Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Review: Planet 316

Planet 316Daily Bible Jigsaw by Planet 316Time for just a plain old FUN review! Daily Bible Jigsaw is from Planet 316 is simply a fun, peaceful, and relaxing way to have a little fun while keeping Christ continually at the forefront.

This product is a FREE app that works on IOS, Google Play, or as a Facebook game for Mac or PC. I actually added it as a Facebook game. There are additional costs if you want to purchase more coins, etc. but you can start it off and play for free without having to purchase anything.

While this game is intended for adults (and specifically I note the fact that your child could accidentally make a purchase if your computer isn't set up correctly), my five-year-old daughter, Abigail, was actually the biggest lover of this game in our family. I snagged a video of her playing the game which you can watch below:
While most of my reviews are for school-related work, this is just a FUN APP that I had the ability to review that you and your whole family can use for just some fun, peaceful, relaxing down time. You can complete daily Bible jigsaw puzzles. You can also use puzzle coins to access archived puzzles. Finish all the puzzles for a month, and you get a fun bonus on the calendar. You can play puzzles over and over to try to beat your own time!

Check them out on Facebook or Twitter @planet_316.

As always, please feel free to reach out to me via email at if you have any questions or want to know more!
 Daily Bible Jigsaw by Planet 316

Color My Conversation {Northern Speech Services Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Wee-wind Wednesday

Hard to believe that it was back in 2009 that I went through an anxiety workshop. You can read what I learned in that workshop here. It's a little frustrating to me that eight years later, I find myself at nearly the same spot. I'm a bit frustrated at myself about that -- that nearly a decade later, I haven't grown more than I have.

But I'm using this opportunity right now to grow. I have learned SO MUCH about anxiety from my husband. I am hoping he will help me write a Blog post on this at some point. He sees patients in the ER non-stop for panic attacks and has truly learned how to educate people about what is happening to prevent these events from occurring.

Here is what I know. People who deal with anxiety, have a "trigger." For me, mine is conflict. (Some people are triggered by fear of flying, fear of germs, or fear of death or dying.) In my case, it is conflict. And it doesn't even have to be real conflict. It can be pretend conflict. It can be someone saying something to me that they didn't even realize was an issue at all that sends me into a tailspin.

When I am healthy, I am able to handle these blips without incident. But when I'm floundering a bit, I face see the tiny blip and spiral. I make it all about the "issue" (which is often not an issue at all) instead of realizing it isn't the issue that is the issue. The issue is the anxiety that accompanies the issue.

(Did you get all that?)

But knowing that and convincing your brain of it is two different things.

Either way, I hope to write more about this in upcoming days/weeks/months. For now I have a husband who is logically and physically standing alongside me, and I have many, many of YOU who are praying and encouraging me. I also have a dear family friend who has walked this road that is standing with me in this valley. What a gift that is.

And here is what I know. Like all things in my life, climbing through this valley will make me stronger. It will make me better. It will make me more Christ-like in my love, compassion, and understanding for other people dealing with this.

As always, when you share, people share back. Just yesterday I ran into a casual friend in a random location who as I started sharing, started sharing herself. And suddenly we were both crying as we shared how what people saw on the outside wasn't how we felt on the inside. Here we were, both looking put together and on top of things -- and we'd both had major breakdowns earlier that day in the privacy of our own homes.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Jesus Calling Daily Devotionals

April 25, 2017
"make Me your focal point as you move through this day. Just has a spinning ballerina must keep returning her eyes to a given point to maintain her balance, so you must keep it returning your focus to Me. The circumstances are in flux, and the world seems to be rolling around you. The only way to keep your balance is to fix your eyes on Me, the one who never changes. If you gaze too long at your circumstances, you will become dizzy and confused. Look to Me, refreshing yourself in My presence and your steps will Be steady and sure.
"looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." -Hebrews 12:2
"but you are the same, and your years have no end." -Psalm 102:27
"By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before Him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything." -1 John 3:19-20

Tribe Life Tuesday: Come to the Table

A weekly post from my childhood to grown-up friend Carrie ~ 
sharing her awesome life and her desire to have community while doing it!

Today’s post is a sequel to one I wrote in 2013. We had not really invited others into our story at that point because it was personal and deep and we coveted our privacy. Also, there was something within me that was sure it wasn't safe to share. So, when we were approached by our dear friend, who had been walking the journey with us, we knew it was time to clothe ourselves in bravery and enter the spotlight. 

As I re-read this blog so many things still ring true and I encourage you to read this post before diving into the words below. 

While there are so many truths in that 2013 writing, there are many things that have changed and places that have experienced undeniable growth. In these precious years of change and learning, our perspectives have expanded tremendously and the foundation for our beliefs have shifted. There were five mainstays that I want to revisit from that original posting. 

So here it is: the table is set, the place settings are laid, and the meal is nutritious, so grab your seat at the table; you are invited to partake. 
The Soup (course 1): At the time of the original post we were five years into our journey, we are now at year nine. 
Time has truly flown by. We are almost into a decade of marriage and it has been sweet, salty, and even bland at times, but it has gone by quicker than I ever thought it would. We could not have planned this life out better; it is ravishingly fractured. Fractures are small breaks that eventually heal, it’s in the process of healing that we are challenged to endure. Endure the discomfort and the pain until the brokenness is healed and there is full mobility once again. You see, there is one thing Joe and I have consciously made an effort to embrace, and this is being fully in each day. We look toward the future, we dream, we forge new paths, we breathe in our surroundings, and nine years later our journey seems like it’s only beginning. 

The Appetizer (course 2): "Regardless of infertility's difficult journey, we know that God's intentions for us are good.” 
This statement makes me chuckle a little and I know that, of course God’s intentions for us are good, but at the time I may have been struggling to believe that. So I said it and said it and said it again until I knew deep in my soul. I repeated this until it became the currency in the exchange between my heart and mind. The truth is, owning infertility makes the journey difficult. I’ve come to learn that you choose what you own. 

The Salad (course 3): "We have learned to completely and wholeheartedly trust God through this process.” 
Leaning on your spouse and your tribe in hard times is a must. Trusting God always is as necessary as breathing. Often we did not walk this statement out. We learned and forgot it, then repeated the process about 1,000 times and are still learning it today. As time continues and we continue, we are growing into our best selves. And with each expansion of us, we are presented the opportunity to trust more and in a different way. Trusting in someone bigger, smarter, and MUCH more capable than you eases the difficulties on your journey. It allowed us to take the pressure off, because there is only so much we can do. I, Carrie, am okay with handing that over.

Main Course (course 4): "While we would love to have biological children, and how I would love to conceive and carry our child, we know that we are called to adopt.” 
Funny enough, my feelings have drastically changed on this one. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism or maybe it’s how I’m coping with disappoint, but I don’t feel like it is. I don’t have the desire to conceive or carry our child. There are so many kids out there that deserve a good home and I want to adopt them and make that part of my contribution to culture and society. There is so much more I’d like to say about that but that will have to happen another day.

Dessert (course 5): We are confident that the path we are on is not ours alone. 
We are confident that our present suffering is minute compared a joy that awaits us. This path we have been forging has been dark and dismal but there is something ever so sweet about it. Not the suffering itself but rather what it is producing in us: a grateful heart, steadfast desire for justice, and a solace in relationship.

My friends, barrenness is like living deep within a cavern, it’s easy to slink away to the darkness and hide, but your perspective increases as you have the courage to make your way toward the light. 

Thank you for joining me at the table. I hope you’re leaving full and that you invite others to your table. Your story matters and we desire to partake with you.

Thank you for reading.

See you next Tuesday,
*Please note that content in guest blogs is not necessarily shared by the station manager (i.e. Wendi!)

Tuesday Truth

This hangs in our living room. I love it!

Monday, April 24, 2017

We Bought a Farm: A new job (truck waterer)

Who says a city girl can't learn to drive a big ol' truck up on the pasture? This is how we fill our water tanks. We fill up one tank in the back of JB's big ol' truck, and then we drive it up, and drain it into the other. It isn't what we want for the long term, but it's what we are doing for now. This runs off our well too which obviously doesn't cost anything. 

Usually JB or Dad have to drive the truck up. But I've been trying to expand my repertoire. 

Add this to my list of can do things!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Trying to paint this picture

It's important that we remember that what you see isn't always what you get.

For those of you who read my Blog, you must remember that I am the painter. However, I am still allowing my life to be painted in the colors that I choose. Some people think that because I write a Blog, and because they read the Blog, they understand my life.

I try to keep it real. I really do. But there are still many things that never make into onto a page. They are the details inside my heart. Details inside my mind. The nuances of what makes me who I am. The aspects that weave my family together.

I've been battling for a few weeks now, and this past week it really came to a head for me. I've had difficulties with anxiety and depression in my past that I haven't been shy in talking about, and unfortunately, they have reared their ugly head again for me. I am fighting it on a spiritual, physical, and mental aspect, and I'm doing well. Both are plaguing me, but the anxiety is trying to debilitate me.

I am still in a very "functioning" place -- far from the depths that I have found myself in the past. I, as always, think I won't write about this. But truly I feel that is not honest. With myself. Or with the people that I choose to write and share with.

I could really use some extra prayers as I try to maneuver myself back to ... myself. I am so blessed by the people God has brought alongside me ... to stand with me and help me and encourage me and pray for me and with me.

And in the meantime, I will continue to try to keep it real.

If we all keep it real then we can hopefully never feel like we are the only one.

We Bought a Farm: Working Towards Self-Sufficient

More than half of the calories we consumed for dinner were produced on our farm. This is not the norm... yet. Our goal is to produce at least 80% of our calories on our farm.
We are slowly getting there!
Dinner tonight consisted of pork from our pigs (served with a red wine and balsamic vinegar reduction sauce), greens from our garden (swiss chard and leeks sautéed in the pan that the pork was browned), and oven roasted rutabaga. Delicious!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Military Moments (with Amanda): Semana Santa as an Outsider

I am so excited about these weekly Blog post from Amanda -- our chaplain's wife when I lived in Turkey. These"Military Moments" posts allow her to discuss and share ideas and stories from military life. 

When we moved to Spain, we knew we would get to see things we'd never seen before.  I had no idea one of them would revolve around Easter.  Here in Spain they have a unique way of celebrating the last week of Lent, leading up to Easter.  Called Holy Week or Semana Santa.  I found a link on wikipedia that will explain more about the processions and what everything means, but we have a friend who is a priest at these two churches that I have pictures of below, and I'll tell you what he said it means.  Wikipedia article is here.

As we walked down the street to the first church San Miguel, we saw many of these red banners.
 Each of these processions or pasos are sponsored by a fraternity or brotherhood.  They work all year, but especially in the last months leading up to the pasos getting everything ready.  The pasos start in a church and walk around the entire city.  The ones I attended this year were in the city of Moron de la Frontera.  Each of the pasos tell a story of the Passion of Christ.  They follow the events of Holy Week in the New Testament of the Bible.

There are always at least 2 "floats" in the procession.  One is Jesus in whatever event that paso is showing, and the other is Mary.  Jesus goes out first and is followed by Mary.

Let's talk about the people around them.  The people who lead the processional are all paying penance of some kind.  It is very personal and only between them and God.  Because of this, they cover their faces.  The hoods they wear (called Capirotes) look familiar to those of us from the United States, but for a very different reason.  Let me just say that the Spanish tradition came first and their manner of dress was stolen by the people who used it to do horrible things.  So, the hoods are worn to hide their identity so they can pay their penance in silence and in a more personal way.

Here are people inside the church putting on their capirotes and getting ready to walk.

The doors are open and the processional is about to start.  People are lining the streets to see the floats.

Jesus is bound and his float is wooden with purple flower petals on the bottom.  It is beautiful.

Closer look at Jesus and the intricate carving of the wood.
Mary's float is predominantly silver and all of those candles will continually be re-lit all evening as they process.

How do the floats move?  They are man-powered.  Meaning there are rows and rows of men under there and they are literally carrying the floats and walking around the city.  They are very coveted spots and it is a great honor to be able to carry these icons around their city.  They spend every weekend of lent practicing carrying the floats, and we happen to be lucky enough to see one.

There are extra men walking behind them to switch out when it is needed.  These floats weigh over 2,500 pounds.
The way they all stand up with the float is wonderful and if you get the chance to see if on video, you should watch it.

They have left the church and are starting the procession.  It will last for at least five hours, maybe longer.  Everyone outside claps as soon as he is out the door.  

On Wednesday, we went to a different church to watch the procession.  This time Jesus was depicted in the Garden, praying and asking God to remove the cup from him.

More intricate wood carving.

We went to the balcony to watch everyone getting ready
They walk along with the incense and a band plays outside as the floats come by.
Walking out with Mary
Re-lighting the candles before going outside.
The most unique thing about this church is that the doors are too small for the floats to get out with the men walking.  

They have to carry it to here, then get down on their knees and go out the door on their knees. It is a truly powerful thing to see someone worship in a non-traditional way. In our world, there aren't many ways we can use our bodies to worship, and they truly are using them here. We watch as they precariously balance all that weight while bending on their knees and then scooting out the door. They then have to all stand back up and begin the long, five-hour process of allowing their fellow citizens to worship this way as well. It was something I'll never forget and has made my Easter celebrations much more profound.

Opinions expressed in guest posts are not necessarily those of the station manager (i.e. Wendi!)

Sisters do Ballet

Friday, April 21, 2017

Hannah's Happenings

April 18, 2017
This picture is such a great snap of Hannah. She picked this outfit on herself (now that pants are her style again). She rolls the pants herself too and gets it just right. This picture just SCREAMS who she is -- such a little girl and a grown up all in one. 
April 18, 2017
Playing hide and seek with Auntie Rita and Grama Joni.

I just absolutely LOVE this picture.

April 18, 2017
She did this herself before bed. She then pretended to be asleep but fell asleep like this all night.

April 18, 2017
I told Hannah to go inside and put on some summer clothes. (She was wearing pajamas.) This is what she came up with.

April 2017

April 2017
I promise. She came up with this all on her own.

April 2017
A new friend brought some dresses to pass on to Hannah at school. She had to change immediately!

March 2017
This is so her.

March 2017
An applesauce spill.

March 2017
Joni asks Hannah why she doesn't wear pants.

March 11, 2017
A very cold day. Time to get warmed up.

March 4, 2017
She is crying because I have told her we can't wear the Cinderella dress and Dora the Explorer cape (held on with clothespin) to the grocery store. Here's a video of us discussing this costume. She wears this nearly every day for at least a portion of the day.

March 5, 2017
She refuses to wear pants. So when I told her she MUST put something on her bottom half, she opted for a pajama dress worn like a skirt. She wore it like this most of the day. 

February 2017
I'm just not sure I can accurately convey how these two pictures made me feel. These were taken over the course of just twelve hours. These are so my girl. She is truly one of the funnest, most challenging, most incredibly smart and sweet and sassy kiddo. She has been asking me to "talk like a queen" lately. So I have to talk in a very "royal" voice and address her as my princess. Ooodles. That's how much I love my children -- and my Hannah.

February 2017
When you ask your daughter to please change out of her Batgirl costume so that we can go run some errands. And she comes back downstairs dressed like this. Yeah. Pajamas. What's worse? Batgirl or PJ's for errands?

January 2017

December 2016
Getting warmed up to go see the piggies on the farm

September 20, 2016
 Swimming at our friend Michelle's house

July 12, 2016
Hannah is always inventing something new that she is that day!

July 15, 2016
Helping us move pallets. Well, getting int he way mostly.

July 15, 2016
Every time I ask her to smile, this is what I get.

July 4, 2016
Yes she put her bike on the table!

July 3, 2016
At long last, Hannah has found something she likes to do (other than just wander around and get into things.) She still won't read many books (although when she does she likes Fancy Nancy) but she is doing puzzles! So wonderful to have something she loves!

July 3, 2016
Hannah came down the stairs like this and when we all acted scared, she said, "I'm sorry I scared you. It was just me."

June 26, 2016
Quick bike ride before bed.

 June 25, 2016
Stay calm ... and fingerpaint

June 6, 2016
The kids did an art project, and Hannah wanted to join them!

May 15, 2016
Going shopping with Daddy.

May 2, 2016

May 1, 2016

April 22, 2016

April 17, 2016
Randomly wearing her sister's church name tag on her forehead and spitting out two Connect Four pieces she had in her mouth.

April 2016
Hannah is off to work (this is a game she loves to play with me!)

April 2016
Hannah returns from work

April 12, 2016
Daddy was taking her out to run errands. Hard to believe but she put this ensemble together totally by herself. Ha!

April 12, 2016
Morning play time!

 April 11, 2016
Cake at the park. This was moments before she tried to put a piece in her mouth that had been in the grass and ended up with a mouthful of ... grass!

 April 5, 2016
Wearing her brothers shoes randomly.

February 20, 2016

February 9, 2016
Hannah has been VERY into reading ... and VERY into "Fancy Nancy." She always picks out girly books to read -- princesses and pink books (and sometimes Mickey Mouse)

February 8, 2016
Showing off her new rings (a present from Grama Di)

January 11, 2015
She created her own dance to the ABC Mouse intro tune. (Her brothers have been teaching her how to play!)

January 9, 2015
Those are mittens on her feet.

January 4, 2016
Don't ask.

January 3, 2016
Yes that is her having climbed up on the dryer to find her own bows for her hair. (Which she removes promptly after putting them in so I am not sure the point is.)

January 2, 2015
Unloading this dishwasher in her choice of attire.

December 25, 2015
With a bunch of her Christmas presents on at one time!

December 21, 2015

December 18, 2015
In preparation for Star Wars, she is wearing her Princess Leia headband from Ms. Patty!

December 16, 2015

December 15, 2016

December 14, 2016
Taking a break after all that getting dressed nonsense!

December 12, 2015
What you do with your stickers from Trader Joe's!

December 11, 2015
Decorating Christmas tree in safari hat and flowery tutu

December 10, 2015
Out of the bath tub clothes including skirt under her dress and two different shoes

December 9, 2015
For some reason she likes to show her belly lately whenever I try to take her picture

October, 2015
Hannah wearing my socks -- which she put on all by herself.

I have decided, as best I can, to include a photo of what Hannah is wearing on any given day. I can't possibly take a picture of everything since she changes clothes dozens of times a day, but I want to remember these pieces she puts together. (Why she lifts her shirt every time I ask her to take a photo is still confusing me.) These may also just include silly predicaments I find her in.