(Why I Haven’t Posted)

We’ve had rather a lot going on–these pictures are just a wee bit of what has happened since I last posted. I really will post more about the trip, but until then… here’s a taste of the craziness.

Traditional New Year’s eve party…

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(the fruit pizza is always a big deal)

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Church at HisRanch (like Central America, except in English and the people don’t get into the singing here like they do there.)

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Pastor Mark preaching

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Work… enjoying a gift from Elisa and Rachel.

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Learning Spanish! The English/Spanish Bible is super helpful.

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Cleaning Pregnancy Solutions with these crazy gals. (3 of my sisters, plus Ada and Althea who visited from PA for a week. We had a great time with them… you girls can come back any time!!!)

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Awkward beach foot picture

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Lovely girls

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Weird girls… πŸ˜‰

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They look like models in this picture… not normally something I appreciate but in their case it was accidental so I don’t mind.

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Meanwhile us older girls aren’t as photogenic, but hey–we can jump.

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The Seagull Army. (I scared them off with my journal. Take that.)

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Just because fire looks cool.

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Pancake party!!

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New game we learned called “signs”. Quite fun and very odd.

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Hospitality Sunday! We had the Ruths over plus two Clarkes and two Wimers. (which is a lot of people.)

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Rebekah turned and gave me the darlingest grin. πŸ˜€

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Bright Lights! We talked about our trip to CA and taught them some of the games we played, along with “He decidido seguir a Cristo” (I have decided to follow Jesus). They are now more ready for the trip than we were. πŸ˜€

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We went to Orlando for our cousin Victoria’s birthday party… we did floating lanterns. If you haven’t done them, you should. It was epic.

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Esther being darling as usual.

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Dr. Parker spoke at church!! He does such a fantastic job. Looking forward to him preaching again this Sunday!

Good bye 2013, Hello 2014

Well, here we are on the last day of 2013. It seemed to go by very quickly… it was a good year. Much less drastic than 2012, for me, but still very full of learning and doing and stretching. I made it out of the country on a mission trip, which was something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Bright Lights grew quite a bit in size and I was more focused on it than I’ve been in the past. I was able to help Pregnancy Solutions get their new location ready to open. I got guitar lessons and can play a few songs now. I survived several potentially life threatening situations. I grew in my walk with God and made it through some rough spots. I met lots of great people and read some good books. I surrendered stillΒ  more to God.

I’m really curious about this upcoming year. For some reason I’ve always felt like it would be a momentous one… I’m wondering if that was just a feeling or if something really is going to happen. There are a lot of possibilities and opportunities this year, a lot of things I’m praying about and considering. So it should be interesting.

And… I need to go because we are going to have a new year’s eve party in a few hours and it’s going to be lots of fun. πŸ˜€

Observing

So the weather has been amazing here, and I’ve been outside quite a bit more… this afternoon, I laid out on the grass in the front yard, and just looked. There is an incredible little word that we so rarely see… in such a teeny part of our yard, I saw insects I’ve never seen before and tiny flowers I’d never noticed. (And I notice things like that.) After awhile of being mesmerized by all these tiny wonders, I got my camera. You just can’t help it after awhile if you’re a photographer of some sort… haha.

Anyway, here’s some of what I saw as captured by my camera. Though there was a lot more. I hope you enjoy! (By the way, bugs are camera shy. They don’t mind if you watch them, but when there’s a camera involved they keep hiding. Hence so few pictures of them… but there are a few. You just have to look hard.)

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(I also looked up)

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Which one(s) struck your fancy? Why?

Tumbled Thoughts and Things

This has been a particularly strange morning. Not outwardly, but inwardly. I have no idea what’s going on, really. I’ve drawn a page full of swirlies, a page full of straight lines, a few pears and an apple and a mug, a ribbon, and a some other things. I just needed to draw. And now I feel like I have to write. Or run. Or punch or kick something. I miss the punching bag. And New York. And lots of people.

It’s gorgeous outside. Which is making me want to be outside and Do Things, but I’m inside in the office. The doors are open, though, which is good. And I can hear a bug, maybe a cicada, singing away. If you can call it that. But it is a happy sound. Also the sound of the printer, and Hannah rustling papers, and myself typing.

I’ve been thinking about Things, way too many things.

About ritualistic abuse and child sacrifice, and the fact that it happens here. About Halloween and the way it relates to the aforementioned. About our mission trip and what that means. About my life and what God wants me to focus on. About the opportunity to help fight Common Core. About Facebook and what it’s doing to us. About writing. About language, and the differences between languages, and grammar, and how that affects us. About God. About the Meaning of life. About the universe and it’s vastness and what that means. About my smallness and yet my value in God’s eyes, and that doesn’t make sense. About the tile business and how strange it is that I’m in it. About creation and the fact that it exists and why did God make it, really? About the spiritual world and it’s being real, and why don’t we think about it as real? About American culture and how out of touch we are in some ways. About the warped sexuality that is so pervasive here. About the great wrongs that are in the world that the church turns a blind eye to. About how can people just pretend they don’t see things. About how people can spend $13,000 on a TUB and there are children dying? About our government’s absurdity, especially in the realm of money and schools. About the family and it’s sorry state. About thinking about thinking. About friendship and what it really is and how do you do it? About words and Meaning and how that all works. About getting shots and which ones do we need? About fire and how it both sustains and destroys life. About our senses, both physical and spiritual. About learning guitar, and music, and what is music anyway? About working on our church building, and why don’t people help more? About everyone trying to be perfect, but no one is, and whyΒ  must we keep pretending? About abortion, and the girls who feel like they have no choice, and how it really is a way to get women to exploit themselves while thinking they are being “liberated” and what a wickedly despicable lie it is. About the fact that we have a Real enemy, but we act like we don’t and we are being attacked violently on a regular basis, without defense and without fighting back. About Pregnancy Solutions, and what a powerful, needed ministry they are. About how God has been putting so many opportunities in my path lately, and which should I focus on? About using time wisely, or not. About eternity and what it will be like. About the Bible, and how it was written and what to do about it. About my physical health and wondering if everything’s okay or not, and if I’m strong enough to go on the trip, probably I’m not, and that’s probably okay because God wants to show me that. About humility, and how necessary it is but how rare it is, and how can we be proud when God and the universe are so vast and we can’t even make ourselves taller, or create a fly? About the fact that so many very hurt people are hurt worse by the church, and how is that even possible?? About the fact that there are so many who say they are Christians, and yet don’t act like it, and if you point that out people say you are “throwing stones” and maybe they are the ones who are actually throwing them? About how crazy it is that we Christians can rejoice and glory in tribulation, not just accept it. About prison, and my friend who is there, and how people don’t talk about Such Things. About marriage and if it will ever happen to me, and maybe probably I’m too busy for a man. About all the girls I know who are struggling with so many things, and how it’s just not Right. About the Bright Lights girls and how dearly I want them to Get It about God and life. About how glad I am that the light switch is fixed. About how cute Esther is. About prayer and how it works and what it really is and why God set it up like that. About death and what it would be like to die and the fact that I probably will die. And so will people I love. About the fact that there are at least two people that I have a premonition will die for the cause of Christ. About rebuke that is done right and wrong. About faith and what it is and how to have it and why don’t we have more faith–maybe because we don’t want to? About… so many other things.

And this would be the reason I would sort of grin and think people should be very grateful that I didn’t take Facebook literally when it asked what was on my mind. πŸ˜›

It’s also why I haven’t been blogging much, because how on earth could I make those thoughts into blog posts, and which one would I start with??

And by the way, now all the blog posts in the sidebar start with T. For those who like That Sort of Thing.

And this has been a pretty much completely useless blog post, unless you happen to be fascinated with what I am thinking about; which I don’t know why you would be. Oh well. If you read all that, and if you wanted to hear more about one of those things, comment and let me know and maybe I’ll blog about it. Maybe.

Thoughts and Words

So I’ve been having lots of thoughts, but not many words. I don’t really know why, quite. Probably because my thoughts haven’t fully developed yet. Probably because there are so many of them. Maybe it’s just because I don’t understand them yet. (That actually happens rather a lot. If I’ve ever confused you, don’t worry, I regularly confuse myself.)

It doesn’t help that they range from very exuberant (I don’t use that word near enough; it’s a good word) to quite downcast and heavy. And that’s okay, I guess; life is that way. But it’s just hard to know which to blog, ya know?

Anyway. I just kind of wanted to pop in and say hi, and I’m still alive, and thinking, and stuff’s happening. And sometime maybe it will get on here in words and/or pictures.

Oh, and also–our tickets to Central America have been purchased!! Which is both freaky and really exciting. πŸ˜€ We are leaving in one and half months as of today!

And…pray. Please. Just… do. About everything and anything. But pray in a way that costs you something.

Lately…

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We went to a park near the water…

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And saw a Great Blue Heron…

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…catch a fish.

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We also saw a Seagull.

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And one of the little boys caught a baby catfish–with their hands!

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We played “Pickleball” at church… The above picture is my friend Rachel and I. πŸ™‚

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We lost. πŸ˜› But we had fun!

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Cheryl and Hannah versed Elisa and Hannah.

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We had bright lights, and I got to be in a skit.

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I cut up onions, garlic, peppers and mushrooms…

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…sauteed them in coconut and olive oil…

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..put them with eggs and swiss cheese, and–yum!!

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I got a pretty little Bible for the trip! (my other Bible is really heavy… it weighs more than 2 pounds where this one weighs a half pound or so.)

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I helped paint the new walls at Pregnancy Solutions in North Port!! It’s really coming along nicely. πŸ™‚

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Just an old picture of Josiah and I going off on our “expedition” to apply for passports…

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And, yesterday, the PASSPORTS CAME!! πŸ˜€ They came super fast–in 10 days.

My Life in Pictures

My life is quite varied, so these pictures will be as well. Enjoy the ride!

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We don’t have much for wrapping paper, so I usually make my own. This was for William’s 11th birthday. πŸ™‚

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Just because she’s the cutest…

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I made up a fish recipe! It turned out pretty yummy… lemon, fresh garlic, rosemary from the garden, salt, cayenne, olive oil, and whatever else I put on, haha.

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I was playing around with my camera at church and got this shot. I thought it was pretty cool. (It’s through the doors in the back of the sanctuary)

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So Cheryl found this recipe on Pintrest, for pumpkin pancakes. And I made them. And YUM!!!

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Seriously, they were so good I made them again the next day for lunch. πŸ˜€

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We got flowers for Emily’s 17th birthday! πŸ™‚

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Rose are so amazing…

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Bright lights has been going well! This was when they were making cards at our last meeting. I love how CREATIVE these girls are. It’s awesome. πŸ˜€

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Can you tell we’re excited about autumn?? Hannah and I put out the fall decor at Mann Tile.

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So, back in July, I was at that building there hearing about the vision for a Pregnancy Solutions location in North Port.

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And last Saturday (and the Saturday before) I was across the street, at the new location for Pregnancy Solutions! They are an awesome ministry, and we’re blessed to be able to help out!

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We tiled both of their bathrooms… Hannah and I mainly just helped get up the old flooring. πŸ˜›

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One of the finished bathrooms! I need to get better pics sometime soon…

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This is pretty much my favorite thing about Florida. This is at Publix…

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I love the sky. It’s always different, always beautiful.

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Communion/Fellowship meal!! My favorite Sunday of the month. πŸ˜€

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If you ever need chairs set up, just ask Grace Bible Church. We’ve got servant’s hearts, and we’re fast too.

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At the business, we finally got a SIGN!! Yippee!

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Josiah finding the perfect music for filling out his application to Central America. πŸ˜‰ (Also, Esther. And Duckie.)

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So my purse broke last night at music lessons… and since it was just us girls, I asked if we could go look for a new one. This is what we came home with. πŸ˜€ Can you tell I have the trip on the brain?

Vell… there ya go. A glimpse into my life. πŸ™‚

My Life Lately

So… the last week/two weeks have been intense, especially this past weekend. The good kind of intense.

It’s interesting how it works. I started praying more, and then I started getting lots of requests for prayer (Even though I didn’t announce that I was praying more), and lots of opportunities to serve. It’s been so awesome this time, too, because I feel like I finally have started learning to serve out of love and joy for God’s glory.

On Friday I was busy with housework and keeping my siblings busy… in the evening I went and took pictures of a young couple from church at the beach.

Saturday, Hannah and I helped scrape carpet glue off the floors in the new Pregnancy Solutions location (that is about five minutes or less away from our house!!) for a few hours and managed to get blisters on our hands (which was actually kind of cool in an odd sort of way. I know it’s very small, but there was something exciting about suffering in a physical way for Christ.). Then we cleaned and cooked in preparation for company the next day (I managed to burn both of my hands and my face with the jalapeno. Thankfully Hannah knew to put oil on it, so it only lasted a few minutes.) went shopping, and got Panera Bread. We rushed home, did a few last minute things, and then Mama, Emily and Esther got home! (with papa and William and Matthew who had gone to pick them up. They were in Orlando helping family.)

On Sunday a Missionary spoke and told about some opportunities for short term mission trips. Afterwards, he and two friends came and ate tacos with us. (yum!) After they left, I “randomly” decided to charge my phone. Then I took a nap. πŸ˜€ We started watching a movie, and then I checked my phone (which is actually a rare occurrence.) and deleted some texts since my inbox was full. Just as I finished that, I got a text from one of my friends and she ended up calling. We had a really good talk that lasted about an hour and a half. The day wasn’t over then either–Papa, Hannah, Emily and I went to church again and set up for Bright Lights.

Monday morning, Hannah and I were at work talking to Papa. And he said, “I think you two and Josiah should go to Central America in December.” We were like, um… okay! So we started looking up the website, printing stuff out, etc. Then we had to pull our focus back to Bright Lights, haha. So we prayed and talked about that… towards the end of the day, I had a talk with a cousin of mine who is quite troubled, and Hannah talked to another friend of ours on the phone who is also going through some really hard times. We picked up one of the BL girls, went home, ate chili and got stuff, went to church, picked up another girl and did Bright Lights. Later I talked to one of the BL girls on Facebook… she’s making hard but awesome decisions. Finally went to bed well after midnight… we were all excited and talking. πŸ˜›

There are many other little things that happened in the days before… conversations, prayers answered, new prayer requests and so on.

I guess I just wanted to mention all this to say that… God is amazing. It is an incredible privilege to serve Him. And PRAY. Seriously. That’s where all this other stuff starts. You’ll soon find, as I have, that an hour isn’t long enough.

Also–please pray for us as we get ready to go to Central America (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador) in three months!!

P.S. An hour of prayer early in the morning, even if you went to bed late, is much more energizing than coffee. Seriously, you should try it.

In Which a Sorcerer Comes to Christ

So, about two months ago, I was asked to pray for a man from Nigeria–Nayon, a sorcerer, who was considering becoming a Christian but hadn’t yet. It is a serious decision for him. Obviously it always is, but in his case, he is risking his LIFE.

I started praying, of course, and found that I had a burden for this man’s salvation. (It’s rather hard to explain… sometimes, when I pray for something, it becomes sort of “mine”–I keep remember to pray for it, and I am invested emotionally in it.) I kept praying, looking forward to seeing what God would do in his life.

About a month after I started praying, I just kind of lost the burden I had felt for him. I wondered if something was wrong with me, or if maybe… he was saved.

A few days ago, I asked if there was any news on him or the other man I was praying for (A chief who has refused to become a Christian… I don’t know if anything has changed with him or not. Prayers for him would be great.).

Today I had been feeling rather down and frustrated… until I got the reply. About a month ago (!) Nayon had contacted a missionary there and said he and some others were ready to become Christians!!!

I am seriously so thrilled. I keep smiling randomly and praising God. It’s crazy, in a way. I don’t even know these people. Why should I care? It’s part of being a Christian, I guess. There is truly nothing quite like knowing that another soul has been saved–and that you’ve gained another brother or sister in Christ. Wow.

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

Psalm 103:1

Stories

So after posting that yesterday, I was pretty nervous. It wasn’t really that I thought people would be mean, just that… I wondered what they’d think. And I was rather startled that I had just said that. On the internet. Where all kinds of people–people I know, people I don’t, people I’m going to see on Sunday–will read it.

But I’m glad I did.

As I thought about what I had written, I realized that whether or not I like it, and whether or not other people like it, that is part of my story. And there’s no point in denying it, in acting like those very influential chapters of my life don’t exist. Of course I don’t need to walk around announcing to everyone that the man I hoped to marry is in prison–but I also don’t need to pretend it never happened. I need to accept it and learn from it.

Everyone has a story. They are all different, they all have hard parts, and they all have some weirdness. What is your story?