Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Extraveganza!

I believe this was my 3rd year co-directing our annual kids' Christmas program.  I LOVE doing it!  I get to spend lots of time with one of my best friends, Wendy Kivett, and hang out with a big group of some amazing kiddos.
This year was called "Christmas in Snowflake County", but we kind of retitled it "Christmas Extraveganza".  It was a little extra fun for me this year, since both my kids were old enough to participate this year (which also caused quite a few challenges), and because Avery was given a major drama role.  She played Suzy Hallmark, the mayor's daughter.  There she is with the main cast, right in the middle.  She is playing Suzy, who is playing Mary.

The climax of the show is when Suzy finally gets to share her surprise with her mom, which is an entry for the contest.  She sings "Silent Night" all by herself, as her best buddy Max (played by Riley Penn), accompanies her.  It was absolutely adorable.  I seriously couldn't be more proud!

Then, Mayor Hallmark (played by Cassie Hughes - she did great!), realizes that they've been too caught up in making the Christmas story too fantastic, forgetting the amazingness of the actual events.

Here's Allie's buddies!  All first and second graders.
And Avery's buddies.  Allie is in the picture, second from the left and Avery is 4th from the left.  Her friend, Esabella had Avery's Mary costume on.  I'm so thankful for the good friends my girls have at church!

I had to include a picture of Allie in the choir.  This was at a moment when they were supposed to be sitting down during a solo or drama.  Allie's head was peeping over the wall for the whole show.

It is such a blessing to do this every year!  Wendy and I spend a lot of time talking to the kids and telling them how proud we are that they want to serve God in this way.  It is one of the few ways that kids get to serve in the church.  There is NOTHING like hearing God's truth - especially the truth of Christmas, being proclaimed from the mouth of a child!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Leaning on His understanding

Lately, I'm reminded of just how impossible it seems to raise my kids well.  No matter what I do, they don't turn out perfect.  They keep on sinning and reminding me of where I fall short as a person, a mother, and a child of God.  Not to say they aren't growing and showing some  improvement, but doggonit if they don't find something else to struggle with as soon as they seem to have overcome a particular issue.  And who am I kidding?  None of us truly overcome anything!
I was recently talking with a friend about some struggles her kids were having in school and I was reminded that none of us are exempt from struggles in this life.  But each struggle is a chance for us to teach our children to "consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." (James 1:2-3)  And of course I need to remind myself of this verse daily, when I'm tempted to complain of the struggles I'm facing.
This morning I was working on my Bible study lesson on submission and I was reminded of the old standby: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path." (Proverbs 3:5)  If I am truly trusting the Lord with my children, I'm going to follow what He says to do, not fall into my own ways of solving problems (which often includes anger and frustration).  If I'm honest with myself, things seldom go well when I lean on my own understanding.  And I'm ok with that.  He's got it covered.

Monday, October 29, 2012


It's been a while since I've posted and I am determined to get an October post in, so here ya go! 
Here's Avery enjoying one of our almost-daily treats: hot chocolate :)  Honestly, this isn't really fallish for us - Rowzee girls drink this throughout the summer, too.

I'm sorry, but I'm proud of this!  Avery decided she wanted Perry on her pumpkin I'd say Mom delivered.

Here's Avery going for the ball at her last soccer game of the season (she's in the blue jersey).  I'm pretty sure she got it :)

One of the reasons I insist on making sports work for our lives, despite my tendency to go nearly insane in my attempts to get both my kids to all their practices and games on time with gear on, is the experience of being on a team.  Honestly, every kid needs to live it at some point in their lives.
  This is Allie's team this year.  Cute group of girls :)
This is out of order, since we did this a few weeks ago.  We had a couple of hours between soccer games and decided to kill time at a nearby apple orchard.  Good times.

Apples are seriously Allie's favorite food.  She'll take it over candy or chocolate most days of the week. 

I still miss summer, with the warmth and the carefree days.  But if you gotta live it, you might as well enjoy it!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Off to the races!

We had a little family adventure last week!  I've been talking for years about entering our long-haired dachshund in the local wiener dog races.  This year I finally did it.  A few days before the actual races, the girls and I showed up at 6 am for a little promotion for the Oktoberfest (in which the races were being held) on the local news.  Five other dogs were there and they ran a little practice race.  Raleigh was pretty confused, this being his first time.  He got last place.  Allie was QUITE disappointed about that :)  Ok, fine - we were ALL disappointed!  My kids didn't come by their competitive nature by accident. 
So last Saturday, we took Raleigh to try to make a name for himself.  And how did he do when it really counted?  Let me put it this way: at least he's pretty.  We've decided the race is WAY too short - it's literally about 10 yards.  We've decided he's more of a 50 yard racer.  He's just getting his speed up by the time it's over!  Not to mention he has no idea he's racing...
It was a really fun family memory, though.  And Raleigh had fun, too, I guess.  His smile is huge!

The memory was extra fun because we had our special buds with us.  Ethan and Hailey spent the weekend with us, since their parents were finishing up a mission trip in Rwanda.  Good times!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

His Promises

NEWS FLASH - mothering is super hard. 
Maybe as a mom, you don't feel like me (but I seriously doubt it).  My heart is often weary of training and disciplining and feeling like I seldom see the results I'm so desperate for.  How in the world does anyone do this without the promises of God to grasp onto???  He is so faithful to encourage me through His Word.  Today I read a very familiar verse and was reminded one more time of an awesome promise. 
Philippians 1:6 "that He who has begun a good work in you will be faithful to complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." 
Hallelujah!  He won't stop working on my kids!  And guess what?  It's not even my job to finish the work!  I just need to be around and obedient to Him, He'll do the growing. 

Oh man, that's good stuff.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Now that it's here...

I just counted 15 days until my kids go back to school.  This is a big year for us.  Avery will be in 3rd grade and Allie will be in 1st grade.  My baby in full day school!  Not only that, but this mama is a stay at home mom again!  I had a very hard year last year, in the midst of many blessings of teaching jr highers.  I loved my students and I love teaching math, but I hate having commitments that take priority over my family, like, say... a JOB tends to do.  I heartily recognize that it is often required that moms work and I know God had that planned for me last year.  I will be subbing throughout the year, which is a great job for me.  I can turn it down when I need to and I get to enjoy feeling like a teacher off and on with no planning involved :) 

Yet here I am, 15 days before school starts and I can't believe my kids are going to school, but I'm not.  I have a memory of Avery when she was about 4, probably, and I thought to myself, "I can't wait until she goes to 1st grade!"  Of course I felt awful for thinking that, since I just wanted her out of the house for a few hours a day and that just seems like a terrible thing to think as a mom.  As she got older, though, I thought that less and less and when it actually came time, I had a pretty hard time with it!  It ended up being so awesome, though, for her to grow up a little and enjoy school.  And now Allie gets to have PE, music class, and eat lunch with her friends.  I'm so excited for her!

I admit that some free time to myself sounds heavenly.  Actually getting to clean my house alone (which I've only done 2 or 3 times in the last 8 1/2 years) will be amazing.  But I'm finding myself wishing it wasn't so soon.  I love the summer with my kids!  I can't believe how stressful the school year is with kids in school.  Already their homework seems a bit overwhelming, which is ridiculous I know.  Plus we're so often off to soccer practice, piano lessons, or church... I just want to hide in the summer away from all our responsibilities.  We even work hard at keeping our commitments low, but things still feel crazy. 

But there's no stopping time, and the things that we are busy with are good.  So I'm going to buck up and decide to hang on and enjoy the ride.  And feel very strange when I sit down to each my lunch alone every day.  Something tells me those girls are going to see mommy at school quite a lot :)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Avery's creation

One day I was gone and my family was out of lunch meat.  So Avery decided to create her own sandwich.  She calls it her Salad Sandwich.  Today she decided to make another salad sandwich and asked if I could put it on Pinterest.  Here's the recipe: bread (Avery actually prefers a hotdog or hamburger bun), mayo, lettuce, shredded cheddar, bacon bits, and a little bit of italian dressing. 

After her first bite today, she groaned and said, "I LOVE this sandwich!"

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Have you MET my husband?

It took a while to convince Rich that we should go on the trip to Guatemala.  In his words, "I just like to stay home and not go anywhere."  Which isn't really true, because he likes to travel.  But this was not a natural desire for him to want to go on a mission trip where we can't speak the language and we really had no idea of what we were getting into. 

I couldn't be more proud of what came of it, though!  The entire time he was guilty of being completely uncharacteristic for my quiet, reserved, shy husband.  He volunteered for TWO dramas, purposely sat near the teenagers on our bus, and asked to give his testimony twice.  At the first high school we went to, we were told there were lots of drug problems and such.  When we got to each school, we would try to mingle with the kids and visit.  I was much more apprehensive about doing this at the high school.  As I was trying to get up my gumption to talk to someone, I looked over and saw my husband already talking with kids! 

This is a picture of Rich giving his testimony at this same high school.  Our translator, Patricia, is next him.  He did a wonderful job!  His testimony mostly consists of having given his life to Christ as a child, but spending his high school years not really following the Lord.  He was in a bad car accident right out of high school and somehow walked off with only a scraped elbow.  This was one of the moments in life that God used to get his attention.  This is mostly what he shared here at the high school.

Our young friend, Brendan, who was on our trip with us also shared his testimony of a time where he wasn't choosing his friends wisely.  As a result of those two testimonies, a boy named Brandon came up to Rich and told him he was a pastor's son and hadn't been living for the Lord.  He said that now he wanted to change and start living for Christ.  Rich was so touched.  Lord, I pray for Brandon, that he would rise above his peers and have the strength to live for You!

We headed to a church on Sunday morning.  Our group split up and went to 6 different churches in the area and 6 of our men preached.  They asked that one other person from each group at each church would share their testimony.  Guess who spoke up in our group before anyone else could?  This is a picture of the pastor greeting Rich right before he got up to speak.

The church loved him!  One of the first things he said was that this was the first time he had spoken in church on a Sunday morning.  They were so responsive and accepting.  Our friend Bruce got up to preach after Rich and said he was ready to come forward if Rich had given an invitation :)

This trip was so amazing for me to see Rich come out of his shell.  Who knows what the future holds now that both of us have seen this new side of him? :)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hawaii, but not really

While in Guatemala, we had the privilege of delivering a TON of handmade clothing to a very poor village in the town of Gualan.  A group of ladies from Morningstar Church here in Salem had been sewing these and they were beautiful!  The village, when pronounced, ironically sounded much like "Hawaii".  Before we left, we all joked about telling everyone at home that we went to Hawaii for our mission trip. Once we got there, our senses of humor were quieted.  I'd say this was one of the most memorable moments for me.  To see first-hand the poverty that these children are living in every day was heart-breaking.

We asked that the children try on their clothes to make sure they fit before we left their home.  That's right, these kind people allowed us to enter their homes.  This little girl was in one of the nicest homes on the street we were assigned.  If you notice, it's merely dirt floors and no doors.

This was a sweet story.  This was definitely the nicest home we were in.  It actually had doors!  This girl had a twin sister who wasn't home and we were able to find two matching dresses, of different colors for her and her sister to match.

This family came out very warily.  Mom was gone and they were all home with their sister.  You had to climb down some very steep stairs into sort of a cave.  I don't think any of these kids said anything to us.  I'm sure we were quite overwhelming to them - a bunch of white people speaking English trying to give them clothes!

This is our translator, Rosy.  She was amazing!  She is calling into this home asking if we can come in.  When I look at this picture of this family's "front door", I'm humbled that I've ever felt discontent with my own beautiful home.  Notice the clothes drying on the roof...

This was a kitchen with a beautiful view out the "window".

The medical team held clinics in several towns we were in.  They reported that most of the children had worms and many were very malnourished.  At least one mother, when asked what her child eats in a day, answered "a tortilla".  Not per meal - per day.  Before this trip I was apt to think that poverty everywhere in the world is the same.  This has shown me otherwise.  At least in my town, children are required to go to school and any children with anything close to a low income are provided breakfast and lunch.  All summer long there are lunch programs throughout town for low-income families.  Those same families have many government programs making sure they and their children don't starve.  I'm not saying we don't need to help those in need in our own town, but people in these other countries aren't getting helped by their governments.  Even just sponsoring a Compassion child can be the first step to putting feet to your faith.  To see the hungry and give them something to eat... "In as much as you do to the least of these, you do it to Me."  Matthew 25:40

Monday, July 2, 2012

Compassion child

One of the main reasons our church felt pulled to go to Guatemala is that over one hundred children in a certain Compassion center in Salama, Guatemala are sponsored by families in our church.  Our mission trip ended up being way more than just visiting this center, but it was one of my highlights.  Rich and I began sponsoring Yerlin about a year ago and have sent her a couple of letters and pictures.  I've told many people already, but I have always loved what Compassion does.  We had a sponsor child as long as I can remember growing up.  I've always wondered what it would be like to actually meet them.  I still can't believe I've done it! 

This is the sign that welcomed us to the center.  The children go to their various schools in the morning and then twice a week in the afternoon they come to the center for Bible lessons, physical activities, help with school work, etc...  They also usually come on Saturdays.

This is Yerlin's parents and grandfather!  Her grandfather actually works at the center.  This is pretty amazing, really, since a great number of the children have been abandoned by their fathers.  Yerlin is blessed to have believing parents and a stable father and grandfather.  Praise God!

It took quite a while to get this little one to warm up to us.  She is only 4 1/2 years old and pretty shy.  Her parents were shy, as well.  But by the end of our visit she was running up to us and hugging us.  

I mean, how cute is this little thing??  She was very much dressed up - in her authentic local dress.

This is Yerlin's class.  She is at the far left of the picture.  The younger ones had the largest class.

I wanted you to see the staff it takes to run the center.  These are the local staff that work every week to share Christ and enrich the lives of these needy children.

Compassion was amazing.  They provided a translator for each family that was there to see their sponsor child.  I was able to connect with a number of other children who are sponsored by various friends of mine.  One of the teachers (the lady in pink and black in the picture) took my list of children and gathered them all up for me to take pictures and talk to each one.

We were able to put on a VBS for a day for the center.  As I led songs, Yerlin didn't take her eyes off of me :)  At the end of the day, we were given one last half-hour to give her a gift and pray with her and say goodbye.  Her grandfather prayed for us and our family - a moment I won't forget!  It was truly a day we'll remember for the rest of our lives!

If you have even considered sponsoring a child but don't yet, or even if you do already and doubt whether it's worth it... doubt no more!  Your little bit of money a month is doing incredible things for extremely needy children!  If you are a sponsor, let me encourage you to write to your child.  Yerlin has 2 brothers that are also sponsored and they have never heard from their sponsors.  Never even one letter.  I know it's hard to make the time for it, but it really means a lot to those families.  I really think it takes the ministry to a whole new level.  Don't miss the opportunity!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Guatemala mission

Well, I just don't know where to start!  My husband, Rich, and I got back a few days ago from our trip to Guatemala.  It was amazing.  We grew as a couple and as individuals.  We grew existing friendships and made new ones.  God stretched us and amazed us with what He accomplished through us! 

The whole group we traveled with was made up of a medical team, a school team, and a pastors team.  Rich and I were on the school team, so we usually went out in the morning to a school, returned to the hotel for lunch, then went to another school in the afternoon.  We sang songs, told stories, performed a skit, played games, gave testimonies, and shared the Gospel.  It was pretty amazing that the schools, mostly public, didn't care how much we shared about Christ.  Teachers and students alike listened and responded to our presentations.  We saw hundreds of children accept Jesus as their savior and even heard their prayers, since in their culture they usually pray out loud.  So sweet! 

This is the first school we went to on our first day.  The kids LOVED getting their picture taken.

I will need to spread this over several posts.  My heart and head are full of thoughts and I'm still processing :)  I can't wait to keep sharing with you of our experience!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

For the love of the game...

I'm not sure if there are many better moments as a parent than taking time out of your busy week and getting to sit in the sun and watch your kid play a sport.  I looked forward to it all spring.  Granted, it made for a super-busy season, bustling kids to practices and games, but I wouldn't trade it.  I believe it is so good for my kids to be learning a skill and get to be a part of a team.  

 Allie played tee ball for the first time this year and loved it.  Rich and I weren't sure if she would, though, since it's a lot of standing around and hoping the ball comes to you.  But she looked forward to it every day and was always asking if she had practice or a game that day. 

Our friend and neighbor had his son on Allie's team and helped coach.  Thanks, Tyler!  In this picture, he's probably telling Allie not to fall on the ball when she goes to field a hit.  The girl thinks it's a race against everyone else on her team to get to the ball first.  Never mind if you fall on it like it's a land mine and you're saving your teammates from imminent death, then you can't actually make a play and get the runner out.  It's a tough world out there and you gotta make sure no one else gets the ball...

She got a hit and was standing on first base.

And now it's turn for me to admit my failure as a mom.  I guess I was just having too much fun relaxing to actually take good pictures of Avery this season.  I feel sad, but these are 2 of the only 4 or so pictures I took, I guess!  At least I have proof she played. 

She still loves soccer.  And by golly, she's getting to be a great little player!  Her coach calls her a fireball :)  She has gotten so much better at handling the ball and she just gets in there and gives a good fight.  I really love to watch her play! 

This is an example of the reason I love my kids to be in sports.  They learn early to take a knee when a player on either team is down with an injury.  They all drop instinctively when someone gets hurt.  So cute!

And this is the other awesome picture of my stud little soccer player!  Sorry, Avery, I'll do better next season!

Saturday, June 9, 2012


I can hardly believe it, but Rich and I will soon be traveling to Guatemala.  I'm done with school and I can finally focus on this giant thing that we are about to do.

Rich and I decided to sponsor a second Compassion child a year or so ago when our church encouraged everyone to sponsor a child in a certain town in Guatemala, with the hopes of someday doing a mission trip there and visiting the children.  That really appealed to Rich and I and we picked a little girl a year or so younger than our youngest daughter.

So here we are!  A group of people from our church is joining the Reid Saunders Association and heading down to Guatemala.  We will be visiting the Compassion center where around 80% of 150 are sponsored by people from our church.  We will be able to run a vbs for these precious children.  Many of them come from homes of drug addictions, alcoholism, and domestic violence, not to mention poverty.  Many of them just want to feel loved!  Rich and I will be able to visit with our sponsor daughter, also. 

In addition to this, we will be visiting schools for several days.  They will allow us to share our testimonies and the good news of Jesus with all the kids in these schools.  There will also be a medical team running a clinic for several days, as well as a pastor's conference.  Toward the end of our 11 day trip, we will be assisting RSA with running a 2-day evangelistic festival, complete with professional bmx stunts (I'm rusty on my skills, so I won't be a part of that). 

Of course we would love to have you pray for the people of Guatemala, that their hearts will be soft and prepared to accept salvation.  Also pray that the team would be unified, confident, and healthy.  Lastly, I would ask that you pray that our kids stay happy and healthy while we're away and that this mama and daddy can serve God without missing our kids too much!!

We're so very grateful for everyone who contributed financially to this mission and for all your prayers.  In the words of Reid Saunders, "All for Jesus!" 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Allie graduated kindergarten last week!  With how crazy our lives have been, I'm lucky it's only taken me six days to get this posted.  She has had an incredible kindergarten year.  I taught at Albany Christian School for the main purpose of allowing her to go there for kindergarten.  I knew the teacher was amazing and we felt like she really needed an extraordinary start in her school career.  I couldn't have been happier!  I can't believe all that she was able to learn or how well she was loved and nurtured.  We were greatly blessed!

Allie with her teacher, Mrs. Elliot.

Family photos rarely turn out the way I want them, but at least it documents that we were all there!

Um, how precious is this?

Me and my girl.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

My AWESOME girls!

We love the Awesome 3000.  This was the 30th annual event in Salem.  This was the Rowzee's 3rd annual Awesome 3000.  I probably posted the last 2 years about how great Avery did.  This year I get to brag about both my girls.  Both girls ran a 1.5k, which is .91 miles.  They run with their gender with kids in their own grade.  There were 180 girls in Allie's group and 240 in Avery's.  Are you ready to hear how great they did?  I know this isn't nearly as exciting for anyone else but their mother, but I can't help pretending like you care.  Avery has gotten 8th place the last 2 years, which is a little strange.  Even stranger is that she got 8th place again!!!  I'm so proud that she's so determined.  Now for the wild card: our Allie-girl.  Rich and I figured she'd probably do really well.  I mean, there has to be SOME kind of positive way to direct all that energy!  But we also thought it was possible she'd come in dead last just to be a stinker.  Nope!  She was SECOND!!!!!  I could hardly contain myself (scratch that - I DIDN'T contain myself) when I saw her come back in that stadium in second place.  Toward the end we saw a girl behind her start to catch up with her.  She looked back and saw that girl and it was over - she picked up so much speed!  There was no way that girl could have caught her :)

We sprayed their hair pink this year and I got them crazy socks.  There are so many kids in that stadium and this way it was a little easier to pick them out of the crowd.

Rich and I are super proud of our girls :)