Thursday, November 12, 2009

South Africa Report


Four years ago, Jon and I were sitting in church in Georgia; at that time we had only been here for a few months. A woman named Tracie got up and talked about a trip she had just taken to South Africa to teach VBS. The pictures that she was showing and what she was saying really grabbed my heart. I remember turning to Jon and saying, “That's the kind of trip I would like to go on!” Well, it took me three more years to finally go! Tracie had talked to me every year about going, but I always found a reason not to (which even I thought was strange, since I wanted to go so bad). I realized that I had a bit of fear about going that far from home by myself and being away from Ty and Devon for that long.

As you might remember, last summer the four of us lived and worked Turkey for a month, and God dealt with a lot of my fear issues there. I also heard Him tell me that I was to go to South Africa this year. So, when it was time, and the trip was presented to me again, you would have thought I would have jumped on it! But instead I let the fear control me again and I said no. About a month later, the position for a teacher still hadn't been filled, and of course I knew God still wanted me to go. Jon and I talked about it, and Jon really wanted me to go as well! So, basically we made the decision and I booked my tickets that night! There were four of us that went from our church here in Georgia. We traveled to Cape Town, South Africa, and met up with the other twelve teachers. Wow, what an awesome trip! The kids were so amazing! By the end of the week we had over 500 kids attend the camp! Most of the kids were Muslim, and the parents would drop them off for free childcare (I understand we do this as well in America – VBS hopping – but the difference is that I would never drop my kids off at a mosque to have a free morning to myself). Jennie and I co-taught a class of first-grade students (really, we had anywhere from 5-year olds to 9-year olds), and by the end of the week we had 80 students!

The highlight for me was on the very last day: I was walking with one of the little boys from our class, and we were talking about what he enjoyed during the week. He told me that he really enjoyed the Bible stories, and when I asked him why, he said, “Because nobody has ever told me about Jesus before.” Wow! I was thanking God for the privilege it was for me to be there and share about His Son with these precious children! I came home to a family that did wonderful without me, but missed me terribly as well, which is a good thing! I am hoping to go back again next year, but we will see what the year brings for us.

Falling head first into Fall


Well, Fall is in full swing here in Georgia now. The colors have been breathtaking, we have had some chilly days, and a few freezing nights already! The flannel sheets feel really good! I love fall, I love everything about it, but I am never quite ready for summer to end either. I love that fall is the perfect time to start using the crock pot again, and pull out all those yummy recipes that seem to "heavy" for summer cooking (like chicken and dumplings!). I love pulling out the sweaters and boots again, and cuddling up with blankets in the evening by the fireplace with a nice hot cup of tea. The boys are back outside playing as much as possible, because it if finally not too hot! I can tell this week, they are also ready for the much needed week off of school that they are given at Thanksgiving! Just this morning Devon let out a big sigh, when I asked him what was wrong he said, "I just have better things to do then sit in school all day!" I completely understand! I feel that way about work at times... but we have to do what we have to do!

Today is the first sunny day we have had in the last couple days. Tropical Storm Ida came through and dumped about 5 inches of rain on us. The sun feels so good! I unrolled my car windows today and just enjoyed the gift of warmth! Thanks God! 2 days of non stop rain was a bit much for me to take.

I am preparing for our friend Ellyn to get here this weekend. She arrives Sunday night and is only able to stay until Tuesday morning... but I will take what I can get! Then a week later my parents arrive to spend a little over a week with us, and my younger brother David is also flying in to spend Thanksgiving with us! I also have invited 2 other families to join us on Thanksgiving. Cooking for 20 might normally have me a bit worried, but Mom will be here, so I know it will not only be fun to cook together, but pretty stress free as well! I have cooked 2 Thanksgiving meals on my own, so I am really looking forward to cooking with her again! The 2 families I have invited over are also from OM, and they are British. Keeps my stress level down, because they don't have long standing Thanksgiving traditions that I will end up disappointing! Anyway, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays... great food, great friends and family and no presents to buy! We play games like scrabble or sequence after dinner and just hang out and enjoy each other!

2 weeks after Thanksgiving, we are leaving for Oregon. We haven't been there in 2 years, and I am very much looking forward to spending time with Jon's sister and her family again and being with Jon's parents. I know it might seem unusual for someone to be looking forward to spending time with in laws, but I think mine are great. They have really become a second set of parents for me. 2 years is too long to be away from family, but for now this is where God has us. I have realized that God is so, so good for providing people here that also feel like family. Anyway, I will not write too much about Oregon now...maybe it will give me a reason to blog more coming up!

Here is a favorite recipe

Chicken and Dumplings
1 cup Bisquick
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp pepper
Chicken pieces (I usually use legs and thighs)
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 cups milk
poultry seasoning

Mix bisquick, salt, paprika and a little poultry seasoning in a zip lock bag. Put chicken pieces in a few at a time and shake to coat. In a large skillet brown chicken in oil and melted butter. Remove chicken and pour excess fat from skillet. Stir in soup, and milk; add chicken pieces. Cover; heat until boiling. Cook over low heat about 1 hour or until chicken in tender.

Twenty minutes before chicken is done, prepare dumpling dough (recipe below). Drop dough by spoonful onto hot soup mixture. Cook uncovered over low heat for 10 minutes; cover and cook another 10 minutes. To serve, place dumplings on platter around chicken; pour gravy over top.

I sometimes double the soup and milk to make more gravy (I never said it was a healthy meal!)

Dumplings:
2 1/4 cup Bisquick
2/3 cup milk
sprinkle about 1/4 teaspoon of poultry seasoning
sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of parsley flakes

Stir together until a soft dough forms.


soooo good!!!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

AFRICA!!!!

Okay, I am actually here in South Africa. A land that I have always wanted to visit! I feel like I have gone to the ends of the earth! It is so beautiful, but there is something so familiar about it! It really reminds me of California. I have seen huge calla lilies (like the ones I used to have growing in my backyard in San Bruno), seafoam statice, birds of paradise, and California poppies! The weather is very similar to San Francisco. The first day we were here it was sunny and warm. The next day it rained all day! Today has been windy, but sunny. I have really loved all of it! Yesterday we drove to Hermanus Bay to a whale festival. We sat out on the cliffs and watched all the whales swim by. I couldn't believe how beautiful it was! I saw 2 mothers with their babies. Today we went to church at Westwood Baptist Church. The service was amazing. The service was about sacrificing all to Jesus...not giving Him the left overs. Then we got to go to our classrooms to set up for VBS. Tomorrow we start! I am so excited to meet these kids and tell them about God's love for them. I know the enemy is not happy about us being here, because we have already experience things being stolen, and a few injuries. I am not sure that I will be able to post pictures after all, but I will get some up when I get home. Well, right now I am sitting in an internet cafe, and it is time for dinner. I will try to update again in a few days! God is so good, and I am so happy to be here for Him!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

God is always so good!

I want to share with you about an opportunity that I have been given this year. Actually, it is an
opportunity that I have been given before, but this is the first time I have accepted it! Let me start by
giving you a little background info:
About a month after we started going to our church here in Georgia (and about 3 months after we
moved here in 2005), I listened to a lady talk about a trip to South Africa that she just got back from.
The purpose of the trip was to help run a Vacation Bible School for kids in a poor township outside of
Cape Town. She and her family had been doing this for 15 years at this point. I remember her talking
about loving on these kids and teaching them about Jesus, and looking at the pictures of the sweet
faces, and I turned to Jon and said, “Someday I would like to take a trip like that!” Well, over that next
year, I got to know Tracie and her family better and was invited to go along the following year. I really
wanted to go, but fear held me back. I wasn't ready to travel internationally (which at that time I hadn't
done yet) or leave my family for 12 days. Again in 2007 I chose not to go, even though I knew in my
heart that God wanted me to. As most of you know, 2008 is when Jon, the boys and I lived and worked
in Turkey for a month. God dealt with a lot of my fear issues on that trip. On our flight home, Jon and I
had many hours to sit and debrief the trip. I really felt God tell me that I was to go to South Africa this
year. I felt it so strongly, and yet when the trip was first brought up to me again about a month ago, I
was looking for reasons not to go. The fear was rising up again. There was also the possibility of
another ministry trip that Jon and I might be able to do together, but at this point that has not come
together, and I've decided in any case to not let that stand in my way.
The group that is going to South Africa has needed a helper for the first grade class (which is the age
group I LOVE to work with) and here, a month later, they were still looking for this helper. Again, I
heard God tell me that I was to go. I do feel like God kept anyone else from filling that position so that
I would be able to do it. Jon and I talked about me going and prayed about it. I wanted to make sure
that he would be okay with the kids for 12 days while I was away, and I wanted to know that he would
support me in doing this trip. Which of course he does, because he has wanted me to do this for the past
few years! I have a great husband! :)
So that brings me to the reason for this letter. I have decided to go. I am asking you to please pray for
me while I am away. I will leave on September 23rd and return home on October 4th. This is the first
trip I have taken by myself and the longest I have ever been away from my family!
I am really excited to see what God has planned during this trip. I can't wait to spend time with these
kids and teach them, and also see what they have to teach me!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Summertime!

Well, it is summer here in Georgia. High 90's with humidity just as high! The last week my kids have hardly even gone outside to play, it is just too hot for them (unless we are headed for a friends pool!). We started off our summer this year with a much needed vacation. We were on a plane as soon as the boys got out of school at the end of May. Our first stop was the Bay Area, just for about a day! Basically it was just a stop over on our way to Hawaii. We were blessed enough to spend 12 days on 2 different islands with my parents. What a blast! Jon and I went to Hawaii for our honeymoon, but haven't been back since...and that was 16 years ago! The boys got lots of beach time and body surfing! They were at a great age to do something like this! It was also great to be able to spend time with family again! It had been a very busy first part of the year for Jon. He had already been to Turkey/Lebanon for 2 weeks, 2 different trips to California (5 days each), and Germany for 3 weeks. So it was nice to have some quality family time. We were only home for a week when Jon had to leave again. This time it was Hungary for 2 weeks. As I write this, he will be getting on a plane in about 4 hours to come home. It has been a strange 2 weeks. I thought it would be easier with the boys out of school and Jon gone...no schedules or night time activities that we had to go to. But, I have found it to be the longest 2 weeks EVER! The boys have been good, but it is not easier when they are out of school! Hopefully this will be the last time for awhile that Jon will be gone. I have really been focusing on the bible verse, "This is what the Lord says to you, "Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but Gods" 2 Chron. 20:15

Other fun summer things...Ty turned 11 last Sunday! I can't believe he is growing up so fast! What a fun loving young man he is becoming. He has such a great heart. He is really developing a love for music as well. He saved up all his birthday money and bought himself a new ipod nano (it's blue!). Today he spent most of the day getting all his music on it. It was fun to watch him, but I kept wondering where my little boy went! He starts middle school in August and is very excited about it. He doesn't seem nervous at all...even though his 2 best friends are going to 2 different private schools! I think that is a good sign that he is confident on who he is. What a joy he is!

We are also eagerly waiting for later this month when some good friends are coming out to visit us here in Georgia! We love getting visitors and showing them around our new hometown! They are from San Bruno and used to the fog, so we will see how they handle Georgia heat in July! Yikes!

I will end this with a few pics of Hawaii and a video of a song that I heard today. It is an old Amy Grant song from Lead Me On. I had forgotten all about this song, and it came up on my shuffle today and stopped me in my tracks! I remember listening to it as a teenager and having lots of romantic thoughts about being married to a musician. I also have always loved music and thought it would be cool to marry a musician...well that is what God gave me. I now know that is it a lot harder to have a spouse who travels...but I love the way that Jon is following God, and leading our family. Anyway, enjoy this oldie but goodie!








okay, I couldn't find a video for this song, but here are the lyrics

When I was younger
I used to dream a lot
Staring into my coffee
About how you'd love me
And write me poetry
And want to be with me, yeah
Well, Momma done told me
You might wander far, yeah
But nobody warned me
The road would own your heart

And so I'm saying
If you have to go away
I will be waiting by the phone
And if you have to go away
I'll put your records on
Pretend you're still at home

Now that I'm older
I sit at home a lot
With the kid we've got, yeah
The radio's playing
He really loves his wife
I hear the D.J. saying
Well Momma done told me
You might wander far, oh
As long as you hold me
More than you hold that guitar
I'll keep on saying

If you have to go away
I'll leave your shoes beside the bed
And if you have to go away
I'll want to be with you
I'll be with me instead
If you have to go away
I won't be sleeping very well
But if you have to go away
I will be loving you
Till it's cold in hell

Maybe you'll write me this time
Maybe you'll call on a static line
Saying don't you ever worry your pretty mind
Cause you and me are gonna be fine

And so I'm saying
If you have to go away
I will be waiting by the phone
And if you have to go away
I'll put your records on
Pretend you're still at home

If you have to go away
I'll leave your shoes beside the bed
And if you have to go away
I'll want to be with you
I'll be with me instead
If you have to go away
I won't be sleeping very well
But if you have to go away
I will be loving you
I will be loving you
If you have to go away


If You Have To Go Away by Amy Grant

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

100 years

Have you ever heard that song "100 Years" by Five for Fighting? I have been obsessed with it lately. I think I listened to it on my ipod about 5 times in a row when I went to bed the other night. By about the 3rd time I was totally crying (and yes, I still listened to it 2 more times!). I have had a lot on my mind lately about my life, and how fast it seems to be going. Part of me just wants everything to stop so I can enjoy it, but another bigger part of me really is enjoying every minute of it! Does that make sense? I think a big part of this is watching Ty finish up elementary school. Here 6th grade is considered middle school, so next school year he is changing schools. This has both excited me and terrified me at the same time! Terrified me because I remember middle school years (we called it Jr. High). They were awful. That strange place of still being a child, but wanting to be so grown up at the same time! Trying to be cool with my friends and thinking I knew more then my parents. These were the years that I tried smoking for the first time and tested out the occasional swear word. The pressure of wearing the right clothes, and having the right hairstyle was exhausting. But it is also exciting to me because Ty is such a sweet, smart, caring boy. He is the one to befriend the underdog and I love that about him! He loves God and isn't afraid to let people know that. I just hope and pray that he doesn't lose that! I dread the day when he doesn't want to hug me in public.

Anyway, back to the song. The writer goes through years of his life, remembering different things. It made me go back and look at my life. I got married when I was 20. I have no regrets about that, I don't feel like I missed out on anything. But my early 20's were with Jon, and we were still becoming who we are now. You still are changing so much during those years. My later 20's was spent having my babies. The years up till about 31 are a blur. Lots of diapers, baths, rocking in the middle of the night, singing, you know, all that stuff that goes along with babies, and toddlers. Again, I loved every minute of it! Now I am in my early late 30's, and the boys are much more independent of me. Which I know is a good thing, it means I did my job somewhat well when they were younger. I like having actual conversations with both Ty and Devon. They make me laugh, and yes, they still can make me mad and need discipline, but for right now, it feels like a really good place. They are such good boys. Jon and I are at a different place now too. We have been married 16 years, and no it wasn't all easy, but he truly is my best friend and I can't imagine my life without him! Funny, how all this came out of listening to a song. Story of my life...music plays a huge part of how I deal with emotions. Maybe that is why I married a musician!

We are finishing up our last days of school. The boys get out on Friday. Next year holds a lot of unknowns, but I think I am finally ready for them! Someone told me not to long ago when I said I wasn't ready for Ty to move on, that when the time came, I would be ready. I didn't really believe her at the time, but now I do. Bring it on!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why I love being the mom of boys...

Okay, I totally stole this from someone else's blog ( Passionate Homemaking) but I love it, and I wouldn't be able to put it into better words! Being the mom of boys is never boring!





Boys are so sweet. Boys love their Mamas like crazy. Boys think their Daddys are the best. Boys….ah boys. Boys bring such joy.
Whoever said that only little girl clothes are cute…and that you can never find any cute little boy clothes…never saw all the adorable outfits at my blue baby showers.
And I dare say…there’s a little something to be said for being able to run a comb through their hair real quick before dashing out the door. No bows or braids or hair doo-dads to keep track of.
I love how boys play (now that I’m used to it!). Our house is usually noisy, rough and fast…there’s not a lot of tip-toeing or sitting down quietly to color pictures at the table.
Generally…I find that the male greeting (between my boys and all of their friends who come over to play) has little to do with words…and a lot to do with grabbing onto and pulling one another down to the floor into an immediate wrestling match.
I’ve learned to look the other way…smile…and shake my head about so many things that I used to fear would turn into a trip to the Emergency Room. Boys play rough…they can’t help it. They make noise…it oozes out of their pores.
Rolls of wrapping paper become swords or light sabers. Toast and grilled cheese sandwiches are chewed into the shape of little guns. Math books become drums. Little pink erasers become race cars.
Everything (everything) becomes a competition…who can finish their milk first…who can put their jammies on the fastest…who can get from the kitchen to the living room without touching the floor.
It’s one big, loud, ball game at our house all day long…and I wouldn’t trade it for all tea parties in Boston.
I consider it a huge honor to be the mama of boys. Boys who we pray will grow up and be Godly leaders some day. Boys who we pray will be Godly husbands and daddys some day.
Oh…and some day…I’ll have daughters. Some day…four (2 in my case!) of your daughters will grow into godly young ladies who will marry my sons. I’ll take them shopping and we’ll cook and do hair together.
Until then…I’ll just continue to feed mountains of mashed potatoes and huge stacks of pancakes to all these boys while they make all the noises with their armpits that they are so good at making and while they laugh at all the things boys can’t help but think are funny.
They are…boys.
Boys who have completely and totally won my heart.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Dark Gives Way


I promise to blog more by Monday...(maybe on Monday). But I wanted to let you all know that Jon just released his newest CD, Dark Gives Way. Go to our website and order a copy (please)!

www.BugNogMusic.com

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Only in the South

Tonight we went out to one of our favorite Chinese food places here in Georgia. Yes, I know we complain about the Chinese food here, but this place is pretty good (our other favorite here is Panda Express...I know...sad). We were given a gift this last week, which we used along with a $10 off coupon I had here at home already, and took the boys to dinner. Well, we were sitting and eating dinner and there was instrumental music playing in the background (nothing odd about that), but then I noticed that the music was "Awesome God". I told Jon, really, only in the south are you going to go into a restaurant and hear Christian music playing and nobody is getting upset or offended about it. Granted, it was instrumental, but still, we have been to plenty of places where it is not instrumental. Anyway, I am starting a new thing to my blog about things that are unique to the area where God has put us. On a side note, we tried a new chinese fruit called Litchi tonight...it kinda looks like a very large, hallow, white grape (with no skin), and kinda taste like an orange. Very interesting!

Random

Okay, this is the first post of 2009. I would tell you about all the great resolutions I have made...but I don't make them anymore. Too depressing when you can't follow through on them. I am going to TRY to eat better, exercise more, and read more this year. Maybe I can get better at keeping the house cleaner as well...but I guess time will tell. I have always wondered how many books I read a year, so this year I have started a list. So far I am on my third book this month. I just finished reading, "The Last Lecture", by Randy Pausch. Awesome little book. I won't give away any of the details, but it had me bawling at the end. I highly recommend it. After that, I had to read something fictional, so I just started "Last Kiss" by Luanne Rice. I have loved all of her books, and so far this one is just a good!

Anyway, on to family stuff. Ty, our 10 year old now has a blog. I am sure he will be much better about updating his then either Jon or I are about ours. I love how he describes himself. He says he is "The son of a missionary, a 10 year old bassoonist and a Jesus Freak." I think it will be great to see what he writes about...what is important to a 10 year old. Anyway, you should check it out...www.tysimpson.blogspot.com. Leave him a comment...he will love it!

Devon is doing well. Still big time into video games. His newest obsession is the game Spore. Our family got it for Christmas. I still haven't played it...kinda looks fun though. If he is not playing video games, and the weather is anywhere above freezing, he is running around outside with all the neighborhood kids. If it is too cold outside, he is up in his room playing legos . He is such a fun, crazy, energetic boy. He is starting to get interested in email and all that, but not as much as his brother.

Jon is gearing up for a busy February. He will be gone most of the month. First he is doing a trip will Bill Drake to Southern California, and then he is going overseas to do another co lead on a tour. I will post detail on that at another time, but please be praying for safety for him while he is away, and for the boys and I at home. He is also getting ready to release a new CD. I am so proud of all the work he has done this year on this album project and can't wait for people to be able to hear it!

I am still working at OM part time. I am thinking about getting my Southern Living at HOME business started again, just so we have a little more spending money. I am enjoying my family, and miss my family from CA and OR all the time. I look forward to the times when I know we are getting visitors. I am also determined to start working on my scrapbooks again this year.

Well, this seems like it has kinda turned into a Christmas letter...the one I never did get out this year! You might have noticed that I changed the background to this blog. I really needed something colorful. The winter here in GA is very brown...no leaves on the trees, lawns go dormant, no flowers...I find it very boring and ugly! I love when spring gets here, you see such a difference! Anyway, that is the reason for the colorful background! Hope you enjoy it!

Devon being silly (on Thanksgiving)


The sun rising over our backyard