Friday, December 21, 2012

Sugar Cone Trees

Last year my mom tried to do a ginger bread house with the girls.  It was from one of those kits where it comes with all the pieces you just have to frosting-glue them together and decorate.  I wish I had a picture of it because it was awful.  It looked like a candy-land natural disaster had struck--the pieces wouldn't stay together, the candy kept falling off, the roof caved in a couple times--it was pretty sad.  This year Jared thought we should try sugar cone trees (I think he saw the idea on pinterest).  It has been a rough couple of weeks for us.  Jared got sick the day we moved in.  Then my dad got it followed by me just in time for my sister's visit from Flagstaff.  Abigail came down with it shortly after our snowball fight and passed it on to Stella.  Finally Liv showed symptoms this morning and by afternoon it was clear that she had succumbed and we are just waiting for my mom to show symptoms.  Like I said, it's been a hard couple of weeks. 
On Thursday we faced the challenge of trying to keep two antsy little girls inside and resting when they think they feel good, have been stuck inside for two days already but really need more rest to recover. One of the things we did was to make these awesome sugar cone trees. 
It was actually a lot of fun. We started with a naked cone then Jared dyed some frosting green and covered them (I think we'll let the girls do that part when they get older but for their ages it was perfect). Then we gave them various little candies and other colors of frosting in cake decorating bags (ziploc bags with one of the corners cut off).
They had a great time, snuck lots of frosting and candy and have yet to eat them because they did not behave at nap time today.  I think they turned out awesome.  They'll probably taste like an awful, sugary mess but they'll love them (assuming they actually get to eat them tomorrow).

She's smiling because we just busted her squirting frosting directly into her mouth.  She's hard to bust when she smiles.

Love you all and I hope your Christmas is an amazing time of worship, family, friends and good health!

P.S.  They enjoyed the eating (and wearing) as much as the making.

Desert Snowball Fight!

And so it began.  The most epic snowball fight this desert neighborhood has ever seen.  Who could have forseen that an innocent ice chest--frequently used for peaceful events like picnics, beach days and road trips--would be the vessel to carry such violence to our quiet life.

I expected ruthlessness from Grandpa and Dad and feared my girls would soon be frozen.  But they were up to the challenge.  Summoning months of training in battles such as Lego Star Wars and Zelda Skyward Sword they made their mom proud and soon sent the men running to the house for warmer clothes.

I am not sure what he had done to insult her but Jared was Abigail's primary target, though she did not hesitate to toss one at any poor soul who happened to be in range of her mighty arm.  Stella, however, was possessed by some sort of snowball mania from which no one, not infant, elderly or infirm was safe.  She was also nearly impossible to get a picture of because of her swift and constant movements, no doubt learned from studying the master swordsmanship of Link.

They both took their fair share of hits but these girls are unstoppable.  The battle raged for many minutes and ended with a wet sidewalk, an mini-snowman who was sacrificed for a hit on Grandpa, and some delicious snow-cream and hot chocolate.  It was a good day to be in Bullhead.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Church "Shopping"

Hello my friends!  On Thursday I posted that it looked like rain but not to get my hopes up... well I got them up anyway and we enjoyed two days of almost non-stop rain (I'm not saying that my hopes had anything to do with it, I'm just saying "Yay, rain!").  Here is a picture I got from our place during a break in the rain:

It is really beautiful here in its own way.  Today on our way home from church Jared and I were admiring a view that reminds us of a scene in the movie Cars, a scene that always made us just a bit homesick for Arizona.  Now we get to see it live and remember the movie.

Today we took our next step in making Bullhead City home--we visited a new church.  This is actually a very new experience for both of us.  Honestly we have NEVER been on this end of church visiting.  When we lived at home church was chosen for us.  Then we entered the church ministry program at HIU and church became a place to fulfill internship and volunteer requirements.  After college (and during really) church was employment and the focus was on the job description, what type of boss the senior minister was, how well Jared could interact with the staff and whether or not our vision/beliefs/mission/etc lined up with the church's.  I do believe that our experience in ministry has actually made it easier to find a church rather than harder and here's why:

I titled today's spiel "Church 'Shopping'" because that is what we have been told we are doing.  But here's the problem--church is not a consumer good or service.  It's not about me.  The minute we approach church as something that is designed for us we have completely missed the point.  Church is, and has always been, about worshipping our Creator--just like every other part of our life.   We don't attend (or even visit) a church looking for an experience.  We go to bring glory to God.  As a pastor's wife this is something that is assumed but I truly believe this is true of everyone who calls him/herself a believer.  We go to church to serve, not to be served; to grow, not to be entertained; to worship God, not to "feel something"; to encourage, not to socialize.  I could seriously write several blogs on Biblical vs cultural attitudes toward church but instead I'll just say that if you are a Christian and you aren't committed to a local church then you need to get past your excuses, find a church and involve yourself in it.

Back to our Sunday.  Well we talked about it a bit and came up with a list of what we are looking for then did some online research and narrowed it down to a few options. The church we visited is called City Bible Church and we really like it.  We went for Sunday School then stayed for the worship service.  The girls did well and seemed to really enjoy it.  Jared and I attended an overview of Jude that was led by the senior pastor and we found him to be knowledgeable and easy to interact with.  They have a MOPS group that I was invited to by at least 4 people and AWANA for the girls which I am really excited about since two of my best friends in the whole world were part of it and they have been a huge encouragement to me in the area of Bible memorization.  The church has a churchwide community service project coming up in January which sounds awesome and they have a thriving benevolence program which tells us that they put their money where their preaching is.  Overall we were really encouraged by what we saw and heard and found many people to be friendly and welcoming.  We will be out of town next week but after that we'll visit again and look into getting more involved.

In other news Jared is recovering slowly but I fear I may be coming down with it myself.  So be it.  This weekend has been filled with Christmas shopping, hot chocolate (a tradition for whenever it rains since the kids have never lived where it rains often), looking at "cool rocks" that the girls find in the yard, sneaking cookie dough and watching portions of various Christmas movies (I have yet to catch a whole one).  My sister comes down from Flagstaff tomorrow and I look forward to spending some time with her.  I personally am struggling with the transition much more than I expected and am ashamed at my own pettiness, pride, irritability and selfishness.  (Sigh)  I guess it's easy to be mature when everything is going your way but I am thankful for the situations that force my immaturity to the surface where I can recognize it, repent and give it over to God once again.

Tonight I leave you with Reliant K's Falling Out.  I definitely feel like I keep falling on my face but each fall reminds me of God's grace and love for me.  Maybe someday I'll learn Paul's secret to contentment and echo with him "I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength."  (Philippians 4:11-13).

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Move

Hello my friends.  I meant to send out something on Monday but it has been a very long and exhausting several days.  So here it is Thursday and I've not been in contact with anyone, even on facebook--not a great start to this long-distance friendships thing...  (sigh).  So here goes an attempt to make it up a bit.

Sunday we said good-bye to our house as a family and sent the kids ahead to AZ with the grandparents so we could focus on loading the trucks, painting and cleaning. 
Here's our final family moment at 123 S Grand:

We really did enjoy our life in that little duplex and worked hard to make it our home.  Some highlights were the garden, the huge sandbox for the girls, eating out on the patio, girls/guys nights, homegroup, family dance parties in the front room, and how quiet and safe it was in the midst of an otherwise loud and (ahem) questionable neighborhood.  In this little duplex we went from two to five and learned a gazillion lessons about life, friendship, family, innovation... the list can go on forever.  It was our little sanctuary.

Sunday night was a HUGE success thanks to so many of our close friends.  Argh, Sandra, I'm crying.  I am blown away by how many people love us enough to scrub our toilets, walls and floors then linger so long we have to actually kick them out.  Anyone else not want that night to end?  Anyway, we spent a miserable night on the floor of our room in sleeping bags then got up early and had one last walk to the donut shop on the corner for coffee and a donut--something we used to do often.

Monday's road trip to AZ was fine.  No major incidents and we were blessed to have our friend Jake come along and drive one of the moving trucks so that we didn't have to go back for anything.  Seriously, Jake is amazing.  Not only did he help us pack the truck, clean the house, drive to AZ and then unload everything--he also took the midnight Amtrak back to CA just in time to go straight to work.  I know there is nothing special we have ever done to be blessed with friends like this but we are so thankful and hope that each of you are always surrounded by people as amazing as you have been to us.

Tuesday Jared woke up very sick and slept a full 24hrs.  A friend of the family had come over to help us unload and he also put the girls' new bunk bed together so I have gotten a good chunk of their room set up and it is starting to feel homey in there.  I have found that despite our best efforts we are missing several boxes.  Later this week I will get to dig through storage for the first of what is bound to be many, many times looking for some obscure, probably unlabeled box for one item that I need inevitably at the very bottom so that it is overlooked several times before its discovery.  I embrace the challenge--bring it on, American Mini-Storage.

Jared is feeling a bit better but my dad caught it so that's a bummer.  The girls are transitioning well so far with only one breakdown and it was from Abigail over sleeping on the top bunk because it is MUCH higher than her usual bed.  Thankfully the bottom is a full so she and Stella have been sleeping in the same bed with no problems, it's actually kind of sweet.  One of my hopes in this move was that they would become better friends and I have been surprised to see positive changes in their relationship already.  We also put up some of our Christmas decorations today--the Little People Nativity and the felt Christmas Tree I made last year are already being appreciated by all the girls--and that helps it feel more like home and the holidays. 

Today we started looking for a church to visit this Sunday and I'll let you know how that goes.  The girls were pretty upset at the idea of a new church but we'll see how they do.  Except for dropping off the UHaul trucks and a trip to Target for some necessities (shoe rack, baking supplies, laundry basket that doesn't make me want to scream, new sheets, allergy meds, etc) I have been cooped up inside cleaning, unpacking and caring for the girls and a sick Jared.  I injured my foot a couple of weeks ago and it has gotten much worse over the past week since I have been unable to stay off of it.  I'm resting it today and tomorrow before I try to run on it but I may be out for a few more days if the run aggravates it as much as walking seems to.  So much for a PR at Surf City this year.  Between work, sickness, moving and now injury I will be content to train well enough to finish at 2:30 again.

Despite living in the desert it is actually quite cold here, especially when the wind picks up.  The girls have been in sweaters and pants when playing outside and today it looks like rain though I have been warned that looking like rain rarely leads to actual rain here.  It still makes the sky look gorgeous--there's nothing like an Arizona sky.

I leave you today with Shane and Shane's Psalm 13.  The video/powerpoint is a bit cheesy and I think they perform it better on one of their other albums but I love this song and it does better to represent how I'm doing than trying to explain it in several more paragraphs.  I love you all and I hope today finds you well.