Lilypie - Memorial

Josh

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Christmas!

I'm bad, I know - not having posted since September...however, I'm not sure who actually reads this blog, so perhaps you haven't missed me. If you do read, feel free to drop a comment so I know who's out there "listening".

I can hardly believe it's Christmas again, and we just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. 10 years that sometimes feels like a lifetime, and other times, feels like it's not possible it's been that long. After 10 years, we've settled in quite a bit with each other; navigating the maze of parenting a preschooler, trying to not have the same old arguments again and again, anticipating each other's thoughts and reactions, and living our lives the best way we know how. We try to live and love and give 100%...TRY being the operative word!

Josh continues to bring us great joy. I can't imagine what the next 10 years will bring - he will be 14 then, and I may be ready to tear my hair out! He is a sweetheart with a good heart, an imagination to beat the band, and a stubborn, tenacious, personality that will serve him well in the future. He gets Early Childhood support for focus and attention issues, as well as some receptive language and OT services. He loves playing with his friends, especially our neighbors' son Evan. He brings joy and spreads cheer wherever he goes.

We are blessed to have our families with us for another year, and blessed beyond words to be involved in a wonderful church that serves us and allows us to serve. They love us, and love Josh, and we are excited to see what the future holds. Our families are healthy and active, and we are so glad we live close enough to see them regularly, even though Chris talks about moving somewhere warm when we get old.

As for me, I'm tired. You can probably tell by the tone of this post. Not physically tired, right now, but weary of this world. I'm not trying to be morose; I just find myself looking forward to the day when the cares of this life are over and I see my Savior face to face. I am nowhere near where I want to be when He calls us home, but I hope that I am drawing nearer to Him each day. I want my life to be purposeful and uncluttered, but that is harder than it seems.

I know it's not New Years, but here are a few "resolutions":

1. Drink more water and less soda.
2. Pay off one large debt and don't accrue any others.
3. Consistently spend time with Jesus in the mornings. (I did better with this over the past year than ever before!)
4. Simplify my life where possible.
5. Spend more time building relationships with people.

Happy Christmas. The ordinary baby in the manger made an extraordinary difference in my life. He is the reason for the season, but we are the reason He came.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

School

It doesn't seem possible that my little boy has started school, but started school he has! He attends 4 year old kindergarten at the daycare center he's been going to for the past two years. He has 4k 3 hours every morning except Fridays, and he gets to stay and play with his friends until we can pick him up. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, he goes to "big school" (as he calls it) about halfway through the 4k day. Big school is the early childhood classroom where he gets some extra help with focus, attention, social skills, and other things that will help him in the large group school setting.

So far, I think he's enjoying it. He's off on a field trip to the apple orchard today...riding a school bus and everything. We have our first parent/teacher conference on Monday evening. Josh is exhausted when he gets home! No homework yet, but he has been asking to sort things at home. He likes play time the most...not a fan of coloring, but he'll do it if playtime is around the corner!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Family vacation

We had the wonderful privilege of going on a family cruise this August. Chris's parents and his brother's family went as well. We had 6 adults, my 4 year old, and my 19 month old nephew.

Our cruise happened when hurricane Ernesto was moving through the caribbean, so our itinerary changed a bit. We spent our first two days at sea. It was nice exploring the ship and relaxing a bit. Josh was able to participate in Camp Carnival, which provided kids activities for most of the day. Our favorite part of every day was dinner, since the kids really seemed to connect with our waitstaff. The 3 guys who served our table enjoyed the kids too.

Our first port was Montego Bay, Jamaica. I was able to go zip lining with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law while everyone else spent some time at the beach. Zip lining was amazing! I was comfortable and safe the whole time. There were 6 or 7 lines through the rain forest. So cool!

Our second port was Grand Cayman Island. We spent a few hours at the beach. The boys played in the sand a lot.

Our final port was Cozumel, Mexico, where we had an adventure meeting sting rays, some as big as my dining room table. Josh was a little nervous at first, but he did get back in and pet them, although he wasn't interested in feeding them, like dad did, or kissing one, like mom did. After that, we had the chance to snorkel a bit while the boys swam around. They also got to hold a parrot and iguana, and participate in a hermit crab race. Josh's crab won, and he got a special prize from the snack bar.

Our last day was a day at sea. It was a fun vacation for everyone, but we were all glad to be back at home!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Happy Birthday to Joshua!

Little man is 4. I can't believe it. He is amazing. I spent the morning with him at Knuckleheads and family joined us for his party in the evening. He's getting tall and so kid-like, instead of toddler like. He's starting 4K this year, and I'm so pleased with his manners and his enthusiasm and zest for life. He is all boy - rough and tumble, energy to spare, impatient, loud, loving, caring, exuberant, and messy. We love him!
4 years old
3 years old
2 years old
1 year old
Birth

Mom goes to Honduras - day 10

Our final day in Honduras (other than the travel day home) was bittersweet. We all ached to be back home with our families, but it was hard to leave those we had come to care about in Honduras. Our first task of the day was to visit a church that Cross Point (the church we attend in the states) had helped to build on previous visits. We handed out some food and school supplies there and then continued on our way.

We went to a center for children with MS and other degenerative illnesses. I was impressed with the center; they had a therapy pool and a nice outdoor playground area. Most of the children were confined to wheelchairs or strollers. We made some balloon animals, and then each of us "claimed" one of the kids and took him/her for a walk. I paired with a little girl named Paula. She looked to be about 6 or 7 but was in a stroller as she was unable to walk or move much at all. She did have some movement in her arms and was able to turn her head. She wasn't verbal and didn't want to make a lot of eye contact. As we walked, we talked to the kids, although not in Spanish, and then we gathered in the middle to sing some songs together. We sang Cristo te ama (Jesus Loves Me...one of the few songs we knew in Spanish) and I held Paula's hand and stroked her hair off her forehead. It was a very emotional time for all of us...knowing that these children were not long for this world. I prayed for Paula that her time on earth would be pain free and short...that Jesus would soon take her home.

Before we left, the director told us that one of the kids needed surgery that would enable him to walk, but they didn't have the money for it. We were able to hand her the cash right there. Amazing!

We went out for an authentic Honduran lunch at an amazing restaurant. They brought free appetizers to our table that would have been enough for lunch. Some of the guys had shish-kabobs as long as my arm with pieces of meat the size of my fist. The food was excellent.

After eating, we headed up the mountain to the "Jesus statue". We had seen the statue as we drove around the city, and learned there was a national park there. We drove up and spent about an hour walking around the park and taking pictures of the city.

Spent the evening packing up and saying our goodbyes...

Honduras was life changing for me, but already I feel it fading. It's two months ago now, and my life is back to normal. I don't want it to fade in to a memory, I want it to permeate my actions and thoughts. I want the impact to be something I face every day. I want to remember what I saw and what God did.

Mom goes to Honduras - day 9

This was one of my favorite days. Earlier in the week, the team had decided to take the money we set aside for a free fun day and build a house for a family instead. We were up early and headed up in to the mountains to a beautiful retreat center called Villa Gracia. On the way we passed many large homes, including those of the American, Canadian, and south Korean ambassadors. Quite different from most of the homes we saw and also surrounded by heavy security and large fences. At villa Gracia, we picked up the guy who would be leading our house building adventure, as well as some other people who would help us. We were able to get off the bus and enjoy the beauty. The retreat center actually reminded us a lot of Wisconsin...lots of pine trees and very peaceful. After loading up all of our equipment, the bus followed Mark up the mountain.

We reached a place where the bus couldn't go any further or it wouldn't be able to turn around again...meaning we had to hike up the rest of the way. It was a hard trek in the heat and altitude, but we all made it to the site, which had already been cleared and prepped for building. All of our materials were waiting for us, and we were also able to view the outside of the current home, which was ready to cave in on one corner. We were building for a mom and her 3 children, as well as the grandmother.

Using post hole diggers, chainsaws, hammers, and nails, we erected a 15x16 wooden one room house with a slanted corrugated tin roof, wooden floor, and a hinged window and door. We placed a sign over the door that said en el nombre de Jesus (in the name of Jesus). We prayed with the family, and they said they hoped we could come back to bless another family in the same way.

Trekked back down to the bus with all of our stuff and scarfed down some lunch. We built the whole thing in about 5 hours. Everyone was able to help, whether pounding nails, hauling lumber, holding walls in place, digging holes, etc. It was a beautiful thing to experience.

Spent the rest of the day relaxing at the house...we were exhausted!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Mom goes to Honduras - day 8

We had an early morning - on the road by 7 a.m. to head up into the mountains. A little background on this day....

When we were preparing for the trip, our group leader told us that he reserved a day toward the end of the trip as a "free day", allowing the group to be a bit touristy. It would be up to us how we wanted to spend that day, and he was setting aside some money for it. I believe we started talking on Saturday about what we were going to do for our free day. Any beaches were a 4 hour bus ride away, meaning we would go down the night before, stay overnight in a hotel, spend the day at the beach and then drive back in the evening. One of our honorary group members, in a separate conversation, had mentioned that there was a ministry he knew of that built houses for families for $1500. $1500 was the amount set aside for our group to have our free day. When we started talking about how to spend the free day, the group agreed unanimously to build a house for a needy family instead of spending our money on our own fun and comfort. We had 2 half days of shopping earlier in the trip, and would be able to spend an afternoon at a beautiful national park before we left. It blessed us tremendously to be able to turn our fun day into a new house for a family.

The drive up into the mountains took us on a different route than we were used to. This one was a winding road past large homes, including the American, Canadian, and South Korean ambassador's homes. We stopped at a place called Villa Gracia to pick up some supplies and meet Mark, the guy in charge of the house building ministry. Villa Gracia was a beautiful retreat center used by missions teams or for weddings that reminded us a lot of home. Lots of pine trees, beautiful views, but no bugs! We soaked up some of the beauty for a bit while we loaded up our supplies and a few more team members.

As our bus got close to the house site, we learned that we would have to hike the rest of the way up the hill, as there was no place for the bus to turn around at the top. Mark took a few people, including Soyla, in his pickup, but the rest of us hiked it. It was steep and long. I needed lots of breaks (mostly due to my out-of-shape-ness, but also the altitude and heat), and was amazed to learn that a group a few days before had made that same hike carrying all of their lumber and tools up as well.

When we got to the top, we saw the cleared site for the new house right next to the mud home the family was living in, which was collapsing in one corner. There were 2 women and 5 children living in the home, which also included an outdoor kitchen and bathroom area.

I was able to use a post hole digger to help dig for the corner posts. We added 4x4s along the walls, an elevated floor, wooden walls, and a slanted tin roof. A door and window completed the 15x16 foot home for the family. We added a plaque above the door saying "en el nombre de Jesucristo" (in the name of Jesus Christ). The whole team worked together well, and we finished in just over 5 hours. It was hot and dirty work, but immense satisfaction when we finished. We invited the family in to their new home, joined hands to pray over them and their home, and they thanked us, and wished that we could come back to bless another family in the way we had blessed them.

We hiked back down to the bus, ate a few sandwiches and drank some water and headed back to Villa Gracia to drop off our new friends. We were all exhaused, and the house was pretty quiet that night - most of us showered, slathered up with aloe (sunburns are more intense at those altitudes and on the equator), ate dinner, and went to bed. Last day tomorrow.

Mom goes to Honduras - Day 7

Second day of school outreaches. I was feeling much better knowing that we only had a few days left before I got to see Josh.

Our program finally felt polished, and we had so much fun doing at the two schools we went to, both in the mountains. At the first school, it was a bit rainy, but we went around handing out notebooks & pencils, making balloon animals, and giving out candy and color bracelets. At the second school, the children stood in single file lines by class for the entire 20 minutes. We spent time afterward handing out supplies, candy, and bracelets. There were too many kids (405) to do balloons!

The school we ended at offered us soda from their cantina (school store) thanking us for coming. It was a nice cool refreshment after a long day. We got a chance to pray with the interim director of the school - yes, prayer is allowed in Honduran public schools, although the teachers said that the government had tried to outlaw it. The school employees fought back, saying, "without God, we are nothing". What an amazing testimony!

We ate traditional American (TGI Fridays) and headed back home to rest up for the next day and check on our sick team members. We had dropped them at the hospital in the morning to get some intravenous fluids and get checked out. When we returned, found out one likely had a case of dengue fever from a mosquito bite. Although worried about her, we were relieved it was not something we had been spreading through the house.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Mom goes to Honduras - Day 6

Halfway point of the trip and I was REALLY missing Josh. With all the stress of the weekend, part of me wanted to go home. I knew there were still important things to do, and I didn't want to miss out on what God had in store, but emotionally, I was done. I asked God to sustain me and help me to savor each moment in Honduras, rather than wishing them away.

The schools were back in session after their spring break, so we headed out to do 2 outreach programs. We had planned some songs (in Spanish) with puppets, a puppet skit about how we are all special to God, a silly skit about how going to church doesn't make you a Christian, a review of the beaded bracelets where each color represents an aspect of the salvation story, and a salvation prayer. We also planned at each school to spend some time with the kids afterward, handing out candy, supplies, and balloon animals.

The first school we visited was a primary school, and the kids were adorable. There were probably about 80 of them, and they all brought their chairs out in to the courtyard. (The Honduran schools I visited were all laid out similarly; classrooms surrounding a large central courtyard.) It was hard to know if any kids in particular prayed the salvation prayer at the end, as some of what we had prepared was over their heads. We handed out bracelets and toothbrushes, and they gave us hugs. I missed Josh fiercely with each little one that I hugged.

The next school was a few blocks away, and so we hauled all of our supplies, including the PVC-pipe puppet stage down the streets to the intermediate school. I was frustrated at this school - 300 - 400 kids in the courtyard with little to no supervision. Students in Honduras generally attend a 3 hour school day in either the morning or afternoon. We arrived about 30 minutes before the end of their session, and it was the first day back after break. It appeared to me that the teachers just let them out. It was very hard to hold their attention, and many kids kept trying to come up behind the puppet stage where we were, rather than staying in their places. They were basically milling around the courtyard, somewhat paying attention, while we ministered. The bell rang in the middle of the salvation message, and it was mayhem. However, about 15 kids stayed up front, even as their classmates were running off, to pray the salvation prayer. That made it all worth it! We were able to hand out notebooks there, but not much else.

Stopped at a mall for lunch, and were able to bless Soyla with a new printer - one that was super ink efficient, since she regularly sends out mailings to 700 people and can run through printer ink in a week.

We had dropped 3 of our team members off up on the mountain to do some construction work, and left 3 at the house. After lunch, we headed back up the mountain to pick up our teammates, and stopped back in la colonia Australia to see the home of Jorge and Yesi, our Honduran hosts. Their home was so important to them, and you could see the pride in Jorge's face as he spoke of the improvements he was hoping to make. It was a blessing to see the inside of a typical mountain village home. Driving through on the bus, it was hard to imagine what the homes looked like inside. We definitely take our creature comforts for granted here in the States.

I continued feeling healthy, although tired and emotional. Was starting to lose focus a bit, and prayed that God would help me persevere.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Mom goes to Honduras - Day 5

Saturday night was a bad one, I guess...I slept through it. Many people were sick - there were vomiting, fevers, fainting, seizures, all throughout the night. Two of our team members had a medical background, so thank God they were there to assist those who were getting sick and thank you Lord for supernatural strength and healing.

Sunday morning, most of us were feeling well enough to visit church. Two who were still sick stayed behind with the nurse-practitioner. We visited the same church we had been to on Wednesday night, and Soyla translated the sermon for us. The pastor preached about sacrifice - we can't take anything with us when we die, so why not use it all for Christ here? It was their "faith promise" Sunday, asking them how much they were willing to commit to give over the next year at church. The message was very appropriate for us as well, as we were all learning what it meant to give away what we had.

In the afternoon, we did the tourist thing and went to Valley of the Angels. It's a large market area with lots of little shops and restaurants. We were able to walk around in smaller groups. Found a little cantina named El Fogon that only had a few things on the menu, but it wasn't busy and the prices were good. Authentic Honduran food and it was YUMMY! Some tortillas with beans, rice, steak, sausage, salsa, cheese, etc...fairly typical sounding, but all Honduran style. Andrea and I enjoyed our lunch there much better than the fried fish a few nights before!

Found a few gifts to bring home, hunted down some ice cream, and blessed the socks off a little boy on the bus! He was standing outside our bus trying to sell candy for about 10 lemps. (approximately 5 cents). If you gave him 12, he could actually make some money off the sale. We asked him what he was saving for, and he said he needed new shoes. This little boy was probably around 8 or 9 years old. He needed 130 lemps for new shoes. We bought most of his candy, gave him 130 lemps, a new pair of shoes, and some beans, rice, and cornmeal to take home to his family. It was so cool to be able to meet his need "abundantly beyond all he could ask or imagine". I'm glad God let us be a part of that.

When we got back, found out that the nurse practitioner was now ill and several others were not feeling good. We needed to run through our program for the schools the next day, and were afraid we might be down to about 6 people. Wonderful spirit of cooperation and unity as we worked out what would happen. It was my night for devotionals, and I wanted to talk about what compelled us to go to Honduras. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 says that "Christ's love compels us". We also talked about showing love not just with our words, but with our actions.

No one really slept well Sunday night...we weren't sure what kind of virus was going through the house, and were trying to isolate those who were sick as much as possible. Prayed against any spiritual weapons that would try to keep us from spreading the word of God in the schools.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Mom goes to Honduras - day 4

Saturday was a long, emotional day. We started the day by making 300 baloney and mayo sandwiches. It was an interesting assembly line around the dining room table. We were preparing to head out to the Crematorio...the city landfill. About 100 people actually live there, and another 300 or so work there on a daily basis...not as city employees, but as individuals scavenging through the mounds of trash to find something that might bring them a few coins. By the time it gets to the landfill, the garbage truck drivers have already sorted through it for themselves, so the pickings are slim. They hope to make enough to feed the family that day, until they can go back again the next day.

There are several missions organizations that are actively involved with the dump, some by feeding people, others try to make more manageable conditions, and others are working to help families break the cycle and get out of the dump. Soyla tries to go every saturday with a lunch of sandwiches, water or tang, and cookies, if she has the finances to do so.

In our devotionals that morning, we all knew it was going to be hard, and we prayed for the ability to see and smell past the outer appearance, and see the people as Jesus sees them, and be able to treat them with dignity and respect. I was already emotional before we even got on the bus. As we drew nearer, our team leader annointed our hands with oil, symbolic of being the hands of Jesus reaching out to those in need.

As we came around the bend in the road, the stench was overpowering. Cattle, dogs, people, vultures, and mounds of trash several feet deep, plus the heat and humidity left behind by the rain the day before. We knew we had to deal with our reactions before we got off the bus. We were instructed to raise all the windows before we parked, not to keep out the smell, but to prevent people from trying to get in the bus.

When we parked, they literally mobbed the bus - pushing and shoving each other in an effort tot get as close as possible. They obviously knew why we were there. Soyla got off as soon as she was able, but told the rest of us to wait. We were trying to watch without staring. One of the team members prayed against a spirit of fear, and we heard Soyla outside starting to sing. It took a while, but she finally got them into lines of men, women, and children and rest of us could get off.

There was a pregnant woman holding a baby standing not far from the bus, and smiled and found out her baby was 2 months old. I couldn't imagine raising a baby in those conditions. She was waiting so patiently. Because I was still standing close to the bus I got recruited to stand on the ground, blocking the doorway with my body and holding the tray of sandwiches for Soyla and others to hand out. For the next 20 minutes or so, that's what I did...hustling to replace the empty tray with a full one as needed, feeling the dripping bag of tang and water being passed out of the bus over my head, and feeling endless hands on my back. The people were trying to reach over my shoulders and take food. They had to stay in line and do things in an orderly way.

I was touched by a woman who was standing at the front of the line. I know that she was just as hungry and in need as everyone else, but instead of taking any for herself, she stood and made sure the line stayed orderly and everyone else got something. She was one of the few I could see from where I was standing, and it affected me a lot. Found out later that Soyla gave her 5 or 6 of her own afterward, and knew the woman as a Christ follower.

We had to leave before handing out the bags of rice, beans, and cornmeal as we had intended. One of our team members wanted to give her shoes to a woman and got back on the bus to change into another pair. She tried to hand the shoes out the door to the woman, but as other people saw shoes coming out, they got agitated and started surging toward the bus again. Soyla made the decision to leave for our own safety. We got everyone back on the bus and drove away as quickly as could, although backing out was difficult with that many people.

300 people got some decent food in their stomachs because of the financial support our team received from our church, our families, and our friends. We were the hands that delivered the blessing, but it is multiplied knowing how many people contributed.

Not much the rest of the day...another mall food court for lunch and shopping in a marketplace. It was a difficult day, but I'm glad I went. I'm glad God allowed me to see how some people live. It makes me more thankful for the things I am blessed with, but also makes me realize how easy it is to overlook those in need. Where are the people in my town who are hungry? Do I bother looking? Would I know where to look? What would I do if I found them? It reminds me of a song...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mom goes to Honduras - day 3

Friday was a slower day. Headed back up the mountain to do more medical work and some construction. We went to a different village where an American missionary named Charlie lived. We set up the medical clinic and supply distribution in his home, and several team members went up the hill a bit more to work with concrete block and masonry on a home for a village family. I stayed to help in the medical clinic because of the injury to my knee the night before. I logged patient complaints, helped count out pills, poured water, and did whatever else I could to help.

We had resolved not to be caught in a similar situation leaving the mountain as the night before, so wrapped up around 2:00. It was hard turning people away, but it had been raining all morning, and we needed to be back on paved roads before dark.

We ate at a mall food court - such a weird transition between poverty on the mountain, and a typical American scene in the city - albeit with armed guards at the entrance and patrolling the inside. There was a caricature artist walking around, and a friend and I paid him 25 Lempiras each (about $1.25) and hopefully contributed to his meal that day. The cartoon was interesting, and will probably never see the light of day.

Spent the rest of the day back at the house, resting, talking, calling home, and bagging the beans, rice, and cornmeal into small bags to hand out. It was good to have some downtime just being together...heavy day ahead on Saturday.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mom goes to Honduras - day 2

Thursday was our first full day of ministry in Honduras. We left the house around 9:30 to load up some boxes of clothes and shoes, as well as all our medical supplies. We stopped at a pharmacy in town to buy deworming medicine and antibiotics.

Rode in our school bus halfway up the mountain to the village of Ostralia. The mountain roads aren't really roads, more like dirt paths with lots of gravel, boulders, potholes, and traffic coming in the other direction, not to mention the people, dogs, chickens, and other animals grazing beside the road. We had to pass a cemetery every time we went up the mountain. It was so unlike American cemeteries...crosses made from pieces of pipe, no nice neat rows, no big mausoleums, just a collection of homemade crosses with names and dates written on them.

We set up at the school in the village, which appeared to be a gathering place for the whole community. People were already lined up outside waiting. We had clothes and shoes, school supplies, and candy for the parents and children, and two separate areas for medical care. We all stretched our Spanish skills that day, trying to help and understand what was needed. I got to hold at least 5 babies while their moms looked through the clothing. I would just walk up to a woman with a baby and hold out my hands. Universal language of moms, I guess.

Met the director of the school, Elizabeta, who was there all day, despite being 7 months pregnant. She wanted to find new shoes for her teachers. Definitely gave me a change of perspective on schools - we want things for our kids like iPods, while teachers in these villages would appreciate pencils and notebooks. These classrooms had concrete floors, few decorations, and very old furniture. There were 2 outhouses next to the large central courtyard, which had a dirt floor. They did have a small computer lab, but I'm not sure how much (if any) internet access they had. I'm hoping to partner my school with this one to have our students communicate as possible, and ask our kids to collect supplies to send to them.

Ended up leaving the mountain around 6:30 after a huge downpour. We were beginning to load the bus when it started, and ended up stuck for a bit while it stormed, and the medical people finished up. It got dark around 7 pm every night, so you will have to imagine the interesting ride back down the mountain on those dirt roads that had turned to mud. Add to that the endless parade of people returning from work in the city. The rode motorcycles, cars, and buses, all of which we encountered on our way down.

We asked for authentic Honduran food for dinner, and ended up at El Gordon with the 22 people in our group. It was good food, but we were all very tired. I tripped on some stairs and fell and bruised my left knee pretty badly. Ordered pescado frito grande (fried fish), and was surprised to have a whole fried fish...head, eyes, tail, fins, and all.

When we left the restaurant, it was raining. A little girl was standing outside with an umbrella. I was carrying a box with the remains of that fried fish, some vegetables, and plantain chips that were leftover from my meal. The girl offered me her umbrella to use, and I handed her my box of food. There was probably enough food in there to feed her family that night. She followed us to the bus, where she reclaimed her umbrella and stood waving as we pulled away. How many times have I left a restaurant with leftovers, not even thinking of the many who go hungry? Another change of perspective.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mom goes to Honduras - day 1

I'm going to hijack my Josh blog for a bit so I can blog about my recent missions trip to Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Pictures are available at http://hopeforhonduras2012.shutterfly.com

We left late Tuesday night June 12 for a 5:30 a.m flight out of Chicago. Didn't sleep on the church van or the plane. Arrived in Miami for the second leg of our journey, and realized we had been upgraded to first class - the whole team. I can cross something off my bucket list now! It was a little blessing from God before our long week. The airport in Tegus is one of the trickiest in the world to land in, since the runway is surrounded by mountains. It didn't seem that bad to us, until we looked out the window as we turned, and there was only about 50 feet of runway left.

We were met at the airport by Soyla, the missionary who runs the ministry we were working with, and our bus driver, Tito, as well as a family of Hondurans who help Soyla out when she is in country. She lives in Texas and makes it to Honduras about twice a month. She rents a place in the city where we were all able to stay...close quarters with 7 girls on 4 bunk beds with narrow aisles in between, but it contributed to the family feeling.

After stopping at the house to drop off our things, we went to a nearby marketplace to buy large 100 pound bags of rice, beans, and cornmeal to be separated into smaller bags and handed out throughout our time there. Ate some dinner at good old American Pizza Hut and returned to the house.

We were given the option of going to church that night, and although I was bone tired, I decided to go- knowing I was not likely to understand much of anything. 6 of us set out, along with 2 honorary team members, Lisa from Texas and Marty from Georgia, as well as our Honduran hosts. It was a good service...Lisa translated the sermon for us, so that helped. They were very excited to have North Americans there and wanted to take our pictures afterward.

It was spring break for the schools, so we had to change our plans a bit for Thursday and Friday, but it gave us time to refine our program for the kids. Fell into an exhausted sleep around 11 pm.

Monday, May 14, 2012

mid-May

I can hardly believe there are 4 more weeks left of school. This past weekend was crazy! On Saturday, I graduated with my Masters of Science in Education degree from UW-Whitewater. My parents and Chris & Josh joined me for the ceremony, and then we had dinner in Madison to celebrate. 2 years of hard work is done...no more research, at least for a while!

Then of course, Mother's Day yesterday - I did not cook or do dishes, but did put away a ton of laundry.

Today, we had Joshua's IEP meeting. (See last post). It turns out he does qualify for services, and as hard as that is, we want him to get the help he needs sooner rather than later. He will receive some speech and language services for receptive language, as well as some fine motor and pre-readiness skills, along with working on attention and focus. He will do 2 half-days of regular 4K, and then 2 half-days of Early Childhood program in our district. He will continue to be at his daycare with his friends for most of his time, and teachers will come to daycare to work with him as well. For 6 hours a week, he will be in the Early Childhood class, receiving more individualized help to prepare for kindergarten.

All in all, it's a good thing for him. We are so proud of him, and I know that God has the perfect plan for his life.

This Sunday is Joshua's adoption day - the 3rd anniversary of him becoming a Bohlman. I'm overwhelmed with gratitude at the privilege of being allowed to raise him. I pray that I can do it well.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Ready or not, here he comes!

So Josh went in for 4K screening last week. (I can't believe he's going to be 4!) As I filled out paperwork, a person took him over behind a screen to work with him for about 15 minutes. I could see shadows behind the screen and hear him and could tell that he was not exactly cooperating. When she finished, she walked him to the playroom and I had to wait to talk to the person who was doing the final step before we were finished. The lady called me over and introduced herself as the Early Childhood teacher and explained that Josh had scored 31 out of 100 possible points, well below the cutoff for his age, which was 71 points. The screener, who is a Speech and Language pathologist, wasn't sure if he couldn't do some of the things, or just didn't.

I already knew that he didn't know his colors well, as well as some other things. I didn't want to prep him for the screener - I wanted him to be himself and give them a good picture. But of course, sitting there hearing it, I got teary-eyed. I don't want school to always be a huge struggle and have Josh hate it. Some of the things he "missed" I think depend on the point of view of the screener. For example, he called scissors "cutters". Because he didn't use the correct vocabulary, he was docked a point, even though he obviously knew what they were and what their purpose was. She marked that he didn't know his last name, even though he introduced himself to the registration lady as "Josh Michael Bohlman".

SO - the teacher part of me has to remind the mommy part of me that it's just one test - one snapshot of my kid. I met with the Early Childhood teacher again on Wednesday to sign consent for further evaluation and to go over some things about Josh. Lots of history and what he can/can't do. Today, she visited him at daycare. She spent some time observing him, and worked with him a bit, as well as talked to his teachers. She told them that he has quite a personality.

I'm so proud of him - he is so outgoing and friendly to everyone he meets. I hope that if he needs help, we can figure out how to do it now and get him on the right track so school isn't a terrible place for him. I'll know more in a few weeks - the speech teacher also needs to do some more evaluation on him and then we'll have a meeting to go over results and next steps.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter season

I love watching Joshua react to the things about Easter he is able to understand. Of course, he loves hunting eggs, and coloring eggs, and visiting the Easter bunny. We also went to our church's Easter production. He was very curious if that man was really Jesus, and why the other man had the same name as our dog (Simon). Afterward, he was wide-eyed going up to shake Jesus's hand. On the way home, he prayed, "Dear Jesus, please be my best friend. Amen."

Today, we were watching an animated version of the crucifixion and resurrection. It was age appropriate, but when the soldiers were whipping Jesus (off-screen - you could only see the soldiers), I was telling him that the men were hurting Jesus. His eyes got teary and he said, "That's enough, momma. They should stop." After Jesus died, he prayed, "Dear Jesus, please don't stay dead." I get tears in my eyes just writing it. Of course, we cheered and danced when the stone rolled away, and Jesus was alive again. He also wanted to know if Jesus was God and where He was going when he ascended into the sky. He thought it might be scary to do that himself.

His understanding develops more every year, and it's precious to see a heart of love for Jesus growing in my little boy. There are so many things to teach him; but most of all, I want him to know and understand Christ's overwhelming love for him.

(Forgot to mention - the other night, he dumped an entire bowl full of water out of the bathtub on to the floor. When asked why, he said because he wanted me to come in there. He also was in the back seat the other day saying "mama??" When I responded, he said, "wasn't talking to you - was talking to my truck." (Who was evidently the mom in his game.) The next time he said mama, I naturally didn't respond - but now he persisted in saying it, and finally said "Rachel!" to get me to answer him. Sigh....he's getting too smart for me!)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Someone to watch over me

Josh had a bad dream the other night - something about talking cars and being scared. (No, we weren't watching Cars). My mom was here, and he was calling for mama and grandma. So we went up to help him get back to sleep. He was laying in his bed and crying a bit, and I was rubbing his back. Grandma and I offered to pray for him to help him go back to sleep, and we reminded him that he can always pray to Jesus when he's scared. He was still a little sniffly, and we said we would pray "in our minds" to help him get to sleep. I continued rubbing his back, and a sweet smile came over his face and he started nodding. He said, "It's ok, mom, the angels are coming now to help me."

He went back to sleep with not another peep the whole night.

I love my Jesus - how amazing to send that comfort to a little one.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

3 and a half

Josh is 3 1/2. I can't believe it. Here are some memorable quotes from the last few weeks.

"You're beautiful, mom. But daddies aren't beautiful, just ladies."
"I'm too old for peanut butter. I want jelly instead."
"I don't want to grow up, cause then I have to go away from you and I always miss you mom."
"Ok, mom, I'm gonna be the daddy, and you can be the Josh."
"I love you more."
"Grandpa, you teach me to pee standin' up?"
"Go away mom, I need my privacy."
"My mommy's name is Rachel."
"When you go to work mom I miss you. But then you come back and I'm happy."

Fleeting moments and days...and he grows up before my eyes.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Tradition

This was my article from the Nov/Dec MOPS newsletter.

Those of you who know me, may not know that I’m a fan of musicals. One of my favorites is “Fiddler On the Roof”. If you’ve never seen it, it’s about a Jewish family in Russia who is dealing with the changes in their family and community. The father sings this great song called “Tradition” . He doesn’t know why things have to change—after all, they’ve always been done that way.

Musicals aside—I’m sure most of us have traditions, especially around this holiday season. Baking something special, decorating the tree, going to grandmas, a favorite restaurant. When I was young, our tradition was cutting our own tree (well, my dad and brother did the cutting!) and then going to Pedro’s afterward for lunch.

Traditions are good—they cement our family relationships and give us something to look forward to. Hopefully, as you’ve become a mom, you’ve thought about some traditions you want to keep, or start with your own children.

One tradition that I hope all of us choose is teaching our children about the true meaning of Christmas— God, in a manger, born to save us all.

It’s easy to focus on all the fun of Christmas—snow, cookies, ringing bells, giving presents, stringing up lights both inside and outside, visiting Santa at the mall, watching old Christmas movies, caroling.

Let’s not lose sight of the real tradition—the tradition that God shares with us each year of remembering how very much He loves us. There’s no better gift you can give your children this year then teaching them about Jesus. There’s no better way to celebrate the season then to take some time to focus our attention on the story of Christmas. If you don’t already, why not start a new tradition?

Chosen

Here's the article I wrote for the October MOPS newsletter...

I got hooked on this TV show recently called “Switched at Birth”. I watched the whole first season, thanks to Netflix instant streaming. Basically, two teenage girls discover they were switched in the hospital. They spend most of the episodes trying to decide where they fit—exploring the family they might have been a part of if things had been different.

It made me think about our children. It’s no accident that your children are in your family. Whether you became a mom by childbirth, marriage, or adoption—you were chosen by God to parent your children. You are uniquely designed to meet their needs. You are the one God has asked to guide, nurture, and direct their steps into adulthood. It’s a major responsibility, isn’t it?

I wish that children came with manuals—but that would take some of the fun out of the adventure of discovering who they are and how they are perfectly fitted into your family. Our families are all different—some crazy, some more serious, some have been established for a long time, and others are new.

Wherever you’re at in parenting—a first time mom to an infant, or seeing your youngest go off to school, or maybe even a mentor mom facing an empty nest—we all have things to learn as moms. We all have needs and desires, challenges and opportunities.

Aren’t you glad for other moms? Aren’t you glad for their wisdom and experience? On those days when you wonder if you really are a good mom, remember, you were chosen for a reason. Your child is in your family for a reason. Decide to be a better mom, whatever that looks like. Decide to learn something new. Decide to pass on something you’ve learned to someone else.

After all, you and your child have a unique bond that you won’t share with anyone else—take advantage of it!

Housekeeper wanted...

The following is an article I wrote for our September MOPS newsletter.

My house is a disaster. Maybe yours is too. The kitchen counter is piled with all the stuff that I can’t seem to put away. Dishes are either dirty and waiting to be washed, or in the drying rack waiting to be put away. There are basketfuls of laundry in my bedroom waiting to be put away. The toys are overflowing from the toybox, if they actually made it there at all. I haven’t dusted in months.
There are times when I clean. For instance, when my in-laws are coming over. Then we move in to frantic mode, and I hide as much as possible behind closed doors, and make sure the public areas are presentable. Or when...well, I can’t really think of another time. I clean (the really good kind of cleaning) to make my home presentable for outsiders. When it’s just us, we can live with a little clutter and mess.

Do you ever think that you should clean up because so-and-so is coming over for a playdate? And then think to yourself, “nope, she won’t care what my house looks like.” That’s MOPS...moms whose houses are just as crazy as yours. I’m glad that people don’t clean up when I come over – it’s comforting to know that I’m not the only crazy one.

If you’re one with a clean house – you go girl! I’m sure there are other areas where you feel frazzled and just as overwhelmed. And you will find just as many moms who have been there. The beauty of mom friends, the kind you find at MOPS, is that someone has been in your shoes – and will accept you just as you are. You don’t have to hide all your clutter behind “closed doors”!

So dive in – get to know the other moms in your group. If you find one in your same boat, share the burden a little. If you find someone with wisdom to share, take it. And if you find anyone with a really clean house, send them my way, please!