Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Celebrating the Graduate

We had a cookout with so many of our friends and family this weekend to celebrate Jesse's recent graduation. My parents were gracious enough to host in their awesome backyard. Thank you, Momma and Daddy!

I, of course, did what I normally did and snapped only a couple of photos... the rest I stole from my niece's facebook page because the girl I typically put in charge of snapping pics decided to go to Florida this past weekend. Ahem.

Don't you love this dress? It's in the etsy shop, but it fit her so well and went with the party colors (yellow and blue) so, she just had to wear it! She's not convinced that it's for her... you know, if it's not purple I have a very hard time getting her to wear it right now. (Something about wanting to grow up to be Rapunzel or something like that).

Some of Jesse's family made it up from Tulsa... this is my great-nephew. Just to let you know, I'm really not old enough to have a great-nephew but the fact that I do makes me feel really old. But I love him anyway. And he... doesn't really know who I am, and could care less. But! he loves Cruz! They were too cute together this weekend!

Jesse's second oldest niece just graduated from high school!

We had a lovely time and we were so blessed by those who came out and spent time with us celebrating. I am completely floored by the grace that God pours out on us in the form of awesome family and friends... He really has been good to us!

In other news, my feet and ankles feel like overstuffed sausages from all the swelling... guess summer and my third trimester are in full swing now! How was your weekend?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My Sister's Birthplace

Well, not really. I mean, you didn't think that she was actually born in (or at) the Keeper of the Plains, did you? Ahem.

She thought so. Well, at least for a long time she did. Apparently, there used to be a Wichita commercial on the t.v. when we were kids and when it came on my brother and I would tell her, "That's where you were born, Elisabeth." Or perhaps we said, "Little B" because that is what we called her back then. Anyway, we would go on to explain how we were both born in Nebraska and that she was born here. Unfortunately, there was also a photograph of the Keeper of the Plains in that commercial and she took it to mean she quite literally was born there.

"There's where I was born!" she'd shout as we'd drive by... since then the Keeper has been mentioned in a Rich Mullins song and had some major improvements done.

Tuesday night, we decided to take the kids to see their aunt "Biscuit's birthplace."

"There's where Biscuit was born," I told them.

"Really?" they wanted to know.

"No, not really... she was just a silly little girl who thought she was born there." I murmured under my breath. Some people are meant to have bigger and better stories than reality... Elisabeth is one of them. Let the kids try and figure out how or where exactly she was born out there.

And then, we waited for one of the improvements to be turned on... fire!

Pretty cool place to be born, if you ask me.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Change of Plans

Our plans to spend yesterday in Tulsa visiting family fell through at the last moment on Friday night... little feelings were crushed in the process and floods of tears ensued. (Meeting up with any of Jesse's family does not happen on a frequent basis, so when it doesn't work out as planned, it is a big disappointment to everyone.) Even after assuring them that they'd come to see us the following weekend and that we'd find something to do here in town that would be fun... we still had a severe case of mopeys going on.

But we came up with a plan... last weekend we'd also had a change of plans to the day and had missed a birthday party at O.J. Watson Park. (Fortunately for me, I hadn't mentioned it to the kids beforehand so I hadn't had to deal with the same amount of crying as last night.) So, with the park still fresh in my mind, we headed down to make an afternoon of it.

The kids have been forever asking to ride on a boat... they see the row boats up and down the Arkansas as we're constantly crossing it and think that looks like a wonderful thing. (A couple of years ago, Diego asked for a row boat for his birthday... he didn't get it.) We took a paddle boat ride instead on the pond and that seemed to do the trick for them. I had fully expected to stay behind with the baby, but apparently he was permitted to go, too.

Pony rides for the bigger kids.

And then a train ride for everyone.

Cruz refused to hold on to my hand on the train... he made it perfectly clear that he would sit and hold the rail but in no way, shape, or form was I to treat him like a baby and insist on holding him or his hand. (He thinks he's big stuff!)

 And although we did miss spending time with extended family yesterday, it sure was nice way to redeem it by spending some fun time with our own little family! Thank you, God, for Your love and mercy and giving us just what we needed for the weekend!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


For the past two and a half years, I've been a part of Bible Study Fellowship... it's been good for me as a mama and great for my kids. I've felt blessed knowing that I could leave my kids (for free!) with ladies who love them and love the Lord and who would develop a love for the Lord and His Word in them while being able to go and learn with other women. It's been a big blessing and has helped me to stay in the Word myself.

But today was our last day. For most of the women there, they will return in the autumn... their 1st graders off to full time school and the little ones still attending. So, there are downsides to homeschooling, and this is one of them. There's not a class offered during the day for 1st graders. (There is in the evenings-- but then they don't have a class for the little ones in the evenings.) *Sigh*

We will miss it! We'll miss the friends we've made and I'll miss the accountability and study. So this is my prayer, that I find some new study that I'm able to attend and the timing of it all will work for Jesse and his schedule so I can go. Right now, we don't know what he'll be doing for work or study in the fall so things are really up in the air. I guess I'll have to leave it in God's hands... and I suppose that's a perfect place for it to be.

A big thank you to all the awesome BSF volunteers was in order again... so perhaps we did a repeat of last year's gift. It's a yummy one!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Our Graduate

Jesse's graduation has been a long time coming... but it finally arrived!

The kids were so excited to go and cheer him on!

We sat in the back of the stadium. The kids told my parents how to find Jesse... he'd be wearing a black gown and cap.

Little did they realize the ocean of black gowns and caps that were about to flood the floor of the stadium.

Diego did eventually find him, it took Eliana a very long time... she kept waving for him, but also kept looking everywhere but in the right direction.

Cruz did pretty well considering the ceremony took 2 hours.

 We are so proud of you, Jesse! You are a great husband and terrific
father and we are thankful for the way you've worked so hard to accomplish this milestone! Congratulations and lots of love!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

It's Here!

This is Jesse and I ten years ago in El Paso, Texas, getting ready to lead a team of teenagers across the border for a mission trip. (Back when people still let their kids cross the border for short term mission trips.)We had just been engaged a couple of months at this time and were looking forward to getting married the following summer. Then, we figured he'd finish school before we started a family. But then, I got impatient for one of those, too... and we're glad for the little ones God has blessed us with!

But finally, finally! I got to send out this invitation this week! And we are so excited that the end of the chapter is done and in anticipation to see what God has for us next!

We cannot even begin to express our thankfulness to God and to so many brothers and sisters who have encouraged us and prayed for us through this past decade... but we are grateful! It has not been an easy road, but there have been many blessings along the way and we are grateful for how God has grown us and stretched us in so many ways.

Linking up today:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Preparing Little Eyes to be Opened

The story of the blind man is such a beautiful picture of what Christ does for all of us who believe. He opens our eyes to see our spiritual need, desperation, and depravity--the fact that we live in the utter darkness of sin. And while the opening of eyes is something only God can do, there is a great weight of responsibility on parents to prepare our little ones' hearts for spiritual Truth. 

If you read through John 9, you can tell by the way this man speaks in vs. 30-33 that his heart was already prepped for the Jesus' announcement that He is the Son of Man. He already has a great understanding of the spiritual world... and because of the culture of his day, he had already been told of his sin.

Although, off base, the blind man's culture told him that his blindness was a punishment from God for either his sin, or his parents'. I'm guessing his parents' didn't consider it to be theirs... as you can tell they distanced him from themselves in vs. 21. So there's a great chance that not only was this man told by the world around him that his blindness was a result of his sin, but was also told so by his parents.

Jesus corrects this thought. That his blindness was brought on as punishment. God disciplines those He loves, certainly. But God does not punish. And here we see that the blindness has nothing to do with sin, but rather with God's glory. As we so often forget. This world, this life has nothing to do with us... rather it's to bring glory to the One Who deserves to be glorified.

Still. The fact that this man has been told time and time again that he is a sinner... God can and did use that to bring glory to Himself as well! It made the blind man aware of his need for a Savior. It made him aware of his sin. It made him aware that there was nothing, absolutely nothing that he could do in his own effort or strength to get away from the fact that he was a sinner. He stood condemned.

I feel that often, we, as parents, are good at praising our kids for all their wonderfulness. We tell them they are beautiful, we tell them they are funny, that they are smart, kind, charming, whatever quality within them that we value. But really, when we do this we praise them for things that really have nothing to do with them, but rather how God created them. Sometimes we are so busy worrying about self-esteem in our children; building them up that we forget to glorify God for the way He has made them. We fail to tell them, "You are beautiful because you are made in God's image." Or, "God gave you a talent for drawing, keep up the hard work because He can use that talent to glorify Himself."

Here is where our responsibility lies-- to prepare their hearts for the Truth of His grace and mercy. To allow them to see that anything good in them is because God has already rained down mercy on them and He loves them. But it doesn't end there. They need to understand the sin in them leaves them in utter darkness. That they have sin and they have a need for the Savior. I'm not suggesting a fire and brimstone sermon every time they fail. Rather, we need to gently lead them by example-- by being willing to talk about our own sin and our own need for a Savior. By talking about repentance and what that looks like. By talking about turning away from sin and turning to the foot of the cross where we can experience mercy and grace.

It is up to us, Mommas and Daddies, to prepare these little hearts for the Lord. It is not for their Sunday School teachers, the church or anyone else. We are commanded to do so:

Deuteronomy 6:6-7
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. ESV

There is a reason that studies point to the fact that most of those who don't accept Christ by the time they are 18 never will. It's because they've left home and left the guidance of Christian parents. And there's a reason that only 5% of children in this generation are believed to be born again (compared to the 15% of my generation and the 35% of the generation before). It's because we are failing in our duties as parents. Let's not continue down that road. Let's prove that statistic wrong by turning the tide and teaching our children about the Lord once again. Let's prepare their spiritual eyes to be opened by the way we lead and the way we live.

“Fathers and mothers are the most natural agents for God to use in the salvation of their children. I am sure that, in my early youth, no teaching ever made such an impression upon my mind as the instruc­tion of my mother; neither can I conceive that, to any child, there can be one who will have such influence over the young heart as the mother who has so tenderly cared for her offspring.”  – Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Monday, May 7, 2012


How was your Cinco de Mayo weekend? Ours was busy and done with far too quickly! We did manage to grab some tacos and tortas from a taco truck at a Cinco de Mayo festival.  The kids wanted to stay for face painting but I decided the line was far too long for it being so hot!

I swore that it must have reached the 100s on Saturday and was alarmed when I realized it was only 84! Oh my, I'm in for a long summer if I'm dying in 80+ degree weather! (And I don't know what I was thinking when I got pregnant in time to bear through the entirety of the summer in my last trimester-- pray for me!)

Nevertheless, I was determined to do something special for the kids in honor of the Mexicans defeating Napoleon at Puebla, but it did have to wait until Seis de Mayo instead... although, I did start it the night before.

It was quite the involved project and if I'd read through the actual instructions instead of just looking at the photos, I might have not gone through with it because she does warn that it takes a long time. I would also follow her directions a bit closer I think... although I did like the sugar cookie recipe I used. And I'm rarely one to follow directions to a T. (It's probably the rebellious spirit within me.) Regardless, the kids had fun breaking open the little piñatas and finding the surprise within. If you do decide to make these, be prepared to spend somewhere between 4 and 6 hours in your kitchen, um-kay?

Will I make them again? Uh, we'll see about that after I'm not pregnant... maybe I can be convinced again. But if nothing else, I now am the owner of a donkey cookie cutter... which maybe I could use at Christmas?

Here's the lovely blog where I found the cookie directions! (Her's are much cuter.) Hope your Monday's been marvelous!

Friday, May 4, 2012

The End of a Season

I'm really not sure how this happened. But it finally did!

Diego finished up his soccer season last weekend... that should have given me a clue that we were nearing the end. Diego did so well this season, he has become more focused and a bit more aggressive when it comes to getting in a group of boys to take the ball away. He's quite a bit smaller than the good majority of them (partly because he's one of the youngest in the his division and partly because he's just small)  and I think that has made him a bit hesitant. Either way, he's made his way and finished the season strong. We're proud of him!

But he's not the guy, I wanted to talk about nearing the end of a season. And neither is this little guy... although, I'm afraid he's about to figure out how to climb out of his crib and that's the end of a season I fear!

No, the guy I want to talk about is this one right here. He almost didn't marry me when he did because he wanted to finish school. But I wasn't the patient type to wait for three years of school first. So, the year after we got married, he started back to school part-time. Then the following year we moved to back to Kansas. He took two more classes after we moved here (one a semester because that's all we could afford) before Diego was born.
Two years later, after Eliana arrived, we finally decided that if he were ever going to finish he was going to need to head back... no matter how old (or young) the kids were. So, another baby and a half later (that's 4 years of part-time), he is finally done! We weren't sure until yesterday if he'd walk next Friday because we hadn't gotten the results back from his latest CLEP test, but God has been so faithful to us--providing for us and allowing Jesse the ability to test out of a total of 12 hours for his major! We are grateful for His mercies toward us and I am so proud of Jesse for working so hard to complete his degree while balancing work, a ministry internship and family!

We are definitely excited for the next phase of our life together (which probably includes a new school) but, right now, we are just going to enjoy the summer off together and praise God for all that He has allowed us to accomplish! And thank you to all those who have supported and prayed for us through the years... especially the past few weeks! We are so blessed to have friends and family who encourage us and lift us up to the Father!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Learning (and Teaching) How to Abide

I am thankful for a church and pastor who calls me out and holds me accountable. But sometimes it makes me mad, too. Something like, "Dang it, what on earth possessed me to suggest we try out my little brother's best friend's church?" Last Saturday was no exception. We were in the second half of John 8 and right away I was called to the carpet.

For far too long now, I've given myself a pass as far a daily devotions go. "I've got little kids; it's difficult to be consistent when they wake up at inconsistent times." "I'm just too exhausted to get up before they do and  get them done without interruption." And many fellow moms were right there beside me telling me the same thing. "You're a mom to little kids, don't beat yourself up too badly if you aren't able to read the Word," I was told. And to some extent, this is true.

There are days when the two year old is going to start puking at 4  in the morning and you'll spend the rest of your day mopping up, doing laundry double-time, and wiping hot little cheeks with cool cloths. There's nothing that can be done on days like that and it's in those days that all those Bible verses you've memorized are useful. Calling to mind His Word is a good standby in these times. I cannot beat myself up on these days when circumstances call me into constant ministry mode.

It's when calling to mind the verses I have memorized becomes my only source on a regular basis. If the Word is accessible, then I should take every opportunity to abide in it. "Better to be sleep deprived than God deprived," I read on Domestic Kingdom the day before I heard Chad's sermon. Ouch! that stung! But it's true. When I'm giving myself the extra sleep I think I need or deserve instead of getting my not-so-little hiney out of bed, I'm depriving myself of my greatest source of strength. The One who knows all my needs, knows just how my day is going to go before it ever happens, and can give me the strength to live it in a manner full of grace, IF I will abide in His Word.

Abide Wrist truth

On the way home that evening, I told Jesse that I feel like I need to make the word Abide my theme word for the rest of the year. I really need to focus on Abiding in God's Word. Then I told him how I felt convicted for not being more steadfast in the study of His Word but also not teaching the kids to abide either.

If I am going to teach my kids the true meaning of the Gospel; if I want by children to learn to rely on Christ and His work. I can't just teach them to follow a bunch of rules that God's Word lays out, rather, I need to teach them to abide in the Word so they can know His truth and then their lifestyle will be a product of knowing the Truth.

Too often our Bible time with the kids has taken a similar route as my own personal study time. If it's late, the Bible story is skipped. If Mami or papi has had a rough day and we're exhausted, we decide to skip the Word, say a short prayer and get them to bed as quickly as possible. If the kids ask why we're skipping the Bible, I'll explain I'm tired and if they remind me in the morning, I'll read it then. They never do. Why would they? They've just seen by my example that the Word is not a priority in my life... why would they make it one in theirs?

So, I'm learning to abide this week. And wouldn't you know it? God is helping me! The past two mornings I've been up in the five o'clock hour... one morning a bug bite was bothering me and I couldn't sleep and today I woke up hungry. (This is me--the woman who regularly rolls out of bed between the times of 7:15 and 8). It is definitely a God thing! The kids have been in His Word consistently this week too... even the night that we didn't get ready for bed until 10! And, you know what? Even on less sleep, my reactions to the rest of the day's events have been more grace filled as I learn to Abide in His Word throughout the day. Thank you, God, for your grace and teaching me to Abide!

Better to be sleep-deprived than God-deprived.”