Monday, November 4, 2013

Clara Jadele is 3!

It's hard to believe that our baby is 3 years old today.  

When we were at the hospital for Eliah's birth, we had already decided to be done having kids.  But, there was no peace within me about our decision.  Sergio gently looked at me and told me that we didn't need to make the decision today, but could wait & pray.  

18 months after Eliah came, Clara was born.  

I had to have cesearens with each child.  As soon as our doctor opened me up & pulled her head out, she screamed.  Not an "oh, this is a sweet first cry", but more like a "put her back!  She's not ready!" kind of cry" 


Clara was persisted.  She screamed for a little over 24 hours straight.  I'm not kidding when I say this.  She did not sleep.  She just kept screaming.  The nurses tried their best to calm her down so that I could sleep.  It didn't work.  I could hear her screaming from down the hall.  I cried & asked God why He would do this to me (like it was His fault!).  I texted my friends to pray for me.  I was scared.  I had already had a 6 yr old, 2.5 yr old, & 18 month old baby at home.  I prayed for strength. 

After 24 hrs, she finally ate.  We finally slept.  And she hasn't screamed like that since. 

She is a beautiful little girl.  She loves her siblings deeply.  She is witty, peaceful, a great hugger, & always glued to my side.  

I could not imagine our family without her.  She is one of four best gifts that God has given to us.  

If you haven't met her, I hope that someday you will.  She brings sunshine to each day....the kind of joy that we all need to feel.  

Happy birthday, Clara Jadele.  You are well loved by us all.  

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Spoiled Milk & My Soiled Heart.

....and then the homeless man entered our home
and the smell of spoiled milk filled our hearts.

He came to us recommended by a homeless friend of ours.  A carpenter by trade, he'd be able to help us fix Operation Sleep Tight's Shasta Camper. 

Our hopes to hit the road in the Shasta came to a quick holt once the walls were taken down.  Everything behind the walls disintegrated with a light touch.  The bones weren't even bones anymore but more like ashes from an old man's cigar.

And as the rain pours down outside, I can't seem to control my tears.

We have been vocal about Operation Sleep Tight and the great things that have been happening materialistically.  We were given a van for free, the camper was a gift, the hitch was a gift, and families are ready to partner with us to hand out supplies.

But my heart has been heavy.


Because ministry is not about the material items that we need, but to make known the ONE who loves us so.

It took tears over the Shasta today to open my eyes to what my heart was already begging me to see.

Operation Sleep Tight is not a handout ministry.  It is about developing relationships with our homeless neighbors.

Back in 2011, our son, Josiah, spoke in a church about Operation Sleep Tight.  He was 7 years old at the time.  When his dad asked him why he wanted to give the homeless a sleeping bag, he whispered into the microphone, "I want them to have hope."

That's what Operation Sleep Tight is about.  It is about a man sitting in that crowd listening to our son speak the words of HOPE.

That man is Johnnie.  If you have read my blog in the past, you are familiar with him as "J".

Johnnie received a sleeping bag from Josiah that November night back 2011.  We didn't see him again until Christmas Evening.  My husband saw him sitting on a park bench reading.  Through conversation, he found out that Johnnie is an educated man with his master's degree.  He fell into some hard times and was currently living on the streets.

Through the past couple of years, Johnnie has joined us for dinner, showered, and done his laundry in our home.  He attends church with us and has been studying the Bible with one of our ministers, Rob McRay.

Johnnie was gifted a truck by an old friend of ours back in Joplin.

Johnnie is currently employed.  

Johnnie has signed a lease on an apartment September, we stood at the edge of the water and watched Johnnie be baptized.

Josiah, Rob, & Johnnie

Rob, Josiah, Johnnie, & Allen

Isn't this what it is all about?!

It is about giving the hopeless HOPE.

And now, I sit here at the table while my husband works alongside "J" putting up drywall.

"J" is homeless and resides in a camp not too far from us.  

"J" comes recommended by Johnnie because of his carpentry skills.  

"J"'s clothes are dirty and have a scent that resemble spoiled milk.

And just like Johnnie, "J" is the reason for Operation Sleep Tight.
So, we'll leave the Shasta sitting outside tonight all broken and torn.  But, we will not leave "J" feeling alone and unwanted.  I pray he comes to know the One who can take our brokenness and make it beautiful.  Who can take our soiled lives and redeem them gloriously.  Who desires the aroma of our lives no matter the scent of what follows.  

He is God. 

The One & Only who can take our deepest pain and turn it into His glorious ministry.




Friday, November 1, 2013

Rizo Schoolroom

Our schoolroom received a facelift last month.  We painted dressers, organized toys & school supplies, & painted the walls.  It is a relief to finally cross it off our long, renovation list!  

(Sorry for some of the wonky size pictures.  Our computer crashed & my cell is not allowing any change size to pictures.)

View from stairs:

Lockers for storage:

The Creative Nook:

We love posters:

Learning Centers:

And here is what it looks like most of the week:

Each child has their own crate for their curriculum.  This allows us to pick up and school outside on beautiful days or upstairs on the living room couch.  

Clara's crate usually ends up looking like this: 

I enjoy homeschooling our kids.  It is not always fun & simple, but it is a blessing.  

Like today, I sit here and listen to Lydia read words for the first time this year.  Josiah is beginning to learn long division.  And Eliah is learning how to write his name.  Later this afternoon, we will make a huge mess & smash pumpkins with all sorts of tools as we discuss different weights of objects & their force.  

These are the homeschool moments that I cherish.