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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kevin's Baptism!

Kevin now goes by Kevin Antonio Ca├▒as Stearns

Not officially, of course (because he couldn't) 

But that's what he calls himself.  And how he writes his name at school.  It warms my heart to know that he feels like he is a part of our family. 

Because he is


 Pastor Rafa, Kevin, and Pastor Earl







What a beautiful day!  

To God be the Glory!

Friday, May 27, 2011

We are (finally) home

After a LONG several days, we are home.

It was wonderful.  We miss Nicaragua.  We will be going back sometime this year.

I will fill you in on the specs later, when I am out from under the mountain of laundry that has become my living room.


Love,
Jenni

Saturday, May 14, 2011

On our way...

...to MGA.

Via Spirit Airlines.  I'll let you know how that goes.

Love,
Jenni

Friday, May 13, 2011

What I've been learning

Lately I've been learning a lot about God's love, and about who God loves. I've seen firsthand the promises and declarations of God prove to be true. 

I've seen that God loves orphans.  Loves them so, so much.  

I've witnessed God's incredible love for the weak. 

I can testify that God loves widows. 

And I can't even begin to tell you how much he loves and cares for the abused, abandoned and those forgotten by most.  They are usually referred to as, "the least of these" but that is a label I detest. 

I'm certain and confident in God's love for the brokenhearted.  And for those who have hurt so badly. 

I know God loves the poor.  He cares for them and provides for them, and keeps them in the shadow of his wing. 

I know of God's mercies toward those who are persecuted.   And those who have made bad choices.  

I'm sure of God's healing for those who made bad choices and have nearly ruined their lives, and perhaps others' lives as well. 

I know all of this.  I marvel again and again at God's unfailing, unrelenting love for "them".   But I often wonder where I fall in all of this.  I was so blessed to be raised in a Christ centered home.  Not only were all of my needs met, but many of my wants as well.  I was safe, secure and loved.  While I have experienced heartaches, they are a drop in the bucket when compared to the majority of the world.   I have been seen as strong in the eyes of so many.  I've not been persecuted.  I've made bad choices, but they are private bad choices, not publicly condemned ones.  

So I think for much of my life I was so certain of God's love for the people that needed it (in my eyes) more than I did that I went to war with myself and decided to not "bother" God with the little stuff.  I'd seen extreme poverty, heard horribly sad stories and I was certain that God's love was what these people needed for healing and purpose.  But, in my broken line of thinking, I equated a human's ability to love as God's ability to love.  If God was spending time loving, blessing or comforting me up in my comfortable home in suburbia, I wrongly assumed that I was taking those blessings from someone else that needed them more than I do. 

The last few monthsI've started to realize how messed up this thinking is.  God is not made in my image, I was made in his.  While I love both of my boys the same, there are times that I am physically unable to meet both of their needs at the same time.  God is not limited by anything, so when I spend time with him or "bother" him with my less than life or death requests, I'm not taking his attention away from the starving child in Africa who needs him.  God doesn't have limitations.  In fact, he wants me to come to him with all I'm feeling, regardless of how ridiculous it is.  

As I walk through life, I notice that it's easy for me to trust God with the "biggish" things.  I know he's in control.  I didn't stress much about our moves or our transition to civilian life.  I knew God would take care of it.  We'd put a lot of prayer into those decisions and I knew God would take care of it.  But it's the little stuff that I have a lot of anxiety about…perhaps because I don't follow the clear instructions in Philippians to "not be anxious about anything" and while I pour my heart out to God about my life, I don't spend much time on the little things because I think that God doesn't want to hear that dribble when there are much more important things in he has to take care of.

Then he orchestrates something little, something that gets my attention and I know that he cares about the dribble of my life.  He cares and wants to know the little things that stress me out.  He knows my heart's desire and honors that.  He knew my desire for a ring, and he decided to woo me by blessing me with a ring and you know what?  That didn't stop him from solving the world hunger crisis.  He knew I was anxious about Tate going to preschool.  He knew how much I wished that my mom could have taught him (she is the best preschool teacher in the world, bar none).  What did he do to ease my fears?  Tate's preschool teacher's name is Miss Kathy…not just my mom's name, but also the same salutation my mom uses.  Such a little thing, but it was so reassuring. 

And now I'm fighting anxiety.  I don't know the exact cause of it, but I'm pretty sure the root has something to do with the box I put God in.  So I'm working on it.  I'm working on bringing everything to God with prayer and thanksgiving because there is nothing too small for God.  So to the list above, I'm going to add this…

I am absolutely certain and sure of God's love for me.  Even in my pride, God found me.  He's freeing me from the prison I'd made of making him too small, and in my own image.  God's love for me is vast, endless and all encompassing.  His love for me doesn't take away from the other people that he loves.  God's love for me and his blessings for me don't take away resources that he could use somewhere else on people that need it more than I do.  In fact, if I let him, he can make ME into a resource for other people that have greater needs than I do. 

God is big, my friends.  He loves me and cares about all the little things that matter to me. 

And I'm at peace with that. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

In N Out

In N Out: Stearns' Style

Involved: Two overtired children, two overwhelmed parents, a full restaurant, stickers, a camera and the messiest shirts you can find.

Mix this all together and you get something that looks like this:



At least we're all smiling, right?


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Boundaries are beautiful

~Santa Rosa, California~







This is my favorite fence ever. 

And don't you think it's a good reminder that boundaries are beautiful?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Enjoying the drive


Isn't that a pretty tree?  After a long winter, I don't think there's a prettier way to welcome spring than with a tree full of beautiful blooms



Isn't Mt. Shasta just breathtaking?  


And these boys.  Aren't they just the cutest?


Don't worry, they didn't actually lick the disgusting windshield :)


We had a great drive down to California.  We've already enjoyed In N Out, but I have a feeling we'll make another stop there soon. 

For now, I'm going to head out and pick up LT Wonderful from work then we're going to spend some quality time by the pool.  

Happy Monday!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Seeking the Sun

We're here in sunny California, enjoying the warmth and extra doses of vitamin D.

Recently, at the suggestion of my wonderful mom (Happy Mother's Day, Mommy dearest!) I started taking vitamin D every morning.  I took the recommended dose until my Mom told me that her doctor said that residents of the Pacific Northwest should be taking about 5000mg/day (nearly double the recommended dose!) between October and May due to the angle that the sun hits the earth or something like that.  Anyway, I was convinced so I started taking it and I felt like I had a lot more energy within about two weeks.

My doctor was a little suspicious about the amount I was taking so she did a blood test.  And the blood test vindicated me.

The normal level is between 30-100 units (I forget what measuring unit is used).  After taking 4000 mg/day religiously since January, I'm at 40, the very low end of normal.  If you live in the northwest, consider supplementing during our LOOOOOOOOOONG winter months.  You may feel much better!

So here we are in California, and I intend to enjoy soaking up as much natural vitamin D as I possibly can (with the aid of sunscreen of course.  My poor pale white skin can't take too much sun without turning a pretty pink-red color...much like these lovely flowers that LT Wonderful brought me recently).


We'll be here for another couple of days, then we're off to Nicaragua!  Can't wait!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What I really wanted

Our anniversary was in December.  It was a big one for us, not because of the number as much as it was because of how much we worked through the previous year.  I was really disappointed that we couldn't spend it together because LT Wonderful was working in Korea.  We had planned to celebrate later this year, although we did intend to exchange gifts.

The one thing I really wanted for my anniversary gift was a ring.  I was feeling pretty picky about this particular ring...I wanted something that would compliment my wedding ring, but I would wear it on my right hand.  And I didn't want something traditional, I wanted something out of the ordinary...an antique ring with a story.  I went to Brilliant Earth and found several beautiful antique rings there, but they were pretty expensive.  At least the ones I liked.  When I say expensive I mean like "oh my goodness that's more than a mortgage payment!" expensive.  So we both decided that a new ring wasn't the right choice for us now.  I was a little disappointed, but I knew that it was for the best.

Toward the middle of December (less than 24 hours after LT Wonderful got home from Korea!) we headed down to Nicaragua.  While we were there we spent a ton of time with Kevin, figuring out how to get him into an orphanage and school.  As we were headed to the airport, Kevin called me and said that his mom wanted to talk to me one more time, and would I please come over quickly.

As we pulled up to his house I was super nervous that Kevin's mom was going to nix the plan before it even got started.  Kevin assured me it was going to be OK, but I couldn't imagine what she needed to talk to me about.  When we pulled up to the house, she met me at the door and with tears in her eyes she said, "No one has ever done anything for my family like you have done.  I want you to have this ring as a sign of our love and appreciation for you.  You will always be a part of our family now.  Thank you so much."

I hugged her and cried.  She put the ring on my finger and I couldn't believe it.  It was exactly what I wanted.   But it meant more than anything I could have bought.

The significance of this ring is powerful for me.  Every time I see it I am reminded of so many things.  I say a prayer for Kevin and his family.  I praise God for knowing me so well that he knows my heart's desire.  My true desire was never for a ring, but rather to feel useful and do something meaningful.  In this circumstance I was able to be useful and do something meaningful, and I was even blessed by a beautiful token to remember this special season of my life.

Monday, May 2, 2011

So Soon!



I can't wait!

Now I just hope that the whole darn house gets healthy before we leave.