BLOGGER TEMPLATES AND TWITTER BACKGROUNDS »

Monday, February 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Theo!


Happy Birthday to my sweet two year old.  I can hardly believe that you are two already. 
 You are a beautiful boy, always full of life!
I love that you almost never cry when you get hurt, but rather, you laugh. 
I love that you want to be so much like your big brother, but you don't mind leaving him in the dust occasionally, too. 
I love that you are so sure of yourself.  
I love that you speak in Spanish and English. 
I love that you always let people know how you feel. 
I love that you use your blankie as a q-tip to self soothe. 
I love that you eat everything, even medium salsa. 
And that french fries, hot dogs and everything else that uses ketchup is, for you, simply a vehicle for ketchup. 
I love that you love to sing. 
And how you say "Tater Boy" "Wrestle Tassle" and "Gus the Bus"
I love your attitude, even if it's sometimes naughty. 
I love your hugs, sloppy kisses and sweet laugh. 
I love your smiles, your ability to sleep by yourself, and how you always ask to "snuggle you" before bed. 
But mostly, I just love you. You'll always be one of my greatest sources of joy. 

I love you, Theo!

Love,
Mom

Thursday, February 24, 2011

It's a Snow Day!

I was sleeping trying to sleep with Theo in our bed poking my eyes and pinching my nose when LT Wonderful came in and joyously announced, "I have a snow day today!"

So we're going to play all day long!  The boys are thrilled that dad is here and I'm thrilled for the help, too.

Hope your day is just as wonderful!

Monday, February 21, 2011

From Theo's Perspective



Theo got ahold of the camera recently and when I uploaded the pictures he took, these were among the 100 or so surprises I found. 

ummm...yeah

I don't even know where to begin


But I guess it's safe to say that he likes dogs.  And tails.  


Life is getting into somewhat of a routine now.  The boys are doing well and we are enjoying the bipolar weather here.  But mostly we are enjoying being home, together.  Hanging out with friends has been so refreshing after feeling really lonely in Korea for so long. 

I'm working to finish Kevin's story and working on a post about Korea, but for several different reasons, both are time consuming.  The story about Kevin and is making me re-examine how I view God (in a good way) so I can't just spit it all out, there's too much there.  With the Korea post I want to be honest in how I felt about it without being offensive or inaccurate so I'm choosing my words carefully.  All that to say that I am trying, it's just slow going because there's a lot of processing that goes along with it. 

I have a call into Tate's preschool to see when he can start.  I'm excited but nervous about it. He's going to do so well, but it will be an adjustment.  I am really looking forward to special time with Theo, too, while Tate is in school.  I haven't decided what we'll do yet, but I'm trying to come up with something fun.  Maybe I'll just let him loose with the camera...

So, that's that.  Now you're kind of caught up on our lives. You can breathe easier now-haha. 

Peace and love, 
Jenni 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lookie What I Got!


A brand new, beautiful, more compact Spanish/English NIV Bible!

Isn't it pretty?

And to warm my heart, I talked to Kevin yesterday.  I asked him if he was doing well.  He said, "Yes, Mom.  And I read your letter to me every night and I read your Bible.  I know it's special to you and I like reading the notes in there.  It's like reading a letter.  It helps me sleep at night."

I didn't need additional confirmation that I made the right choice, but I got it anyway.  

Thank you, Jesus, my heart is overflowing!


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Another "why" explained?

At the beginning of 2010 Mark was unexplainably transferred from one job in the Navy Reserves to another.  We were pretty upset because with the previous job he was going to get to go to Norfolk for a couple of weeks and I was really looking forward to visiting our friends there.   There was nothing we could do, though, so we just went with it.

Today Mark went to the Navy and found out that his former command is deploying in September for seven months (with a few months training beforehand).  I was "guaranteed" by the previous Commander that they weren't going to deploy for years, which is why Mark took the first job.  September is when Mark's two years deployment free ends, so he would have had to go.

After the last seven months we've had, I can't even imagine wrapping my brain around preparing for a deployment that will last likely 10 months.  Especially news like that coming after our "guarantee" (there is no such thing in the military, but the Commander was so sure of herself and didn't understand why I was so skeptical).

Tonight I praise God that he knew what was best for our family and took the time to take this off our plates before we even knew it was an issue.  I still want to get out to Norfolk (preferably on the Navy's dime) but I'm willing to wait a little longer and not have to deal with another deployment.

Praise God for knowing where our breaking point is!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Here he comes!

Tomorrow afternoon by beloved LT Wonderful is coming home from Korea.

For the first time in 7 months we don't have a ticket to go elsewhere!

I may be a little sporadic with posting next week due to trying to get back into real life...whatever that is.



Peace and love to you all,
Jenni

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Full Bed, Full Heart

I went to bed last night and stretched out in my gloriously comfortable king sized bed.  Goodness, I've missed this.

Around 1:30 Theo woke up and instead of crying he simply asked, "Mommy, snuggle you?"  Seriously, how could I resist that?  I couldn't, so I hauled him into my bed.

About an hour later Tate woke up and came downstairs to my room.  He whispered in my ear, "Mom?  I really missed you.  Can I snuggle in your bed with you?"  Again, I couldn't resist.  So I let him.

When I woke up this morning I had a kink in my neck, but my heart was full.  I love these little boys!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Kevin's Story: Part 2


In November we got the news we'd been dreading.  Kevin had been kicked out of the orphanage.  There were several stories behind what had happened but the bottom line is that none of them mattered.  He was kicked out two weeks before Promotion and was unable to finish the year.  

To say that we were concerned is an understatement.  I immediately began to make plans to get ahold of him when we got there.  I tried to find out what exactly happened and basically it boiled down to an increasingly negative attitude and continued comments about wanting to deal drugs.  He was escalating to the point of begin a danger to others.  The leadership correctly decided that it was best that he go home.  While I was devastated and frustrated with the timing, I have never questioned the wisdom of the decision to send him home. 

While we waited to get to Nicaragua and connect, I spent time the only way I knew that could help him: I prayed.  Days, nights, it didn't matter.  I was praying that God orchestrate something larger than me and that he save Kevin's beautiful soul. 

As soon as we got to the orphanage I put the word out that I was trying to contact Kevin.  Since the privilege of cell phones had been taken away, I had little hope of being able to contact him.  Because I didn't want to make waves I decided not to let the leadership in on what we were doing.  I did tell the new missionaries, Christian and Jen.  I felt like they were safe people that I could trust with that information.  As I suspected, they were very positive about me checking in on him.  

There were several mountains in the way.  First, I had no way to contact Kevin.  I doubted he had a phone because they are expensive and he didn't have one before.  Second, I had no idea if he was from Managua or outside of the city.  Third, even if he was in Managua, there aren't addresses so the likelihood of us finding his house was nearly zero.  But we just kept praying and believed that something would surface. 

Two days later I received a crumpled piece of paper that had been passed from Casa Ester, (the older girls' house), through the Posada and onto us.  There was a number written, but no name.  One of the boys gave me the paper and another came up discreetly and whispered that one of the girls' brother had Kevin's sister's phone number, and I can call this and talk to him.  Mark suggested I call him right away and try to see him the following day, so I did.  

I was super nervous to call this number when I didn't know who would answer.  Luckily Kevin was waiting for the call so he picked up right away.  He sounded cautiously relieved to hear my voice.  I figured he had enough people in his life telling him he screwed up so I decided to keep it positive.  If he wanted to talk about what happened that was fine, but I wasn't going to bring it up.  Instead, I asked him where he lived.  As God had ordained it, he lived less than a half mile away from the church we attend in Managua!  We would be able to meet up with him without much effort.  We quickly made plans to meet at the church at 9:30 the following morning.  

As I hung up the phone, Mark and I said a quick prayer that he would actually show up.  

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Kevin's Story: Part 1

Two years ago Mark and I went to Nicaragua for the first time.  For some reason we were sent to work with the older boys.  I was terrified and sure that the leaders of the orphanage would put us with either the older girls or the younger kids within a couple of hours.  I was wrong.  Very, very wrong.  We developed meaningful relationships with the boys there, ones that have grown and flourished.  

That first trip I got to know the boys, but it was during the subsequent trips that our really friendships really grew.  The more often we came, the more they shared.  Soon LT Wonderful and I were answering to Mama and Papa, and regularly hearing stories of the boys' lives before the orphanage.

I can't say that one boy in particular captured our hearts, because they all did.  But we did get a sense of the boys' backgrounds.  We got to  know which ones would be able to survive outside of the orphanage and land on their feet in case of a problem.  We also started identifying which ones would not. 

From the second trip onward, my heart started to ache for a boy named Kevin.  He was 13 at our first trip and was very rough around the edges.  He was wonderfully sweet, but had a rebellious streak a mile wide.  When things were going well he was happy and full of laughter, but when he was feeling down he would stay away and sulk for an extended time.  

One of our main topics of conversation at the orphanage is school and plans for afterwards.  I knew Kevin was particularly guarded when I asked him what he was going to school for.  His standard answer was, "eh, I want to be a drug trafficker."  Then he'd laugh and say, "No, no, I'm just joking."  But behind his eyes I'd see fear and sadness.  The longer we talked the more I learned about him.  His mother never finished primary school.  He lived in the ghetto.  He was the second of five kids and he doesn't know his dad.  

After our trip last Thanksgiving, LT Wonderful and I came home knowing that Kevin was going to play a special role in our lives.  We committed to praying for him.  There were nights that I was up for hours praying for him.  I wasn't sure what was going on, but I knew that he was struggling. 

This year during our trips Kevin opened up more and more.  Every time we talked about his upcoming graduation from primary school, he'd clam up.  He was terrified of graduating.  He didn't want to move up because he was scared of failing.  One day we were talking about classes after lunch.  I asked him how classes were going and he told me they were difficult.  I asked him, "then why bother?  A drug trafficker doesn't need an education."  He looked ahead and behind us to see how close the other kids were walking.  It must have been a safe distance because with his eyes downcast, and barely audibly he whispered, "I want to guide airplanes."  He told me a secret.  The biggest one he had. I understood the significance of the moment.  He was giving me the most precious thing he had to offer, his dreams.  

In July of this year I knew Kevin was scared of graduating, so I made him a deal.  When he graduated we'd take him with us on our Christmas vacation (we already had plans to go to San Juan del Sur or Granada).  He agreed, but told me hesitantly that he was really scared to graduate.  Secondary school is hard and he wasn't sure he could make it.  We prayed for him and continued to try and encourage him.  In August we celebrated his birthday.  He was uncomfortable with everyone's attention so I tried to not overwhelm him.  I got him a simple bracelet and wrote him a simple note saying how glad I was that I he is my friend and how special I think he is.   In turn, he responded with a  note that brought me to tears.  It said, "My mom, I love you very much.  You are a very good mom and a very good person.  You are very loving toward us.  God will always keep that in your heart.  I hope that you come back to us soon.  We love you so much; never forget that because we'll never forget it.  Keep following God.  I love you Mom.  Love, Kevin"

As it came time for me to leave, Kevin grew very distant.  I wasn't surprised, the kids don't do very well with goodbyes.  However, before I left I made sure to remind him of our deal and encourage him to keep doing his best.  However, I felt in my soul that there was a lot bubbling under the surface and I was very concerned about what was going to happen as promotion got closer.  It was with a very anxious heart that I left Nicaragua.

*Story shared with permission*

Monday, February 7, 2011

Stripped

It has been an incredibly emotional couple of days.  I'm sitting here in the airport realizing that I have been completely stripped of nearly everything dear to me over the past few days.  Everything except for the one most important thing, the presence and peace of the Almighty.

I am here, without my boys.  This last week nearly everything other than Christ which was a part of my identity has been temporarily suspended.  My husband is literally half the world away.  My boys are at home in the very capable hands of my mother in law.  I had some very scary health issues.  My luggage didn't make it's connection.  My phone didn't have service.  My computer and Bible were in my luggage.

So here I am, for all intents and purposes not a (practicing) wife or mother to my children.  I can't call.  I can't check email to see how things are going. I don't feel confident in my health.  I can't read my bible because I don't have it with me.  All I have is the peace that I am right where the God of the Universe; who loves me more than I can imagine, wants me.

I'm essentially naked before him.

I can't occupy myself with anything.  The only words of peace I have are the words that I've hidden in my heart.  I don't have my normal responsibilities consuming my time.

And yet, I have seen the hand of the Lord more clearly in my life in these last few days than almost ever before.  As I rely only on him, he's revealing things to me about where I've been and where I'm going.  He's giving my the "why" behind so many experiences.  There have been so many questions answered, so many more asked.  There has been refining of vision, and renewed commitment to the purpose he has for us.

Yesterday when I finally received my luggage, I nearly wept.  I had my Bible back.  And then as quickly as I had it, it was gone again.

"Offer it." He said.

"But, Lord, it has the words of comfort, encouragement, exhortation and discipline from the past six years of my life.  It's priceless.  The most valuable thing I own."

"Am I not more valuable?  Do you really think that I won't continue to speak?  Don't you believe that I will give you words to fill another Bible?  Don't you trust me enough to give the one thing?"

"Yes, Lord.  But I'm sad.  It's means so much.  It's literally a part of me."

"That's why I've asked this of you, beloved.  The boy, he knows how important it is to you.  He knows it's sustained you.  That's why he needs it.  He needs to read our conversations.  He needs to know.  And those words weren't just for you.  They are for him, too.  And it's not the pages that are a part of you.  This is simply a book.  It's me that is a part of you and I will never leave you.  I live in you. So give it."


So with peace in my heart and tears in my eyes, I gave the last, most precious thing I had to offer him.  I can honestly say that I left here giving this boy everything I have to give.

I can't promise that he won't lose it tomorrow.  I can't promise he'll read it.  And I feel sad.  I miss my Bible.

But tomorrow I get my boys back and the next week my husband.   And tomorrow or Wednesday I get to go looking for a new Bible.  New blank pages waiting to be filled with what God shares with me.  And, hopefully, one day, I'll be able to give that away, too.

"It's never been harder to fall, there's nothing to grab and that's all I want to hold onto."

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Where I is

I'm here:



For him:


And I'm working on writing up the full story, but I won't tell you how it went until it's over.  

I leave tomorrow and will be home on Tuesday.  Pray for safe flights please.  The ones I've been on have been eventful, to say the least. 

Peace and love, 
Jenni 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

SoulPrint-Another Batterson Favorite

I recently finished Mark Batterson's newest book, Soulprint*.   I have devoured all of his past books, and was anxiously awaiting the release of this book.   After reading the premise online, though, my expectations were lowered.  I felt like destiny books have been done and are overrated, and I was disappointed that he chose this to be the theme of his latest book. That didn't stop me from diving into the pages as soon as the book came in the mail, though.  And I'm not too proud to admit that my negative thoughts on the book were proven completely wrong. 

Mark does talk about destiny, but he puts God at the center of it, not me.  This is a totally refreshing way of looking at it.  I get tired of the Jeremiah 29:11 outlook on life "plans not to harm you" because I think people take it too literally.  We very well may be physically harmed if we are following the great commission, but the eternal rewards are worth it.  I think that Mark takes this into consideration when he talks about our destiny.  

Mark talks about our uniqueness and that we weren't created to just be unique, we were created to worship God with our uniqueness.  We have a note to sing or play in a chord that won't be complete without us.  God longs to hear us play the note we were destined to play, that he created us to play.  Our chief objective in life is to become like Jesus.  Our secondary objective is to be unlike anyone who has ever lived.  These are intertwined, because to become like Christ is to become unlike everyone else.  "[God] sets us free from who we're not, so we can become who we were destined to be." (pg. 13). 

The book is centered around the life of David.  Mark mixes in examples from David's life along with personal anecdotes.  The mix is a good one.  Amazingly, he manages to make some of the most told stories from the Old Testament, such as David and Goliath, come alive again.  

At the end of the book is a very in depth study guide.  I'll be honest, I'm nervous to start it.  There's going to be a lot of soul searching involved in it.  But I'm also ready.  I have no idea now long the process will take, but I'm sure I'll walk away more self aware than I was before. 

I encourage you to pick up this book, and Batterson's others.  I have yet to be disappointed with any of his books.  I believe God has gifted him with a unique ability to effectively communicate what the church needs to hear and this book could be a great tool for equipping the church for more authentic ministry. 

*Which I received free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing for reviewing purposes.