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Some of you know that Shmoopy and I have decided to give up the safety of Suburbia and simply follow where the Holy Spirit leads…no matter the cost.  There are several reasons for this decision, but that’s another post for another day. (We actually intend to start a blog about this new journey of ours. Stay tuned.)  Well, we’ve been earnestly praying and seeking God’s will as to what He would have us do and where He would have us do it.  We feel pretty sure that we are called to live among the poor, but we have not known whether that would be in inner-city America, Cambodia, Kenya or somewhere else.  We’ve done massive amounts of research in addition to our prayers in the last month in hopes that a door would open.  We still don’t have an open door, but we may have been told today which direction to look in, which is a HUGE answer to prayer when you consider how big this world of ours is!

The answer began on day last week.  I was getting anxious and depressed because I felt like we weren’t feeling any direction for our journey.  I fell asleep one night praying, begging, that God would tell us where to go.  We didn’t care where; we would definitely go if He would just tell us where.  The next morning, I awoke with a single word running through my mind very loudly, very clearly: BRAZIL, BRAZIL, BRAZIL…

This had happened to me once before in answer to earnest prayer, but, again, that’s another post for another day.  Honestly, I kind of thought to myself that God wouldn’t make it that easy for me and I had probably just read something about Brazil and it was just a subconscious response.  Brazil wasn’t even on our radar; it wasn’t one of the places we had found possible opportunities.  So I dismissed the notion that God may be calling us to go to Brazil, and didn’t even mention it to Shmoopy.

Then this morning as we were in the car on our way to San Antonio for a house church conference, I was praying again, begging God to just tell us where He wanted us to go, and we would go.  All of a sudden, a picture flashed in my mind for the briefest of seconds.  However, brief, though, it was a very clear picture.  It was the huge statue of Jesus that overlooks Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  My thoughts were:

1. That was weird.

2. Hey, that thing’s in Brazil and I had Brazil on my mind the other morning. Weird!

3.Again, I’m just trying to make something out of nothing because I want so desperately for God to reveal our destination to us.

So, again, I dismissed the notion that this was possibly an answer to our earnest prayers and didn’t even mention it to Shmoopy.

Then, this afternoon, as we were on a hot bus taking a tour of house churches in San Antonio, I received the following message from my dear friend Kyle (who happens to be at the Q conference in Chicago with his wife this week):

“If you all are interested in being missionaries to a hot zone, research Rio de Janeiro. Home of the 2016 Olympics.  One of the most beautiful cities in the world and also one of the most dangerous.  And they need Jesus in a big way!”

Shmoopy and I were talking, I can’t remember who was in mid-sentence, but whomever it was stopped.  He could see the utter shock on my face and my eyes welling with tears, so he asked me what was wrong.  I tried my best to explain all of the above to him through my tears and hyperventilation.  It was as if God were telling met o “WAKE UP!  I KEEP TELLING YOU WHERE TO GO AND YOU KEEP ASKING AGAIN!!!  GO TO BRAZIL!”

I’m not sure what all this means, but I do know that Shmoopy and I will be fervently researching Rio de Janeiro while continuing to pray for the Holy Spirit’s continued leading.  Man, God is always so faithful to us, and I don’t just mean Shmoopy and I.  He’s faithful to all of us.  And what an adventure it is to finally trust Him with EVERYTHING!

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I’m generally not a recipe-follower.  I like to throw things together and see what happens.  I’d say about 95% of the time, it’s a hit.  Occasionally, my family kindly lets me know that I need not make a dish again.  Last night, I threw together a healthy soup that everyone in my family loved, so I thought I’d share the “recipe” as I remember it with you!

Ingredients:

1/2 diced yellow onion

3 cloves garlic, diced

4 or 5 large carrots, peeled & sliced

1 large yellow squash, cubed

1 medium zucchini, cubed

1 pound extra-lean ground turkey

1 bag BirdsEye Steamfresh peas, steamed in microwave

3 small cans of tomato sauce

1 can low-sodium vegetable stock

1 can low-sodium chicken stock

1 box of penne pasta (whole-wheat if you’re family will eat it)

Salt

Pepper

Cumin

Oregano

Rosemary

Paprika

Celery Seeds

Garlic Salt

Instructions:

Brown the turkey with all of the listed herbs and spices.  I didn’t list an amount for each of them because I just added what I felt like adding…that’s how I roll!  Once the turkey is browned, remove it from the pot and saute the onions, garlic and carrots until they are caramelized.  Next, add the squash and zucchini and let them caramelize.  Next, add the remaining ingredients including the turkey and excluding the peas and pasta and let it simmer for 20 minutes.  Once it’s done simmering, add the peas and pasta and voila…dinner served.  We sprinkled some 2% shredded mozzarella on ours!  Also, I served ours with a yummy french loaf of bread!

My kids ate it up and asked for seconds, veggies and all!  For those wanting some spice, I added Tabasco to mine!  Yummmm!!!  And there were enough leftovers to freeze for later because it makes a huge pot!

Disclaimer: If you’re Bobby Flay or Melissa d’Arabian from the Food Network, please don’t criticize my skills!  I cook to taste and my family loves it!

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I was reading Bibles to the boys tonight, and Bubba’s reading was I Chronicles 20.  I read verses 6 & 7, which state:

“Yet again there was war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, with twenty-four fingers and toes, six on each hand and six on each foot; and he also was born to the giant.  So when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea, David’s brother, killed him.”

Boss interjected, “Is that true?”

I said, “Yes, it is,” and continued to read the one remaining verse in the chapter.  Then Boss said, “Whoa! God made him REAL special!”  I nodded in agreement, and he continued, “He was real HANDY!”

Ha!  Oh, man!  I laughed for a long time after that!  That kid can really crack me up sometimes!

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Nicknames

Okay.  I noticed while writing my first blog that it became quite tedious to type “my husband” over and over again.  I don’t want to use our real names because, let’s face it, there are some sickos (and psychos) out there.  So, following the lead of one of my friends, I am going to assign nicknames to my family members.  All future posts will refer to them by these names.  Here they are:

Shmoopy = my husband (watch Seinfeld)

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Boss = big brother (he thinks he is The Boss)

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Bubba = little brother (face it, he looks like a Bubba)

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Sissy = little sister (the youngest)

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Hope this helps!

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0808-0421This, my first post, is for the benefit of my husband’s blog followers.  He once promised them that I would post the birth story of my third child; so here it is.

My boys were born in a traditional hospital.  When I think back to both births, I have regrets.  For reasons my husband can’t understand, I wanted to give birth to all of my babies naturally, without medical intervention (no pain medication, episiotomy, etc…).  However, due to various circumstances, one of which was lack of support from the hospital staff, I ended up with epidurals for the deliveries of both of our boys.  So when we decided to try for a third child, I told my husband we were going to use a midwife at a birthing center because I felt I would get more support for a natural birth there.  He agreed that we could go to Allen Birthing Center (ABC) since it was across the highway from a major hospital in case anything went wrong (he put his foot down against a home birth).

The midwives and support staff at ABC were so helpful throughout my third pregnancy, which seemed full of little twists and turns; but that’s a story for a different post.

Around 2:30 am on August 19, 2008, I felt my first contraction…two days before the due date but 7 days longer than I had ever been pregnant.  I was excited and ready to have this baby.  The next contraction was 9 minutes later.  The next was 30 minutes later, and so it continued through the night.  I just attempted, successfully for the most part, to sleep through the contractions and didn’t wake my husband.  When he got up at 7:00 am, my dear hubby asked how I was feeling as he often does, and I told him that I had been having mild contractions throughout the night.

We went back and forth trying to decide whether or not he should go to work and finally decided against it.  Other than that, we got up and began our day as if nothing were new.  I took a shower, which is always the first thing I do when I’m in labor, while my husband drove the boys to his parents house; it just happened to be their normal day to spend with Nanny & Poppa.  When he returned, he had a beautiful bouquet of flowers for me!

At 10:00 am, the thought occurred to me that I had a sonogram scheduled for later that afternoon, and I didn’t know if I should go to it or not since I was having contractions.  They were still very sporadic at this point, never any closer than 9 minutes apart.  So I called ABC to ask the midwife on duty (there are 3) what I should do.  Amy, the midwife on duty, said that she wanted me to come in around noon so she could check me, and then we would make a decision.  Very soon after that phone call, the contractions became regular at 4 minutes apart and began to strengthen.

My husband drove me to ABC at 11:45 am; I sat sprawled on my knees in the back of the minivan trying to let gravity work it’s magic.  When Amy checked me, she said I was dilated to a 4 and was definitely going to have the baby today.  She canceled my sonogram for me and told me to go somewhere and eat because I would need my energy.  You’ll never hear that from a hospital!

I knew I needed to eat, but I was not in the mood!  My husband insisted, so I asked him to get me a plain roast beef sandwich from Arby’s.  We went home, and I ate half of the sandwich and gave up.  The contractions were very intense and un-ignorable at that point.  I sat on the gliding ottoman next to my bed and rocked.  Once the contractions reached a point of intensity that I required my husband to rub my lower back to get me through them, I decided it was time to go back to ABC.

We arrived there about 1:00 pm.  We made our way upstairs to the birthing room of our choice.  (ABC is housed in an old 2-story victorian house with 2 birthing rooms that are set up differently.)  I don’t remember many details at this point because I was just trying to rest and let my body do what it had to do.  I remember that my favorite music was playing softly, the scent of orange-cinnamon was wafting from the oil burner my husband bought me when our second son was born, the lights were dim and everyone seemed calm.  It was nice.  Between contractions, I just lay on the immensely comfortable king-sized bed and rested.  During contractions, I breathed quietly through them while my dear husband vigorously rubbed my lower back.  I had no concept of time; I was trying to block everything out.  I think I may have actually fallen asleep between contractions even though they were only 2-3 minutes apart at that point.  I do remember that during contractions I was hot and sweating profusely, but in between them, I was cold.  At some point, my mom, who was present at both of my boys’ births, showed up.

Eventually, I had a doozy of a contraction that made me shake uncontrollably, at which point I decided to try the birthing tub.  I wasn’t sure if it would be helpful or not, but I just wanted something different.  When I sat in that warm water…ah relief!  It felt so good.  Don’t get me wrong, the contractions were still very intense, but the warm water seemed to take a little bit of the edge off.

Each contraction at this point was making me shake immensely, but I was still very quiet, internalizing the pain.  After a few more contractions, Amy suggested to my husband that he get in the water with me.  Once he did, she quietly suggested that I lay back in his arms and let her check me.  She did, and I was dilated to a 7.  I gotta tell ya, that was disappointing!  I thought to myself, “that’s a few more hours of this.  I don’t know if I can do it.”  Then I remembered the words of my water aerobics instructor, Linda, “Never say ‘I can’t’.”  Amy must have seen the disappointment on my face because she then said to my husband, “That’s okay.  She could go from a 7 to a 10 in the next contraction.”  And I thought, “yea, right.”

Right about that time, I had another earth-shattering contraction.  When it started, Amy said, “Just do what your body tells you to do.”  Well, my body was telling me it was going to push whether I wanted to or not, so I went along with it…as if I had a choice.  I pushed once and my baby girl’s head just popped out!  I didn’t even feel it!  The next contraction came immediately and Amy told me to wait a second because the cord was very loosely around the baby’s neck.  But I was no longer in control of my body, and I pushed.  Upon the second push, my baby was born at 3:58 pm.  Amy laid her on my chest and covered her with a towel to keep her warm.

My husband cried, I think partly because it happened so quickly and partly because it was a daughter.  He didn’t cry when either of the boys were born.  I just laid there relieved that my body no longer felt like it was being ripped apart from the inside.  Amy waited until the cord stopped pulsing and let my husband cut it.  After that, they moved me and our beautiful, quietly-contemplative daughter to the bed and pampered us.0808-0024

After 3 hours of pampering, we were allowed to go home.  It was the most wonderful birthing experience we’ve had.  I felt so wonderful and empowered.  This is not to say that women who don’t have natural births should in any way feel bad; they shouldn’t.  This is just something that I had wanted for SO long, and I had finally achieved that goal and had proven some things to myself in the process.  It was also a reminder of what a great team my husband and I are.  Amy kept saying that over and over.  Sometimes I forget that not all husbands are as supportive and involved as mine is.  I am so…beyond blessed!

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