Sunday, August 31, 2008

Finding Love in the Small Things

This evening after the sun went down, Chris, myself, and Aleeyah with her baby stroller and baby in tow headed out for a walk around the complex where we live. We laughed as Aleeyah kept referring to her baby as "baby sister" (and no, this blog will not be about if or when Aleeyah might get a baby sister (: ) . She kept labeling us all. Like she was trying to remember for herself who everyone was. It was rather funny. Chris got smacked in the heels a few times by the crazy 3 year old with a pink stroller. We decided that Aleeyah just isn't ready to be a mommy after viewing her in mommy mode. Other than occasionally running her baby's stroller up her father's heels, she kept picking up and slamming down her stroller when she got stuck. She drove the stroller around like someone you would see driving in a Wal-Mart parking lot with their eyes on that one parking space that says, "You won't have to get a bit of exercise if you park here!". She did the same move her dad did when he let go of the Aleeyah's stroller at the zoo and landed us in the ER. She even almost forgot her "baby sister" and left her behind as we were frog chasing.

Even though the stroller ended up being just as we expected--an adventure all on it's own, I would do it again in a heart beat. Why? Not because of the laughs we all shared together watching Aleeyah bounce her poor baby around that she claimed was her baby sister, but because her hands were glued to the handles and most of her attention was on her baby. She didn't ask to be held or to ride on daddy's shoulders. She wasn't grabbing hold of my finger and telling me to "Come here". She didn't hold Chris and I's hands as she swung back and forth yelling "Whhhheeeeee!" And in all that time,

I got to hold my husband's hand.

I love all those times that I mentioned with Aleeyah-the shoulders, the calls to come here, all the Wheeeees, but to hold my husband's hand as we watched our little baby perform her big girl routine, was wonderful.

If you are a parent, you understand that maintaining a intimate relationship with your spouse is important, but so often it gets put on the back burner until you get a chance to come back to it. There are diapers to change, teeth to brush, milk to make, and bathes to give right now. They can't wait. Your hands are always busy doing the your mommy/daddy duties and pleasures. Your thoughts are wrapped around what your child is doing right now and what they will be doing 30 years from now. Your feet are chasing after your precious kids as they are one step from hurting themselves or getting into something that you know will take you hours to clean up. Your heart is wrapped around their every tear....every laugh....every smile....every word....every move....every fear. Your heart is wrapped around their heart as if to protect every part of their being. How do we have time for anything else? Our relationships with our spouse turn cold on the back burner and becomes that one pot on the stove that we can never find the time to scrub.

What can we do? Although I feel I struggle with this daily, I think for me, I've realized it's a matter of how I look at my husband and our marriage within our family in our every day lives. I don't always need time alone to remember how it feels to be married. I don't always need to go on that romantic dinner to feel the romance.

I've realized it's the little things that we do daily that I find our bond of love.

I love just spending time watching Chris and Aleeyah play. I love it when the 3 of us go for walks. I love spending time in the car chatting to and from the grocery store. I love helping him with his homework. I love looking at him with eyes that says, I am yours and we are His. I love being unified with him-one flesh, one body. And my greatest joy in our marriage comes from being parents. Parents that love being together and that love raising a strong little girl. Strong in spirit, strong in hope, strong in kindness, strong in mind, and strong in love.

Is it always easy? No. Is it worth it? YES

I'll be honest with you, I've missed my husband's hands lately. I've missed feeling it in mine. As Aleeyah is getting older and finding her independence, we are finding new ways to focus on each other, but we've also have had a lot of changes in our lives lately--good changes, but changes nonetheless. We've been busy adapting to a new home, new state, new job, new school, but where busyness hits the home, satan always tries to creep his way in.

In our home, there will be no room for him! Please be praying for us and remember that the biggest gifts and joys in your marriage, in your family, and in your walk with God come in small packages daily.

Have a great Labor Day weekend and don't forget to hold your spouse's hands. It might mean more than you know!

Tonight's prayer power will be for marriages. Not just ours, but for the marriages of our friends, our family, and our blog reader's marriages. I'm not normally a blanket prayer for everybody in the world's marriage kind of gal, but I'll talk to God about that one too!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Compassion Friends

The other day I wrote about shipping out the first Compassion Friends doll! So exciting! It was for a friend of mine. Her 5th birthday was on Friday. I started today on some more dolls. Production today went better than I expected. I was able to make good headway on 3 blonde dolls. Expect to see them posted soon! I am planning to give them their own page, but that will take me a bit of time to get that done.

Anyway. I wanted to invite you over to my friend's blog to see the birthday girl with her new doll!

Friday, August 29, 2008

She writes!

As I post on the blog before this one, Aleeyah and I have been back to working on our letters.

We are struggling with learning how to write the letters of the alphabet. Why? Because Miss Independent doesn't want me to hold her hand to draw the letter, she doesn't want to trace the letters, and she needs more assistance than just giving her an example to look at. We were however able to use the last method mentioned to teach her how to write a "T" and an "i". She already knew how to write a "H" and "O". Soooo...last night she wrote the word HOT!!! I know this wouldn't be exciting for most peple reading, but we are so proud of her. She just loves to learn and that makes us happy parents!

**I have to add that after I posted this post and was viewing it to make sure the video was there, Aleeyah ran over, picked up her Magna Doodle, and wrote the word HOT all by herself. She wasn't looking at anything to know how to spell it and I didn't tell her. Completely, on her own!!! :)

Here is a video of her writing HOT. It was taken on my digital camera so I messed up when I didn't turn the camera around so she is sideways. Sorry about that!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Library Tales and the apostle Paul

Aleeyah and I adventured out today to find the local library. I am surprised that we hadn't already don't this, but we have had lots of new things to see and explore! Now that we are settled here, we decided it was time to get back to really learning our letters again. A while back, I reported that Aleeyah could recognize all her uppercase letters and a lot of her lowercase letters. Now we have all upper and lowercase letters down and about 75% of theirs sounds. We were sounding out words last night when she almost read Cat all on her own! She was so close! I am so proud of her willingness to learn and in turn she is doing so great with her letters.

The library that we went to, Johnson County Library, is just a few miles down the street from us. I expected to pull up to a brown building where as upon entering I would find a little old lady at the desk checking smelly old books in and out. But I was quite impressed with it's mod exterior and just as impressed as we headed inside.

As we walked into the library I proceeded to remind Aleeyah of the library laws. Quiet voices, no running or jumping, no craziness, and just to slam it home again, only whispers. We made our way back to the kids area and practiced our whispers. The kids area was pretty large and included blocks, puppets, kids chairs and tables, and rows and rows of kids books!!! We spent most of our time sitting in the aisles of books finding ones that interested us the most. We sat reading our books, tucked away in the aisles--obeying the library laws. Aleeyah latched onto a Spot book. I remember reading Spot books when I was a girl and so I enjoyed being able to share that with Aleeyah today.

We picked out 4 books and went to talk to the librarian about getting a library card and checking out our books. I was beaming with delight while talking to her about the programs they have such as story time and crafts because we were about to register for our card, check out our books, and my 3 year old little girl managed to obey the library laws the entire time. I was a proud mom, but of course, just as the pride puffs up, your 3 year old reminds you that things don't always go the way you had planned.

I snapped my head around just in time to look at Aleeyah just as she squealed and giggled in delight with a new friend she just found. If you didn't know, squealing and giggling accompanies every little girl when you put 2 or more together and it cannot be accomplished while whispering. So to avoid being glared at or called out by the librarian, I quickly went over the new rules with her to include no squealing before filling out the necessary paperwork for our library card. The girls played for a little bit and were doing great after being reminded of the rules a few more times. They even start telling each other to Shhhhh. Pride begins to puff again and I am thinking I have this 3 year old in a library thing covered! This will surely look good on the mom card! Opps, spoke too soon--poof goes the pride and the girls! They took off running and began to circle around the librarians desk....with her sitting at her desk! Before I could catch Aleeyah, the librarian sternly told the girls that there is no running allowed in the library. So there you have it. Aleeyah got in trouble by the librarian at the young age of 3!

I sheepishly led Aleeyah to the front counter to check out our books, reminding her the entire time there that we do not run in the library. I felt a bit defeated, but quickly was reminded of why we came when she excitedly picked up her books and skipped to the front doors. It brought a smile to my face.

How quickly defeat crept up on me in our mini adventure to the library. For a few minutes, I let one little outburst take precedence over the time that we shared together. I forgot the great times that we spent reading together and learning together and focused on what went wrong instead.

I wonder how many times in our lives we let satan use the feeling of defeat to keep us from rejoicing in our progress or worse, keep us from finishing our goals. I've been doing a great study on Paul from a Beth Moore book, To Live is Christ. (If you are unfamiliar with his mission and journey, I would highly recommend this book coupled with your Bible! You won't be disappointed.) Paul is an amazing example of not letting defeat keep him from his God given mission. The persecution, anguish, and road blocks that he faced would have surely brought many of us down to our knees feeling defeated. Paul touched so many lives and brought so many people to Christ. What would have happened if he would have let satan use his lies on him? What would have happened if Paul focused on the the things that didn't go the way he thought they should have gone?

So all this to say, don't pull an Abbie next time your life has a little outburst! Think about Paul and firework finale of outbursts that he encountered along his journey and yet he remained faithful to the mission given to him and giving God all the glory!

I just hope that God smiles at us as we skip into Heaven after our adventure is over!

We are praying for Steve Warren and his family tonight. I came across their blog one day. About a month or so ago, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He recently came home to spend his remaining time with his family. Their faith has been amazing through their journey and they have touched many lives even in their hardest trials. They are a true example of standing strong even when satan would love nothing more than for them to feel defeated.

Monday, August 25, 2008

What's gonna work?

Yesterday, on the way to the congregation we worship at, we heard this little voice in the backseat singing. This isn't unusual for us because anytime Aleeyah and I are in the car there is a good chance one of us will be singing and most of the time without the accompaniment of the radio. Now God did not bless me with a singing voice, but I do love to hear Aleeyah sing.

Some of her favorite songs are

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
Saw, Saw, Saw
I'm in the Lord's Army
Happy Birthday

To my surprise, she wasn't singing any of these songs though. She was singing a song from the Wonder Pets. I am not a fan of Wonder Pets for this very reason...

So we don't watch it often, but apparently, it doesn't take much for our daughter to remember the songs and words. So back to yesterday morning...

Aleeyah was sitting in the backseat singing part of the Wonder Pet's theme song with a little bit of a change in the wording.

In part of the song it goes..

What's gonna work? Teamwork!
What's gonna work? Teamwork!

Click here to hear the actual song.

Well, apparently Aleeyah thought it needed a little something more. That some times teamwork just doesn't get the job done. Her little 3 year old voice in the back was singing...

What's gonna work? Jesus
What's gonna work? Jesus

How right she was! Teamwork is something that we all need a reminder about from time to time, but more importantly we need Jesus! I believe that when we love Jesus-we love people. In turn, we become team players to help others whether it be a neighbor who is struggling or a child who is hungry. Sometimes as hard as we try to change something in our own efforts, we still fall short. Thankfully, we have Jesus who is stronger than all of us no matter how big our team is.

So after Chris and I stopped chuckling at our daughter's new rendition of the Wonder Pet's song, my heart melted. An Ooey, gooey kind of melting. I felt it's warmth over my entire body as she continued to sing about her Jesus. Just as I thought there was no more inside to melt, we turned the corner into the church parking lot and she yelled with such great enthusiasm,

"GOD's HOUSE!!!"

By the way, in light of one of my recent posts about prayer, I have decided to end each post on my blog with at least one person I am praying for. Of course, I have many that I pray for daily, but I feel we need a little extra prayer power on some days.

Today, my prayer power is with our friends, Bill and Amy, who just discovered that they had a miscarriage.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Good News and Bad News

Good news and bad news. Don't you always hate it when people ask you which one you want first? I'm not saying that I the words never come from my mouth. In fact....

I've got good news and bad news. Which one do you want first?

Because the news is a bit more urgent than the time it would take me to poll our readers to find out which one they would choose, I will choose for you! :)

Today you get the good news first! I sent out my first Compassion Friends doll just before noon today!!! If you haven't had a chance to read about them on my previous post, I will brief you quickly on them. When you purchase a Compassion Friends doll made by your's truly, all proceeds go to feeding families in poverty through Compassion International. Approximately, 2 children will be fed for an entire month just from purchasing a doll!

Chris could tell you how stinkin' excited I was today as I shipped my first doll off to Oklahoma. I packaged it a little special for the birthday girl that will be receiving her in a couple of days!

Now here goes the bad news. I recieved a letter today from Compassion. My heart starting racing once I read the first sentence,

"I'm writing with urgent news affecting Emanuel and Gacheri, your sponsored children in Brazil and Kenya."

At that moment, I was so overwhelmed with feelings and I kept reading the first sentence over and over. I quickly noticed Marisol who lives in Peru was not included in this first sentence. I can't even begin to explain what was going on through my mind as I tried to keep from having a panic attack right there in front of my mailbox. I've read lately of other sponsors who received letters that their sponsored child had died to diseases or accidents. For a moment I felt my heart being ripped out of my chest.

My eyes immediately jumped to the bold words in the text,

"Life-threatening food crisis....I cannot overstate the need.....We need your help!.....We need to intervene now in order to ensure they do not experience severe malnutrition or worse."

As I stood there in front of my mailbox with my heart racing, I finally was able to slow down and read the letter. Our kids are fine for now, but the conditions that they live in are getting worse. I have been talking to you recently about the rising food crisis, that is what the dolls are for, and that is what this letter was about. Here is a few sentences from the letter,

"Incredibly, the price for rice, beans, and other food staples has increased dramatically in the past few months-by more than double in many areas-creating a life-threatening food crisis throughout the impoverished regions where Emanuel and Gacheri live.....Emergency funds are needed to purchase and distribute food, cooking oil and other assistance to protect our children and their families during this critical time."

Why was my heart racing when I read those few little words?

Because I pray specifically for our 3 sponsored kids and each one's needs EVERY day. I look at their faces in the pictures that I have EVERY day. I write them every other week. I re-read over their letters and study the pictures they draw for me. I wonder how they are doing constantly. I wonder when they cry and when they are happy. I wonder if they are fed and when they are hungry.

I don't do these things because I am great or because I need them to make myself feel better. I do it because they need someone and God has called me to be that someone for them.

On average it takes $39 to provide immediate food assistance for one family for a MONTH. Send me a message to purchase a doll for $36 and $26 of that money will go to Compassion's Food Crisis Fund. Sponsor a child for $32 a month and you will be providing a child with food, health care, and education. You will also have an oppurtunity to write back and forth with that child and learn first hand where they need you to pray for them and their family.

I am pleading with you today to stop right now and make a donation for these kids and their families. I know through my own sponsorship that Compassion is a reputable organization. Your money WILL go to these kids and their families. They need someone. Let that someone be YOU.


Give hope to a child in need. Sponsor a child today.

Friday, August 22, 2008

I'll pray for you...or will I?

Aleeyah and I had decided to stay a few extra days in Oklahoma after Chris returned home so that we could spend some time visiting more. Most importantly, we had 2 new babies to hold. My cousin had their baby, Nyla and my friend had her baby, Easton. I knew that we wouldn't be able to squeeze it all in a weekend and boy was I right and we didn't even get a chance to visit everyone we intended on.

I had the opportunity to sit down and have some very meaningful and deep talks with a few friends and family during this time. I hadn't realized how much I needed it until my drive home. Things have been going great here in Kansas and I could go on for days how God helped me refocus my life. He has shown me a bigger picture and I have begun to realize my life cannot be wasted on the little things Satan throws at me. I am so thankful for this redirection.

But it seems like in these moments, Satan gets a little antsy. It makes him sweat and in turn, he starts to breathe down my neck. Before I left for Oklahoma, I began getting angry about the things in my past that I cannot change. I began to get angry with people that didn't even know that their small inactions hurt me. I was beginning to feel abandoned and alone. I felt close to God, but distant from the rest of the world. This is something that Satan uses regularly on me. He knows just the right things to say to hurt me. He knows what pain to bring up so that the feelings can shoot through me quickly. He is good in that way, but what he wasn't prepared for is the time I was able to spend with my friends this weekend.

I needed this weekend for many reasons that I didn't even know. I won't share all of them today, but there is one that I would like to share.

One of the things I struggle with the most is wondering where my relationship stands with other people. I have been struggling with this a lot since moving to Kansas. It's like when you leave high school and you intend on keeping up with your friends. You know that you will care about that person no matter where life takes you. But it never seems to work out that way. You may talk to a couple of friends and the others become people you once knew. I struggle with that because that's not really the way I am geared. I am a relational person. I thrive on relationships. I have had a great opportunity to keep up a few of my friends and several kids at Oakcrest through writing letters, but what about the others? In those moments that I begin to wonder about my relationships I once had, Satan starts whispering in my ear. He tells me they never cared about me. That I never really mattered. He makes me forget that busyness keeps people from really being a true friend to others and it's not necessarily anything against me. He leaves me feeling abandoned yet again.

Thankfully, God is bigger than anything including Satan! I had an amazing conversation over lunch with a couple of friends of mine. I was discussing with them about this problem that I was facing. Through our conversation, I began to see that it's a problem that most all of us face. It's not necessarily a lack of genuine care, but more of the lack of taking the time to let someone know that you genuinely care about them and their struggles.

You know those moments when someone walks by you and says, "Hi, how are you." but never stops for your reply? Have you had those times that it was you saying those words in habit? Maybe you didn't have time to stop and talk. Maybe you didn't want them to unload on you.

This one will be a little harder to swallow. How many times in the last couple of weeks have you told someone you will pray for them? Did you pray for them? Did you earnestly pray for them? Did you pray once and then forget they were struggling? Did you cry out to God for them? Did you call them later in the week to tell them you were thinking about them? Where you there to listen when they opened up to you? Have you thought about how your inactions might have felt to the other person who needed you? I know there are times in my life that I am guilty of such things.

With all my research and time spent understanding how people in the rest of the world live, I wonder how many hungry and starving families wonder what they did wrong. Why their lives turned out the way they did? Why Christians claim to love everyone, but yet turn their heads when they cry out?

I've realized that it's in the little things that we do everyday that either positively or negatively impact others. I've realized that giving a Jesus type love isn't in the huge things in life, but yet the smallest. It's spending $32 a month to feed, educate, and provide health care to children in poverty. It's the card in the mail to a friend that says I am thinking about you or the phone call to say I've prayed for you all week. It's the way we keep our head up in the grocery store to smile at a stranger or the way we let the person behind us move ahead when we have a lot in our basket. It's not rushing to get in the door of the restaurant before someone else or getting mad at the waiter when he has too many tables to wait on.

It's taking the time to sit with friends and discuss the things that are bothering you in your lives so that you know how to pray for each other and where you need to be lifted up. They may be having a crisis within themselves even if it seems small to you. It's completely and utterly disgusting Satan with the love that you share with each other so that he can't stand to hang around.

I encourage you to kick Satan aside and open your heart up to your friends and strangers. Sponsor a child or give to the global food crisis. Find the little things that will make their day and DO IT! Tell them what they mean to you. Let God use you to be a friend to someone who needs one and let God use others to lift you up. Don't be afraid to tell them your struggles because you may find your answers and comfort in their responses.

I know I did!

Birthday Bash

We are back and ready to share our pictures from this last weekend at Aleeyah's Birthday Party!!! If you didn't already know we trucked it back down to Oklahoma for the big bash. We had a GREAT time! It was great to see everyone again. We had the party at the Little River Zoo. We had never been there and we didn't really know what to expect. The Zoo was beyond any expectations that we had. We had a personal tour guide that led us through the zoo and told us about each animal. It took us about 2 hours to get through the zoo. He told us information on each animal and took time for all of our questions. Each animal had a story and you could tell he knew what he was doing. He loved the animals and he loved teaching others about them. He was also great with the kids. We were able to feed several animals including the kangaroos and bears. I have to add also that the zoo is more of a sanctuary for these exotic animals. A lot of them had stories where they were beaten or neglected. Such a sad thought that people would purchase animals like these without having the common sense to remember that they are WILD animals.

Thanks to everyone who made it out to share this day with us! It wouldn't have been as special without you!

I hope you enjoy the pictures. I took about 16 short videos, but I can only get a couple of them to open up on my computer. I can view them on my camera though so I don't know what the deal is. I will keep working on it though and share a few of them if I can.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Leaving the blogging world.....

....just for a few days! When I return, I will be sharing stories of our adventures in Oklahoma including Aleeyah's Birthday party fun! Chris is heading back to Kansas with my Dad tomorrow. Aleeyah and I will be camping in our friend's houses for the next few days and then will head back home on Wednesday afternoon. We had a blast seeing alot of our friends and family today at the party and look forward to spending more time with them!

Look below and you will find a few updates to tie you over until we return!!!

Have a GREAT week!

Pictures of a 3 year old!

I took Aleeyah out the other day to attempt taking her 3 year old pictures. It was a very hot day so we didn't get a lot, but definitely some worth sharing! I will have to get her back out again soon on a cooler day to get some more.

....and then the black and whites....

Birthday with some Cheese

On Thursday, Chris, Aleeyah, Dad, Cody, and I headed for Chuck E Cheese for a little Birthday celebration. We figured since we were celebrating with our family and friends in Oklahoma this weekend, we couldn't let her actual birthday go by without doing something. We had a great time! I hope you enjoy the few pictures and videos!!!!

Welcome to Kansas and the funny farm!!!!!

I'm attempting to play catch up for the last few days so hang in there with me. We have had a great week and are looking forward to some more great days this week. Some of our pictures and video have some how been corrupted so I will just share with you a few of our favorites.

Chris' mom and grandparents came to see us on their way back to Oklahoma from Ohio. They were only here for less than 24 hours, but we had a good time nonetheless. Saturday afternoon we went out for lunch and then Aleeyah and I took them to the Deanna Rose Farmstead just down the street. This is the same petting zoo/farmstead that we go to quite often and if you are a avid reader you will remember the many pictures of our zoo trips! It is such a neat park and doesn't get old. Later in the evening, we took Benita, Chris' mom, up to the Plaza for a little tour and dinner. The next morning before they headed out, we took them on the trails by our house. In our 30 minute walk, we saw squirrels, soaked in some sun rays, and enjoyed each others company.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Month 1--Happy Birthday Aleeyah!!!


We have really enjoyed going back and sharing some of our favorite pictures with our blog readers over this last month. I didn't think we would actually accomplish it, but we did!!! Aleeyah has been the most amazing blessing that God has given us. We have really enjoyed the last 3 years with her. Parenting has been more rewarding and exciting than we ever thought it would be. We feel that each year keeps getting better and better. We loved to just hold and snuggle with her when she was a baby, but are enjoying hearing all the new things she says and learns. I have even been able to enjoy going shopping with her. Chris always says it's a good thing God gave us a girl that way I can have someone to be girly with. When I show her new clothes or something I've made, she encourages me with a "oooohhh, CUTE Mommy!!". And of course, we still love our cuddling and story time just as we always have!

Below are some pictures of her first month! I compiled all the pictures from the past month's birthday countdowns plus a few newer ones in case you haven't been following each day!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Month 2

As the countdown to Aleeyah's 3rd Birthday continues, we have decided to share our favorite pictures of Aleeyah by posting at least one picture a day for each month of Aleeyah's life counting down to her birth.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Month 3

As the countdown to Aleeyah's 3rd Birthday continues, we have decided to share our favorite pictures of Aleeyah by posting at least one picture a day for each month of Aleeyah's life counting down to her birth.

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