Saturday, December 26, 2015

Come and Dream With Us...

 2015 has been quite the year for our family.  As always, it has been full of adventure.  We have had some really high, highs and some really low, lows.  I can look back over the year with joy and peace seeing God's Hand through it all.  More than anything, I just feel really grateful.

As we end this year, I wanted to share an opportunity for you to be a part of the mission of Beyond Survival to create opportunities for others to thrive and be a conduit of hope. It's our dream and desire to connect real resources with real needs in Swaziland.  Our journey is coming up on 10 years now.  We couldn't have imagined how our lives would be changed.

We have two ministries in Swaziland that we have been developing relationships with that I want to highlight for you.  I'd love for you to prayerfully consider investing in them and see if God would have you meet one or more of their needs.  As you know, Beyond Survival exists to be an advocate and conduit of resources and blessings to those in need in Swaziland, Africa.

First, ABC(Abandoned Babies for Christ) is a ministry that Rick was exposed to on his very first trip in 2006.  Since that time, our hearts have fully connected to the Richter family and the work they are doing.  We have watched their faithfulness over the last 9 years through many ups and downs in their ministry.  We are fully confident in their integrity and want to share opportunities with you to join in the work they are doing.  We created this Summary of their ministry and needs.  Check out this information: 

 Secondly, on Rick's trip last summer, he visited El Shaddai for the first time.  He was very impressed by their ministry and made aware of the many needs that they have.  Charmain and her daughter are in the trenches of orphan care and ministry.  They literally live out their lives loving on orphans and vulnerable children.  We believe in them and want to help their ministry.  You can read about the work they are doing and the needs that they have:

As 2015 comes to a close, we look forward to next year and celebrating the 10th year of Beyond Survival.  We so appreciate all of you who have been a part of the last 10 years.  ABC Ministry and El Shaddai are just two of the places we are investing in the country of Swaziland.  If you are looking for a place for your year-end giving, we would love to take your investment and pour it into the lives of these ministries and the other opportunities that God opens up to Beyond Survival in 2016.  Follow this link to donate online:  Beyond Survival Year-End Giving

If you would like  for me to send these executive summaries to you,  or you would like to donate directly to these ministries, please message me.  We are looking forward to what God will do in 2016.  We can't believe it's been 10 years since that first trip.  Our lives and family are forever transformed from that first trip.  If you want to join us on Beyond Survival's 10-year anniversary trip, mark your calendars for June 11th to 22nd, 2016! :-)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Invested - Don't Miss This Opportunity

A few years ago, I was feeling very "spent" (actually, most days I still feel spent, but that is beside the point.)  Then, I heard a sermon by Rick Warren.  In it, he talked about not "spending our lives, but investing them."  He explained that once we spend ourselves or our money, that it is gone.  There is nothing to really show for it long term.  BUT, when you invest yourself or your money, there is a return.  I really try to live by that principle of investing myself, my time, and my money rather than just spending it.  As you can tell by my parenthetical statement in the first sentence, I am not always successful at the investing thing.  When I take the time to see my life as an investment, it really makes all the difference.

I have an opportunity to share with you where you can invest in the lives of people, not just spend your money.  Over the last few years, my friend Mandy Houle has been leading others by investing and calling us to invest in clean water.  God had done amazing things through the "fishes and loaves" that she has offered.  I have had the opportunity to be a part through donating items for the raffle and even winning a couple of times.  Let me tell you, her enchiladas and guacamole and Sassy Sweet's cupcakes are AMAZING!!

This year, I have taken one of my new passions, essential oils, and am sharing those as a part of the raffle.  I have donated a bottle of Thieves Oil and Lemon Oil from Young Living.  I LOVE these oils and think you will, too.  More than that, I love investing.  God can take all of our small investments and bring a BIG RETURN in the lives of His people.

So, pretty please, will you go here and join us with your own investment.  Hey, and you may even win a cool prize.  BUT, even if you don't, you are investing in clean water.  You are investing in the lives of people.  You are investing in sustainability.  What better return could you get for you money!!

Friday, March 13, 2015

11 Years of Sam

My little Sammy Jo Jo turned 11 on Jan. 30.  This boy has been sick on literally every Birthday except his 10th Birthday.  This year, was no different.  He was sick and missed going to school that day.  He also did not get to do our fun activity that we had planned, going to Sky Zone.  I was so sad for him.  We still tried to make the day special with some special meals.  

He started off his day with mini donuts

He had Panda Express for lunch
We ended the day with the meal of his choosing

He wanted me to make Pioneer Woman Mac n' cheese, green beans and Cheesy biscuits.  I added in some pork chops for our meat.
I can tell from this pic that he is sick.  Look at those eyes.
He chose root beer floats for dessert.  Unfortunately this is the only pic I got of that.
 He got a "new to him" iPod
(Laila was a photobomber)
 and some Disney Infinity Marvel guys
along with some cash and candy from his siblings and grandparents.  
Just last week, we finally made it to Sky Zone for some jumping fun!!

Even at 11 years old, you still have a smile that can light up a room.  I love that you still have that tender hearted, loving spirit about you.  As your song says, that I have sung to you since you were born, "You bring me so much joy!"  Your sensitivity to the Spirit of God in your life is such a deep thing.  Not many boys your age have that sensitivity.  I pray that you always lean into that and the things of God.  He has something very big for you, Sam.  Your life is a testimony to His Work.  Your 11th year was a big one from your emergency surgery to your African travels.  You had a lot of opportunities to grow into a stronger man.  On this side of it all, I see that growth in you.  With that strength that you have also comes challenges.  I pray for truth over your life in every way.  That you believe the truth that you are valuable and that you matter to us and to God.  That you speak the truth in every word.  That you defend the truth in and for others.  You have a wisdom beyond your years.  Use that to the glory of God!  

I love your sense of humor.  I love your hugs.  I love watching you play basketball and baseball.  I love that no matter the outcome of the game, you come out smiling and always say, "I had so much fun!"  I love that you care for others and are sensitive to the feelings of others.  I am amazed at your Lego creations.  You are such an important part of our family.  Don't ever doubt that!  I pray blessing over your next year of life!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

January 2015

It seems that I am doing good to get one blogpost a month.  I am not ready to give up on blogging because it is so important to me to record our family's memories and happenings.  Hopefully, this season of cray-cray will slow down and I can blog more.  For now, let's take a look at January

It was a pretty uneventful month.  I think we were all recovering from Christmas.
 Isaiah and Laila hanging out.  
These two get along most of the time.  I love their relationship.
 Sam hurt his foot playing football in the basement.  It was really painful.
 I love it when the kids bring these things home from school.
Isaiah's 2015 Goals
 1.  My personal goals: becoming the best stouden(student) in class
2.  I want to read:  go dogs go
3.  I want to learn:  times and adesion(division)
4.  A new food I want to try:  mexekin(Mexican) food
(Not sure why he put that.  He has had lots of Mexican food)

Here is another one:
 Dear God, 
You are Awsom(awesome) to me and I'm greatful(grateful)
sometimes vido(video) games distract me from
putting you first in my life.
Be the one and only God in life, frends(friends), family, earth.
God I love you,

I tried Ethiopian food for the first time with our life group
 Let's just say that now I know I don't like Ethiopian food
 Sam had Medieval Day at school.  Doesn't he look thrilled!
 My helper girl in her Swazi apron
 This was my view one morning when I opened my bedroom door
 Sam has become the 3-point shooter in the family. 
 He earned some Cold Stone for his great first game!
 Our view on the way to school one morning
We also celebrated Sam's bday in January, but I will do a separate post for that.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Wrapping Up 2014 - Part 2

If you read that whole last post and are going to read this one as well, you should get some kind of reward or treat.  I am packing a lot of life and activities in these 2 posts.
It wouldn't be Christmas without our annual Cookie Decorating Contest
Abby got it all set up and magazine picture ready

 Laila's cookie was "a kid"
 Cody's cookie, "Hermie the Elf"
 Isaiah's cookie, "Buddy the Elf"
 Lauren's cookie "a pizza"
Rick, the overachiever, had several masterpieces
 His official entry was entitled "Christmas Tree"
 I made a bottle of essential oil for my cookie
 Abby's "Mockingjay" entry failed.  So, she did not have an entry in the competition.
The contenders
 The winner was:
The Aftermath
Christmas Eve Service
 Me and My Honey
 Loved the candlelight part of the service
 My Christmas babies
Our Christmas Eve Feast!

 Their ornaments for the year:
Cody - Deck of Cards for his Magic tricks that he does
 Lauren got a girl with braces
 Abby got a Starbucks Frap Cup
 Sam got an angel ornament made in Swaziland to represent, Gracie, a girl he connected with on our trip this summer
 Isaiah got a Chick-fil-a ornament because he always wants to "Eat Mor Chikin"
 Laila got a Cheeseburger ornament to represent her love for bacon cheeseburgers
 Christmas morning started with reading Luke 2 in our bedroom.  Then, we headed downstairs to open gifts.  Stockings are first!
 They take pictures way faster than they used to.
 They look so big!
 After our 2 hour gift opening extravaganza, we had our country ham breakfast.  
Thanks, Daddy, the ham was delicious as always! 
(Have I ever told you how my daddy makes the best country ham in the world?)
 After cleaning up from breakfast and doing food prep for our evening meal, the kids settled in to play with their toys and Rick and I settled in for our Annual Christmas Day Nap.
Sam was busy building with Legos
 Isaiah was like this for hours
Laila was playing with cars
 and making cotton candy
 it was a lot of work for that little bit of cotton candy
Christmas Day would not be complete without Fajitas Fa Jesus and Ms. Julie
 Christmas Day was truly a relaxing day.  I love our traditions and how we celebrate that special day.

A very special part of our Christmas was Abby's desire once again to bless the Halfway House(the orphanage in Swaziland where Isaiah and Laila were) with a Christmas by sacrificing some of her Christmas.
These are the faces of the little sweeties that we get to spend time with each year when we go.
 Our friends, the McAdams, were willing to use the money to purchase the gifts and deliver them for us.  We are so grateful for their part in this special Christmas gift.
 We recognize each one of these kids from our visits over the last 6 years.
 We met Smalley when she was only 3 months old.  Now, she is 6 and as beautiful as ever!
 Precious babies!!
 Steve hanging out with the kiddos
 There is a one year old, 2 teenagers, and probably about 20 four and five year olds currently living there.
 I affectionately call the little girl on the left, "Little Miss Sunshine" 
The really funny thing is that she started out kind of grumpy the first visit we had with her a few years ago, so I called her that as a joke.  Now, she has become that!  I love it!
 They were given lots of food(vegetables, fruit, chicken, beef, sausage, peanut butter, milk, cookies, rice, sugar, etc.) They also took toy cars, baby dolls, balls, and a fun motorcycle riding toy.  We were also able to bless the workers with goody buckets with a nice scarf and lotion.  
 These children are stunning!
 Maureen, on the right, is the Mama of this home.  She put the toys away so that she could wrap them and the kids could open them up on Christmas morning!!  Oh, how I wish I could have been there to see that!!
This place is so dear to our hearts

I am so proud of Abby and her sacrifice.  I love that she gets just as much joy out of giving as receiving!  This is a picture of her opening a package on Christmas morning with the pictures from that day!

We had some snow over Christmas break, too! 
The kids sledding down our driveway
 Rick took the kids to Toboggan Hill in Monument two different days
 Lauren and her friend, Emma
 Abby and her friend, Allison
 Sam and his friend, Luke

 My girls are beautiful
 They love sledding
 They had some serious wipeouts and Rick got some of it on video.  There may or may not have been some chiropractor visits to get them straightened back out from the damage done!

2015 is a new year.  I have never been one to pick a word for my year like some do.  I am more of a "pick a song for my year" kind of girl.  I haven't identified what that one is at this point.  As I write this, the word that keeps ringing in my mind is "EMBRACE."  That is what I need to do with 2015, EMBRACE:  emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically this stage of life that God has me in right now.