Friday, December 24, 2010

The highlight of my evening was the candlelight dinner that we had tonight . . . just the six of us.  We sang Silent Night and then prayed, and then the kids were their normal silly loud selves while we ate, despite my efforts to make it dark in hopes that the darkness would make them want to whisper at the table. 

It was a sweet dinner.  We each shared our favorite thing about Christmas, and the answer couldn't be presents, it had to be an experience or event. At his turn, Isaiah said (in true pastor's kid form), "I'm blessed that baby Jesus was born . . . . and that Santa is coming."  Ha!

My children are embracing what Christmas is really about, but there's no shielding a child from the commercialism, glitter, and Santa.  It's ok. The tree and Santa and presents and stockings and treats can stay. In this home, Jesus is the reason for everything . . . not just the season. 

Joy to the world, the LORD has come. Let earth receive her KING. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My oven

I spent most of the day in the kitchen mixing and baking sugar, butter, and other non-healthy ingredients. (This is Amy, by the way. Although, I didn't think most of you imagined Howie baking all day).

One of the reasons I love this season is because I love to share the things that come out of my kitchen. Currently, I have 3 batches of peppermint marshmallows, 2 chocolate pecan pies, and a dozen snowflake sugar cookies on my counter.

All this festive baking got me thinking about what next Christmas will look like for me, living in Kenya.  This might be my last Christmas in quite a while to make my peppermint marshmallows, which have turned into a solid tradition in our family.  I can't take my KitchenAid mixer to Africa with me. Even if I could, would they have peppermint extract? Gelatin? Can I still make my pie? Truth be told, there's not currently a working oven in the home where we'll be living. And what about a tree? Presents? Lights?

Today I had to lay my ideas about Christmas, with all it's traditions and bells and whistles, before the throne of God. I trust that God will continue to bless my family, regardless of what we have or don't have.  I believe that even if I don't have an oven (trust me, this is a BIG deal for me) I can still have a merry Christmas. I can still celebrate the birth of Jesus, and maybe even with more gratitude. Maybe not having all of those conveniences and shiny things will help me to slow down a little, love my neighbor better, spend more quality time with my husband instead of just asking him to run back to the grocery store for me, and spend more time with my children.

I don't feel guilty for having a decorated home or pies in the oven, but today I just started to wonder about life without them. I feel ready to embrace this as my last "American" Christmas for a while. I'm excited to learn what an African Christmas looks like, and excited to reinforce to my children that it's not about the tree, stockings, gifts or sweets.  

It's all about the Baby.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


We just spent an amazing Thanksgiving weekend with my family in Porvenir, Baja, Mexico, where my sister and her husband run Ventana Ministries.  My parents were there too, and the 12 of us had a great weekend talking, eating, cooking, eating, walking, riding the dune buggy, and eating. We also ate.

I suppose some people might think we're crazy to love it there. It's cold, and dirty. There's poverty--right in your face. There's loud music when you don't expect it, and loud firecrackers for no good reason. But we love the town, the people, the pace, the interaction, and the ministry that is going on. And mostly, we love our family.  We've been so blessed to be related to people that we don't just tolerate. We actually like them. For me, this trip solidified my desire to be on the mission field. It gave me the fortitude to press on, continue in the direction God has pointed us, and to have faith that God always keeps all of His promises.

I was reminded of the things I'm thankful for this weekend, but they're not things.

Micah and Howie got the turkey legs. 

Mya, Isaiah, Kenya & Brock at the "kids table". 

Big kid table

Mom & Dad with the beautiful turkey (we cooked 2!)

At the park in Ensenada on Howie's 11th b-day
For more information on Doug & Carrie's incredible ministry in Porvenir, visit 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


This morning I was driving with 3 of my 4 children in the backseat. I'm sick, but I'm going to work anyway, and my oldest is sick so instead of going to school, he has to come to work with me. Ah, the life of a "single" mom. Don't know how you do it, those of you who don't have the promise of a husband coming home in a few days.

So I'm driving, consumed with myself. I'm sick, I'm tired, I'm alone, and I'm headed to work. And then there are the questions about money, insurance, money, house sale, money, moving, on and on through my brain. I give everything to the Lord again, this time verbally: "Lord, it's yours, take it all. I don't want it. I just want to serve you." There. I said it again. And I meant it. But, somewhere deep inside, I'm still thinking, God, this isn't going well. I don't see how on earth everything is going to get done, how the money is going to come in.  Mind racing . . . thoughts stirring . . . unnecessary worry . . . and then, a yell from the backseat, "MOM!!!  The mountains are moving!"

"Yes, Isaiah, the mountains are moving," I reply in monotone. But I'm distracted for long enough to stop my internal debate over whether or not we'll starve in the month of December to actually pay attention. As adults, we don't really notice that when you drive somewhere with mountains in the distance, and trees in between you and the mountains, it can look as though the mountains are sailing in the opposite direction. Of course they're not though. Mountains don't move. Everyone knows that.  I was just about to correct my silly 5-year-old when I felt God nudging me: shut up and listen to your son.  Ok, God didn't really tell me to shut up, but I'm sure that most days that would be the appropriate thing for Him to say to me.

So I listened. The mountains are moving. Isaiah was sure of it. And he was excited about it.

For a moment this morning, I had forgotten, between having a NyQuil hangover and feeling sorry for myself, that God does, indeed move mountains. In Matthew 17, Jesus' disciples were having some trouble, and wondering why they couldn't accomplish a certain task. Jesus replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." So. Little. Faith.

I serve a big God. I mean, big. But there are days when I reduce my God of the Universe to a finite, small, limited being. But he's not limited. He can part seas. Move mountains. Love unconditionally. Save  lives.  I'm humbled by God's love and provision, and ashamed of the days that I forget, even for a moment, that God is God, and I'm not.  But most of all, today I'm grateful that God used my precious son to shout to me, "The mountains are moving!!"

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Scouting trip

So Howie is off to Kitale, Kenya tomorrow, on his birthday. And I . . . well, I'm not.  I was originally going to go with him on this "scouting trip" to Kenya before we actually move there, but life with a job and 4 children just did not permit. So, I am again trusting God. And, I'm trusting my husband to provide me with the answers to the 47 questions I asked him regarding the house we'll be living in, our new ministries, surrounding stores, and if there's someone there who can dread my hair.

Going too fast?  Ok, let me back up a few months.

* Howie has been feeling a call out of youth ministry and into overseas missions.
* I second that
* We decide to "wait on the Lord", and let God know that we're available.
* God quickly took us up on our offer to follow Him "anywhere".
* Fast forward to today: no job, no insurance, little money, and waiting on the Lord's perfect timing to move our family to Kitale, Kenya to serve Him in several different capacities.

The result of this major, stressful, sleep-deprived upheaval?  Peace. Total peace. Yes, it's still stressful. We're short-selling our house. We're taking our children from the only home and school they've ever known. We're selling 80% of our personal belongings. We have to say goodbye to friends and family. Our marriage is tested everyday. Children are extra obnoxious when we're on the phone trying to negotiate bills, payments, and the last few dentist appointments. But still . . . peace.

When Jesus was getting ready to leave this earth, he reassured his disciples, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (Jn. 14:27)  So, we're not.

I'm clinging to these verses as Howie gets on the plane tomorrow. I'm putting on a brave face to pretend like I can totally handle being a single mom of 4 for the next 10 days, AND continue to get our family prepared to move. I got this. Okay, not really. But I've got peace.