

For some reason, I've "known" this but not until this week to I FULLY GET IT!

So, I completely surrender. I surrender my desires, Kenya, my rebellion, my rule-following pride and I completely want to be engulfed in adoration for God.

To bring application to this in my life, I will choose to put things away around my home as a way to serve my sons and my husband and not grip about it. I will choose to serve others in the community because I love God and I see a need, rather than boasting about it later. I will choose to form relationships with the "unlovable"-the drug addict, the woman who "doesn't fit in" at our church, the orphan across the world or my neighbor whom I have barely known but lived next door to for 4 1/2 years.

I know it will take the grace of God. But if I do not die to myself and recognize what Christ did for me, then I will be no more closer to God at the end of this earthly life I have than today. And I'm not okay with that. I want more.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Significant Moms

This was a video that was brought to me by a fellow blog I read regularly, the Nester.

It absolutely touched my heart to see this mom overcome so much, and to daily be reminded of the losses she has every day due to the tragidy she encountered last year.

May you be encouraged and reminded that as a mom, you have a purpose and a significance by simply being your children's caretaker.

http://www.oprah.com/media/20090924-tows-stephanie-struggle-crash

Tales from the Motherhood

I've recently started a new job within the agency I work for allowing me to stay at home with my kids. Wow-what an adjustment! Not to complain at all, but it has been a tish overwhelming to try to settle into a new routine.

My two boys are completely opposite in personality types. Do you find this to be the case in your family. I have the stereotypical "Type A" first born and the laid back, care-free second born child. With the ages and personality differences, there come plenty of diagreements in the activity of choice. One wants to read books and the other wants to wrestle. One wants a movie about dinosaurs and the other wants Ninja Turtles. The days are filled with lots of laughter, wrestling, cookie baking and playdoh throwing, er playing.


I have been receiving loving support from my fellow stay at home mom friends who have given me helpful advice on keeping my sanity. So, thank you to those of you who have been that for me!!!

I'm beginning to wonder if I will ever get a few minutes of uninterrupted bathroom time, if I was born to do laundry, or when someone will invent the self-cleaning toilet. There are some days I sit back and watch my household and think we could turn our lives into a sitcom. I remain thankful for what God has blessed me with. I'm sure I will miss the days of scrubbing grass stains out of their jeans, wiping up spilled chocolate milk and reading books before nap time.


....however, if anyone wants to join me for a manicure sometime, I would have no objections.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Launch party extravaganza!

OKAY! So I'm back! I took a bit of a leave of absence while my life adjusted itself a bit. I've started a new job entailing me staying at home with my kids during the day and working at night. I'm exhausted but loving the new routine and pretty soon I will have things down pat. Then we got sick and "threw up" the routine and we're back again.

I'm thankful.

Anyways, so, I have some crazy fun news to share. On the left side of my blog, I have a link for Children's Hope Chest. I've been speaking with Brandi and Rachel, a local friend of mine, and together we are getting an entire orphan care point sponsored by people like YOU. Click on the link to read more about them. I've spoke about them a bit in the past but have not been crazy-raving about them like I am about to now.

In 8 weeks, Brandi and Vince will be coming to Fargo for a huge weekend launch party December 4, 5 and 6th. We will have tons of things going on, so stay tuned to my blog here to be updated.

I am a bit overwhelmed, however, I know that God is taking care of these kids already, but it is me who chooses to have a voice for these kids that need to be known about...and they are BEAUTIFUL!

Trust me.

You may just fall out of your chair at how beautiful they are.

Seriously.

Thank you all for your sweet emails and prayers. More updates on Kenya to come as well as "what's up with Uganda" details soon.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Joyful Sunday!

I love Sundays!

Today, I feel God met me where I really needed to be met. My last blog post was kinda....unJOY-ful, wouldn't you say? Clearly, I am a girl with many emotions and twists and turns that come and go in this life of mine. I suppose it is to be expected when we are headed in a direction that is literally turning our life upside down! ahem...and PMS does NOT help things, either.

Today, one of our sweet Pastors, and a mentor to our family preached today on "Discipleship". I learned that many people today are "saved" but few "follow". Girls, if we claim to know Christ-I mean, KNOW Him, then we need to be pouring out into other women, encouraging them. I was really convicted today that I need to be doing more of that. I have been so blessed to have women in my life who encourage me-and have been an encouragement years ago when I was in college. I need to be giving back.

I'm also thinking of ways we, together, as a blogging community can serve others here locally. I'm thinking about doing something with "Playdates with a Purpose" such as going to the Women's Homeless Shelter and throwing them a party-or something in the future. Is anyone up for this? If so, leave a comment or email me at tlkenya@yahoo.com.

Have a good week!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

bleh-ness

I'm sitting here wondering where the week went by? Have you felt like that lately too?

Recently, I feel as though I've been just treading water-you know, just because "life" is happening around me.

I'm transitioning into a new job within the agency I work for that starts on Monday. I'm really excited, but I'm desperately trying to get all of my paperwork completed before I officially start so I can work in the present and not in the past. This new job will allow me to be at home with my kids during the day and work when my husband is at home a few nights a week. Again, another way we see the Lord being faithful to our family at this time!

Monday night, TJ and I had our first conference call with the Board of Directors from Mattaw Children's Village in Texas. We spent time getting to know eachother a bit and asking a lot of questions we have been dying to ask! It was a great time of fellowship and we are looking forward to more conversations in the near future.

We are in dire need of a second car-are any of you annoyed with car salesman as much as I am? With all due respect, I know the economy has put some of these places in desperate situations...but c'mon...do they need to be all over me like a monkey over a cupcake???
We've been praying for God to provide something for us that would get us through these next months ahead before we go to Kenya so we don't push further into more debt.

I've become more and more aware from people I have been getting to know overseas just how dire the food crisis is in Africa. Pray for RAIN people! More babies' bellies are growling than ever before due to the shortage of rain in Kenya, Uganda and other parts of Africa. There are many kiddos needing our help, our resources, our love and prayer to help them through each day.

I'm balancing a Kindergartener-who clearly, still needs to nap "just enough" each day to avoid meltdowns by 6pm-but not too much, so he can still fall asleep at night. I'm also researching different homeschool cirriculum....and I'm finding it ever so much MORE fun than I thought it would be.

I am battling difficulty sleeping-for reasons I am trying to figure out. I am bright-eyed and bushy-tailed around 2 or 3am every night (or morning) and cannot fall asleep until a few minutes before I am supposed to be up for the day.

I'm tired.

So this week, I am resting-resting in the arms of my Savior, because I know I cannot do this all, but I am grateful for a God that has all of this in the palm of His hand. I'm grateful for this life He has given me. I'm thankful for the quite hours of the night where I am reminded I can use that time to pray for my husband and my children and the future that is before us. I'm thankful for a God who gives us peace beyond all understanding.

How has your week been?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Prayer team

I am just needing to be real-a bit raw for a moment.

TJ and I have a big weekend coming up. I'd appreciate your prayers. Some intial dialogue is coming up with folks down in Texas regarding Mattaw Children's Village and we are finishing up an article that will be published about our family in a local magazine in November.

I'm a bit nervous about all of this and I feel myself wanting to jump ship, but am also reminded in the same moment that this is His journey and we are choosing to be His hands and feet. Step by step. Faith.

This is not a journey we are choosing to take to become noticed or to become a "brave face" for those to admire. No. Simply, we hope to be a testimony of who Jesus Christ was and is today while actively living out what God has given us a heart for.

We are fighting a real battle. Sin trips us-daily. I scold my children too hard sometimes, I have bad attitudes some days. TJ and I get into arguments. My prayer is that TJ and I can take up our crosses daily and focus on serving a God who loves us more than we could ever know. We want to surrender our lives to serve Him wherever He leads us. To stay united.

We need prayer. We need a solid prayer team to be behind us as we make decisions this year. Would you like to join us? We have an email set up to communicate with those of you that may have questions about what we are doing. Feel free to ask us "WHAT has been going on with YOU" or, whatever strikes your fancy. I will be better at sending more regular updates, as there are many details happening behind the scenes that I do not blog about right now as I do not feel like it is necessary. Our email is:

tlkenya@yahoo.com

We would covet your prayers. We would love to get to know you-whoever you are and hear YOUR heart for what God is doing in your life. We would love to build a community that wants their hearts to break for what breaks the Lord's heart. Through orphan care, or whatever YOU are passionate about.

Love and hugs.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Loop Deee Loops

So, Collin, our youngest son, seems to find humor in all the things he does. It's never a dull moment with him in our family.

So, clearly, who would have thought we would have the same experience on this raft while on vacation this summer?

Not my child!



Yes...my child! Loop Deeeee Loop!




Loop Deeeee Loop!




See, this raft was sitting upon a crystal clear pond that got it source from undergroud springs that gurgled up from the bottom. We had to turn the steering wheel to the left or right, along a rope, to move it across the water.





Collin, of course, had many creative ways of turning it.




Loop Deeeeee Loop!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Book Club

Hey gals!

I am joining a Bible study this sememster with a group of women and we are going through the book "Prodigal God" by Tim Keller. I'm super excited about it.

I also am reading this AWESOME book, titled "Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God".

I would love for YOU to join too! Here is the site: http://www.thebloombookclub.blogspot.com/

I also have copied and pasted the reading schedule. The site above is where you can go and watch a video "discussion" and join in on chats with other women like yourselves.

Here is a bit about the book from the website posted above:

About the book (from Amazon): "Sometimes I feel like when I make decisions that are remotely biblical, people who call themselves Christians are the first to criticize and say I'm crazy, that I'm taking the Bible too literally, or that I'm not thinking about my family's well-being. . . When people gladly sacrifice their time or comfort or home, it is obvious that they trust in the promises of God. Why is it that the story of someone who has actually done what Jesus commands resonates deeply with us, but we then assume we could never do anything so radical or intense? Or why do we call it radical when, to Jesus, it is simply the way it is? The way it should be?"

The schedule for reading is as follows:

September 13: Intro and chapter 1
September 20: Chapter 2
September 27: Chapter 3
October 4: Chapter 4
October 11: Chapter 5
October 18: Chapter 6
October 25: Chapter 7
November 1: Chapter 8
November 8: Chapter 9
November 15: Chapter 10 and wrap-up

Let me know if you join! It would be super fun to see you on discussions :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Day by day

Today, this is happening right now, half way across the world as we go about our day. This community lives on

day after day

with no food

day after day.

As we go about our day. Imagine opening your cupboards in your kitchen and having nothing.

Nothing.

Or turning on your kitchen faucet and dirty water drips out, and you drink it

because that is how you survive

Day by day.

A team of volunteers is exploring this precious community in Uganda right now. Pray for them. For safety, for wisdom, for churches to snatch these babies up and call them their own.

"For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved...whatever you have done to the least of these, you've done it to Me." Matthew 25 according to Richard Stearns, President of World Vision

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Our baby girl :)

I am so excited to share with you today, new video of my baby girl, Priscillah, whom I have sponsored with TJ since 2002. Last year we met up with her in Kenya for a brief time and later learned she had become pregnant but was too ashamed to tell us. We have kept little contact with her over this year due to her whereabouts being unknown. Today, however, proved to me again, why I blog, why YOU be such difference in the life of a child-one child-across the world. I love you baby girl and Daniel is beautiful! See you soon!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Let me hold you longer.....

My baby boy went to Kindergarten today. Isn't he handsome? We think so too!



"Long ago you came to me, a miracle of firsts; First smiles and teeth and baby steps, a sunbeam on the burst. But one day you will move away and leave to me your past, And I will be left thinking of a lifetime of your lasts ...
The last time that I held a bottle to your baby lips, The last time that I lifted you and held you on my hip.

The last night when you woke up crying, needing to be walked. When last you crawled up with your blanket, wanting to be rocked.

The last time when you ran to me, still small enough to hold. The last time that you said you'd marry me when you grew old. Precious, simple moments and bright flashes from your past- Would I have held on longer if I'd known they were your last?

One last adventure to the park, your final midday nap, The last time when you wore your favorite faded baseball cap.

I never said good-bye to all your yesterdays long passed. So what about tomorrow- will I recognize your lasts?

The last time that you talk to me about your hopes and dreams. The last time that you wear a jersey for your high school team.

I've watched you grow and barely noticed seasons as the pass. If I could freeze the hands of time, I'd hold on to your lasts.

For come some bright fall morning, you'll be going far away. College life will beckon in a brilliant sort of way. One last hug, one last good-bye, one quick and hurried kiss. One last time to understand just how much you'll be missed. I'll watch you leave and think how fast our time together passed. "



I have been working on Ben's baby book this week as I got some awesome digital scrapbooking software last week! It was probably bad timing to start as I was sorting through all of his "firsts" and newborn photos, meeting his brother for the first time, and going to preschool.

When I was a part of a MOPS group when Ben was a year or 2 old, a group leader read us the book "Let Me Hold You Longer" to us. At the time, I heard it from a distance, as preschool, art projects from school and college seemed so far away.

And here I am today! My baby boy is a Kindergartener. It's hard to find the balance of letting kiddos learn to fly and grow their wings and not hang on too tightly, or be too overprotective. My, how does time fly. And don't we, as mom's hear that from other mom's too?

I love you Benjamin Timothy-more than words could express. You make us so proud and we know God has GREAT plans for your life.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Making much of Jesus-through orphan care

Orphan Sunday from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.




Here are some opportunities coming your way for YOU to be involved in serving the least of these!

Orphan Sunday 2009 — November 8: Christian Alliance for Orphans recently announced the official launch of their 2009 Orphan Sunday campaign. Orphan Sunday is an opportunity for churches all over the world to spread this God-centered, Gospel-driven, Jesus-magnifying vision for orphan care.

Christian Alliance for Orphans SUMMIT VI will be held in Minneapolis on April 28-30, 2010. John Piper is one of the keynote speakers.

Together for Adoption Conference 2009 is an October 2-3 event that connects the dots between our adoption by God and the earthly practice of adoption and orphan care.

Monday, September 7, 2009

So dreamy...

Lately, I have had these really vivid dreams. It seems like the same dream but it involves being in different places...all my dreams recently have been in the water. I used to be fascinated with the meanings of dreams, I kept a dream diary years ago for fun as part of my Psychology course I was taking.

This is different. Really different.

"Coincidentally" I was doing my devotions this morning and the page I read talked about rivers and how, we, as people, need to be in a place where we are freely and willingly giving back.

Giving back.

We can become a dud like the Dead Sea, where things just flow into us and never out of us. But that is not what God intends for us. If we know and have 'received His fullness, "rivers of living water" will flow out of us, reaching in blessing "even to the ends of the earth."' (Acts 1:8)

We may never know how far our blessings go. How many times paying it forward will go.

It also compared a river to our life....rivers come to many obstacles-like we do. The river will be blocked for a while but soon make a new pathway around the obstacle. If we pay attention to the Source of the river, He will either take you around the obstacle or remove it. Try not to focus on the obstacle or difficulty, but rather, focus on the Source, the Spirit of God in our life, who overcomes all obstacles.

This really spoke to me this morning. Sometimes TJ and I feel like we hit a dead end-or difficulty, or we are taken into a season of silence where we are forced to just wait

WAIT

for what is next.

For those of you who may know me well, I am sure many of you would say that patience is something I struggle with. Ironically, I am moving into a culture that depends on cell phones but rarely glances at a clock..where time seems to have no meaning. Ha ha.

But what I've learned is that I, TJ and I, need to focus on the Source. Depend on His promises and faithfulness and go back to realizing that God has THE plan. All we need to worry about is taking the next step.

..and the next step.

Oh, how I cannot wait to see what's ahead. But I'll have to wait.

Allow God to flow into you-receive His blessing and pour it out to others.

I can think of around 140 million kids that need it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

..ahem..not my planning

So again, I sit here.....in shock. In amazement of what God can do. Several weeks ago, I put in a proposal to my employer of creating a new position that was needed desperately within our agency. With some minor tweaking and adjustments, they APPROVED THE POSTION!

So, starting in roughly 2 weeks, I will have this new position that allows me to keep my salary and benefits for my family PLUS stay at home with my children during the day, eliminating our cost for daycare each month.

We have been praying for God to help us pay off our debt by June 1st so we may be debt free before we go to Kenya next year, Lord willing. I had no idea that THIS would be a part of HIS plan.

So, I sit here. Shocked. ReJOYcing in all He is able to do. Clinging to the hope that God knows our hearts desires, knows our needs and is willing and able to provide for them if we are willing to step out in faith and trust/surrender our plan to His.

Do you have a story in which God has unexpectedly provided for you or your family? If so, share!!!! I'd love to hear it!

Financial Peace...and beyond

My husband and I committed this summer and took the Financial Peace University seminar Dave Ramsey offers. Our last session was just this past Sunday. We learned so much about things we wish we would've known growing up. So it motivates us to start teaching our children about money today and not waiting until they are in high school or in college.

Anyways, I cannot remember the blog I found this on, but it was hilarious to find as we were taking the class. Watch it here.

I know, right? What a concept! Hope you enjoy it! Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Speaking of leaving a legacy....

I have recently learned about a fantastic conference coming up in October as a way we, as parents or those of us that know of grandparents raising their grandchildren can participate and think more about what kind of legacy you want to leave for children in our household.

The Legacy Conference is happening in Minneapolis/St. Paul October 23-24th. This is a baby brand new ministry that started out of Colorado Springs, Colorado designed to be a resource for parents and grandparents who desire to have more meaningful time with their children and grandchildren and desire to be an influence that reflects that of Christ.

All the information you want to know about this conference can be found here.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Vulnerability

Sometimes I sit here in front of my computer screen and I have a blank mind. I don't know what to write. So I sit. And wait. Sometimes I walk away, and sometimes I cannot keep up with my thoughts.

Today, I'm overwhelmed. I'm overwhelmed with the thought of being so vulnerable in a public forum such as my blog. Wondering sometimes if being as transparent as I have with the emotions that come with the preparation in moving across the world is a good idea.

Then I remember the stories we heard last fall of the kids that were orphaned as a result of the LRA invading their homes and slaughtering their families. I remember the tears poured out as a young boy recalled he had to tie babies to trees and whip them until they died as part of the initiation process of the LRA.

I remember the children I have placed in foster care because their families did not have a support system or money to care for their mental health properly and as a result, their chilren suffered.

Then I remember this is why I blog. Because these stories need to become something of the past and not the current headlines.

Maybe the vulnerability is okay. I want you to know that this journey is not easy. We have tough days. We cry. We laugh. We have joy. We are scared. Really scared. There are so many unknowns at this point.

What if we don't go to Kenya? I trust that this journey we are on is not ours-it's God's journey laid out for us. All we have to do is take the next step. Step. Step. Right? If this journey inspires others to invest in the life of a child-in our community, across the world, then it's worth it.

But I do know something. I know that my God is bigger than these problems. I know He has a plan for each life that is created. Sometimes there are hard questions that go unanswered. Like, why do children have to suffer like they do today?

I may never know. But I do know that I serve a God who loves those suffering children. I know a God that can use us to bring relief to some of the suffering. I know a God that wants to use me-to know me from the inside out.

TJ and I have been praying for many things. One of the things is that we would stay united in this journey we are on. It is long, tumultuous and there are days we feel like throwing in the towel. We also pray that God would help us lose ourselves in this process. It's not about us. It's not about how much good we can do. It's about us wanting to be like Jesus in this process. It's about us dying to ourselves each day and asking God "WHAT IS IT YOU HAVE FOR ME TODAY".

Today was a sweet day. Almost too good. Today I had an interview with a local magazine who wants to share about what God is doing with our family. It was pretty awesome to share with these three women how this "Kenya spark" started, how TJ and I met and what's next.

One of the questions that has sat with me from the interview was "In 2011, one year after you may have been in Kenya, what do you want to see". I said I want to see a waiting list jam packed of teams wanting to pour themselves to the fatherless-in Africa-in China-in South America-in their community.

If this interview can get more people motivated to cap their salaries and give the rest away to hurting people-for people to GO and take their families to other places to see that we, as Americans, are the minority in this world, then it is worth it to us.

What's next? TJ and I continue to press forward and be vulnerable. We are clay in the Potter's hand. We are ready for what is ahead. We step out in faith.

Jesus, you are higher than all circumstances, your promise stands, your love for all to see. You are Higher than our protest lines, and dollar signs, Your love is all we need. Fill our hearts with your compassion. God, be the solution. We will be your hands and be your feet.

Friday, August 28, 2009

We have a winner!

Congratulations Michelle H! You have won your choice of a children or newborn session with KB Photography!

Please contact me at tlkenya@yahoo.com to claim your prize.

This was so much fun. My favorite summer memory has to be long bike rides with the kids, now that all of our kids can ride bikes, or our recent trip to Michigan.

Thanks for sharing all your memories! Stay tuned. I think I may have to do another giveaway sometime soon :)

*Results chosen by Random.org

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Giveaway!!!

Today is a really really fun post! I'm doing my first giveaway!!!

Meet Krysta. I have known her since she stepped onto a local university's campus as a freshman and I was her fearless "Resident Assistant" way back in 2001. Since I have known her, Krysta has grown into a beautiful lady who loves Jesus and has such a servant's heart.

Krysta is now married and a proud mama of a little boy, O. She has recently opened a photography business and does a great job.

Krysta has been working with the agency I work for in donating her time and services to photograph the kids and families who use our program.

To see the beautiful work she does, check out her site, here.

Because I am so proud of her and thankful for all she is doing to serve the youth in our community, I would like to give away one of her photography packages.

Giveaway: Your choice of a newborn session or children's session with KB Photography.

Krysta gives you full printing rights of roughly 10 photos on a CD to take with you to print where you prefer.

To enter, leave a comment on this post by 12:00am midnight Central Standard Time by telling me your favorite summer memory this year.

You may have additional entries added if you blog about it, twitter or post on your facebook. If you do additional entries, please let me know by commenting if you have posted this contest elsewhere and where.


Good luck!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Meet the Grandparents.....

Meet Grandpa O.



I love him. This sign has been hanging above his woodpile for as long as I can remember. He is a cynical, dry-humored man and I have memories of him threatening to tie me to a tree if I called him a "bald-headed man" again....he did get me tied to a tree once....but only once....




My Grandpa would take us into his workshop every summer we came to visit and we would pick out what animal-or whatever we wanted to make out of wood. One time, I made a cow like the one hanging below.



My Grandpa said that "Joywood" is what Grandma calls 'camp'. I didn't know that. It suits here because all of my memories of Grandma are full smiles and true JOY! How can you NOT call camp "Joywood"???



And how could we forget the swing?

My Grandpa had a game he made up with 2 swings. One, a wooden, flat seat, hanging from a tree branch we would swing from. The second, this one:



He would swing the plastic tire swing at us and if it hit us, he would yell STINKFISH! My kids thought that was a hoot.

One of the things I love most about my Grandma is....



well, the Swedish pancakes are AMAZING...BUT......

I can't help but LOVE the fact that she is crazy about wearing authentic African paperbead necklaces!!!! Doesn't she look gorgeous wearing them????

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Monarchs

I have always loved butterflies. Last weekend, we were able to see one of the most beautiful things. Monarch butterflies start migrating towards Mexico in August of every year. We were in the edge of Lake Michigan and saw thousands of butterflies covering the Cedar trees lining the banks.




A lady nearby came over to us with a net full of beautiful Monarchs. She tags them as a hobby. Each 'tag' is a sticker with a phone number on it. If one finds a butterfly with a tag on the wing, you call the number and let the person know where you found the butterfly. She reports that she has received many phone calls from around the US and in Mexico.



When you are done tagging them, you set them free! Our boys loved it!







A day we will never forget!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Not Me! Monday



Welcome to "Not Me! Monday". This is a blog carnival set up by MckMama with the hopes of all of us mothers can use a good laugh as we admit all the inperfections that come with our duty of mothering.

While on getaway vacations with our young kids, I always come prepared. I pack enough food to ensure we do not have to stop and get an greasy, fast food restaraunts. I always ensure that there are plenty of food, books, and goodies to keep the kids at bay and pass time as quickly as possible. This is why I certainly did NOT feed my kids, chocolate marshmallow treats, granola bars, and juice for almost the entire way to avoid restaraunts. Nutritious and healthy foods are always what is in order. Feeding them nothing but JUNK for the entire car ride? Nope! Not me!

I also did NOT have my kids watch videos for 5 of the 8 hours of the trip. Nope, not me! We always have lengthy, educational, intentional discussions with our children about the various landscapes-other than the flat, prairies we live on-, past presidents and organic foods.

Oh, and I always make time for bathroom breaks. That is why I did NOT make my 3 yr old urinate in a soda bottle, because we simply did not want to waste more time getting home. Not me! We always allow plenty of time in our schedule to stop for bathroom breaks.

Would you like to join in the "Not Me Monday" fun? Before you do, check out the rules here.

Happy Monday to you!

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Girl Effect

I was shown this video from a friend of mine recently and I had to share it.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Grateful

Tonight, I sit here so grateful. Grateful for the crumbs covering my kitchen floor, because my children's bellies are full, and I know that there are millions of children who are hungry tonight.

I am grateful for the opportunities God seems to be laying at my feet to bring awareness to my community about orphan care. Because guys, there are millions. There are so many many organizations out there that care for them and so many ways to be involved.

I am grateful for the many of you who have emailed and responded in ways I have could never imagined to make an impact on little lives specifically in Africa.

Every Wednesday I participate in this fantastic, fresh, grassroots ministry called iFast58. The idea came from a friend of mine, whom I have spoken about before, Brandi, as she is feeling called to gather a nation of people to lift up and pray for the oppressed, the widowed, the orphaned. The "58" comes from the Lord giving Isaiah 58 as a starting point for this ministry. Awesome.

So, every Wednesday, as a group, we fast. It can be a meal, TV, blogging, or whatever you feel like we can do and that energy that is put into that is fixed on praying for the fatherless in our world.

If you would like to be a part of this, email Brandi at brandi@kidslake.org

If you are "hip" and enjoy twitter-ing...you can find a group at #iFast58.

I am so grateful. Grateful for people like YOU who choose to become active and make a difference for these voiceless children.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Feeling full

Where does the time go? It has been an incredible week. It has been full. Packed with joy.

Things are clearly falling into place for us here. I do not think I have had more confirmations that the road we are on is where we are meant to be at this specific time, then I have had this week.

I feel God working and I see him moving. Nothing is sweeter than resting in His arms.

Our garage sale was awesome. We sold almost everything. Our home has less tangible things, but it couldn't feel more full.

Our boys have hardly noticed their toys that once were there are now gone. Ben asked me if the toys went to help orphans. When I said yes, he went to his room and brought out some of his favorite "guys" and offered them to help more orphans.

As we are gearing up for the new school year, it feels surreal that my first born is going to be in Kindergarten. As we talk about school, he asks me where kids in Africa go to school. I show him pictures on Bud and Kim's blog to try to give him the best "visual" I can. He then clarifies if these children go to Vacation Bible School. I tell them that people come and teach them about Jesus-but that will be our job when we go there. Ben asks me to help him list all of his favorite Bible stories so we "don't forget" any to make sure all the kids in Kenya know about them.

Thank you Jesus for preparing the hearts of my children. Over and over again.

So, what is the next step? To be honest, I have no idea. But, I have received so many phone calls from people encouraging us, praying for us and just "happen" to have a relative who lives in Africa wanting to meet with us to share about what it is like to live over there-much different than spending a few months at a time there...

It doesn't feel as if we are blind anymore. We feel as though God is slowly peeling back the veil as we step closer to what it is He has for us.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Heave-ho!!!!

So, this weekend is the BIG one. Yup. We are chuckin' our stuff. We are using this opportunity to create awareness about Mattaw Children's Village and the need for orphan care globally, specifically in Africa.

We have been praying for this day. Praying for the people who may stop by. Praying for opportunities to share what God is doing in Africa.

I'm so excited.

I'm also baking a ton of goodies. Yes, I can bake, and I'm learning to cook. Ask my husband and maybe get his perspective on how it's going :)

If YOU want to know more about Mattaw Children's Village and where we are headed, they have an awesome new website up. You can find it here.


If you are in the area and would like to stop by, we are open Saturday 8am-3pm.

I have a ton of work to do, so I've got to get back....

Look at these faces....how can you NOT tell the world about them?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

DIY 5 yr old style

So, as we are giving our stuff in our home the big "heave-ho", my wonderful, generous, 5 yr old insists that he helps decorate, and keep our home feeling like....well, home.




Nice touch, wouldn't you say?

Friday, July 31, 2009

From the Inside Out

...I can't start my work day here until I get this off my chest! Wow-it has been a bit of a tumultuous week for me-emotionally speaking. I feel like this journey that God is taking us on stirs up waves of emotion. I recognize this as totally normal, as moving does this to people :)

I'm so encouraged by Katie's blog post today. She recently returned to Uganda, where she is a momma to 13 Ugandan children and is just 20 yrs old. She spend the past 5 or 6 weeks in the States and just before she left, she broke out with Shingles all over her body.

What challenges me today, is, when the going gets tough-really tough-am I going to collapse my tent and walk away? Or, will I recognize who is my Rock and keep moving forward?!

I choose to keep my tent up.

I have had moments where I have wigged out. I mean, wigged out! Don't ask my husband as he may come ask you if he can move in...(ha ha) as I've thought about all the barriers that are in our way....support raising, selling our home (or, renting vs selling), our dog, our community that we love so much, transitions for our kids, etc.

(I know...barriers...pish posh....)

I do recognize that my God is much bigger than those barriers. In fact, He already has the plan laid out, we just need to trust Him. I need prayer in this area.

Hillsong has a semi-new song out right now and I just drink the lyrics when I listen to them. The song is titled "From the Inside Out"

Here are a few. I encourage you to listen to it-to meditate on it and make it become your prayer. It has helped me get through moments that seem impossible with this transition.

God wants us from the inside out. God wants our hearts to break for the things that break his....

Your will about all else
My purpose remains
The art of losing myself
In bringing you praise

Everlasting
Your light will shine
will all else fades
Never ending
Your Glory goes beyond all fame

In my heart in my soul
Lord, I give you control
Consume me from
the inside out, Lord
Let justice and praise
become my embrace

To love you from the inside out

Thank YOU for the encouragement you have all been to our family in these early steps of this journey. Words cannnot express how precious you all have been.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

..Because I'm so laid back

I found these from reading one of my favorite blogs. I love lists...because I'm so laid back like that.

You know.

Relaxed.

My husband loves my lists. Especially when I give him his.

...and what I love about these lists, is there is a variety of them. So I can categorize my lists under their own category. I can't wait to show these to my husband!!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

where in the world is my creativity??

...ahem.

I am all better today. Thank you for asking. I can only think of what the other drivers were thinking as they looked over at me yesterday from this incident. I mean, what would I have thought if I would have seen a woman bleeding-driving erratically-calling frantically in the car speeding past me in a construction zone.

I do not speed.

It's been a great week so far marked by avoiding any incidents of Collin standing in the toilet, painting the cabinets with marker, lipstick, or whatever, kept the falls and bruises to a minimum. Ben has been our usual 3rd parent to Collin.

I've been really craving to get into my creative side. I love being a mom to my boys, a wife, and a Social Worker. There isn't a lot of time left in my day to do the things I really enjoy. Sound familiar? This weekend I am going to try to finish Ben's baby book through preschool, as this is an never-ending goal of mine, try to do some writing and do some projects with my boys. Baking to appease my husband...and continue to get our garage sale ready to go.

Blogging is soooo great for me, and I love reading yours. I am inspired by people's blogs I read. If you are a frequent reader, I am often curious as to where you are from and if you have a blog too! I love adding more blogs to my "must read" list I have running.

What are your plans this weekend?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A moving murder scene

So, being the foolish citizen I am, I have decided to take it upon myself and get poked with a needle twice a week to donate plasma...all for a little extra cash. You know, so I can go out to eat with my co workers if I want to, buy my favorite pair of jeans or, just have a little stash for a rainy day.

This has not been a pleasant experience and I highly doubt that I will be returning.

Take my morning, this morning, for example.

I stroll into the donation center at about 8am. All is well-my iron levels are good, I have drank plenty of water to make sure that all flows nicely.

I get poked, wrapped and I'm out the door in about 45 minutes with about $40 extra dollars in my pocket.

I am driving down the interstate to work and I feel a drip-drip-drip down my elbow into my parka I am wearing by the elbow of my right arm.

I pull up my sleeve and see that blood is seeping underneath my bandage. I put pressure on it to see if it helps. NOPE it makes it squirt-so now I have a pool of blood on my lap on my parka about to overflow onto my seat. Thank goodness I do not faint at the sight of blood, because I would have been in deep trouble.

I look like a moving murder scene. I am also going 60 mph in heavy morning traffic and approaching a slower speed as we are getting into a construction zone. Perfect.

So, I'm driving one-handed, calling my employer to get me a new shirt to wear, and stopping the flow of blood as best I can whilst keeping everyone else on the road safe. Sitcom episode in the making, I KNOW.

I pull into the parking lot, blood spills out of my lap as I get out of my car onto the pavement and I'm running into the building holding up my arm and putting pressure on it like any good EMT impersonator would (do I hear "RESCUE 911 music in the background??).

I get to the bathroom and clean up and stop the bleeding. All is well.

I'm clean.

Wondering if this mess was worth the $40 I was paid today.

I am not normal.

Monday, July 27, 2009

a balloon for an orphan

I wanted to share a cool moment that happened with Ben last week.

There have been some tough days in our household-specifically with our oldest, son, Benjamin, as we have conversations with him about moving. He asks many appropriate questions about what our house will look like, who will his friends be, if they have football there and what will we eat.

Stemming from these conversations are great teaching moments for us. Teaching moments about how to be able to take the next step because we have faith. Teaching him what it means to solely lean on Jesus.

We often have discussions about how we can care for 'the orphan' in our own community. Ben knows what I do for a career here in North Dakota. He knows that I help kids find families that are safe until their parents get better and can take care of them again. Ben often asks how he can help too (which floors me, because what was I thinking about when I was 5 yrs old). Ben often asks what orphans look like, if they live close to us, how can he help.

A couple weeks ago, my employer held a foster parents picnic in a local park. My kiddos tagged along with me as my husband had to work late that night. Many children at the picnic were kids with special needs.

As a part of the picnic, we had a fabulous clown making crazy animals out of balloons. The balloons were heard deflating and popping as kids hit trees and grass. Ben became very upset as he was amongst these kids. He repeatedly wanted another balloon-and another. Finally, I told him enough was enough, and there were many other kids that wanted balloons still, and the one in his hand was it for the evening.

The popping of the balloons continued. Ben was able to control his balloon but saw another child accidentally pop his balloon and became upset. Ben ran over to him and gave the child his last balloon. Ben ran back to me and exclaimed "Mom! Mom! I helped an orphan! I gave him my balloon!"

I am so thankful. I truly see God preparing the hearts of my kids as we make this transition. Thank you Jesus. He IS faithful!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sunny Wednesday

I am sitting here at my desk at work, needing a break. So, here I am. I feel the Lord stirring in my heart and I feel restless. Do you ever have cravings just to be able to stop what you are doing and just sit with Him? I am so thankful that we serve a God where we CAN do that. No matter what we are doing, where we are, who we are with, we can be present with the Lord.

I was reading in my Bible the other day and came upon this verse that just met me where I was at. It is in Psalms 46:1-10

1 "God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.

5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.

6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Selah

8 Come and see the works of the LORD,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.

9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields with fire.

10 "Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."


Does that incourage you like it does TJ and I? We have a God that has gone before us, has already laid our life out for us, and all we have to do is hold Jesus' hand and trust him.

There have been turbulent times for TJ and I as we pursue going to Kenya next Spring. We have had encouraging conversations and also some strange looks from others. Regardless, we know that it is not about us. Our life is about serving a God that is much bigger than our thoughts. It is about serving God in ways that take us out of our comfort zone. Frankly, I am feeling really uncomfortable, but at peace.

If you would like to be on our prayer team with us on this journey, please email us at our new email, specifically for this journey at tlkenya@yahoo.com

Have you taken steps of faith recently? If so, share! I LOVE stories about how God has proven Himself faithful, in the smallest moments in our relationships and in the biggest, aching moments in our life. Let us be an encouragement to eachother. How GREAT is our God!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mohawk Monday




Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------





Yes, I am that kind of Mom.....





My kids are always clean, and well-groomed,






Well-mannered and always properly clothed.







So there is absolutely no way that I shaved my boys' heads to give them mohawks.



Nope.


...and most certainly of course, I would never let my boys leave the house looking like this.




Not me!


Saturday, July 18, 2009

A fun poll


My type A son, Benjamin reminded me that earlier this summer I had told him that he could "of course" have a mohawk as soon as the wedding this summer was over. I had no intention of following through with this because a) i knew he would forget about it and ; b) why on earthy earth would I allow such a thing on my five yr old.


Well, guess what question I got today. Yup.

"Mommy, can I have my mohawk now???"


ArgHgHGHGHGH! I thought he'd forget.


Where would he get this idea? I'd love to tell you.

I am a frequent reader of MckMama's blog. If you haven't checked her out, then click on the Praying for Stellan badge on the right hand column of this page. Her young son, younger than mine us sporting a sa-weet mohawk and Benjamin caught wind of this earlier this summer.


Thanks MckMama.

What do you think? Should my sweet, rule-following, type A, son have a mohawk? Submit your answers to the poll on the top left of my blog!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Prayer chain...

"How did our family get into the whole 'Kenya thing?'" I'm glad you asked!

The story has a long history. Way, way, way back when I was little, my heart strings were always struck so hard when I saw the starving, big-bellied kids on the TV screen, crying, flies in the eyes, people begging to sponsor those kids. For some reason, it just stuck. I guess you can believe that that was the start of my passion to create awareness and bring change to other countries.

In high school, I had this desire to puruse a career in the adoption field. I specifically had an interest in International adoption. As I moved into college and worked towards becoming a Social Worker, I became more interested in Child Welfare issues such as adoption, foster care, trauma, attachment, etc. During the summers, I worked at group homes in Minneapolis and by "chance" I worked at the group homes with Kenyans, also on staff. It was then I began to learn about Kenyan culture.

I also, by "chance" took an Anthropology class during college, as part of my liberal arts requirement, and it also happened to be about Kenya. There I learned in more detail about the demographics of Kenya, more about the culture, language,etc. It was overwhelming.

My junior year of college, I googled "African orphanage volunteers". The results were overwhelming. Pages and pages of need were before my on my computer. I just had to go. One organization in particular, Homeless Children's International, caught my attention. Building relationships with kids on the street and bringing into HCI's program to be in school, stay connected with their families and know about the love that Jesus has for them.

I applied.

I was accepted.

I left. For three months.

Thankfully, at the last minute, a college friend of mine, Andy, asked if he could join me. In hindsight, this was one of the many ways I feel God put his hedge of protection around me that summer.

It was the best summer of my life. I rode public transportation with chickens and stranger's babies on my lap, I ate food that I had never experienced before, I shopped at local markets for food every day, I walked over a mile with children younger than 10 for water for the day. I nursed wounds and brought sick kids to the "hospital". I watched God's hand move in powerful ways. I saw joy in children's faces that had absolutely nothing.

I came home and was forever changed.

Then I met my husband!

My senior year of college, TJ and I started dating. It wasn't a healthy relationship to start. However, through God's grace, we fell in love and travelled to Kenya together the summer after I graduated from college-he had one more semester to go.

Together, we served with Homeless Children's International for 6 weeks. It changed our lives as a couple. We knew from that point on that we wanted to serve Kenya-from the US or in Africa.

Two children, a house, and a dog later, here we are.

Last fall, we travelled to Kitale, Kenya for 2 weeks. We met Bud and Kimberly Huffman. They started Mattaw Children's Village with the purpose to rescuse, rebuild and restore broken children who otherwise, have been left to die.

I cannot imagine the pain African mothers go through when they are left with a choice of which one of my children will eat today, and who will not.

Rocking babies that were abandoned by their mothers, thrown into pit latrines (public toilets), unwanted, or mothers who felt like they had no other choice rocked me to the core 9 months ago when we visited a baby rescue center in Kitale.

God wants us to be His hands and feet. It's not always easy, and not everyone is called to go and live in a 3rd world country. TJ and I would not be going unless we both felt like this was what we are called to do.

So, TJ and I wait. We are taking the next step to see where it leads. We sit in contentment knowing that God knows the path laid before us. If he calls us, then He, too, will prepare our children-which seems to be the most difficult dynamic at this time.

If you would like to be on our prayer team, please leave a comment with your email address or email us at tlkenya@yahoo.com. We will send you updates via email of prayer requests as they come. Prayer is so important, as we know that without God, this isn't possible.