Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday Salmagundi

sal⋅ma⋅gun⋅di (noun): any mixture or miscellany

There's a new vocabulary word! (Well, at least it was new to me!) That's exactly what this post is. I don't seem to take as much time to blog as I have in the past... maybe I'll get to in the future. On this lazy, spring-breaky Sunday afternoon, Luke and the boys are having a "guys day" at an outdoor store and the gun club, and my sweet daughter is on a mission trip. So, I've finally got a few minutes to post some things. Since I go most days with a blog post brewing in my mind, most of which never make it to the screen, this will be a mishmash of miscellaneous "mini-posts." (Monday Menu is at the bottom.)

Half of My Heart

I am currently wearing half of this necklace. The other half is in Mexico with my daughter as she is on a mission trip this week. Back in 2004 when Luke and Bethany made their first trip to Ghana, we got the necklace. Since then, whoever goes takes half of it, and the other half stays here. Whether I go or stay, I wear it, but usually if Luke stays home, it hangs on the lamp by his side of the bed. Bethany used to wear it, but now she usually tucks it into her passport case. Of course, my favorite trips are when we ALL go, and the necklace stays at home, but due to finances and vacation time from work, that can't always be the case... When Luke traveled to Ethiopia in January, he took half of it with him in his backpack, while I wore the other half. When he came home from the trip, he put his half by my jewelry box in the little felt jewelry pouch, so I could put it away. I remember seeing it there... and then for some reason when I went to put it away later I couldn't find it. I was so sad! That half a necklace has been around the world and back so many times! I was so aggravated with myself, and I still have no idea where it is. One day last week, my sweet husband emailed me from work and told me to look behind a picture frame in our bedroom. There, tucked behind it, was a small James Avery box with a new Gen. 31:49 charm in it. He knew it was important to me, so that we could send half of it with our daughter this week. Isn't that sweet that he replaced it? I'm still praying that I find that original half, but my prayer was with Phil. 4:19 in mind... "my God shall supply all my needs." I prayed that if I needed it, I would find it and if I didn't find it, that I would be content without it. I had left it up to God, and He responded by prompting my cute husband to buy a new one. So, Luke took the opportunity to bless me, and I got a reminder that our Lord cares about even the smallest thing. A double blessing!

Mexico Mission

As I mentioned, our daughter is in Mexico this week. (I just realized a couple of days ago that this is her 10th international mission trip! Isn't God amazing??) She is with a dynamic team of top-notch students from our Awana Journey group. They are being led by some of the most gifted and Godly leaders I could ever imagine, and will be partnering with a wonderful church there. They will get the opportunity to participate in orphan care, some painting and construction, and community outreach. If you think about her, please pray for Bethany and the wonderful team she is with. God is poised to do a mighty work this week, and that is never without opposition. It has not been a "problem free" trip so far, so our prayers are definitely needed. It has been said that "The history of missions is the history of answered prayer." (S. Zwemer) I truly believe that to be true. Dick Eastman said, "In no other way can the believer become as fully involved with God's work, especially the work of world evangelism, as in intercessory prayer." There is simply no substitute for interceding for a lost world and those who are responsive to the call to go. May God receive all glory for the great things He will do this week in Mexico and all over the world, through the work of those who are on mission for Him and the prayers of those at home.

Heritage Day

A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to participate in our agency's "Heritage Day." It was such a fun event, where internationally and domestically adopted children and their families could come and experience a bit of the culture and food from their countries of origin. Our family was privileged to help out in the Ethiopia room, performing the puppet show we had done at Minte's orphanage on our adoption trip, the Ethiopian folktale, Silly Mammo. It was so fun to see the other families who are in the Ethiopia program, as well as meet some new families. I am so thankful for an agency who has events such as this to connect us with our child's culture, but also the adoption community. At the end, they had a wonderful Ethiopian praise and worship group sing, and also had a martial arts school perform... two things that are close to Minte's heart. (He just recently received his yellow belt in karate, and Kyle has his orange belt so far.) God is so faithful to provide opportunities like that!

Restoring Order

I have been really, really working to become more organized. I am not kidding when I have referred to being in a "fog" in the months surrounding this adoption. I already tend toward procrastination as it is, so when I get preoccupied things can really pile up. By God's grace, I have been able to restore order to several key areas of my life in recent weeks. First among them: school, which I feel has been a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants effort this year. Another is simply clutter control. Thankfully, that has gotten better lately. I really have felt like I wasn't "looking well to the ways of my household" (Prov. 31) in recent months, and I finally feel a sense that I'm on the other side of a very disorganized season. If you are having difficulty in this area, let me encourage you! I understand! Stick with a schedule and a routine, try not to "eat the bread of idleness" and keep working at it in the 1 Pet. 4:11 "strength God provides." It will get better.

Finally Free!

I've never been very "thrifty." I'm one to use a coupon for a box of cereal, but then go spend an inordinately large amount of money on a new purse. I go through seasons of saving, or at least not spending as much... then I go on a shopping spree. I'm just not very disciplined in that area. I've gotten better over the years, but it's been slow going. By no stretch am I dismissing it or saying "Well, that's just how I am." I've really had to rethink my spending habits and let God do a Romans 12:1-2 renewal of my mind in this area. I found that, as a homeschooler I sort of "baptized" my spending. I would channel my spendthrifty habits toward school. ("We need this. It's for the kids.") I have such a patient husband! Bethany is taking a Financial Peace University class this spring, and it's been really good for her. I wish I had learned those principles when I was in high school! By God's incredible grace, in recent weeks, we have been able to finally be in a position of having no debt except our mortgage. Yey!!! Many of you have lived this way for years, and to that I say a sincere, heartfelt "Good for you!" I mean it! In recent years we have just now "caught on" to God's vision for our finances, so when I say "by God's grace" I mean just that. We remain a one-career, homeschooling family living on an average "middle class" income, and it simply astounds me what God will do when you simply yield your spending to Him. I'm amazed. A friend we met at the Ethiopia Guest Home last September has a wonderful website full of great money-saving tips: The Penny-Wise Family. I encourage you to check it out! After our journey over the past several years, I can honestly say that nothing feels as good to buy as debt-free feels.

Bible Study

I recently finished the Bible study, Stepping Up. It had been awhile since I had done a Beth Moore study, and I really enjoyed it. (I know she's been called "emotionally charged" before, but sometimes I need that. At times I respond well to "emotionally charged" as long as it's theologically accurate, which this study was. In fact, recently I was listening to John Piper and realized he could be described as "emotionally charged", too. And really, is that always a bad thing?) I really enjoyed this particular study, as it focuses on the Psalms of Ascent, and I always l-o-v-e camping out in the Psalms. Whenever I need spiritual refreshment or for God to change my heart in key ways, turning me towards Himself, I always find myself in the Psalms. Next, I'm doing Mary Kassian's study Conversation Peace: The Power of Transformed Speech. Can you tell what God's dealing with me on now? LOL

Calling All Movers

We had fun last weekend going to see the Imagination Movers in concert. We had our first-ever Mom-Dad-Minte-only outing, and it was so fun! Our other two enjoyed one-on-one time with some other family members and Luke and I treated Minte to breakfast out and seeing some people from his favorite television show in real life! He was so excited! In fact, I have to say that I haven't seen him this visibly, demonstrably excited about anything since he's been home. It was so worth it to watch him light up like that. (If you don't know who in the world I'm talking about, either you don't have preschoolers or you don't have the Disney channel. A few months ago, I wouldn't have known either!) Our older kids have been so sweet to make sure Minte gets the opportunity to enjoy things for "younger" kids without being made fun of or made to feel it's "uncool." He didn't have these opportunities when he was preschool aged, and quite frankly, these songs/shows are at his pace language-wise. I have felt really strongly since before he came home that he would be allowed the opportunity to go through all of the "phases" my other two did. So, we watch Barney, play with play-doh, make snow cones, finger paint, read stories and do puppets... all of the things I did when they were younger. If you are adopting an older child, don't feel like you have to skip some of the "younger" activities. Many times they didn't do those things at 3 or 4 years of age, but the songs, concepts, and sensory experiences are still important and necessary. And, as God has a habit of doing, He worked it out so perfectly that we sat next to some precious family friends with whom we have traveled this adoption journey (we didn't plan it at all!) and the boys got to enjoy it together! Ephesians 3:20-21! More than we asked or imagined!

Ethiopian Cooking

Here's last week's Ethiopian dinner. It turned out great! I realize that those of you who haven't tried Ethiopian food may not think this looks very appetizing, but it is really good! This was a chicken stew, with hard boiled eggs in it (served with it, really). It was chicken, marinated in lime juice and red onion, then cooked with onion, spiced butter (spiced with ginger, basil and garlic... not just like the book but good enough!), olive oil, cardamom, nutmeg and turmeric, black pepper and sea salt.I served it with lentils, which are so healthy! Once the lentils had boiled, I added a splash of green Tabasco, a sprinkle of garlic and a dash of bere bere (Ethiopian chili powder). When Minte saw them he said, "Oh!! Minte's fay-borite!" I'm telling you, that response is worth the experimentation, cooking outside of my comfort zone, and leaving the windows open for 12 hours. He ate it for lunch the next two days, and there was none left for "leftover night." I'm posting this to inspire someone. If I can cook Ethiopian food, anyone can!

While I'm at the computer, here's our menu for this week:

Monday: "Minchet Abishe" (Hot Ground Beef Stew- made-a-bit-less-hot ;) and "Yeatakilt Wet" (Cabbage and potatoes) from TROL , with some injera I picked up yesterday
Tuesday: Broiled Tilapia Parmesan, green beans, steamed broccoli/cauliflower
Wednesday: fried chicken, potatoes, peas (judge me if you must, but we love it ;)
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Savory Cheese Soup, salad, wheat rolls

This week's MPM is being hosted by Erin at 5 Dollar Dinners, so head on over there for some economical dinner ideas or to share your menu.

Well, that's a glimpse of our life lately. I hope you're getting a "spring break" of sorts, and experiencing the refreshment and renewal of a new season. Thank you so much for stopping by to catch up!


kristinleighkelly said...

Thanks for the update--I love to "see" what's going on with you guys!


A said...

I just need to tell you that I am so thankful for you and I am SUPER grateful that God has brought our families together. Much love.

Linda said...

It has been a joy to catch up with you and your family Cyndi.
It sounds like things are going wonderfully. It is so sweet to see how Minte is just blossoming (is that the right word for a little boy?)- well you know what I mean.
I would be honored to pray for Bethany. She really does have a heart for missions. What an amazing girl she is.
I will be interested to see how you like that study. I had it in my hands once and picked a different one, but I absolutely know I need to do it at some point.
You're doing an amazing job Cyndi. You always bless me.