Thursday, May 24, 2018

My Boy


I captured this sweet moment when Andrew  lovingly rested his hand on my arm while eating his cereal. These precious moments with this little boy melt my heart. He is the sweetest little boy on earth. I don’t know why I am so luckey to get to be his mom. He is constantly hugging and cuddling me, telling me how much he loves me, picking me flowers, and wanting to spend time with me. I tell him all the time that he is like a part of my body because he is from me. We have such a special bond and love each other so very much. I love each moment I get to spend with him. I love reading him books at night. Our favorite books are The Ox Cart Man, Quick as a Cricket, the Little Indian, The Little Eskimo, Good Night Sweet Butterflies, The Maggie B, Blueberries for Sal and Miss Rumphious. We also love playing outside together. Our favorite things to play are basketball, soccer, and badmitten. This year he is doing Kindergarden homeschool so I get to be his teacher. I love teaching him. He loves to learn and is a quick learner. He has great stamina to conscentrate. He wants to be an inventor when he grows up and make a real transformer, among a lot of other things. 
Andrew also loves to pray. He prays every time we pray as a family. He prays everyday for the Scott family to “not miss Molly too much” and he prayes for all his extended family.  His prayers are amazingly sweet, heartfelt, and well thought out. I am constantly impressed. I love this little boy more than I can say with words. He has the sweetest and funniest little personality and I love that I get to spend all my days with him. We both pray we will live for a long long time so we can live together for many many years. He doesn’t plan on ever getting married so that we can always be together. πŸ˜‚ I’m sure he will change his mind someday but if he doesn’t I will be one happy lady! πŸ’™ 











Sunday, May 20, 2018

TotalFit

My friend started a workout outreach in the park near our home. It has been fun to be a part of the group and to see strangers walk up and join our workout! It’s a neat way to connect with the community here. There is a theme to each workout. TotalFit is a workout program that address the total body (body, mind and spirit). She talkes about different themes in each workout (perseverence, forgiveness). Yesterday she told the story of Joseph and how he was able to forgive. 











My Chalkboard

I love my chalkboard. I have had one ever since the kids were very young. It has been so helpful in teaching so many different things to the kids. I guess I am a visual learner, so I like to draw things when explaining them to the kids. I have drawn so many different things for kids over the years. I’m not an artest, but just even simple symbols can help kids understand complex concepts. I was so worried when we moved here to Kazakhstan that I wouldn’t have a good chalkboard. I beggged Justin to let me carry mine on the plane (it was just a bit too big). But God provided an amazing chalkboard here, which I found at a local bazaar. I love it and have used it even more now that we are homeschooling. I also love that chalk is available here, and cheap. 





Friday, May 4, 2018

Happy Birthday Sara!!

Happy Birthday to my sweet little spunky, sunshine Sara! I love you Sara Grace! From the moment I laid eyes on your cute, sweet little face I was in love with you and you have been a joy to us for 10 years now! I can’t believe I get to be your mom. You are an amazing little person. You are loving, compassionate, a great helper to me, and so smart. I love being with you. I love to snuggle and cuddle you. I love listening to you play the violin. I am so excited to see what God does with your life. You are going to be a really fun and crazy pre-teen. Oh what fun we will have in your 10th year little crazy girl! πŸ€ͺπŸ˜‰πŸ˜ 

I love you so much Sunshine Sara 🌞🌻🌟✨πŸ’«☀️









Sunday, April 29, 2018

Molly



We had the privilege to live with the amazing Scott family for two and a half years. During our time together, they had a sweet baby girl, Molly. Our children adored Molly. We had the blessing of watching her grow from a newborn, to a toddler and all the joys that she brought. The cuteness. The smiles. The giggles. She had it all and more. She was spunky, strong, smart, determined, and as cute as she could possibly be. On April 2nd 2017, tragity struck our household. Molly died in a tragic accident at her aunt’s house. This was crushing news to our family. 

When I got the news that there had been an accident, our family was at a prayer meeting at church. I immediately burst out in tears and asked Justin for they keys to rush to the hospital. The prayer meeting had just assembled (Carolyn Byrne, Lois Gilmore, the Salzmans) I immediately asked the prayer group for prayer for Molly, through my tears, and they immediately began to pray. As I rushed out of the room, my oldest daughter who had been scribbling out Psalms 23 on a post-it note, shoved it in my hand and said “mommy, give this to Charissa!”

I rushed to the hospital where I was met in the ER Lobby by our Pastor and his wife. My entire body was trembling and I could not help the tears that streamed down my face. 
I was able to go back to the waiting room and wait for a little while with Jordan and Charissa as the lobby of the hospital began to fill with our church. (Evans, Jeremy Pray, daggs, Cummings, McNeffs, Kamyias, Mike Branagh, Custocks, Phillips, and so many others) Jordan and Charissa were waiting with her brother and two of our pastors. I held Charissa’s hand tight as we waited for any news. A nurse came into the room to tell us that they were still working on Molly, and they were doing everything they could. “Does she have a pulse?” I asked. He said that her pulse, at that time, was being mechanically stimulated. I knew what this meant. They were still doing CPR. My mind was racing at this point. This was not good news. How long had it been? What was her temp? What did her pupils look like? What was her GCS? Does it even matter what they say? No, I thought, God can do anything. She is a baby. Babies can pull through. It will be a miracle, and she will defy the odds... we continued to pray. 

I went to the lobby when Charissa’s family arrived, but paused briefly to hug and cry with Natalie, Abby, Lydia and Hampton as they came in through the ER. We had a moment when I first hugged them where grief and terror was spread across our tear stained faces, but we quickly began to pray together. The ER was filled with people who were probably waiting to be seen for broken limbs or stitches. In the moment, I didn’t see them or anyone else.  I just called out to the Lord with these sweet ladies and sweet Hampton. I can’t remember my exact prayer but it was loud and I was making a scene, but I didn’t care.  I was calling on God to heal Molly. Natalie, Abby and Lyd and Hampton went back to where Jordan and Charissa were and I stayed with so many others from the church who had come to pray and wait in the Lobby.
 The kids and Justin waited at home. The 5 hours seemed like an eternity, as the doctors and nurses worked hard to save Molly’s life. It was late in the night when we found out Molly could no longer be with us, she had gone home to Heaven. Andrew and Katie were asleep, but Kalena and Sara were as awake as ever, waiting and praying with Justin for Molly’s life. I called to tell them she had died and I wish I had been there at that moment to be with my girls as they heard the news. Speechless. Still. Wide eyed. Small moans and groans. Those are the best discriptions Justin gave of the girl’s reactions. Justin rushed to the hospital and after seeing and hugging Charissa, I rushed home to be with the girls. 

Before I left the hospital, I will never forget the reassurance I got from Cyndi Evans. She was calm, collected, and speaking such strong encouraging words to me.  My feelings were so confusing at this point, greiving myself,  going home to my kids who are grieving, going home to the Scotts who are grieving... so many thoughts and so much heartache. Cyndi looked at me square in the face and gave me the most reassuring words of encouragement... “you got this...you just do your thing.” she told me with a smile. I can’t explain it but her sweet Cyndi smile and words in that moment were like a shot of spiritual adrenaline that I needed. It was a providential moment I will never forget. 

When I got to my parents house the girls were full of questions, and sadness. What do we do now? This was my first thought and one that would continue in my head every hour for the next several days. The heart wrenching pain and sorrow, felt like a physical vice squeezing of all my insides. It was agonizing. It was like a nightmare I couldn’t wake up from. This precous Scott family was OUR family. 

I immediately cradled both my girls and we sat sadly together for a while. It was probably 1 or 2 in the morning. The entire night is a bit of a blur but the best part was when, from down the street at our house, Charissa was awake and she texted us. We talked back and forth for what was maybe hours, talking about everything and recient memories of sweet Molls. Charissa was in bed too. Our conversation was sweet, and refreshing. She was so strong. But I think the realization was slowly dawning on both of us that morning was coming. There had to be a first day without Molly. How would we do it? 

I’ve done a lot of talking with my kids about hard times. How do we rely on the Lord? What does that look like? What do you do? Pray, taking hold of your thoughts... taking them captive, worship, read scripture, hope. We have hope and we do not grieve like the world grieves BECAUSE we have hope. It’s a different grief than normal grief. We KNOW where Molly is. She is in heaven right where she belongs. Do we want her here?  Yes. Are we sad? Unbelievably. But we do not dispair. Rehearsing this to the kids is one thing, living it out in the flesh is another. 

Katie and Andrew woke as I prepared to go help Charissa feed Chloe and Phoebe. We would stop at the store and get some berries, the Scotts favorite food. Katie and Andrew immediately asked about Molly when they woke up and we gave them the sad news. Both of them erupted in loud cries and sobs that broke my already broken heart. This precious little Molly was like a sibling to us. She was a daily part of our lives that we cherished. I consoled them but immediately put them to action to get ready to go home. We need to help our friends... who had slowly, over the past two years, become family. 

That first breakfast, the first weeks, and first months were excruciating. My heart juggled so many emotions and so much pain as did the kids. Watching our sweet Scotts go through the pain was heart wrenching. Knowing that their entire extended family (also our friends) were all grieving was so hard. Seeing Mark and Amy, our good friends (the family that was devinly appointed to be at the scene of Molly’s death) have to work through so much trauma, along with their kids, was also breaking our hearts. 

However, there was such increadible strength, poise, and steadfastness that we got front row seats to see. When I imagine Job going through his struggles, I imagine him having the same resolute that I saw in Jordan, Charissa, Amy and Mark. What amazing testimonies of people who fully trust in the Lord and His power to heal and restore a soul. In the days and weeks following, these families spoke often of the goodness of the Lord. His plans that are perfect. His will that we bow to. His love that is unending. His embrace of and dwelling with Molly. His promise that we will see her again. All these truths flowed freely from them all. It’s obvious they, with the Lord’s wisdom, had prepared and rehearsed for trials. 

When the kids and I talk about Molly and the Scotts now, we always talk about their strength in the Lord. HE gave them the courage to face death, and to have hope. HE didn’t let them slide into dispair. Charissa went to the choir practice following Molly’s death to worship God. To worship him with a broken heart. We praise Him THROUGH trials, as hard or impossible as they many seem. This is the lesson we have learned, and the lesson we continue to learn from our sweet friends. 

We count it a privaladge that we were able to know Molly and to have almost 2 years living with her and loving her. She will always remain in our hearts. We will always miss her. But what will also remain in our hearts, is the courage of our friends, our heros. We look up to them and love them and will forever be blessed spiritually with their amazing example. 

Markets Around Town

Here are some pics from markets around our city. I love going to all the different markets, it’s fun to meet sweet people selling all kinds of things and food. My favorite story is from the fruit and veggie stand in the pic below. A woman came with a bag of potatoes to unload in the potatoe box while I was picking some out. Y’all... this lady was no younger than 80. She was carrying half her weight in potatoes, it seemed, and just doing her thing. Like a boss. She had probably dug them out of her garden that morning. People here are hard workers and it is humbling to watch.
In my recient trip to the Zaloni Bazzar.  I met a woman who sells honey with her mom. It is the best honey I’ve ever tasted. We chatted a bit in Russian and she gave me her business card. I am excited to go back and buy honey from her again soon! 🍯 









Horse meat! This is a delicacy here. I asked my friend who was moving away what she would miss from Almaty and she said “horse meat!”














Hummmmm. Maybe lamb heads? I’ll pass but thanks. 




I had to include this “shop” or whatever it is. I love that it is right next to the dentist πŸ˜‚




Katя is 8!!

Our little spunky baby girl has turned 8. I have no words to express how much we all love our TiTi. She is an amazing soul with explosive and massive amounts of love for the people around her. She is an amazing little nurse helping anyone who is suffering. She is an amazing playmate and enjoys her sisters and little brother so much. We are overwhelmed by the blessing of this little one in our family. She lights up every room with her amazing smile. I pray her life will continue in growth of worship to our Lord. She is worshiping Him with guenuion love and it is a joy to watch and listen to. We love you baby girl. πŸ’—πŸ’