Thursday, May 19, 2016

Counting Down to Swaziland

We are 3 weeks and 2 days from our departure for Swaziland!!  We are taking a team of 21 people on this 10th anniversary trip.  Almost half of those people are between the ages of 13-19.  I love to see God raising up another generation of people who are passionate about this little country that has captured our family's heart.  I really never could have dreamed this life up on my own,

Our home office and the back of my truck are filling up with supplies to deliver.  I am reminded of the generosity, sacrifice, and faithfulness of those that accompany us on this journey.

Holly Port has been donating hundreds of dollars of soap and other homemade bath products every year for the last 10 years through her business Lotion Bar Cafe.  Look at this beautiful box of soaps that we get to deliver, along with lip balms and lotion bars.  Holly's products are the only thing I use and love that we get to share those in Swaziland.

My friends, Kathleen and Becky, have been making hats for the babies and children who are in the orphanage and abandoned baby home that we will deliver.  It is winter in Swaziland and neither of these places have central heat.  It can get in the 30s at night.  Every piece of winter clothing we take makes such a difference.  These little hats have been made with so much love and care.   

 Mountain Springs Church, where Rick is on staff, has a collection bin that we expect to get lots of donations in over the next couple of weeks.

We have a small group of faithful donors that give to Beyond Survival on a monthly basis throughout the year.  Those donations enable us to purchase much need supplies to take on this trip and give us the funds to meet needs that God brings to our attention while we are there.  

As a result of this 10th anniversary trip, Beyond Survival will have had the privilege of taking over 100 individuals to Swaziland over the last 10 years.  11 of this year's team members are returning, several of which have been 3 or more times!!!

This whole thing is so much bigger than us.  God has brought together an army of people to invest in this ministry and the many ministries that we work with on the ground.  It is just so encouraging to look back and so exciting to look forward to the years to come.  

Lauren and Abby are returning to Swaziland for a second time.  They both felt like God was calling them on this trip.  Rick and I firmly believe that when our kids hear from God, we want to do everything in our power to support and encourage their obedience to Him.  We believe that when God calls, He will provide.  We are seeing that happen.  So many of you have invested in this opportunity for them to go.  Words cannot even express our deep gratitude for your belief in them and this ministry.  At this point, they have 85% of their funding raised.  As the June 11 date approaches, we are expectantly waiting on God to fulfill this need and provide 100% of their funding.  We are humbled and amazed to continually see his Provision in our personal lives and in the ministry of Beyond Survival.  God is building Lauren's and Abby's faith as they once again see Him as their Provider and see His people as vessels of His Provision.  If you would like to invest in their trip, you can follow this link.  Click on "Choose Designation" and choose "Swaziland Trip - Clapp Family."   Any donation you make is tax deductible and will help Lauren and Abby reach their goal.

 As we get closer to the trip, I will share prayer requests with you.  We need prayer support through this whole process.  There is so much going on in the spiritual realm as it relates to the work we are doing in Swaziland.  Our team would covet your prayers during this time.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Growing Up

Laila came home from school recently with this:

 She got her first proposal.  We aren't sure what was being proposed, but Laila did confirm with her proposer that friendship was the only option right now.  Who knew this would happen so soon! 

We hit a big milestone in our family.  7 years with Isaiah and Laila.  We celebrate our Gotcha Day as the day that we arrived back in the U.S. and were finally one big family!  
This is that day.  Can you believe how little they all look.  
That day will be forever etched in my memory.

We made plans to go out to Cracker Barrel for breakfast for our Gotcha Day celebration,
 and then this happened:

 So, we had breakfast together at home with plans for a "snow" check on our celebration.

I saw this at the store and thought it would be perfect in our home.  

I got to have lunch at school with my littles last week.  I realized I don't do those kinds of things like I once did and want to make a point of doing them more often.  My little kids will miss out if I don't purposefully add these kinds of things into our days.  

Can you see it?  Do you notice the difference.  After less than 2 months on his growth hormone therapy, Isaiah has already grown 1 1/2 inches.  He was pretty excited about this.  In the last 2 years, he has only grown a total of 2 inches, so this is a big deal!

This orchid was given to us with only one bloom on it by our realtor after we moved in. I have actually kept it alive and it now has 8 blooms.  I feel like it kind of represents how we have "bloomed" as a family in this house.  

We did our Cracker Barrel "Gotcha Day" Breakfast a week later

The next few pics represent the thing I love the most about our family, having a sense of humor.
I was paying for our meal at the cash register.  They were having trouble with their system so it was taking longer than it should.  I started hearing Rick and the kids laughing really hard.  When I was done, this is what they showed me.
They had found these ink pens with little hands on them.  They proceeded to pose for pics with them. I laugh so hard every time I see them.

"Praying Sam"

I don't even know what to title this, but it cracks me up every time

"The Thinker"

"Yo Dawg"

"Want a piece of the title?"

That night was Cody's prom.  He went with his friend Jaden along with a whole group of 11 friends

Don't they look amazing!
They are all growing up, from Laila's "proposal, to actual inches of growth in Isaiah, to 7 years as a forever family, to Cody's first prom.  The Clapp Fam is ever changing.  Every day offers some new adventure for us to encounter!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That

Easter ended and our lives continued on.  
Laila had Colonial Day at school.  
She was not thrilled about this costume, but she said she had a fun time.

My mom had shoulder surgery the week prior to Easter, so I headed to KY to visit my parents and help her out a little bit.
I got stuck in Chicago for 7 hours that day because of plane delays.  
I had to eat, so I chose this:

 Chicago Mix Popcorn

 After a 16 hour day of travel, it was all better with some sweet tea!

While in KY, I got to have lunch with "the moms"

 Rick's mom

 My mom

 I was excited to see that this was back in the grocery stores, even though I didn't have any. 
 Maybe CO will get some again!

I helped my mom clean out some closets and dressers.  
We had a good load of stuff to donate

 I haven't been to KY in the spring in 5 years.  I had forgotten how pretty it is.

My Parents' house

 So green.  The view from their back porch

 The view from the front of their house
 My parents

Abby had a piece of artwork that was submitted by her art teacher to a regional art show

She won first place in her genre

Her work will be on tour throughout the state at various art shows

So proud of her and so amazed by her talent!

I made Elderberry Syrup for the first time.  It is supposed to fight sickness and shorten the duration.  I have used it a few times already and love the results.
These are the berries after cooking

The finished product.  I love that I can add some of my essential oils for added immunity support!

I will close with some of our scenery.
We don't have spring flowers to show in CO, but we have some spectacular sunsets

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Spring Break and Easter 2016

Not to be a Debbie Downer, but spring break was kind of a bummer this year.  It began with Sam having a concussion and a snowstorm.  We had a total of 3 snowstorms over the course of the 9 days. Sam was on total rest for several days and by day 3 he was DONE with that concept.  We were both going crazy trying to keep him from doing anything. There is nothing really to share from the first few days. We just stayed home and did nothing.  

Both Rick and Lauren needed to get their passports renewed.  We had planned to do that on Tues. of spring break, but we woke up to this.
 These pictures don't begin to convey the intensity of this storm.  We thought, "Well, NOBODY in their right mind will go to the post office in this weather, so let's get it over with!"
 Once we were there, we figured we might as well wait it out.  It was our only day to do it.  We waited 2 hours and 45 minutes to get it done.  
 All the while, the storm was getting worse and worse. 
 Intersections were literally becoming parking lots.  We approached this one, and if Rick had not been able to do a u-turn and get out of it, we would have been stuck for hours because everything was at a standstill.  There were people that were stuck for 6 hours on some roads.
 We literally could not see anything when we were driving and it was impossible to tell where we were.  We used our GPS to tell us when turns were coming up.  I may or may not have said, "Jesus Take the Wheel!" a few times on the way home.
 I was seriously praying all the way home.  As we would approach an intersection, we would just hope that no one was coming because we couldn't see.  There were cars stranded all along the road.
 I have never been more relieved to pull into our driveway.  We did not leave the house again for a couple of days.  That was one of the bummers about this storm.  Rick had planned to take the kids skiing/snowboarding that week, but had to cancel because there was no way they could have gotten there with all the snow.  So, the one "special" activity we had planned for spring break got cancelled.
 We used our time stranded at home to do some of our Easter Traditions.  I have decided our traditions are important, and we will keep doing them even if some are gone or don't want to.  Once the kids get in middle school, I find that they may not want to participate.  I don't force it.  I would rather have an enjoyable time with those that want to than forcing kids to do it, and then they ruin the experience. I also want my younger kids to have these experiences.  (There is a whole blog post that I need to write about the adjustments I have had to mentally make in my parenting as the kids get older.  I think I should entitle it "Flexibility is your Friend."  Those who have gone to Swaziland with us will understand this title.)

 I realized this is not a good pic of the kids.  I like how you can see the snow in the background.  It was part of the experience of that day.

 Each year I try to find some unique egg decorating kits.  This year, we ended up with a city-themed one with cars and people
 and an emoji themed one

 The kids named all their creations.  It was cute.

 As always, Abby was the leader in this endeavor.  She is my crafty go-to girl

 Laila made the one on the right.  It just has "god" with an emoji next to it.  

 Sam's teenager egg with pimples
 This was my favorite that Isaiah did.  Noticed, the car hit the egg and the egg is dead with the "x" eyes. 
The kids made a fort in the living room for some added entertainment
You may not be able to tell, but there are two kids in this picture
 Once the storm cleared, it was beautiful
 Notice how some parts of the grass are barely covered.  The blizzard winds were so strong that there were 3 foot drifts in some places and barely any snow in others.  We got about a foot of snow at our house.

 Abby's Easter decorations.  Notice the cross in the K-cups
 Spring break is usually a time when we do hair as well
 Look how long it has gotten
 Getting her "Easter" hair
She was looking in the mirror at it and said, "This hair is really working for me."
 On Good Friday, we made tombs

 The finished product
 Gluten Free ones
 Rick was at work and Sam was at a friend's house.  (With 7 services at church, we don't really see Rick on Easter weekend until Sunday afternoon)  This was one of the only Easter activities that Cody got to participate in.  He had to work all weekend.
We take communion with the tombs and sparkling juice
On Easter morning, I do a Scavenger Hunt each year.  I decided to do it a little differently this year.  Since there was snow on the ground, and outdoor Easter egg hunt was going to be a challenge so, I decided to create an indoor Easter egg hunt with clues to solve.
 They each had to find 6 different colors of eggs, an egg with their name on it and an egg with a cross on it.  Then, they had to use a key to decode the name of the prize that they got for finding each egg.  It was fun and something different for our first Easter in this house.
  On the hunt
 This boy cracks me up.  He is robe kind of guy!  


Everyone was able to complete the challenge and get their prizes.  For the first time ever, I forgot to take pics of everyone sitting in front of the fireplace with their baskets on Easter morning.  UGH!
We had butter braids and orange juice for breakfast.
 At least I got a breakfast pic, minus Rick, Cody and me
 Looking through their loot
 Warning:  Many pics to follow.  I just couldn't narrow it down. 


 The babies




 Boys (minus Cody) :(
 The Girls
 The Crew (minus Cody) :(
 The Fam (minus Cody) :(
 Can you tell that I didn't like that we were missing Cody?  He works at Subway and had to open for them that day. It was our first Easter morning/church service without him.  I didn't like that!  I also forgot to take a pic of our Easter Dinner.  Oh, well.
 Spring break ended with some snow fort building 
 It was actually nice out once the storms cleared and Sam was feeling much better by the end of the week.
So, I would some up Spring Break 2016 with two words:  SNOW and EASTER