Sunday, December 23, 2018

My Drum

Little Drummer Boy - Jedidiah
A few years ago at church Jedidiah played his drum while the  Little Drummer Boy song played in the background.  Never have I been so touched by that song as to see my Tender Heart playing for Jesus. The pure innocence of these precious moments had tears streaming down my face as I contemplated ... What do I have to offer Him? The discovery of our current favorite Christmas music video, For King and Country's Little Drummer Boy, has caused a resurfacing of these sentiments ... What can I offer my Beloved Savior in celebration of His birthday?

Most days I feel there's nothing left to give.  You know what I'm talking about. Our days are FULL. OF. LIFE. Rounding up the lives of 4 Mighty men, the constant barrage of life commitments, wiping the counter and putting the toilet seat down, carrying the weight of their stories and looking for that next divine encounter, forget about organizing the next event, it's my thoughts that I'm struggling to organize, even at day's end I'm tiding up our bed before I crawl into it's downy abyss ... Sometimes I can't even find The Drum to offer! 

Of course there's my heart, my life, my willingness to follow Him. It's a beautiful thing to give Him the song of my heart and trust Him make a beautiful melody out of it.  It's admirable to die to self and live fully for Him. It's noble to lay down ones life and follow Him wherever He leads. But what if pride has eaten away and tarnished the beauty of these gifts, can I give Him instead my doubts, fears and tears I hold to so tightly? What about my anger, stubbornness, and "I want it my way" attitude? 
It's in those moments when I stop searching for the perfect gift and let go of the pride of 'keeping it all together' when I become keenly aware that ... His gaze is for me!  It's that "Be still and know" moment when I realize ... He wants me. The good, the bad, the ugly. I am the gift He wants. 

Offering my drum ... Resting in His embrace ... Happy Birthday Jesus 

Life on the Mountain
Christmas celebrations continue and there are more Tamales to eat! ... Sunday was a day to celebrate community at Casa Vidanet ... One last fun day with Dylan and Adam before saying good bye ... Youth group family night and singing Christmas songs in English ... One more border run with it's usual excitement, thankful they left us back into Costa Rica! ... Blessing Samuel through the tears of saying good bye ... Micah and Joseph got to mow a huge yard for 2 1/2 hours ... Meeting the Kampers and feeling Father's embrace through them. Zorro Family movie marathon ... And, realizing I am a gift. 

Safe border run and Austin's company
The Kamper family
Laughter with leadership team
Thankful for tears in saying good bye ... true friendship
For King and Country Drummer Boy

Discernment for our next steps
Rest and rejuvenation this week
Taking steps to get healthy: mentally, emotionally, spiritually
Connections for Jedidiah
Students at home for Christmas ... to feel Father's presence with them wherever they go

Singing Christmas Carols

Adam and Dylan ... they're both smiling!
Celebrating with warm tropical breezes and ...

a night that felt like freezing cold temps!

A perfect afternoon ...
Ice cream, my best friend and a park to play in!

Stroopies in Costa Rica!
Of course we bought them without looking at the price!

In his happy place ...
He's got the blisters to prove it really was a push mower!

Training complete ... Outreach here we come! 

Three more days to Christmas!

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me!
Micah 7:7 

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Mama's Emotions

SOOOO embarrassing ...
I took this in front of their friends!
For those of you who know me, you understand why I invest wisely in a product that is "wash-off, water-proof". It sounds absurd but, it seriously is! I'm not sure how long I've used said product however, I'm quite certain sixteen years ago it became part of my daily routine.

Sixteen years ago, I became a Mom to the first of the most handsome Mighty Men I've laid eyes on. Of course I'm biased, I'm allowed to be. I'm their Mom! These four, along with their two brothers romping field and forest in Heaven, have taken me on the adventure of my lifetime! I can honestly say, there are no other who evoke such emotion in my Mama's heart. Those proud mama moments of unspoken understanding when our teary eyes meet across the crowd ... The raw, soul bearing, anger filled moments when violent emotions melt into a pool of tears in my arms ...  As I sit in silence, his reassuring hug, head on my shoulder, tender-hearted "I'm sorry for you mom" gesture reminding me, I'm not alone ... When he snuggles on my lap and those mischievous eyes meet mine and he says, "I love you Jenny!" As their Mama, I can truly say I rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.

Our lives have been filled with bumps, bruises and boo-boos, broken bones and broken hearts, minor surgery and major decisions, soaring on wings of elated joy and clinging to each other through the cold darkness of the valley of despair. I've had breathless, "be still my heart" moments when I know nothing but pure, unadulterated love for these imperfect human beings. On the contrary, as goes with the territory, it's in those 'head-exploding', so mad I could spit, baring my teeth and clenching my fists that I realize my love appears to have some limits.

This week my emotions have been taken on a roller coaster with the hills, twists, turns and drops coming at me without a moments notice.  Celebrating Micah's 16 birthday and Adam's kindergarten graduation in the same week ... I thought I had prepared my heart for these events. Crying with Adam when we told him his best buddy Dylan is moving next week ... Micah facing reality that he can't get his drivers permit while living in CR ... Pure excitement anticipating Micah's birthday celebration with friends we absolutely love to call friends! Joseph loving everything about youth group and seeing him shine in this connection ... Becoming keenly aware that while Jedidiah can't stand in front of me for pictures anymore he still needs his multiple times a day hug from Mama.

My emotions on overdrive this week, I very much needed to claim this promise from Father ... Isaiah 44: 3-5 "For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams. Some will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’; others will call themselves by the name of Jacob; still others will write on their hand, ‘The Lord’s,’ and will take the name Israel.

He knows me.  He knows my heart, desires and emotions. And so, as said Mama, I will continue to invest wisely in the aforementioned "wash-off water-proof" product to prevent the unattractive formation of black smudges flowing from my mascara laden eyes that could essentially be caused by the emotions evoked from these Mighty Men!

Roller coaster emotions ... Blessings poured out ... they are HIS!

Life on the Mountain
I can hardly remember two days ago let alone two weeks ago ... I know we've started December and decorated our tree ... Cookie decorating to finish Co-op semester ... Celebrated Christmas with El Nido ... feasted on delicious desserts at our worship team Christmas Cafecito ... Graduated Kindergarten ... Celebrated a 16th birthday with friends at the theme park, a game night and sleepover. Probably the highlight of the week! ... Created costumes for Youth Group Medieval theme party ... Shared tears of laughter and sadness ... Rested in the promise from Father that, His Holy Spirit and blessing are pouring out on these Mighty Men!

Youth group ... I'll share this praise forever!
The gift of celebrating Christmas
Mighty men who laugh and cry with me
A caring leadership team
The Kampers ... we haven't met them yet, but know God is going to do mighty things
Friends we love to call friends to celebrate life with!

Border run this week
Celebrating the gift of Christmas away from family
Rest and family time
Safety for students and staff traveling over the next 2 weeks
A Cook for Casa VidaNet
Giving time to each other
Discernment for our future

She couldn't come to El Nido so ... El Nido visited her!
Jackson 5, Sebastian 2, Arielito and Carlito 18 months ...
Adding two machitos to the mix ...
So much energy! 

Tailless scorpion ... Yup, under a glass in our house!

Spider man meets Elf ...
Celebrating Christmas in 70 degree weather!

My little El Nido buddy ...
He loves Tia Jenny ...
His hugs and snuggles melt my heart!

Cleaning up for his graduation

Teacher Andrea ...
"Maybe I could marry her! Her's old enough to take care of me."

Graduation day ... Celebrating with friends! 
Peppermint Mocha x 3 ...
How can my 'baby' be turning 16?!

Gettin' the party started ...
5 teenage boys converging on an empty Fun park!

"Lets do it again!" ... So thankful for a sunny day!

A night of friends and games ... His heart is happy!

Blessed to use our neighbors 'party' room ...
Complete with Foosball table!
The Duke of Lancaster and his trusty servant Joe ...
Not sure who had more fun finding these outfits!
"Shhhhh, don't tell them they're wearing girls cloths!"

Sacred Sunday morning peace ... treasuring these moments ...
"I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants."

Sunday, December 2, 2018

His Thoughts for Me

Finally, our much anticipated Thanksgiving day feast
Sweet, ornery and innocent! 
was upon us.  As I was preparing my part in this feast, like a good missionary, I was thinking of things I'm thankful for! The happy banter of Adam and his two amigos as they ran in and out of our house, the two turkey's done to perfection, garlic butter knots finished the day before, homemade mashed potatoes and the anticipation of devouring the compilation of this feast in a few short hours! Coffee in hand, I sat for a few minutes gazing on our newly decorated "Charlie Brown" Christmas tree.  Enter random thought as I realize just how quiet the serenity of this moment is ... "Hmmmm, I don't hear the boys, I should check on them." After a few more sips of coffee this thought became reality as I was summoned by our neighbor to "see what they  are saying our boys did!" In the peaceful silence of my "coffee, Jesus, Christmas tree" moments, the Three Amigos had secretly slipped out from under the watchful eye of three Mamas and exited the large 'left-open' front gate that is always closed.

Upon my summons to leave said gate, The Sight that my eyes beheld, is one that will not soon be erased from my memory.  They, other neighbors living behind similar large gate whom we have not officially met due to said large gates, were accusing these Three Musketeers of marking up their car which was sitting outside large gate! Racing mind ... 'Who, when, how ... WHY?' ... The confusion ensued as I didn't think the boys had even left our gate much less had the audacity to carry out an accusation of this measure.  Neighbors were adamant these three were guilty.  As I walked around the car, I realized this was the work of an artist with a stone on the canvas of a black car ... not just one random painting. No, the artist decided to display their talent on every side, every panel, every reachable area of said "black car canvas".  My shocked, speechless countenance said more than any coherent thought I could muster in English or Spanish.  As I retrieved Adam from our house, his expression said what my heart wanted to deny as truth.  He confessed, rather timidly, to being one of the accused Artists. 

That night as I tenderly held Adam in my gaze, my anger subsiding, I thought about the depth of love I have for this little human being in spite of his actions. As Adam nestled into my embrace, he asked, "Are they going to call the Policia?" Sometimes the repercussions of ones own thoughts are discipline enough for the defiant act that precipitated these thoughts. "No," I reassured him. "Mama, I sorry." In these precious moments Father tenderly reminded me that He has such thoughts toward me as well. Regardless of my willful disobedience to paint my own canvas in life, gleefully flirt with with the desire to leave His boundaries and failure to resist dabbling with the temporary satisfaction of earthly pleasures ... His thoughts for me are ... compassionate, grace-filled, forgiving, unconditional, eternal, LOVE.

Forgiveness, kind words, humble hearts ... HE thinks about ME ...

Life on the Mountain 
While Daryl participated in Healing Care, the boys and I experienced somewhat of a vacation with a relaxed home routine ... Taking time for science experiments and family game nights ... Thanksgiving day celebration with our family of 60 ... Connecting with neighbor Katarine because she understands my Mama's heart ... The gift of Gloriana opening her home to our boys ... Last day of school, bring on vacation and creativity for Mama! ... Decorating our Christmas tree with beautiful sunshine and tropical breezes ... Celebrating our 2 year anniversary of living in Costa Rica ... Reflecting on His thoughts for me.

Grace filled understanding neighbors
A week of healing care challenges
End of 4th grade and Kindergarten school year
Jedidiah being exempt from final Science and Math exam because of good grades
Laughter, understanding and connections 

Future plans for El Nido
Permanent cook for Casa VidaNet
Unity, belonging and connection for the 6 newly established Vida220 teams
Scratched car incident 
Healing for: 
   Kaitlyn's knee
   Ema's heart
   Tiffany's ankles 
He constructed a house of cards that holds multiple books!

Jedidiah's Art project that has a striking resemblance to ...
Steve Shank with a spray tan!  

Riding in the van with Santa!

"Ho Ho Ho!"

The tree ... The Grinch ... Let the decorating begin!

We discovered "A Very Hungry Caterpillar" : ) in our house!

Just pizza, Mama and the boys ...
the sweetness of spending time with Declan!

I suggested NO ... He wanted to be part of the guys ...
I've never kissed his naked chin!

He shaved ... 
I cut ...

HIS thoughts ...  

 Please keep praying for our marriage ...
Christs love compels us to love as we take time for each other!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Waking Thoughts

Auntie Anne's in CR!
Life as we know it offers many things to occupy our waking moments.  I'm curious, what is the first thing you think of upon waking in the morning?  (This is where you stop reading and think). Perhaps you went to sleep with blissful thoughts of Thanksgiving dinner and wake to the delicious aroma of said dinner.  If your week involves a check list, it is hardly conceivable that you wake with none other than the mental list and pen in hand.  Before my body morphed into that of life bearing mother, a.k.a before I accepted the title of responsible adult ... my waking thoughts as I contemplated life were about daisies, bell bottoms, my 'mom-mom sweater' and 25 less pounds of me to love.

There was no such foolishness that a day starting with dreary rain clouds was made for burrowing deeper into my downy abyss. No way! Sleeping in especially when on vacation was forfeiting lost moments basking in the love of the sun! (I kid you not, just ask Peg!) It was His promise from Psalm 17:15 that roused my said hippie self from peaceful slumber ... And I, in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness. Who wouldn't want to wake up and see His face?! I had this posted by my bed and subconsciously would speak it to my soul at times before being fully aware that the day had dawned. He's given me other promises to wake with ... one of my favorites has been Psalm 143:8-10 "Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love for I have put my trust in You ... show me ... rescue me ... teach me." My soul waking to His tender promises has been life-giving to say the least!

Fast forward 17 years ... wife of one, mom of four, lover of The One ... and He decides to remind me of aforementioned lifestyle because I've made the choice to carry my burdens to bed with me. Oh He's tried before, it's not like He's waited these entire 17 years to remind me. But somehow, in His customary fashion, He's posted this little note on my bulletin board in our house in Costa Rica ... "What are your first thoughts when waking up in the morning?" I remember when and where I penned this challenge. However, I haven't the faintest idea how and when it was posted to life in CR and I most certainly did not see it before this morning!

I have a choice ... Prince of Peace, I choose what You are offering ... How about you?   

Life on the Mountain
Predominant thanksgiving for the week ... Adam got his cast off and pin out of his arm! Thankful for neighbors who help carpool ... Moments of an unguarded heart with a dear neighbor ... Laughter with the girls at a ladies Tea while the Boys went to the mall ... Tender moments of hearing my soulmates heart ... receiving the challenge to listen, love and be accountable ... A Friday night at home and laughter with The Cosby Show ...

Gift of attending graduation for Martha and her daughter
6 teams chosen and appointed ... look out Central Am., here they come!
English conversation when Spanish just doesn't flow
Jedi's grades, he doesn't need to take his final math or science exam!
Wendell and Mel for asking and listening
A sister to hold me accountable

Inner healing week for staff and students, pray for Father's heart to be revealed
Daryl as he participates in this week
Gloria and Delynn as they lead this week
Ema's health
4th Grade Science project, model of Cell structure ...
Ironically, Micah in 10th grade wrote a report on Cell structure ...
I should have read the report before helping make these models!

He's at it again ...
this time he climbed a tree to 'rescue' a fat,
possibly pregnant lizard

Yeah, Cast is off! ... 
Brave boy as he got stitches out and patiently let the Doctor remove the embedded pin from his wrist! 

Fall pictures can't be all serious ...

"George of the Jungle"

"hey ladies!"

Trying to look cool ... no words for this boy!

Oh the weather outside is DELIGHTFUL! ...
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ... 

A shot of dessert  ... a fraction of the calories!
The three amigos ... constant chatter ... boundless energy ...
what one doesn't think of, the other one does!

Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love for I have put my trust in You ...

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Releasing Tears

I woke today with tears just under the surface of my being ... a gentle rain was falling, our household had a restless night after awaking to a power out that left us in the darkest night without even the sound of neighborhood dogs to break the silence. It was one such morning that I needed His presence to physically lift me out of my downy abyss I defiantly clung to. "Just one more hour" I pleaded. I find it ironic that the youngest cherub I bore life to 5 years ago feels just as strongly to the opposite spectrum of this activity ... "Just one more minute" he pleads as he defiantly refuses to climb the stairs to the downy abyss that waits to envelop his angelic form.  Both activities, 12 hours apart evoking the same emotions, leaving both sets of eyes brimming with tears in their wake.

Crying in the shower brings such healing as the warm water pours over the mix of emotions flowing from my eyes. However, today being Sunday and not wanting puffy eyes to accompany me to church, I willed the tears to hold fast in their borders. He would release them in time and with their release would come the healing balm for my soul. These tears were not ones of sadness or hopelessness, on the contrary, with each profession and confession, their healing trickle brought hope, peace, release and freedom.  Sometimes you just need to cry!

Tears for hurting relationships, tears as life ends and for when life begins, tears for decisions made and yet to be made, tears for words spoken in frustration and for words held captive, tears of confession, tears of reconciliation, tears of understanding and tears of laughter ... Today was a day of knowing His sweet presence through those who helped release these tears. As the sun surrenders my day to the peaceful solitude of night I'm peacefully reminded ... In His presence is fullness of joy.

 Have a good cry ... Joy unspeakable joy ... Releasing the valve

Life on the Mountain
I'm tired ... not physically, just mentally. Extra guests brings the joy of community, refreshment for my spirit, and the gentle reminder that solitude is also a necessity.  I'm continually humbled at the gift we receive from living here ... so many nations to interact with and the gift of sharing Jesus with each one.  As the week ended I blissfully sat on a porch swing ... enough said on that, it was a peaceful gift! Birthday parties, an abundance of sugar, really loud music and the peaceful gift of Daniella's friendship. Guiding Jedidiah on his 4th grade science project, creating an animal and plant cell ... can't believe I remember these parts! A Sunday filled with life-giving conversation, heart connections and healing tears.  Anticipating a sound night of sleep, He is restoring my soul!

Sharing our hearts in English
Being surrounded by a great crowd of witnesses
Life bringing tears
Our boys open hearts to share how they are processing life in CR
Nellie's family coming to church

Discerning our next steps
Healing Care next week that Daryl and I will participate in
Make a choice to put each other first, pray for "Us"
Steve's heart to let go and trust Father's love for him

My matching grocery helpers ...
bringing joy and laughter to my shopping experience!

ONE picture ... that's all I took this week!