Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Programs 2010

This week both kids had their school Christmas programs. Tyson's was Tuesday night and Jori's was Wednesday morning. It was fun to see them both up on stage performing. They are still young enough that they are excited about what they are doing and actually want to be there!

Here are a couple videos from Tyson's program. He is in the second to top row, far right side, second kid in wearing a blue shirt. 

I love this version of "How Great our Joy". It was a little peppy and upbeat and I love to see kids dance!

Darin couldn't make it to Jori's program, so I made sure to take plenty of video for him to see. I tried taking pictures, but because of the Christmas lights on stage, they all ended up looking pretty blurry.

This one is a little fuzzy, but I love watching her do the motions:

 I love this one too, especially during the second verse when her "no" is a little ahead of everyone else.
And one more, just because she's so cute:
I wish we could have been this close for Tyson's program, but it was CRAZINESS in the church and we are just glad we didn't end up in the balcony. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Giving Gifts-2010

Tonight we exchanged gifts with the kids. This next week is going to be a busy one and the kids and I are already flying out on Saturday morning for Washington, so we figured today was the least busy day to do this, and it gives our kids plenty of time to play with their new stuff. 

Our leaning tower of tree-za
 A couple weeks ago, when I was wrapping some presents, the kids asked for some wrapping paper to wrap things up for Darin and me. They worked very hard at their wrapping and had been waiting patiently for us to see what they chose for us.
One of the presents they wrapped
 We let the kids take turns photographing us opening our gifts. Here is the most flattering shot of me and a headless shot of Darin.

 Jori gave up 2 of her bears, Tyson sacrificed a reptile book and a compass, we each got a stem from a broken pair of glasses, some cardboard "computers", a bookmark and the most useful gift of all, a pack of gum.
Our little pile of goodies

A pack of gum the kids swiped from our drawer : )
Next, it was time for the kids to open their gifts. They each started out with something small, but as you can tell, it doesn't take much to make these kids smile!

Tyson and his new pill box
Love these kids!

Next is Tyson with most of his "big" gift. He is now the proud owner of a harmonica and instruction book, a motocross shirt, and a NASCAR racing outfit. The pill box and harmonica set are a couple of the things that Darin and I picked up at our small group white elephant gift exchange earlier this week. Thanks Louzons!
Our harmonica playing race car driver. What a combo!
Now it was time for Jori to open her gifts. First she opened her own package, and while she seemed to like it, she was also kind of ambivalent. Then she and Charity (her doll) opened Charity's gift and she got a little more excited. See for yourself!
Matchy match fun!

We all had a wonderful night, complete with an excellent dinner that I will post about later! Enjoy the videos, but please ignore my impatient sounding voice!

Boo. For some reason I can only upload one video! I've tried several times, but it is not working. Just imagine Jori opening up her little outfit and kind of tossing it to the side, then opening Charity's little outfit (after first having Charity try to open it herself) and still not really getting it, then Darin saying "Doesn't that look like something else" and then she realizes they are matching little outfits and she is happy. Hopefully we'll get the video up another time!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Update 2010 (also known as the annual Christmas letter)

It's that time of year again. Time to update you all on what the Fey's have been up to over the past 12 months and what's coming up for us in the new year.

As most of you know by now, our family is going to be experiencing some big changes in the coming year, we are just not sure when these changes will be occurring! In April 2010, Darin started corresponding with an acquaintance in South Africa and over the next couple months, a plan was hammered out that has brought us into a business partnership that will eventually see our family moving overseas. Yes, we are going to be business owners, once the business is built! We thought we'd be heading over to South Africa already in January, ready to figure out how to run a petrol station/convenience store, but as with most plans, things come up and the "plan" goes right out the window. Now we are hoping to head over sometime before June, but you'll just have to keep checking the blog to see what happens!

So that is our BIG news, and even though moving overseas to start up a new business is a life changing event, there really isn't much more to say about it at this point because we are kind of facing a world of unknowns. As of right now, we don't know where we are going to live, we don't know what it will actually look like to own part of a petrol station, we don't know where the kids will go to school, we don't know what else we might get involved in. What we DO know is that God has all of these details and many more worked out already, and we are trying to daily rest in that thought! We are excited to see what He has in store for us in South Africa and we look forward to renewing many friendships that we made over there in 2008.

Now, how about a glimpse into what our daily lives are looking like now.  We'll start with the littlest Fey, who is not so little any more! Jori will be 4 1/2 on December 18. She is so excited to add that "half" to her age! In September, Jori started preschool at Georgetown Christian. She absolutely loves it and it has been such a joy to see her learn and grow in this new environment. Jori loves to sing and dance. She also loves to play with her "guys", especially her special doll, Charity. So far Jori is excited about moving to South Africa. She has informed us on several occasions that she gets two suitcases to pack all her stuff, and the rest of us may have one. Jori still has the big belly laugh that we have come to love so much, and she is generally full of smiles.

Tyson will be 6 1/2 on December 16. He is in first grade at Park Elementary this year and is loving everything about school, especially recess and snack time. Tyson started reading over the summer and hasn't stopped! He loves learning and you can almost see the wheels turning in his head when he is trying to figure out how something works. This fall, Tyson started Cadets at one of the local churches. He absolutely loves being part of this group and enjoys telling us about the fun things that happen on Wednesday nights. Last week Tyson came home with his first badge and he was glowing! Tyson is excited to move to South Africa to see his friend Fetsi again and he also has big plans to help Darin build the petrol station.

After being at Innotec since graduating in 2000, Darin took a position with a new company in January 2010. After 9 1/2 years of dirty hands and greasy clothes, Darin is now a purchasing agent at Nuvar Inc. This new position has been a perfect fit for Darin and his love for this new job has made our upcoming plans to move a little bittersweet. Another big change for Darin is that he sold the vending machine business that he started way back when we were first married. After years and years of trips to Sam's Club to stock up on candy and treats and many Saturday afternoons spent filling the machines, this has been a big change for our whole family.

In many ways, I have probably changed the least of anyone in our family of four. I have enjoyed helping out at Tyson's school this year and doing "girl" stuff with Jori on her days off. I am still part of a wonderful Bible study at our church and have loved getting to know all the women this year. The past few months have turned me into a much better house keeper, but that is only because our house is on the market and it needs to be ready for possible showings. I'd say the biggest change I've experienced is that I finally feel content with my life. Funny how getting ready to move to a different country away from friends, family and all things familiar has caused me to have such a great appreciation and love for the life I am living right now.

God has been so good to us this year and we know that He will be going with us as we head into whatever He has in store for us next. This year, we anticipate the birth of Christ as snow falls around us and temperatures dip below freezing. What a joy to know that, next year, even though we will now be celebrating Christmas during the summer (opposite hemisphere=opposite seasons) we will still be celebrating the same Emmanuel, God with us, that we do right now.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend 2010

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend this year. As you may recall, our last 2 Thanksgivings have been humble affairs, although Thanksgiving 2008 at least found us eating turkey products! This year we were so blessed to have part of Darin's family join us in Michigan. His parents, brother Israel and little Rosa arrived late Wednesday night and were able to attend the Thanksgiving service with us at EGM. We were especially thankful to have them make it to Michigan because Darin's mom had hit some ice on the drive up (they drove two separate vehicles for part of the trip) and had slid across the median and over the oncoming lanes of traffic before ending up in the ditch! As Israel said, the angels were certainly watching over them! We managed to put together a wonderful meal, although technically what we had qualifies more as Easter dinner, complete with ham, party potatoes, corn and strawberry fluff-minus the strawberries that were in scarce supply at our area Family Fares.
Enjoying our meal
Cheesy Rosa enjoyed her cheesy potatoes
Grandma Karen brought her sewing machine along and was able to help me patch up jeans for Darin and Tyson and also make some fun new things for Jori. Both kids loved watching Grandma sew, but Tyson was especially entranced by what Grandma was doing and how the sewing machine worked. He even helped her sew a little.
Learning from Grandma Karen
Turning a broken "gown" into a fun new skirt!
I had found a pattern to make Jori a dress a few months ago, and in one day, mom made it a reality! I followed the instructions on line, cut out the 2 sides of the dress and even sewed a little. Mom made the straps how I wanted them, without a pattern, and sewed the majority of the dress, which I could not have done with such wonderful results! She did this while also helping me finish up Jori's Christmas present, which included making a shirt for Jori's doll, Charity, turning a long sleeve shirt of Jori's into a super cute short sleeve shirt and appliqueing butterflies on both of these. I can't WAIT til Christmas!

Jori's dress
It used to be a men's shirt, so the dress back was the shirt front
On Friday, we went with Darin's aunt, uncle and cousin to the Bodies Revealed exhibit at the public museum. Rox and Al were supposed to go to Edgerton for Thanksgiving, but decided to stay put because of the weather. Amy is at Calvin and was going to ride home with them to see her family. We are glad they could come with us!  It was pretty interesting to see. Even the kids enjoyed it. They also liked looking around the rest of the museum. Tyson was especially impressed with the Amway exhibit because he got to dress up in a lab coat. Jori liked touching the animal pelts. I also liked the Amway exhibit because I was able to prove to Darin that I really do have abnormally cold hands and he should not make fun of my when I keep my gloves on inside! They had one of those machines that you can stand in front of and the "hot" parts of your body show up red or orange and the cold parts are blue or green. My hands were the only blue/green ones of the bunch! Grandma Karen's nose was also green. Darin and Tyson were all red.

On the carousel (click the picture to view it full size)
The whole gang, including Rox and Al, and Amy.

On Saturday, all the guys went out for breakfast. Darin went out and got us donuts first for the women-what a guy. Jori ate one donut too many and ended up feeling sick the rest of the day. When the guys got back home, Mom and I took the boys to run some errands. First stop was Meijer to get the long promised Lego Star Wars set! Tyson was so happy to finally have it in his hot little hands. Then we ran to Target to get Jori some new polka dot pants as Grandma managed to get her to give up her old polka dot pants that were two sizes too small, as well as 3 other pairs of too small pants that she loved. I must admit, I will miss seeing her little buns squeezed into those pants! After stopping to pick up some more sewing supplies, we headed home. Then we started sewing. While we sewed, we also made cookies for the kids to frost. It was a bit of a mess, but they had a great time.
Topless Jori-she got wet "washing" dishes for us

Jori's final product. Got frosting?
He really was having fun
Dad and Rosa stuck to eating peanuts
Then the men took all the kids except for Rosa to the bowling alley. Mom and I kept sewing until the needle on the machine broke! That night Mom and Dad treated Darin and I to dinner. It was so nice going out with the two of them. The kids did great for the babysitter and were all still smiling when we got home. Even Jori, who was laying on the sofa with a "throw up" bowl next to her when we left had perked up. After getting all the kids to bed, mom and I got right back to sewing with the new needle we had picked up before dinner. It was nice to sit and chat together.

On Sunday morning it was time to say good-bye. That is always the hard part. First the kids got their Christmas presents, or should I say the rest of their presents as they had been weaseling gifts out of Grandma all weekend : ) Tyson opened his gift first. He actually pulled it out of the bag and assumed it was for Israel. When Grandma said it was for him, his face just lit up! It was a whole box of Lego pieces. He was so happy.
Tyson and his Lego's
 Then Jori opened her gift. First she pulled out a coloring book and a CD, and then she hauled out a book that literally weighs about 5 pounds. She thought it was so cool to have such a big book!
Checking out the big sticker book
Then it was time for our guests to leave. While we watched them drive away, Tyson started crying. Later on in the day, Jori said her tummy hurt and after ruling out all the reasons why she couldn't eat she said "I think it's because Grandma went home". So sad! We are so thankful for the time we could spend together as we know we won't be able to do this much longer! Thanks again for making the drive to see us. We love you.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Denial...'s where I am at and where I plan on staying for as long as possible. Maybe it isn't healthy, but I don't think I am ready for reality yet. Reality means having to say good-bye to my friends and family. Reality means no more play dates for Jori and JJ, no more Cadets for Tyson, no more house on Elm Avenue with our path, pond and backyard ice cream shop. Reality means having to actually try and grasp what it means that we are moving overseas LONG TERM. We don't know how long this will be, but we assume it will be at least 5 years. Reality means I can't call my mother-in-law in the middle of preparing my first whole chicken to get her advice. It means I can't just call my mom to tell her Jori thinks describing my hair as a sand hill is a major compliment. Reality means I can't stop in to see Rachel before I get Jori from school and I've already touched on how much I am going to miss Rachel. Reality means no more phone calls between 9 and 9:30 from my sister Laurie as she drives to work in a time zone 3 hours earlier than where I am. Reality means no more Wednesday morning Bible Study with a group of women that I have come to love and respect over the past 3+ years that we've been meeting together.

This afternoon, reality tried to slip in, but I quickly shut it out. Rachel called to see if we would be available to do something on March 23, 2011, and the reality is that I can't commit that far out. I don't know where we'll be at that time. Reality creeps in when I think about wanting to go see my friend Tami in California and realize that I can't keep "thinking about it" and need to get a ticket or time might run out! That's the kind of stinky part of our reality right now-we don't really know when any of this is going to happen. In my mind, we are now going to be here til May or June (even though we still say March or April), so if things happen to go a lot faster than that, I am in big trouble! I am not ready to switch gears from denial to reality. It makes me sad. Really sad. Even when little bits of reality sneak in, it impacts me for a few days. I cry during TV shows and commercials. I try to share sweet things that the kids said and my voice gets all choked up.

I find it easy to get down on myself, especially when I hear about the realities that a lot of other people are facing-death, disease, all kind of loss. When I hear about these kinds of realities, I feel guilty for being sad about something that we have chosen to do. I am trying to work on that, as I do believe that I am allowed to grieve and hurt and feel sad, I just have a lot of mental conversations with myself about needing to suck it up and deal-then I go lay on my bed and have a good cry.

So, at least for the next couple months, I am planning to stay in denial as much as I can. I know I'll have to face reality this Christmas when I see my family for what could be the last time in a couple years. I don't look forward to the sadness, but I also don't want to miss out on letting them know how much I love them and saying whatever needs to be said. Ugh. Now this is making me cry, so I am going to step back and embrace denial again for a while, while still being thankful that I have such a great reality to miss!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Willing to change

I feel like my head and my heart are just so full of things that I want to write, but sometimes I have a hard time getting things onto paper, or in this case, onto the computer screen. I am not an eloquent writer. I know this. I am wordy, I use lots of exclamation points, too many capital letters, I have poor punctuation and grammar (thankfully Darin catches most of those mistakes) and am usually not able to write my thoughts out in a clear and concise way. Oh well. I have long said that I keep this blog for me and my family as a place to get my thoughts down and keep track of all the stuff that is going on in our lives. I don't scrapbook and don't even print pictures out unless they are needed for a school project, so this IS the record of my kids lives! It is also my space and while I don't plan on being offensive, I do plan on being as true to myself as I can. I want to look back and not only see physical changes in my kids, but I also want to read the words I put down and see how I have changed and how I process things differently over time.

I think change is good. It's hard at times, but good. I believe that too often we hold on to certain ways of doing things because that's how we've always done it. The "we" might be our family, our group of friends, our church or any other group that you are a part of. I read this post today and found myself nodding my head in agreement and wanting to go out and find the book she was writing about. When we were last in South Africa, we were able to see what a big impact a relatively small amount of money could have in that country. My parents church had collected a few thousand dollars, which they sent over with my parents. With this money, we were able to purchase a wash machine, a refrigerator, school uniforms, and more, which you can read about here and you can check out pictures through the Picasa link on the right side of the blog. For the same amount of money, about 1 and 1/2 people could have flown to South Africa, not including any lodging, dining or transportation costs. If this paragraph seems totally random and incoherent, you'll have to just go click on the link above and read the post so you can understand what I am talking about!

I have been doing a lot of reading lately. Usually I stick to Christian fiction-I have a serious addiction, but lately I've been branching out and have been reading a lot of non-fiction. I read quite a few books about the history of apartheid in South Africa, which I once started to post about, but haven't quite been able to get all my thoughts into words on that one. More recently, I've been reading a lot of what I'd call Christian non-fiction, which includes books about what the church could look like, should look like and does look like. Some of my most recent reads have been "Radical" by David Platt, "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" by Donald Miller, "Forgotten God" by Francis Chan and "unChristian" by David Kinnaman. I just started reading "The Irresistible Revolution" by Shane Claiborne. I would give each of the books I've read so far a high recommendation. They have all given me much to think about, which is good, but thinking alone isn't that great. I find that I have been wrestling with a lot of preconceived notions that I have held about the church and the world, about those who are in the church and those who are outside of it. I feel like these books have changed the way I think about things, but on the other hand, some of the stuff I've read has also strengthened beliefs that I already had. I don't want to become one of those people who hops on every bandwagon that happens to come trundling by. I think that's why I waited so long to do a Beth Moore Bible study. I tend to be more wary of things I perceive to be fads both in and out of the church, which is why you will never see my in a pair of jeggings or skinny jeans! Sometimes I am hesitant to read books like the ones listed above because they often come across as hateful towards the church and think that everything the church holds dear should be tossed out. I think that some people might read the same books I did and think "Jonna, that is just what THESE books are saying!" but I really didn't find that. I think they were all crying out for American Christians to take an honest look at ourselves through the lens of scripture, not through the lens of our traditions, culture or denomination. I would highly, highly recommend the book "unChristian". It's subtitle is "What a new generation really thinks about Christianity...and why it matters". This book really made me reexamine how I have responded to those outside of the church and how I have expressed my views about different issues, such as homosexuality.

I guess the whole point of this post is that taking another look at how we've always done things, or said things, or dealt with things can be beneficial, not only for ourselves, but for those around us. I don't think we are supposed to just blindly follow along and stay on the same path because that's the way it's always been. I also don't think we can just assume that we are still on the same path that Christ first set his followers on. I think that there are a lot of places where we have strayed, but sadly, these things have now become the norm and are often just assumed to be the "right way". As I said at the beginning, I am not a writer. My thoughts are random and rarely cohesive. I guess I write how I talk, which drives my husband crazy! I guess the less I worry about how stuff comes out, the better I'll be at just getting it out there and unloading some of the weight that I've been carrying around.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tonight I am feeling sad for my kids. I feel so ill equipped to help them with all the change that is going to be happening soon.  At bed time, Jori started crying about having to leave behind her pillow and polka dot quilt. I hadn't said anything about these items, but something made her think about them and cling to them. I tried to turn it into a positive and talk about how much fun it would be to pick out new things in South Africa, but that just made her cry more. All I wanted to do was cry along with her. : (

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A way to help out

Recently, our church, and more specifically the small groups at our church, have become aware of some needs at our local high school. I don't know who initiated this relationship, but have already seen God at work in it. When we first heard about some of the issues that people in our local school community were facing, it was kind of a shock. I mean, we live in Hudsonville for crying out loud. Hudsonville, which by all appearances has it all together. There are churches on just about every corner, and lots of nice cars and nice homes in the area. We may be close to Grand Rapids, but certainly we do not have the kinds of problems that they have.

Yet over the course of  a few weeks, we found out that there are teens in our community that are considered homeless. Homeless. In Hudsonville. How is that possible? There is a food bank set up specifically for families of the high school to use because there has been such an increase in the need. One of the school counselors is keeping granola bars, easy mac and other "fast" foods on hand because there are so many kids coming through her doors that haven't had breakfast and may not have dinner available when they get home.

Now, I don't know the reasons for all of these difficulties. I know that I often struggle with becoming cynical and judgemental when I hear about situations like these. It's easy to start wondering why these things might be happening and get so caught up in finger pointing and blame casting that we forget what we have been commanded to do. Darin recently shared something he had read in the Today devotional. It was based Luke 16:19-31, the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Here is the devotion that went with the passage:

Before we look at this story Jesus told, let’s notice a few things it doesn’t say. The story says nothing about how the rich man got his wealth. We don’t know whether it was an inheritance, a good business, or dishonest tax collecting that brought in his money. All we know is that he was rich.

Nor does Jesus tell us why Lazarus was poor. Was he a drunk, a disabled person, or maybe a victim of extortion? All we know is that he was poor. (italics mine)

We also see that the rich man did no direct harm to Lazarus. Jesus said Lazarus lay at the man’s gate, but he does not say the rich man kicked him as he went by, or mocked him.

Why then was the rich man’s punishment so severe? He earned an eternity of suffering.

The rich man’s sin was neglect. Lazarus lay at his door day after day, and the rich man failed to do anything for him. His sin was a sin of omission. The rich man knew of Lazarus’s hardships but did nothing about them, although he was in a position to help.

In our world, the poor are constantly at our door as well. The media make us aware of their presence daily. According to Jesus’ story, it seems not to matter how we got our money, or how the poor became poor. But if we fail to use our resources to help the poor and needy, we condemn ourselves.

After getting permission from the high school counselor, I passed on some of the stories that we had heard to my friend Sarah, who writes a blog called "Give Me Neither". A couple days ago Sarah wrote a post about the needs of the high school and also provided links to coupons and deals in the area to help meet some of those needs. Even if you don't live in Michigan, please check out her post to look at some of the things that your own local high school might appreciate receiving. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mountain Moving

Jesus tells us that if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, then we can move mountains. Why, then, do people still die of cancer, even when there are hundreds, sometimes thousands of "faithful" people praying for their healing? There was faith, true belief that the cancer would be removed, the marriage would be restored, the job would be offered, the child would live, yet none of these things came to be. Instead we are often left with relapses, broken homes, foreclosures and heartbreaking funerals. Surely, the mountains were not moved.

But what if they were? Could it be that mountains are being moved all around us, but we fail to see them because they aren't the mountains that we were praying about?

On Sunday night we took our family to church and heard a sermon preached by a Calvin Seminary student. I will admit, when I saw that a student was going to be preaching, I was less than thrilled, because these sermons are often a little awkward to listen to. On this night, though, I heard something totally new. Maybe it had been preached before in a sermon that I sat through, but I never heard it. The student preached on Matthew 17:14-23, which occurs right after the transfiguration. There is a crowd and in the middle, a father who has brought his son to Jesus' disciples to be healed. However, the disciples were unable to heal him. When Jesus enters the picture, he calls them out for their lack of faith. He goes on to tell them that the power that is available to them is the same power that will be displayed at the resurrection.

The message went on from there a bit, and then the student started sharing the story of a young child with cancer and the community that rallied around her. Not only did they work to meet the physical needs of the family, but they prayed with great faith that this child would be healed. However that was not to be. Now, this is where I heard something new. The student said that in this story, a mountain was moved. The mountain was not the health of the child, but the community and their response to the situation.

I think that this really resonated with me because of our current situation. Right now we are kind of in a holding pattern. We are waiting for paperwork to wind its way through a lengthy governmental process, we are waiting for funds to come available to us, we are waiting for our house to sell. I see all of these things as mountains that need to be moved.

However, what if in the end, this whole thing falls through. What if our paperwork isn't approved? What if we can't come up with any more money and lose the opportunity to go? What if our house doesn't sell, or on the other hand, what if it does sell, but we end up not moving and are now home-less? What if I am praying about these things, and, by faith, I truly believe they are going to happen, but they don't? Does that mean that God is out of the business of mountain moving, or does it just mean that he was busy moving mountains that I didn't realize needed to be moved?

I think about this a lot, as I cry out to God "I believe. Help my unbelief". If things fall through, I don't believe that it will be because of a lack of faith on our part, although I know the devil has been busy trying to get me to go down this path! I have found myself thinking about areas in my own life where God might want to do some rearranging. I think of my marriage, my mothering, the way I use our resources, the kind of friend I am, the way I spend my time. These are all areas where change is needed and would be beneficial to me and to those around me. Is it possible that, instead of moving us to Africa to bring about some of these changes, God might see fit to bring about these changes by having our plans fall through? Yes, I believe it is. Would this totally stink? Yup. I'm not gonna lie, but I have thought it through and it would be a tough pill to swallow. BUT if God knew that there was something in my life that needed to change and this was the only way He'd be able to move me, it would be worth it. Painful, but still worth it.

Even now, in this time of waiting, I know He is busy moving mountains. I want to have eyes to see all He is doing. I want to be more grateful for the things that I often see as setbacks and have a greater awareness of how He is working all around us every day.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.

I am about 4 weeks into Beth Moore's revised "Breaking Free" Bible study and, while I do like it, I have already fallen behind on my "homework" and had a few occasions where I have not wanted to get up on Wednesday morning and head off to my Bible study group. It has nothing to do with the people, I truly enjoy all the women who are currently taking this study. There is good food, good fellowship and lots of laughter and tears-we re women after all! The thing that makes me want to stay home and put off doing my homework is that this study is much harder than I thought it would be.

In week 2 we talked about 5 benefits that God intends for His children:
1. To know God and Believe Him
2.To glorify God
3. To find satisfaction in God
4. To experience God's peace
5. To enjoy God's presence

These are 5 God given rights that we often miss out on because we are being held bondage by some area of sin in our lives. Now, going into this study, I wasn't so naive as to think that I didn't have any areas of bondage in my life or that I wasn't being held captive by some area of sin, but when we got to week 3, I was about ready to be DONE with this study. In week 3 we uncovered 5 obstacles that keep us from enjoying the benefits God has given us, the benefits that lead to abundant life!

1. The obstacle of unbelief
2. The obstacle of pride
3. The obstacle of idolatry
4. The obstacle of prayerlessness
5. The obstacle of legalism

Well, by day 2 I was over this study. I was already 2 for 2 and having looked ahead to the next few days, I realized that I would soon be checking off all 5 of these obstacles as belonging to ME. Me, the pastor's kid, was being held captive by unbelief. Me, a Calvin grad, was being held captive by pride. Me, the weekly church attender, was being bound by idolatry, prayerlessness and legalism! ME!!! It was too much. I mean, have you ever really taken the time to examine your life, to dig down a little and get past all the stuff you "know" and have been told and really just looked at your faith as something belonging only to you-not to your parents, your school, your church, but just to you? At 32 years old, I don't know that I had ever done this.

I think I was really hit on day 1 to realize that I was being held captive by unbelief. I mean, I believe in God. I have known so much about Him and His Son and the whole Christian shebang for as long as I can remember! As I did the study, I realized that while I know that I believe IN Him, I often have trouble when it comes to just believing what He says, especially as it pertains to me. When I am looking at someone elses situation, I can fully take God at His Word for that person, but when I try to apply God's truths to my own life I often struggle with doubt. This whole South Africa thing has really made that evident to me.

This summer, we were making plans to move in January. We listed the house, sold many of our possessions, started telling people we were moving. Now, here we are over a week into November and we are just waiting. I am not even sure what we are waiting for, but I am pretty sure it is going to be a long wait! I really do not do well with waiting. I like to know something so that I can pretend like I have some sort of control over the situation. Instead we are thousands of miles away from where paperwork is (hopefully) winding its way through some government office or another and we really have no control over any of it! For a few months, I've been reading the Bible and verses like "all things work together for the good of those who love God" and even as I read the words and know that they are true, there has been a little voice in my head saying "but they may not all work out for you" or "you know this is all going to end up as a huge failure" and "you don't spend enough time with God to know what He wants you to do and for all you know, you are WAY out of His plan and He is going to bring you down!". I know now that this was the voice of fear, but I had kind of given fear and anxiety free reign in my mind. Why, I'm not sure, but I was just finding it hard to take God at His word and just go forward in peace, which was most likely being cause by the obstacle of prayerlessness, something else that I realized had a heavy presence in my life!

So, now I am trying to listen to the voice of truth. The voice that said in Mark 9 "Everything is possible for him who believes." God I believe. I believe that you are in control over all the paperwork that has been passing from our hands to a place across the ocean. I believe that you have determined the right time for these papers to be seen and approved, or disapproved. Father help my unbelief. God, I don't know how long we will be in Hudsonville, but You have a plan for Darin, Tyson, Jori and me right here, right now. God, I believe, please help my unbelief.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Ok, so I am neither for, or against Halloween. On the one hand, it is fun for kids and there is a lot of delicious candy that comes into our house! On the other hand, it is a big waste of money and resources that could better be spent on any number of other things.

That being said, we had a fun day yesterday with our costumed kids. We ran a few errands during the afternoon and let the kids dress up while we were out. I didn't take any pictures, but they had fun going to the grocery store as a ninja turtle and a, well, we don't really know what Jori was.

After running errands, the kids played for a while, then it was time to start getting dressed up. Here they are in costume.

Ninja Turtle and Princess
Princess Jori

Tyson striking a Ninja pose

Ninja kicks
Then, around 4:30 we headed over to the Huismans to take our annual Halloween pictures of the kids. We've done this ever since Tyson and Jenna were little. We usually trick or treat with them as well, but this year we went our separate ways : ( We did have fun though for the 20 minutes we were together!

Woody (JJ), Cowboy Reid, Jessie (Jenna), Princess Jori and Tyson the Ninja

Best friends

Buddies forever

Little Reid-e-lee-boo

Auntie Becka getting in on the leaf fight

It is funny how you can cram so much fun into such a little time. I think that the moment was made more bright and brilliant because we know that we probably won't be doing this with our friends next year as we head off to South Africa and our hearts are also full of the knowledge that Becka is leaving for training in Texas on Monday and then heading to Afghanistan much faster than any of us would like. We threw leaves at each other, took turns doing scary laughs, which Rachel caught on tape. We even got Darin and Jon to take part in that. I was laughing so hard I almost peed my pants. I LOVE moments like this, and I know that having these memories will sustain our family when we are far from friends and familiar things.

I was in kind of a contemplative mood when we packed up the van to head for our next stop. It is so easy to let the looming sadness of saying goodbye overshadow that present fun that we are having, but I need to keep shaking it off and thanking God for each moment He is giving us here!

This year, we were invited into someone elses Halloween tradition, along with the rest of our small group. We had a wonderful time in Zeeland with the Rigterinks, Louzons, Brenners and Elders. Here's a group shot of all the kids:
One of my favorite parts of the night was when the DADs all took the kids trick or treating and the moms stayed in to relax.

The highlight for the dads was when they stopped at a house with a scarecrow on the porch and the scarecrow waited til all kids were on the porch and then jumped and said boo. This was the last house on their trick or treating route, so we were soon inundated by kids saying "Joey just got scared by a scare crow" and sure enough, poor little Joey was so shaken up, that even retelling his sorrowful tale made him cry again! The dads enjoyed seeing all the kids get a little scare.

After lots of good food, candy and cake, we finally headed home a little before 9. A fun day was had by all.

Mr. Chicken

A few days ago, I made my first ever WHOLE chicken. It was a little scary for someone who is used to cooking with boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but I figure I should get used to working with bone-in chicken before we move to South Africa!

I will admit, I got a little attached to my chicken. I think he just kind of drew me in with his little wings and legs and fat little belly. Call me crazy. I know some of you already do!

Here's my chicken friend after I took out the packet of gizzards, or whatever that nastiness is called.
Just hanging around
Then I just had to stand my little buddy up
Then, after I washed him inside and out (I was a little too aggressive and ended up breaking his skin apart! I used toothpicks to put him back together), I covered him with butter that had salt, pepper and basil in it. And I cut up an apple and stuffed my chicken with it.
All ready to go in the oven
 The recipe I was loosely following was from The Pioneer Woman. It said to cook the chicken at 450 degrees for an hour and 15 minutes or so. So this is what I did.

Oh chicken, you look and smell so good
 When Darin came home from work, I was sitting in front of the oven, staring at my chicken through the door. It was just getting so brown and delicious looking and I was feeling SO accomplished.

Then Darin took the chicken out to see if it was done. He pulled out a chunk of meat from the right side of the bird. It was good. Then he looked more closely and saw that the chicken was still a bit raw looking underneath the part he had just sampled.

Mr. Chicken went back into the oven. We all ate some very delicious, very cheesy and buttery potatoes while we waited for the chicken. After 20 minutes, we took him out again and Darin tried the other side.
My poor chicken
All was well, so he took off some meat for the kids to eat, then we served ourselves. I would say Mr. Chicken was tasty. However, he was also quite dry. I usually love to nibble on chicken skin, but after seeing little feather remnants when I was washing Mr. Chicken, I just couldn't do it.

I am sure I will cook a chicken again someday, but I'll have to find a different cooking method for sure.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Jori and JJ

When Tyson and Jenna were little, I thought there would never be a better twosome than the two of them. Now I am not so sure. Jori and JJ have become quite the pair over the past year. When Tyson and Jenna were in kindergarten, Rachel and I started switching kids a couple days a week. On Tuesday she'd take Jori and on Thursday I'd take JJ. It gave us both a kid free day (until baby Reid came along!), which was such a blessing! This year we have continued the kid swapping. This week I had JJ on Tuesday and JJ and Reid for a while on Wednesday. This morning at 9 I brought Jori to Rachel's. Now it is 3:30 and I have had a whole day to myself. I've done 2 loads of laundry, cleaned the bathrooms, sorted through some toys and books, spent some good time in prayer, worked on the blog and prepared my first ever whole chicken, which will be detailed in an upcoming post.

Playing in the neighbors leaves
Best friends
For those of you who may not know, Jenna and JJ are brother and sister. Their mom, Rachel, is my best and oldest (meaning I've known her for the longest time) friend. Our moms were pregnant with us both in DeMotte, Indiana. I was born on July 20 and Rachel was born on August 19. My dad was the pastor at her church until I was 4 years old. Even after we moved, we managed to stay connected through some deep friendships between my mom and her mom and grandma. Rachel came to Oregon to see me with her grandma, we picked her up in Indiana one year and she came along to visit my dads family in Canada, we went to all 4 conventions together in Indiana, Colorado, Rhode Island and California. We lived in the same dorm our first year of college and currently we live less than a mile away from each other. To say that it will be hard to say good-bye to Rachel when we (eventually) move, is an understatement! I can't even think about it without feeling a little bit sick : (

So, first Rachel and I are best friends, then Jenna is born on May 25, 2004 and Tyson comes along on June 16 of the same year. Jori and JJ have a little bit bigger age gap, but are still just as close as ever! I am so very thankful for ALL the years God has let Rachel and I live by each other and also for the time that our kids have had to become friends. I pray that their friendships will remain as strong as ours did, even when we lived far apart.

Jori's second field trip-to the Fire Station!

On Wednesday, Jori had her second field trip of the year. Darin managed to get some time off from work to accompany her on this little outing. I am so glad he could go and experience all the preschool fun! When I picked Jori up from school, she was very chatty and told me all about seeing the fire fighters, the fire truck, the "gear" and much, much more. Here are some pictures from her special day.

Learning about the fire engine

Time to get down

Listening to the fire chief talk about all his gear

The fire chief asking Jori if he looked scary

So excited to be wearing some gear

Jori's class
Darin said the kids watched a little video, climbed in the fire truck, saw what a fire fighter would look like all decked out in his gear (Jori was not scared, but some kids in her class were), got to look through an infrared camera, tried on some gear, and got some homework. Apparently when the fire fighter said the kids would have homework, Jori's mouth and eyes opened really wide. She LOVES homework, so this was exciting news for her!

At dinner last night, Jori showed us how to stop, drop and roll. It was her solution for every fire related problem we asked her about. Smoke in the house, stop drop and roll. You are on fire, stop drop and roll. Your door is too hot to touch, stop drop and roll. She also said kids are supposed to jump out of windows and find a park or another person's house to run to if their house is on fire. Good to know she was paying attention : )