Tuesday, February 7, 2012

~cleaning things up~

Since New Year's, our family has been "eating clean". The goal is to get healthy, but we needed to drop weight, as well. We're doing great and we feel great! Glen has lost 18 pounds and I've lost 24! We have a long way to go, but we can see a light at the end of the tunnel.

I'll be posting here about life in general and life in the ministry, but head on over here to check out my new blog featuring clean eating recipes. 

Thanks for keeping up with us!


Monday, December 19, 2011

~shrinky dink my world~

Pinterest is all the rage lately!  I seem to be pulled there by some weird magnetic force every time I get online.  It's addictive!  While I am a creative person and I'm inspired by a lot of the projects I see on Pinterest, I know I'll never get around to making most of them.  I did want to try to do a few projects with the kids this Christmas so they could give gifts to their grandparents.

Fast forward to this past Friday night.  Hubby and I went Christmas shopping in a nearby town and we stopped in Hobby Lobby to buy supplies for a few projects.  We were in the store browsing aimlessly through the Christmas decorations for an entire 5 minutes when we heard over the intercom, "Hobby Lobby will close in 5 minutes".  WHAT???  We ran in two different directions to hurry and gather what we needed.  I glanced over the Shrinky Dink plastic film and hurriedly decided to buy the kind you can run through an inkjet printer ($12.99 for 5 sheets).  Yes folks, you heard right.  Shrinky Dinks!!!

 I had intended to make rings for a few family members (and myself, of course!) - a project I had seen on Pinterest that directed me to here.   I have quite a bit of experience with those pre-made Shrinky Dink things that you paint, then stick in the oven, but I have never in my life heard of making anything else besides a suncatcher! Where have I been???  My world just opened up to tons of new ideas!  Once I quickly glanced over the package, I found other ideas - one being a keychain.  I grabbed a package of beaded key chain ($1.50 for 20 chains) and headed to the checkout.

I decided that tonight while my husband was in class, the kids and I would give it a try.  I would make sure to print out the designs beforehand so there were no mishaps.  This afternoon, I got everything ready to print (making sure to set my pictures at 75% transparency like the directions said) and the paper kept getting jammed in the printer.  I took it up to our church and the same thing happened!  I must say, I was beginning to freak out a bit!  I finally called someone I knew and we were able to print.  The only problem - it wasn't a color printer.  No problem!  It printed in shades of gray and actually turned out well!  Here's a picture of the final product.  The light picture in the background is the original size and color of the print.  After shrinking down, the colors get richer. I laid them on a foil covered cookie sheet in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for 2 minutes.  By the way, you have to make sure you use a hole punch to make the hole for the chain before you bake it.  Any imperfections you make while cutting will only intensify after it shrinks, unfortunately.  Thankfully these are for grandparents and they're usually blind to those silly mistakes:)

Don't you just love it?  I think the grandmas will be thrilled!  What I love most about this is that this picture was taken with a phone and was really grainy and not good quality when it was blown up.  Because it was shrunk, the picture looks better!  Amazing!

For less than $15 I made 6 keychains and still have more paper!  One sheet was wasted after sticking in the printer.  I used 2 sheets to print the pictures and some designs for some simple jewelry.   I still have 2 sheets that haven't been touched.  The possiblities are endless!

Check back soon because the plan is to try our hand at the rings tomorrow!  I'm so excited I won't be able to sleep!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

~hail to the sleeve~

Remember sleeves?  What ever happened to them?  They used to be all the rage!  There's all kinds of sleeves.  Long sleeves, short sleeves, capped and even three quarter sleeves.  I still wear them daily, but unfortunately I see them quickly disappearing.  I love sleeves!  I refuse to go without them!  Whoever invented the sleeve is a genius in my book!

All joking aside, I find myself browsing through websites or magazines and I feel the need to cover girls up with a blanket.  The only thing that seems to be more common than the missing sleeve is the severely short skirt accompanied by bare legs and mile-high heels.  I'm not judging.  Really, I'm not.  I understand the pressure to fit in.  I haven't always been a prude!  I too, tried to push the envelope where hemlines and necklines were concerned when I was a teenager - and I sometimes I succeeded. That's what kids do - they push limits.  And who could blame them when their role models - like Beyonce`, Miley Cyrus and Lindsay Lohan, just to name a few - are leading in the cause to abolish the sleeve (and most other parts of the dress)?

Parents are supposed to set limits.  That's our job.  And when our teenage girls come crying about how everyone is dressing that way or no one is wearing what we've bought her, our job is to hold on as tight as we can to the limits.  I'm not talking about never compromising.  Compromise has to happen at times.  Give in on style or color.  After all, (and I know this goes against everything we've been taught) sin is ugly, but ugly isn't a sin.  Modesty should not be compromised!   

I searched the Bible for counsel on the matter and here are a few of the verses I found on the subject of modesty:

Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control. - 1 Timothy 2:9a

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. - 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman without discretion. Proverbs 11:22

And as a parent, perhaps the most convicting verse of all...

But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! Matthew 18:6-7

As the mom of a daughter, it frustrates me to fight against the "norm" on a daily basis.  I've been told (more than once) by well-meaning people that I can't protect her from everything.  This is so true.  I'm fully aware that I'm not capable of protecting her from everything.  That's actually not my intent - or my job.  God won't even choose to protect her from everything!  My job is to set limits and lead her, pointing her to Christ who will guide her by the Holy Spirit - if she will yield to Him, and to pray, pray, pray.  Modesty is not about covering up so no one will notice her (but would that be so bad? Ha!).  It's about the condition of the heart.  It's about obedience.  God's word is clear.  He expects obedience.  

As well as having a daughter, I'm also the mother of a pre-teen son (gulp).  The older he gets the more I notice the behavior of girls around him.  Girls have become significantly more forward since I was a girl!  Part of how girls relate to boys is in how they dress.

And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily (or deceptive) of heart. - Proverbs 7:10

Recently I was looking at pictures of kids who had attended a dance. (I'm not opposed to dancing, by the way:) ) It was a conversation with a friend about these pictures that inspired this blog post.  Pictures had been taken before leaving the house and the happy couple was all smiles.  After pics of the couple by themselves, there were group pictures of several friends and their dates.  When I looked at the group photo, I was amazed!  Each girl looked like the next!  Their dresses were almost identical - and they were all missing sleeves (and most were missing much more!).  The longer I looked at the picture, the harder it hit me.  These boys would be heading off to a dance where there would be hundreds of girls dressed just like this.  Hundreds!  In an attempt to normalize our daughters, we've put our sons in the middle of a no-win situation!
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." - Matthew 5:27-28

I wonder if we realize what we're doing to our sons.  We train them to respect girls, then in the most awkward years of their life, when they're barely old enough to shave, we put them in a sea of scantily dressed girls their own age who've been dressed to look 10 years older and tell them to mind their manners.  Look but don't touch?  Matthew 5:27-28 tells us that's not good enough!  How is a boy suppose to keep his thoughts pure, let alone his actions, when he looks up and he's surrounded by a roomful of teenage girls dressed like sexy adult women?  Do we expect too much from our sons?  Or are we expecting them to give into sin, so we quit trying to keep the temptations away?  Grown men lose the battle with lust, and we throw our boys in the fight?  I've often heard "Boys will be boys".  Really?  We're giving them a pass on obedience because of their gender?  God never excludes anyone from accountability.

Please hear my heart.  I don't believe it's our intent to dress our daughters so as to require every ounce of self-control of every boy they cross paths with (and the prayers of their mamas), but I do think our society as a whole is clueless as to the reprecussions.   Our daughters are beautiful just the way God made them.  They don't know that unless we, as parents convey that to them - in our words and our actions.  After all, what's wrong with a fourteen year old that looks fourteen?  It's okay to dress up and look pretty - it's not okay to look sexy. 

For our daughters who are being told they're worthless unless they bare all (or most), and for our sons who battle daily against lust within their own hearts and minds - say you'll join me in the fight to retrieve the sleeve! 


Monday, October 10, 2011

~characters of character~

I'm proud of my kids (like most moms), but I don't want to sin or cause them to sin, by bragging (not that that always stops me!).  After praying about it, I've come to the realization that I'm not bragging on my kids - or on their parents, when I notice godly character in them, but on God and His work in their lives.

Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord."

It seems like after finding out I was pregnant with our first child, I had a fear of failure hanging over me.  Feelings of inadequacy and thoughts like, "What if we screw this kid up?" crept in many times over the years.  Over time, God has given me a peace about it.  Not that we'll do everything perfect, or that they'll be perfect or turn out just like I want them to, but that if I pursue godliness for myself and for my kids, God will be faithful to guide and direct our steps. He has, in fact, been faithful to do just that, and based upon past experience, I can only conclude that He will continue in His faithfulness.  Afterall, who wants our kids to be godly adults more than God, Himself?

     The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease.
                                                     Lamentations 3:22
There have been many questions we've asked God  to answer for us.  "Which doctor is trustworthy?  Which babysitter? Is it really okay to put them to sleep on  their belly?  Is it really okay to put them to sleep on their back?  Do we spank? Do we make them do chores?  What age is okay to spend the night with friends? Do we give them an allowance? Do we homeschool?  How do we homeschool?  How do we keep them safe?"  Time after time, God has answered our questions and put our minds and hearts at ease when we've been afraid of taking the next step -  afraid of messing up.

Lately, the kids have been in rare form.  Bickering has been at an all time high and egos and bad attitudes seem to be bursting at the seams!  Last week I was once again, questioning God.   "Are you sure we're supposed to homeschool?  Have I taught them anything good?"  I went to a place lower than I had been in a while.  To make it worse, these things weren't just happening at home.  Nothing stings worse than open sin.  It's easy to spot sin at home and deal with it before anyone knows about it.  When they choose to sin in front of people, it can quickly become about the embarassment instead of the sin.  After 14 years of parenting, this is still a challenge for me.

Knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.                                                                                                                         Romans 5:3-4

Two weeks ago, at a bible study, while laughing with some women about R's odd sense of humor (he's just like his dad), G ended up making a hurtful comment to me, calling me 'critical' - in front of several people.  I laughed it off, but I was hurt and she would later get a lecture I'm sure she won't forget soon (unless, of course, she zoned out!).  It was apparent, after talking to her that she didn't intend to hurt me, she just spoke before she thought - something I'm guilty of often.  Quite frankly, her words weren't nice - but they were true and I needed to hear them.  God has spoken to me through my kids many times.
After praying about it, speaking with her and then sharing what happened with Glen, I dropped it.  I chalked it up as a learning experience and I left it alone.  Last week, however, someone who witnessed "the incident" brought it up.  I was mortified!  The same feeling of embarassment came over me that had the week before.  I immediately started thinking bad thoughts.  "What am I doing?  I'm a horrible parent!  Why am I a leader?  I can't even lead my own kids!"  Just when I was convinced God made a huge mistake by allowing me to be a parent, He began to show signs of growth.

      Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
  Proverbs 22:6

Friday night, I had a leader's meeting for bible study and G was singing with the choir at the Homecoming game.  I hated to miss it, but Glen and R were there.  In typical teenage fashion, G asked to sit with friends after she was done singing.  Later she shared with Glen that a friend of a friend came to sit with them and began cussing - "the really bad words!".  When Glen asked what she did, she said she told her, "Hey, I don't talk that way!"

Since allowing her to attend school a few hours a day, I've wondered how she would react in situations just like this.  I know she's far from perfect, especially in my critical eyes, but God is working in her.  She has always had a boldness about her, and still does when dealing with me, but I haven't seen that in a while in her friendships.  God allowed me to see that He's refining her, but not removing those qualities.  Speaking boldly to me has gotten her in trouble more than a few times, but if I give her a safe place to be bold (as long as she's respectful), then she's more likely to speak boldly when she's away from me.

Instead of playing in our town, R played soccer in a nearby town this year, with brand new coaches and brand new teammates.  He was so nervous on his way to his first practice, his hands were shaking!  The season has been wonderful!  They haven't won a game yet (there are 2 left), but we've seen him step up and be a leader on the team - and his gift of encouragement shines on the field!  He's the first to give a "great job!" or "nice shot!" to a teammate.  I've seen God stretch him this season, but use him as well.

Last week we received a call that R had made the allstar team.  He's made the allstar team for several years in our town, but playing in a new town in front of all new faces, we warned him to not get his hopes up.  When the call came, we were all so proud of him!  Even G was yelling out, "Awesome!" and giving high fives!  When Glen spoke to the coach, he said, "We've taken notice of R.  He's a fantastic goalkeeper."  Words that would swell any dad's chest.  What an honor it is to be recognized for being good at what you love to do!  While we were excited for him, we were quick to warn him of the dangers of pride.

While we're proud of him for his accomplishments, perhaps the best words came today.  I took R to his first allstar practice and after meeting the coach, was told, "R is a very hard worker.  He has outstanding character on the soccer field."  I thanked him, then immediately gave thanks to God for His faithfulness.  God is faithful to show us where He's working when we ask.  Just when I allowed myself to think God wasn't working, He proved again that His work isn't evident overnight.  Thankfully He allows mistakes and He works through imperfect people like us.

Just to keep me humble and prove to me that the work is His and not mine, as soon as we got in the car, R was in a terrible mood and wouldn't speak almost our entire 45 minutes home. In my mind I was thinking, "If only that coach could see you now!"  God was gracious enough to allow this episode to be private.  He is faithful!
       Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.
                                                                           1 Peter 5:7

It's silly to think I could do more for my kids than the Holy Spirit, but keeping the responsibility resting entirely on my shoulders instead of giving it to God is, in effect thinking just that. 

Parenting isn't for wimps!  Some weeks (or months) feel like a roller coaster ride with lots of hills, valleys and sharp turns.  Then there are periods of what feels like running in place - lots of energy spent, but no ground gained.  It's also not meant to be done alone, in our own strength.  Knowing that God is directing each step is the only thing that makes it worth while.  Only He can see the finish line.  He is faithful!  We just have to keep the goal in mind and daily surrender ourselves to Him and His plan for our lives and the lives of our kids.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

~stunted growth~

Several weeks ago, my husband began preaching through the book of Genesis.  I must confess to you, I wasn't thrilled.  While I didn't grow up in church, since becoming a Christian over 17 years ago, I have taught countless lessons and craft projects about creation and the fall of man to numerous preschoolers!  What could be left to learn, right?  Wrong!

I think it's interesting that when God told Adam and Eve that they had done wrong, Adam blamed Eve and she blamed the serpent.  Neither wanted to acknowledge their sin - and neither sorry.  Fast forward to chapter 4.  Cain murders Abel because Abel's offering is pleasing to God and his isn't.  When God tells Cain of his punishment, he is clearly upset over the punishment, but not repentant.  God tells him he'll be a wanderer, yet he builds a city - and names it for his son.  Disobeying God and keeping the glory for man instead of giving glory to God.  Later, Cain's great great great grandson, Lamech killed two men.  When he confessed his sin to his wives, he said, "If Cain's revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech's is seventy-seven fold."  Lamech confessed his sin.

In my quiet time recently, God has revealed big truths in tiny bites.  Today He layed it on thick!  Am I truly repentant?  Am I sorry for the sins I commit, or am I sorry I've been caught or sorry I'll be punished?  When God reveals sin in my life, I usually let life's busyness be my excuse.  I can't count the times I've thrown together unhealthy meals for my family at the last minute or put quiet time with God on the back burner because our family schedule filled up before I squeezed it in.  What am I teaching my children through my disobedience?  It's easy to see through the book of Genesis that unconfessed sin can become generational sin.  Nothing would grieve my heart more than to know that I have stunted my children's growth in the Lord.

How many times have you heard a parent encourage their child to lie so they don't get in trouble?  It happens, though I'm sure they wouldn't call it lying.  It's deception nonetheless. Sometimes the consequences are too great for Mom and Dad to bear.  If little Johnny admits that he vandalized cars in the school parking lot, he won't get to play football.  If Sally tells Mary that she took her baby doll, Mary won't want to be her friend anymore.  It sounds ridiculous, but it happens!  While these are extremes, and most of us can never imagine allowing things like this to go on, we probably can imagine not grounding our four year old from television because it would mean I wouldn't have that 30 minutes during Dora to clean up the kitchen, or not taking away the Nintendo DS, because it keeps him quiet in the car on the way to Grandma's.  When we allow half-hearted repentance to us without consequences, we're setting our kids up to half-heartedly obey God.

Please don't think this post is about my terrible, disobedient children - far from it.  They're great!  I couldn't ask for better kids!  This is about me.  I've given excuses to God time and time again, like 'I can't help it', 'I'm under too much pressure', 'we're so busy' and I'm sure God's favorite is 'You know how I am....'  The problem is that God is never okay with an unrepentant heart.

While I can never perfect my walk with God, and I can't protect my kids from all sin, I can teach them to be repentant and graciously accept God's correction so He is glorified in their obedience.

The question is not if I sin or how often.  Obviously I'm not perfect and never will be, but what kind of example am I setting when I know I'm sinning and refuse to stop, or let my day dictate my attitude instead of standing firm on the Word?  Do I stop and call upon the name of the Lord?

God is continually sanding down the rough edges of my heart and molding me into who He wants me to be.  It's my belief that, besides the Holy Spirit, there is no better tool for transforming the heart than that of a child entrusted to you.  My heart's desire is to submit to Him fully in obedience, for my own sake - and the good of my kids.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

~things are buzzing around here~

It seems that lately when I think about blogging, I think of ten other things I have to get done first!  There is much to do, but I simply had to write about our recent happenings! 

Because we homeschool our kids, we look for activities that include socializing and learning.  One of the ways we've been able to incorporate both is through 4H.  We've participated for three years and have loved it!  Our kids have taken welding and sailing classes and Grayson is taking sewing.  It really is a great resource.  Last year, a man in our club offered to teach beekeeping.  I must be honest.  I was completely fascinated and scared all at the same time!  I tried my best to talk my kids into signing up, but they were both totally against it.  It does sound crazy, but it's great science!  This year however, I put my foot down.  I told them they were taking it.  No options - 'cuz I'm Mom and I say so.  I knew after they got over their initial fears, they would have fun and they eventually began to love the idea!  No compaints at all.

The morning of their first meeting I had leader's meeting for Bible Study Fellowship, but I arrived home by 9 am.  Their meeting was at 10.  As I prepared to head out the door, Glen jumped up and said I could stay home and he would take them.  Obviously I wasn't staying home!  I was going!  So we all went.  All of the other kids in the class had taken it last year, so they were preparing to have hives of their own.  When we were asked, I thought we would just observe and learn, but Glen said, "No, let's get a hive!  What better way to learn?"  So we began preparing.  We looked up boxes and plans and he had full intentions of making a box, however life got busy.  Glen is taking two classes this semester, plus he has a full-time job as well as his ministry.  He went out of town 3 out of 4 weeks last month and we had a church member who became ill and passed away.  Before we knew it, it was time to pick up the bees and we had no box.  Glen quickly checked around and found a man 2 1/2 hours away who builds bee boxes.  Last Saturday (after an all day class for Glen and Grayson's basketball game) we made a quick trip to pick it up.

We finally arrived at our leader's house to pick up our bees at 9:30 pm.  I know they must have been thrilled that we waited until the absolute last minute!  When I saw the bees, once again I was amazed at these little creatures!  The queen hung inside a box and literally thousands (12,000 - 15,000 to be more precise!) of bees were clustered around her - protecting her.  There were even a few on the outside of the box who were focused and hanging on.  As our leader placed the bees in our car (yes, inside), Riley jumped out of the car crying, "I hate bees!"   It never occured to me that this would be such a major thing!  We got him calm enough to get home, but he sat on the edge of his seat the whole way.  Just in case he needed to jump out, I guess!  I was thinking, "are we crazy?"

After arriving home, the kids and I went inside while Glen dealt with the bees.  He did a super job!  He borrowed gloves and a hat with a vail from our leader.  I duct taped all of the edges of his clothing so bees didn't get in.  I wish I had pictures, but it was 10 pm and we were ready to be done!  After hanging the queen inside of our new box, he dumped the box of bees in the new bee box and headed inside - but not unscathed.  He managed to get stung - though only once, on his calf.

Obviously we knew there would be stings.  We've all been stung before, so we knew no one was allergic.....famous last words.  Glen woke up Sunday morning with major pain in his calf and it was swollen.  Sunday evening he got nauseous and ran a low grade fever.  Monday morning he couldn't put any weight on it, so he went to the doctor and was given a round of steroids and anti-biotics to take.  Last night, he laid on the couch and just had me rub it for what seemed like forever, because it itches. 
I know you're thinking we immediately got rid of the bees.  I must confess, I thought that's the way this story would end.  It would make since, right?  I even talked to the kids and prepared them for it.  Obviously if you're allergic to bees, you don't own any!  I mean, that's why we don't have a cat, for goodness sake!  Last night, I talked to Glen to see what he wants to do.  He's not your average guy.  "Just wait", he said.  Wait?  For what?  Wait to see how it goes.  Don't rush the decision.  One non-life threatening allergic reaction doesn't mean you're allergic.  Typical Glen.  Putting the kids before himself.  So we're waiting....

Meanwhile, we're getting attached to the bees - even Riley.  Yesterday he called me on his cell phone from across the street.  He was so excited, "Mom, our bees are in their garden!!!".  I'm not quite sure how he knew they were ours, but I'm glad they're already at work!  Glen even mowed the yard in shorts tonight, so I guess he's not afraid to get stung again.  Let me just state the obvious by saying if I had been the one to get stung and have that reaction, the bees would be gone!  In a New York minute.  Just sayin'.


Monday, February 28, 2011

~mountain-top baby rockin' tea party~

It's Sunday night and life has been a whirlwind since returning from West Virginia.  We arrived in town at 8:30 Friday night after traveling all day.  Saturday was filled with activities.  Both kids were competing in the music festival an hour from our town and Riley played in the basketball championship.  Today was filled with church and dress rehearsal for the community play they're performing in.  I only just sat down a few hours ago...:)

Grayson and I left with a team last Saturday morning at 6 am headed to the mountains of West Virginia for a mission trip to a birthing center for female prisoners, where women convicted of a federal crime can spend up to 18 months with their child if they're pregnant while incarcerated.  Last year was our first year, but most of the girls were new, the facility had a new director and our mission team had changed a bit, so I wasn't sure what to expect.  I knew, however that God would use us and we would be blessed in return. 

Before leaving, I planned for a craft we would do with the women.  By far, the best craft I found was this magnetic board from Madigan Made.  I was looking for something unique, but also fun and useful - and not too expensive.  It was obvious that God was in it from the beginning.  I found burner covers for 11 cents a piece on clearance at a dollar store!  11 cents!  We decided to give them the option to add Scripture to theirs if they chose.  I'm happy to say they did.  Some even added pictures of their babies - they're all so creative!  Here is a picture of the finished product...


Did I mention that I've never gotten carsick until I was on this trip last year?  Take a look at this picture and you may get an idea of why I got sick.  This is on the road between the church we stayed at and the birthing center. 

This trip is different than any other mission trip I've been on.  It's more relaxed and relational.  We cook for them and eat with them everyday, then do crafts and sometimes play games.  This year, a few new mission team members brought supplies for manicures, pedicures and facials.  What an awesome way to bond with one another!   Most mission trips, you're busy trying to get the Gospel out, either by VBS or revival or something similar, and a few relationships are built as a result.  If you're ministering in a place where they may never hear God's Word, this is crucial, but there is a local pastor who brings a sermon to these women every Sunday, then ministers to them during the week.  They're hearing, they just need to witness it being lived out in more people, and they need to experience the love of Christ from believers.  This trip is designed to be about the relationship itself, and as a result of building that relationship, we can talk about Jesus more easily.  Let's face it, people aren't knocking down prison doors with the intention of getting to know the inmates.  John, who heads up the trip is in contact with the center all year and tries to find churches for them in their hometowns after they leave.  We try to stay in touch with them, even befriending them on Facebook in many cases.  One of the women told me some mission teams never sit to chat or bring a meal when they come, they only preach a revival, then leave.  No contact or conversation, just preaching.  Jesus didn't do it that way.  He ate with people and got to know them by asking them questions and they followed Him and watched how He lived. 

One of the best parts of the trip is rocking babies.  Grayson has become quite the little helper (along with the other young girls that went).  I got a picture of her with a different baby every half hour!  I love that she and I can minister together on this trip.  When we first arrived at the birthing center, a mom who was there last year gave me a hug and immediately asked me where my daughter was. I instantly knew she was making an impact on these women and I was glad she got to be a part of it. 


While making friends and holding babies is always fun, my anxieties came from what we were to do the last day.  The last few years, a lady from Arkansas has joined us on the trip and she has given a tea party for the inmates.  She does a fabulous job and it has become one of their favorites.  She wasn't able to join us this year because she was in Chile on a mission trip, so I filled in.  The lady that gave it, Mrs. Kay, is full of grace and charm and .....well, frankly I'm not:)  Many prayers were said regarding this tea party.  While it seems silly to stress, we give it on the last day, so relationships are established and we have a "captive audience" (as was said this week!) to give a devotion to during the tea party.  The girls were very respectful and listened intently.  I couldn't have asked for anything more.  As you can see, we brought crazy hats for them to keep as a reminder. We also bought tea cups at a thrift store to serve the tea in and left those with them too.

I know Mrs. Kay would have done a much better job, but all in all, I think it went well.  Hopefully she blessed the ladies in Chile with a tea party:) 

Once again I was amazed at how "normal" the women are.  They're great moms and this is a wonderful opportunity to bond with their babies.  All of them would probably be working moms and wouldn't have the opportunity otherwise to spend the first year with their baby.  A lot of these women have made one or two bad decisions to get them there, but haven't we all?  While most of my mistakes haven't been illegal, they have been stupid!  I could relate with most of these girls.  While a few were guilty of white collar crimes and came from wonderful families, some were guilty of theft or drugs (but all non-violent crimes), it's unbelievable how prison brings them together.  Friendships are formed between women that would never cross paths outside of these walls.  God works in amazing ways!  They are there, sometimes with no visits from family, yet when I try to give them encouragement, it's me that goes away encouraged.  I was reminded of times I've started down a wrong path always to have God put a road block in my way so I would turn to Him.  Hopefully this birthing center or their time in prison has been a road block that will cause these women to turn to Him and trust Him fully.  I can't wait to see how God works in the lives of these women and babies!


"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36