Wednesday, December 28, 2011

the Holidays...2011

Why is it that every year, holiday time is such a whirlwind of craziness? I mean, I say that b/c this year we actually didn't have that. It's not that nothing happened, but somehow there was a calm in our family. It was awesome, and hopefully it sticks for the years ahead!

We're in the quick window between Christmas and New Years now, and I wanted to recap what's happened in the last few weeks, because yet again, quite a bit has happened.

For Christmas Eve, we were honored to host everyone from the Refuge {all staff and all the girls from Casa de Esther} for a candle light service. It was quick, beautiful and intimate. And we remembered how Jesus truly is the Light of the world. And also, Naya singged a bit of her bangs off from holding her candle too close. Hahaha! Yes, as I was concentrating on how great Jesus is, I began to smell that funky burn smell, and looked down and there I saw Naya's hair burnt off at the ends...with the little black tips and all. :) It threw a little laughter in the mix which was nice.

So the service ended, and Theo and I decided it would be a good time to wrap the girls presents. Nothing like a little procrastination. We actually had fun together and made a night of it...playing the girls new Chutes and Ladders and CandyLand games. Yes I know those are for 3 year olds, but whatever. We played and we had fun.

Christmas morning was fun. Instead of just letting the girls open their gifts... we made them search the house for their gifts, then take them over to the tree until they were all found, then they were allowed to open them. This was an especially fun gift giving day for us b/c the gifts for the girls were almost all gifts that had been given to them recently but were never opened. So we did what any savvy and on a budget parent would do {for a 1, 2 and 4 year old!}, we wrapped those suckers up and those instantly and at no cost, became their christmas presents. :) They were as happy as ever and so were we. :)

After gifts, we had our friends Nic and Michelle, and their kiddos, Lauren, Hannah and Carson over for a big family breakfast, complete with red and green pancakes. Yes I'm very into food coloring things lately....I just never realized how happy that would make my kids. It also is my sly way of getting them to eat their food!

After breakfast, we were so thrilled that it wasnt freezing outside, so we did church out in the front yard. It was A-ma-zing. Thanks to God's sweet presence, Nic's guitar and vocal skills, we had some sweet worship and prayer time. After church, we all just hung out at the house together, then watched the Star of Bethlehem video.. {highly recommend that!}....girls painted with their new paint...wearing their dress up stuff... Theo used his christmas present to chop some wood... {yes he asked for an axe}...and I put on my new lipstick. :) happened. All of a sudden, Nic goes inside, and realizes that Carson {7}, lit our bathroom on fire....ok, not the whole bathroom. Apparently he decided to see what would happen if he lit a square of toilet paper on fire... {my bad for leaving matches by the kids know never to touch them}...well, it lit and he dropped it into the garbage can...which proceeded to catch everything else in the trash can on fire, then melt the top of the trash can....the bathroom was filled with smoke when Nic walked in. And the hysteria began. Poor guy was terrified. But alas, the entire bathroom didnt catch fire...and everything was ok. A bit later, we were laughing about it...thank God it's not a wood house.

Next Christmas Day event was getting the call that my abuelo passed away. ugh. He was 89 years old, so it's not like we were dealing with a young man. He was really sick and really old. It was his 15th day in the hospital without eating a single thing. Between his alzheimers, Chrohn's disease and a bad was just time. We all knew and were waiting for the day so it wasn't a shock. But somewhere in my mind I thought, surely he won't actually pass on Christmas day, right? Well, he did. So that was the saddest part. On a day of celebration, we had to see a loved one go. I pray he really did accept the Lord has his saviour before he passed away. Theo is convinced that he did, so that helps. I guess i'll know for sure one day.

Christmas Evening, we hosted the Refuge clan again for a nice big dinner. We all were stuffed. The food was good, and it helped to give us a little more of the 'christmas feel' down here in Mexico. :)

The next morning I had a nice long 1 hour skype talk with my mom, abuela y abuelo, and tio's in Puerto Rico. Gotta love modern technology. Now if only my dad would get a computer...

That about we're planning a fun New Year's Eve party at our place with fireworks and all...then a big sleep over! Who doesn't love that?! For all who are reading this, I pray you had a wonderful Christmas and that God fills you up with His love and presence this coming year!

Monday, December 12, 2011


30 snuck up on me. I mean, I knew it was close, but suddenly it's here. I'm wondering how 30 years went by so fast...?! I remember being 17 like it was yesterday, don't you?? I guess the saying "Days go slow, but years go fast" is true! So I wanted to just note a couple of things that I've learned up until this point...

1. My mom was right when she said that I'll never know how much she loves me, until I have my own children. I know now. I love you too mom.

2. Nothing is forever, except Jesus.

3. God is so faithful and kind. He will provide all that I need. He enjoys taking care of me and my family. I've learned to trust Him and I can say that I actually love Him. Also, I know that there is still so much to learn about Him. And I can't wait.

4. In my 6 1/2 years of marriage, I've realized that it's totally fine to admit that Theo and I are different....we process things differently and have different opinions. It's brought much peace to us, to not fight to be the same or on the 'same page' in every possible way.

5. My husband is truly an incredible man. Firstly, this guys truly loves God with all his heart mind, soul and strength. {from my perspective!} And if the wife can say that, there's something real there. My advice to all my single girl friends...don't be so uptight about your 'list' of things you want in your future husband. I tell you...just make sure the guy actually LOVES Jesus and seeks His Kingdom beyond all attracted to committed.....and the rest will work itself out.

6. It's a humbling thing for me, when I think that God has rewarded me with 3 beautiful daughters. I believe what the Bible says about children being a reward and inheritance....not a burden or hinderance in life. That means the Lord saw it fit to give me these little treasures. What an honor.

7. One of the best things you can do for yourself, is to learn to be flexible to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in your life. Be willing to go where He leads, and when. Learning to trust Him, even without having all details up front. It creates more faith in your heart for the next adventure!

8. I love that as a believer in Jesus, I can daily remind myself that He will work out ALL things out for my good. Everything.....! Thats an incredible thing. Makes me wonder why more unbelievers don't take a look at that and BELIEVE!? That's a pretty sweet deal!

9. Disciplining my kids, especially at these young ages, is often just as hard for me as the parent, as for them. It takes alot of emotional endurance, perserverance, patience and LOVE. I also believe what the Bible says about disciplining your children if you love them. And I love my children. It's hard but so worth it.

10. I've realized that by checking my perspective on things, I can maintain a happy heart and positive attitude on an almost full time basis. Having a Thankful heart and truly remembering all the ways that I'm blessed makes for a hostile environment for complaining and depression.

11. Confession and repentance are good things. They hurt, but are vital to having a healthy soul. Like exercising hurts our body, but is vital to our physical health. Just do it. :)

12. It's still in the early stages, but I'm learning to not be so uptight about certain things. Having an immaculate house at all times... letting that go. Especially with the current household dynamics...3 kids, 4 and under and no outside help for anything. It's not worth the stress of trying to mainain something thats not really worth it. I personally feel a bit akward if I walk into a house that looks like no one actually lives there and if I touch anything the whole place will come crumbling down. It's nice to walk into a place that looks comfortable and lived in {especially with kids} yet organized and decent. I'm not at all suggesting that a dirty house is cool. Dirty and messy are 2 different things. I like clean, but I can now handle toys being out. Kids, go ahead and actually play with your toys! :)

13. It's finally settling in to take my friend Debbie Phillips' advice. 'While your kids are little, be willing to set aside your planner.' It's a very helpful tip to me these days. I'm learning to plan {because I can't help it, and b/c it sometimes saves my life} LOOSELY. It's no longer the end of the world in my mind if I don't get to the laundry on Tuesday. It is now OK to tell so and so that I can't make it to whatever meeting because my kids need me with them. Thank you Debbie. I love you and appreciate ALL the things you've taught me.

14. Not being attached to your "stuff" is awesome. It's a beautiful thing to be able to decorate your home with pretty furniture {I personally love awesome thrift store finds, or refinishing old stuff to make it great}, and hooking up your little domain however you like, but then being able to give it all away when need be, without it tearing your heart out as well. Extravegant giving is a learned and practiced thing. Being able to hand over the keys to a vehicle free of charge or handing over your favorite {whatever it is}'s awesome and exhilirating. Try it!

15. Learning to cook is just generally a good thing. For everyone. You don't have to be this gourmet chef in the kitchen, but being able to make some good meals, is just....good. Thank you Food Network for all your tutoring. My husband and kids are grateful too. :)

So surely I've learned more things that just 15 points in a 30 year time period, but I think these stand out the most. Hopefully I learn an bit more in the next 30 years!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Whats New in my Life...It could be lengthy...

This post is dedicated to updating all the notable things happening in my life...kind of to keep track myself.  And this will not be in order of importance so let's not go there. :)

So...first of all I'm finding that I'm becoming quite the homemaker. I mean, the reality is that I grew up not having a clue how to do anything. Ok, not anything, but very few things regarding running/managing a well functioning home. Especially with kids. I was definitly not that babysitting, 'I love kids/can't wait to have my own' kind of girl. My mother didn't {and doesn't} actually cook much, so when I married a "real meal" man, I realized I better learn something in the kitchen or we'll be in trouble. So in our 6 1/2 years of marriage, I've learned to cook a bit....and I actually like it! I'm learning to love creativity in meals. Mainly thanks to the Food Network, and now thanks to for the great recipes.  Learned to sew {basics}, breaking out the inner-crafty lady in me, {pinterest is playing a part in all of it lately} and obviously learned how to be a "kid" person. :) My girls make that one easy for me. Oh how they make me smile.

Before I continue...I need to give the glory where it's's not for me, but to God. Somehow in the mix of everyday life, and babies, and wife-ing, God gave me the grace {and patience!} to learn these home-ec skills. I'm so grateful. We all are actually. My kids don't have to live off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches {which we all love}, and my husband gets some sweet home cooked meals. And I....well, I get to eat good food and get the satisfying feeling of serving my family well, AND the fun feeling that "I made that!" :) Yesssss!

So I wanted to write about all of this because today I'm taking this a step further. I'm making my own laundry detergent!! I know it's nothing new and thrify mamas have been doing this for a long time, but today is my day. I have all the ingredients and it's making me all psyched up to do laundry! Anything to psych you up for laundry MUST be a good thing, hey?! It's gotta get done either way, might as well get some joy out of it!

Here's the deal on some Do It Yourself Laundry Detergent:

First you'll grate 1 full size bar of soap. I'm seeing people use any ole bar of soap.

Next, mix with 1 cup of Borax.

Now, mix 1 cup of washing soda. {I actually can't find that here in Mexico, so I'm substituting it with baking soda. Apparently it works differently, but it's just what I've got to work with.}

I also got some Mexican brand oxiclean {2 small containters} to throw in the mix. I heard washing soda is in oxiclean too, so maybe that'll make up for what I don't have.

Mix it well...keep in a bucket or some sort of container, and you only need 1 tablespoon per load! {2 scoops if it's a super dirty load.}

How easy is that?! And cheap! It comes out to less than a dollar per load. That is some sweet missionary thriftiness if I ever saw any.

Next cool thing happening... my baby girl is starting to walk! I can barely believe it. I say so often that time flies, and this is one of those things that reminds me how true it is. Olivia is actually doing things a bit later than her sisters did, which I think it turning out to be to my benefit. Once they walk, they're everywhere! And I can only handle my kids being everywhere, so much. She's absolutly our most cuddly child. Stella and Naya love a good hug and some cuddle time, but Olivia could just live in our arms 24/7.

We're trying to keep the balance of ministry work and family time in check. It seems that once you begin, it can suck all the energy right out of you. So as much as we're truly loving what God is doing at the Refuge, we're trying to not lose our sanity with all the work that needs to be done. We're learning to lean on the Lord daily for His guidance on what should be done. Learning to keep our priorities in line...God, family, ministry. Praise God, He has given us some amazing friends here in Ensenada. We came down knowing 1 family... our good friends, Sean and Trisha. Now 4 months later, we actually have a tight little community around us! God is so faithful.

Next notable thing in life is that in exactly 4 days from today {woah} I get to celebrate 30 years of life. I remember clearly thinking that 30 was really old when I was young. I mean, it just seemed SO far away. And suddenly it's here. 30 just showed up. I'm so grateful that God has given me this many years so far to enjoy my life...blessed with a truly amazing friend, companion and yes, lover. I know the lover part sounds kinda weird, but it's true. That will probably be the only time in my life that I write out that my husband is my "lover" so just let it be. And I also have the priviledge of having 3 wonderful little chicklets I get to call my daughters. I am so blessed.

Now because it's almost my birthday, it's almost CHRISTMAS!!! Who doesn't just love Christmas? Assuming you're not stressing out spending money you don't have on gifts that arent's's an awesome time to celebrate our Saviour Jesus being born on the earth! I'll admit that just a few years ago, while spending Christmas in Haiti, I had a mini meltdown because I felt we {Theo and I} weren't able to provide awesome gifts for all of our neices and nephews. It felt horrible. Thats when I realized I totally got sucked into the very thing I knew I didn't agree with. The thing that tell us that Christmas is all about the gifts and outward tradtional things rather than the real reason we celebrate Christmas.  Thank God I snapped out of it. Now I get to teach my kids new ways to celebrate Christmas without the main focus being gifts. Now of course I still want to give my kids gifts...and I will. Just without me pulling my hair out to get them whatever the world tells me they have to have. This is where that inner crafty lady come out again. We'll see what I whip up for them this year. :)

I'm thinking those are about all the major things that are 'happenin' in my world right now. Until our next post...