spring break part 1

So the past two weeks the kids have been out of school for spring break.  The leaders each got a week off as well so my family and I were off the first week and just had some time to relax. I got away for a few days for a spiritual retreat and it was such a blessing. Some friends from church let me stay in their travel trailer in their back yard so I could get away and have some time along. Thank You!

After our week off my Mom, Dad, Me, Abbey, Jorge and Isaac have been watching the kids all week. The previous week there was a group here from VA and they kept the kids busy with activities, games and VBS all week, but there was nothing going on our week so we had to help keep them occupied. It was a great week and I will be posting pictures of it over the next week. I hope you enjoy!

Spring Break Water Day

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Easter Sunday at Carl’s Jr.

There was no ham dinner for us this Easter…nope, it was hamburgers and fries all around. Thanks to the Kid’s Everywear sale we were able to take the kids out to eat after church on Sunday. This is not only a huge treat, but for several of our kids this was the first time they had ever eaten at a restaurant. I wish you all could have seen Meño’s face when he walked into the playground. His just stopped in his tracks and stared, eyes big as saucers. Each kid got their own soda cup (they almost never get soda, so this was huge) and several hours to play on the play ground after lunch.  It was a great afternoon for all of us…albiet they were a little wired from sugar after that.

Hopefully you can enjoy some of the fun through these pictures. I gave my camera to Miriam after a while and was very pleased with many of her pictures…enjoy!

catching up…

Ok, so between the trip to NC, catching up from the trip to NC, general business and then getting ready for the kids spring break…well, lets just say I didn’t exactly keep up with the reading plan.  I know, I know, being the one to initiate the “book a month” and all, you would think I would be motivated, but after I was already late I just kept putting it off and off and…you get the picture.

Good news is that though I didn’t write this post on schedule and I didn’t finish the book on schedule…I have been ready. It has been God’s grace alone and it has been such a blessing.

Here is my reading update:

Give them Grace by Elyse M Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson
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This is a great parenting book. It is not a how to or a book on consistent discipline, but rather a book that went beyond children’s obedience and addresses their view of salvation. Not just addressing their heart, but making sure that through the way that we correct and train our children we are reminding them of God’s grace. It can be so easy to discipline to get good behavior and in the end just be training up self-righteous little hypocrites. Children need to be reminded that God doesn’t respond like parents (disobedience = loving discipline) as saved and adopted children of God (disobedience = loving grace). Obviously there is so much more to this, but it was a really good read for me and I want to grown in training and disciplining these children so they don’t see works based religion from us, but rather a beautiful picture of grace and never changing love.  Anyways, I didn’t even come close to explaining it, but I would recommend it to every parent and orphanage worker.

Audio Books: So, I have had several friends give me a kind of half mocking half bemused look as they went on to comment about how audio books are for old people. Maybe it is, I don’t know, but I have found audio books to be a huge blessing in my life. I have long drives when I go to El Paso and now I work 4-5 hours a day cleaning and doing laundry.  I used to listen to more podcasts, but have started mixing in books also. I don’t know if they count as books I “read,” but I think I remember more from these audio books than the last few books I read, so…

Note: Audio books are crazy expensive and you can’t find them at the thrift store, but christianaudio.com gives away a free book each month (which is where I got the following two books) and if the book is in the public domain you might find free audio for it at librivox.org (sometimes the readers aren’t great but sometimes they are great…hit and miss).

Knowing God by J.I. Packer
Wow. This is a great book. Knowing God is a classic on the attributes and character of God. I think I need to read or listen to it at least five or six more times…can’t wait! I don’t even know what to say since it covered so much material. Starting with the difference of knowing God and knowing about God it then goes on to work its way through God’s love, grace, immutability, judgment, wrath, jealousy etc then ending with the Gospel, our adoption, trials and God’s adequacy. I know that studying who God is, has been and will be what gets me through the hard times in life. In times of trials don’t turn to self-help books, instead turn to the God who was, and is and is to come and find peace and joy in knowing Him more.

Trusting God by Jerry Bridges
Again, this is another Sovereign Grace basic that I can’t believe I have never read.  This was nothing new to me, but a great and systematic reminder of God’s sovereignty in every area of life. It is full of scripture references and covers so many questions that come up when talking about the sovereignty of God. It was timely and edifying for me and I thank God for making it available for free at just the time when I needed that reminder. Though someone told me they found it kind of dry and boring, I found it very enjoyable and easy to follow. I hope you all find time to read it and are blessed as I was.

I am working through two more books I will report on soon and am hoping to listen to Martin Luther’s Commentary on the Epistle of Galations. Please pray that God will give me and extra bit of concentration for this one.

pictures i forgot

oooops…I forgot that while I was in NC I lost a bunch of my pictures somehow from my camera, but Nick salvaged them…yeah!!! I was very happy because there was a great pic of my parents with Coen and all the pictures from Silas’ birthday party. Hope you enjoy! Grandpa, these are especially for you! Love you!

 

I especially love the picture of my Dad reading the bible stories to Silas and Evelyn. I bought them the same one year children’s bible that Dad used to read to us when we were kids. So beautiful to see family traditions passed down.  I have even found it in Spanish and it is one of the things we cycle through with the kids at the Ranch also!

the blessings of going back home

My whole family was soooooo (yes I am one of those dorks who puts lots of ooooooo’s) blessed to be able to go back home to North Caroline to spend a week with our family and friends. The opportunity to go, just came up out of now where and we jumped at the chance. It was a straight through 30 hour drive to get back, but we made it in time for Silas’ 5th  birthday party. John and Deana didn’t tell the kids we were coming so it was fun to be their surprise. Through Silas touts that he knew we were coming all along.

It was a very busy week, but it was so great catching up with my brothers and their families. I got to spend several days at John and Deana’s and played a new train game that I liked a lot and I don’t usually like playing games all that much. I also got to hang out a couple of nights with Nick and Ashley as well. It was so great to hear their testimonies of how God has been working in their lives through this extremely difficult year. Nick has been in and out of the hospital and suffering so much more than I can even imagine, but they continue to hold strong in their faith that God is good and His providence is at work through it all.  Nick got called in for his last surgery the day we planned to leave so we stayed an extra day to be at the hospital with him and Ashley for the surgery. I have never spent much time at the hospital, but it was an eye opening experience. I’m not saying I have any idea what it has been like for them this past year, but I think I have a much better idea now and am much more passionate and informed in my prayers for them both. Please keep Nick in your prayers that this recovery time will go quickly and he will be able to function well with his newly attached intestine for the future!

We were also blessed to meet with our pastors and be blessed by their love, care and wisdom for our family. I have never felt safer emotionally or spiritually than I did sitting in that room with those men. God is so good to give us friends and family who love us as they do!!! To everyone back at Sovereign Grace, don’t ever take for granted what amazing leadership you have!

Well, I will leave you with some fun pictures of us hanging out with family land friends, though somehow the kids managed to obtain most of my camera time…they are just so cute and growing up soooooo (there it is again) fast.  Book A Month review is LATE but coming soon! More updates on the Ranch kids coming soon also!  Love …..

reading and accountability

I love to read, but so many times I get tired or distracted and just don’t sit down to enjoy a good book. A couple years ago I had a friend and we made a commitment to read at least one book a month that year. I was amazed that when I was actually committed to reading through a book quickly that instead of just one book, many times I finished two or three.

Since then my reading has slowed to an almost halt. I think I finished maybe four or five real books last year. I have also found that since moving away from my home church in Raleigh, NC I am not as challenged to read “hard” books. I am so thankful to my pastors and especially Michael Stalker (my singles leader) for always pushing us to read things outside of our normal reading levels.

So, all that to say that I would like to start reading AT LEAST one book a month again and was wondering if anyone out there would like to start an online reading accountability. We could commit to blog about or e-mail each other a quick report/overview whatever of the book we read by the end of the month. I know my weaknesses and personal discipline is not one of them. So let me know if you would like to help me to grow in grace and discipline by joining with me in this. You can e-mail me at mschlax(at)gmail(dot)com.

My February reading is Give Them Grace, Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson.

Book Recommendations (from last years reading)

The Reason for God by Timothy Keller
I actually read this book because a friend wanted accountability to read it. I haven’t read many books on apologetics but I was very surprised at how easy he was to understand even when he was explaining some complex issues that in the past have usually gone a little over my head. The has several GREAT chapters near the end on sin and living the christian life that blessed me soooo much.

Confessions by Saint Augustine
Ok so this was the harder book I took on last year. I found it at the thrift store and I always hear pastors quoting him so I thought I would try it. I was happy to find that while a few of the concepts he addresses went over my head they book was very readable. I love how he traces the grace of God through his entire life and the way he calls to you  to live unreservedly for God. I think I need to read it like six more times to begin to understand the depth of some of his statements, but I was blessed even by my limited understanding of it.

I found so many inspiring quotes and couldn’t pick one so I just opened up the book and found this part highlighted. It challenged me anew as I read it and I want to share it with you.

My soul, you too must listen to the word of God. Do not be foolish; do not let the din of your folly deafen the ears of your heart. For the Word himself calls you to return. In him is the place of peace that cannot be disturbed, and he will not withhold himself from your love unless you withhold you love from him(?). In this world one thing passes away so that another may take its place and the whole be preserved in all its parts. But do I pass away elsewhere? says the Word fo God. Make your dwelling in him, my soul. Entrust to him whatever you have, for all that you have is from him. Now, at last, tired of being misled, entrust to the Truth all that the Truth has given to you and nothing will be lost. All that is withered in you will be made to thrive again. All your sickness will be healed. your mortal body will be refashioned and renewed and firmly bound to you, and when it dies it will not drag you with it to the grave, but will endure and abide with you before God,  who abides and endures for ever.

grace and dirty socks

A couple of weeks ago I posted that my job here at Rancho 3M had changed drastically. Well here is an update on how it is all going.

My Dad has been in charge of the little boys dorm for the past year and he has things very organized. I love organized and really enjoyed learning his system for sorting and setting out all the boys clothes each day, for how to get the dorm clean and the laundry done in a timely manner. Some might say he is over organized, but if you ask him why he folds the underwear a certain way, there is actually a very good reason for it and why it makes the system more productive.

The numbers on the table are for sorting all the socks…it works great!

I usually work in the dorm from 8-2 each day just doing laundry, cleaning and trying to make sure everyone stays in clothes that fit and don’t have too many holes. With all the other work I have to do I am actually working way more hours than I was in the office, but I love the work and get to be much more involved with the kids. I am so much happier and can’t help but just smile every time I walk out the back door with a load of laundry to hang up. I don’t have to spend all day sitting at a desk or doing finances! God is so good!

Ever since my parents moved in with the little boys last year (they have moved over to their house now, but sleep with the boys at night) we have been brainstorming ways of training the boys in taking care of their dorm.  They tend to leave all their stuff under the beds, they throw away peoples shoes when they get mad and also use their shoes for wars between the rooms…you know, boys stuff. Anyways, they were not able to implement many of the ideas because they didn’t speak much when they first arrived.

I have had several meetings with the boys and explained that I would be keeping a list of certain things they needed to do better with and at the end of the week those with the least marks get a prize and those with the most would get to help do deep cleaning on Saturdays.  I had a few problems at the start as some kids were messing up the other kids beds, clothes, etc. to get them in trouble, but we have ironed it out and both the past two weeks the boys are knocking on my door asking when I am going to come and tell who won/lost. I come over and find them all waiting on the couch (actually sitting down and fairly quiet…miracles do happen). They have been so excited and even respond well to getting stuck on cleaning duty. It has been extra work for me to keep the lists, but I think it is working well and now I don’t have to clean the base boards.

God has given so much grace during this transition and I am so thankful for all your prayers. Please continue praying for me as wells as the boys as we learn together during this process.

changes and prayer requests

For everyone that read the newsletter I sent out recently, I would like to let you know about some changes and ask for your prayers.  I had originally thought the new year would see me spending more and more time with the girls and less and less in the office. I had mentally been thinking and planning for that and had so many ideas and plans to  do with the girls. But as the director is always saying…Missionary rule number 11 is BE FLEXIBLE.  Yesterday I found out that instead of spending more time with the girls, I will actually be with them less, at least for some months. I am currently taking over daily doing all the little boys laundry, organizing their closet and cleaning their dorm so that my Dad can work on the literally “never ending” maintenance list. I will also be working on several HUGE organizational projects to get the Ranch on a pantry system for buying/storing everything we use at the Ranch. In the end this will include reorganizing several of the systems we have for shopping as well as storing all food, cleaning supplies, water, etc. I will also be taking over all the shopping/errands for the Ranch as well. On top of the larger projects, I will also take over a group of kids to help with their home work every day, do some cooking, working with the kindergartners after school and watching the kids once a week. Yeah! I am very excited for the new organization projects. I have been wanting to do them for a long time, but they are also going to be A LOT of work and I will need wisdom to keep my life prioritized and sane.

I would like to ask for prayer in these areas:

– To keep God first in everything I do (especially daily devotions)
– Grace to wake up early and get busy
– Wisdom to prioritize projects and make sure I still have time with the kids
– Wisdom to make the new shopping/storage system efficient and maintainable (even if I am not there)
– Grace not to let the business stress me out. (I am not a nice person to be around when I get stressed)
– That I would use the time cleaning and working to pray/memorize scripture/listen to sermons
– That I would love God, my family and the kids here more than ever

fellowship, fun and pictures

After leaving our grandparents in Colorado (my Mom’s parents), we drove over to Prescott Valley, AZ to visit my Dad’s parents.  We had a great time of fun and fellowship just hanging out and talking. I got to see my cousin Sarah and her two little ones, they are so cute!!! (most of my pictures are of them…I just can’t resist a cute kid) I always enjoy getting to talk to them and they share my love for John Piper’s sermons (actually I think they listen to even more than I do).

We were all sick the whole trip with bad colds and it kind of nixed our plans to visit the Sovereign Grace Church in Phoenix, AZ and to see our cousin Ashley’s new little baby, but it was a great trip and we all had a good time together.

Here are some pics because I just can’t help sharing them with the world. Enjoy!!!

food, dry ice and chillin’

We get a week off for Christmas break and I headed up to my grandparents with my family.  We went to visit my mom’s parents  in CO first. We have all been sick with colds, sore throats, etc. so we all really enjoyed the time to just relax.

My grandma always cooks WAY too much food and this trip was no exception. We all need to go on a diet after just two days here.

Our family has some weird traditions and for those of you who don’t know…my Dad likes to blow things up, which he started with my uncle and Grandpa when they blew up my Grandma’s gingerbread house as teenagers. Grandma planned ahead and had us build a house for the boys to blow up.

The boys were going to blow it up, but got so distracted using the dry ice to blow a hole in the pond and blow out the snow bank, that they completely forgot to blow it up. ooops….

We had a great couple of days getting to just hang out with Grandma and Grandpa as well as playing in the snow. Dad woke up sick this morning as we were planning to head out to my other grandparents, so we will see when we actually leave, but we are all looking forward to the next part of our trip as well.