Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Blog A Day...

Romans 10:14-15 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!"

Edwin and I have been graced to have several sending churches in our lives. It's amazing how few churches are sending churches. What do I mean by that? Mission work is evangelism that involves taking the Gospel from one geographic location, culture, or language system to another. There are two different roles involved in that work: senders and goers. Most churches, even Southern Baptist churches, don't send missionaries. Their members don't see the importance, or they say that they can't afford to support their communities in addition to supporting overseas work. (I'm not going to give any thoughts on that little subject!)

Edwin and I, however, are going overseas with several churches behind us. They have given to us emotionally, spiritually, and socially. In fact, the International Mission Board requires each unit (either family or unmarried single) to find five SBC churches to back them up in prayer. The reason for this is that we are able to connect with churches, and the members of that church see that mission work isn't something that "somebody does somewhere." It's real people going to other real people and telling them about real salvation. Their prayers are personal and effective.

A guy was telling us today that he could physically tell the difference when a prayer warrior back home was praying for him. God would wake this man up and he would stay up and pray until God gave him enough peace to sleep. And it made a difference. He told us that if any good came from his work in the Middle East, that prayer warrior would be standing right next to him as he handed his work back to God in Heaven.

You are making a difference when you pray. That's why I gave you a list of things to pray for us about yesterday. It changes things. We've seen a difference in Ella since last night! For this reason, I try to keep you updated on a daily basis (except for Sundays). Edwin and I need you to stay involved. Edwin and I need you to keep working. We need you to be our senders.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Few Prayer Requests

As you're thinking about us this week, we would love it if you would lift a few requests before the Father on our behalf. Even better, pray for them right now, if you can.

  • Ella isn't sleeping very well in this new place. Her teeth (or the new teeth that are still working their way through her gums) are waking her up in the night, and she isn't going back to sleep for hours after she wakes up. Mommy and Daddy have full days here, so sleep would be very helpful. Pray that those darn teeth will pop on through, and that she will feel comfortable enough in her new surroundings to ease back to sleep when she wakes up in the middle of the night.
  • She isn't eating much at school, either. (I'm talking about Ella, the lover of all things similar to food.) It's probably due in large part to the fact that she is dealing with a relatively severe case of separation anxiety. Pray that God would bring her comfort and peace as she's away from Mommy for such a large part of the day, every weekday. I know that doesn't sound so bad if you're a working mom, but in combination with the move, it's a pretty big deal for her.
  • DeLaynie's doing really well! Although she still isn't eating a whole lot, she's eating more, especially when they serve one of the foods she is willing to eat. Today was grilled cheese, and tomorrow is chicken nuggets, two of her favorites. Pray that God will continue to help her in accepting new foods and give her the concentration to sit down and eat with the noise and excitement of being at school.
  • This Friday, DeLaynie is going to start receiving speech therapy, along with a few other children. She'll be working with her to help us develop strategies for life on the field, so we can help her to continue developing in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Pray that the speech therapist will be able to connect with DeLaynie quickly, and that she will get a good handle on DeLaynie's needs.
  • Oh yeah, and we could use some prayer, too. We are pretty worn out from all of the responsibilities here, in addition to the ones we brought with us. Like, you know, our kids. I was going to list everything that has to get done in a day here, but it became the majority of this post before I'd finished. Let's just say that we are tired. My coffee intake has gone from one very strong cup a day to one very strong cup a day + 4 not-so-strong cups a day. Pray that God will provide us with rest on the weekends, and with supernatural energy during the week.

We've seen lots of prayers answered, from the very smooth car trip to DeLaynie's improvement in eating. We are never lonely here. We're learning a ton, and best of all, we are growing closer to our Father every single day. It's a wonderful experience, even when it's completely exhausting. While you're praying, go ahead and ask God to move in our lives in a new and powerful way. And why don't you ask Him to do the same for you, too. He's a great God. The only Almighty King. My prayer for you is that you are able to enjoy His presence today and every day.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


DeLaynie's class has been going over feelings this week. They studied emotions in her preschool class in Alabama, too, but because all of the kids here are going through such a difficult transition time, they continue going over it again and again.

After school today, DeLaynie wasn't acting all that happy about life. I asked her, "DeLaynie, are you sleepy or hungry?" I wasn't expecting an actual answer, but she gave me one. "No. I'm just so sad..."

Yes, it was pitiful. No, it wasn't fun to hear that my daughter is sad. It is good to know that she recognizes her feelings, and that she is now empowered to tell me about it. Don't worry. She's pretty happy now that she's covered in marker from head to toe. A mess is thoroughly therapeutic.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Some Pictures

Children take turns being the good picture taker in the family, or at least they do in my family. Tonight was DeLaynie's night, but I made sure to get the same number of pictures per kid in today's post, even if the quality is imbalanced.

After a prayer tea for the women at training, I came home and took the girls out to play. The idea was to give Edwin some time to himself. That wonderful husband of mine misused his time though. That poor man cleaned up so I wouldn't have to. How great is he? Don't worry. I'll do my best, if not better, to make sure that he gets some good rest tomorrow.

On with the photos!
Before I could get Edwin inside, he pretended like he was going to chase DeLaynie around for a few minutes. He then snuck back inside. Such a sneaky fellow is my man!
Both girls enjoyed some time in the grass. Apparently their noses just haven't ran enough. They need to make absolutely sure that they have come in contact with every allergen possible.

I'm not sure what she's doing here, but isn't she cute? Oh, and yes, I know that she has a gash on her head. That would be the effect of disobedience when I told her not to walk on the slippery bathroom floor. You can't protect them from everything, and I don't have the energy to try.

DeLaynie enjoys her feet. They are pretty great feet. Symmetrical. Functional. Those feet are soem amazing feet. Let the world join her in adoring her feet.

I love this one. No particular reason. I just do. It may have to do with the subject.

Edwin and I had a good time trying to come up with a caption for this one. My favorite was, "I'm going to have to eat what in Nicaragua?!"
For future reference, this is the face Ella makes just before falling on her rear end. Now you know.
I've gotta get a few more things done before bed time, so I need to scadaddle (please don't question my spelling. I have no clue to how to spell that one!) Good night to all!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Communal Living

The training facility is a sort of voluntary commune. We get to own things, obviously, but no one has much of anything since we sold it all to head overseas. We all eat together in the cafeteria (we aren't forced to, but why cook and do dishes when someone else will do it for you?), we play together in the giant "yard", we take classes together, and our kids go to school together. It's an interesting change of lifestyle. Allow me to say that girls with bows in their hair are definitely in the minority here. I like that. Way less pressure. If they have bows, great. If not, who cares? They usually do have bows, though. (I say this for the benefit of Mom and B.Wal.)

I mentioned previously that we had friends before we even got here. We came to candidate conference and were assigned to a small group. That small group included two other couples with young children. We have become very close through Facebook and Skype since then. I was a little afraid that we would be diappointed by one another after the months of anxiously looking forward to our reunion, but we weren't. They're just as wonderful as I remember. They still seem to like us, too. It's a shocker, I know.

Everywhere I go on campus, there is someone whose passion matches my own. The conversations at the swing set are encouraging. Dinner is full of chatter on the lessons God has graciously given us. Every day you meet someone else, and every day you know someone new to love. We're so imperfect. Most of us will be more than happy to tell you that. We're also completely forgiven, and we want more people to receive that forgiveness. It's a goal that we share: to see more mixed-up, unworthy, slightly nutty folks like us receive the grace and forgiveness that only our God can provide.

Not a bad neighborhood, huh?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Operation: Balloon Rescue

Tonight we left the training facility to go out for a little while. We hit Target for diapers, some snacks, and some tioletries (exciting stuff, I know), but before that we went to Chick-Fil-A for dinner. DeLaynie has been doing better every day with her eating (and that's thanks to you, prayer warriors, and the Answerer, of course.), but we thought it would be good for her to eat some food she actually enjoys, and to get some time with just us. They had a lot of balloons around the place, and DeLaynie wanted one. We were feeling a bit push-over-like, so Edwin asked for one. They couldn't give us one of the mylar advertising balloons, but they went to the back and got her a latex one.

When we got back to the facility, I tied the balloon to my belt-loop in order to prevent balloon loss. By the time we got back to the quad, DeLaynie was tired of staring at the balloon floating above my head, and wanted it... desperately. So I untied it. Oops! The vaulted ceiling reaches a maximum height of 20 feet! This caused a slight problem.

DeLaynie could see it, but she could not grab hold of it. When asked how we should get it, DeLaynie said, "Streeeeetch!" (I wish I had a picture of her demonstrating that, but I was afraid that would have minimized her feelings, or maybe the camera just wasn't handy. Whichever!)

Edwin, with the help of a quad-mate, devised a plan: He would duct tape a mop to a broom, and attach more duct tape to the end.

He would then work to stick the balloon to the broom, and pull down the lost balloon. Problem solved!

Unfortunately, this left one unresolved issue. The duct tape would stick to the balloon very thoroughly. I tried to gently peel it off, but this ended in tragedy...

That would be my fault. I had thought about cutting the loop of duct tape, and then sticking the ends down. This would have left her balloon marred, but in tact. I made a poor decision. At least now she can't see it. We fixed the problem the same way we fix about half of life's problems with DeLaynie: with a bath. The other half require sand.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Life on the Wild Side (Without baby proofing, that is)

The quads are not baby proofed. There's nothing really dangerous. It's just a little less than convenient. Not a big deal. Just another little adjustment. The biggest non-issue is the fact that the trashcans are not covered, and are about two feet high. That would be perfect Ella size. We've found stuffed dogs, perfectly good fruit, parts of the girls' tea set, shoes, and clothing in the trash so far. Ella, apparently, wants to live the uncluttered life. She says, "Get rid of it all!"

The drawers on their chests of drawers are not lockable, either, so I've found a few things, like a Handy Manny measuring tape, in the drawers, and one skirt that was supposed to be in the drawers was in the bathtub. She also likes to rearranged the carefully organized and folded clothing from one drawer to another.

They're staying busy. DeLaynie's taken at least five baths since we arrived. She's also been using the sink like a water table. Water. It's everywhere, and it's the world's greatest toy, except for sand, maybe. Her note from school today included a notation, "She loves the sandbox!" We picked up on that from previous encounters... :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Another First Day of School

Does this picture remind anyone of another first day of school pic?

DeLaynie and Daddy, obviously.

Ella, sitting by the door. She learned that from DeLaynie.

I let Daddy push the stroller so I could take a picture. Most children brought both of their parents with them for the first day. I'm pretty sure we'll be stroller pooling by the end of training.
They both did really well. DeLaynie didn't eat at school, but Edwin and I kept a couple of pieces of pizza from the adult lunch for her to eat after school, and she did.

After class, DeLaynie, Ella, and I went to a friend's quad (each one is made of four suites) to play while Edwin was in a very responsible sounding class on legal issues.

She knows that she's pretty.

A friend of mine took this here picture of me and Ella.

Ella was so happy to see Edwin after school was over that she started huffing and bouncing up and down. He was pretty happy to see her, too.

This is a picture that I took yesterday. It has nothing to do with the girls' first day of school, but I thought it was pretty.
That's about it for today. The girls had a good day, though they're tired now from all the fun. That means that we have a serious crankiness issue that I need to go handle. I'll try to get back to you soon.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

We Made It! (Part 1)

We're here, at missionary training! We've just about gotten settled in. The girls are already on their second bath due to the fact that there are four playgrounds on campus. DeLaynie is loving it!

Today we met with their teachers and looked at their classrooms. Tomorrow they start class. I've said from the very beginning that their being in daycare would be the most interesting element in this process. Most of the mommies here have been stay-at-home moms, so we're all in same, nervous boat.

One issue that we have already encountered is that DeLaynie doesn't know what to do with the food. She hasn't eaten much here. We think that the lack of options will eventually be good for her. It's still in the "unpleasant" category for now.

Again, let me thank all of our prayer supporters. The girls were incredibly well behaved on the trip. We made is safely, and we still haven't hit any real snags. As you think about us, pray for their girls' first day of "school," that they'll adapt quickly and have a good time. Pray for us as we start class and deal with the idea that we won't be the ones caring for them for a large part of the day. Pray that DeLaynie's mouth will begin to accept new foods, and that she won't be too stubborn to welcome the change. Thank you, again for all of your prayers. They make a ton of difference!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

It Must Be Prayer!

We were stuck in traffic for an hour, and we didn't make it as far as we had hoped. "So, you're blaming prayer?" you ask. No. That would be silly. I'm giving credit to prayer for the fact that the girls were very well behaved and relatively happy through the whole thing. We know that this venture has already been covered in prayer, and that it will continue to be. Thank you, prayer warriors!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Little Things

They really add up. A couple of hooded towels that are especially cute, baby socks, maybe a book or two (or ten), DeLaynie's two-foot penguin that she inherited from Micah's childhood, and which they can take up a surprising amount of space. They can also make a place a world away seem a little bit closer to home.

Material things aren't the only little things that make a big difference, though. Mom and I went to one of the three nail salons (in a town with a population of 6 thousand!) and got pedicures yesterday. It was a small amount of time, and thanks to a gift certificate I received for Christmas, a small amount of money, but it was a welcome break from packing and over-analyzing.

Last night Mom and Dad took DeLaynie to see Disney on Ice. It was not successful. It was simply too loud for her. They said that she seemed to want to like it, but it was just too much for her. Her poor, little heart was beating out of her chest, and she kept saying, "No. No! Bye, bye! Let's go!" So they went to Burger King. DeLaynie ate a few fries, sucked down her chocolate milk, and (along with Mom's help) beat the high score on the video game before heading to the playground. She had a blast with her $3 meal and $1 entertainment.

Today we went to see a movie and get lunch at one of my favorite, marginally Italian restaurants with Youth Dude and His Awesome Chick. We had fun, joked, and talked, all free from children. Time with other adults, another small thing that counts for a lot.

One more little thing- A good friend gave me a very sweet note today. We've done a lot of moving around, and there's plenty more moving to go. We've been here for four months. That's too long to go without friends (even for a recovering anti-socialite like myself), but it's also a pretty short time to find people with whom you "click". That note was a reminder that God has provided us with friends, supporters, and prayer partners at each and every step of this journey, and I am absolutely confident that He will continue to do so. In fact, we have already gotten to know a group of people who will be attending the same training that we will.

Small things in life are some of God's biggest gifts.

Friday, April 17, 2009


We got our flu shots today. The IMB training facility requires that all those attending have flu shots in order to prevent an epidemic from occurring on campus. We eat together, live together, and go to class together. It really isn't that unlikely that the flu would spread so quickly that none could stop it, leaving in its wake a pile of trembling, feverish missionaries.

So today we cowboyed up and got the shots. Edwin complained some before the shot, but it hasn't bothered him since the needle was actually introduced. (He's had some traumatic experiences with needles. Ask him about it, or better yet, don't). DeLaynie screamed for about .2 seconds, but got over it before Edwin got her to the van. Ella just stared back and forth between the nurse and myself, as if to say, "Mommy, I cannot believe you're letting her do this. There has to be a law!"She never actually cried, though. I, however, am very sore already. On the thirty-minute drive home, I could feel the soreness spreading from my shoulder to my elbow to my wrist. I admit it. I'm a sissy.

That's one thing down, and about a million more to go. I should probably stop talking about the one thing we've accomplished and move on to accomplishing the things that we haven't, huh?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What's Left?

We leave on Sunday, this Sunday, for training in the great state of Virginia. We still have some organizing to do. It's an interesting thing, trying to organize your life into 400 pounds (plus carry-ons). I must admit, I don't know what I'm doing. I'm just trying to make sure that everything that is absolutely essential makes it to Central America. I've talked to lots of people about what to take, and what to leave behind. Their advice was incredibly valuable, but I still don't know what I'm doing.

Ella seems to be better today. She took a good nap, thanks in large part to a certain antihistamine, which shall remain nameless. I think that it helped considerably, or maybe the allergy medication actually made her feel better. Weird, huh?
The girls and I have been hanging out some today. DeLaynie has been very good today. She played on the back porch (we're at my parents' house; they have a screened-in back porch) for about an hour while I did laundry. That was surreal! One kid was asleep, and the other was playing by herself while I got things done. My babies are becoming big girls.

Speaking of babies getting older...

That's right! Ella's up and walking. She's almost full-time walking now, and we are very proud of her, and her big sister, too.
I'll keep updating you, though my posts will be shorter than normal this week. Sorry, but life is crazy. I know that it's a sacrifice :).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

You Sicko!

Ella isn't feeling well. Her nose is runny, she's congested, she has a slight fever, and she's cranky in general. She's also teething. She is as unpleasant as she gets. I want to think that it's a combination of allergies and teething that is managing to birth this unpleasant phase in my jolly little one's life.

We've been at my husband's mom and step-dad's house, and we forgot to bring a play yard for her to sleep in. She's very picky about being in a crib or a play yard for sleeping. She doesn't even sleep well with us. DeLaynie would sleep for days on end if we let her snuggle up to us, but not Ella. Apparently, Ella reserved her affection for the day time, and DeLaynie prefers subconscious loving.

All of that to say, her sleepiness and illness have combined to create... SUPER CRANKY BABY! The new, un-costumed super hero with the power of a thousand normal cranky one year-olds! I know. We are so lucky!

Monday, April 13, 2009

How'd It Go?

I was reminded by a friend and commenter that I forgot to tell you how the yard sale went. Friday wasn't so fabulous, but Saturday was more than twice as productive! I was a little concerned because in our previous home town, Friday was the best yard sale day. Apparently, Tallassee works differently.

We still have lots of stuff, some of which I thought would be the first items to go, like the bread maker. I guess that Goodwill will be having a really busy day sometime soon. We made some money, and got rid of a large portion of our fantastic, useless junk. Well, it was useless to us. Hopefully, it will be useful to someone else.

Well, yesterday was a fun Easter. We had a great time with the Youth Dude family and my family. Then we came up to Birmingham to see Edwin's mom. Today we got to see a really fantastic family that we hadn't seen since August.

I guess that the only thing left for today's post is the customary family pic from yesterday. If you're wondering about the background, my home church has a tradition where they place a cross in front and allow members to place their flowers on it. Unfortunately, we have some small family members, and their dresses were much prettier with them standing instead of being held. Maybe this is indicative of misplaced priorities (I prefer a nice-looking picture of us to a full shot of the cross), but I lean toward the idea that I focus my energy toward living out the message of the cross as opposed to taking pictures of its image. I'll leave that decision up to you.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Well, I Tried!

Two ideas. I've had two separate ideas for today and yesterday's blogs. Both included photos. I can't get them to upload. I've tried this. I've tried that. I now give up. They were cute. They were creative. They were impossible.

We are now living at my parents' house. We'll be in B'ham for a couple of days, saying goodbye. I always think of a song that we sang at the end of show choir camp when I hear that phrase, "saying goodbye". Yes, I went to show choir camp. Yes, they have camps for that. Anyway, the song is called, "How Do We Say Goodbye?" It is a very cheesy song. I still can't help but think about it.

We're getting ready for Easter. It's going to be pretty strange. It is our last holiday in the United States before heading for this excellent adventure. It's a great holiday for saying goodbye. It's pretty hard to get too stuck on your own comfort on the day that we remember the death and resurrection of Jesus. At least, I hope it will be. It should be. He's the point, you know. It's the point of this mission thing, of this holiday, of this life.

I hope that you have an enjoyable, and very meaningful, Easter tomorrow. I hope that it's about more than eggs and bunnies. Those are fun, but they're pretty lame when compared to the actual meaning behind Easter. You can't blame the eggs or the bunnies. It's pretty hard to compete with Him. Impossible, actually. Here's hoping that they stay in the background as you celebrate the foreground of eternity.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Today's the Day!

Our yard sale is today. I use the term "today" in its most technical sense. It's 2:46, and I'm still up because of all of the preparations. My mom and Edwin are still at the house, working away. DeLaynie saved me with her gripiness. She woke up very upset, allowing me the excuse to come back here and promote.

Yep. That's what this is. This is a promo. A commercial. A shameless plug.

We have tons of stuff, absolutely filling up the bottom floor of the pastorium. And we have to get rid of it. All of it. If you live near Tallassee, come on by and check it out. If you have a friend expecting a baby, with a baby, or completely uninvolved with babies (it's a combined sell with my mom), send them our way. If you have an enemy at work, suggest that they "stop by" on their way to the office. They'll get sucked right in to the incredibly low prices and fabulous stuff. You won't have to deal with them all day.

You may be thinking, "I saw the weather report, and it ain't pretty!" That's true. That is a good reason to have an indoor yard sale. Climate controlled shopping for the serious yard saler, or the person who just wants to help us out. Cause it's all gotta go! Away! Maybe to your house?

The house right next to FBC, Tallassee
Tallassee, Al

April 10th and 11th, 8 a.m. until we run out of stuff.

Support missions and feel like a genius for saving so much money!!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Hard Night's Day

DeLaynie did not sleep well last night. This, of course, led to a bad night of sleep for Edwin and myself. She was very unhappy and squirmy. We didn't understand why, so Edwin took her back to her bed (she comes to the gate at our room until some sleep-deprived individual lifts her over to see if our bed is a better location for her).

She always talks in the middle of the night, usually some script from Dora the Explorer ("Look, Dora! It's the rock. Do you see the rock? I see the rock. Yeah! There it is.). Last night, though, she wasn't just saying it. She was screaming it. After a few minutes of this, while Edwin and I were praying that she'll give it up and go to sleep, she got up and came to our gate, crying.

I tried a few other ideas, like feeding her, but she didn't care for it. She ended up back in our bed. After a few squirmy minutes, she finally faded to sleep. Then we discovered what was causing the problem. "No, no,no!" She screamed randomly and threw out her arms in the universal stop sign (flat palm out). She was having nightmares. Obviously, this caused an instantaneous change from annoyance to intense sympathy. Of course she didn't want to be alone in her completely dark room with all of the bad things that were filling her little head! Who would?

We all resumed our normal sleep a little before dawn. Now we're back up and back to packing. We weren't edgy enough without a giant interruption in our sleep last night, so DeLaynie's imagination came to the rescue. Kids: gotta love 'em!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

400 Pounds

400 pounds of stuff. That sounds like so much, until you start breaking that down.

75 lbs- girls' clothes
75 lbs- mom's clothes, okay maybe
50 lbs- dad's clothes
30 lbs- shoes, belts, outerwear, and other accessories
50 lbs- appliances, like hair dryer, flat iron, Crock Pot, coffee maker, etc.
20 lbs- books in a language we actually speak
15 lbs- toiletries, with extras of hard to find products
35 lbs- movies, cds, dvd player, and a couple of electronics
25 lbs- toys (that isn't many)
25 lbs- some homey stuff, like photographs (without frames; we'll buy those there) , bedding, towels, and a few other things to make our new house a home

If that still sounds like a lot to you, try weighing your stuff. It's amazing how much stuff weighs. I'm pretty sure that the final weight break-down isn't going to be quite that neat, but that'll give you a general idea of the task we're facing this week. I'm waiting for a couple of all-new categories to pop up and throw my entire system out of whack. Eh! What's in a system, anyhow?

I've been trying to keep my mind off of the actual task at hand, but I figured that I'd give you a glimpse at the math that's filled my sub-conscious for so long this week. Now, I must get back to the task at hand!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Missions Mondays: Pre-Training 1

I've made an executive decision to make Mondays the days when I give updates on our missionary journey. I hope that's okay with you.

We leave for training in less than two weeks. 2 weeks!!! It's a pretty crazy thought. That means that we are currently going through everything to determine what needs to go to training, what needs to go to Costa Rica (where we go for language training), and what needs to find a new home via the yard sale this weekend or by way of the trash truck.

We're getting all of our earthly possessions down to what can fit into eight 50-pound bags and three carry-ons. We're also storing some things in my parents' attic. Because they're cool enough to let us.

It's a little crazy around here. DeLaynie enjoys dumping things out of boxes (usually while yelling "yippee!"), so it's a little difficult to keep tasks completed. At least she isn't miserable. The hardest task is going to be toys. It isn't easy to take away the things that you think are important to your children, though I doubt that my assessment of the situation is accurate. The girls both seem pretty happy with a pile of dirt and a box. Still, it feels wrong. It's one of those times that I have to trust my head, and not this wickedly depraved heart of mine.

Every week, I'm going to give you some prayer requests to keep you busy. Your prayers matter, and they will make us more effective in our ministry. By praying for us, you are doing mission work!

  • First of all, pray for our families. More specifically, really pray for our parents. My parents are named Derek and Sheila. Edwin's parents are Bill, who is married to Cindy, and Edwina, who is married to Bob. They are being called to make a very heavy sacrifice by giving up most of the time they would have with their grandchildren. As Dad puts it, they'll be the ones "standing on the dock" as we head out on this adventure.
  • Secondly, lift up the girls (DeLaynie and Ella). We're beginning a series of changes that are going to be pretty difficult for them. They'll go from spending almost all of their time with one of us, to full-time daycare/school. Pray that they will adjust quickly to each and every change that comes barrelling their way. Pray that we will have wisdom in dealing with their emotions, and that we will know when discipline is appropriate, and when a hug is a better course of action. Pray that DeLaynie will continue to catch up developmentally so she can better understand when we explain what's going on.
  • Finally, pray that we will either be able to find buyers for all of the items that must be sold, or that we will see opportunities to fill the needs of others. We have so much, and we desperately want to use what we have for the glory of our King. It has occurred to me that there are hundreds of millions of people who would be hard-pressed to fill two fifty-pound bags per a person. God has blessed us richly!

Thank you for your prayers as we continue down this path, which is so new to us. I know that we will see God at work, laying each brick for us to step on.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

How To Make a Tutu (with photos)

Ever since Wednesday's photo shoot, DeLaynie has been tutu crazy. She enjoyed the experience of the tutu so very much that I came home and made each girl her very own tutu, as I mentioned previously. It was surprisingly easy. I decided to make a little how-to for those who have been hit by the recession (from what I hear, the tutu budget is the first thing cut), and for those who never had such a budget before the recession. If you are not in those categories, or if you don't have two hours (maybe three, or four if you include a little "helper" in the process), you may go here to purchase a better one than you could probably make. A little warning, though: if you're a perfectionist, this may be difficult. If scrapbooking gets you on edge, and you can't imagine a life without a tutu, just buy one.

This tutu costs about $7.50 to make, and that's if you make it very full. I highly recommend them as gifts because they're incredibly thoughtful, and very cheap. Here's what you'll need:

  1. Tulle- I used 6 yards for DeLaynie's and 5 for Ella's. One lady whose instructions I read only used 2 for a child DeLaynie's size. It wasn't as full, but it was still pretty. You can use two or three coordinating colors, or just one if you want to go simple. I went with three, and was very happy about it. With Ella's, I did 2 yards of the dark color and 1 1/2 yards each of the lighter, coordinating colors. For DeLaynie's, I did 2 yards each. Don't stress too much over this decision. Just make sure the colors look nice together, and that you have enough tulle. (The world's smallest WalMart had all I needed at about a buck a yard.)
  2. Elastic- I used elastic that was 1/2 inch wide. It worked great. (Again, I found it in the craft department of the local WalMart. $1.18 for way more than I needed for two tutus.

  3. Ribbon, in coordinating colors to the tulle- I got 2 yards of each color, one per tutu. I matched the ribbon to the darkes, and therefore dominant, color of the tutu. I just love repeating the word, "tutu." Tutu, tutu, tutu! (And, yes. This too was available at Wally Market for about $.68 for two yards. We hope to one day have a WalMart that qualifies for the accepted title of Wally World. For now, it's just a market, not a world.)

  4. Needle and thread, if you don't have any- I did. I didn't have to buy it. One woman used staples, but that wouldn't last six minutes with my girls, and it sounds dangerous.

Now, do you have everything together? Good. Let's get started with the fun part. If your daughter is old enough, cooperative enough, and crafty enough, she may want to help. I think that it would be completely possible for a preschooler meeting the qualifications listed to help. Unfortunately, DeLaynie isn't cooperative or crafty most of the time when it comes to my ideas. She's very creative with mud, though. Ella is not old enough, but I have a feeling that this will be right up her alley in a year or two. I was alone in making these tutus.

  1. Start by cutting the tulle into 6"strips. If you think through it really carefully, you can layer them in such a way that they are already in the order in which you plan to put them on the tutu. (For Ella's the pattern was purple-pink-purple-white-purple-pink-purple-white. DeLaynie's was hot pink-white-light pink-hot pink-white-light pink.) If it hurts your head to try to think through it that meticulously, just cut the strips according to color. Just try to make sure that the number of strips works out. (Ella's tutu needed twice as many purple strips as lighter colored strips. DeLaynie's needed an equal number of each.) If not, you'll have one or two strips of tulle to throw away, no biggie. The length of the strips needs to be twice as long as the desired length of the final tutu. I used strips that were 26 inches long, so that the final product was 13 inches long. I would've though that would be too short, but it wasn't at all. (Each bolt of tulle is 52 inches wide, so I just the length in half after cutting the strips. I kept the tulle doubled during the cutting, so I cut at the fold. It sounds sooooo much more complicated than it is.)
  2. Now, you need to cut the elastic. I wasn't about to try to get an accurate measurement by wrapping it around Ella or DeLaynie's waist. Neither of them do very well constrained. I used pants that fit them well, and wrapped the elastic around them like measuring tape. Then I added 1 inch and cut. Overlap the ends by about 1/2 inch, and sew them together. Like I mentioned previously, one woman stapled the ends together. I guess you could do that if you are completely inept with a needle and thread, but it really doesn't have to look good at all. It just needs to be strong enough to put up with being pulled on a lot. You'll end up with a loop of elastic like this:

  3. The next step is to start attaching tulle. The way to do this is to double the tulle, place it under the elastic, and pull the ends through the loop that is at the fold. It's like pulling a ponytail through an elastic band, sort of. This is a good place for your daughter to help. She can pull the tulle through. It really isn't that difficult, and perfection isn't nearly as important as the experience (says the woman who made the tutus alone). I tried to draw a diagram of what this looks like, but there really isn't a way for someone so completely inept in all things vaguely similar to drawing to do that. Try to figure it out from this photo. It's completely clear, right?

    When they're correct, they look like this:

  4. Keep doing this. Don't tighten the loops too much, or you'll end up stretching out the elastic. I did that and I had to trim the length, which was a pain after it's finished. When you have attached all the tulle, it should look like this:
    Pretty, eh? I got mine pretty full. Fuller than totally necessary. It stands up on its own, which makes me think about the petticoat that Rhett Butler bought for Mammy (in Gone With The Wind). After I finished all of that, I attached a bow to the front, or back, though it usually ends up being the side when DeLaynie's wearing it.

It does look lovely sitting there, doesn't it? But the true test of a tutu's greatness is not how it looks against a wall. It's how the child feels while wearing it.

I think we have a winner!

She rarely takes it off. The only occasions she seems to think worthy of its removal are bath time, bed time, and going out. There are exceptions to that last one, too. Today I let her swing with it on. You would've thought she was in Heaven for the giant grin on her face. That is $15 well spent, because Ella enjoys hers, too. It's great to finally find something extremely girly that DeLaynie enjoys. Here are a couple of pictures of the girls enjoying playtime in their tutus, not that I am trying to compete with Samantha. Nope. Not even gonna try.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Great Giver and Taker

I did something foolish yesterday**. I was working on Ella's scrapbook, trying to get it ready before training so I can sell the scrapbooking stuff. I can't just think on one thing at a time. It makes my head hurt. So I put on Oprah. We only have one network. I would have just put on some dvd that I've seen a billion times, but it was Suze Orman giving financial advice. I don't agree with her stances on things like marital finances (she pretty much just wants couples to be roommates with benefits), but because I have no natural knack for numbers, I enjoy listening to someone who does. I mean, financial advice can't be too heretical, can it?

Apparently, yes. It can. One of the guests was a retired Lutheran pastor whose retirement is dwindling. It was causing him to stress. He made a ridiculous statement that he has given more than he has received. What I think he meant from that was that his charitable contribution outweighed his income on his tax return. But he calls himself a Christian. It was his job to make sure that everyone knows that we can never out-give God. The blood of His Son was more costly than anything. If we die completely destitute, but covered in the grace of God, we have been given more than we could ever imagine, or could repay in a thousand life-times. Satan used this scared man to manipulate people into doubting God's goodness. Edwin walked in right before he came on, and was absolutely appalled by his appearance. I was sad.

He had said in the video piece that he now feels like he's the one who needs some pastoral counseling. I wish that he had done that instead of going on national television to gripe about his investments! Now, any decent evangelical pastor would have him do an extensive study on Matthew 6:24-34. Suze Orman, however, decided to give him a speech about how God "doesn't know how to take. He only gives." Edwin was standing up by this a point, a sure sign that he is as angry as my sweet husband gets. I sat, quietly thinking about how ridiculous that statement was, again angry at Satan for using this man to mislead the American people one more time, dragging them farther from the true God of the universe.

Let's get one thing straight: my God, the true Creator and Sustainer of this world, takes! He took the life of His Son in order to take away the sins of His people. I praise God that I do not serve a god who merely sits in Heaven, with his hands full of blessings, hoping that I'll come up and get some like a bird receiving birdseed. My God is a Giver and a Taker. (Read 1 Samuel 2, if you don't believe me.)

Everything was made for Him and by Him (John 1:3). It's His business if He wants to reallocate His resources from one place to another. (You know, money doesn't disappear. It goes somewhere. Somebody is gaining out of this.) We seem to think that God should be worshipping us, which is what Suze Orman's statement comes down to. He lives for our glory, according to her theology. I belong to Him. If He chooses to take my money, my husband's life, my children's lives, and the very breath that fills my lungs, He is still good, and I still belong to Him. I'm His to take.

We get recite the verse that says, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose," (Romans 8:28). We don't focus much on that last part, according to His purpose, and we completely separate it from the rest of the passage which ends with these verses:

Romans 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This passage promises us hardship, and yet we're here, doubting the goodness of God because we are concerned about losing our retirement home or going without Internet. It's when we face hardship that God's goodness is revealed most fully. I haven't seen many people enduring nakedness due to this recession. I haven't seen many hungry people, either. They may not eat out as much, but that's hardly famine. It's in all that that we conquer. It may seem like we're suffering for Him, but in those moments, God's love becomes more real to us. His love alone is our goodness.

You know what I think is good? I think that it would be good for our country to realize that we are worshipping God's blessings and not God. I think it would be good for us to repent of our pseudo-Christianity and become the Christian nation we're always claiming to be. I think it would be good for God's people to shine as lights in the universe in the way that they deal with this recession. Maybe it's time we stop trusting in chariots, and start trusting in the one true God (Psalm 20:7). He told us very plainly that stuff here gets destroyed, but the things we do for Him are imperishable (Luke 12:33).

When I die, I want to stand before Him knowing that I left it all on the field. When I stand before God (and we all will), I want to know that I've used every resource that He has given me for His glory, and not my own. I want to look on the faces of those who know God or love Him more because I existed. I want to look into the face of the Great Giver and Taker, knowing that my life benefited Him more than me. Now that's good, and no recession can touch that!

(Edited at 12:47 a.m. on April 4, 2009: My mom made the very good point that it was unclear what I did that would be considered foolish. I have mentioned several times on my Bible study blog that it is generally a bad use of our mental energies to spend too much time listening to people who almost get it right, but don't. I have specifically used Oprah Winfrey as an example since she seems to be a "spiritual person," but she doesn't believe the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. It was foolish for me to not follow my own advice.)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Now, That's Photography!

Samantha posted a few of the photos she took yesterday on her blog to give us a preview of the beauty to come. When I first opened the page and saw them, I had this intense desire to shriek. I don't shriek often, but I really wanted to at first viewing. Edwin noticed this ridiculous grin on my face and came over to look. We both sat there and marveled at what we saw. Here are a couple of previews, and you can go to their blog for more.

I love the path thing that's going on here. As a literary nut, I want to talk about metaphor and all that philosophical stuff. I'll spare you, and just remark on how pretty it is. Isn't is lovely?

I love that little face she has on her.

Look, I try to not brag about how incredibly beautiful my children are, but it's pretty hard to deny at this point. Just look at that baby up there!

A little word on the tutus: DeLaynie loved it! Ella thought that it was interesting, and I found it utterly delightful to watch her crawl around in it. DeLaynie enjoyed it so much that I came home and made some. I'll probably take some pictures for a how-to blog, if any of you mommies of little girls are interested. (They also make good birthday presents for toddlers and preschool girls.) If you don't have as much time as I have with Edwin being home, or if you just don't care to play with tulle, you can go here and order one from the woman who made those lovely tutus that you see in the pictures. She's a stay-at-home mom, so I know that a bunch of you would love to support her work :). The ones she sells are boutique quality, and gorgeous. Mine are not, but DeLaynie still giggles whenever she gets to spin around in it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

We've Been Shot!

By a photographer, that is. Namely, by Samantha at His Hands Photographs. I was looking for someone to take a decent family photo for our prayer card, and I came across their website through a listing service.

To be completely honest, I've been really jazzed about this photo shoot for a long time. It may be one of the most exciting parts of this particular phase of the missionary journey. Yes, I know. Between the fact that my greatest concern is a lack of Fizz-Ease and the fact that I'm intensely excited about having a professional photograph taken, it may seem that I'm a tad-bit vain. I probably am, but we haven't had any professional photos taken as a family since the wedding, and Ella hasn't had any... ever!

Back to the photo shoot... Samantha was very, very patient, and very sweet. She put up with DeLaynie far better than I did, and I am confident that we are going to have some beautiful pictures as a result. She is what is called a lifestyle photographer. That means that she doesn't shoot in a studio, but outdoors, for the most part. I prefer that type of photography, personally. I dare you to try to get DeLaynie and Ella sitting still for two minutes simultaneously when there's a camera in the room. Not gonna happen.

When looking for a photographer, I came across them by name, and I figured that the "His" in the name may be a certain Him that I know pretty well. (You know, God. Yeah, that Him.) I went to their website, and saw tons of beautiful pictures of children that are about DeLaynie's age, and the information under "Who Are We" was written in a wonderfully witty style. You may not choose a photographer based on witty writing, but it's a big draw for me. After emailing them with an explanation about what I wanted a photo for, Samantha wrote me back and told me that she and her husband have a real heart for missions, and they work to use their gifts as a ministry. They especially want to take photos in third-world countries and print the Gospel on the back. Needless to say, I was hooked.

The experience was a wonderful one. I greatly, GREATLY, appreciate Samantha's hard work. I also wanted to let all of you know in case anyone in the Birmingham area (or anyone who can get to Birmingham) is looking for a really good photographer who isn't going to yell at your kids. Again, their website can be found here. Be sure to check them out, and check back here because I'll be posting some of the photos when I get them!