Monday, June 30, 2014

Please pray!

Dear ones, 

Would you please join us in praying for a dear family in Iowa.  This is Brad and Jenny Groothuis with their 15 children.  Jenny is in the back row behind Brad - she died yesterday.  My heart can't even take in how devastating this must be for everyone, and I just ask you to please pray for Brad, the children, their families and friends.  Thank you.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Happy Birthday, Katja!!

Today is my sister Liz and Trevor's eldest daughter Katja's 8th birthday!!  Her "twin" cousin, Shaelyn, talked to her for a bit of the phone, and they were enjoying the fact that they are the same age once again!  =)  I was remembering back to the day we received the phone call (we were in Panama!) that Katja had been born - such precious memories!
Lovely Katja

Katja, Kiernan and Ellie

My baby sister and her beautiful family!
Happy, Happy Birthday, Katja - we love you SO much!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Thankful Tuesday 11

There is always lots to be thankful for, of course!

1. Tim is home safe from conference.  Tim, along with several others, mostly from Hermosillo, went down to Santiago for a Bible conference this past weekend.  They had a super time, left encouraged, and arrived home last night around 8 pm.  After a weekend alone with the kiddos, I was more than ready for him to be home!  =)

2.  Victoria is here.  Our friend, Victoria B from Ontario is here for 6 weeks!  The Cains, along with Marika, went up and picked her up at the airport yesterday, and they got home about when Tim and his crew did.  It is so great to see her and have her here, and all our kiddos (especially Nathaniel!) love her to bits!
Marika, Victoria and Eva at the airport
3.  I'm not afraid to stay alone.  I'm so thankful it doesn't bother me to stay alone while Tim is gone.  I know it is really a struggle for some, so it's not something I take lightly.

4.  We got a heavy-duty house cleaning done.  One thing that often happens when Tim goes away (and/or when company is coming) is that I often get a lot of extra cleaning done.  This time it was more like a spring cleaning - windows washed, etc, along with some of the ordinary cleaning.  It feels so nice to have it done!

5.  Shaelyn likes to take ticks off the dog.  I admit, this one is weird.  Nico is still under severe attack from ticks, and it's hard to keep on him all the time, making sure we get them off.  All of a sudden, Shaelyn has found it interesting, and has been keeping him tick-free for more than a week now.

6.  Eight school days left.  I might have mentioned this last week, too?  It's possible the next couple weeks may get a mention as well!  =)  So looking forward to a summer break for a few weeks!!

7.  Nathaniel isn't acting as shy.  This is a fairly huge thing for us.  For months he would scream if someone looked at him the wrong way, let alone touched him, and he is now going up to people on his own, shaking their hand, or wanting to spend time with them - I love it!  He is our third child who has been much more cautious and shy around people, but he reacted in the most forcible way.  I don't have a problem with him being shy, but I feel happier for him that he can relax better with people.

8.  More encouraging verses.  These ones hit me this morning, and I read them again and again and again, wanting them to stick with me for as long as possible.
"And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God." Philippians 1:9-11

9.  A nap.  I rarely take naps.  Generally, it is because there are too many other things to do, but also it's because I don't generally sleep as well at night if I do take one.  Today, I was exhausted.  I felt like I could barely function after lunch, and just as I went in to lie down, Gwennie woke up, and I knew she was hungry.  I fed her, then played with her on the bed, just enjoying being with her.  Tim came in, and asked if I wanted to have a sleep?  He took Gwendalyn, and I slept like a log for about 45 min.  It was hard coming out of it, but it was so nice to have had that rest.

10.  My Tim.  I'm so glad he's home - I miss him so much when he's gone!  I love how he interacts and plays with our children.  I love his smile and his arms around me.  I'm thankful he tries to follow God with all his heart, soul and mind.  I love his voice when he sings.  I love when he takes the baby when I need a nap, or helps put our sweeties to bed.  I just love him so much, and am so thankful for him.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Thankful Tuesday 10

I thought I would have more time to get this week's list done, but here I am, at 11pm on Tuesday night, finally filling in the details!  There is lots to be thankful for every day, and looking back over the last week, I can think of so many things!

1.  Another birthday.  Wow, 37 isn't so close to 30 as it is to 40!  It looks older than I feel, though!  ;)  This morning I was reminded of Lamentations 3:22-23: "The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."  When I look back over the last many years, I often see more bad that I have done than good.  I wonder if there is any point in pressing on, when I've made so many mistakes.  Lamentations takes my thoughts from me, and places them on HIM - the LORD.  He is the One Who is faithful, and every morning I wake up, His mercies are new again.

2.  Birthday surprises.  Last Wednesday, I knew that Eleo, Emily and Jennifer were coming over and bringing lunch.  Apparently, it was going to be a surprise, but it was just too complicated.  I was expecting them around 1230pm, when who showed up, but the Cain ladies.  They saved part as a surprise, anyway!  It was a delicious pasta meal, with fresh buns, yummy salad, and Eleo made the most scrumptious chocolate cake with strawberries.  My apologies for no pictures - I'll have to do a picture post, soon!  It wasn't rushed at all, and it was so nice to sit and chat with friends.
Saturday was my birthday.  Mika had made and beautifully decorated a cake for me.  I was inundated with pretty homemade cards and pictures, plus phone calls and messages from across many miles.  I felt very blessed.  Then, Sunday morning, I woke up, and there was an email message saying someone had commented on the blog.  Through my blurry eyes, I tried to figure out what blog post they were commenting on.  Here my beloved husband had written out a very sweet post for me the day before, and I never even knew!  It was such a nice surprise, and yes, I most definitely cried reading it!  =)

3.  Father's Day.  I am so blessed to know so many wonderful dads!  We watched "Courageous" last night, and we were reminded again of what life is like for some who are raised without a dad, or at least one they can trust.  I have a wonderful husband who is an amazing Daddy to our kiddos!  My own dad, who has been doing the Dad-thing for almost 40 years now, and is just getting better as time goes on!  My father-in-love, who also did/does an amazing job at being a dad.  I respect these 3 men very much!

4.  Young people dedicated to serving the Lord.  For the past 3 weeks, two young men have been having house meetings in a poor part of town, Laura Alicia Frías.  They have shared the gospel with a family, along with a couple others, in their home.  Several of the young ladies have gone along to be an encouragement, as well as get to know the family better.  I love that this is just one visible pouring out of the Holy Spirit working in their lives.  They made no fanfare, but saw a need, and met it in love and compassion.

5.  Salvation.  It appears that Charito (the lady of the house where the meetings have been) got saved last week!  We praise God for working in her life!  Her husband Arturo came out to the gospel meeting on Sunday night, and told Tim he is interested in meeting him next week for a chat.  He says he has seen some changes in his wife that he likes. Please continue to pray for this family.

6.  School's almost out.  We've got less than 3 weeks until school is out, and we are very excited!  I'm thankful things have continued so well, and that we've made such good progress.

7.  School books for next year are ordered.  Last year, we didn't begin our school year until mid-September.  This year, we are hoping to start again the beginning of August, and have a bit of a different schedule.  I'm definitely more excited than the girls (except Vivian) about the new books ordered, though!  ;)

8.  Air conditioning.  The humidity is still holding off, thankfully, but our temps have risen, and aren't going back down.  So very, very thankful to be able to be comfortable in our home, both during the day, and at night.

9.  More encouraging/convicting verses.
"Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel," Philippians 1:27

"...God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:9-11

10.  Joy.  Philippians has been 'my book' for the last few months.  It is full of the words "joy" and "rejoice".  I've been appreciating that it's not because of circumstances that one has joy, or can rejoice, but because of a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Joy is fruit of the Spirit ("But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23), so an obvious sign of new life because of Christ.  I'm so thankful for Him working in me!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Happy Birthday to the Blog Writer!!

Hi, Tim here.  Decided to hack my way in (so forgive any formatting errors, etc. - not a clue what I'm doing here...), and leave a long overdue tribute to my beautiful wife.  As you know, she keeps track of a lot of family birthdays on here, and today it happens to be her turn to celebrate!

Mika, along with the hovering presence and advice of her sibs, did a very fine job on their mom’s cake this year.  Happy birthday to a beloved mommy and dear wife - we love you!

This might embarrass her, but it is fitting, and true. 

In that last, breath-taking section of the Proverbs, a book which begins with true manliness and ends with true womanliness, is God’s ideal for a wife.  Perhaps the automatic reaction of most wives, upon reading it, is to feel a sense of inadequacy.  However, I am grateful for Steph’s attitude, as she strives to be all that God desires of her.  I see her over and over in Proverbs 31.

“…an excellent wife… far more precious than jewels.  The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.”
What more can I say?  I know that not all marriages enjoy this level of mutual trust, but I can still take her for granted sometimes.  She is truly my soul mate, and God has blessed me beyond measure.  I love her more now, 13 years on, than ever.

“…works with willing hands.”
Yes, hands that are both working, and willing.  The never-ending flow of laundry, meals, lessons, diapers, outings, mopping, dusting, mediating, reading, bandaging, organizing, planning, tidying, etc., recognizing that her work is not in vain – that her daily investments in fact, have eternal rewards.

“…and provides food for her household.”
With 9 people in this family, eating 3 times a day, plus a fair number of guests joining us at the table, that’s well over 10,000 plates of food in a year.  No wonder 2 days of attempting “Mr. Mom” does me in.

“…and reaches out her hands to the needy.”
Whether one of the many who knock at our gate every week, a child who comes to class for a candy and leaves with a colouring page, or another woman desperate for a word, an ear, or a hug.

“…She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”
This one-dining room schoolhouse under her direction, currently has 3 grades, and will be adding another in September.  She has stretched herself too, as she speaks, or writes to other women, some younger, some older, sharing in their struggles, and feeling their hearts.

 “… Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”

And, so we do: “… Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her… her works praise her in the gates.”

"Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all."  

-Proverbs 31:29

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Happy Birthday, Ada!!

Today is Tim's brother Rob's wife, Ada's birthday!  I love how committed Ada is to her Lord and to her family, and how she wants the best for those around her, and strives toward that.  Hoping she gets good and spoiled by her loved ones!!
The tallest of one family married to the shortest of another!  ;)
A match made in Heaven!

The whole beautiful family
 Happy Birthday, lovely Ada - we love you and miss you!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Happy Birthday, Dad!!

Today is my dear dad's birthday!  I love this man.  Much of who I am today is because of him, and I'm thankful for the love and sacrifices he gave for our family!  Wish we could be together, but sending love and hugs across the time zones!!
Still in love - even more than ever!!

Happy Birthday, Dad!  Hope you've had a wonderful day!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Thankful Tuesday 9

1.  Andrew and Bethany's 2nd Anniversary.  I wish we were closer to enjoy more time with these two, but I'm thankful the Lord has them where He does, doing what He wants them to do!  Hope you had a wonderful anniversary!!

2.  A God who is working.  I know, obvious, right!?!  It's just been that over the last few weeks I have been joyously overwhelmed hearing of the Lord working in lives all across this country, all across the world.  Working in salvation, working in restoration, and I have been so encouraged.  Just to mention one: in the northern part of our city, Hermosillo, there is a little subdivision called Laura Alicia Frias.  It is a very poor area, and there have been both gospel meetings for adults, as well as children's meetings there for the past few years.  For the past two weeks, Sam C and Jairo have been having house meetings with a family who has come out a bit.  This week, since Sam is away, Tim is helping out each night.  Please pray for Charito, and her husband, Arturo, as well as their three children, Isaac, Christal, and another boy, whose name I don't know.

3.  Drinking water from the tap.  Tim just got the results back from the water company, after taking in our tap water to get it checked, since we have our new filter.  Results were good!!  So thankful we can drink out of any tap in our home now!!

4.  A walk with Vivi. Yesterday morning, Vivian was awake early.  I hadn't planned to go out, but she asked if we could go for a walk to the park together.  I agreed, and it was very sweet.  I love spending time alone with our kiddos.  It was a short, but altogether enjoyable walk!
My beautiful five year old

A beautiful palm tree in the park, with huge clumps of nuts hanging down.
5.  Exercise.  Who would have thought this would be something I'd be thankful for, but I really am.  I am still running about 2 times a week, and I don't think it will ever be more than that.  I'm also doing an "ab challenge" for the month of June, which has been good, and I am going to keep this up for longer than the month.  I can actually do a sit up on my own now - not many, but a few, so I know I'm making progress.  I have also started doing T-Tapp, again, which I highly recommend.  Several of the girls do this with me, and think it's fun.  My one frustration is, that besides feeling better in general, and stronger, there are no visible results.  However, I will keep at it, knowing that at least it is for sure good for me.

6.  Nico.  Today our pup turned one year old.  The girls wanted me to bake him a cake, but I declined!  ;)  While I am just not the type of person to say he is a "part" of our family, I think I can say that we all enjoy having him around, and we're glad he's here.  All of our kiddos quite enjoy him
Here's a somewhat blurry picture of him and his new hair cut.
7.  Good health.  I kind of feeling like knocking on wood just writing this, but currently we are all enjoying feeling well!  =)  No chicken pox arrived for Kyla, so hopefully that means they're all done.  It's great to be feeling so good and have everyone else feeling well, too - all at the same time!

8.  Good friends.  Tomorrow, Eleo, Emily and Jennifer B are bringing lunch over.  Since they're not going to be here for my birthday, they wanted to do this for me.  All three are flying out within 24 hours of lunch, so it's a sacrifice for them in more than one way.  I'm so thankful to have such thoughtful friends!

9.  Encouraging verses.  Philippians has been "my" book that I've been reading for the last couple of months.  I'm thankful that no matter how many times one can read God's Word, there is always something more to get out of it!  Here are just a few I've been enjoying:
"And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God." Philippians 1:9-11

" thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13,14

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:4-7

10.  My Tim.  How I love this man!  I won't apologize for how many times he makes it to my thankful list, so you'll just have to get used to it!  I'm thankful that he loves the Lord.  I'm thankful that he loves me.  I'm thankful that he loves our children.  I'm thankful he opens himself to be used by the Lord, wherever and whenever that may be.  He is the best husband for me!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Happy Birthday, Jeff!!

Today is my favourite brother's birthday!  Boy, he's a-gettin' old, and I'm catching right up to him!! ;)  This has always been "birthday week" in the Sharp household, and we used to celebrate with a triple birthday celebration.  While I miss being there for it, I was glad to see this picture of the whole Jeff Sharp family this morning:
Love these folks!

My big bro and his beautiful bride - a dynamic duo!
Love you, and miss you, Jefferson!  Hope you've had a wonderful birthday!!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Thankful Tuesday 8

This week, I am especially thankful for:

1.  A visit with my sister.  It wasn't a whole lot longer than 24 hours, really, but we packed in as much chatting as we could, and it was well worth it!
One of the pics from Thursday night when we stayed up waaaaay too late talking.  We three were the only ones awake (still not sure how the other kiddos slept through our roars of laughter), and Gwennie was making us laugh really hard.  Great memories made!  =)

2.  My dear husband, who held down the fort with Marika, while watching the "twins" while we were gone to see Liz.  I think I have an incredibly great husband already, but this was over the top!  The house was even cleaned when we got home!

3.  My kids being heavy sleepers.  I still don't know how they slept through the hysterical giggles after Gwendalyn was sucking on Liz's ear!
Can't believe I got this on camera!
After all this, and Gwennie was finally asleep, Liz and I proceeded to talk until close to 2am.  Made the morning feel like it arrived a little early for us, but it was do-able, and I'm just so glad the kiddos slept through all that noise!  ;)

4.  Mark and Rebekah's 8th anniversary!  These two are an inspiring couple that are committed to one another, and love sacrificially.  I love them.

5.  A kitchen window.  This probably seems totally random again, but I have greatly been enjoying having the window above the sink, and a nice breeze plus sunshine, coming in!  The three houses we have lived in have All had windows over the sink, but this is the first house to have the window go right outside (the other two went out to the garage).

6.  Cold showers.  Well, this might now have expired, since the temps here today were 49.5*C, with thankfully no humidity.  It actually was a record, since the next highest temp recorded is 48.5.  Anyway, our water tank is in the ground, unlike most peoples', which are on the roof.  Up until last evening, we were having cool water still for showers.  Hopefully it will continue to stay that way, despite the air's temp.

7.  Scissors.  I need to take an 'after' picture, but Nico got his hair cut - yep, with scissors!  He was beginning to look like a musk ox with shaggy hair hanging down to his toes.  His coat was always matted and dirty, and the ticks are, unfortunately, still an issue.  Yesterday afternoon, I snipped off his shaggy coat, and a soft, pretty puppy that I think I will enjoy petting now, was underneath.  It isn't professional by any means, but he looks SO much better!

8.  An ab workout.  The other day I saw a one month ab workout challenge on Facebook.  I thought, these poor abs are in some serious need of strengthening, I'll give it a shot.  Today was day 3, and I will admit that I can (so far) do the crunches, the leg lifts and the planks, but I cannot do a sit up with my own strength (think feet under the couch), and even then, the most I've been able to do so far is five in one setting.  =P  Tim is doing it with me (he rocks this, almost effortlessly), but thankful to see this is something I need to work on, and likely wouldn't have noticed what bad shape I am in, otherwise.

9.  Locks on bathroom doors.  Okay, this is totally random, too, but when a person is feeling slightly overwhelmed with life in general, and especially when several children want to talk to Mommy all at the same time, or are screaming or fighting non-stop and Mommy just needs a "time out", oh how glad for a momentary reprieve when no one can get in!  =)

10.  Company coming.  We have a few people expected to come over the next couple weeks, and I'm looking forward to it!  It's good for all of us to practice serving others and being hospitable, plus I often enjoy talking to other people, and the house is in dire need of a serious clean up, which always happens before company comes!  ;)

Will try to get some more pics uploaded soon.  Have a great day!