Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The other night, as I was reading the November 26 passage from Streams in the Desert, these words seemed to leap off the page and grab my heart!


"And Caleb said unto her, What wouldest thou? Who answered, give me a blessing; for thou has given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And he gave her the upper springs, and the nether springs." (Joshua 15:18, 19)

There are both upper and nether springs. They are springs, not stagnant pools. There are joys and blessings that flow from above through the hottest summer and the most desert land of sorrow and trial. The land of Achsah were "south lands," lying under a burning sun and often parched with burning heat. But from the hills came the unfailing springs, that cooled, refreshed, and fertilized all the land.

There are springs that flow in the low places of life, in the hard places, in the desert places, in the lone places, in the common places, and no matter what my be our situation, we can always find these upper springs.

Abraham found them amid the hills of Canaan. Moses found them among the rocks of Midian. David found them among the ashes of Ziklag when his property was gone, his family captives and his people talked of stoning him, but "David encouraged himself in the Lord."

Habakkuk found them when the fig tree was withered and the fields were brown, but as he drank from them he could sing: "Yet will I rejoice in the Lord and joy in the God of my salvation."

Isaiah found them in the awful days of Sennacherib's invasion, when the mountains seemed hurled into the midst of the sea, but faith could sing: "There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God. God is in the midst of her: she shall not be moved."

The martyrs found them amid the flames, and reformers amid their foes and conflicts, and we can find them all the year if we have the Comforter in our hearts and have learned to say with David: "All my springs are in Thee."

How many and how precious these springs, and how much more there is to be possessed of God's own fulness!

- A.B. Simpson

I could add to that.
Katrina found them in the mountains of Cochabamba.

Passionate About God's Passion

"It was becoming clearer and clearer that if I wanted to come to the end of my life and not say, "I've wasted it!" then I would need to press all the way in, and all the way up, to the ultimate purpose of God and join Him in it. If my life was to have a single, all-satisfying, unifying passion, it would have to be God's passion. And...God's passion was the display of His own glory and the delight of my heart.

It has become clearer that God being glorified and God being enjoyed are not separate categories. They relate to each other not like fruit and animals, but like fruit and apples. Apples are one kind of fruit. Enjoying God supremely is one way to glorify Him. Enjoying God makes Him look supremely valuable."

- John Piper in Don't Waste Your Life

Once Upon a Sunday Morning...

...this tía tried to snap a few pictures of her adorable little girls all dressed up and ready for church. Alas! They just like to wiggle too much (or give cheesy grins) to capture the real 'sugar and spice and all that's nice' that she gets to see on their beautiful faces every day!

The Mommy for a Month Chronicles #6

Fleeing to the Rock

Last week, for the first time since beginning my mommy-ing adventures here at Casa de Amor House 3, it happened.

I just wanted to scream, to cry, to pull my hair out.

It was one of those days...and then some.

For starters, I was suffering from an acute eye infection that had attacked my eye the night before and caused my whole body to feel achy and sick. Not a good way to start the day, let me assure you. Additionally, the day was gray and rainy. Going outside was not an option, which meant the children seemed to be bouncing off the walls. Little A, who is (supposed to be) potty training, had four accidents in two hours. Each one was literally five minutes after she got up from trying to go in the potty. On top of everything, everyone seemed extra cranky and clingy and loud and....yeah. I was about to go crazy.

My patience slipped away faster and faster with each accident I wiped up off the floor until finally, I threw my hands in the hair and declared surrender to the potty war. Little A wore a diaper the rest of the day. My sanctification was at stake.

Seriously, I just wanted to crawl into bed and sleep the day away with the rain pattering on the roof.

But I couldn't. Five little lives needed me. Thanksgiving preparations had to be attended to.

I knew I needed a sanity check. A few moments of peace and quiet before I really did scream. Or melt into a pile of tears.

And I knew there was only one place to find it.

Declaring a morning rest time for all my whiney little people, I tucked the girls into their beds (despite their crying protests to this sudden idea) and settled the boys quietly with books. Almost desperately, I grabbed my Bible from off my nightstand and raced down the stairs to the living room where I could be farthest from the noise.
To the Rock I fled, seeking refuge, seeking peace, seeking strength. And as He promises to do when we seek Him and cry out to Him, He met me in my time of need. His Word spoke life into my weary soul and His Spirit calmed my frazzled nerves.

My Daily Light passage assured me:
"The Spirit helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God."

The Book of Psalms, a constant source of comfort, reminded me:
"Be not far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste to help me." (Psalm 22:19)
The Lord is not far from me in this place. He is right here. He is my strength. He will haste to help me make it through the day with love and cheerfulness.

"Ye that fear the Lord, praise Him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify Him...For He hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath He hid His face from Him; but when he cried unto Him, He heard." (Psalm 22:24)
The secret is in the praising. God has not neglected me though I feel afflicted by this sickness and these circumstances. I have cried to Him and He has heard!

"I will praise Thee forever because Thou hast done it! (Psalm 52:9)
I will praise the Lord, because He will be the One to do it today!

"Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy." (Psalm 82:3)
This is why I am here, after all.

"His heart is fixed trusting in the Lord." (Psalm 112:7)
So is my heart; fixed upon the Lord, trusting in Him to be my strength and song today.

It was only fifteen, maybe twenty minutes that I spent communing with the Lord and receiving from His life-giving Word. But, oh, how this fifteen minute respite in the Haven of Rest ministered to my spirit and gave me the strength to go on!

The rest of the day didn't get any easier. The rain still poured. Every little task was an effort, and prayers for patience were a moment-by-moment occurrence. But I rejoice to say that God was faithful to His Word. He was with me. He heard my cries. And it comforted me greatly to know His Holy Spirit was interceding for me in ways I couldn't even imagine as I tried to mother my little brood in the ways they needed.

Fleeing to the Rock is truly the best answer to a day that seems to be falling apart.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mommy-For-The-Month Chronicles #5

I'm sitting here at the dining room table watching my little charges play while listening to Christmas music and catching up on blog reading. And it brings a smile to my face to see in living color what my mom has always told me: children usually prefer everyday life things to play with rather than plastic toys.

It's so true. Right now, they are having a ball with a stack of blankets and pillows. These few simple items have kept them busy for nearly an hour...and counting!

Of course, there are a few favorite toys that nearly always spark interest for various ones: a baby doll for Miss C, a Batman action figure for Little J, a tea set for Little A, a musical piano toy for J.K. But for the most part, the children find little interest in the plastic toys they've grown bored of. They much prefer playing with kitchen towels, tupperware, spoons, plastic measuring cups, and yes, even clothes. Little K will sit for long stretches of time trying to put shirts and pants and hats on in all different creative ways. :)

I just love to see how the everyday life things spark their imaginations, encourage fun times together, and keep my busy energizer-bunnies occupied in productive play!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving from Bolivia!

The children and I have had a lot of fun devoting this week to the Thanksgiving holiday. We have studied about Indians and Pilgrims, made decorations for our festivities tonight, and sampled various trial dishes of homemade stuffing. It was a wonderful blessing to have the Casa de Amor American family over to share in food and fellowship as we celebrated the importance of gratefulness. God has truly enriched our lives with so much!

Thanking the Lord for the privilege of being HIS tonight,
and all the blessings that one gift brings with it.

Happy Thanksgiving from Bolivia!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Today's Dose of Daily Cuteness

Indian Day

Since we are hosting a Thanksgiving feast here on Thursday for the Americans who work with Casa de Amor, I decided it would be good to teach my older children about this holiday, its history and significance. So, today we began by studying a little bit about Native American Indians. We looked at pictures/videos of them on the computer, discussed their lifestyle, and made Indian feather bands. These children love to express their creativity through craft projects, so the headbands were a hit! They wore them the rest of the day (except for during nap time).

Eating an "Indian" snack while coloring feathers.

Raisins and soy nuts. (Hey - it was the best I could come up with!)

My little Indian Princess.

Señor Indian

The Junior Warrior

The three little Indians that could.

They wore their feather bands while they worked...

...and played!
(This, I was informed, was their boat and I was standing in the water!)

Yes, it was a fun day.

Rainbows - A Reminder of God's Faithfulness

They come in all different forms.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dinner Guests

It was such fun to have a family from church over for dinner tonight! We enjoyed Tex-Mex cooking, chocolate chip cookie bars, fellowship, and play time with the children. Here are a few pictures I snapped after dinner as kitchen cleanup and living room giggles were in full swing! (Please excuse the strange lighting in some of the photos...don't know what was up with my flash tonight!)

J.K. loves to be read to! Way to go Zach!

Jael is super good with little ones! The twins adore her.

Smiles all around.

Ben, the big buddy!

A blanket train.

Zach's audience has grown. :)


The White Tornado (a.k.a. Sarah) giving me a break from dishes!

Beddy-by time.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Straight From the Comb

You know your honey is raw and natural when you open the lid to find this.

Saturday Morning Pancakes

Just for the record, I love gingerbread.
And ginger snaps.
And molasses cookies.
And spice cake.
And pretty much anything within this general family of autumn-ish spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and allspice.

So, when I read on Facebook about a friend making gingerbread pancakes, it sounded like a recipe I would love to try!

And try them we did.
This morning.
Because Saturday is pancake-breakfast-day.

The verdict?
They were delicious.
Make that DELICIOUS.

And it's not just because I'm biased to anything with autumn spices.
Try them.
You'll see what I mean!

Gingerbread Pancakes

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons each of:
baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cloves
(I used nutmeg since I didn't have ground cloves on hand)
1 1/2 cups apple juice
(original recipe calls for a 12 oz. can of frozen apple juice concentrate, but since I don't have access to that, the apple juice worked just fine)
1/4 cup oil or melted butter
2 eggs

I like thick pancakes so this is how I made the batter and it came out beautifully. However, if you prefer thinner pancakes, the original recipe calls for 1/2 cup water as well.

We topped our pancakes with a combination of butter and honey melted together. I also added a splash of molasses on top and it added an extra punch that was scrumptious.

Enjoy this amazing and healthy taste of fall!

The Day We Baked a Cake

We have a book in Spanish about a pig who baked a cake for his bear-friend's birthday. Other animals come over in the cake-baking process who help sample the cake - complete with a cream topping and strawberries. By the time Mr. Bear makes it, most of the cake is gone, but he is still thrilled with the thoughtfulness of his friends and declares it the best birthday ever.

J.K. just loves this book and asks to read it all the time! So, the other day, we decided to bake the same recipe that Mr. Pig baked since it was conveniently shared at the back of the book. J.K. declared himself the bear who was having the birthday, but I assured him that we didn't have to be celebrating a birthday in order to have chocolate cake. :) J.K. and Miss C helped in the actual baking of the cake, while Little J and J.K. assisted me with the decorating. They had a blast, and we got a lot of mileage out of that cake (3 meals worth). It wasn't the best chocolate cake I've ever had, but seeing the children's delight in making story-book cake was a ton of fun!

As you can see, we didn't have fresh strawberries on hand, but chopped-up-chocolate-bar-and-banana decorations still brought smiles!