Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Fifth Child

Wondering about the title? No, we're not pregnant again, read on for the explanation!

Sometimes I get so overwhelmed with things going on in the world I just want to stick my head in the sand like an ostrich.

I hear about the suffering in so many different places, Aleppo, North Africa, people who have lived their entire lives in refugee camps.  Even people in the US, homeless, and children in foster care.  

Sometimes I read Jesus' words to the rich young ruler, "Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, and follow me." Mark 10:21 and I know that we are rich and will be held accountable for what we have done with our riches.

But I don't know where to start.  What can one person do *unless you are Warren Buffet* to alleviate much suffering?


Sometime in the last year I came across the writings of Craig Greenfield.  I believe I was introduced to him through A Life Overseas (also a wonderful place to read) or perhaps another missions blog or group that I subscribe to.

Craig writes from a place of coming alongside those in poverty and what helping them practically looks like, both in missions overseas and at home.

A few weeks ago he shared a blog called How to Balance the Needs of your Family with those of the Poor and to put it bluntly, I can't get it out of my head.

When you have time PLEASE jump over and read the whole thing, it's not long and I'll wait!


Read it? *(there's a summary at the bottom here)  Great, now tell me, could we stretch the resources of our families to include just one more?  I'm buying all the snow clothes for my kids (see boots in the photo!), can I find an extra set to give to a child in need?  At Christmas an extra $50 gift out of the Compassion or World Vision catalogs doesn't seem like much, but that's usually what we spend on each of our children.  Can we spread it just a little farther?

The day I came across this post of Craig's I had received a call that my latest Compassion child dropped out of the program and would I like to sign up for a new one.  It occurred to me that it's been exactly 20 years since I started sponsoring children through Compassion.  $38 a month doesn't seem like it could help a lot, but what if that's my fifth child

In those 20 years I have had 4 different children.  A couple have dropped out, one has graduated the program, and I honestly can't remember what's happened to the other.  But I know, even if they dropped out, their lives were changed.  How can you change things for just one child?

There are so many ways to do this that it's blowing my mind!
  • Have a child in diapers? There's a local diaper drive next week, pick up an extra package when you stock up
  • Look for an Angel Tree at Christmas and buy the presents or needed items when you're buying for your own children
  • New school supplies? Buy an extra set and donate them in the school office for a child who can't afford them
  • Call your local women's shelter and ask if there are any children there who need new shoes when your kids do
  • Know a friend with a foster child? ask if they need anything, even a meal
And I'm sure you could come up with many more examples of ways that you purchase things for your children, mine are still small so there may be things older kids need I wouldn't even think of.

I am so excited about this though!  I've always felt powerless to change the world, but I don't think that's our calling, unless we are specifically blessed in ways that allow for that.  But can you imagine if each and everyone one of us would spread our resources just a little farther?  How much of an impact could we collectively have???

Please leave any other ideas you have in comments, I'd love to hear them and maybe incorporate them too!

*the story is that a friend of Ghandi's asked villagers in India to include one more member in their family, one of the poor, when dividing their inheritance, as a way of helping bring up the lowest members of their society.  And it worked like crazy!

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Alaska: Friends and Mining Camps

After a crazy late night/morning with our friends we hung out and a friend of mine from high school(!!!) came over to catch up.  I'm pretty sure the last time I saw her was in 1997 at her wedding!

It was fun to have a couple of friends locally that I could meet up with after many years.

The men engaged in an epic game of Axis and Allies down in the cabin on their property...

And there was morning and evening on the beautiful mountain range view.  It's funny because as I'm editing these photos I can't get a lot of clarity on the mountains.  And then I realized it's because they are really really far away.  There were lots of little planes taking off and landing on the gravel bars in the river, but after the first day I didn't even bother to take any photos of them because they would look like tiny white specks against the hillside, if you could even find them.  So the haze is just from the atmosphere, so much of it, between me and them.  According to Google Maps probably about 5 miles across the valley bottom, which is a lot farther than you think!

After a beautiful day on Sunday, on Monday we decided to drive up to Hatcher's Pass and the Independence Gold Mine... in the rain.

We were essentially in the cloud layer as you can see, and unfortunately while some of the buildings have been redone, it wasn't open on Mondays.  So we walked around in the rain (and just missed some friends from home!) and read the few outdoor signs.  The big building with the red trim was a dormitory building.

The remains strewn down the left side of the trail above are where the ore was dumped in from the track above, then sorted/shaken into different sizes, and then smelted.  I've forgotten the process already, but it was a long series of buildings down the hillside.

Pretty mountain stream... I wonder just how polluted it is.

The entrance to the water tunnel (above) was just to the left of the stream.  You could only go in about 10 feet, but there was running water below the boards and some holes that Noah conveniently stuck his foot in.  Big enough for a small child to fall in, too!

The track that came out of the mountain and dumped the ore.  The view of the processing buildings and camp from above.

Looking down the valley pretty much straight south.  The dark line on the horizon is the mountains on the south side of Palmer.  I really couldn't believe how wide and large the valley/river bottom was there.

We had planned on doing some hiking, but in the rain and the fact that Brian broke his toe while playing Axis and Allies (something about a cast iron chair down in the cabin) meant that we just had snacks and went home again.  We thought about trying to go again, but ran out of time.  Next time!

Dahlia found rubber chickens and flamingo flyers.  Taval is here demonstrating how one fits on your nose.  Maybe it's a rubber dinosaur?  Kids!

And then there was much late night entertainment while the guys put together a new 3D printer.  David plans to use it to make a 3D topographical map of his property, and maybe more!

Ah Alaska, so many fun adventures!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Alaska: Air Show

While we were driving in to Anchorage on Friday night for our anniversary I happened to notice that there were some really low fast planes flying around. The Blue Angels were practicing for an air show on Saturday! So we checked it out online and found that it was free and went from about 10am to 4pm on Saturday.

Little did we know that deciding to leave at 1pm just to see the Blue Angels at the end was not a wise decision.  We sat in traffic trying to get in for probably almost 2 hours.

We watched some planes from the road, this one was pretty amazing in its maneuvers.

And then by the time we finally found some kind of parking place and walked in... the show started 10 minutes early so we were barely at the entrance and not near the actual show area.

Of course you can see them for miles so we still got to watch!

They really are amazing!

Then mobs of people started leaving and we heard that they were closing down and were bummed that we had wasted our day, but it turned out that only some of the planes on display were closed and we got to walk through a few of them still!

Checking out the seatbelts.  I think this was a regular C-130 type.

Joy would not even look at me she was so enthralled pretending to fly this plane!  Future pilot!

Noah and Shalom

It's pretty exciting to be in the cockpit of such a big plane!

This one was next in line, even bigger, but closed.  They had flown in from all over for the air show.

This C-5 Galaxy is the biggest plane I've ever seen.  We walked through it, and right out a ramp on the other end just like this one.  I'm pretty sure my entire house would have fit inside width wise, and perhaps 2 times lengthwise!

You can sort of see Dahlia and the kids back under the wing next to the wheels...

Unfortunately the line was quite long to go up in the cockpit of this one and then they did close it down too.  It's up under where the nose is tipped up.

The week was catching up with the girls... after another almost hour home in the car this is how they were!

But they perked up again when we got out some paints for them before dinner.  Princess Sophia to the rescue!

Of course after that day it was the night that we stayed up ALL night talking (just the adults) and it was exhausting, but soul refreshing to actually get to talk to friends about life.

The one and only sunrise I saw in Alaska.  In the two weeks we were there they lost an hour of daylight, half in the morning, half at night, but still the sun was coming up at 5:30am and going down at 10:30pm when we left.  The morning one isn't so unusual, but the evening one really threw us all off!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Tea Collection Japan: Exclusive Sale

The newest destination for Tea Collection clothing is out and it's inspired by Japan.  Beautiful prints for girls and fun graphics for boys (and girls too).  I've got my eye on this fun robot tee for my middle son!

Right now only readers of this blog get 20% off all Tea branded items on their site with code JUSTFORME20.  You won't find this code on the site so be sure and enter it before you complete your purchase!

Check out all the adorable dresses for girls and these fun tees for boys.  I might have bought another pair of the cargo pants for my son too, he loved them so much last year and amazingly enough the knees didn't wear out all winter.

The sale runs August 24th and 25th only.

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated a small amount if you make a purchase after clicking on one of my links.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Alaska: Life and Anniversaries

Who knew going to Alaska meant I would get to meet up with a ton of old friends I hadn't seen in years.

Amber and I were housemates in the "casita" 15 years ago when we went to Portantorchas together in Costa Rica.  It was fun having breakfast and catching up on where she is now.

Thursdays are homeschool day at Dahlia's house and between the 4 families we had 20 kids there!  It was high school history so all the big kids were downstairs and of course babies don't do Legos, but all the middle group of kids were here.  How do you catch kids?  Apparently put out a big pile of Legos!

Cory found a book with ideas and created this zip line for some Lego guys.  Later there was even fishing line strung between the porch railing and the cabin down below and/or the garage farther down!

I really really couldn't get enough of this view.

Too bad one of the few days we had nice weather was a school day because most days the view looked more like this.

I failed to realize that Alaska summer ends at the first of August so when we arrived they had had weeks of lovely weather and then it rained half the time we were there.  Whoops!  Will plan better next time (and oh yes, there will be a next time!)

Friday the 29th is our anniversary so the kids stayed at the house while Brian and I drove in to Anchorage for the afternoon.  Or I should say evening since it was almost 6pm when we found a parking space, but the light was still throwing me off so badly it felt like mid-afternoon!

Dessert first at the Cake Studio on 4th St.  If you ever get to Anchorage I highly recommend it! This was my vanilla mousse chocolate bomb.  Then some cool art (it's a special trip tradition) from the Sevigny Studio next door, and finally dinner at the Glacier Brewhouse.

There was a very long wait unless we wanted to sit in the bar.  Sometimes it pays to be out without children!  I had fresh halibut and Brian had steak.  Once in a long while a very fancy dinner tastes amazing!  Usually we decide we could have made it better at home for less, but not this time!

After dinner we went down to the "waterfront", if the mud flats can be called that!

The train from Fairbanks was pulling in when we hit the Coastal Trail.  My parents have ridden this a couple times and the colors are so different than the trains we have around here that it was fun to see.

Just for fun we sat and waited for sunset and watched the planes come in.  The airport is off to the left, south of downtown.  I really couldn't believe how incredibly flat the whole bay and valley around Anchorage are.

Unfortunately this is all the sunset we got and below the spot where you can see it, it completely disappeared behind the clouds and didn't give us anymore colors.  But I did notice waaaay off in the distance that you could see a snow covered mountain range.  I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me until I used my zoom lens and could actually see defined ridges.  Too bad we never did get a clear enough day to see Denali.

On the way home we saw a moose on the side of the freeway, but thankfully it didn't decide to cross!  And then we got home at dusk... or 11:30pm!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Alaska: True Vacation

The view from their front windows, I simply couldn't get enough!

I'm not sure it's possible to put into words just how amazing this vacation was for me.  We went to stay with some long time friends at their new home about an hour outside of Anchorage.

I have not seen Dahlia or her kids since we went to visit them in 2008 in Arizona, so neither had she met any of the rest of our kids besides Cory (and David only met Noah briefly just after he was born).  But we have talked on the phone off and on for years and she is so laid back it makes it easy to get along.  Plus we have 4 kids in common!

Noah and Shalom playing mini Uno
After day one, which was us ladies shopping expedition to Costco and Fred Meyer to stock the cupboards for 12 people for 2 weeks we were ready... to relax!

The next day we trekked down to the river, you can see it in the top photo, and played in glacier fed water!

That's the Knik Glacier in the distance, in the middle just above the trees.  Funny enough, the water didn't feel that cold, until we'd been out there an hour or more and had to wade back across the shallows from the sand bar.  Then it was cold!

The boys had a blast playing in the silt.  They made dirt bombs complete with puff flower fuses.

So of course the girls had to copy them.

Macaiah is a rugged mountain man and keeps a canoe in the small lake between the road and the river.  I really think Noah would be just like him if he could... nine year age difference, but he was his little shadow.

Cory also got a turn in the canoe and with more paddling and swimming experience they went down around the point to check and see if the salmon were coming upstream yet.

Discussing the merits of skipping stones with David

Brian spent his weeks with one of his best friends, playing games and nerding out with a new 3D printer.

This vacation really had nothing to do with the place (although yes, Alaska is beautiful) and everything to do with the home of our friends and their welcome of us into it.  Three stories for the girls to roam, tons of new toys, outside adventures (even moose in the yard!), and older kids to help keep an eye on them so I didn't have to be "on guard" very much at all.

Plus just having a girl to talk with every night for many hours, yes once we even saw it get light again.  We were very short on sleep (kids don't go to bed when it's light out!), but my mental exhaustion was so much lessened in those two short weeks.  What a treat!