Christmas Books

I didn’t set out with the intention of creating another tradition. I was just doing what the teacher inside of me always does. I pull thematic books to match the season or holiday and put them into a basket in the living room.

When it came time for Christmas decorating this year, our youngest, who had only celebrated one Christmas with us, kept asking, “Christmas books, now? Christmas books, now?” I had no idea this routine had become a treasured memory from the previous year.

Once the tree was up and the boxes cleared, I sent the girls downstairs to gather every Christmas book they could find. They were so excited. They searched the shelves, each looking for their favorite.

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Now the basket is filled with books and is lovingly searched through daily. And every night, we choose a different story to read together. Who knew something so simple could create such special moments in the hearts of my children.

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In a season where we often over extend ourselves physically, emotionally, and financially, it is good to remember that kids can and will enjoy simple celebrations if we let them.

This new “tradition” of Christmas books has brought unexpected joy and simplicity to my life and those two gifts are always welcome in my home.

~ Regina

PS – If you are looking for Christmas picture books, Amazon has a good selection…everything from whimsical Jan Brett to thought provoking Max Lucado. http://amzn.to/2jSpkYA Share your favorite in the comments.

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Advent Readings for Kids

If you are looking for a way to engage your kids this Christmas season, Arnold Ytreeide’s books are amazing. Your kids will hear the Christmas story from a child’s perspective filled with awe and adventure.

Our family has been reading these books for several years. We started with Jotham’s Journey and each year worked our way through a new book until we had read all four. Then, we started over again. We’ve read them aloud as a family and enjoyed the discussions they’ve brought to our evenings.

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It isn’t too late to start. Check them out yourself.

http://amzn.to/2nsxEU8

~ Regina

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Staying Strong and Courageous

Four years ago, I wrote something to remind myself of God’s goodness in allowing my strength to fail. At the time, we were preparing to go stateside for 18 months. It had been twelve years since we had spent so much time in the US and the thought of that much time spent stateside made all of us nervous. Our youngest daughter had unknown medical needs that seemed to be getting worse and we had to find some answers. Our oldest would be attending college on the East Coast while we would be living out west.

We packed up not knowing what the future had in store for us. We told our friends goodbye. We left our ministry in the hands of others. And, we walked into the unknown. Little did we know, it was the end of our time in a place that we had called home.

Looking back, I can see God weaving it all together. One by one our four older girls revealed a secret that David and I were not willing to accept…yet. They told us that they were confident that God was leading our family to stay stateside. Not one of them wanted it, but they were all willing to submit to that calling. Our business overseas closed and almost every local ministry partner moved away. God was closing those doors. Still, we weren’t ready to hear His call to not return.

Eighteen months came and went. Our youngest daughter’s needs were far greater than we had anticipated and the medical intervention would be ongoing. David and I began to feel peace in staying and knew that God had prepared a ministry for us in Colorado. We didn’t know exactly what life would look like, but we stepped out on faith and resigned as missionaries.

Soon, God would place us in the very ministry that we had always dreaded. David became a stateside pastor and I, a pastor’s wife. He did a lot of heart changing in us and made it a ministry of joy rather than fear.

Four years ago, I was walking in the unknown. I clung to verses that reminded me of God’s presence. I cherished the reminder in Deuteronomy 31:6 and Joshua 1:9 to be strong, because I felt very weak.

The last few weeks have been tough. I’ve felt the enemy attack and I’ve felt tired, weak, and discouraged. Then today, God sent me a sweet reminder in the form of a four year old note from myself:

Be strong and courageous…a command needed when our strength fails…when circumstances overwhelm and our own strength fails…when we don’t feel strong and don’t desire strength…the command keeps us going. Strength and courage aren’t optional, especially when your tired, overcome, and facing the enemy.

For forty years, the Israelites had wandered because their fear of the new place God was leading them was greater than their faith in God. The people looked at the land and saw hardships. They saw threatening giants. Fear caused them to rebel against God’s plan and so they wandered until a new generation took leadership.

God spoke to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous.” He repeats this phrase three times as He instructs Joshua to lead the people into the land their parents had rejected. In His charge, God reaffirms His position as an ever present help. He explains to Joshua that He is the one who will give them the land. It isn’t up to Joshua to fulfill God’s plan. God got that. Joshua’s responsibility was obedience.

God knew the people would be afraid. God knew they would encounter difficulties as they marched into the promised land. And, He knows my struggles, too. The same command given to Joshua is given to me. “Be strong and courageous.”

He doesn’t expect me to find the courage within myself, but to recognize the power that lies within all mighty God and is available to me when I walk with Him. My strength comes because my faith is in Him. When I know God is beside me, when I am confident in His ability to fulfill His plan, I am able to stand strong and courageous.

The command isn’t given because the road ahead is easy. It is given because God knows what tomorrow will bring in my life. He knows the friends that will misunderstand and walk away. He knows the blame that will be placed at the feet of the innocent. He knows the heartache which will arise when a loved one takes a destructive path. He knows the loneliness, discouragement, and defeat I feel. But in all of the chaos, His voice is clear, “Be strong and courageous.”

~ Regina

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International Women’s Day

For International Women’s Day,

I will enjoy the knowledge that my family loves and appreciates me.

I will go out of my way today to model godly womanhood through acts of service to those around me.

I will try to demonstrate grace when I’m frustrated.

I will speak words of Truth and encouragement because I value those around me, not because of gender or race, but because they are my brothers and sisters scattered around this globe.

I will demonstrate what it means to accept and fulfill obligations by being reliable and responsible in whatever work, inside and outside of my home, I have been giving to do.

I will demonstrate strength by enduring when I’m emotionally, mentally, and physically tired.

I will model wisdom by not jumping to conclusions about situations.

I will model self-control in my speech and actions so that I can be an example to those around me.

And if I fail in any or all of these things, I will clothe myself in humility and ask for forgiveness where needed.

This is how I will choose to celebrate being a woman today and everyday.

~ Regina

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2016 in Pictures, Part 1

This gallery contains 15 photos.

2016 was quite a year. We hit the ground, running fast and furious, and didn’t slow down until the end of December. Lots of good, a bit of bad, victories, and defeats. A year filled with opportunities to grow and … Continue reading

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First Christmas

Everyone always looks forward to the first Christmas with each child. The experiences, the pictures, the memories. I remember those special moments when our older 4 were babies and when Hanissa came home from Ethiopia. They were all amazed at the lights and just the ambiance of Christmas. Celebrating your first Christmas as an emotionally needy child and at the age of 7 is a bit different…for everyone. In the beginning there is more confusion and even fear, than joy and celebration.

As the weeks went on and the decorations became more familiar, Kylah began to relax and enjoy the season with us. We adjusted our celebration and had a different sort of Christmas. We were still incredibly busy but we chose to stay closer to home instead of attending parties with friends. Shopping excursions and car trips to see lights were shorter. We were busy trying to prepare her for the big day, Christmas. Other than a few meltdowns, we were doing really well…until Christmas Eve.

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Joy over Grief

She was grumpy. She was testy. Suddenly it poured out and pure grief flowed. I sat holding my daughter as she wept huge tears and cried out in anguish. “I want my family. I miss my family.”  She wasn’t talking about me or those living in her forever home.

Part of the birthday, holiday, or any family centered event day is grief. You can count on it to happen more regularly than any deeply held tradition. Sometimes it is quiet sadness, sometimes it is loud wailing. Regardless of the manifestation, it is always present.

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Something New

For years, we’ve tossed around the idea of publishing some of our writing. Well, thanks to the know-how of my amazing, techie guy, we did it.

Straight from our home to yours, we invite you to take a daily journey with us as we explore the coming of Messiah.

http://amzn.to/2iOKW5L

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Join us as we celebrate the birth of our Savior this Christmas.

~ Regina

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Five Months of Silence

It has been awhile since I posted. For five, long months I’ve been nothing but silent on my blog. Life has been busy. 2016 has been a year of change for our family. We brought our youngest daughter (number six for those keeping track) home from China in January, our oldest got married in May, celebrated my parent’s 50th anniversary (along with a two week east coast trip) in July, also moved into a new house in July, took daughter number two to Oregon for college in August, and finally returned home in September to see if we could find a way to inject some structure into the chaos that had spread throughout our lives. September also saw me teaching 3 classes for our homeschool group and a weekly ladies Bible study. Crazy just seems to come naturally to our family.

We had done all this with a little one who was not only new to traveling, spontaneity, English, and all things American, but the concept of family was foreign as well. So September found us starting school with a girl who was in serious need of a strict routine and very few outside people in her life. By mid-October, I expected to be settled in and have life back to normal, whatever that might look like.

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Trust

Learning to communicate is hard work. Coming into a family with no social cues…none…zip…nada, no understanding of proper emotional expressions (laughing when your hurt or others are sad, etc…), no understanding of responding to people only mimicking and reacting, no vocabulary to express words even if you were able…this and so much more has been an on-going battle, battle, battle, victory, battle, loss, battle, battle, slight victory, loss, battle, victory cycle.

Last night, K refused to obey and had to go to bed with Mama earlier than usual. This morning, she again refused to obey, but she used words instead of screams…HUGE VICTORY…even though her words were, “No, no ‘bey!” (Translation: No obey!) Yes, this parenting thing is HARD, but oh so worth it.

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