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Sunday, December 6, 2009

For the love of...?

"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father...that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and the length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God."  Ephesians 3:12,17b-19

These words really challenged me this week, my friends. I have many inner battles that most people don't know about (except for those who have to live with me, unfortunately!) and one of them is the intense desire to be used of God to draw many to Him but with many feelings of inadequacy and inability to do so. I long for every person I know or come into contact with to receive the gift of grace that has given me hope in this world and yet...what can I do? How can I share with people in an effective manner? Is anything I'm doing making any difference at all in this world?

There are still a lot of questions that I don't have answers to, but those verses in Ephesians gave me a piece to the puzzle. Universally what the world wants/needs is love. But the word love has been cheapened in our culture to the extent that I believe the average person doesn't really know what true love looks like. Most people haven't experienced real love. Everlasting love. Though the Father of agape love entered my life many years ago, my inner man (woman) struggles on a daily basis to accept that love. Which in turn deprives me of being filled up with His true love. Which prevents me from passing that same love onto others. I have come to the realization that I am guilty of cheapening the word love myself. I haven't allowed myself to bask in His perfect love (because of sin, pride, etc) and this alone will keep me from being full. Our nation is crying out to be filled with something real. Something more than material goods, fame and power. For those of us who know the God of love, we have the answer. And yet people like me are living lives of missed opportunities because we fail to accept that love for ourselves.

I have to be honest and tell you that I still don't really understand what it means to understand that love. I would imagine that a perfect understanding will not come until after this earthly life. But I do know one thing, I am going to try a lot harder to understand more and allow myself to be loved by Him more. I'm tired of living with small doses of real love and sporadic doses of cheap/fake love.

And I know something else.


Only those who really love these....




Will wake up to this....




 And an hour later go do this....




For very little of this...




Needless to say that my big opportunity yesterday to kick-start my new candle business didn't go as planned. I am a bit discouraged but I do love my candles (can I say that on my blog?) and am now trying to figure out a better way to market them. My mom and her friends have some great ideas that I'm going to pursue after the New Year but does anybody have any ideas of how to sell them before Christmas?

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Obsession

So what kind of a person do you get when you mix a visionary with spastic tendencies? Yours truly. My poor husband who has been described as "steady" by my dear cousin Jenni, didn't realize he signed up for this roller coaster ride when he married me. Poor guy. I don't dare ask him if he'd hop on this ride with me again if he had known the curves and loopty-loops I would take (have taken) him on. BTW, www.dictionary.com does not have a definition for "loopty loop".

Being a dreamer and a visionary with a lot of anxious energy I tend to get an idea and become obsessed with it. I mean, really, really obsessed. It may last a day, it may last a year or a few years but until I expend a good amount of thinking, analyzing and sometimes acting on a particular idea then it just won't go away.

A new obsession has now entered my life. About 10 days ago as I was looking into making some soap for Christmas gifts the idea of candle making entered my spastic-visionary-anxious head. See, I was looking into different essential and fragrance oils when I came across a short video on how to make Soy Wax Candles. I was very intrigued! I thought to myself "hey, I could do that. Maybe I'll try sometime."

Well that led into thoughts like "I wonder if I could make and sell candles?"

It has been one week since that first thought came to mind and here I sit in my office with 630 candle tins waiting to be filled. As the last shipment of my supplies arrived yesterday I have made my first 120 candles. I'm not kidding. But I will tell you that thankfully, this isn't one of those things that I just jumped into all on my own. I mean yeah, I "kind of" jumped into it, but I did do so with my husband's blessing. And that means a lot. Because you know, he's steady. And if Mr. Steady thinks it's a good idea then it really can't be that bad (keep in mind that being spastic makes for some not-so-good ideas at times.)

I'm really excited about my potential candle making business. REALLY excited. I haven't sold a candle yet but I'm already chomping at the bit to order some new fragrances online to try out! What I am most excited about is that if this works it will not only, possibly, be a source of income as a stay-at-home mom but each candle that sells will receive 50 cents to contribute towards 1 of 3 ministries. All three ministries minister to children in third world countries. India, Rwanda and Thailand. Two of those ministries feed, educate and train children in the poorest of the poor conditions. Not only giving them hope in this earthly life but introducing them to the One who gives them eternal hope. The third reaches out to children who have been rescued out of the sex trade industry (a growing problem in the world today).

So as I expend some of my nervous energy into making candles it is so cool to think that I am not only doing it for my family but for the Lord.

Maybe I jumped into it too quickly. Maybe not. If I did then all of you who are related to me or live in close proximity to me know what you'll be getting for Christmas for the next 10 years. ha :-)

Here are a few pictures of the candles I made last night and this morning. About 120 all together. Some have more noticeable "frost" on top that I guess should get better as I actually come to know what I'm doing. I'm thinking of calling my business Abiding Fragrance after the verse in 2 Corinthians 2:15, which is a constant reminder to me that I have a choice to be a pleasant fragrance or a not-so-pleasant fragrance to those around me. But does anybody else have another idea for a name that has the word fragrance in it to go along with that verse? At first I wanted "Lasting Fragrance" but that is already a perfume business. Ok, here are the pictures.....



 

I love how they look in their little tins. I hope we can figure out a way to make cute/cheap labels for them! Any ideas?




All candles for 4 oz and $2.50 each, just in case you're in TN or FL (where we are headed tomorrow) and you want some great Christmas presents. Oh, and they're buy 10 get 1 free! What a deal, huh? I'm a horrible sales person but thought I'd give it a shot anyway.

Here are a few non-candle pictures...

Karis had her friend over this morning but spent the first hour calling him Jagger. He didn't seem to mind at all!




 

We're headed to FL tomorrow to spend Thanksgiving week with the fam. We're thankful that we can do this before Jonathan gets a full-time job and traveling becomes much more difficult. He and Karis will drop me off in the Atlanta airport so that I can fly out to Dallas to help Stace drive with her two cutie-patooties over to FL. I'm so excited we get to spend this time together! After they drop me off Jonathan and Karis will continue driving down to FL.

I doubt I'll get around to posting again as I'll be spending the week with family and the Good Cents store. So Have a great Thanksgiving, everybody!



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

And then she was 4.

My baby girl turned 4 today (*sniff sniff). As someone recently commented to me "the days go by slowly as the years fly by" (or something like that.) And that is what it feels like...has it really been 4 years since my puffy-asian-looking-baby came into this world?

I know all of you who have grown children don't see turning 4  as a huge milestone. But for me who's life ambition was to be a mom, seeing my only child grow up way too fast is so bitter-sweet. Each stage brings new challenges and joys and I know this year will be unlike any other. But you know, sometimes I just want to shrink her back into a 6 month old and enjoy the time I had with her as a baby (I'd prefer not to send her back any further as she was rather colicky :-) Then I'd like to re-live the stage when she was just starting to walk and babble.  Or before she could talk and she spent 80% of her time going up to anybody who had food in their hands and doing the sign for "more".

I also know you're not supposed to get too emotional on a blog knowing that others are reading. Pardon me, but I'm feeling really emotional. My baby girl is 4! When I'm struggling with the thought that she may be my only child I am always overwhelmed at how thankful I am that Karis was given to me. I don't think I'll ever not want to have more children but I am so, so thankful to have her. She has brought so much joy into our lives. I tell her (probably not often enough) that she was my present from the Lord. She knows she was/is a gift and her birthday is more exciting than my own as she is a better gift than any I've received on my own birthday!

Alrighty, I'm done with the emotional part of this post. Behold pictures from her party that we had on Saturday since my family was in town...

Decorating for a birthday is a whole lot easier and cheaper when you have The Dollar Tree in town!



Just family and Lorraine were invited to the party that was planned last minute.







After a few cheesy games we let Karis open her presents....



Everyone loved the 3-d Hansel and Gretel book...





Yep...enjoyed by everyone...



Can I take this moment to ask an honest question here? Are there any parents out there who actually read this horrible story to their children? I remembered as a child having a nursery rhyme book and at the end Hansel and Gretel tricked the old mean lady into getting into a candy house stove (this is my child-hood memory of the book.) But after the party when I actually took the time to read this book to Karis I was horrified at what the story line is. What kind of sick person wrote this story? A man remarries, the family goes through hard times so the mean step-mother forces the wimpy husband to take his kids out into the middle of the woods and abandon them there so that the family doesn't starve together (how gracious, the children can starve on their own in the middle of a scary forest.) The two kids find their way home only to be returned to the forest a second time. They find a candy house with a witch who tries to fatten them up to eat them but Hansel tricks her into getting into the oven, they cook her and then eventually find their way home where their dad is happy to see them again and they live happily ever after since the step-mother is dead (it doesn't mention how she died.)

This book inspires me to begin writing children's books.

Ok, back to the party!


Another great present. Besides almost losing a few eyeballs this entertaining toy has been fabulous.



Cake time!



Thank you for noticing this amazing piece of art. A piece of art which only consumed about 2 hours of my time. You will only be able to truly appreciate this year's masterpiece if you saw last year's roach cake. Take a closer look at this beauty.


I kept asking Karis over and over what kind of cake she wanted. I kept asking 'til I got a satisfactory answer! For the longest time she said she wanted a grasshopper cake (or hop-grasser, as she says) but I knew that wasn't an option unless we bought a cake so I just kept asking over and over again. Finally when she said "a flower cake" and I had visions of a simple round cake I jumped at the idea and made her feel like the idea was ingenious. Thankfully she stuck to that idea 'til we had her party on Saturday. I'm so excited because with this great improvement in cakes I look forward to being a professional baker of cakes by the time she's 30.

But I made a huge mistake, folks. Because I figured a strawberry cake wouldn't be so tasty (her request) I thought I'd make a more adult-appealing cake, like red velvet cake, to keep both young and old happy. Now the cake itself wasn't amazing but the icing was. After almost 12 weeks of no sugar I could not keep myself from eating a piece with the out-of-this-world icing. Then the next day I lost self-control again when I saw Jonathan pull the cake out. Then yesterday...he did it again. Pulled it out right in front of me. Now I was doing really good today 'til I started writing this and now can't stop thinking about that icing. I'll be right back...

Ok, make that four days in a row. I'm so weak. If you are reading this and you live close by please come take this cake away...I need help! If you think I'm crazy and you have the time and money to put into a batch of icing to see that I'm not crazy then here ya go...click here, make the icing and then come back and comment, letting everybody know that this icing is irresistible. Next time I'm just going to make a batch of icing and serve it in small cups.

Happy birthday to my Karis Joy!


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Christmas in October

Yes, dear friends, I realize that it's already November. But our Christmas in October really happened in October, hence, the title of this post.

Wow, Christmas in October is a very exciting experience! And you know folks, you too can enjoy this experience by following three not-so-simple steps. Keep in mind that you may feel discouraged after reading the first two steps but if you persevere and follow through I can guarentee you that you will have a great Christmas in October. Promise.

Here they are...

1.) Pack up everything you own that is dear to you and get rid of the rest.

2.) Move overseas and reaccumilate new stuff as you can afford it .

3.) After 6 years take all of the "new" stuff you've accumilated, sell or give it away in 4 weeks, move back to the original location and then unpack everything you packed up the first time.

It really is exciting. What is so great about this is that during those 6 years when you're adjusting to life in a different culture, learning a language and uh, contemplating who-in-the-world you really are as a person you WILL forget everything that you had to pack up in the beginning. When was the last time you were able to open 20 boxes which contained surprises in each one?

Unpacking the initial 10 boxes. I sure hope Jonathan doesn't see this picture.



So we've added a few items to our 20 boxes, thanks to the Good Cents store and garage sales.



Needless to say it's been an exciting month. I am so glad I didn't remember how awesome my kitchen pots were when we were living in Brazil or I may have taken them down there, only to bring them back here again! Cooking rice is an amazing thing when you can look through the glass lid and see what it looks like. Even though I've always known you weren't supposed to lift the lid to peek at rice...I always do. Looking at the rice never helps anything but I'm just a spaz that way. Gotta see it. Now I can peek 'til my little heart is content.

So besides opening up boxes and boxes of treasures (I do have a pile of stuff to take to Goodwill though, as some things that were dear to my heart are not-so-dear anymore) we have already accumilated some more used-treasures.

Did I ever even mention that we are in our own home now? We are. The Lord swung open some doors for us to live in a house just around the block from Jonathan's parents. And the only way we were able to do that is because we are able to work off 1-2 months worth of rent. Jehovah Jireh! That is the only reason as we are still making payments on our house in Brazil which IS in the process of selling though we won't see the funds for another month or two. We are so thankful.

One of the items we have been blessed with is a tv. Normally I wouldn't mention or write anything about a tv on my blog except....well, it's a great story and if anybody comes to my house and sees this tv, we really want them to know how we got it and how much we paid. To me a tv isn't a big deal. The dining room table and chairs were my big deal. Jonathan's big deal was the tv.

I got my table and chairs (which is an amazing story in itself)....



And so we were left looking for a tv. Really we were only half-hearted in our search but were amazed at how much money people wanted for their used tv's. We came close to spending $60 on a puney flat-screen at a garage sale (I think it was a 17 inch?) but decided to just wait since...well, we are capable of living without a tv for a while.

And then it happened. I noticed on Craigslist that somebody had a "big" flatscreen for sale for $50. Jonathan called, talked to the guy who said he just wanted it out of his house TODAY and the next thing I know J's in the truck headed to Chattanooga to pick it up. We had other shopping to do there so his folks, Karis and I drove their other vehicle down to meet him. When he pulled up into the parking lot I just started laughing. I mean, I could not stop laughing. God has a great sense of humor. Jonathan wanted a big TV and a big TV he got. This baby is 52 inches. I am not kidding. A 52 inch tv for $50.
The first time we put Karis' show "Hermie" on she exclaimed "Hermie is big like me!"



I have to admit we're kind of self-conscience about it. We don't mind admitting that we do enjoy tv sometimes but it's hard to not imagine what one might think walking into our home and seeing this monstrous thing. I can just see someone thinking "so, they can't afford to pay rent but they can afford THAT?" Which is exactly what I would think. What is even funnier is that as embarrassed as we are, Jonathan's mom is even more embarrassed. This is a small town you know, so everybody knows everybody...to a certain extent. When the phone guy came over to install the internet Jonathan went on to explain the story of how we got the tv and how much we paid for it. But the guy said "oh yeah, your mom already told me. That's amazing!"

Enough of the tv story. If you come over, now you know :-)

It is so wonderful to be closer to family again. Though I haven't seen Stace yet (we will at Thanksgiving!) we've been able to see almost everyone else. And Karis is having a blast getting to know her cousin, Jagger. Isn't this picture too cute?




I LOVED having cousins growing up. My cousins in Orlando were such a huge part of my life that I feel so sorry for those who haven't been able to experience the same thing. I am happy to watch Karis get to know at least one of her cousins. And Thanksgiving will be great as all four cousins will be together. Cousins are awesome because they're family but they're more exciting than siblings since you don't see them all the time. Then again, when you're an only child like Karis I'm sure seeing anyone other than mom and dad is exciting!

Here are a few pictures of the munchkins dressed up at halloween....
  

We took them to a Fall Festival at a local church. It was a neat festival with lots of games and prizes for the little ones. But after about 2 pieces of candy my child (who doesn't get a ton of sugar) could hardly wait in line anymore, she was so hyper. Next time I'm not going to let her eat any candy until after the festival and then she's going to have a slumber party with one of her grandmas. Hopefully both of the grandmas will forget reading this by next October and won't think of anything when I casually ask "can Karis spend the night so we can go on a date?" ha.

Before I end this already-too-lengthy post here are a few Karis funnies from the past few weeks...

I was explaining to Karis the meaning of her name and how it is the Greek word for "grace". I wasn't sure how much she was understanding but tried to be as clear as possible. She seemed to really be soaking it in but after about 30 seconds of silence she asked "Is my name Grace Bible Church?"

When Jonathan's cousin Lorna was visiting here in August we went to a historic museum about Sequoyah,  a Cherokee who invented the Cherokee alphabet/writing system. The museum is located where he lived and when we were there Karis seemed fascinated that we were at a man's house who had already died. She kept asking "Is Sequoyah dead?" Well for the next 8 weeks we didn't hear or mention anything about Sequoyah until a few weeks ago when Jonathan was mentioning a job opening in Sequoyah. He was explaining the situation to his mom when all of us heard Karis' voice yell from the back room "but dad, Sequoyah is dead!"




Monday, October 5, 2009

A sun, a car and aging woes.

First of all, thanks to everybody who sent me a personal email complementing my latest decoupage. I feel so special! And I would feel hesitant to continue posting pictures of my latest projects (I really am obsessed) except that I truly believe anybody can do it! I'm not interested in making pictures to sell right now, as I would rather teach others how to do this so that I'm not alone in my obsession. I already have a domain name as well as a web-service to try and accomplish this via a web-site yet will have to soon undergo the huge task of trying to figure out how to build the actual web-site. It may take years. But what I would love to do is have lots of examples posted, instructions on how to make these pictures and then have tons of napkins available for the public to purchase individually. This would be so that one who may become obsessed like me does not have to go out and buy 100 napkins to do a project that only requires 5 napkins total.

Here is a picture of my sun, as it is....for now.

This is not the finished product. Actually, I'm half tempted to paint over it with white and start all over, which is the beauty of decoupage! I may try to touch it up a bit and see but...it's just not what I had envisioned.

We're still trying to sell our house back in Brazil. We were assured by the real estate agent that it would sell BEFORE we had to leave. Here we are a few months later and it still has not sold! It is hard not to get totally discouraged because even if it were to sell today it would be another 2-3 months before getting the money...and that means being in debt that much longer to those who so generously gave us loans. I cannot WAIT to be out of debt. You will read one bold and italicized YIPPEE when these things happen (notice this example was not italicized.)

So our plans to get a family mini-van are put on hold. But God is SO good and provided an unexpected opportunity to spend $500 and get something that will work just fine until then! Take a look....


I do need to brag on my husband just a bit. Did you know he can work on or fix anything? Really, anything. I am SO spoiled to always have decent running vehicles and a home that gets repaired quickly and efficiently (sure hope the next lucky homeowners appreciate that when they buy our house!) And I hope I don't make a lot of women sick by saying this but that so called honey-to-do list is pretty much non-existent in our home. I don't think I've ever made a list for him. And that is because he notices AND fixes the problems before I am aware of the problem in the first place. This could be part of the reason I'm so unappreciative sometimes. He'll be like "hey hun, I fixed the leaky faucet." and I'll be thinking "Leaky faucet? Was it leaking? Which one?" but I've learned the best response is..."wow, great...thanks!" But when I sit back and ponder how spoiled I am in this area I am all the more grateful. Which brings me to the point of this paragraph. I love that we can buy a $500 vehicle because my oh-so-talented husband can fix it up for next to nothing! And this one is a 1997 Land Rover. I've never even been inside a Land Rover before but this one is cool. And it will be really cool when it's all fixed up. For next to nothing. By my wonderful hubby.

There are just two quick things I want to mention before closing this post.

1.) Karis has said so many funny things lately and I can't remember any of them, except one. It was a short conversation between her and her cousin Jagger. It went like this....

Karis: Jagger, are you firsty? (thirsty)
Jagger: No.
Karis: Well, then you can't be my friend.

I have no idea why she said this but it got a few silent chuckles out of me. Although I do hope that she doesn't continue to base her friendships on the apparent thirst of others!

2.) I have 7 months to remain in my 20's. That is it...7 months. So the only thing I can do to truly console myself is to make a resolution that by my 30th birthday I am going to be in better shape and feeling better than I have in 5 years! Which will be fairly easy as I've let things go for...er, 5 years. I have been without my favorite drug sugar for 6 weeks as well as exercised a few times and stayed away from lots of unhealthy carbs. I do plan to bump up the exercise routine a bit as well as contemplate giving up my #2 favorite drug....caffeine.

3.) ok, just one more! I found this site and am still reading this article but I'm very inspired! Once we're settled in our own home I'm going to start trying some of these things out. I would love to have a chemical-free home. So check out this post!

http://backtobasicsbylivinggreen.blogspot.com/2007/09/cleaning-natural-way.html

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Addictions.

There are three things I remember being disciplined for as a teenager.

1.) Jumping off of the roof onto our trampoline.

2.) Sneaking out in the middle of the night with friends to T.P. my Aunt's house around the block.

3.) Doodling all over paper while talking on the telephone.

I am sure there are more of them to list but I just don't remember. Events #1 and #2 were one time occurrences. However, event #3 (or should I say eventS) was a normal part of my life. In some ways I take pride in how few times I made my mom cry growing up. But maybe I shouldn't be prideful as the times I did make her cry were usually due to doodling all over an important document that was so conveniently placed on the end table next to the phone. And this happened at least once a week. Why she didn't force me to have my hands strapped down while talking on the telephone I'll never know.

I say that because one of my favorite things to doodle was (and is) pictures of the sun. I really love the sun! I love what it symbolizes. I love what it does. I love how all you have to do is draw a circle with squigglies around it and voila...you have a sun.

And I say that because I also love decoupaging. I thought I was addicted to decoupage while living in Brazil but I've now realized that I only had what some would call a mild case. After finally settling down a bit this week and getting to use some of the 500 napkins I've accumulated in 7 weeks I see that this addiction will hold much more power over me! There are SO many neat tools and napkins to work with here! To keep myself controlled somewhat I am now setting the timer to where I only spend 15 minute increments on a picture at a time. This helps me be a good girl and do the laundry, dishes and play play-dough with my cutie-patootie in-between decoupaging sessions.

And SO I say that because I combined the two aforementioned loves of mine and began a decoupage OF a sun today. It's going to be really cool. Why I used 7 paragraphs to share that bit of information...I don't know. But I'm really excited about my sun decoupage.

Onto a new and off-the-subject subject. I will confess that I've been rather alarmed at how some people stay on facebook ALL DAY LONG. All. Day. Long. How do you do that? And why? What is there to get addicted to?

Lest you think I'm about to bash facebook I will assure you, I am not. I really like facebook (don't love it, mind you, but I do like it). I really enjoy keeping in touch with people that I never would if there wasn't facebook. I think it's awesome to to know who is chatting with who and be able to add a comment to their conversation. It's great! But I still didn't understand (until today) why some people had status updates several times a day. Now I do. And that is because since we have had the most NORMAL week this week than we have in 5 months I've had more time to walk by and glance at the computer. Because of THIS I have left facebook up all day (but showing me as logged out so that other people don't think of me what I previously thought of other people who stayed logged in all day). When I get an extra minute I go hit refresh and read all of the new status updates. It really is cool!

How else would I know that my cousin fell asleep on the couch forgetting her weener dog locked in a crate? Or that my friends in Brazil are battling the thousands of beetles this month? Or that Kimmy beat my mom in scrabble? (way to go Kimbosha!) Please don't think less of me after reading this.

I'm going to interupt this post for about 15 minutes now. brb.

Done with the jabbering for now. Here are a few pictures...


This is the decoupage I did during Karis' nap yesterday. And part of today. Having stencils for the lettering sure does speed up the process!


And here is my sun so far. Sorry that I'm not taking the time to rotate it, save it and then re-upload it.

Uh....I had to take the picture of the potential sun off as two people wrote me and told me that it resembled something different. Something very, very different.


And I have been doing some other things the past few days, which is nice for Karis.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Not really normal.

Has it really been over a month since I posted? Why yes, dear Kelley, you say. So much for mid-year half-hearted resolutions.

It really is hard for me to believe that we've been in the States for 7 weeks now. At the same time it feels like it's been forever since we have lived in Brazil! And this, good people, brings me to a question. What is normal? There is no normal and that goes for my life too. It just isn't normal. but take heart, I say to myself. There is no normal.

And that is part of the great adventure. Learning to take what the Lord gives you a day at a time and living it to the fullest! I fail at this, good people. I am more consistent at failing in that area than I am at blogging (haha...that's funny). But, there is always tomorrow. Or better yet, there is always today!

We have had a very busy month (an un-normal month)! We've checked out ministry opportunities in NC, looked into "normal" job opportunities and spent much needed time with friends and family! I would be lying if I said it has been an easy month, as it has been a rather emotional one for us girls in the Kroeker family as we adjust to...life.

The past 3 weeks has been filled with activity that took place in FL. I was horrible at making the effort to take the camera out and take pictures while we were there...something I'm deeply regretting now! But I did manage to get some good ones during our short overnight trip to the beach. Here are a few of those...

The three of us drove down to Carrabelle for the day. The water was GROSS. Absolutely disgusting. But there was an abundance of not-as-polluted sand which helped.

Besides the fact that my child can recognize polluted water when she sees it she also had another problem with the water. When she was little she had NO FEAR of the water. At all. None. So the days preceding our trip I was very faithful to caution her about being careful near the ocean. I think I over did it because she didn't even want to rinse the clean sand off her body in the polluted water when I advised her to. She kept saying "I don't want to get drowned."


And what kind of parents would not only force their child to step into that nasty water but sit on a stump and smile for a picture? That would be us. Look at that nasty foam.


We spent the night at my Uncle's beach-house. Karis liked having a huge trout with her in bed.


The following day was a beautiful day! My family came down and we went the extra mile (or 15) to go to St. George Island. It was definitely worth it!


We brought my nephew, Jagger, down to FL with us to spend time with my family. He and Karis had a blast playing together!

My 4 youngest siblings. I LOVE my family. I love having young siblings. They are so cool and were such a huge help with their nephew/niece.

Thank goodness for clean water!


An almost-complete sister's picture. We look forward to taking a real sister's picture soon with Stace!


Kimmy. My amazing sister, Kimmy. Only those who don't know Kimmy will be confused when I tell you this. Do you know what thought constantly comes to my mind when I think of Kimmy? It is this. What if my parents had stopped after having 5 children?




It is nice to be back in TN as we now try to get into some sort of a schedule. We haven't made any big decisions yet but may be coming close to doing just that. It is difficult not to jump into making decisions for the sake of having some closure. Or for the sake of knowing what tomorrow may hold. Or for the sake of getting settled. Somewhere. Sometime. In the near future. But we are confident that He will lead in some way. And we're ready to follow.

Before I close let me share with you a Karis dance that always brings a smile to my face. Actually, I laugh every time! And coincidentally she chooses to do this dance quite often when she knows she's about to get in trouble :-)


video