Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Good and The Bad

We now have a new family record for packing, we seriously were out the door in an hour and a half, and I managed to pack no only clothes but toys and food. We made it to the hospital safely, the roads were great once we got past Wichita.

My dad is doing much better, he was itchin' to get out of the hospital and and they released him today. The reason for all the concern was they were unsure where the blood he vomited came from. Test results showed he was no longer bleeding, which is a great thing but the best they could conclude was it was from ulcers on his esophagus. We hope this situation has resolved itself. The only problems he has now is finding foods that sit well with his stomach. I'm staying here in E-Town to help my mom out so that she can go back to work, we don't want to repeat the situation again without anyone around. Apparently he lost a lot of blood on Monday.

Calvin enjoyed riding in Grandpa's bed at the hospital and was happy that he had more energy today, this evening he ran up to his legs while he was sitting on the couch just ready to play. I am so thankful to have such a flexible little guy. Poor thing didn't get to bed until about 9:30 last night, when finally his body couldn't take it any longer he gave up and closed his eyes.

Every time I look at my sweet boy my heart is burdened to pray for another little one. Please continue to lift up Cora, you can find more out about her condition on her family's blog. She has begun her chemo treatments, so pray for her tiny body during this assault of chemicals and for her family as they watch their little girl grow weaker. Let's believe God for a miracle.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Yuck, I better get some knee pads

Many of you know my dad has been sick off and on the last 7 years, almost 8. He's in need of liver transplant and has been working more recently with doctors to take steps in that direction. Today he got sick again and he's in ICU. Due to weather they were unable to life flight him to Kansas City so they took him to the closest place, Topeka. I haven't been able to find out what is going on, but am thankful my brother is with my mom right now.

So it looks like we'll be in for a trip in the next day or so, weather permitting. I'd appreciate your prayers for my dad. Calvin and I spent last week with my parents and my dad was doing well, he had a blast playing with his grandson. I'm trying not to let my mind go to other places and focus on what is taking place right now. It's defiantly hard.

It seems like today was such a heavy day. The weather was drab and my heart was full of ache already for a few friends and this just added to the heaviness. I was reminded of Job today and just the assault of things that God allowed Satan to do to him. The loss of children, his dignity, status in the community, his health, and still he acknowledged the God who has every right to take things away. I love how God allows Job to make pleas and question him, but Job ultimately comes back to trusting in His perfect will. I am trying to allow God to teach me what it looks like to cry out "Blessed Be YOUR NAME" in all things.

Would you also join me in praying for a sweet little girl? Her name is Cora and we went to college with her parents. She was diagnosed with cancer this past week, she is 10 months old. Heartbreaking, I know. Would you pray that her parents have the strength to endure what is ahead and that God would show himself powerfully in this situation. That doctors would be amazed at how little Cora was healed. If you want to follow this situation and commit to pray for them you can find updates from a friend here or you can check Joel & Jess's blog.

Thank you for sharing my burdens.

Monday Meal Plan

Here's what's cooking in our kitchen this week:

Monday-Chili Kolaches, baked sweet potato cubes, salad
Tuesday-Lentil Barley Soup, homemade rolls, salad
Wednesday-Jamacian Pork Tenderloin, Broccoli, salad
Thursday-In honor of Kansas Day we're having Steaks, potatoes, salad & KS dirt cake
Friday-Left overs
Saturday-Pancakes for breakfast, Celebrating my mom's birthday later in the day
Sunday-Omlets & Toast

It's crazy that January is almost over, where did the time go? I hope you all are staying warm today, it's certainly cold in our neck of the woods.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Menu Planning 101...for Callie

I got to hang out with a dear friend from high school last week. It was fun to reconnect with her and to hold her sweet little one, Calvin was a little jealous, but not too bad. She asked me how I plan my meals so I thought I'd share my process with everyone.

Brainstorm.....While we were overseas I noticed I was making the same things over and over again. This prompted me to make a list of meals I knew could make with the ingredients we could get. So I got out a piece of paper one day and started jotting down ideas. It developed into a list with several categories CHICKEN, BEEF, MEATLESS, SOUPS, SALADS. Under every category I wrote down all the recipes I knew how to make. Next I highlighted all the recipes that were quick recipes, ready in 30 minutes or less. I also noted recipes that took some time to make. I eventually typed up the list and it was hanging on my fridge, when meal planning time came I grabbed it and was ready to plan. If you are new to meal planning, I suggest you start with this step.

Once a month planning....I plan my meals a month in advance. I am not a natural planner, in fact I hate to be tied down by schedules. So this is very flexible, in fact most of the time my menu has lots of arrows by the end of the month because I switch things up quite a bit and sometimes I don't end up making all of it.

Getting ready to plan.....The month before, I brainstorm ideas. If I think of something that would be good to make, or see a new recipes (usually on a blog) I write it in my notebook that sitting by the computer. This is nice because when I start planning the menu I have something to start with. I love blogs that participate in Meal Plan Mondays because it gives me new ideas, particularly for meatless meals, which often stump me.

Inventory.....Before meal planning I take inventory of my freezer. I try to stock up on meat when I see good sales, or buy meat that has been marked down. I write down a list of all the things I have in my freezer and this is the basis for my meat I use the next month. This way I don't have to run out to buy any meat for a specific recipe. (So the meat I buy in January I won't use until February or possibly March.) Typically I try to have 1 or 2 meatless meals a week for health of our bodies and wallets.

Search for recipes....Once I complete my inventory I dive into cookbooks or search online to find recipes for the meat I have as well as meatless options. I usually make a list of about 20-24 main dishes for the month, this may be more or less depending on your family size and how many times you eat out in a week. We have a family who loves leftovers so this isn't an issue. If you can't stand leftovers, plan more meals and freeze the leftovers for future meals, or make smaller portions. Make sure you know if things freeze well or not, there are some great lists out there of things that freeze well and things that don't.

Special Notes....Once I have my 20-24 meals I note on the left side of the number if it is a crockpot recipe, fast recipe or meatless. When I'm looking at a recipe and I notice there is something I don't usually have I make note of that on the right side so that I can add it to my finished menu. There is nothing worse when you are half way through a recipe and you don't have an ingredient.

Fill in the Date....Next I write down all the dates of the month with spaces in between the weeks. If I know we have a commitment or plans I write that in first, so that I know I'll have to have a fast meal that night, extra for company, etc. etc. I look at my meal ideas and try to get a balance for the week. One red meat, chicken and a few meatless options. This gives us a little diversity and variety, two things I love.

Now it's your turn....So that's my method. There are plenty more out there, it just works for me. It's funny because I usually think of schedules as a constricting thing but it really takes the stress out of what to make for dinner. Before I would plan by what I felt like having and I always felt rushed to get dinner on the table. Now it takes that stress away and by posting my week's menu to this blog helps remind me of the game plan for the week. Happy Meal Planning!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Grocery Cart Round Up

Another week on budget, OH YEAH ($50 grocery/$10 household). I still have to buy one more soy milk for the week. I know it may seem silly but often Dillons has it marked down on Friday, so I thought I'd try my luck then. I'm holding out hope that they'll have two Silk Soy Milks marked down so I can use a coupon for them. That would be the ultimate deal. Head on over to Grocery Cart Challenge to see how others did this week.
Here's what my $43.30 bought this week.

Gallon Skim Milk 2.99 (It was cheaper at Aldi this week, bummer.)
(2) Soy Milk 2.49 each
Campbell's Soup-free with coupon
(2) Cranberry Jello-.25 each
Brown Sugar 1.00
Cucumbers 1.58
Pork Chops-4.42
Mini Oreos-1.00 (Saving for Kansas Day next week)
Plain Yogurt .69

1/2 Gallon Milk 1.69
Ketchup 1.15
Honey 3.79
Bananas 1.63
Corn Tortillas 1.19
Frozen Corn .95
Iceburg Lettuce .99
Hamburger Buns .85
Flour Tortillas .99
Romaine Lettuce 1.99

Walgreens-use gift card, paid nothing out of pocket
2 jars Skippy Peanut Butter (3.00)
2 pkgs Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts (1.00)

Household items $8.00

Diapers 7.00 (I was a little bummed that my cellfire coupon for the diapers didn't work. It was still a good price, plus I can get a $1.00 back from Caregiver's marketplace, once I buy one more package.)
3 pkgs Cottonelle 1.00 (use two .50 coupons)


Dawn (.50, nothing OOP)

Monday, January 19, 2009

A week at a glance

Whew...we're home and it's so nice to be back as a family again. It feels nice to be able to clean up my own kitchen for a change, is that weird or what?!?! So we're headed for yet another week and here's what we will be cooking in our kitchen.

Monday-Healthy Burritos (lentils and Rice) w/ avocado, tomatoes, & corn

Tuesday- Company's a coming! Grilled Beef Skewers on pita w/ Tzatziki, sauce, Greek salad & pilaf. Dessert: Baked apples w/a little crisp on the top.

Wednesday- Italian Tomato Soup w/tortellini, salad, & peas

Thursday-Left Overs

Friday- Company again! Pork Chops, Mashed Potatoes, Glazed Carrots & Rolls. I have no idea what we'll have for dessert. Any healthy but yummy ideas?

Saturday- Muffins and Eggs for Breakfast, Sandwiches for lunch and Tostadas, Rice & Salad for dinner

Sunday- Hamburgers, Sweet potato fries, fruit. Probably popcorn for dinner.

I've got a few goals for this week as well.
1. Finish Calvin's scrapbook. I finally got his birthday pictures so I'm ready to finish the last two pages. Yippee!

2. Organize the back room. It's a mess. It's been cold back there and so we just open the door and throw stuff in. It's time to get it in order again.

3. Spend some time outside. It looks like we're in for some beautiful weather and I hope we can take advantage of it to the fullest this week.

4. Tackle my growing pile of things that need to be mended, hemmed, etc.

5. Finish my resume...more on that later.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Found the Culprit

I finally figured out what makes Calvin break out into hives....pineapple. We had pizza tonight with pineapple on it and once again the poor thing broke out. What a bummer, fresh pineapple is one of my favorite fruits.

I am counting down the hours till Marvin is back in KS. It's been a long week, Calvin has had a blast, but has also tested my patience to the fullest. (I used to think I was a patient person, but Calvin has shown me I need to grow considerably in this area.) I guess we are finishing the week as we started the week, tantrum central. Today he insisted on continuing to find things he should not be playing with....ahhhh!!! He has suddenly become super interested in outlets and "plugging" things in. Today he found a radio and tried to "plug" it into the vent. This new fascination scares me a lot. Our house is safer because I know our outlets are covered but since we aren't at home, I feel like can't take my eye off of him.

He now has 7 teeth, another one popped through this week, but I'm wondering if he is cutting his molars too, poor thing has been working on this 7th tooth for a while. Recently he has started fighting me when I brush his teeth, but I think it's because his gums are so tender. Tonight I had the bright idea to brush them with a wash cloth using my finger. Ouch, yep his chompers came right down on my finger, the teeth he has certainly work well.

It's been a fun week, but I'm ready to head home and to be back together as a family. I feel so lucky to have such a great husband and am looking forward to some family time on Sunday. Enjoy the weekend and stay warm, I'll post more on Monday.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Nostalgic Week

Well I don't have anything to post for my Monday menu plan, because this week the menu isn't up to me...what a great break! We're visiting my parents this week and Calvin is loving being around grandpa & grandma. He loves being the center of attention and if he isn't getting attention he is throwing some lovely tantrums. My patience today has been very thin, as he has started hitting me as part of his tantrums, and being away from home we don't have our nice little time out spot that had worked so great. I can tell being away from his daddy has certainly brought part of this on, so we'll see how the rest of the week turns out. I am very thankful he is sleeping right now because I really needed a break. Naps are such a blessing, sorry to all you moms out there who have some kiddos who are out of that phase of life. I don't know what I would do without them right now.

This week is filling up with lots of things and people to see. I have enjoyed getting to take Calvin to do a few things that I did growing up. The first stop was here....

It's a great little zoo and it's free. It won't take you too long to walk through it, but it was perfect for us. Calvin loved watching the vultures and prairie dogs. They were both very active and Calvin was busy pointing at them moving. Hopefully the weather will hold up this week and let us go one more time.

This morning we headed to story time...
I was bummed they didn't still have the coolest chairs in the world (they were round and hard and spun perfectly). But they really have a great play area set up for toddlers. Calvin loved it, if it gets colder we'll have to go back.

So that's our week so far. We're looking forward to seeing some friends later on in the week, but most of all we are looking forward to Marvin returning. Saturday can't get here soon enough.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Art of Packing and traveling with a little one

We've done this way too many times this year, that we have about perfected our skills, well not exactly but we're getting better. Most of the time we pack way too much stuff, but I think we're doing better. So while I'm waiting on the laundry and Calvin is napping I thought I'd share a few of the things I have learned.
1. I discovered it is best to lay everything out before you pack it, so you know exactly how much stuff you are packing. In the photo I have an outfit for the day and pj's at night below it. We'll be gone 9 days, so I only packed for 4, I'm planning on doing laundry on the 3rd day and again on the 6th day. If you're planning on washing laundry in a sink, you'll need to do it every night in order for it to dry. (Things dry better in the winter than the summer indoors, private balconies are a great place to hang laundry during the summer granted the hotel your staying at has them and suitcase racks make great drying racks.)
2. I always bring laundry soap, you just never know and Calvin has very sensitive skin. I have to use a detergent free of a lot of stuff or he will break out. I also always bring a towel and wash cloth for this very reason.
3. Diapers. Always take enough to last a couple of days, even if you're planning on buying some when you get there. I know it may sound silly but it's better safe than sorry. We had to go to Greece and we were only going to stay one night and then all of a sudden we thought we'd have to stay another night. I was literally panicking because I didn't think I would have enough diapers and unless you want to pay high cost of diapers in vacation spots or airports, be prepared. I also learned that bringing a unopened pack saves on space. The manufactures have sealed it tightly and there is no way you will ever get all those loose diapers packed as tightly.
4. Monitor. If you aren't sure of your room arrangements, throw in your baby monitor. I try to bring it when we go to Marvin's parents and my parents because we can't hear when Calvin wakes up at either place.
5. Go Light on Toys, but enough to be entertained. This trip I decided to only take a large glad bag worth of toys. My parents have a few toys, but to be honest he loves to play with Tupperware more than anything. You can find lots of 'toys' wherever your going you just have to look around. Make sure you pack quality toys that can do a variety of things. For this trip I packed a few blocks, his farm animals and tractors, a car, his little phone thing he can pull around, and a few books. I'm going to throw some bubbles in our diaper bag as well as his new favorite marker. If you are flying the best advice I have for you is to be organized. I discovered if I had a bag full of toys it was hard to rummage through them in the tight corners of an airline seat to find what I wanted. I found that if I put different things to do in different small baggies in a larger Ziploc it was easier to pull out a new activity when boredom set in. Before you take off grab the entertainment bag out and put in the seat pocket in from of you.
6. Bring Car toys. I know I just said go light on toys. But here is why I think it is good to bring car toys. They only get played with in the car. So that you don't have to worry about dragging everything in and back out to the car. Choose things that keep your child's attention. Calvin loves a lift-a-flap book and a little music thing my parents got him. I also have an old wipes container that is filled with all sorts of goodies that can be put in and taken out, one of his favorite games. I also keep a thing of finger puppets in the car, these are small and provide lots of entertainment. When all else fails break out the DVD player. Yes I never thought I'd be one of those parents (sorry if I judged you), but it is beautiful. Granted Calvin probably watches maybe one show a week, but he loves Baby Einstein and it captures his attention when everything else doesn't work.
7. Bring a first aid kit fully loaded. Tylenol, ibuprofen, saline, nose aspirator, clippers, thermometer & Vick's. Those are our staples and must haves when traveling. It's been nice not to have to figure out where the closest drug store is because we always have what we need.
8. Flexibility. As hard as I try to keep Calvin's routines the same when we travel, I know he will always be off, and not sleep as well. I make sure to leave extra room for cuddling before nap time and bedtime, because we all have to adjust to sleeping in a new environment.
9. Pack the night before, I think everybody does this, right? Maybe that's just us, but there are always a few things we need in the morning like a toothbrush, brush, etc. I discovered that if I just make a list on a post-it note of the things that still need to be packed, they make it in the suitcase. Of course you need to stick the note on the suitcase or bathroom mirror to make sure you remember. Since we travel a lot we just keep travel toothbrushes ready to go, so no worries about forgetting them.
So that's what we have discovered. Happy Trails..............

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

My newest favorite thing

This little beauty was in my stocking this year. My mother-in-law is awesome, everytime I use it I can't believe how much time this tiny little thing has saved me. So if you ever find yourself at a pampered chef party, and don't know what to's your solution. Speaking of pampered chef, one of these days I'll finally own one of these....sigh maybe this summer.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Grocery Cart Roundup for the week

I stumbled on this blog a few months ago and love it. It's called Grocery Cart Challenge and every week there is a picture of her groceries, which inspired me to take picture of my groceries. I decided to link my blog up this week. (Sherry you should totally check it out as she lives in your neck of the woods.)

My total this week at Dillons, Aldi and Walgreens was.....$37.03 (I have to pick up a few more things but they are little so I think we'll come out around $40, $10 under budget, sweet.)

So what does $37.03 buy you?

Dozen Eggs (1.62, I was bummed I forgot them at Aldi, I think they are 1.29 there)
2 1/2 gallons Soy Milk (2.49 ea.)
Applesauce (1.29 used a .60 store coupon)
Bac N Buds (2.99, Marvin's salad staple)
Kosher Salt (1.69)
Grape Jelly (1.79)
Gallon Skim Milk (2.99)
4 lb bag grapefruit (3.00)
3.18 lb. bananas (.13 I had a store coupon for $2.00 off fruit if you bought more than 4.00)
Sunflower Seeds (1.75)
Peanuts (1.44 used .75 cellfire coupon)

Chocolate Chips (1.49)
Sweet potatoes (1.69)
Chicken Bouillon Cubes (1.09)
Iceburg Lettuce (.99)
Frozen OJ (1.25)
Crushed Pineapple (.89)
Whole Grain White Bread (1.29)

4 Cans Progresso Soup (4.00, used two .50/wyb 2 coupons, but didn't pay anything out of pocket because I used my gift card. So in our house if it money doesn't exchange hands it's free!)

I had some household stuff in the mix of this at Dillons so if my totals are off it's due to the tax. We keep household items and food separated in our budget. But I did the P & G deals, combined with coupons and esaver coupons and got some free and nearly free items along with a great deal on diapers. We are set on shampoo, soap, toothpaste, & diapers for a while. I spent $17.27 for household this week, but I'm stocked for a while so that area should be dramatically less in the coming weeks if not months.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Ready, set, cozy on up

I finally finished my quilt, only 4 years after I started it. Oh well I'm looking forward to snuggling up in this. You can tell it was started shortly after I finished my time at K-State, I still love it to this day. It was fun to be reminded of how excited I was when I would find the perfect purple fabric for it. It took me months to find all the fabric.

I also did something else I have been wanting to try for a while. Last week I made yogurt in the crockpot. It was SO easy and much cheaper. I have enjoyed it every morning this week. Calvin loved it too. I'm starting to add more dairy to his diet, before he was a little bloated, gassy, and also had some nasty diapers. Hopefully we will be able to move into cow's milk soon.

Go here to find the recipe for the yogurt, you won't be sorry:

Weekly Meal Plan & Goals

Monday: Cranberry Stew in crockpot, cornbread, green beans

Tuesday: Simple Risotto with diced sweet potatoes, & salad

Wednesday: Baked Potatoes with broccoli & cheese sauce, loaded salads (chicken, eggs, etc.)

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday, Saturday, Sunday visiting my parents

It's a light week as far as cooking for meals but I have several projects this week to get ready for next week. We'll be gone, Marvin's heading to KY to take a class and I'll spend the week with my parents. Here's what I would like to get done before we leave.
  • Homemade granola bars
  • Pumpkin Bread
  • Muffins for breakfast and snacks next week
  • Mini pizzas for lunch next week
  • I also need to finish my Grandma's Christmas present. I'm taking all the cards she & my grandparents received for her 65th wedding anniversary and making a scrapbook for her.

I think that is totally attainable, I'm working on setting practical goals. FYI I actually got up early today, worked out and showered before Marvin left for work! I like this new routine, let's hope it sticks.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Bring it On

Well 2009 is here and I have a few goals for this coming year, the problem is actually doing them. So I'm posting these to help me be accountable to achieve them.

1. Getting in shape and shedding some pounds. I know it sounds cliche but It's been something I've been working on for the past couple months. I wasn't so great at trying to loose the baby weight at first, we were stuck in Turkey and I just didn't have the motivation and it took a long time to heal, so enough with the excuses, it' a year later and it's time to get on top of this.

On an encouraging note. I was very pleased to see that since Thanksgiving I had lost 4 more lbs. I hadn't even been too diligent with exercising. I'm pretty sure I've gained at least a pound over the holidays. I'm about to throw away all the rest of my candy so it's time to get serious. (Yes I will really throw it away, it's wasteful either way you look at it.)

My game plan
So my goal is to work out 6 days out of the week (5 at the bare minimum). I just ordered new Billy Bands. I absolutely love my TaeBo workouts using Billy Bands, unfortunately one snapped so I have the DVDs but they aren't too great without the bands. I am so excited about these as it's been a while since I last worked out with them. Plus they are easy to travel with. Marvin about killed me when he opened the suitcase and saw my weights nicely packed, we were supposed to be packing light. So until they arrive I'll keep doing the one Firm DVD I have an occassionally do my Paula Abdul.

I am hoping to drag myself out of bed early this year. I am NOT a morning person at all, in fact I'm a night owl, but I hope to have worked out and showered by the time Marvin leaves for work.

This spring I hope to take Calvin jogging in the mornings, I hope to jog to Marvin's work to pick up the car a few mornings a week, it'll be a nice 2 mile jog. My mother-in-law picked up a jogging stroller and I hope we can get some use out of it this spring. I used to love jogging. There is just something about feeling the air on your face and your lungs burning. I might even be inspired to run a 5 K race this spring. Whoa that may be a little too ambitious. Before the jogging begins I think I better get some new shoes, mine are over 3 years old. But that will have to wait a few months.

I have been trying to eat more veggies. Specifically I am trying to have a vegetarian lunch everyday. I'll try my best to revamp salads and to be creative in my choices. I've tired to choose healthier options when menu planning. I seriously have had to seek out new ways of cooking. For the most part everything we've tried has been great, who says eating healthy doesn't have to be delicious. I love checking out new cookbooks from the library to inspire me to keep up the new eating habits.

Also I am saying goodbye to ultra sweets. Now there is a time and place for sweets, but I love sugar. I'm trying to cut back and choose naturally sweet alternatives, of course in moderation. I heard someone say that they only have something sweet on the weekends. I think that is brilliant and I'll give it a go. Plus I LOVE fruit! I mean I love it!

Goal #2 Spend better time in the Word and journal
This past year I didn't make it through the Bible. I am disappointed in myself and lack of clearing time for the most important thing. Becoming a mom has been hard in this area and I am really trying to give God that precious time he deserves. I love reading through the Bible every year. I don't have one of those fancy schedules I just start at the beginning and read front to back. I've realized by doing this how much better, easier, and real the passages become. They are more familiar because you just read about it. Oh how I miss it. Now these years with little ones I realize I might not make it through the whole thing, but I'll allow God to decide how far I get each year. I also want to start journaling again. I love it when I do it, it's just doing it that I fail at most of the time.

Goal #3 Use the resources God give us to the fullest
I am trying to set our grocery budget at $50/week this year. Well at least while we are in the states. I'm excited for this challenge, but it's only $10 less that we usually spend so it shouldn't be too difficult.

So there they are. I'm excited for 2009 how about you?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Goodbye 2008.....Hello 2009

Click to play 2008

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Make a Smilebox scrapbook

I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on the past year and look ahead to 2009. To be honest 2008 was a tough year for us. It was filled with so many unexpected surprises and plenty of heartbreak. The Lord led us through some really shakey times but thankful we were standing on His rock through it all. Compared to other friends, this year was a piece of cake, but I've learned over the years that grieving is a healthy thing to do, even it is as simple as clothing (yes I did this).

It seems like February has been a tough month for us for the last 3 years. This past year was no different. After waiting for what seemed an eternity for our letters of invitations, we thought we would return back home within a week. We were crushed when we were denied visas. Through all this God really gave me the passage of Abraham and Issac as well as a song that has been an amazing encouragement. It is called Holy is the Lord by Andrew Peterson. It describes the journey of Abraham obeying God and taking his beloved son to the alter to sacrifice him. The song describes Abraham's anguish as he is asked to give up the son he waited so long for, I can't imagine the pain of that request, but the beautiful thing is that Abraham trusted that God would provide a lamb instead. The part of the song that touches my so deeply is the following:

So take me to the mountain.

I will follow where you lead.

There I'll lay the body of the boy you gave to me.

And even though you take him still I ever will obey,

But maker of this mountain please make another way.

Beautiful PAINFUL Obedience! This literally was my plea, as we were heartbroken. We didn't understand why God would place a people so deeply on our hearts and then take it away. He's the God who parts seas, heals the sick and we were left with the reality of returning to America. We grieved the loss of a team that is like a family to us, and friends, the loss of opportunities to be light to them, and the reality of their eternal destiny. I was brought to a point of having to trust the Lord for everything. I don't understand why he brought us home so early, but it as hard as it has been it's been a blessing to be a voice for a people very forgotten. We hope to return this year and are eagerly awaiting that day as our hearts are already there. In order to return there are a few hoops we must go through and one deadline looms over our heads once again. We'll continue to trust in his perfect timing and hope we make this next deadline. It's Monday so pray that we meet the requirement. Marvin's been diligent in trying to achieve this but we ultimately know it's not in our hands. Thank you for all of you who have interceding for this request.

The rest of our year was spend adjusting to America. Marvin found a job close to our house, which makes it possible to have one vehicle, Marvin rides his bike to work. There have been so many ways the Lord has literally provided for our basic needs this year. We literally started from scratch, we came home with 3 suitcases and most of that was Calvin's baby gear. We continue to be awed at how he loves us by simple things...even if it is free soap when we are almost out.

Marvin is working landscaping which has left him tired and sometimes frustrated. He hasn't been able to use his talents as he thought he would, but he is doing a great job providing for our family. I love staying at home with Calvin, it's been so fun to watch him grow up. He has changed from this little baby who depended on our every need to this little boy who wants to do everything himself, which includes feeding himself. We has quite the mess this morning when I gave him yogurt.

We have been thankful for the close proximity to family. We've been able to be at graduations, weddings, holidays that we didn't expect to be at so that has been a huge blessing in this crazy year of ours.

As I look forward to 2009 I literally don't know what it has in store for us, but I know one I know one thing: I'll be keeping my eyes focused on the Lord. Happy New Year to all my fellow bloggers, friends & blog snoopers. I'm glad you stumbled on my site. May the Lord grow your faith this coming year.