Thursday, October 27, 2011

Giveaway at Sew a Fine Seam

My friend, Jill, is having a super fun giveaway over at her blog!  It's a pretty sweet computer scrapbooking program.  Go visit her and enter to win!
Here is a sample of some of the pages she put together (isn't Little Sister the cutest?)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Difference Between the Voice of God and the Voice of Satan

The voice of Satan is always loud and strong and calamitous.
But the voice of God is always quiet and persuasive.

The voice of Satan never deals with specifics but is often dealing with things in general terms.
The voice of God is always to the point.  The voice of God is specific and God is the not the God of confusion.

The voice of Satan is demanding and always trying to get an immediate decision.
The voice of God is always leading.  Time is always a great asset to know the voice of God.

The voice of Satan perplexes us, creates turmoil and mixes us up.
But the voice of God is always clear and distinctive.

The voice of Satan is never marked by a restful and peaceful spirit.
The voice of God gives us great rest of certainty.

The voice of Satan is always afraid of the Light of God and will draw back from it.
The voice of God is always open and willing for council and question.

The voice of Satan brings depression and discouragement.
But the voice of God brings great encouragement to the believer.

The voice of Satan appeals to the lower instincts and suggests "I want."
But the voice of God appeals to the higher instincts and suggests "I ought."

The voice of Satan disappears if the Christian refuses to listen to it.
But the voice of God grows stronger and stronger in my personal relationship with Him.

-Taken from a message by Gerhard Du Toit and shared with me by a dear Christian sister.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

When You Can't See the Difference

Late in the week during our trip to Torreon, I started to feel really discouraged and defeated.  Was I making any kind of difference at all?  Was I more of a burden than a blessing?  What was the point of my being there?  On our last day there, I climbed a large hill next to the Indian House and watched the sun come up.  I asked God all of these questions and more.  Here is how He answered:

 Look at the sunrise - when you begin in the dark and it is gradually getting lighter around you, you don't notice the change from moment to moment.  You know it's getting lighter but it's unmeasurable just by looking at it.

 And so it is when God is working through us.  You don't notice the difference but it's there.  It's not something tangible and measurable, we just have to trust that the change is there.  After all, the change isn't about us and we can't take any of the glory - it's His.  If there is a seed planted, a weed pulled away, a seedling watered, a harvest gathered - it's His.  Maybe He did use me to make a difference to one person, maybe the only difference He made was in me, whatever difference was made - it's His.
 "Once more Jesus addressed the crowd. He said, I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me will not be walking in the dark, but will have the Light which is Life." John 8:12 AMP

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tips for Traveling Without Going Insane

I do not consider myself a seasoned traveler but I've made a few road trips in my life, seeing as how Mr. Steady and I dated long-distance for almost a year.  I drove the 1400 mile round-trip several times by myself, stopping in truck-stop parking lots (because I was a poor and also naive college student) to sleep. 

But this is the first 1500 mile one-way trip I have ever made and we did it with three children!  So I thought I would share a few traveling tips.  I got a few ideas from Monica's blog, borrowed a few ideas from other blogs, and {gasp!} even came up with a few of my own!

Our rental car trunk on the way out - filled to the brim!

Goodie Bags - I saw several ideas, from wrapping Dollar Tree toys and giving the children a gift every hour, at the entry of every state and several other ideas.  We decided to do one goodie bag a day and let the boys learn to budget their fun and snacks.  My dad's girlfriend very thoughtfully gave the boys a large bag of goodies so I combined her gifts with things I had bought.  On the first day (of the road trip my mother gave to me....oh, sorry), they each received an ink pen, personal package of tissues, fruit snacks, beef jerky, a curly straw and Sunday comics.  Yes, the Sunday comics...I'd been holding them hostage for several weeks.  The other days bags contained items such as peanut butter crackers, personal bags of Oreos and Chips Ahoy cookies, dot-to-dot pages, the seek-and-find pictures from the local daily newspaper, word searches, candy, more fruit snacks, more beef jerky, and recent issues of Highlights magazine (also held hostage for this specific purpose).  On the first day of the return trip they received new ink pens and new curly straws because they are boys (or maybe just kids?) and had either lost them, broke them or used them for swords.

Our friend, Mindy, gave us two sets of Roadtrip Bingo and I saved some of the bigger gifts Sue had given the boys (spiky inflatable balls, a slinky, a small chalkboard, and a game) along with some bigger things I had bought (a Lego minifigure and a book for each of them) as prizes for winning.  I had one big gift per child per day on the way out.  Thanks, Mindy - they were sure a hit and they boys were disappointed to find there were no more prizes for the return trip!

I downloaded several ebooks from the library onto my iPod and requested several audiobooks.  Instead of taking all the cases, I loaded up the CDs into a small CD holder - that way all the CDs were together and we didn't have to store all the cases.

Anytime we are on a long trip and are planning to stop overnight I pack an overnight bag with just the necessary things for our whole family for one night in it.  That way, when we stop at the hotel the only thing we have to take in is that one bag.  Since we were staying overnight two nights this time (or is it because their clothes aren't teeny tiny anymore?) all of our stuff wouldn't fit into one bag.  But I did manage to get everything into two bags.

 One thing I did to save on space was only pack one pair of pants in the overnight bag for each person.  You're already wearing one pair and all you're doing is sitting (and sitting....and sitting...and sitting....and occassionally whacking your brother....and sitting some more).   So you wear a clean pair of pants the second day and by the third day the first pair has aired out enough you're good to go.  Some of you may think that is gross but when we are at home we wear our pants (well, to be fair, I wear my skirt and they wear their pants) more than one time before washing and we're not just sitting around so why not save room on the road?   There was a washer and dryer where we stayed so I only packed 5 outfits plus church clothes and we were able to pack everything into 3 suitcases.  I don't know about you but I think that is pretty good!

A dear minister and his wife gave each of our boys a gift card for different fast food places.  What a treat for them to be able to pay for a meal.  They each got to pick lunch one day and kept their eyes peeled for their choice.  We also gave each of the boys their allowance plus an extra $5 to spend however they chose.  Next time I would wait until we got to our destination to give them the money because even though our intention was to let them spend their money however they wanted, I knew I didn't want them buying junk on the way out and not having anything left for the duration of the trip.  The Reader (who has become my spender) bought a sand art picture from Lorraine, polished rocks at a trading post, and who knows what else.  The Thinker bought a book on our way out of town in Albaquerque and The Entertainer spent a whopping $1.29 on a package of Vanilla Sugar Wafers at a gas station in the middle of Texas.  It was a good thing too since we ran out of cash and had to borrow some of The Entertainers money to pay for a toll to get out of Oklahoma! 

The boys found a cattle skull the day we left and they considered this the ultimate souvenier!  Mr. Steady was hoping I wouldn't let them  didn't think I would let them bring it home but I thought it was as cool as they did!  We took our groceries for the week and left a few clothes there so we thought we would have gobs of trunk space on the way home but we were wrong!

 See the cattle skull on the right in the garbage bag?  Too cool!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Torreon Days 5 & 6

Thursday brought more sewing and another trip out to the job site.  The men had finished the job up on Wednesday and stayed around the mission Thursday making a new cover for the well pump, cleaning out Paul & Sarah's drain pipe and doing odd jobs around the mission.  Paul and Jason are more than capable of doing all these jobs themselves but after teaching and tending to the children's needs all know how the cobbler's children have no shoes? 

Friday morning we got packed up to go.  After a quick lunch we headed into Albuquerque where we were to meet Paul and all the sisters for dinner.  They had been at a teaching conference all day.  Since the teachers were gone, the students didn't have school and it was too quiet around the mission!  We stopped along the way every mile to take a picture.  We just couldn't get enough of the scenery.

 This was a "camp" on the way to the mission.  The Navajo are matriarchal and live in clans.  I still do not quite understand the clans but Paul told us you don't ever leave your clan, even when you marry you are still a part of that clan and that clans come before family.  You cannot intermarry in your clan though.  Clear as mud?  You can see, if you click on the picture, the wide variety of houses, from mobile homes to the traditional hogan.  Sometimes we saw a travel trailer as the original basis of the house and then they added on to that.  Some homes were just OSB stood up on end with no roof and seemingly no foundation.
 Ranchers taking care of their animals.  You could see flocks of sheep and groups of ponies or cows just roaming around.  The roads had cattle guards so they wouldn't go into the intersections but basically, out there, the animals rule the roads.  We had a very "Wild West" moment when a wrangler was gathering his ponies.  They were running like the wind - gorgeous sight!
 We met everyone for dinner at Outback Steakhouse, a bittersweet end to a wonderful week!  That is L-R: Jason and Sheena Carpenter and Paul and Sarah Skiles.  Jason has served at the mission for 9 years, Sheena is part Navajo and went to the mission school.  I don't remember how long they've been married.  Paul moved onto the mission with his parents when he was 7.  Sarah and he have served there since they got married.  Thank you, Paul and Sarah, and Jason and Sheena for your tireless commitment to the work of God going on at Torreon Navajo Mission!  You truly are the hands and feet of Jesus to each student who crosses the threshold of your doors!
 These are the teachers, Abbey Hawbaker, Grace Meyers and Candy Carley (Candy is currently pursuing a degree in nursing and therefore isn't teaching this year).  These sisters have committed a year or more (Laura has been there several years and two different periods of time) and put in long hours.  These ladies are almost like homeschooling momma, in that they are the teacher, the lunch lady, the cleaning lady, and even in some cases, the laundry mistress!  Bless you for your commitment and service, sisters!
We didn't get a group picture, which I was so saddened about and the goodbyes were bittersweet.  The boys were already talking about when we can go back before we were out of New Mexico and it has been the topic of conversation at least once a day since! 

Yes, Satan is at work in Torreon, New Mexico.  Jobs are scarce, immorality is high, and alcoholism abounds.  But the teachers and staff at Torreon Christian School infuse Jesus into each one of those students every day.  And the fruit is unmistakable.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Torreon Days 3 & 4

Tuesday morning we sat in on devotions, the children say a pledge to the Christian flag, sing 2 songs and read Isaiah 9, then either Paul or Jason gives a devotion.  The children all stand in front of their desks with the utmost respect.  

 Tuesday we sewed, sewed, and sewed some more.  Here is Sheena's new dress.

Then in the late afternoon we took dinner over to the job site and fed children and adults out of the trunk of the car - whoever came, so long as there was food. We served hot dogs, potato chips, Kool-Aid, and candy. Pretty kid-friendly fare!

 This little guy wanted to make sure The Thinker took his picture "with the hot dog!"

 This is the house across the road from the work project.  This is one of the nicest houses that we saw in the area (save for AJ's).  Sadly though the mom has to work full time and the dad works for the railroad and is gone long stints at a time.  See the horse in the front yard?  Just roaming around!

 This is the project house - the part that was usable.
 Here you can see the guys have finished the outside of the project already.  I don't know about the roof at this point.
 Mr. Steady helping to finish the inside.
 Wednesday morning Karen stepped out of our door, looked down and very calmly said "Oh, there's a snake".  By the time I got my camera it had wriggled back out into the sun.  I think it was a garter but am not sure.  It definitely didn't have a rattle! :o)
 Janell helped the students make caramel apples and my boys got in on the fun as well.  Who wouldn't love an apple dipped in caramel and peanuts then drizzled with chocolate?

Wednesday night we got to walk to church again!  Praise the Lord!
 Another precious baby, I think he is about 4 months old.  We asked his momma to show us how the cradle boards stand up - he never woke up once!   Here he's just propped up against the wall.  The part by his feet can come untied and somehow the board can be made longer.  His momma offered to show us how but we wouldn't let her take the chance of waking him up.  They said the children can stay on these boards until they are 18 months and their feet will just be hanging off!

His mom had great black and white pictures for him to look at inside his head board.  I thought it was quite humorous to see this beautiful traditional Navajo cradle board with something so modern tucked inside.  The best of both worlds.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Torreon Days 1 & 2

After 2 1/2 long days in the car, we were greeted by one the most glorious sights in the world (that we've seen) - New Mexico.  It is absolutely breathtakingly gorgeous there!  We arrived Saturday evening and were greeted by Jason and Sheena who gave us the keys to the Indian House and we settled in.  We went for a short tour of the mission and rested.

Sunday morning we walked (!!!) to church.  For a family who is used to a 45 minute drive, this was a real luxury.  Mr. Steady remarked that is was the most calm and relaxed Sunday morning we've ever had!  We sang hymns in English and then Sarah led 2, maybe 3, hymns in Navajo.  The tunes were familiar and the language was beautiful.  It was not hard to follow along in the Navajo hymnal, although some blends were pronounced differently that I would have expected. 

We were treated to Sunday lunch by the missionaries and had a nice time of fellowship.  We rested in the afternoon and then Paul took us to see the job site - I regret that I don't have any pictures....there was a group of children swinging so Mary Elaine, the boys, and I went to go meet the children and talk to them.  After looking at the job site Paul took us around the immediate area and behind the mission.  It was a lot of fun to learn about the origins of the mission and see the area.

Sunday evening we went by bus to David and Mildred's for services in Rio Rancho.  We traveled with A.J's and that was fun to get to know them a little better.  It was a great time for our children to get to know each other as well.  Fellowship is always sweet, whether with brothers and sisters you have known for years or ones you've just met!

 We also got to see our first cradle board in use.  Paul makes cradle boards but I am not sure which ones he has made.  The babies ride in these cradle boards in the cars and sleep on them at home.  They feel very secure on them!  The curve up by their head is so you can place a blanket over them and the headboard will keep the blanket off of their face.  This little guy was 3 months old, I believe. 
 Monday my boys realized AJ's younger two boys were outside playing while their mom was in the school helping so the boys came over to our house and played - this became their morning routine for the rest of the week!
 Shirley, Karen and I set up a sewing shop in our kitchenette and pretty much settled in there for most of the days.  I wasn't much help with the sewing but I can get drink refills! :o)  I learned a lot of tips and tricks over the week and I think I sewed or cut one part of every dress.  I lost track but I think these ladies sewed up 7 dresses that week!
 Every night we had supper together as a "family" and it was a blessed time.  We got to sit by or close to most everybody before the week was up and it was such a fun time to get know each of them a little better. (This is the rec room of the school where the children do some of their gym class and roller skate!)
 After dinner on Monday some local artisans came over.  This is Lorraine, the sand artist.  She showed us how she makes her art - one painstaking layer at a time!  This is original sand art, she makes her own sand by grinding local rocks.  She told Shirley she still has some of her mother and grandmother's turquoise!
 The Reader snatched up on of the little coyote pictures there on the left and I brought home the bowl of Indian corn (third from the left of small pieces with the turquoise in it). 
 This is Lorraine's husband, Gilbert (thanks Mary Elaine!).  He was stringing up hot chiles, he said he eats hot chiles and corn in some form or another every day.  He was humorous! (This is in the kitchen of the school)

These next two ladies brought in their beadwork - it was gorgeous as well.  Teeny tiny, very tight rows of beads.  Sarah has a keychain that she was given several years ago and said it has held up very well.  I wish I would have bought some of the beadwork!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Getting There

Originally we were going to try to make the 1300 mile trip in two days but after some thinking and planning and sweet deal making on Priceline we decided to stay overnight two nights on the way out. 

 This sign was so appropriate because the phrase "...or bust" originated from Okies leaving the Dust Bowl for California.
 Three boys at the beginning of the trip, so excited and happy to be going.  I didn't get a picture when we got back home but suffice it to say not many of us  them were wearing such big grins.
 Stopped off the the Archway to the West just after crossing the Great Mississippi river into St. Louis, Missouri.
 The museum was absolutely fascinating!

 "I don't want you touching me or breathing on me in the car but come a little closer and pretend to be happy for the camera!"

 Lambert's Cafe in Springfield, Missouri - "home of the throwed rolls"
 Lambert's "kids meal"!  I don't think they know how to do anything small!
That guy in the bow tie was the "roll thrower" and he would walk around yelling "fresh, hot rolls!" and then lob them to you! 
We stopped off at Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ Ministries, visited the Stations of the Cross bronze statues as well as several other Old and New Testament statues and marveled at the 19-story cross.  Truly a must see if you are driving on I-40 in Texas!
I won't bore you with the pictures of the gorgeous scenery we saw on our way, particularly when we got into Texas but suffice it to say, we thought it was the most breath taking scenery we'd ever seen...that is, until we got into New Mexico!