Saturday, January 31, 2009

Reading...Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours


I just finished this book and loved it. The term woven throughout is Reality Discipline. Teaching your kids the realities of their choices better preparing them to be responsible adults in this world. Consistency and disciplining in love are the keys. I thought it was an excellent read! If you haven't already, you should check it out!

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."
Ephesians 6:1-4

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Happy

You gotta love it when your child is happy with who God made them to be. Joshua wrote this song in the car one day. And I L-O-V-E it!



"I love how God made me.
Just the way He made me.
I don't care if I'm black or white.
I don't care what color hair.
Cause I like how God made me.
Just the way He made me."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

10 Things I'm Loving

I feel this is a very good post to remind myself of the things that I am loving and the things I am thankful for right now. There are so many but here's 10 of them!

1. The daily reminder of who Jesus is and His goodness in our lives. His love overwhelms me (in a good way!) And praise God for His protection. The other day someone commented that we must have angels looking over us. Yes!

2. My morning shower to rinse off the previous day's and the night's sweat off my body. It's hot here with no AC!

3. My kids and their growing personalities. And my husband and the ways he says, "I love you."

4. Iced green tea. It's so refreshing on a hot day! And in a stem...well, isn't everything better in a stem?

green tea in a stem

5. The kid's new trampoline. They get some exercise and it gets them outside!

jumpin'

6. Those evening showers that leave a green blanket and a coolness in the air.

7. I will forever love The Office. It provides many laughs and much entertainment in this household!

8. My son's awesome creativity and happiness with who God has made him to be. (Check tomorrow's post to see what I mean!)

9. My new hobby ~ knitting! It's relaxing and I'm actually making something in the process!

10. My new role as DTS leader. It's stretching, challenging, and awesome all at the same time! Thank you, Jesus, for allowing me to do the desire of my heart!

And thank you to all of you for your wonderful words of encouragement and the prayers you are lifting up for us. I've been so encouraged by your comments and emails. It means so much!

Baked Beans


A few years ago I discovered this baked beans recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Don't get me wrong...Bush's are great but homemade beans taste so good. If you like the taste of homemade, you should try it out!




Baked Beans
1 lb. dry small white, navy, or great northern beans
1/4 pound salt pork or bacon, cut up
1 large onion chopped
1/2 cup molasses
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Rinse beans. In a heavy 3 quart saucepan, combine beans and 8 cups cold water. Soak overnight. The next day, boil beans for 2 hours or until tender. Keep adding water if necessary.

Drain beans, reserving liquid. In a 2 1/2 quart bean pot or casserole, combine beans, salt, pork and onion. Stir in 1 cup of the reserved bean liquid, molasses, brown sugar, dry mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Cover and bake in a 300F oven for 2 1/2 hours or to desired consistency, stirring occasionally. Add additional reserved bean liquid, if necessary.

Or you can do what I like to do. After the beans are tender, I put all the ingredients in the crock pot and cook on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours.

Makes 6-8 servings

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

If, Only...


I promise this is going to be the last post on the break-in and robbery. It's just that my mind has been reeling with if only's. Do you ever have those? When something happens and you just keep thinking if, only. I've had several lately that I can't seem to shake.

If, only...we would have gotten the alarm fixed before Thursday morning.
If, only...I would have taken my computer to bed with me.
If, only...I would have uploaded all my photos when I was in the states.
If, only...I would have taken the time to burn those thousands of photos instead of putting it off.
If, only...we wouldn't have left all the keys on the kitchen counter where they were so visible.
If, only...if, only...

Maybe if I just get the thoughts out there, it will help me to get past them. That and Jesus helping me to give the whole situation to Him. Philippians 4:6-9 is the verse that Jesus brings to mind.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you."

Monday, January 26, 2009

Our Weekend Guest

We had a weekend guest! In Connecticut, Joshua had many friends and they would always have afternoon play dates. Moving here he really missed his time with all his friends. After living here for a year and half, he had his first friend over - for the night!

playtime

I called Joshua's friend's mom to see if he could come over on a Friday afternoon. Something was lost in translation because when I met her at school, she asked if she should pick him up Saturday or Sunday! I stumbled over my words but I think what came out was that either day would be fine! (I think I'll write another post soon on crossing the cultural lines.)

playtime

So Joshua had lots of fun with his weekend guest. I think his heart is happy (or as they would say here, full) that he had a playmate in his home. They had lots of fun playing with action figures, jumping on the trampoline, running around, dressing up as super heroes, and even letting little sis tag along.

Since the kids were occupied, I was able to work a little more on my surprise project. It's coming along quite nicely!

knitting

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Meatball Subs

I love meatball subs! And they are so easy to make. I know you can buy frozen meatballs but I usually make my own by mixing 2 lbs. ground beef, an egg, some bread crumbs, worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and garlic powder. Form into balls and cook in frying pan or oven. Pour your favorite spaghetti sauce into an oven safe dish and stick in oven to heat up. As meatballs finish cooking, transfer to dish. Let cook in oven until bubbly. Serve on sub bread and top with mozzarella or provolone.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bloggin It

So I have a little point and shoot that I used before I got my digital SLR. It's not a bad camera and it takes decent pics. The kids like to get it and take a few shots of their own which I LOVE and highly encourage! I love seeing the world through their eyes. So the other day, Joshua asked if he could take some pics. When he was finished, he came to me and said, "Mommy, why don't you blog or facebook this?" So these are pics through the eyes of Joshua, blogged by mommy!

through the eyes of a child

through the eyes of a child

through the eyes of a child

through the eyes of a child

through the eyes of a child

How many of you even knew what the internet was at 6 years old?! I didn't even use internet until I was about 20. My, how times have changed!

Side note: I wrote this post before my computer was stolen with all my pics!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Our Right To Feel Safe?

Praying Pictures, Images and Photos
photo via photobucket

I hesitated to write this post as I don't want it to create fear in the hearts of others. However, as I continue to process my feelings and emotions of fear, anger, frustration, etc., I feel I must find the things to be thankful for.

In the wee hours of the morning yesterday, as we slept peacefully in our beds, the forces of evil were at work. I woke at 6 AM to start my daily routine. By 6:30 I made my way to the kitchen to brew my cup o' joe. Something was not right. The front door was locked but open, our front gate standing wide open lock missing, the biggest thing...my brother-in-law's truck - gone. I frantically went to my husband to see if possibly our friend living with us could have gone for an early drive. No such luck. It happened. We were broken into - we were robbed.

My eyes quickly searched to find the spot where I left my computer - gone. Tears filled my eyes as I thought of all my kid's photos that I just hadn't had the time to burn to cd's yet. My heart was sick, and still is. Irreplaceable moments that are just...gone.

Needless to say, I am still shaken and unsettled by these events. I realize how we, especially women, all long for safety and security, and when that gets compromised, we feel lost and violated.

In the midst of these unsettling events, I must also dwell on the way God protected us. Even though my kid's memories were stolen, my kids and the rest of my family were safe. My brother-in-law was asleep in the living room (where they broke in) yet he didn't wake up. This was actually a blessing because who knows what could have happened had he encountered them. Above all, I am thankful no one was hurt.

Please pray for us - for our safety and God's protection. They stole every set of car keys and a set of our house keys. I hate feeling violated. I struggled with fear vs. faith when we moved here, and I feel that this just refreshes those feelings I dealt with. I am clinging to Psalm 91:11.

"For He will give His angels charge concerning you. To guard you in all your ways."

Thanks for your prayers, friends!

Mango Butter


Ok, I've been on a "butter" kick. Apple butter, pear butter, and now mango butter. But I love the stuff and I love using the fruits of the season to make something tasty. So I recently experimented and came up with another yummy "butter." Again so very simple in the crock pot. Oh, and the nuts...Joshua's staging idea! Love it!

Mango Butter

12-15 mangoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 cup orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Put everything excluding cinnamon in crock pot. Cook on low for a few hours. Blend until smooth. Add cinnamon and cook another hour.

*I was scared it might be stringy. I didn't have anything to strain it so I chanced it and skipped that. When I spread it on my toast the next morning, I was very pleased that the strings didn't get caught in my teeth!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Reading


I think reading is one of the best things you can do for your children. There are so many benefits!
  1. It helps their language and speech development as well as with increasing their vocabulary and pronunciation.
  2. It's a special time of bonding with parent and child.
  3. It creates a nice bedtime routine. We always read before bedtime and the kids love it!
  4. There's long-term benefits including your children having a love for reading. It also keeps the mind active and the imagination soaring.
We love reading in this household. Check out my e-bookstore for our favorite picks!

*Benefits of reading taken from the website found here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Teaching :: Hospitality

Like I said in Friday's post, I did some teaching last week in the DTS. Orientation week is set aside for us to get to know the students, but also so they can get to know us. We talk about our core values and philosophy of ministry so they can better understand these crazy people they are spending the next 5 months with!

DSC_0161

One afternoon I taught on hospitality, this being a HUGE core value to us personally and to our ministry. Did you know the Greek word for hospitality, philoxenia, literally means "love of strangers?" Here are some points I hit on during my teaching on why we should be hospitable and the scriptures I used to back it up:
  • God commands it. (Romans 12:9-13, Hebrews 13:2)
  • It's a quality of the saints. (1 Tim. 3:2, 1 Tim. 5:9-10, Titus 1:7-9)
  • It's an act of discipleship to others. (Matthew 25:34-40)
  • Because people are valuable. (John 3:16-17)
One of my favorite scriptures in the Bible is found in Luke 7:44-47 where Jesus was greeted by a woman who kissed his feet, anointed His head with oil, and poured perfume on Him. It's easy to provide the practical...food, housing, water. But I think what Jesus was blessed by was her heart to welcome Him. And it came through in her actions.

DSC_0162

That's our goal for us personally as a family and as a ministry. That when new people come in, they would feel welcome. That they wouldn't feel a burden or unwanted but that they would feel a spirit of hospitality.

The other day we had some of our short-termers over. One of them said, "This place is so hospitable!" We asked her why she said that. "Because you invite us into your homes, have us over for dinner." I guess all of our staff have invited them over...just because they wanted to. That blessed our hearts so much!

I encourage you to go here and read about the famous hotel, The Waldorf Astoria. Although it's highly likely that some of the facts have been embellished over time, it's still a great story of hospitality from the heart.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Weekend Recharge For Weekday Busyness

"He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
for His name's sake."


Psalm 23 Pictures, Images and Photos
photo via photobucket

What a lovely scripture of rest! My goal this weekend was simply to rest. No agenda, no over ambitious plans of cooking next week's meals to freeze, but just to rest. Bubble baths, sleep, reading, time with the kids and the best husband in the world, lots of quiet and rest made up my weekend. In our line of work, it's hard sometimes to rest. There's orphans to care for, DTS'ers to be discipled, short-termers to tend to and yet...and yet God calls us to come away and rest. Sometimes He has to MAKE us lie down in green pastures, but in order to sustain, I must make time for rest.

I did also start one knitting project. It's a fun one but I won't reveal what I'm making until it's finished! Is the suspense killing you!?

knitting

I hope you all also had a lovely weekend of rest to be refueled for the week's activities.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Potato Skins


This is the last in my series of recipes from Taste of Home's The New Appetizer that I cooked for Christmas Eve dinner. These were really yummy! Although I didn't put sour cream and onions in them. I used the insides to make potato soup!

4 large baking potatoes, baked
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon pepper
8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
4 green onions, sliced

1. After potatoes have been baked and cooked, cut them in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp, leaving a 1/4 in. shell. Place potato skins on a baking sheet. Combine the oil, Parmesan cheese, salt, garlic powder, paprika, and pepper; brush over both sides of skins.

2. Bake at 475F for 7 min; turn. Bake until crisp, about 7 min longer. Sprinkle bacon and cheddar cheese inside skins. Bake for 2 min. or until cheese is melted. Top with sour cream and onions. 8 servings.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Blog Awards

I'm new to the idea of blog awards but I love playing games...and winning, so this is kind of exciting for me! Two great bloggers recently each gave me an award. Melanie over at Me Melanie gave me the Premio Dardos award. This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, and literary personal values every day.

The rules associated with this reward are as follows:

1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person that has granted the award and his/her blog link.
2. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment. Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen as recipients.




I received the second award from Rebekah at Rebekah's Beautiful Day. It's the "Your Blog Is Fabulous!" award. The rules of this award are to list 5 things that I am addicted to and then pass this along to 5 other fabulous female bloggers.


So let's see...1. I'm addicted to...Organization. I know this sounds really boring but it's true. Sometimes I dream about ways I can better organize my pantry, my kid's room, the movie cabinet. And I literally sleep better when my house is organized and neat. I know...I'm a geek!

2. Relationships! Relationship with Jesus, with friends, with my husband, with my kids. I firmly believe we weren't meant to live the Christian life on our own. We need others in our lives to encourage us in our walk. And above all, we need Jesus in our lives!

3. Coffee. I used to think I wasn't addicted until recently. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I wasn't able to have my cup o' joe. All day I suffered from fatigue and a constant headache. Yikes! I mean I usually only drink one cup a day!

4. Learning new hobbies. About a month ago, I learned to knit and loved it! I began making projects out the wazoo! When the DTS started, I informed my husband that I wasn't going to start any knitting projects for a couple of weeks. He breathed a sigh of relief! I might start a project this weekend. :)

5. Blogging. I'm all about the story of our lives. I feel like blogging is a way for me to tell my story. I enjoy sharing my journey and my friends feeling like they are a part of it even though we're an ocean away.

I don't know if I can think of 15 other female bloggers but I would like to give both awards to some of my close female blogger friends that have touched my life in ways they probably don't even realize. Thanks for your input in my life and the values you hold to! You're fabulous!

1. My friend who's lived in half of the continents at Blissful E.
2. Courtney at Hello, You've Reached...
3. Brittany, my latest partner in crime, at My Learning Curve.
4. My South African friend who doesn't live here at Kruger Creed.
5. Lindsey at Journey of Hope. What a road we've walked!

End Of The Week Recap

Wow! What an amazing, busy, crazy week! I feel like so much happened this week so I just wanted to give the brief highlights. I'm still weary from it, but excited for the things God has done.

I started the week welcoming the DTS students by hosting a braai (for non-South Africans, that's a BBQ!) Then we began an amazing week of teachings, creative expression projects, visiting the communities and just getting to know one another. What strikes me about this DTS is how active they are in class discussions. It helps us to know they are tracking and really processing what they are hearing. I know we will have bumps along the road but I'm expecting God to do great things! Next week, I'm going to try and post some of my thoughts from the teachings I did this week. Here are our staff and students (2 more students arrive in a couple of weeks.)

Joshua got his haircut! Jeremy must have cut at least 3 inches off! We had fun giving him silly looks and taking photos! Here is my little ham getting a new do!





The kids started school! I don't know what is up with this picture I took of Joshua but this is his first day of school pic. Emma Grace was not thrilled about the idea of going back to school. Therefore, I had to just sneak a picture of her, "I'm not so sure about this" face. Joshua was delighted to get to sit next to his bestest bud from last year and had a great day at his new school! Emma Grace also did well. Better than last year according to her teacher. She even ate her lunch with the other kids. Score! (For those of you who don't know, every day last year she refused to eat her lunch because they wouldn't let her sit in the sandbox where she wanted to eat. She is one stubborn girl, but we talked about it last week and I encouraged her to eat where her teacher said she needed to eat. I was so pleased with the news that she did!)



One of our short-term teams left yesterday and another one tomorrow but not without first building a playground for the kids in Kabokweni! A special thanks to YWAM Worcester and New Hope Church from New York for their labor of love for these kids! As you can see, they are thoroughly enjoying every aspect of the new playground!







So in this week of role reversal and busy times, everyone is adjusting. Pray it continues to go smoothly and that I can still be the best mom, DTS leader, wife, friend, etc. Thanks for sharing this journey with me!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Encouraging Responsibility

As my kids get older, I've realized the importance of teaching them to be responsible and to become slightly less dependent on me. Does it sound easy? Well, it's not. It's almost like it's crashing into their nice, comfortable world. Kids learn to be dependent on mom and dad for everything so the smallest of tasks like pouring their own juice, making their own toast, or putting their dishes in the sink seems like their world is coming to an end. I mean, come on. Mom's peanut butter and jelly sandwich tastes oh, so much better than Joshua's.


I'm slowly trying to do small things to encourage responsibility and a little less dependency. Assigning simple chores like bringing in the laundry from the line or putting the butter on the table for dinner. It's not much and I could do it ten times faster, but that's not the point. The point is that they are learning to chip in, and I like that idea.


I recently proposed an idea to Joshua that I got from another blogger. I asked Joshua if he would like to plan a meal one night of the week. His eyes lit up, probably dreaming of mac-n-cheese and chocolate bars. "But," I said, "it has to include a protein, vegetable, and grain." He was excited to participate in this very important way. He quickly decided on the menu - steak, green beans, and wheat bread. Not too shabby.


So we picked a handful of green beans from the garden. He added the ingredients for homemade wheat bread and stirred until he couldn't stir any more, and then helped me snap the green beans. He didn't complain about participating because this was HIS meal! He's already excited about the next meal. His only request...next time can we also have dessert!?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Beautiful Artwork

We recently went out to eat as a family. Joshua picked the place...Panarotti's for some pizza and pasta! We enjoyed conversation and crayons! The kids both drew fantastic pictures and there was something about each one that struck me.

Emma Grace, in all her sweetness, drew a picture of me and her next to a tree. Oh, and the animal? That's a cat. There's a story behind that one. Not too long ago, the neighbor's cat wondered into our yard. This is a big deal because, here in Africa, the yards are fenced in on all sides with a big gate. So Emma Grace decided that this was HER cat. She named it and everything, and every time we go to the grocery store she informs me that we need to buy cat food. So now we joke about "her cat."



Joshua paid much attention to detail drawing a little bird in his tree. He loves to draw and is much like me...loving the details.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Summer Break Comes To An End

Long, hot days. Dips in the pool. Staying up a little later at night. Eating dinner on the back porch. Ahh, all remind me of the beautiful days of summer. Days when all the swimming makes your sun kissed face happily drift off to sleep at night as you dream of the next day's memories.



We've had a lovely, hot summer. But I think the kids are ready to get back to school and see their friends. The fresh school supplies are purchased and waiting for eager hands to break them in. School starts tomorrow and everyone is feeling mixed emotions. Nervous at going to a new school. Eager to join common faces. Excited for a change of schedule.



Joshua starts the days of uniforms! A mom's gotta love not having to decide on the day's outfit. Although, it makes me kind of sad the lacking of individuality! The last step is the haircut. We let him grow his hair at his own request. I have to say it is looking mighty good. But White River Primary School doesn't allow hair touching the neck or below the ears, so sadly, his beautiful locks have to go! Tonight is the big event! We're waiting as long as possible!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Fruit Salsa


This one was absolutely delicious! I had to deviate from the original recipe a bit but it was awesome!

*16 oz. frozen mixed berries, thawed
2 medium peaches, diced
2 medium kiwi, peeled and diced
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime peel

*It's hit or miss on finding frozen berries here so I just used fresh strawberries, blueberries, and mangoes.

Cinnamon Tortilla Chips
8 flour tortillas
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1. In a large bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients; set aside. Brush both sides of tortillas with butter. Combine the sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over both sides of tortilla. Cut each into 6 wedges.

2. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 400F for 6-8 min. on each side or until crisp. Drain salsa; serve with tortilla chips.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Organizational Bliss

Anyone who knows me, knows that I like, or should I say LOVE to be organized. It just makes me feel relaxed knowing that my house is in order. I have this thorn in my side called the kid's art cabinet. I will organize it but then a couple of weeks later it looks something like this:


So I went hunting for some simple organizational tools to avoid my bi-monthly headache of a mess. I found a couple of baskets at Mr. Price Home (no, I'm not trying to be funny...that's really a store here!) I also got some magazine files for the blank paper waiting for a child's artistic touch and the artwork that's just too precious to get rid of. I don't know if all this will be my answer. It still looks like there's a lot in a little bit of space, but hopefully having a place for all the small stuff will help.

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