Monday, July 30, 2012

Photo Me

This child loves the camera.  I was getting my camera out the other day to charge the battery, and she kept telling me, "Photo Me, Photo Me.  Take "pikure" of me."  Who could resist that cuteness?  Don't let the innocent pictures fool you...she can be a 2 1/2 year old Sassafras for sure.  Diligently working on that 2 year old defiance.

She was the only one willing to take part in the little photo shoot Friday morning.  Everyone else just looked at me kind of funny when I asked if they wanted their picture taken too.

We started school this morning, and I think it is a typical 1st day of school kind of day.  You know just getting everyone into the habit of school, sitting still, not talking, not paying attention.  Just the typical.  I think we will be smooth rolling into a routine pretty soon....aside from the loud 2 year old distracting everyone.

We are starting Carson and Logan together for Kindergarten.  Carson excited, and well, Logan just thinks school "stinks."  He did good this morning though.  They are napping (yay...peace for this Mommy) and have about 20 more minutes of stuff to finish up and they will be done for the day.  They worked hard this morning to get everything all done.

Olivia is still working hard at her studies.  Poor girl, big change from 1st grade to 2nd grade.  She has 9 subjects this year.  She is being a good diligent worker today though, and only has 3 subjects left, and a few homework assignments.  Funny to say homework, I guess I should rename them as "On You Own" sheets and "Show Them To Me Tomorrow."

And, Leia, she has the attention span of a 2 1/2 year old.  She sits with the boys for about 3 minutes, then she wants to do school and color, then she leaves and goes and plays outside for about 5 minutes, and the cycle continues.  

The work here is going well.  David has several people that he has studies going with.  So many people are only able to study on Saturdays and a few in the evenings.  They usually have one day off during the week or an afternoon.  Hopefully we will be owners of a car soon and David can be in more places in a given day.  The buses and walking everywhere take enormous amounts of time and limit what you can get done in a day.    The car buying process here is tedious to say the least.  You have to close the deal with a lawyer. And it seems like you are paying everyone for something.  So, is the life in Costa Rica, everyone has to make ends meet here somehow.  Our taxi drivers are going to be sad that we might soon have our own transportation.  

Well, back to school I must go, grading papers, prepping for tomorrow, my own Spanish and Bible studies, laundry, and I guess I better come up with something for supper, my family might revolt and kick me out if I don't.   

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I am probably more guilty than anyone when it comes to worrying.  I can say I have come a long way from where I used to be in this area, but still have so far to go.  I cannot honestly say I have left all my worries behind.  It is a daily struggle for me.  I am one of those who worries to the point of making myself physically ill.  Yes, I am one of those people who can accomplish a gut-wrenching stomach ache in no time.  Why?  I ask myself why I do this all of the time.

I tell myself that I can't help it, and in reality I cannot help whatever I am worrying about.  But, God gives us an out.  Philippians 4:6 says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Francis Chan defines worry like this, "Worry implies that we don't quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of whatever is happening in our lives."  That is what I am doing every time I worry.  Call worry what you want, but to me it is anything that is just taking way too much of my mind away.  I have, and still am, wasting so much time worrying.  I am wasting time thinking about something that I can't do anything about.  I could not even begin to list the things that I have spent hours stressing over, I mean in a course of three years I probably spent thousands of hours dwelling over our adoptions, adoptions finished up then it was moving to Costa Rica, and don't even forget all the day to day worry and stressing of life.

So, I tell myself daily, "DO NOT WORRY," because life should be less about ME and MORE about God.  "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" - 1 Corinthians 10:31.

In the past 12 years my "worrying" decreased, thanks to his 
constant reminder of "don't worry, be happy."
Yes, imagine the tune with it!

So much joy with No worries : )

So many lessons to learn from children.
Here is a kicker...
Liv tells me so often that she is so glad she is 
a kid and doesn't have to worry, she can just
enjoy playing.  Compliment for her to enjoy being
a child, but what a poor example I am being
and adult who worries.  Who wants to grow up
and do that??

Little Leia has no worries except worrying who
is going to carry her for the next 2 miles of walking.
Honestly, I think that is the only thing she is worried
about is those little legs getting too tired.

My man (on the left), who honestly lets it all go and lets God.

I pray I can be  more like My Man and "Let Go, and Let God."  I can't fix anything, only He can.  Because He can do anything.  He can heal the sick, part the waters, make man out of dust.  If He can do all these things, how do I dare doubt ever?  Because I worry, and when I worry I am doubting.  

Be my prayer partner and Let's pray together that there will be "less me and more God."  Let's give all our worries to Him.  I don't know about you, but I do not have time to worry.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Nothing Normal About Today

This phrase that I read the other day just kind of left me with my mouth just a little open when I stopped and thought about it, "There is nothing normal about today."  But, so true that it is.  There is absolutely nothing normal about today.  Stop and think about everything that your body must do today to survive.  Yeah, we actually don't stop and REALLY think about that until you have a life and death problem of something in your body not functioning properly.  We take life for granted.  James 4:14 says, "Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes."  I don't think I really grasp that, maybe none of us really do.  We are here, but yet we could be gone...poof, just like that.  We are the mist that you see and then all of a sudden you don't see it.  We all know we will die at some point but I know I don't really think about it that often.  I am thankful every morning that I have been given another day to live here with my children.  But today is just Monday, right?  It just hit me like a ton of bricks that there is nothing NORMAL about any day that we are alive.  I mean the very fact that God is making my heart pump in all the correct directions and all the valves open and close properly, is in fact amazing.  So many people dread tomorrow.  They dread what they feel, what they will think, and the saga continues.  Why?  Why waste this amazing life we have dreading tomorrow and thinking that today is just a normal day.  If you think it is a normal day, then do something ABNORMAL.  Make it feel not normal.  Do something today, now, while you are breathing, and magnify this not normal day.  We are that vapor that may fade away in just a few seconds.  Life is real and it is fading with every second.

How blessed so many of us are to be able to run to the doctor when we think there is "this, that, and the other" wrong with us.  We have the means to drive to the doctor, pay the doctor (or pay it out or as many US residents do they never pay), get the appropriate medicines for whatever said ailment (so many of which are not life threatening, just a nuisance).  In so many parts of the world this scenario is a fairytale.  I exclude the United States in this because if you need it you can get medical care whether you can pay for it or not.  I will argue with anyone on this one, because having worked as a nurse for almost 10 years, ANYONE in the United States can get care.  It doesn't matter if you pay or not they cannot turn you away.  Millions of people in this world do not even live near anywhere they can obtain medical care, much less ever pay for it.  Costa Rica is not Africa, but the people here are poor.  If you follow me on Facebook then you know of the prayer request for Myra.  Saturday afternoon David stopped by her house on his way to a Bible study and didn't even know she was home.  Her daughter told David that she was in the bedroom and that she was sick.  Come to find out she was so sick that her daughter called the Red Cross of Costa Rica the night before because her heart was beating so fast, she had a horrendous headache, nausea, and profuse vomiting.  She is not a resident of Costa Rica.  She is Nicaraguan, so she cannot obtain socialized medicine here.  The Red Cross would not come see her because of this.  So, her daughter called the private ambulance that is located in Atenas, 20 minutes from her house.  This cost her daughter $45.  That isn't much money in our thinking.  But it is a ton of money to these people.  They came to her house, did an EKG, and checked her blood pressure.  This is where some of the medical details get a little unknown, but going off my medical knowledge, I am assuming they gave her an injection for the nausea and vomiting or a pain medicine (because there isn't anything else I can think of that they would have given intramuscularly).  They gave her this medicine and told her she needed to go see the doctor the next day.  She had a horrible reaction to the medicine.  It made her stomach even more unsettled and her hands were very swollen and red as a beat (they were still like this the next evening when I saw her).  She did not want to go back to see the doctor the next morning because it would cost her $25 and she didn't have the money to pay for anymore medicine that would make her feel even worse.  They did not have the money.  That was the problem.  No money equaled no medical care or medicine.  David called the private doctor that we had met earlier in the week (this same company is the one that saw her the night before) and she agreed to see her Saturday afternoon.

Her extreme pain and discomfort is high blood pressure.  Myra has known for 3 years that she had high blood pressure but did not know it was what was causing these "episodes."  She left this untreated because she didn't have the money to pay for the medicine.  Blood pressure medicines are so cheap.  Yet, this was not an option for her.  She chose food for her children instead of medicine to keep her alive.  This is also a place where people are not very educated about medical  problems.  One of those episodes could have caused her to have a stroke, leaving her unable to care for herself or her children.  But, this is the reality here to so many people.  And even if you are a Tico it may be months before you can see a doctor, because it is socialized medicine.  So, if you really have a problem, you still have to have money to see a private doctor.  The doctor gave her 7 days of medicine to try and if it works then she will give her a prescription for it.  Thank you so much for the prayers on her behalf.  The doctor was very sweet and did not charge David for her to be seen and will follow up with her later this week at no charge as well.

My point in all of this is that something so SIMPLE for so many of us is so DIFFICULT for most of the world.  Most of the world live day to day without food, clothing, shelter, and healthcare.  And most of all they live without Jesus.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 25:45, "Then he will answer them, saying, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me."  It is up to us who know Jesus to take care of these people.  I challenge us all to make today and everyday we are blessed with an ABNORMAL day.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

You Are the Love of My Life

Today marks 12 years since I married the love of my life, just as it is inscribed on the inside of his wedding band.  I am more in love with him now than the day we married.  This is our third anniversary in Costa Rica, but the first one living here.
I cannot say enough good about my husband.  He is an awesome example of a husband.  David, thank you for an amazing 12 years and 4 beautiful children.  I love you!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cinnamon Streusel Muffins

Before we moved to Costa Rica, I had a major baking day preparing for lots of company at my mother-in-law's house.  It was pure bliss, no kids at home, and a kitchen all to myself.  What more could this girl ask for.  I know I talk a lot about food, but what can I say, I love to cook (and eat it too).   I love to make new creations.  My kitchen in Costa Rica boasted these yummy muffins the first day I had a working oven.  They were delicious if I do say so myself.  I think they were even better because it had been so long since we had baked goodies.  Note before looking at picture:  I had not had anything sweet to eat in almost 3 weeks.  Please don't judge.  It was so delightfully good, and I don't normally say that about bought goods.   The kids were pretty excited too.  My husband was so sweet and treated me to a chocolate cake.  There is only one place in town where you can buy a real chocolate cake that is not frosted with caramel.  It is frosted with my favorite...canned chocolate frosting.

It was finger-licking you can 
probably tell.


He thought it was pretty good too,
but was wishing for some ice cream
to go with.

Anyways, I have recovered from not having sweets for so long and have probably been making too many.  Although, I am pretty sure all of my little house guests like the "galletas" that I always have on hand.  I lost count of how many cookies the kids ate the day they came over.  Myra said Sochi doesn't like anything to eat.  Well, she loves grilled cheese and snickerdoodle cookies : )

Here is the recipe for my Cinnamon Streusel Muffins that so many of you asked for when I made them.  I haven't had a chance until now to write it down.  This recipe makes 16 muffins, not anymore, not any less.  It is exactly, always, 16 muffins. 

2/3 C shortening
1 C sugar (I know they are very very bad for you)
2 eggs
3 C flour
3 T baking powder
1 tsp salt
Sprinkling of nutmeg is optional (sometimes I do, sometimes I don't)
1 C milk

1/2 stick butter (room temperature works best)
1/2 C white sugar
1/4 C brown sugar
2-3 tsp cinnamon
1 T water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease 16 cups for muffins.  In large bowl mix sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.  Make sure it is all mixed well.  Then cut in shortening with pastry blender.  When mixture resembles small peas (similar to cutting pie crust), make a well in center of bowl, dump eggs and milk in.  Mix just until it is all well combined.  Do not overmix or they will rise funky.  Set aside.

For Streusel mix the sugars and cinnamon, then pour the tablespoon of water in and toss around.  Then cut butter in with pastry blender, until you have a crumbly mixture.  Do not use margarine, it will not work.  Must use butter.  Maybe this is why I must walk everywhere.  I use lots of butter, well not as much as I used to in the states since it is $10 for only 8 sticks, and lots of sugar.

Spoon muffin mixture into muffin cups, just a 1/3 of the way filled.  Then spoon about a tablespoon of streusel mixture on top of the muffin mixture you just placed in cup.  Then spoon more muffin mixture on top to make the cup 2/3 way full.  I usually do all the bottom layer for all of them, then the streusel mixture, then the rest of the muffin mix.  Then when done filling cups, you top all of the muffins with more streusel topping. Use approximately another tablespoon for topping.  Don't try to use too much streusel for topping or you will make them fall and sink in the middle.  Been there and done that...just thought I was going to make them more yummy.  You will have some streusel left.  I put in Ziploc bag and place in freezer.  After making these several times you will have enough for another batch of muffins.  And this is always good topped on so many things.

The second muffin pan that only has 4 cups filled, I always fill the remaining cups with water halfway, so that the other 4 muffins will cook evenly just like the other dozen.  If you don't do this then the 4 muffins will cook faster and not evenly.  Bake them for 20-22 minutes.  Remove from oven, let stand in muffin cups for about 7 minutes, then carefully remove to wire racks to cool.  When they are completely cool I make frosting to drizzle on them (when I have company, if for us they are flying solo with no frosting).  I use powdered sugar, tad of water, and vanilla.  Mix until you get a consistency of toothpaste.  I can't tell you exact amounts, because I never measure.  Place frosting in Ziploc bag, barely snip corner of bag and begin drizzling.  These do freeze well.  Just remove from freezer the night before.  You are warned these are dangerous and have been approved by the following people:

Thursday, July 19, 2012


As I reflect on the last month, in some ways it seems like we have been here forever and in other ways it seems like we just arrived.  We are finally starting to settle into a routine, which the kids majorly needed.  I think we are acclimating pretty well to things like having no A/C...well, at least on most days, figuring out where to find most things, bus schedules, and the lingo.  We are having the hardest time adjusting to no car.  I can't really say if there will be a complete acclimation to that.  The kids have already become very thankful for transportation that comes in the form of non-walking.  When we are walking anywhere Leia says, "Taxi, taxi" and gives you these puppy dog eyes.  Well, maybe one of these days we will have a car here, until then we will get lots of exercise.  The exercise is nice, well, maybe on the side of excessive.  Yes, I am complaining, but if you are reading I hope you are my friend and will just listen for a moment and then forget I had my little venting session.  I call it that, because life goes on.  The world still continues to exist while I am nauseated and turn all shades of green every time I ride the public bus.  I tell myself every time that there are small children in this world who walk all day to fetch water, dirty and contaminated water, for their family.

This morning Olivia, Logan, and I went for a walk or you could say hike.  Yes, we will go with hike, because there were lots of hills and mountains.  It was beautiful, peaceful, quiet, and wonderful.  I grabbed my camera and off we went.  I hope to have some time to really learn how to use my camera.  I want to capture the beauty of this country and the people in it and show you everything that I can.  You will just have to bare with me on my candid snapshots that aren't so professional.  Maybe one of these days I will be able to capture and relay the exact beauty that is before my eyes, because right now I just can't capture it the way it appears before me.  You may ask why I took pictures of cows, but as we walked I just snapped shots of things the kids thought were camera worthy.  So, here is what they wanted to show you from our hike.

This is the view as you walk down the street 
where we are living.

Logan said this cow was looking right at him.

The kids are in love with all of the butterflies.
They are everywhere.

You rarely see anything flat and straight.

Logan picks these for me pretty much every time
he sees them.0

Always about 20 steps ahead of us.

There are wild impatients everywhere you go.

Not sure what this flower is called.
Maybe some of you with a green thumb
might know.

He was very concerned we would 
not be able to find our way back home.  
So, he made tracks most of the way.

Logan asked, "Do you think this
corn might taste better than what you 
fixed the other night?"
Yes, we are missing the sweet summer
corn on the cob...well, any corn for that matter.

One of millions I am sure.

This kid needs a butterfly net.

And he passed her.  He was about 40 steps behind 
her and took off like a bullet to catch up.

Olivia so graciously emptied our bottle of water
before we were even half way done.  Nope, I didn't
get a drop.

You would find this in someone's yard in the states as
a decorative flower pot.  Here you will find this being used.
A man was cutting  something down and getting ready to
haul it somewhere.

Leaf-cutter ants.  You will see these everywhere.
  You just step over them, not on them, and keep going.

Wild flowers

In a month we have made new friends and strengthened bonds with old ones.  Every time you leave the house, or even in my case when I don't leave the house, you meet new people.  I don't go anywhere that someone does not speak to me.  And, I mean really converse with you.  We live in a small town where everyone knows everybody.  And, well we kind of stick out.  I think I am one of two blondes in the entire town married to the tallest man in the country, with 2 blonde kids, and 2 "chinettos."  We draw attention, and the fact that my kids are not the quietest children ever born.  It is nice to receive the smiles and the "Holas" when we go anywhere and for people to stop and ask how you are doing.  

Erica and Leia


21 people in attendance last Sunday.
We were so glad to have visitors this past week.
We loved having you Keith, Rob, Heather, Jessica, 
Reed, Zach, and Hannah.

During that walk this morning I reflected on all things about Costa Rica, the good, the beautiful, the bad, and the ugly.  And at the end of the day I know we are right where God wants us.  Skype and FaceTime make it a little easier to be so far away from family, and my mom will be here in less than a month.  The count down has started.  I miss home and a lot of other things but I am okay, we are okay.  We are more than okay.  We are blessed to be here and to be able to do God's work here in this foreign country.