Thursday, June 26, 2008

Is This My Reward?

Am I dreaming? Look at the afternoon temperature on my car! Sorry the picture's blurry, so I will read it for you - sixty-eight degrees! Granted, we have had thunderstorms and a little hail every afternoon to get here, but I'm not complaining. If you don't know about me complaining, just read here. No more complaining for me!

I would like to think that God is rewarding me with cooler weather after getting over my temper tantrum with Him; but, I have a feeling all of Houston's weather does not depend on me learning a lesson. Oh, we would definitely be in trouble is that were the case!

Molecule Explosion

Some crazy molecules have formed at my kitchen table this morning. The kids have been hard at work making new scientific discoveries. Some molecules even resemble robots!

We are going through Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry. I really like the way they use big, colorful pictures and easy explanations without dumbing it down. They had to make random molecules first. Then they had to remember that different atoms cannot form as many bonds as they want, so they had to count the bonds to make real molecules. All while playing with (and eating) marshmallows. How could that not be fun for kids?

When I asked Moses what he wanted me to teach him while he was living with us, he immediately answered - Chemistry! Really. That just happened to be my minor in college - thank you, God! How did He know a little boy from Africa would want me to teach him chemistry one day and I wouldn't be intimidated by it? Oh, that's right - He's God! He was probably laughing at the image of the marshmallow explosion on my table that I had waiting for me in my future while I was staying up late, struggling over Organic Chem. Now, all those classes were worth it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Attitude Adjustment

My kids have Hebrews 13:5 memorized:

"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'."

How can they not have it memorized? It's the verse I tell them every time they start complaining about not having something they want. It's my proof that I am right and they are wrong, because I have scripture to back up what I say. That's a great feeling for moms being able to back yourself up with God's Word, instead of just saying, "because I said so". I can tell them, "God said it, not me, so you can't argue!"

heh! It shuts them down them every time!

But, this time it was my lesson. And a more appropriate scripture verse for me would probably be Phil 4:11:

"Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content."

Excuse me?

Did that say in whatever situation I am to be content?

But what about when I don't like the situation?

Here comes the lesson.

I was leaving swim lessons with the kids at 3:00 in the afternoon. In Texas. In June. When I got in the car - the hot car - the temperature caught my attention. It was 98 degrees outside. Immediately, I started complaining to God in my head. Not really complaining. More like griping, and complaining, and whining.

God, why do You have me living in Texas? I do not like being hot. I don't like to sweat. I have to spend half of every year trying to figure out how to stay indoors. This really stinks! But - I don't want to move. So, if You have to put me in Texas, why can't You make me like it??? I have friends that say they love the heat. You made me - why couldn't You have made me like the heat when You knew I was going to live in it?

Then, I start thinking of all the things I complain about (mainly in my head - to God) and it's a long list. Yardwork, exercising, pretty much anything outdoors while it's hot. Notice all of these things involve sweating. Gross.

But, I have friends that talk about loving all of these things. How can they love these things?

Then, I think - Maybe they don't love these things. Maybe they choose to love these things that they can't do anything about anyway. Maybe God would like me to choose to love the life He has chosen for me.

I pray for God to use me to glorify Him. I want to surrender my life to Him. I try not to hold on too tightly to material things. But, how is God supposed to work in my life when I am so busy complaining about what I don't like? What about all the things I love? Why can't I focus on those things? God wants me to be thankful for the life He has blessed me with. I know how I feel when I do something nice for my kids and they start finding things to complain about.

From now on, I choose to love summers in Texas because that is part of the gift God chose for me. I am thankful for the life He has blessed me with. I don't want to waste my time thinking of how He could make it better.

There are many, many verses on being thankful. Just one to think on for now is I Thess 5:18:

"give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

On the Road to Recovery

I haven't been good about updating the progress with Moses. Sorry. He had a very successful surgery on June 11th. They did six surgeries on his arm that day. The doctor was very pleased with how it turned out, so that is encouraging. Moses was in a lot of pain the next few days, but he was tough. He did not complain, and after a few days he rarely asked for any pain medication.

He went yesterday and they took the stitches out and put a hard cast on. That has been pretty uncomfortable, but again, he is not complaining.

Today, he was in a great mood and we had a lot of fun with him. We played outside and he was running around with us. He's also back to giving Bear a hard time. He loves to pick at her for some reason. It started because she was so shy with him and he was determined to win her over. He was persistent and today - she spoke to him for the first time! He was shocked, but pleased. So, he stole her tricycle. :) That's just the relationship they have.

Notice the straight wrist!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

How Does Your Garden Grow?

I guess I'm a glutton for punishment. After my last post, one might think I would not be planting anything for a while, but one does not know me very well if one thinks that. I am not a quitter. heh!

Actually, Ellie has a new project going and her first task is gardening. Also, for school I wanted to incorporate a butterfly garden into our birds and insects study, since the last chapter is on butterflies. Therefore, she and I worked very hard all day on her new butterfly and hummingbird garden.

First, we had to get all of the weeds out of the neglected flowerbed along our garage. It is really strange how neglected this particular flowerbed was, since it is a focal point of our backyard and we see it right outside the window from our kitchen and living room. It helped that a big rose bush blocked the view of the rest of the bed when I saw it from the kitchen. I could focus on all of those pretty knock-out roses and pretend the rest looked just as good. But the truth is, I couldn't seem to figure out what to do with it, so it sat. And got weedy. And it was a long, weedy dirt bed with one beautiful rose bush on one end.


As Ellie was working, she kept commenting about how it was like going into a jungle. A jungle that came up to her ankles - but a jungle nonetheless. At least it made the weeding more exciting for her. It gave her a great sense of accomplishment to finish that task (with my help, of course). She felt good about how many times she filled up her weed bucket and had to empty it. The better she felt about her hard work, the worse I felt about how bad I let the weeds get. It's okay - that's why we were out there. Gettin' stuff done and checking it off my to-do list. Oh, and teaching my kids about butterflies. I love school projects that involve marking things off my to-do list!

Then, it was off to Arbor Gate to buy plants. Did we measure the flowerbed and carefully plan what plants to buy and where we were going to plant them? No. We picked the ones we thought were pretty and stopped when our little red wagon was full. I think that's the best way to do it. Are you surprised my last garden was a flop? When we got home, we moved them around and decided where they would look best. Then, we planted them before our dog ate them. We'll get a few more plants to fill in the gaps, and then we just need to lay down some mulch.

What butterfly garden would be complete without Butterfly Bush?

Here are some plants that I don't remember the name of. We wrote them in the garden journal, though. Yes, we now have a garden journal. grin.

Here's the whole flowerbed. I can't wait until the plants start growing and filling the whole place up. See the pretty rose bush at the end?

Ellie is so proud of all of her hard work today. I love watching my kids work hard for something and feel good about it. She should feel good. It was stinkin' hot today!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Harvest Time

I am so thankful for the produce section of my local grocery store. I have complained in the past about the produce not looking so great. Now, I am going to be impressed with whatever makes it to the store.

I thought we would try a small garden this year. I have never had much of a green thumb, so I started small. Square foot gardening sounded perfect for me. I knew it would work. So, I put Tony and the kids to work and we started one 4X4 ft. garden. Enough for sixteen little planting areas. I knew it wouldn't be enough to fill our produce need, but I could supplement at the store. Yes, supplement. I stuck with "easy to grow" plants. The ones they usually recommend for kids' gardens since they are so easy to grow a kid could do it. Apparently, I should have let my kids do all of it.

Let me share a little of our harvest:

Okay - that's not just a little of our harvest. That's about it! I can't even make anything with that. I guess I can just throw them in the salad tonight. I thought beans were supposed to be a no-brainer. And, I didn't even know I planted cherry tomatoes. I also planted squash, cucumbers, cantaloupe, radishes, carrots, etc. Maybe I am not being patient enough. But, the radishes even flowered out without the radish at the bottom. I'm not claiming any gardening knowledge right now, but I really thought the plants were pretty much done producing once they flower out.

I guess if we were farmers, we would starve. I'm pretty disappointed. I have images in my head of being like Laura Ingalls Wilder. Living out in the wilderness and being able to cook and sew for my family. I wouldn't really want to live that way, but the realization that I couldn't even if I tried is heartbreaking to me.

At least it's just plants. I can throw them in the compost when I'm done with them. I don't feel as bad when I mess up the gardening as I do when I mess up with the chickens. They don't seem to appreciate being my practice chickens.


That's what Moses has been doing a lot of since his surgery yesterday. I have many people asking for updates. Thank you all for praying for him.

Our praise is that his surgery went really well. The doctors were happy with how it turned out. Now it's just time for some rest and healing. His pain medicine seems to be working and he is able to sleep. It's pretty bad when you are in pain and it's not time for your next dose of medicine. I'm glad we have not had that so far.

Moses was very excited yesterday after the surgery when he was able to see his hand straight for the first time ever. After he heals from the surgery, they will begin therapy on his arm. It's going to be a lot of work and pain, but we are all hoping he will be able to use that hand better.

As for now, all he wants to do is sleep and watch Tom & Jerry. He's not much of a tv person, but he isn't up for games and reading yet. Hopefully, he will start feeling better soon and will be ready to do something so he doesn't get so bored with dvd's.

Please continue to pray for quick and proper healing and as little pain for him as possible. He's such a sweet kid and is going through a lot. I know he is also missing home and the people he loves there.

Thank you all for your many prayers!

Monday, June 9, 2008

It's Good to be Home

What a nice break! I am glad I was able to get a chance to go and hang out with some great friends. We really did just hang out and talk the whole time. The guys would have had to get the boat and jet skies out, but we were perfectly happy just visiting with each other. I am thankful for good friends that I can relax with and share my heart.

If you look closely, you can see a rainbow in this picture. It didn't show up very well. I'm sure if I knew more about photography, I could have captured it better.

And - I can't end without sharing the standard picture of my view while on vacation. Notice the cool sandal tan lines. If that doesn't say I'm a hip mom, nothing does.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Time Away

I'm off to the lake today with some very sweet friends. We will be there today and tomorrow and we have nothing planned except sitting around and talking. Guys probably don't get that, but it's a great vacation as far as I am concerned. As long as I don't have to touch the lake water! There's a big floaty that I can step onto without ever touching water - what could be better?!

I have two goals on this trip:

1) fun conversations

2) some time away from my daily routine to gather my thoughts

I should come home full of wisdom and have some great stories, to boot.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


We have had this sweet young boy living in our home since last Friday and I have not even been able to post about it. Mainly, because I have had to spend some time trying to gather my thoughts about the whole situation. I have been speechless. Tony would not agree with that statement!

This young boy's name is Moses and he is 13 years old. He lives in an orphanage in Liberia and has come to America to have surgery on his crippled hand. Our church brought him here to help, but I don't think God brought him here strictly to have his hand fixed. So, the big question - What is God doing? And, the bigger question - What am I supposed to do?

My first instinct is to adopt him and bring him to America. I think that is everyone's first instinct. Whenever someone finds out he is staying with us, their immediate question (or statement) is - You are going to adopt him, right? You can't send him back! As if that would solve all of his problems. The truth is, it would probably cause a whole new set of problems. It's not like the teenagers in America have no problems. If anything, as a whole, our teenagers seem to lack the joy and peace that I keep hearing the people back in Liberia have. They are completely dependent on God for every need and they are truly thankful for all they have. Even if it seems like so little to us. Moses reminds me of that when I listen to him pray. He thanks God for everything. He thanks God for water. I can't remember the last time I thanked God for water, if ever.

His biggest need is probably an education. He will need that so he will be able to support himself in the future. At least, that is the big problem I can see. Unemployment. And, with a crippled arm, the chance of finding work goes down significantly. Maybe that is where God is calling us to help. Are we supposed to try to help fund educations for these kids?

So many questions. Are we supposed to try to adopt Moses? Are we supposed to try to adopt another child who is worse off? Are we supposed to move our family to Africa and serve in an orphanage? The questions are endless. I'm not sure where this is going, but I am excited to see where it leads. One thing I know - my life has changed. I don't know how, but the reality of the needs of people so far away from my world is sinking in. Looking at this child playing games in my living room and realizing he came from an orphanage in Africa is surreal.

I think it's too easy to look at the pictures of those suffering and think how sad, but then move my thoughts right into what am I making for dinner tonight? I think television has probably done this disservice to me. I can tell myself that I know what is real vs. imaginary, but I think too often I move very tragic events into the imaginary side as if it were a movie. And, I know I am just naturally selfish. I don't like to think of things that make me feel bad. Or, that I don't think I can do anything about. I like to be in control, and if I can't fix it, then I guess I can't do anything.

God has used Moses to change my thinking. He has shown me that it is not my job to fix anything. That is His job. But, He wants me to allow Him to work through me in some areas. And there is where my attitude is changing. Now, I am looking forward to seeing how and where God would be willing to use me.

As I read through Psalm 10 this morning, I kept thinking of the injustice of the poor and the orphans suffering while the corrupt people prosper. Sometimes I have the same questions as verse 1: "Why, O Lord, do you stand afar off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?" I question why God is not doing something to help these people. But then, in verse 14, I am reminded: "But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless."

I am not going to question God. I know He is not abandoning His children, even though I can't figure out what He has planned. Psalm 10 ends with such encouragement in verses 17 and 18: "O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more."

My job is to just trust in the Lord and look for him to work in me and through me. I am excited to see what God has planned.

Funny Bunnies

I have always thought bunnies were soft and cute to look at, but have never had a desire to own one. But, these little girls have won me over.

Let me introduce you...

Tate's is Dot, the dalmation one:

and Ellie's is Bella, the brown one.

I wish they would stay this little. They are the perfect size for the kids to hold and they can control them. Hopefully, with lots of loving and cuddling, they will become quite tame and not so wiggly. The breed is Mini Rex, so they won't get huge.

On another pet note - the chickens are doing very well and getting big. Well, two of them are. The little black one was smothered when they all piled on top of her. Yes, apparently chickens think - "We're hot, so let's all huddle up together and lay on each other." I kept hearing chickens were not very smart, and I'll just say - yeah. And, yesterday a big, black snake got in the coop and killed Star. I can't believe it would just kill her and leave. We have a lot to learn. Welcome to the country!