Sunday, December 28, 2008

If a picture is worth a thousand words, here's a 4000 word essay...

Our family of five at the ruins of a Buddhist temple...

All of us together on our tuk tuk...

Four people on a moto and Asia's driving...

The first Christmas for our sweet baby Simon...

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The show must go on!!

Uncle Dave and Auntie's house-helper, Savann, had to leave unexpectedly today, and it took all five of us adults to accomplish what she would have done all by herself.  Tim washed out the clothes BY HAND.  I took the clean dry clothes off the line and replaced them with the newly washed clothes.  Uncle Dave swept the whole house.  Grandma washed the vegetables Savann had already bought at the market for the day.  Auntie supervised us all, helped Tim with the laundry, and got leftovers out for lunch (because none of us knew what to do with the vegetables and meat Savann had bought to make "Happy China rice and chicken", as Ezra refers to it).

Tonight we had a little Christmas Eve get-together with Auntie and Uncle Dave's team mates and now we adults are wondering how it is that we are now in charge of putting out all the presents.  Oh, for the days when we just went to sleep and woke up to Santa's delivery!!

Merry Christmas...and welcome to our world, sweet baby Jesus!!!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

We're feeling more Asian by the minute...

Yesterday, we spent a day in the life of Auntie and Uncle Dave, complete with language lessons and hanging the laundry on the line.  I was amazed at how excited I got when I was squeezing the laundry out by hand and the water poured onto my feet to cool me off!!!

Today, we shopped a little bit and then went to the park this evening.  There were people doing aerobic-type exercises in the park which was really fun to watch.  There were also plenty of street vendors, so Asia and Ezra were quick to choose two Power Ranger balloons.  Some of the vendors were selling various cooked insects, but none of us were quick to choose those!

After some time at the park, we headed to Marianne's Pizza Garden for dinner.  I'm not really sure if the pizza is any good because all of us had rice and noodles.  One of the pizza choices was "hot dog pizza" which did not interest our boys at all, surprisingly.  Tim and I both finished our whole plate of noodles using only chopsticks.  Whooh! Hooh!  Aren't you proud, Chris??

The primary mode of transportation here is a "moto" (a scooter similar to the one driven by Mr. Wieck for you MHS folks).  Tim is getting quite good on one despite no stop signs, stop lights, traffic lanes, or required directions to go.  Tonight, on the way to the park, we were headed right into 3 or 4 other motos and narrowly missed them.  Our moto had me, Tim, Ezra, and Simon on it.  Tim asked, "were you scared?"  I said, "uh...yeah!!!"  However, with the wind blowing in my face and Simon holding onto me for dear life, I had a revelation.  As scared as I was, I would be even more scared to ever miss the things God is calling me and our family to because of my own fears.  So, I'll keep "riding the moto" in my own life, whatever that might mean for me, because He's my dad and I trust Him.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

We're in Cambodia!!!

Exactly 48 hours after leaving home, we finally arrived at Uncle Dave, Auntie, Asia, and Austin's house in Battambang.  We are having an absolute blast!!  We are thrilled that the boys' world-views are being shaped in incredible ways.  Just knowing that there's a big world out there that's a lot different from home but still has real people who are not much different from us will change their lives.

This is our first Cambodian restaurant experience.  Ezra nearly went out of his mind when he found out that our meals here are all going to be like Happy China...he started squealing with delight.  One nice perk about the restaurants here is that the girls who work there come and take the babies while we eat and don't bring them back unless they, all that to say we're paying Simon not to cry while we eat!!!

Denny...this picture is for you.  I just want you to be aware that Tim's sleeping talents go cross-cultural!!!  (wait, he wants me to add here that he was up with the two younger boys from 4:30 to 8:
30 am while I slept in--Thank you, Tim!!!!)

More to come later.

We love you all.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

These things were actually said by us this week...

***warning: this post contains the word "poop"***

"Ezra, please stop sucking on Simon." ---Jennifer

"Oh, yeah,'s McTeacher Night. Can we go to McDonalds? (as we're finishing the soup I made for supper)" ---Isaac

"'s hurting to always does that when I save my poop up for too long and it gets too big." ---Ezra

"Oh, yeah, I did that when I was little...when I was 2 (after I asked why there were chalk marks on the red wall in his room)" ---Ezra

"Do I really have to take a shower? (knowing he hasn't had a shower in longer than I care to admit here on cyberspace)" ----Isaac

"Mom...we need to buy a cowboy outfit for Joel who lives with Jacki. I think his mom said he's from Haiti. (after I explained to him that kids in Haiti don't have lots of toys and clothes like we do)" ---Ezra

By the way, Joel is not really from Haiti as far as I know. It seems to me that he has plenty of toys and clothes, although I guess a kid could always use more. His skin color really seems to give him away, too, but I guess you never know....maybe Ezra is up on something I don't know...maybe I need to get that cowboy outfit in the mail.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

So much coffee, so little time...

See the goofy grin on my face?  That's because I have had A LOT of coffee during my short stay in Seattle.  I'm also bringing home so many coffee beans that I'm going to have to pay the extra heavy baggage fee.  Maybe I'll try hiding them in the lining of Simon's diaper. 

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I didn't even make it out of the airport!!

I'm in Seattle, Washington, and I did not even make it out of the airport before I had Starbucks!!  Seattle is the home of Starbucks, you know.  In other words, Seattle is my heaven!!

Gotta go...Starbucks is calling!!!


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Kingdom Coming

Happy Election Day!  Get this great song for free!

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Now that I got that whining out of my system, I have a fabulous post to share with you that I found while surfing the internet instead of putting away clean laundry.  I figure, the laundry will always be there, but you never know when that big internet in the sky will crash, and then I'll never get to read these fantastic blogs!!!

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Stop it, just STOP IT!

Please just stop believing everything that comes through your inbox.  They are LIES, people.  Anyone can make up anything and send it out as an email.  The world would be a much happier place if Mr. Email had never included the "forward" option in the first place.

Okay, that's all.

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Monday, October 27, 2008


We were at Homecoming at our alma mater this weekend.  This one was particularly nostalgic for me.  I was overwhelmed with gratefulness for the sacrifices my parents made for me to go to such a special place.  I was struck by the ways this place began the process of making me who I am still becoming.  I was thankful for the adults there who discipled me, taught me, set examples for me, and STILL know my name and where I live and how many kids I have.  I was intrigued by the way the campus seems so different and yet still the same.  

I began taking pictures of our windows at Milligan.  I would have gone inside to take a picture of the actual rooms, but you never know when a girl might be walking around naked in the girls' dorms, and, if I had walked into the boys' dorm, I might have gotten a fine from the RA!!!! By the time I was done, I decided it was kind of neat to have a collection of windows in my camera...

...the highest, farthest window is my first dorm room, Hart 317, where I made dear, forever friendships, where I lived when my dad died, where I studied Calculus and Chemistry and Humanities and where I slept through classes (I hope my mama doesn't read this!!), where I dreamed of someday becoming a wife and mama, where I started becoming a grown-up, where I ate Papa Johns pizza at midnight, where I counted my change to go on Taco Bell runs at 2 am...

...somewhere on the top floor is Tim's first dorm room, Webb 304, where he roomed with the other Tim, ate breadsticks that the pizza hut guy brought back for free (you know Tim!), played poker with pennies, got up really early to practice piano, packed his backpack to study in the library for lots of hours, where he walked down the stairs to meet me on the sidewalk for a goodnight hug...

...Williams 101, where I became an RA, where I lived with some of the sweetest girls on the planet, where I hosted dinner parties on open house night, where I baked cookies for Tim, where I fell even deeper in love, where I spent many nights falling asleep with Jesus as I read the Word and prayed...

...Quillen 101, where Tim became an RA, where he grew to love Nathan, where Nathan drove him nuts by waking him in the middle of the night to go sledding or taste a carmel apple (thank you, Nathan, for preparing him for me!!), where Tim fell more and more in love with the Word, where he hid my engagement ring... I look at the campus through the window of a mini van.  It's a different view, but I'm still the same girl, blessed to be living in the Kingdom, excited about the future, trying daily to be who he wants me to be, failing miserably, and trying again the next day...

...when I look through the window, I see a man I am more in love with now than I was then, who loves Jesus with his whole heart, who loves me in the most perfect of ways, who is an incredible dad, who I might never have found if I hadn't spent some time at this special place, who is excited about the future, who is SO HOT...

...I see 3 sweet boys who are growing up to be like Jesus, who want to go to Milligan now because they played on inflatables at Homecoming and saw that there's a soccer team and liked the Coke in the SUB...

I am blessed beyond my imaginings.  Thank you, Father, for loving me, choosing me, sending me, protecting me, using me, saving me, calling me...

**For more pics of homecoming, see Hold On...My Hearts Giving Birth.**

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I will never do a contest again...

I don't know how the Pioneer Woman does it!  Once all the entries arrived (you know, all 6 of them!!), I was just overwhelmed and didn't know what to do with the fact that a few of them were correct, including the 1st one, and I was feeling so sad that the rest of the correct ones wouldn't get a pie.  So, I just never wrote another blog entry.  Seriously, folks, that is very sad considering the Pioneer Woman has nearly 10,000 entries every time.  Apparently, I do not have what it takes to be "wife of rancher"...I'll stick with "wife of youth minister".

So, Nicole, a pie is in your future.  Congrats.  A hotsling is indeed a Dr. Quinn Medicine woman type of baby holder.

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Monday, October 6, 2008

My new Hotsling

I ordered a hotsling this week and it arrived today.  I loooove it!!  Now, whoever is the first to guess correctly what a hotsling is by leaving a comment (and WITHOUT googling "hotsling") will win a homemade pie.  Okay, in case you're wondering, I'm not really sure how I'll get the pie to you if you don't live close, but I'm serious about this, and I'll figure out a way...maybe a visit from me, which would be fun for both of us!!

Start your guessing!!!

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy Five Twelfths of a Year Old, Simon!!

Simon, we all adore you.  You are a happy baby.  You mostly love to wiggle and drool.  Ezra attacks you with kisses and squeezes.  I'm sorry we don't always protect you from him...he means well!!  Isaac loves to hold you and is fascinated with the ways you change and grow. Daddy loves to hold you, but he can not stand your drool.  It's pretty funny that you can cause a grown man to run simply by drooling on him...perhaps you should remember that trick when you get older!!  I love your sweet smile and your hugs and kisses.  You are becoming a bit of a mama's boy, but I don't mind.  I know in a couple of years, you'll join the big boys in their antics, so I'll take all of the time I can get!!

I thought I'd include a couple of shots of your brothers at about the same age you are now.  Everyone always has a definite opinion about which one of your brothers you look like.  I always just agree with everyone no matter what they say.  However, I thought the world might like to see the three of you all in one blog, so...

This one is of Isaac.  Of course, we didn't have a digital camera then.  We actually used a camera with film, and all of those pictures are nicely scrapbooked.  You see, I love Isaac more than I love you and Ezra, or, I mean, I had more time back then when there was only one of you, so Isaac's pictures are all scrapbooked with journaling and cheesy stickers.  Anyway, back to this picture of was taken with Josh and Jacki's brand new (at the time) digital camera.  I might be wrong, but I think that camera actually took 3 1/2 floppy disks, which we now use for coasters.  

This one is Ezra.  He still makes that ornery little face, and it usually means that he's up to no good.  Ezra's pictures aren't scrapbooked either, so you and he can go to therapy together some day and share about the ways your mama didn't love you as much as Isaac.  Send me the bill...we'll be rich by then because we won't be paying to buy food, clothes, diapers, and sports fees for you boys anymore.

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Friday, September 26, 2008


Tim and I were talking on the front porch this afternoon.  It was a serious conversation, and, yes, I was crying (I'm such a girl!!).  For those of you who know us in real life, I'd like to point out that WE WERE NOT FIGHTING!!  I thought you'd be pleased to know that! :)  Anyway, there's no moral failure in either of our lives (well, no giant ones, anyway), no one has cancer, and neither of us was asking for a divorce.  However, the conversation was quite upsetting to me.  I should even admit that I was headed in the direction of a "poor me party".  

Then we saw him.  Isaac was a few feet away and his face was screwing up into a cry.  He looked pitiful.  Tim called him over and asked what was wrong.  He wouldn't tell us at first.  Finally, we coaxed it out of him.  He said, "I'm sad about what you said, dad."  Tim said, "which part?"  Isaac slowly and painfully said, "that's she's dying," as he pointed at me and then really started crying.

Oh, no, no, no, NO, NO!!!  Mommy's not dying.  It took us a minute to convince him.  He THOUGHT I WAS DYING.  It was too much for his little seven year old heart.  No, I'm not dying, at least not any time soon that I know of.  So, my "poor me party" got put off for another day.  As far as I know, my boys will still have a mom this time next year.

Even if they don't, though, I know that I know that I know that our Provider, Sustainer, and Father is faithful and that they'll be ok, and that's enough for me.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Our Little August Getaway

After a rip roarin' summer typical of the life of a youth minister's family, we always take some time in August to refresh, renew, and revitalize (actually, I think that's what it says on my Mary Kay bottle!!).  In the past, we've visited Holiday World, the Beltz family, and other refreshing renewing destinations.  This year, we visited Isaac's roots....we went to the south suburbs of Chicago.

After we got married, we lived in Park Forest, IL, for three years.  Tim and I were both on staff at Deer Creek Christian Church, me as the children's minister and Tim as the worship minister.  We were actually at different campuses, but I don't have time to explain all of that.  Isaac was born while we lived there.  When it came time to move, something happened with the timing of our houses selling and buying (I can't even remember now, although it seemed quite monumental at the time), and we found ourselves homeless for three weeks.  

So....we moved into a two bedroom apartment with some newlyweds named Josh and Jacki.  Josh was the youth minister, Jacki was in design school in downtown Chicago, Tim was still working as the worship minister, I was trying to figure out how to be a mama and managing to cook dinner for everyone each night, and Isaac was peeing, pooping, and crying loudly enough to convince Josh and Jacki not to have any kids for several years!!

Those were the days...the guys played video games, we got Taco Bell at midnight, we stayed up late talking...the stuff that makes deep friendships, you know?  We stayed with Josh and Jacki (and their new addition, Joel) this August, and things picked up right where we left off.  The Nintendo 64 (or whatever it was they played back then) was replaced with a wii and the Taco Bell was replaced with Dunkin' Donuts coffee, but we still stayed up late talking.  I love loVE LOVE friendships that can just pick up where they left off, and that is what we are blessed with in Josh and Jacki.  It certainly was refreshing and renewing, and, on the way home, we discussed the possibility of making this our yearly August tradition.  We have not, however, informed Josh and Jacki of this plan yet, so keep it on the down-low!!
The 3 Big Kids...Simon was sleeping.

Showing the boys our old house...

This is a mural I painted at Deer Creek.  That seems like a lifetime ago.  I could not believe it was still there.  The boys were kind enough to pose for a picture in front of it.

Shaved Ice at Zarlengo's in Chicago Heights...

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

I dropped another pocket this week...

As the boys are getting older, I am noticing that there are more and more pockets of time during which the seeming control I have over their lives is gone.  Of course, if I'm honest, I must admit that I never really have control of their lives, but let's not go there today, okay? :)

Some pockets of bygone days that come to mind...
...Isaac riding away on Bill's bus, headed to preschool, while I'm sobbing in the living room, wondering if he'll be tempted to drink, smoke pot, and have sex all on the first day.
...leaving the boys with Grandma to go on a cruise, with Ezra recently weaned, wondering if they'll be ok and not able to call home to check on them
...leaving them to go to Haiti (read this post for more on those Mama thoughts)
...the first sleepover for Isaac
...leaving them with sweet young babysitters, feeling certain they'll be okay, but wondering how they'll fare if there's a catastrophe
...sending Isaac to stay with his cousins soon after he FINALLY stopped wearing Pull-ups (will he hate reading this when he's 16??), wondering if he'll be scared, sad, or embarrassed if he has an accident
...and the list could go on...

Isaac has been riding his bike to school this year on his own (or so he thought!).  Little did he know, I've been watching him ride the block to the big road and then sprinting a half a block to peer between two houses and see the crossing guard let him cross.  I have felt compelled to SEE him cross the road and arrive safely at school...until last Friday.  It hit me like a ton of bricks...I don't have to SEE Isaac to know that he's being seen.  I can sit contentedly on my porch swing (well, technically, not anymore since it fell tonight WHILE I WAS SITTING ON IT, but that's a story for another day...) and trust that Isaac is SEEN and KNOWN by his creator.

Another pocket is gone, and I'm glad.  These pockets are getting too heavy for me to carry.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Where have all the days gone?

I can’t believe you’re in 2nd grade, my sweet Isaac.  I adore

your sensitive spirit, your helpfulness, your desire to be like Daddy.

It just keeps getting “funner” as you grow.  I love you.

Love, Mama

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Isn't she a beauty?
**updated:  recipe at the bottom**

One of the perks of lovin' on jr and sr high students with us is that you get to enjoy this succulent (that seems like it should be a bad it??) pasta salad at our house tonight.  We do what we can, you know.

She (she just looks like a girl to me!) was so gorgeous, I just had to snap a picture.

Gorgeous Pasta Salad

One box bow tie pasta, cooked, drained, and

        rinsed with cold water

5 or 6 roma tomatoes, sliced

2 cans whole black olives, drained and rinsed

1-2 stalks of broccoli, chopped

1 bottle of Italian dressing


Mix it all together in your big Tupperware batter

bowl, then transfer it to a pretty bowl to

complete the look.

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