Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Resolutions-2009 review

I was on Facebook and saw that a lot of people were talking about how pointless NY Resolutions are.  Their point was that if you just take once a year to evaluate yourself and try to better yourself that you'll never accomplish anything because true change requires daily (sometimes even more often!) evaluation and action to make a change.  I agree.  But I still think that the beginning of the year is still a great time to stop and evaluate.  I also try to do so on my birthday, in the Fall (in depth self evaluation) and I try every day to become a better version of who I was yesterday.  So, because I love change and I love seeing how far I've come in a year, here you go...

1.  Reading the Bible: I did better than I ever have this year.  I grew to a new level spiritually and I believe it's because the Holy Spirit guided me and helped me make a quiet time a habit.  I look forward to continuing this habit in the New Year.  I also did a Priscilla Shirer study called Discerning the Voice of God and I loved it.  I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good women's group study.

2.  Print Off Pictures: Ehh...I did ok.  I got a lot printed off when there were sales.  I'm ok with that.  It's a start.  I need more albums to store pictures until I can get scrapbooking on a regular basis.

3.  Out of Debt: Done.  We're saving now.

4.  Spanish:  I've worked on it a lot this year but I wasn't seeing any sort of benefit with Tate.  Then this week he's started busting out phrases in Spanish, in the right context!  How awesome is that?!  He knows several words, but this is the first time he's started using phrases!  So much fun!

5.  Exercising: Great!  I am within a couple of pounds to my lowest weight, and I have about 8 more I'd like to lose.  My goal is to be done losing weight by my birthday in March.

6.  Honoring Mark: I think we're in a great place, better than we've been.  We have common goals and are working well together.  That said, this is something that I'll never be able to 'accomplish', I'll never be able to cross it off my list...being a list maker, that's kinda difficult for me, but I do accept it.  It's a relationship, I can't cross those off a list. 

7.  Bed making-doing well!

8.  Flossing-if it's out I do it.  I need to be more proactive about it.

OK, so there's my update.  I'll post more about my 2010 goals later!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Yesterday I left Seattle at 1:30ish.

I arrived at PDX at 8:30ish, I think.

I'm not sure exactly what time it was, but it was late.

Why?  Because there was less than 3 inches of snow.

I can hear you midwesterners laughing.

I'm not.

We didn't even get home yesterday, we just ended up staying at a hotel because I couldn't handle driving anymore.  Mark had been on the road for some 6 hours and didn't get to us until about 10:30.  (We met at the airport to pick up his parents and switch cars.)

I'm tired of driving.


PS Mapquest says it should take less than 3 hours.  HA!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tate Quotes

[At church, walking with Uncle Steve]
Steve: Tate, do you love Jesus?
Tate: Yes.
Steve: Where does Jesus live?
Tate: In God.  And in Kevin. 
[I don't know if he was talking about Kevin in Nicaragua or Kevin F., my friend Tina's husband.  Either way, he's right.  Jesus lives in Kevin].


[Another conversation about God, this time Tate was getting ready for his nap.]

Tate: Mom, I can't find Jesus. 
Me: Well, buddy, where do you think he is?
Tate: I think he's with my hermanos in Nicaragua.


In other news, Theo is 10 months old today.  He marked his birthday by standing up by himself for over 30 seconds today!  I'm so proud of my big boy!!

He also cut his 5th tooth, a bottom eye tooth yesterday.  He's been busy for sure.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas, 2009 Style

I finished Theo's stocking on Monday night.  I'm working on the girls' for next year.  I love the process of making stockings...I get to pray for the person the entire time I make them.  It's really a labor of love.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year filled with


Mark, Jenni, Tate, Theo, Teresa, Maricela and Ana Stearns

Post Edit: A friend we met in Nicaragua (who is also adopting) just got back and sent us this of our girls.  How I miss them!  Maybe next year we'll spend Christmas with them, too.

Aren't they beautiful?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

If You're the Praying Kind

Hey All,

Without getting into detail (only because I'm not sure what's allowed to be said at this point) Mark's work is looking for an organization to partner with for charity stuff.  We're really, really praying that we can connect his company to Casa Bernabe in Nicaragua.  From the info we've seen it looks like it'd be a perfect match!  Plus, this would enable us to get down there to visit without using all of Mark's vacation and could pave the way to him/us working full time down there in the future. 

Could you please pray for all the details to work out smoothly if this is the good Lord's will?

Mark works for a fuel cell company and the potential benefit for the orphanage is incredible-they spend over $1000 a month on electricity alone and they are not careless about it at all.  Power is simply very expensive down there.  The partnership could create jobs, teach skills to the kids, enable the orphanage to become more environmentally friendly, gosh, the opportunities are overwhelming!

So, if you could join with us in prayer that the door would open for this, it would be a great Christmas present for us :)  It would take a miracle, but we serve a mighty BIG God, so I'm believing for Miracles.

My God can never fail
He's been proved time and again
Trust Him and see
He's got ALL the power you need!

Monday, December 21, 2009

In the interest of full disclosure

I am not going to weigh myself between now and 2010.  I want to enjoy time with family and not worry about what the scale says.  I'm sure I'm up a couple of pounds from the weekend (we had a family Christmas celebration) and I'll work extra hard to get them off this week.

I may bop in here from time to time and post a lil sumthin' (like a Christmas card), but don't hold your breath.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!

The Stearns Family

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Tapestry, Part 1

I enjoy reading other people’s stories. It helps me understand where they came from and a little bit about why they are where they are today. More importantly, stories of God’s faithfulness in other people’s lives helps increase my faith. Matthew 6 talks about how important we are to God, and how he will take care of us. Often times when circumstances are overwhelming I forget that it’s God who is going to provide and start to rely on myself or P/T Lt. Wonderful a little too much. When I read other stories of how God’s provided for others in their time of need, it encourages to me be long-suffering and steadfast in faith. He’ll take care of us, too.

For those reasons I started writing down my story. I feel like God has been weaving this beautiful tapestry, and my focus has been so small, so I’ve only seen the colors up close. Lately God is allowing me to step back and see a little bit of the bigger work, and I’m amazed at how the seemingly insignificant things that happened fit together so well with the larger more life changing events. The colors and patterns are coming together and I hope and pray that when I get to heaven to see the masterpiece finished I will hear, “well done, good and faithful servant.”

I want to write down the details for myself mostly, so that when I start to doubt I have something to look back on and remember how good God has been to me. Hopefully this can be an encouragement to you as well.

The Tapestry, Part 1

Though a lot happened before I was 14 (mostly great things. I accepted Christ at 12, I have a wonderful family, etc) my life was forever changed when I was 14. I went on a trip to Ensenada, Mexico with the youth group of my church. I spoke very little Spanish, but it didn’t matter. My heart was broken for the poverty that was right across the border from the extravagant life that I was used to. I couldn’t imagine going back and living the same life that I had been. I was heading into eighth grade, and this was a huge moment for me. I vowed to not return home and fall back into the same habits of consumerism, greed and complacency. I would be lying if I said that the trip was the end of those things-I struggled with them more than ever before! But my heart was changed, and I looked for practical ways to implement this heart change into everyday life. Looking back, I really believe that this mission trip was the beginning of God preparing my heart for what he has in store for my life.

Before going into 9th grade I went back to Mexico. It was just different than the first time-I already knew what we were coming into, the shock factor was gone. That didn’t stop the trip from affecting me, though. I was even more touched by the Mexican people and their love for family, tradition and God. It felt like home when I was there. I wasn’t homesick for anything and didn’t mind not showering for a day or two…or three (gross, I know). Even though I didn’t know the language, I wasn’t bothered. I didn’t have any problems connecting. I loved the people. I loved the importance they placed on family. I thought Spanish was the most beautiful language I had ever heard. I felt a deep pull for these people who had so little material possessions, yet they were full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

After the second trip to Mexico, I started taking Spanish. I was thrilled that it came fairly easily to me. Unfortunately, since it was easy for me I didn’t study as much as I should have. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the Spanish, quite the contrary, actually. It was just that I felt like I needed to spend more time in the sciences and on math in order to keep my grades decent. I wanted a career in the sciences, but wanted to combine my interest in science with my passion and love for Spanish people.

The Friday before I started 10th grade, my life again changed forever, instantly and dramatically.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Green Smoothie Yumminess

I made the best green smoothie yesterday.  It was one banana, one pear (skinned), one mango, and two kiwis (and, of course, spinach). 


Don't believe me?  Well, here's another satisfied customer!

Tate loved his too, but he was done eating before I got the camera out.

Here's to healthy eating!!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Writer's block.

I'm sure there's a ton I could say, but I can't think of a way to get it together.

So, I'll just go back to cleaning. 

But, I will leave you with this juicy bit.  It's too good not to share.  In fact, I love it so much that it's my Facebook profile picture.  In his defense, he has no idea who Santa is, so essentially we said, "Tate, here's a stranger.  Go sit on his lap, tell him something personal about yourself and smile while Mom takes your picture."  That's what therapy is for, right?


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Six Years!

Happy Anniversary to us!

It's been six years, can you believe it?!

This was before digital took over and I have very few pictures on CD, so this is all you're getting.  But, it's something, right?

The past six years have been a roller coaster, but I am certain that this roller coaster just keeps getting better.

Mark, so much has changed this year, and I think we're stronger for it.  You are an excellent husband, great father to our five kids, and a fantastic mechanic. Thanks for putting up with my crazy ideas,  I mean zeal, with such spunk.  You're truly my match in every way.  I love you more and more.

Yours forever,

Thursday, December 10, 2009


OK, so I have to cram together today's post and tomorrow's post because I'm headed to my grandparent's house for the next day or two.  My grandpa is having surgery on his back and my grandma has ALS and I'd rather not have her trying to care for him on her own.  They have a great church that is going to provide meals, and my uncle lives in town as well so between all of us, I know they'll be taken care of.

Anyway, here's the weight loss progress report:  It's been a great week!  I didn't work out much, but I've been really careful on my eating.  I need to get back to working out, but I'm having a hard time with it.  I'm bringing my 30 Day Shred with me to my grandparent's house to try and sneak in a couple of workouts.

So, here's the nitty gritty:
Pounds to 1st goal: .4

Pounds to 2nd goal: 5.6 

Woo hoo!  I guess it really is the eating that determines my success!

I need to be on my way.  Surgery starts in about 4 hours.  It takes an hour to get there and I still have to load up the boys.  I've already packed though.  It seems to me that packing for one night and packing for three nights are about the same amount of work...anyway.  Have a great one. 


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Self Sustaining

Casa Bernabe is making great strides toward becoming self sustaining.  This is a key part of their vision for the land.  If they can become self sustaining, that would free up a lot of money for other much needed school books. 
Another benefit to becoming self sustaining is that the kids that live their learn about agriculture.  While gardening is a mere hobby for us, in Nicaragua it is their way of life.  Computer skills are wonderful, and the kids have those, but in order to provide for their future families, they will need to at least have an understanding of the basics of agriculture.

So, having said that, here are some pictures of what they've started so far:

The Greenhouse.  There was more roof, but it blew off in a storm.  They hope to have money to fix it in the future, but for now it's not a priority.

Tomato plants.  The white things are covers for each row that keep the plants warm at night, but more importantly keep each row separate from the others in order to prevent disease from spreading to the entire crop.

Chistoma (pepper)

I forget what this is, but they are obviously starts of some sort.

These are the hydroponic boxes they make.  They put coal in them to absorb heat.  Even though Nicaragua is very warm, the temperature changes quite a bit at night.  The boxes also have a spout for water to come out, and they have buckets below to catch the water so they can reuse it.  It's very well thought out!

Banana trees!  They've got two fields of trees.  Hopefully the money they get from selling platanos will be mostly profit.  There will need to be some upkeep, but they already own the trees.  These (coupled with the mango trees that are already on the property) could yield high profits!

Cucumbers (in the ground) Red Cabbage (in the boxes).

How they stake plants.  They hang rope down from the wire and gently tie it to the plants.  Works well!

While they would love to use the veggies to eat at the Orphanage (they don't get a lot of veggies or meat), first they are going to sell them.  Once they've built up a bit money and the program can be self sustaining they will be free to consume more of their goods.  We're praying daily for this program as it's quite large (14 rows each of cucumbers and tomatoes, several boxes of cabbage and peppers) and  6 boys are working daily to keep it going. 

Will you join us in praying for an abundant harvest?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mission Accomplished!

I am winning the war on veggies in our house, thanks to Green Smoothies!

In case you're wondering what in the heck a Green Smoothie is, let me share.

It's 40% fruit (any kind) and 60% spinach blended into a smoothie. 

And you can't taste the spinach.

So it's super good for you, easy to make, and cheap!

And, my picky eater (Tate) even likes them.

Thank you, dear Green Smoothies, for helping make my child heathier.

Mission Accomplished!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Family Picture, November 2009

I am learning by trial and error...

and error...

and error...

...that it's very difficult nearly impossible to get a good family picture with seven people.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fat Burnin' Friday

OK, time to get back on it and be honest.

After not working out for three weeks, and having Thanksgiving, I was pretty nervous to step on the scale.  I was up about 2 pounds at the beginning of the week, but now I am back down to exactly where I was before. 

I've done so-so eating healthy this week.  Mark's been on mids working noon to nine each day, so I don't have a traditional dinner which has resulted in me snacking a bit too much.  Gotta work on that.

For working out, since it had been three weeks (ick) I decided to get back into it slowly.  For me, if I do too much at once I usually don't continue after the first week.  I'm working out three times this week, four next week and then back to my regular 5 times at the gym and once a week a fun but active activity with the family.  I've got two work outs done and I'll get to the gym tonight when childcare opens up again. 

On that note, since we moved I go to a different Ballys.  I don't like it nearly as much.  The childcare lady, Cassandra, at the old gym was FANTASTIC!! The boys loved her and her entire job was childcare.  This gym just has a trainer do it.  The boys were fine, but I didn't feel that the area was as well taken care of.  I don't know for sure that the toys were washed, etc.  Hopefully it gets better otherwise I may just trek the extra 6 miles to the old gym.
Pounds to goal 1: 3.2

Pounds to goal 2: 8.4

Oh, and hats off to my girl Miriam!  She ran her second half marathon last weekend and bettered her time!  So proud of you, my Cheeseburger!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Something about fishing

I'm not great with quotes, in fact, Mark always makes fun of me for screwing them up.  But I do believe there is a saying about teaching a man to fish and you feed him as long as the salmon are running vs. just giving him a fish...anyway...

Mark has a hard time connecting with the boys in the Posada.  I think it's because of the language barrier.  This time,though, they managed to connect through work!  It was so exciting for me to watch him teach the boys the basics of installing a fan.  They were eager and very quick learners!  I hope this is the beginning of an awesome mentoring relationship.  These boys want to learn these skills, they just need men to come along side them and teach them how to do it!

Jackson and Mark working on the fan.

Yes, Jackson looks goofy.  But he was very proud of himself, with good reason!

Luis and Juan working to figure out something. 
Clearly I'm not mechanical and can't explain what they are doing.

Luis after he prepped all the fan wings (or whatever you call them).

Juan putting the tools back just the way he found them.

The boys figuring out how the fans work by taking apart the old one.

 I was so proud of Mark for teaching the boys how to do this instead of just doing it himself.  It would have gone a lot quicker if he had just done it, but the pride in their eyes after the project was done, it was priceless.

To Mark and my boys, I'm so proud of you all!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Nicaragua Picture Post

I realize I haven't done a lot of sharing about our trip.  There are several reasons for's been very busy here lately with moving, Thanksgiving, and everything else.  Blogging has had to take a back seat to finishing the move and taking care of the kiddos. 

Beneath those superficial excuses lies the real reason that I haven't blogged about the trip.

The Truth?

 I really doubt anyone will want to hear what I have to say.

  You see, all of the kids that live at the orphanage have a story.  As we visit and our relationships with the kids grow, we hear more and more of the stories.

These stories that we hear are tragic. 

They involve abuse in every form.

 And, as the kids grow to trust us they open up about why they live at the orphanage instead of with their family (the orphanage system in Nicaragua is a lot like the foster system here, so many of the kids do have family, they just can't live with them).

Building relationship is most important part of our work there.

You see, the kids don't open up much to each other.
And they don't open up with a lot of groups.
They open up one on one.
When they're working.
Or playing with a baby and don't have to look into your eyes and tell you about being beaten by their parents.
Or lit on fire.
Or told to huff glue when they want something to eat so that they will forget about being hungry.

I have a hard time coming home and sharing this stuff because it hurts.
 I love these kids, and I am honored that they trusted me enough to share their story with me, and I don't want to make light of that.
And, most people don't want to hear the hard stuff.

They'd rather hear that we painted a room, not that we chipped away layers of some teenage boy's heart so that he can hopefully start to heal from his abuse. 

But healing is the important part.  And that was the focus of our trip. 

Healing and loving.

But since it's hard to get pictures of healing and loving, the best I can do is share pictures of the kids we love. 
I hope you enjoy them.

Tate running to Juan when we first got to the orphanage. 

The praise band that was started after we left in August.  They are great!

Oscar and Alex (brothers) with Theo at church.

Tate and his buddy Asner, who graduated from high school last week!  We're so proud of him!!

Theo and Alex.

Kevin with Theo.  Kevin lovingly refers to Theo as his "little son".

Me and my favorite Nicaraguan artist, Jonathan.

Tate, Suyapa and Richard playing at the playground.

Mark helping cut the grass.  This was before he almost amputated his leg with the machete. 

Theo eating his first sucker.  I let the girls hold him and they came back to tell me that he really likes suckers.  I can't imagine why...

I have a ton more to show you, but I thought I'd start with an overview and work into more specific projects and events later.

Enjoy your night! 


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tate Quote

(Sunday night during dinner)

Tate: May I be excused please?
Me: Tate, are you done eating?  You still have meat and carrots on your plate. 
Tate: I'm done.  I'm not hungry.
Me: Ok.  You may be excused.  But if you get hungry later you aren't getting anything else.  Do you understand?
Tate: Yes Mom.

(20 minutes later)

Tate: Mom, I want some milk.
Me: Ok.  Do you want it in your boat cup?
Tate: Nope.  I want it in cereal.

This kid is too smart for his own good.