Monday, April 27, 2015

Weekend Adventures: Compassion Sunday

Yesterday was the official Compassion Sunday, and I am lucky enough to be the Compassion Advocate at our church.  I was able to share a little bit about being a sponsor and have a table set up with pictures of kids needing sponsors.  We had 9 kids receive sponsors yesterday!  Praise the Lord!  I am praying that more kid packets will be picked up as the week goes on and next Sunday.

After church we had fun at the birthday party of our friend Mr. Ben who just turned 1!  It was a little late after the party to head out of town, so instead we went across the street to the park and attempted to play tennis - it was pretty funny!  We are committed to learn this new sport together :)

In other events this week: Kyla finished Kindergarten!  We are so proud of all her hard work!  We are doing some informal testing this week - but she seems right on target or above in all subjects.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Seasons - Part 1

I have the privilege to speak at our church this Sunday.  Partially for "Compassion Sunday" (more on that later) and partially to share my faith story.  As I am preparing for Sunday I've been reflecting on the call God has given me, and how that has looked differently in different seasons of my life.  I feel that I am now at the end of one season and the beginning of another.

Since before the kids were born I have had a passion for mothers and babies.  This led to working with teen moms in Young Lives.  This season of life lasted until Keanan and Kyla were born and Zac had his accident.  During that time I focused all my efforts and energy in supporting and caring for our family.  

My family has always been, and will always be, my first passion and mission field.  Zac and I take very seriously Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.  Hence, the homeschooling and such.  But we do not want to live in a little Christian bubble.  We want our kids to be in the world, not of it; to be lights for Jesus, shining His love to this world.  So in addition to my family, I believe God has placed other passions and missions on my heart and our hearts together.

When Kyla turned one my passion for mothers and babies led to becoming a doula and then a childbirth educator.   I was blessed to attend about 20 births over then next few years.  It was an amazing gift, but hard on Zac and the kids at times.  Teaching childbirth classes was easier on our schedules and such a joy for me.  I love to teach - in public school, my kids, other classes - I am a teacher.  Connecting with the Care Net pregnancy center in Olympia was a gift from God.  I loved teaching many families there, and sharing God's love in the miracle of birth.  

During this time God really clarified His mission for me through many different sources: BSF study of Matthew, all books by Jen Hatmaker, Radical by David Platt, Almost Amish by Nancy Sleeth, minimalism books by Joshua Becker, and a crazy mission trip to Mexico.  James 1:27 became my theme verse: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  I was also compelled by Matthew 25 where Jesus commands those who love him to care for the sick, poor, hungry, thirsty and imprisoned.  This is not a suggestion, this is what is required, this is how we show the love of Jesus to the world.  I wrestled with how to live this out while living in Yelm, especially after witnessing how little people lived with in the poor areas of Puerto Vallarta on our mission trip. 

When we moved to California about a year ago I had every intention to continue teaching childbirth classes the same way I had been doing in Olympia, but it seems that God has other plans.  The population here is VERY different from the population of Thurston county WA.  It seems that there just isn't much of a need for the kind of class and frequency of class that I had been teaching.  I will continue to be available for teaching classes at the pregnancy center here (Real Options), but it looks like that means only holding a class session twice a year or so.  This was my way to serve outside of my family.  This was my outlet away from my kids (who I love dearly, but need an occasional break from).  Now what was I going to do?

Throughout this time God kept bringing James 1:27 and Matthew 25 to my heart and mind.  I began praying about how to live out God's mission in this season of my life.  Enter in Compassion International and re-enter Young Lives.  

This brings the story back to Compassion Sunday - this Sunday.  In my desire to "look after orphans and widows in their distress" I felt God's call to become more involved with Compassion International.  I have been sponsoring a child since I was in high school.  I was never very good about writing her, but I was faithful in my sponsorship.  That first girl aged out of the program and Zac and I have been sponsoring another girl, Eyda, in Guatemala.  Last year for Keanan's birthday we started sponsoring a little boy from Bangladesh, Probin.  Probin and Keanan have the same birthday - 6/3/08.   For Kyla's birthday this year we started sponsoring a little girl from Nicaragua, Maykilin.  Maykilin and Kyla have the same birthday - 2/6/10.  Earlier this year we also started supporting a Compassion "Child Survival Center" in Indonesia which cares for, educates, and supports pregnant mothers and babies up to age 4.   Our family believes in what Compassion is doing - releasing children from poverty, in Jesus' name.  They are living Matthew 25.  We are even hoping in the future to visit some of our sponsored kids and/or the child survival center as another family mission trip (keep that in your prayers!).  So, I am now a child advocate (I have a shirt and name badge!) which means I encourage others to sponsor children in poverty.  This Sunday at our church I will tell our story of traveling to Mexico, seeing the need of kids in poverty first hand, and what Compassion is doing about it.   I get to set up a table and help other families in our church sponsor kids in other countries.  I'm really excited about this and would love for you to pray that all 20 of the precious children that I have sponsorship packets for would receive sponsors!

Compassion Sunday 2015 - Main Video from Compassion International on Vimeo.


If you would like to sponsor a child, please check out Compassion's website.  You will be blessed!

In the future I will be able to volunteer at other Compassion events that come to our area.  It's just a little way I can live out my mission and Proverbs 31:8 - Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.

This post has already gotten WAY longer than anticipated, and if you've made it this far - thank you for letting me share my heart.  I will save Young Lives for another post in the coming weeks. :)

What is your mission?  Are you living in it?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Weekend Adventures: Jr. First Lego League 2015 Expo!


Yesterday, on the Google campus, Keanan and his team (Team Vitruvious) presented their research and model of the moon and lunar rover.  They have worked hard this season and did a great job!  Their model had a rotating earth with an orbiting moon, and a rover that moved and steered.  They won the "Moon Shots Award" at the expo after answering the reviewers questions.  Good job Team Vitruvious! 
This weekend was also filled with Keanan's soccer game and team pictures and Kyla's ballet class and Maiden's Visit rehearsal.  Zac and Kyla went to see Cinderella (she LOVED it) while Keanan and I got ice cream and went for a bike ride on Saturday afternoon.
Keanan and Zac went on a hike in between soccer game and soccer pictures
We had a fun week in school learning about Christopher Colombus.  Keanan built and sailed the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria across the "Atlantic" (our bath tub), and we read lots of books from the library - including Colombus' actual journal of the voyage.

Kyla was on Q for quail so we had fun making a bird feeder - which the birds have not yet found.

Kyla is on her LAST week of Kindergarten this week!  Today is also her 100th day - which we celebrate by counting and eating 100 M n M's!

We also had a play day on Friday at the park with our friend Maggie.  It was about 80 degrees and the water feature was on so the kids got soaked!  Friday afternoon the kids and I drove down the street to Great America for some rides before dinner.  I love that we can do that!

Kyla is tall enough to ride the swings now!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Weekend Adventures: Staying home with sick Kyla

This beauty opened up this week in our backyard

Poor Kyla came down with a fever, cough, and runny nose on Saturday afternoon - which canceled the rest of our weekend plans.  So instead of serving at the Refuge (homeless dinner and church service), going to church, and Kyla's friend Zoe's birthday party - we snuggled, watched shows, and painted nails.  She is still sick, but slowly getting better.

The rest of last week was filled with fun and dirt!

Keanan completed the first week of 2nd grade and did a great job!  He really enjoyed learning about the Vikings (we are studying US history).  The Bible portion of second grade is learning about the names of Jesus - so this last week Keanan and Kyla learned about the meaning of their names:

Kyla was on V for vegetable in kindergarten this week so we planted our own vegetable garden!  I ordered the "Big Bag Bed" from Amazon - a big one for me and 2 little ones for the kids.  Super easy - unfold the fabric bag, fill with dirt, plant seeds!  We also used bricks to make a garden bed along the back fence.  All said in done, I ended up moving 16 1.5 cubic feet bags of dirt on Friday!  We planted: artichoke, beans, spinach, carrots, nasturtiums, corn, tomatoes, onions, garlic, lettuce, kale, chard, arugula, pumpkin, rosemary & lavender!  Most of these were thanks to our gardening expert friend Vanessa :)
  

Next weekend is the Jr. First Lego League Expo at Google!  Keanan and his team are ready and excited to share their model of the lunar rover and all they have learned.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter 2015

My shoe-less Easter bunnies
Happy Easter!  We had a wonderful first Easter in California, but it really started much earlier in the week...

Palm Sunday was spent at church and hanging our as a family in the afternoon.  We went on a 5 mile bike ride in the beautiful weather and the kids did great.

On Tuesday Zac's parents came into town with their camper to stay for the week - it's been a great time!  Tuesday evening Zac and I (mostly I) hosted a Seder dinner at our church.  We had people from our small group sign up to bring the traditional items, and then everyone who came brought a potluck item to share.  There ended up being about 50 people and it went great!! It was so fun to share this tradition with our California church family and learn about the Passover together - it all points to Jesus.

On Friday Zac's parents, the kids, and I went to the Good Friday service at our church which was at 11am and designed for the kids of Sunnyvale Christian School (which is at our church).  It was really good, especially for the kids.  We also had fun dying Easter eggs with Nana and Grandpa.
Our beautiful eggs
Saturday was The Hunt - a giant community Easter egg hunt put on by our church.  John, Pam, and I went early to help set up and hide eggs - and there were TONS of eggs!!!  Zac and the kids came later to participate in the hunt.  There were hundreds of kids and everyone had a great time.
Can you see the 1,00's of eggs??
Easter Sunday started with church, lunch with resurrection rolls, a mini egg hunt with our resurrection eggs and then telling the Easter story, dinner of Lamb chops, asparagus, sunchokes (so good!), and mini pineapple upside down cakes!  A wonderful day celebrating our risen Lord and the new life we have in Him!
Yummy desserts!
All through this week we have been focusing on the true meaning of Easter with our Holy Week journey.  Every day we have been walking with Jesus through his week leading up to the cross by reading scripture and placing a picture card up on the wall.  The most powerful day is Friday when we read through the 14 scriptural stations of the cross.  Here is our completed journey:

I've created all the cards and scripture references in a document to share if you would like to journey through Holy Week with your family next year.  You can find it here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jsBA8SsNOXFlwffqgZs1FXEbopYqd4xIMNNm_WaKh10/edit?usp=sharing It's been very powerful for us and I highly recommend it.

Hope your Easter was a blessed time!

We are back to school this week, which means the start of 2nd grade for Keanan!