Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Christmas and the spirit of giving

I have noticed in the past few years that I start getting excited for Christmas very early--like September!  When the pools start closing and the wind starts to pick up I start thinking of Christmas.  What I get excited for most is giving special gift to those I love and hoping they love the gift as much as I loved picking it out for them.  Now, being a family with "just enough" money to go around, these gifts are not big or numerous, but somehow they always seem to be perfect. 

The last 2 years I have secretly wanted to spend most if not all of our Christmas gift budget on giving to those who really need it.  Last year I looked into a few homeless shelters in the area to give to.  I didn't follow through, time caught up with me and the money was spent on presents...excuses, I know.  I just didn't do it.  This year I really feel like I have to give in some way. 

It's funny how the Lord can impress things on your heart.  Here are few ways that He has flooded my mind with the desire to give:
  • Two weeks ago I got a gift catalog from Samaritan's Purse, an organization that help the poor and give them the care and hope to help rebuild their lives.  They provide emergency medical care, build schools and churches, provide food and the means to sustain their own gardens and live stock.  They give hope to families all over the world who need help. 
Here is irony for you:  I was looking through this catalog while I was eating my dinner.  I looked at my husband and said, I can't even finish my dinner.  I was so moved emotionally that I couldn't swallow for the lump in my throat.  I mean, how many times do we see the pictures on our TV of little African children with bloated tummies and just change the channel or even ignore the ad.  These little children weren't on my TV but on my kitchen table.  In the midst of our abundance their inadequacy jumped off the page.
  • The next thing that had me thinking was a news report from abc's 20/20.  It was about Native American children living at Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.  It showed these families living in mobile homes with patched floors, ceilings that could crash in at any moment and more than 2 or 3 to a bed.  One woman had 19 people living in her home.  80-90% of the adults living on this reservation are addicted to alcohol and reports were showing that the children were experimenting with alcohol as early as 5 years old.  The documentary showed several little children crying over their parents being drunk.  The school explained how many of these children come to school on Monday's not having eaten anything over the weekend. 
How can I look at these beautiful vibrant children and not feel compassion for them.  These kids aren't roaming around an African plain or in the jungles of South America--they are in our backyards!!!  Our own country is hungry and poor and destitute.  It breaks my heart to think that those children may have the same fate as the other adults in their community--alcohol addicted. My family has indian roots, so I guess this just hit home for me. 
  • The last and most recent thing that I came across was a book study my Life Group started by Max Lucado called, "Out Live Your Life".  This was taken right from his website:  "1.75 billion people are desperately poor, natural disasters are gouging entire nations, and economic uncertainty still reigns across the globe. But you and I have been given an opportunity to make a big difference."  Go to the link and check out the video--it's so moving.
As you can imagine my heart was nearly flooded over with emotion after watching the first video of this series after all that God had laid on my heart earlier.  Can I deny that the world is broken and in need of help, even in my own country/state/city?  Can I turn my back to the hurting again?  How can I ignore this passion that He has ignited in my soul for those in need?  I can't. 

As much as I write this to inspire others to look beyond their own family and into those hurting around them, I also write this as a declaration to myself.  I will no longer sit by the side with my eyes closed to the truth.  I will get out there and give what I can and help where I am able.

James 1:27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

Proverbs 22:2 The rich and poor have this in common: The LORD made them both.

Please take a moment to visit the links I've included.  If you have the ability to give to one of these organizations, I encourage you to do it.  Samaritan's Purse is a great place to start as they have several less costly ways to give.  You've got to start somewhere, right?!  God bless you as you leave this blog.  I pray that you will be compassionate to this cause and that you will find away to give or spread the word.  Choose to not turn your back on them anymore.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Summertime wrap up

This summer has gone by so fast. Here we are, already wearing hoodies and jeans. I do love autumn, but I'd like to share a few things we did this summer.

We did not go on a family vacation this summer, since my husband doesn't get his 1st week vacation until December. We actually didn't go to the beach either.  We did start the summer off with a little weekend trip with friends. We went to their mountain cabin in PA.  It was so beautiful.  The cabin was set at the base of a mountain.  They had their own access trail up the mountain with four wheeling trails all over the place.  Even though we went in June, it was still cool up in the mountains.  We had campfires every night.  In all there were 4 couples that went our all of our kids too.  In total we had 13 people there and we had so much fun!!  Here are some pictures of our trip.

All the girls decided to take a group ride together.  From left to right: Me, Tina, my sil Lauren and our host Christy with her 2 boys-in front is Henry and behind is Ellis.

My husband, Lonnie, and my son, Vaden, were getting ready for a little trail riding.

My son was having so much fun pretending to drive the four wheelers. 

This was the view from the road in front of the cabin. 

Later, we took a ride out some of the back road around the mountain.  Locals call this the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.

This is my lovely little family.  <3


I decided after we got home from this little weekend trip that I was going to tackle potty training! :p  Vaden is tall and solid, and I'm short and weak.  He was getting too big for me to pick up for the changing table and frankly I was tired of buying, changing and throwing away diapers.  He took to it like a champ!  The first few times we went out during the day, I brought his potty and put in the back of the car.  I was so afraid that he would wet himself.  (By the way, he hasn't had an accident in the car or anywhere else for that matter--strange, but awesome)  Check out this blackmail pic!
LOL!!!  Hey, it worked!

Just to clarify, I no longer bring a potty in the car with us ~ but it's a great tool if your in a pinch ~ even if you look silly in the back of the store parking lot, watching your kids sit on the potty in the back of your car.

After he was potty trained through the day we took down his crib and got him a big boy bed.  Nothing like changing everything for my poor kid all in one summer! 

We spent a lot of time playing outside and swimming at my parents home in their cheap blow up pool.  Honestly, when it's 100 + degrees in the summer I don't care how big the pool is, as long as it's wet!  It could've been a tea up with coolish water and I would jump in!!  My son learned to swim last year, but of course he had on several layers of flotation devices.  This year he did really well with just swimmies!  I am so proud of him.  For a 2 year old, I think he swims well.  It's really a shame that I didn't get any pictures of him swimming later in the season with only swimmies on.  I tried to upload a short video that I had taken of Vaden jumping into the pool and swimming, but it didn't work so well.  So I guess you'll have to use your imagination.  :(

My Dad got us tickets to an Orioles game.  I hadn't been to a game in YEARS--probably since Lonnie and I were dating.  We really had fun taking Vaden to his first game.  He enjoyed--but I think the best thing for him was using the urinals in the men's bathroom.  That boy went at least once an inning.  That's what I get for potty training! :)

My parents have a garden every summer and I of course go over and steal their produce.  This year they had so many tomatoes that they were selling them at the end of their driveway.  I picked so many tomatoes this summer that my hands actually got blistery spots on them from the acid!  I canned several batches of marinara sauce and roasted tomato/vegetable puree and also just plain tomatoes.  I ran out of jars and started freezing them.  They were coming out of my ears!  But this fall when I make pasta and we have that fresh tomato sauce, all of those hours on my aching feet hunched over the sink peeling tomatoes will have been worth it.

These are several of the ingredients that I roast in the oven for my roasted veggie puree. 
I use the puree for pasta, soup starters and for liquid in a pot roast done in the crock pot.

Well to round out the summer we had a visitor--IRENE.  Hurricane Irene.  My parents had a "if you're afraid to be home during the hurricane, come stay at our house" party. =)  So my husband and I packed up our little family and went to my parents house to wait out the storm.  It was nice because they had a generator in case the power went off, which it didn't.  Our house was without power for 2 days.  It was kind of strange being back in my old bedroom with my HUSBAND and SON.  It made me think back to all of those times I would dream about who I would marry and how many kids I would have...  I'm just saying it was a little weird--but nice too.  We weren't the only ones hold up at their house.  My brother and his wife and 3 kids were there and my grandmother came too.  I'm telling you, we had a party.  We waited all day for this storm to come and the sky was barely cloudy for the longest time.  The kids had been couped up in the house all day.  So when it was only drizzling a little bit, we let them go out and play in the rain.  Vaden wouldn't go out in the rain without shoes and a rain coat.  The other kids hit the door running-no shoes-no jackets.  Kids are funny.  Here are a few shots of the puddle jumpers.

I had them racing in the rain to burn off some of that energy!

Sophie was digging up mud with her toes--you should have seen her legs when she was done.  GROSS!

There was one big puddle that the kids kept jumping in.  Vaden finally got it all to himself.

They deserved a bubble bath after all of that running around in the rain.  Cutie patooties!

Isn't this a lively bunch?!  LOL--after the bigger kids were in bed everyone
else settled in for a movie-and a little QUIET ~ sort of, after all, it was a hurricane.

Well, I think that about wraps it up. I'm hoping to keep you all posted more often. I hope you enjoyed seeing the things we did this summer. I'd love to hear your comments. God bless each of you and your families too.