Monday, September 30, 2013

Meal Planning Monday

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Sunday: Church

Monday: Ummm...we have a case of Mondays and don't know what to cook?!  No, really I have Comm Group and Isaac has scuba cert class, so we're each on our own doing whatever isn't super junky.

Tuesday: Pork Chops and Steamed Green Beans (I'm loving fresh green beans this summer/fall, and we will keep eating them until I can't buy them fresh!).

Wednesday: Another scuba night, for both of us, so Subway!

Thursday: Russian Chicken, Quinoa instead of rice, Salad

Friday: Homemade Spaghetti, Salad

Saturday: Hoping for a family night in Pearland.  Finally a Saturday with NO plans!

Weekend Shenanigans

Sami's Shenanigans

This weekend was blast.   The boys had a great last day with us on the beach on Friday.  On top of the SCC concert on Saturday, I went to the cutest Vintage Mickey Sports baby shower!

Back to SCC-there's a giveaway of his new CD Glorious Unfolding happening, so go enter!!!

Yesterday was full of worship and a pedicure with my dear friend Michelle K.  She can't quite reach her toes at the moment, and I had no problem keeping her company while getting a bit spoiled.  :)  We never seem to take pictures together, but we had fun! 

It rained-all weekend!  Oh, sweet rain, we've missed you!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Glorious Unfolding Tour 2013

While we were in Zambia during the summer, tickets went on sale for Steven Curtis Chapman's tour this Fall.  By the time we had returned home, the show was sold out.  I was bummed.  There weren't tears or anything, but certainly a feeling that I was missing out on something grand.  It's no secret that Steven writes the soundtrack to my life and has since I was about 8 years old.  His music speaks to my soul.  I think we all have songwriters like that in our lives.  Isaac and I even had our first dance at our wedding to "Echos of Eden".  Hmmm....good stuff.  We always turn Steven's concerts into date night, but it looked like we'd be missing out in 2013.  We'd seen him in 2010 and in May, and I'd gone countless times as a kid.  I should have known though that when God wants His kids to see His face, He makes a way.  A second show for the same day was created, and we ended up with 5th row seats.  Oh, ye who doubts, have faith! (My words, not Jesus').

The concert was at 2:00, and included Jason Grey and Laura Story.  Jason's music has been capturing my spirit was quite some time on the radio.  It was incredible to hear the man behind the songs.  He daily struggles with a speech impediment, and singing is how he brings glory to God.  My favorite song of Jason's is called "Nothing is Wasted".  There will probably be more about this song coming.  :)

My first taste of Laura Story was in 2004 when Chris Tomlin first played "Indescribable" at the youth camp I was chaperoning.  I knew more phenomenal things would come out of anyone who could write lyrics like that!  The other interns and I were obsessed with that song the rest of the summer.  She too has watched her family overcome insurmountable medical odds to the glory of God.

To hear these stories and to see how God constantly takes the broken and imperfect to reveal Himself is stunning.  I know God works in the Chapmans' lives; I've watched their story unfold for a long, long time.  But to see this in others who are willing to share their weaknesses so the strength of God can be made known-wow.  Thank You, Lord for honesty and Your grace. 

At one point, Laura and Steven played a blue grass version of "How Great Thou Art".  It was lovely.  It felt like SCC meets Mumford and Sons.  Hmmm...banjo and upright bass-beautiful.

I was nearly knocked off my feet when we closed with worship (as if the whole afternoon hadn't already been worship!), and we sang the same two song I sang on the beach on Friday.  I love how God works!

Isaac scurried to Pearland for some fightin' Texas Aggie football when the concert was over, but I stayed for concert 2.  This time I worked the Show Hope booth.  Show Hope was created in 2003 by the Chapmans as a way to give families trying to adopt financial grants.  Adoption, domestic and international, is expensive.  So many families would love to grow their families in this manner but lack the thousands of dollars needed to process paperwork and travel to bring home children.  Show Hope helps alleviate some of the financial burden.  Show Hope now also provides much needed medical care for children in China.  It's something Isaac and I respect and love enough that in lieu of wedding favors, we had Dad give a donation to Show Hope.

I spent the next 7 hours with David  Trask, one of the incredible visionaries who has shaped Show Hope into all that it is today.  David's sense of humor had me in stitches most of the night.  His love for children who legitimately have no family and few options of finding a family is overwhelming.  David's openness left me in awe of all that God has been doing and the story that He is unfolding in families across the world.  I was humbled and blessed to speak with countless families deciding to sponsor Show Hope.  Several children had pulled their parents to the booth, begging them to help the other kids.  Thank You, God, for speaking through Your little ones.  Other families were wavering on whether they really should donate $35 a month to this.  I loved answering their questions and watching the Spirit work in their hearts.  If I was a stay-at-home-wife, I'd totally want to be on this team full time.  I love watching families together decide to respond to God.
My friend Regenia, me, and David

Steven's new CD, The Glorious Unfolding, comes out tomorrow, September 30th. I have a copy (legally!!) that I am giving away.  Enter below!
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Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Boys Are Back In Town

Ok, not the Thin Lizzy boys-they're kinda scary.  Actually, most things from the 70s were kinda scary.

But these boys are back!  Or were...they had to go home this morning.  But boy howdy did we live it up while they were here.

There was eating, making pillow cookies, racing RC helos, spoiling the dogs, performance go kart racing, celebrating Jacob's birthday, and a trip to the beach.  Oh, and there was a weird zombie movie in there too.  Note to self: Jason is NEVER allowed to chose the movie again.  Just, no.  Life is always good, but it's fabulous when the boys come back to town!    Jason and Jacob are such a crazy fun dynamic that keep this house full of laughter and chaos. Second note to self: start being in the pictures!  Ah!


Thursday, September 26, 2013

See You At The Pole 2013

This happened yesterday:

I wish Wednesdays weren't faculty meeting days so I could have stayed out the whole morning.  This was early, long before any of the buses ever arrived bringing in ever so many more kids.  My friend Jenny is one of the worship leaders at UBC.  She came and lead us in beautiful worship.  The kids sang, one of them read a verse, and then they would break into groups to pray about the topic discussed in the verse.  They want revival on our campus.  It's edifying and delightful to see kids who want so desperately to know Jesus.  I walked to my meeting with a full heart.  This is life, friends.  This is joy.  It is truly overwhelming to see God at work every time I turn around.  I've cried a lot lately, happy tears, at what God is doing.  I feel so incredibly blessed that He reveals Himself so very often in the tiniest and grandest of ways.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

WFMW: Living Water Gift Cards

Last Friday we went to Living Water International's 2013 Gala, Deeper.  We were each given $10 gift cards that are redeemable towards helping any of Living Water's country partners gain access to clean water.  More gift cards can be purchased to give as gifts, door prizes, to motivate children, and countless other uses.  I began thinking what great things these could be for kids to learn about the water crisis.  How could would it be for them to learn about the water problem in a country and then be able to donate to helping that country because they received a gift card as a party favor or as a reward for a job well done?  Or, instead of senseless stocking stuffers for the big kids (ahem, adults), what if the stockings had Living Water gift cards?

I'm giving away a $10 gift card this week.  Click here to enter!

Living Water Gift Cards work for me!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Meal Planning Monday

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Disclaimer: Isaac's brother Jacob and their cousin Jason are in town, so this is a blueprint only kind of week.....

Sunday: Church

Monday: Boys Night Out; party leftovers for me

Tuesday: Homemade Pizza

Wednesday: Grilled Chicken, Sauteed Squash, Zucchini, and Mushrooms

Thursday: I'm working the SCIS volleyball game, so the boys are on their own.  They have the makings for a cookout, but we'll see what they do.

Friday: Out!

Saturday: Fighting Aggie Football watch party in Pearland

Weekend Shenanigans

Friday night was the Living Water International Gala, (there's an awesome giveaway going on at this link, so check it out!!!) and Saturday was full of friends and fun celebrating a super special couple about to begin parenthood. Yesterday was church, and it was a beautiful day of worship.  When Isaac and I are tangibly able to see God at work, worship because so much more important to give back to Him.  It's all we have, and we are blessed.  For lunch, we met up with friends at Gina's for yummy Italian before sending Ashley and Tim back home after such a fun weekend.  I can't wait to go meet this sweet baby just a few weeks!

Being a musician means that Christmas begins in September.  We're already working on concert music for Christmas, and I wouldn't want it any other way.  It slowly builds the momentum and excitement of the anticipation of all that Christmas means for a broken world.  It makes for a great way to start preparation for a new work week, too.

The only reason it felt right to end the weekend after so much fun was that this guy arrived last night:

And this guy comes tonight:

I have a house for of studly men for the next week.  Chaos best describes them.  And two are single-ladies, come on over!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Very Hungry Catepillar Baby Shower

Our dear friends Ashley and Tim are having a baby boy in mid-November, and we couldn't wait to celebrate with them.  My friends Michelle and Jenny are crafting geniuses, and I am not, so they were completely in charge with decorating my house to the nines with all things Very Hungry Catepillar.  Everything turned out to be absolutely adorable, and the food was delicious!  Isaac made the cake, and it was perfect! He also marinated kabob meat (chicken, shrimp, and beef) for 5 days before the party.  I made an amazing salad to which I really need to share the recipe.  Tim brought a pasta salad that was so tasty! The best part was being with friends who have been in our lives for so very long now and celebrating a new phase in life with them.  God has blessed us richly, and I'm excited to watch Ashley be a mommy and Tim be a daddy..  This baby is one blessed little boy already!
Catepillars were all over my house!

Me, Ashley, Jenny, and Michelle.  All credit for all things cutesy goes to the two on the right end!  They are AMAZING!

Prayer book station.  Everyone writes a prayer.  I've been doing this for several showers now, and parents say they read through them for years to come. 

Buddy Jacob and Bubba Liam

Sweet friends!

I love them, even in burnt orange!

Storybooks are breathtaking!

Who knew bunnies say 'tch, tch'?!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Living Water International 2013 Gala

One of the board of directors at Living Water International is the aunt of a friend of mine.  Each year, Living Water hosts a gala to obviously raise money but also to open-heartedly declare all that Jesus is doing in the world through clean water.  My friend and her husband were unable to attend with her aunt this year, so she asked her aunt to invite us in their place.  Living Water is heavily involved in Zambia, and we see the evidence of the fruit of their work on our visits to work with the kids and CACZ.  I teach the importance of clean water and the pure crisis that is the lack of clean water globally, and after Kate's charity: water project back in the Spring, I was excited to see how God is at work with Living Water.  Our church also sponsors a trip to Central America each summer to dig wells.  Our excitement about last night's gala has been growing for weeks.

The gala was hosted at Hilton Americas in downtown.  We had never visited this hotel, and it truly is beautiful.  The huge globe on the lounge wall was befitting of last night's event.

When we arrived upstairs, families and couples were visiting, partaking in a short walk for water, taking pictures with the rig that digs wells, and taking photos displaying ways that each family is committing to help with the crisis.  We met several families, some of whom haven't traveled to help dig a well but pray as a family consistently for people to have access to clean water.  We met others who have been on several trips and save all year to be able to join their church in digging a well with Living Water.  Other are board members who dedicate countless hours to ensuring that overhead is minimal, folks on the ground in the nations that partner with Living Water are able to do their jobs, and implementing programs to educated people in America and around the world.  The mix of roles was refreshing and had a profound effect on the atmosphere of the evening.  There was abundant joy and anticipation to enter the ballroom not so much to have a fancy meal but to hear of all God is doing.

Fourteen hundred people entered the ballroom last night.  Each of us heard how the Gospel of Jesus is changing lives around the world as clean water is brought into struggling communities.  Lisa Pierre, a local music artist, was the emcee last night.  Her beautiful voice gently pulled in each guest to hear the stories of empowerment, not charity, that have occurred through the work of Living Water.  I so strongly believe that empowering people to care for themselves, to seek Jesus, and to build the stamina to keep on in life is what it takes to make a community change.  Handouts just don't solve any problems.  Living Water is empowering communities and making a difference in the name of Jesus.

Willys Geffrard, a soft-spoken but incredibly powerful man from northern Haiti, came to share how God is working through clean water projects in his home country.  We heard how people come to church because they believe that Jesus cares about them because there is clean water in the community.  Children are no longer punished by their parents when they are late to school from having to walk long distances to fetch water from the river in the local ravine because there is now clean water in the community.  At that point, the tears began flowing from my eyes.

Ambaye Zekewos, originally from Ethiopia, told how pastors when he was a boy would speak of all the abundance of water that will be in Heaven.  Ambaye lived through the famine caused by severe drought in the 80's in Ethiopia, and his relationship with Jesus has lead him around the Africa and Southwest Asia to provide community development skills in Jesus' name.  He now lives in Liberia, Isaac's dad's home country, and oversees community developments initiatives.  Isaac was thrilled to see film of Liberia, still trying to recover from years of civil war.  It's a nation we long to visit to see where Dave was raised, but we haven't felt safe enough to plan a trip there yet.  To see how communities are changing and growing economically simply because of the power of Jesus bringing clean water is utterly fantastic.  Ambaye really opened my flood works when he compared the pastors' teachings of his childhood to those of us sitting in the ballroom.  He said he felt like he was looking out last night and seeing a piece of what Heaven will be like.  I couldn't accept that at first.  Here were 1400 people in beautiful clothing eating a delicious three course meal, all with warm beds to return to at the end of evening.  Except for the occasional hurricane, few if any of us have had to worry about clean water.  And yet, Ambaye overlooked the abundance in the room and never even mentioned it.  He said that it's because of what we have given that this work is able to continue and change lives in Central America, Asia, and Africa.  His words challenged Isaac and me even more to continue doing good every day in the name of Jesus.  We're no different from the world if our good isn't in His Name.

Geoffrey Richter and his wife and children are Americans living in Burkina Faso working for Living Water.  We heard stories of how entire communities used to believe that the swollen bellies of their children were caused by witchcraft.  Medicine men and woman would cut the bellies of little children with razor blades and say chants in hopes of casting out the evil in their tummies.  Little did they know that it was parasites from river water causing the children to be sick.  When clean water arrived through Living Water, the children recovered.  A few people became believers due to the work of the Living Water team members.  Before long, more and more people were turning their backs on witchcraft and following Jesus.  This past Easter, over 1000 people were baptized in the river.  Now, the river is used for baptisms and the animals, not for drinking.  How beautiful is our God!

Two little girls, sisters name Isabelle and Katherine, who have raised about $200,000 for Living Water by selling origami .  They named their project Paper for Water and sell origami ornaments at events around Texas.  Don't ever let anyone tell a child they are too young to be the hands and feet of Jesus!

We realized at one point in the evening that Ted Cruz, one of our senators, was sitting at the table next to us.  His back was to us, but he turned his head for a moment during one of the stories, and his eyes were as puffy as mine.  That's the kind of person I want in my government-someone moved enough by the work of Jesus to be a little red eyed in public.  He's also on Living Water's Board of Reference.  Just, wow.

After the evening's events were over, we went down to a small room off one of the restaurants with my friend's family members and several board members.  As we sat and heard more stories of how God is at work from Mike, the CEO and President of Living Water, I fell more deeply in love with the passion of the people who simply want to see the basics of life accessible to all people and who want to see this done in the name of Jesus.  And really, it takes organizations like this, extensions of the Church, for this to happen.  Governments can't do it.  They were never even called to do it.  But, as redeemed sons and daughters of the Most High King, we are.

Y'all, this is real life.  This is the goodness of Jesus.  This is what purpose is about. In that spirit, I'm giving away a $10 giftcard that goes back to Living Water as a donation to them.  You'll have the opportunity to send your $10 to the country of your choice (that they partner with, of course!), and see how your $10 impacts lives.  It seems so little, but I promise it's huge.  I pray that this will start a fire in your heart for continuing to empower others in the name of Jesus.  Enter below for your chance to win!

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