A new day dawning...

A new day dawning...
the sun rises and sets each day, evening stars appear, seasons change.
I stand in awe of how God orchestrates this universe, this earth, and the details of my life. 

A new season changing...
Autumn brings brilliant colors in leaves, crisp air, bonfires, and the best of hot drinks.
God delights in our enjoying His good gifts - the little things.

So it is for me a new season...
after taking a year to stand back and wait (waiting did not involve doing nothing - I was busy writing and coming alongside churches and ministries and I still get to do this.)

My new season, tailored for me, is time with students and teachers at Oakbrook:
Coaching middle school girls volleyball,
Teaching God's Word to 6th & 7th graders,
Facilitating the learning & studying of World History, and
steering a team to cultivate a teaching of Biblical worldview and foster an atmosphere of God's grace.

God orchestrates it all. 
Be encouraged that a new day is dawning, God is faithful in every season.

Summer Reads

I love the smell of a book, the breeze off of the ocean, and stepping into someone else's world across the ocean or at a different time in history...
My summer reading list includes:

Read aloud to my son The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, then we watched the movie. 
This was certainly a good introduction to a horrific act in history through the eyes of the innocent.
My prayer is that my children know and learn so that they are 
not indifferent when history begins to repeat itself (like it did in Rwanda). Reading these types of books together is a great time for answering those questions of curiosity...

Just finished Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand - the life of Louie Zampirni! Have to say it took me a while on this one...BUT it was well worth the read and once I finally got halfway through the book I couldn't put it down. Such a testament of God's grace from beginning to end!

My love for education has me reading The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner. This book has me thinking, rethinking, and of course creating ways in my head of how teaching can be done differently and more effective for our children! Each summer I try to read at least one book on ministry & one education. I like to weave my thoughts together on the two!

I am banking on loving this one so much that I continue on into his book that follows Stones into Schools.  I will update by summer's end!

**I know that budgets are tight...so I want you to know that each of these are available at your local library (in the United States).

first of summer days

The first of our summer days have my heart bursting with joy...my daughter is with her daddy on another continent loving on children and exploring some of God's incredible creations...
My son and I are holding down the fort...building bonfires, serving teachers, winning baseball championships, having time with friends on the lake, playing scrabble, and adding mystery ingredients to our basket for dessert (our family version of the Food Network's Chopped!
And during his down time, he's busy making videos...of himself!

We continue to learn more and more of God's faithfulness, recognize the gifts of "ordinary" in each day, and remind one another - through Scripture, a prayer, or a song of how much our Savior loves us! Yes, all of God's World is our classroom!

Life in Mercyville...so thankful it's where my family resides.

Haiti, Heartache, & Hope

Headlines in the news have long faded... Haiti remains a nation lying in ruins.
Time spent in 3rd world countries still did not prepare me for the depth of poverty that blankets this nation. Aid continues, on our flight alone there were 3 teams coming in to spend a week to help - build a home here, put in a water system in there, share the good news of Jesus, provide basic medical care...
Yet, as we drove down the bumpy, dirt roads the scenes were often the same...the men were sitting roadside gambling, women were hauling loads of laundry on their heads, and children sometimes playing a game, more times than not they too were carrying a water bucket, going for produce, working, or simply surviving the hostile streets. 

Heartache sets in 
as stories are told of those who have visited the medical clinic that our friends run. Horrific acts being done to children, superstition leading to brutality, ignorance seemingly unmeasurable, abuse of every kind, neglect, selfishness, self preservation. Daunting and overwhelming.

Yet, this Hope remains...
"we can change our world"
a generation to rise up, call out - turning their eyes, hearts & nation to God, stop ignorance, fight for justice, take a stand against indifference, make wise choices. Haiti's future leaders. There are adult Haitians that desire a new nation, and know that it will be in the next generation.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declare the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, 
to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

Pin it and Share it!

The best ideas in ministry, parenting, running a household, decorating, or creating are usually borrowed and we make them our own. 
Using technology to grow my knowledge, my creativity, resources, and ministry - you should too!
Check out Pinterest, a social pinboard, where you can pin your interests & share them with others.

My personal favorite boards that I like to add to:

Words that Stir - some Scripture, some that inspire, some that make me laugh until I cry!

Missions & Children's Ministry - ideas & resources

All the World's a classroom - more ideas, links to blogs, fun & creative stuff

Bucket ~ O ~ Ideas - just that - a bucket of random 
ideas that I like!


Start pinning and sharing! 
Oh, helpful tip - set your time and limit yourself each day - if all you do is pin and never apply or try these new ideas - well, that's called time wasted!


Faithful. Our God is faithful.

Valleys are deep and sometimes wide, taking us longer to reach the foothill of the mountain than we had imagined or ever thought we could bear. Making our way across the valley there are difficult pools that we must or sometimes choose to wade in – the pool of pain and suffering, the pool of pity, the putrid pool of pride. Yes, some of those pools are a must, provided by our God who cares too deeply about our heart’s condition to let it be stagnant. The necessary pool where we learn to swim and realize our utter dependence and need. It is a difficult pool, but at specific times a necessary one. Then the pools we choose for ourselves– self-pity and pride. The self-pity pool is more dangerous than some care to believe. It is here where pain can be exploited and turn our hearts bitter. Then there is the ever, evasive pool of pride, we think it evasive, but one can be neck high in it before realizing it is in pride you are drowning.
Then across the valley we see a river, running peacefully. Go, stay there a while. Step in and allow the living water to refresh you. Make your way to the waterfall, allowing the billowing waters of grace to wash over you. Now and only now are you ready for the climb. As we climb God provides another rock within grasp – another answer to prayers, another provision, another encouraging word.
Our God is faithful. He holds us in His grasp even on the mountaintop. We are never alone.

from a mama's kitchen

Our menu: tamales - lots of them. 
Our desire: feed the hungry - Jesus says to do so. 
Our heart: obey His commands. 

A quest for the best tamales led us to Digna. She is courageous, a fighter, a mom, and a chef with a sweet spirit; she is a mama in the kitchen trying to make a living by serving up the best! Everyone has a story, here's a little of Digna's...

After becoming very ill and spending time in the hospital, then there was much time spent in her bed. It seemed death was a quick corner away. Then God moved, her body healed. After so much time of being bedridden, Digna lost her already meager job. With her health now restored, she is doing what she loves (and what she is fantastic at doing) - cooking. She prays that this will support her and help her care for her family too. 

Buy locally, buy the best - head to Tamales y Comidas for your next event!  There to greet you will be this sweet face, from a mama's kitchen!

Tamales y Comidas
Digna Corres
Tel. 2279 9634
2279 9838
250 mts Sur de la ermita de San Juan de Tres Rios
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into these waters

Following their Savior into these waters. Baptism is a beautiful expression of our faith in a blameless Savior and of our desired obedience to follow Him. Nothing sacred about the water itself: from a swimming pool, barrel of rainwater, a lake, to the Indian Ocean…they have stepped
into these waters.
From children, teens, dads and moms to elderly… they have stepped into the waters expressing both their need and love of our Savior, and with courage - some unable to swim, with faith followed their Savior into these waters.
"Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child, shall not enter it."
Mark 10:15
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work hard, play hard

Our family of five (with Mariana) piled into our borrowed Honda and headed to Atenas, famous for having one of the best climates in the world!
It was our day with Cherie...
she is giving her life to loving children, creating a home for siblings without a home - not just a house, but a home filled with love. Cherie has spent the last months preparing her house for the filling of children. One room for boys, bunk beds built, bedding ready, and toys waiting. A room for the girls neatly prepared with each bed made perfectly, clothes hanging...ready. She is waiting for all of the legal paperwork (and there is a lot) to finish processing. THEN this house will be filled with the sounds of laughter, foot steps running, sweet voices, and brothers & sisters teasing one another. Cherie's home will be one where siblings stay together! 
We arrived with a bag of goodies (supplies donated) and a much needed microwave (gift given by a friend here) to Cherie's big smile!
There were little odds and ends that needed to be done, so we got to work right away. The boys unloaded & assembled the new, large microwave. There was some painting on the outside, painting trim on the inside, scraping the front porch clean, hanging laundry, and shelling the dried beans...lots and lots of beans!

After a full morning and into the early afternoon of working hard around the house, we headed out to a mountaintop 
cafe for lunch. 
It was deliciouso!

With our "work hard" behind us and our bodies refueled, it was time to "play hard." We rode with Cherie to pick up four children who, God willing, will be in her home very soon. The children climbed into the van and warmed up to us quickly. As soon as we were back to Cherie's house the play hard was on. From chase, to vrooming little plastic cars and mooing farm animals, playing dress up, to jumping on the trampoline - "otra vez, otra vez" was heard many times! 
Tired and worn out, but with our cups overflowing this family of five climbed back into the much appreciated little Honda, waving good-bye to these sweet faces, 
another family of five...

steeped in tradition

 Traditions run deep in every family, every culture, every nation. 
     It was a pleasant surprise as we rode through the downtown area of San Jose to see Nativity scenes displayed with colored lights flashing Feliz Navidad. Small homes behind their barred gates had their nativity scenes out (some nearly life-size). At the center of the big mall, inside there was another giant nativity scene. Santa Claus wasn’t the focus, hardly there at all. A Costa Rican friend said that Santa arrived about a decade ago via a Coca~Cola billboard!
     Christmas day was one of worship from beginning to end. From baptisms, purchasing a large food order, delivering needed gifts to families in the barrios, a Christmas service to serving a dinner to each of those who showed up at the worship service.
     After incredible worship led by the band, poetry being read, and mime acting to a song, Pastor Alejandro shared insight (for me) and a challenge to each of us. “Christmas is not about setting out a nativity in your home, it is not about baby Jesus in a manger, it is not about baby Jesus bringing you gifts, it IS about the Gospel, Jesus coming, dying and being resurrected – bringing salvation.” As Mariana whispered his message in my ear (interpreting it for us) my back stiffened a bit; thinking how hard the pastor was being on baby Jesus and the nativity scenes…
then I got it.
The United States has their Santa Claus, and Costa Rica has el niño Jesus bringing gifts. Catholicism is the primary religion, with extra traditions added on of course -like Christmas Eve, if you have been good el niño Jesus will bring you gifts.
     As we made our way through the barrios on Christmas day, my heart ached a little more. It’s ok if Santa’s sleigh never makes it here, but what if they have been pretty good kids all year and they desperately want baby Jesus to bring them a gift on Christmas Eve and he never shows up? A hard reminder of how some tradition and religion can kill faith. Will it make it more difficult for them to believe that Jesus came as a baby, not bringing our wants on Christmas Eve, but bringing salvation to all who will trust him?
Vivid in my mind are the faces that we saw, spoke with, touched on Christmas day, may the Gospel that they heard change everything for them!
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