Wednesday, August 31, 2011

the purpose of traveling 39 hours by plane

It's a long haul to Africa.  I used to like that straight 17-18 hour flight to get there.  One flight and you were done, but as I get older, I like stopping in Europe to break it up.  It's always a long layover but it's so nice to stretch your legs!  I have more pics I want to share of our time in England, but today I wanted to share about our purpose in traveling 39 hours to Africa.

streets of white river

Lately I haven't shared too much on here about our sabbatical or where we are in the process.  I've realized that the sabbatical lines are so gray that it's hard to say, "Okay, now we're in such and such phase or now we're done."  However, since March we have been actively re-engaging with Ten Thousand Homes in various ways.  June was filled with lots of Skype calls with our crew in Africa, and the idea was brought up for Jeremy and I to fly to Africa for face-to-face meetings.

legogote in the distance

I have to admit that stepping back into S. Africa after a year and a half of being away was overwhelming.  I didn't quite know what to make of my emotions.  It was great to be back, but I was well, I was overwhelmed by it all.  Seeing our friends again, meeting new people, and holding my nieces was fantastic (although, my nieces were not very happy that their cousins couldn't make the trip), but it was as though fear was lurking at my door, and that's not an easy thing to shake.

breakfast @magnolia

We had three solid days of meetings which accomplished more than we did in a month's worth of Skype calls.  God is on the move, and I wish I could tell you more details, but I feel it simply isn't the time just yet to do that in this space.  I am excited to see how God brings all the pieces together and would appreciate any continued prayers.

sweet niece

I didn't get to go out into the communities while we were there, and because my brain was in full on processing mode, I hardly took any photos.  I knew, however, that I would be writing about it and I can't write a post without some kind of photos to go with it. :)  Isn't that niece of mine a cutie?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

i'm not a conference person

I'm really not.  I attribute it to two things.  One, I'm a busybody.  Sitting for hours listening to someone talk makes me fidgety.  Two, I'm much more of a small group kind of girl rather than a 20,000 people crowd kind of girl.  However, when the opportunity came up for me and a friend to attend Women of Faith, something inside of me nudged me to go.

worship @women of faith

Even in my fidgeting, I try to be mindful of the takeaway that God would highlight.  As I listened to Patsy Clairmont, Andy Andrews, Brenda Warner, and others, I was reminded that we all have a story.  For some it might be as dramatic as going from homeless to a New York Times bestselling author (Andy Andrews) or living in Section 8 housing, divorced, with her special needs child and little baby to marrying an NFL star (Brenda Warner).  I love how God picks up our broken pieces and creates a story where His grace and mercy shines through the cracks.

patsy clairmon @ women of faith

So am I glad I went to Women of Faith?  Absolutely!  It has left me pondering my own story and letting it be a testimony of His goodness and faithfulness in my life.  It's a reminder that God's love for me is over the topDo you have a story where you see God's grace and mercy weaved through the cracks?

Disclosure : I was provided with two free tickets to Women of Faith in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, August 29, 2011

what's the buzz about?

fall 2011 issue

Some of you might remember my excitement when I announced in May that I Believe In Love was published in the Summer issue of Artful Blogging.  Not only was it a huge accomplishment for me personally but it was literally a dream come true.

AB congrats

Several weeks after I shared my news, I received an email from Jennifer at Stampington asking if they could publish a portion of that post in the Blogger Buzz section of the Fall issue.  Ummm, yes!  I know it's not a big spread like last time ,but for me, it feels like an extra wink that God gave me.

blogger buzz

That's my good news for this Monday morning (well, that and finding out that our house in Connecticut made it through the storm).  Do you have any Monday morning good news?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

my only birthday photo

birthday kiss

And I didn't even take it, but I love it!

Friday, August 26, 2011

back to school hair clips

My girl likes to accessorize, so not only did she want her backpack and her clothes to match, but she needed some matching hair clips.  Before I left for S. Africa I made some knitted blue flower hair clips (inspired by my friend, Britt).  They were super fast and she loved them.

flower clips

Upon my return we decided she needed some butterfly clips.  Yes, needed.  I tried knitting some, but they were unrecognizable as butterflies.  Both my husband and my daughter confirmed that suspicion for me.  After two sewing outtakes I was finally pleased with the third result.  I knitted a 3/4 inch i-cord and then did what I call messy sewing with some frayed edges. 

butterfly hair clips

I have one more set of clips that need some spicing up.  I wonder, will it be dragonflies, bees, more flowers.  Hmmm... Any suggestions?

Linking up with Jennifer@Studio JRU for Sneak Peek Friday.  Lots of creativity going on over there.  You should check it out!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

mat kearney's young love

My husband is dubbed the music person in our house.  He always knows when new albums are coming out and tells me about the newest artists.  The day Mat Kearney's Young Love album came out, he excitedly mentioned it to me and how great it was.  I was thrilled to get my hands on a copy to see if the feelings would be mutual.

mat kearney young love

So what do I think?  Well, to give you a hint, it's been playing nonstop either in the car while I do errands or on my computer as I cook, clean, and catch up on my computer work.  This fun, upbeat album is all about love, something I strongly believe in. :)

The album kicks off with Hey Mama, an upbeat hand clap that tells the story of how Mat met his wife.  The rest of the album follows suit with themes of love that might have you snapping, hand clapping, foot tapping, dancing, and singing along.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

I would highly recommend this album for some new tunes in your ear.  Mat's unique voice will remind you of the joy of young love that should continue on as young love matures.  He will be hitting the road next month traveling within the U.S. and Canada.  Click here for dates and venues.

mat kearney's website
mat kearney on facebook
mat kearney on twitter
buy young love on itunes

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Mat Kearney's album Young Love from One2One Network in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

friends, cappuccinos, and castles in england

I mentioned after we came back from vacation how blessed and rich I feel because of friends all over the world.  It's so true.  On our way to S. Africa, we stopped over in England for a couple of days to visit friends.  Even though it had been about 5 years since we had seen our friends in London, it felt like we picked up right where we left off.  Johnny and Lisa, we had such a good time!  I'm so disappointed I didn't get a picture.  I blame it on the 9 hour overnight flight.

After a lovely lunch and great conversation, we caught the train traveling up north to Birmingham where we spent two days visiting more wonderful friends, driving the countryside, eating great curry, and drinking cappuccinos.  Leon and Allison, we truly had a wonderful time.  These are the sites from our first stop on the countryside Ludlow!

cafe door



inside castle

castle view


old hotel

I have lots more photos to share from our time in England.  I absolutely love the old, old buildings and rich history there!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

first day of school photo shoot

Before I dive into talking about our travels, I have to show off the newest 4th and 1st graders in our house.  I tried to take tips from my own back to school roundups on Today's Mama to get the kids excited for another year of learning.  Back to school eve I prepared a special dinner (chicken broccoli pasta) requested by Emma G.  Back to school morning breakfast was Joshua's pick of pancakes and turkey bacon.

back to school dinner

back to school breakfast

Whether it be the special meals or not, excitement was high yesterday morning.  The kids got up easily and got ready quickly.  For those of you who know my girlie, this was quite an accomplishment.  She's trying to convince me that she's turned over a new leaf and early morning school hours won't be a problem.  I sure hope that's true!

my 1st grader

over the shoulder

toms shoes

The kids were ready by 7 giving us plenty of time for a photo shoot.  They were so cooperative.  I was pleasantly surprised by their happy smiles which led me to leave my camera at home when we walked them up to school.  I know Joshua was thankful for that. :)

what's so funny?

up high

nike shoes

Miss Emma decided to go all matchy matchy on me this year which totally surprised me.  The backpack over her shoulder was her idea. :)

bro & sis

Today's Mama back to school posts...Back To School Crafting and Tips On Back To School Photos.

Monday, August 22, 2011

my brain is slightly foggy

Well, I'm back physically, but I feel like there is a fog surrounded my brain that will take time to shake.  We returned from S. Africa on Saturday.  My birthday was yesterday.  The kids started school today.  In between all that and the jet lag, my mind is processing lots from the three full days of meetings we had.  It might be lots of pictures and few words for the rest of the week unless the fog clears soon.

we got bumped!

The above picture is me on the start of our journey (pre-fog).  When we checked in at the British Airways counter, the guy was incredibly nice.  As we were walking away, I commented to Jeremy that he was, perhaps, the friendliness check-in agent I've ever encountered.  Jeremy, being the great encourager that he is, went back and told him.  Once we got to the gate and handed over our boarding cards, the machine beeped indicating our boarding cards were invalid.  The lady looked puzzled and then said, "Oh, yes, you have new boarding cards."  She smiled and said, "These are better seats."  They certainly were.  We got bumped up, and it was incredible on a 9 hour flight to have the extra room.  We don't know if our good fortune was the result of complimenting the agent or not, but I do know that Jeremy's hopes of one day getting bumped up were answered!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

safely home by randy alcorn

safely home

Safely Home by Randy Alcorn is a novel about two friends, Ben Fielding and Li Quan.  When Li receives a scholarship to Harvard, he finds himself roommates with Ben.  The pair became great friends, but when Li returned to China, they drifted apart.  Fast forward twenty years.  Ben visits China on business and stays in Li's house.  It's a powerful visit where Ben's faith in God is restored and his heart is moved in ways he never could have imagined.

I really liked this book!  I love how the first several chapters switch between Li's life in China and Ben's life in the U.S.  It shows the extreme differences between two totally opposite worlds.  The book also creates an awareness of the persecuted church and challenges believers all over the world to pray.  Western minds, I think, have a hard time fathoming what the persecuted church goes through, and I think this book did a great job creating a picture of what it's like through the lives of two friends on opposite sides of the world.  I would definitely recommend it!

Disclosure : I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

where blue and white equals stunning

picnic tables

i heart jen

We ventured out to White Sands while we were in New Mexico.  We had taken the kids when they were younger.  They didn't remember, so we thought we would go again and have some fun sliding down the dunes.

walking along the sand

soaking in the sun

When you're up in the cool mountain air, sometimes you forget just how hot it can be down below.  Going to White Sands in the heat of the day is not necessarily a great idea, but it definitely doesn't take away from the fun!

pushing him down

happy couple

The bright sun combined with the brilliant white sand is almost blinding, but it is absolutely stunning!  Next time we'll go closer to evening.  Not only will it be cooler but it will make for some amazing photos with the sunset!

Related post...White Sands And Blue Sky on Today's Mama.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

this is what vacation looks like

After Colorado, we ventured to the mountains of New Mexico.  Jeremy's family has a place that is quiet and perfect for family time, card playing, and reading.  I love it!  We were there for a couple of days before his parents and youngest brother joined us.  Food, eating on the back porch, art projects, go kart riding, putt putt golf, togetherness...this is what vacation looks like!


drawing a masterpiece


devouring a smore

eating a smore

playing putt putt

putt putt 2

riding go karts

riding a go kart

at the space center 2

at the space center

What does vacation look like for you?

PS: The winner of the purple love giveaway is Roberta.  Congrats!

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