Saturday, July 30, 2011

Happy 9th Birthday, Abby

July 24th was Abby's 9th bday. We had a great day together celebrating our girl. The day started with a French Toast Family Breakfast. Then Abby opened her gifts. They consisted of monkey stuff, a few pairs of earrings, Barbie stuff and some clothes. She was very happy!
Abby and her brothers and sisters
For lunch, she requested squash and pap(a staple of the Swazi diet). Can't wait to take this girl to Swaziland. She is going to LOVE IT!!
In the afternoon, the big kids played in the sprinkler
This was my favorite gift that Abby got. They are coupons from Sam. From top to bottom:
1. A no nose picking day(it grosses her out when he picks his nose.
She gets to pick a day where he can't!) My favorite one!
2. A free laundry pick up(he will help with her laundry)
3. A free massage
We had a dinner of tacos, and I made another ice cream cake: Purple cake with Blue Bell Cookie Dough Ice Cream.
Our beautiful girl
As an activity, she chose to make a monkey mosaic
I was the tile finder, consultant, and photographer
Lauren was the official tile cutter
Abby designed it and glued on the tiles
It really was a fun activity for us to do together
The monkey before the grout
Grouting it
Covered in Grout
Cleaning the grout off
The finished product
This will be a great addition to her new monkey bedding and monkey accessories she got for her bday.

I was so surprised when you were born to see that I had another baby girl. You have added so much life to this family. Your sense of humor and laugh make me smile. You are a great organizer and coach. I love how you gather the little ones and lead them in activities. I love how caring and compassionate you are. I love how you have embraced our family's calling to Swaziland and taken personal responsibility in that. Your heart for the Swazi people is so evident in your actions. Wow, you are 9 years old and entering 3rd grade. How did that happen? From that peanut baby girl to a young lady you have blessed my life and our family.
Love ya, monkey!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Celebration of What God Has Done!

If you are going to be in town this weekend, I want to invite you to come to Vanguard Church. Rick will be speaking and sharing about the almost 5-yr ministry of Beyond Survival. It will be a chance to look back at all that God has done through this ministry, in our relationships with the Swazi people, and in our own hearts.

As a sneek peak, let me just tell you that over the last 5 years, 75 people have journeyed with us on mission trips to Swaziland. 18 of those people have returned on subsequent trips. That is so cool to me. There are 75 people who have had the privilege to meet our friends in Swaziland and be forever changed by that opportunity.

We don't know what God has in store for the future of this ministry. We are completing the process of making it into a non-profit(we are almost finished!!). We are seeking God in the next steps. Will you join us in prayer as we desire to continue to fulfill this calling He has placed on our family and on others in our community.

You don't have to be in Colorado Springs to be a part of Beyond Survival. Very soon, I will share with you how you can partner with us no matter where you are.

There will be 3 services this weekend: Saturday, July 30 - 5:45 PM and Sunday, July 31 - 9:00 AM & 11:00 AM. I will also be selling purses, aprons, table runners, t-shirts, and souvenirs from the Swazi Market. There are some new purse designs and really beautiful new fabrics. You don't want to miss it!!

If you have any questions about this weekend or about Beyond Survival, email me at

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Family Hiking, Take 2

I don't know if you remember, but a few weeks ago, we decided to live like Coloradans(something we don't do very often) and go for a family hike. It didn't turn out so well. We ended up broken down on the side of the interstate in our last ride of the torture tube.

I am not really a hikey, campy sort of girl. I am a beach girl. I saw the movie "Soul Surfer" yesterday and cried through the whole thing. Not just because it was emotional, but because I so desperately want to live near a beach. I would go to the beach EVERY DAY if we lived near one and could totally be one of those surfin' beach families with sand in my showers and sunkissed skin all year long. We would all have 10 swimsuits and 5 towels each and a system for going to the beach that never failed. Cody would get all the gear ready. Lauren would help me get the picnics put together, Abby would get Isaiah and Laila ready, and Sam would be in charge of towels and sunscreen. It would be so cool. If you can't tell, I have thought about this a lot.

Back to reality. I live in CO. Many people are very envious of that, but I must say, the mountains just don't do it for me. I have lived here for 11 years on Aug. 1 and it is time for me to embrace some of what this state has to offer. Don't you go thinkin' that I am going camping any time soon. Baby steps, people, baby steps. I am convinced that camping should be an activity our kids do with their dad, you know, their special thing.

So, once again we set out for a family hike. We decided to go to Castlewood Canyon State Park. We had been to a wedding there a few years ago and remembered thinking it would be cool to check it out again later. Off we went, snacks and water bottles prepared, proper clothing and shoes worn(we even all had 2 socks on!!). We arrived in the parking lot and proceeded to get on our sunscreen. I swear we had to look and sound like the Griswalds. It was hilarious really, and at this stage in the game I can laugh at things that would have had me in tears a couple of years ago.

We aren't very prepared for hiking. Only Lauren had a Camelbak to carry her water in. That left the rest of us to carry water bottles and snacks which kind of dampens the climbing on rocks experience. Note to self: If we are going to do this regularly, we need to buy Camelbaks.
Of course, this time I forgot my camera. We remembered halfway through that Rick could take a pic with his phone, but they didn't turn out that great.

During the hike we encountered a creek bed. We took off our shoes to wade around a bit in the cool water. It was a welcomed break in the midst of the heat. We found crawfish, which slightly creeped me out, but I held it together for the kids. I even managed to not freak out when we had to put our sandy feet back in our socks. I call that progress!
Isaiah was so excited to go "sploring."
I was getting into this hiking thing. I was thinking about the Biggest Loser. I was ready to push myself to the brink of exhaustion to accomplish something I never had before. I was going to come out on the other side of this hike a new woman, ready to meet new challenges. Next week would be the Incline and the week after that, Pikes Peak!! Then, it happened. Abby had to go to the bathroom. She would. not. go. outside. She was whining and crying. We discovered we were only 1/3 of the way through the trail and it would be easier to go back the way we came than to try to finish. 4 of our six chickens were getting restless and weary so we had to turn around. So much for my plans to conquer all the Peaks of Colorado.
Our 6 little chickens
I actually enjoyed the hike. I told Rick we should come back to do it all again without children. I couldn't believe the words that were coming out of my mouth. This state park was nice and worth every bit of the $7 admission fee for the clean bathrooms with real toilets. I want to do it again and finish it. I am making it sound like it was a grueling hike. It really wasn't, but it was a hike which is impressive for me. Who knows? Maybe I will start to embrace this Colorado thing. It is not the beach, but it will have to do for now.

After we loaded up, we found a playground for the kids to play on, then a treat of ice cream at Chick-fil-a. A little tip for you: Don't go to the Chick-fil-a in Castle Rock on a Saturday around lunch time. It was crazy busy.

The day was good. The first of many more adventures!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Eat Mor Chikin

On Friday, Rick and I took Laila out for her bday date. She chose Chick-fil-a. On the way there, she was so quiet and reserved. She even said once, "I want my budders(brothers) and sissers(sisters) to go. At one point she said she didn't want to go. I was thinking, "Chick, you are going to be lost when they all leave home and you are left with us old fogeys."

I distracted her by asking what she wanted to drink with her meal. She proudly exclaimed, "Dr. Pepper."

When we arrived, Rick was waiting to walk us in. She was VERY excited to see him and gave him her usual greeting (while squooshing his face), "I have poopy pants." I am not sure how that one started, but it is a thing the two of them do.

I went to order the food and left them at the table to talk. We don't get to see him very often during the day, so it is a treat!! She loosened up really quick and realized that being alone with Mommy and Daddy wasn't so bad after all.
At one point, she lifted her hands in the air and said, "I love this place!" It was so cute.
She wanted to share her fries with her Daddy. We asked if she wanted to trade her book in for ice cream. Her response, "No, Fank(thank) you."

I asked her lots of questions. Here are some of her responses:
Favorite color: Blue
Favorite food: Pizza
Favorite movie: Tangled(that was a no-brainer)
Favorite toy: Princess Tianna doll

I so love these times that we have one-on-one with the kids. It really brings their personalities out in a different way when they don't have their siblings around.

After lunch, she and I did a little shopping. It was sweet to hang out with her!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sadness In My Heart

My heart is grieving today over the life a little boy that I never met, but feel like I knew.

This little guy was in Swaziland at Thulwane carepoint.

Even though we never met, I have met, held, and played with many children just like him.

This could be any of their stories.

While it makes me furious that this evil could happen to an innocent child, it fuels the fire in me to keep working, keep raising awareness, keep pushing into the calling that God has placed on our family in Swaziland.

There is so much work to be done and it is our hope that Beyond Survival can be a conduit for that work.

I am in tears as I type this.

I have hope in the fact that this little guy knew love.

He experienced it at the carepoint over and over again.

I have hope in the fact that he heard about Jesus.

He was taught about him over and over again.

I have hope in the fact that he is in the arms of Jesus, safe and sound, never to be hurt again.

I pray for his family that loved him and now mourns this loss.

Here are the blog posts of this story from the people on the ground. They were there. They have experienced it first hand. Read this story and let it pierce your heart.

Allow God to use it to stir in you any calling He has placed on your life to help children like these.

It may not be in Swaziland. I am not naive enough to think that this only happens there. It is happening all over the world.

If God does stir in you a heart to make a difference, join us as we fight for these children.

We will fight for a better life for them. We will fight to take them Beyond Survival.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Clapp News

Abby has started a newspaper of family news. Below you will see the first 2 editions. It is so cute. I love seeing her express her creativity. She is doing a great job with them. Each edition has 2 sides, covers the news of what has been happening in our family, has comics, and she even included her bday wish list!! The second edition even had some color to it!

The first two headline stories: "Truck Dies Down" and "Dad Leaves Town"
Today we had an eventful day that I am sure she will want to report about in her next edition. We met the Heislers for bowling. I was so proud of myself. I got everyone dressed, fed breakfast, with socks and out the door by 9:30. When we arrived at the bowling alley, I realized there was one small mistake.
I gave Isaiah a PAIR of socks and he only put one of them on. Who does that? Evidently, my son. Oh, well, so much for being prepared.

We had an exciting time. Lots of drama, as usual. A little bit of competition going on. A few tears shed. A couple of fights to break up. Some money wasted in machines. Some loving help from big brothers and sisters. The company of friends.
Abby loved helping Isaiah and Laila bowl.
With Andrea there, I even got a couple of pics of me.
I do exist even though there is very little evidence in the form of pictures to prove it.
Isaiah LOVED using this metal thing to bowl
Cody and Nick
2 scoops: Sam and Laila Flavors
Grace and Sam taking their turns
Lolly after knocking down 8 pins!
Love this pic of my Abby
Isaiah loves him some Mrs. Andrea!
This would have been a great timeout spot if he didn't like it so much
8 feet in their stylish bowling shoes
My CrAzY cReW
After bowling, we went through a drive-thru and got some cheap tacos for lunch. Then we headed to get Cody and Sam haircuts. They were looking shaggy. I don't have an after pic to share, but they look so much better.

I am excited that the hubs went in to work early today and gets off at 3:00. Family Night tonight!! Pizza and time all together, something we haven't experienced in a couple of weeks!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Busy Day

My little guy woke up this morning sick. He has been throwing up all day. I never wish sickness on my kids, but it has been nice to be able to just love on him, cuddle with him, and mother him today. He hasn't been disobedient or hard to handle in any way. I want to be able really show him how much I love him. He doesn't feel that in discipline, even though it truly is a representation of my love. So often, he doesn't give me a chance to really, really love on him. I have so many ways that I want to bless him and treat him and then he sabotages those moments with his behavior. He is the kind of kid that if you give him even a millimeter of leeway, he takes 10 miles and runs with it. He is challenging in oh, so, many ways. I love him. I really love him. Today was a nice break from the tumultuous days we have been experiencing over the last month.

Laila had her 3 yr. doctor checkup. He fell asleep at the doctor's office.
Laila was really emotional at this visit today. Crying and whining at everything they did to her. She has NEVER been upset about being at the doctor. Even as I type this, I seem to recall 3 yr. old pics for many of my kids and the battle to get them to participate. She did not want to have anything to do with the doctor or the instruments she was using. She is 60% in both height and weight. She is healthy and off the charts developmentally. I consider that a HUGE blessing. The odds started out against her little life. She has overcome those odds by leaps and bounds!!
Right before her shots
She was not happy during and after the shots. : )

Abby had piano lessons today. She is really enjoying them and seems to be gifted in this area. I am thankful that she is able to do something that she is developing a love for.
Lauren's new bedding came in today. Since I took her to pick it up, she treated me to some sweet tea. That was just what I needed with Rick being out of town for 5 days.
He gets home tonight!! We are ALL ready to have him home.

Monday, July 18, 2011


It's Monday.

The day I have been waiting for.

The day Isaiah said he is going to start obeying.

Guess what? He lied.

I took the kids to the Splash Park.

I thought my foot was broken when a scooter was dropped on it.

I found a pork loin in the back of of my truck from my shopping trip yesterday, $8.00 in the trash.

I was taking the kids to Burger King to redeem a library coupon and realized I couldn't use it at the one right by my house. They don't accept it. No, I had to go to the one across town.

Cody ran over "Jesus" with the lawnmower
I feel a bit like that Jesus doll looks today.

I am going to take a shower, turn the air conditioner on in my room, read a book, call my hubby, and I have ordered pizza for the kids for dinner.

In the freezer I have a half of a French Silk Pie Blizzard that I will be indulging in later tonight.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

God of the Redeemed

I took the fam to church today. It was an emotional service for me for many reasons.

I am still processing my conversations with Isaiah. Your words of encouragement and affirmation are truly ministering to my soul. I believe God is using you to hold up my arms in this battle for Isaiah's heart.

The more I think about it, the more I think that he is testing me with his behavior. Will I really love him no matter what? Is there anything he can do that will make me change my mind about having him in our family? Wow! That really brings out the need for me to discipline him with unconditional love. Not that I don't always strive for that, but the stakes feel higher right now. We have had a rough few weeks behaviorally, and I believe the last couple of days have been the culmination of it all.

I am still holding out hope that he is going to start obeying on Monday, like he said! : )

As I sat in the service at church, we started singing this song:

God of the Redeemed (Bethel Live)

We belong to You, Father
Love has come and we're orphans no longer
Brought into Your light and freedom
By the blood and mercy of Jesus

It's rising it's rising
A song of hope from us set free
It's rising, it's rising, it's rising up

Hallelujah to You God of the redeemed
Hallelujah You've opened blinded eyes to see
And we will praise You
You are the everlasting light
Hallelujah to You God of the redeemed

We belong to You Father
We're living for Your glory and honor
Here on earth just as in heaven
We usher in the reign of Your kingdom

As I sang that first verse, my eyes were opened. I was an orphan, too. How many times do I question God's love for me? How many times do I feel like something I do or don't do is going to change my status as His child. I understand how Isaiah feels. I am not accepting my place as God's adopted child. I am constantly questioning that.

It breaks my heart when Isaiah questions my love for him. How much more does it break my Father's heart when I doubt his unconditional love for me!! I see it with new eyes and now my relationship with God needs to accept His love and not continue to constantly question it, just like I want Isaiah to do with my love that I freely give him.

I have been reading a book entitled, "From Spiritual Slavery to Spiritual Sonship" by Jack Frost. I am only a few chapters in, but I resonate with the concept of an "orphan's heart" that the author presents. I am a child of God, but I am still functioning as though I am an orphan.

I have to believe that part of this struggle in me is so that I can help my own child through his struggle. I am able to have way more compassion for him when I can grasp the magnitude and depth of his feelings.

This is a journey that God has both of us on. I pray that my healing in this area will bring about the ability for me to walk with him and bring healing into his little heart. This is only the beginning. All the while, I have a little girl that may some day wrestle with these very same emotions as well. I am thankful that God opened my eyes to this today. I look forward to how He is going to use this in our family!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011


My heart feels heavy tonight. I have had 2 very emotional conversations with Isaiah in the last 2 days.

Last night we were driving in the truck and this was our conversation:

Isaiah: Mama, where was I born?

Me: Remember, buddy, you were born in Swaziland.

Isaiah: (silence for a bit) Were you there when I was born?

Me: No, I met you when you were 2 years old.

Isaiah: Who was there when I was born?

Me: Your Swazi Mama was there.

Isaiah: Did you adopt me from Swaziland to your family?

Me: Yes, Isaiah, God gave you to our family and we came to Swaziland and brought you home.

Isaiah: Am I going to have to go to another family?

Me: NO, you are my son. We will be your family forever. You are Isaiah Sanele Clapp. You will always be in the Clapp family. Cody is my son, Sam is my son, (I went down the line. Cody and the others chimed in as well about him being their brother).

Isaiah: You're not going to send me to another family?

Me: No, Isaiah, you are part of our family FOREVER!!

Isaiah: Mama, am I a rock star?

Me: Absolutely, one of the coolest ever!! (Isn't it funny how they change the subject so abruptly?)

Then, tonight we had a situation where Isaiah had been disobeying me. I gave him a warning and told him one more time and he would lose a privilege. He did it again. After explaining to him that he needs to learn to obey mommy the first time. I told him that his choice to disobey had caused him to lose his privilege, but he could try to earn it back tomorrow by making wise choices and obeying.

Then, in a really sad voice, he said:

Isaiah: Mommy, does this mean I have to go to another family?

Me: (immediately I responded) No way, Isaiah. Nothing you can do will cause us to send you to another family. You will always be a part of our family. You are our son and your behavior does not change that. Why would you ask me that?

Isaiah: Because I didn't obey, do I have to leave? Mommy, I don't want you to die.

Me: (with a broken heart) No buddy, you are always my son. Because you are my son, God wants me to teach you how to obey so that you will learn to obey Him. I don't want to die, Isaiah. I want to watch you grow into a big boy.

Isaiah: Mommy, where do dragons live?

These conversations amaze me. They seem to come out of nowhere and then end abruptly.

It deeply saddens my heart that he questions his stability in our family. I know this can be expected. I have read it over and over. I guess I just hoped it would be different for him. I hoped that I could love him so completely that he would never doubt his position.

We do know foster families whose children were taken away. I don't know if he is processing that and comparing his situation. I don't know what is going on in that little head.

He is a strong-willed little boy that, left undisciplined, will make some pretty harmful choices for himself.

How do I give him the security he needs, while still teaching him boundaries and right from wrong? How do I show my deep, deep love for him in the discipline that he needs? How do I break the hold that these lies will have on him as he gets older?

These are the questions that I wrestle with tonight. I ask God to guide me, give me wisdom, and help me to know what Isaiah needs as he needs it.

Lord, only you can speak your plan and purpose to His heart. Show Him the miracles you performed to bring him to our family. Help us communicate to him how much we want him and love him. Help me to see that we fought with all the we had to bring him home. Show Him your Hand in his life and the amazing plan that you have for him. Help him to see how each step of his path leads him closer to the calling you have for him. Give him peace and security in his heart not only in this family, but in you.

My Funny Kids

My kids crack me up sometimes.

~When we were in KY, Laila would take her naps in my mom's bedroom. On the first day, she was freaking out crying saying, "I'm scared of Mudda. She is so mean." I could not figure out what she was talking about. Then, we realized that she was afraid of this doll that was my mom's when she was little. She thought it looked like "Mother" from Tangled. We laughed so hard when we figured out what she meant. Needless to say, "Mudda" was removed immediately from the room, and Laila slept soundly.
The really funny thing is that "Janie"(the name my mom had given the doll when she was little) creeped me out when I was a kid, too. I would not go in the bedroom at my grandmother's house where Janie was kept.

~One night at dinner, while in KY, my brother, Brian and sister-in-law, Ashley were talking about their garden. I asked what they were growing. One of the items was okra. A few days later, Lauren said to me, "Mom, did you know that Uncle Brian is growing Oprah in his garden." If he was able to do that, he could make a ton of money!! I had to explain to her what okra was.

~Isaiah was having a particularly hard time with obedience yesterday. Finally, last night I asked him, "Isaiah, when are you going to start choosing to obey?" He paused and said, emphatically, "Monday." I had to keep from smiling. I responded, "Okay, that gives me two more days to get through."

Laila got a "Tangled" wig for her bday. Here she is showing it off with her trademark "booty slap." She has to wear this each time she watches the movie.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Taking My Zoo To The Zoo

On Thursday, we ventured out to the zoo. I had a flashback when I was there of Rick and me sitting at the Ft. Worth Zoo before we had children. We were watching families go by and dreaming of some day having a big family of our own. They all looked so happy, and we couldn't wait to take out kids to the zoo someday. It would be so fun and such a sweet time of bonding as a family.

Fast Forward 15 years to yesterday. We left our house 45 minutes after I had hoped we would. When we arrived at the zoo, one child informs me that he has forgotten to bring the lunch he packed. We tried to get on sunscreen as quickly as possible. We squeezed everyone into the tiny bathroom of the gift shop in order to buy ourselves some time before we had to stop again. One child said, "Mama" 3,247 times while we were there. I had to pull 75lbs. in the wagon up and down those mountains. They were complaining about being hot. I also saw many other families struggling through their days. It was not the pretty picture I had envisioned 15 years ago.

I think we were looking through rose-colored glasses back then. I know it had to be hotter in Ft. Worth than it was here yesterday. I can't believe we didn't see all the kids throwing fits and parents losing their cool on that day. I am sure now that the moms were exhausted and desperate looking.

Either way, I wouldn't trade where I am for the world. I know many people are amazed that I would take 6 kids to the zoo, alone. To me, it is just my everyday life. I can stay home with six kids and have them destroy the house and fight with each other, or we can go to the zoo, get a tan and some exercise, and see some cool animals. Nowhere is perfect. I choose to expect it to be difficult. If it isn't then, BONUS. If it is, I am prepared and not devastated that our day was not ideal.

With 6 kids, there is always someone not happy. Just look back at the picture above. Isaiah was not happy in that moment. Oh, well, we took the picture anyway. If every picture I had of my children had them all smiling all the time, that would be fake.
I love how close we can get to the giraffes
A quick pose with Laila
A bit blurry, but we can't leave out hippos
Lovin' the baby orangutan!
He posed for me. Seriously, he did!
Camera hog
I can totally see Sam as a surfer dude some day.
She was a trooper.
Challenging and enthusiastic or maybe I should say enthusiastically challenging!
Cody had his head phones on the whole time.
This was his way of coping with the sensory overload that the zoo presents to him.
It really was a good day. I am just not going to candy coat it to make you think that things always go smoothly around here. That only sets us up for failure and you up to believe that your imperfect life is somehow less than it should be.

Can we all just agree that just because it is hard, doesn't mean it is not worth it? Actually over the last 15 years, that is one lesson I have learned for sure. The hardest things reap the most blessing and reward in my life.