Thursday, July 30, 2009

Happy 3rd Birthday Love!!

click photo to enlarge

July 31, 2009

Love...Love, Love. There is just not a better word to describe you. You are Love. You are the sweetest thing I have ever laid eyes on. You wake up smiling, and go to sleep smiling. You take a nap with a smile, you skip a nap with a smile. You are almost always laughing or have the cutest grin on your face. Everyone agrees your smile is not only contagious it lights an entire room. I love nothing more than walking a step or two behind you as you mosey through the aisles at WalMart and just watch the people watching you. Their whole demeanor changes. Their faces go from shopping mode to that of smiley happy people, they chat with you and they always tell Mommy and Daddy just how precious you are, as if we didn't already know ;)

You have such a little servant's heart already. You are eager to unload and load the dishwasher, fold laundry, hang up laundry and even put it away. You keep things going around here. As soon as the dryer beeps or the dishwasher gets quiet you let me know they are "keen". And you are pretty persistent about having me help you get things done. I think you have a hint of Ma Ma in you. I know I could get things done much quicker solo but the joy it brings you is worth the extra time. You take great pride in knowing what you have accomplished. You fold towels and place clothing on hangers every bit as well as I do. It truly amazes me. You also like to give all of your candy or gum away when you get it. You are not truly happy unless you are sharing. You like to go and get drinks out of the fridge and offer them to people as well. You are little Miss Hospitality.

You have such a passion for music. You prefer worship music. In fact, when we are singing our songs in the car many times I will see your little hand up in the review mirror. It makes my heart melt. It is the funniest thing - you just know the difference in the everyday music and the songs that hold weight when we sing them. I love that about you. Your most favorite children's show right now is Hi-5. You will sing the songs and do the motions and even though you are a complete syllable behind...your smile is bigger than Texas. You will ask, "Hi-5 pees Momma?" And once I put it on for you you always say, "Naynk you Momma, Hi-5" I love that Hi-5 gets you excited and and you can express yourself so well through the music. It is rewarding for you to mimic those songs and motions.

Speaking of, your manners are really coming along. You hardly miss a please and thank you and are coming right along with sorry and your welcome. You even thank me for changing your clothes, bathing you, fixing your are just so...well, thankful :) You understand almost everything anyone says to you. You may not be able to communicate with us that you get it but your eyes light up and if it is a get right to it. You are eager to please. Your vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds. Although not everyone understands your words, for the most part I can decipher your meaning. You have begun using your own version of sign language when we have difficulty understanding your are such a smart girl! You currently have your own signs for washing your hands that is so fun.

Love you are an incredible blessing to our family. In fact, we all say we can not imagine life without you in did I ever live without you? I always tell people you are living, breathing joy, and there is just not a better way to describe you. You have captured our hearts. You maybe tiny but you love big. I still wonder how in the world we were entrusted to be your family. There is just no greater joy!

Happy Birthday Sweetheart! I Love You More Than All The Stars In The Sky!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Happy 5th Birthday Hope!!

To truly appreciate the on it to enlarge.

July 28, 2009

Life is some kind of wonderful being your mother.

You love with your whole heart. You enjoy being held, cuddled, hugged and loved on. You like to squeeze really tight and hold on. You share your love in actions, words and pictures. You are a real sweetheart. I love catching you being loving to your sisters and brother when you don't know I am looking. It is so pure and with no thoughts of the actions being reciprocated.

You love to laugh. You are funny. You like to tell jokes and are quick witted. You enjoy making people laugh. You have already figured out that life is fun. I love watching you when you are in your zone with someone and they are "getting" your jokes. It makes your eyes dance. You can see the joy it brings you.

You are an everlasting burst of energy. You run, jump, skip, and bounce all the time. You have a difficult time sitting still. You even read books and sing songs with enthusiastic motions and gestures. You really don't have many speeds in your daily routine (which may present a problem in kindergarten), you are our live wire. You are a ball of fire. You are the most beautiful little dynamo. Perhaps I can pass my college nickname of Hot Shot off to you :)

You are Miss Adventure. You dream big (you get that from Daddy). Everything changes for you from moment to moment. You are climbing a very tall mountain looking for bears and the next moment you may be a top your very own pirate ship shouting "Ahoy Matey!" You have been known to arrest many for anything from entering the kitchen to leaving the backdoor open. You are sometimes the sweetest sheriff in town welcoming friends in with a "Howdy Ma'am" and a tip of your cowboy hat. Other times you are a super hero out to save the world. I love how you immerse yourself in your imaginary roles. It is not only exciting to watch and experience it makes my heart swell to hear the passion behind your adventures. You bring a whole new level to the word the best way :)

Happy Birthday Baby Girl! You Are Such a Gift!
I Love You More Than All The Stars In The Sky!!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Blue Bell - The Best Ice Cream In The Country :)

Friday, at about 6 am we took off for a day trip to the Blue Bell factory. It was a long day trip. We finally arrived about 10:30. The line wasn't long, we stood there for less than 5 minutes and then our tour was in the next 10 minutes. It seemed pretty easy to get in and out of. It was interesting for all of us to hear about the facts of our entire family's favorite ice cream. Here are some we thought were neat:

*It takes 50,000 cows per day to supply enough milk for a day's production.
*All of the cows are located within a 200 mile radius
*One line which they have 4 lines in each room can make 54 1/2 gallon buckets of ice cream per minute.
*You know how the lid is difficult to get off when you first open a tub of ice cream from the store? Well, it has actually been done on purpose to get a good quality seal on the product. They immediately flip the carton after the ice cream has been squirted into it.
*When the ice cream is squirted into the tub it actually spins in a circle really fast to keep any air pockets from forming.
*They freeze blast the ice cream for up to 6 hours after the ice cream is inserted at 100 degrees below freezing.
*The brown lids cost more than the gold because they have nuts, fruit, or candies in them.
*Employees really do get to eat all the ice cream they want for they do "Eat all they can and sell the rest"
*And our guide...she NEVER gets tired of ice cream. I knew right away I liked her :)
*At the end of the tour you get a large scoop of ice cream. I chose the new flavor Nutty Chocolate - really pretty good. It had lots of texture and tons of chocolate (milk, dark and white) covered nuts ( all types) in a Dutch Chocolate ice cream - yum!

Now, when we left the tour the line to get in was not only outside the building it was winding in front of the plant and growing...quickly. It was fun. I am not sure we would do it again for just going there - other than the Blue Bell factory there wasn't much else to do in the area. And in the song..."the best ice cream in the country" it could mean out in the country - like not the city...just a thought.

In the ice cream shoppe
They gave these cute little free hats for the tourists to wear...the girls loved them.
I love this pic of Love...the rest were far too interested in the eating portion of our tour.
After her Dutch Chocolate ice cream...notice the ring around her mouth.
The grounds were beautiful...and so is Love :)

The little girls chose these temporary tattoos for their memento. The big kids chose Blue Bell pencils that were scented with ice cream flavors. We bought a coffee mug.

I can tell you after seeing the plant...I love Blue Bell even more. I love that they break down all the piping and tubing to clean it every day!! Hey, you never know ;)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Nothing Better...

Than cold watermelon on a hot day..

except maybe sharing it with your sister :)

Who Knew??

That these foam shoulder protectors...

Could make this one here ponder up something that would get her so tickled she just had to do....
This??? Oh My Word...this child cracks me up :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Following in Her Big Sisters Footsteps...literally :)

A new more fashionable soccer...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hope's Locks of Love & Love's Fresh New Do :)

Love before her haircut
Love after...much healthierFrom the front before
The front view after...cute as can be :)I love Hope's long ponytails!
Her hair before her cut...12 inches that is!
Hope's hair after
2 feet of hair (1 foot per ponytail) going to Locks of Love...her 2nd donation...the girl can grow some incredible hair!
Our Hope...long hair, short hair, no hair...still absolutely adorable!!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

And the Lord Provides...

So, I am not sure if all of you know or not but Big Daddy has now been on strike for 4 full weeks. It has been longer than we expected and as of yesterday the negotiation talks are suspended with no future date set to resume. It sounds strike. But financially it could very well be devastating. For the first two weeks you receive no pay from the union and all of your health, dental and vision benefits are terminated immediately from the company. So we have been out for 4 weeks and received 2 $200 checks from the union. Not enough to support this family of 6 - but....

The Lord has continued to provide and we have not yet felt the actual financial pangs that many may have. He has provided us with money from the most unlikely places too. We know it is the Lord because it just doesn't work out like this in the way of our own planning. In fact, we haven't really planned other than a bit of money we had set aside knowing this may be a contract that they would refuse and strike. But, we weren't truly planning for or expecting it to drag out this long.

So, while we have had great family time and Big Daddy has had much leisure and rest...his heart has been very busy. He has been reading a lot and stretching and growing and considering and praying about things...future things...exciting things. That under the everyday hum drum of life of the 7-3:30 job might have been well...drowned out. Have you ever heard someone what you love for your job? If you don't love it...don't do it. Well, that has become a popular topic around the Harris home. While Big Daddy knows that one of his jobs as husband and father is to provide for our little family of 6, he also wants the Lord's will in his life and the current might not be exactly what the Lord has for him. Big Daddy has such a passion for people, hurting people, that we feel confident he will be in some form of ministry once again. We have tried the bi vocational ministry, it was very hard physically on Big Daddy. Of course it didn't help that his job was 90 miles one way from our home at the time. While we would love to dump his current job and jump ship we have some things to work on first before we can truly be efficient for the kingdom. You can't be slave to the lender and feel free to let go and just do kingdom minded things. There are consequences to our choices and we have to sort those out first.

We have so enjoyed our time together...have you ever heard that once you retire and it is just you and your husband/ really get to know how much in love you are? Well, I can tell you we have truly enjoyed his time off. We have spent a lot of time talking, parenting, exploring the options, sharing what the Lord lays on our hearts and just working together. We have accomplished quite a bit. I think I kind of like him :0) We are thankful for the time the Lord has allowed us to be a family. It is such a fresh breath to have him home 24/7. The kids are loving it and so am I.

I have been praying for Hope and her new situation in school. I know she was in Pre-K before but under the watchful eye of Christian teachers and teaching. She will be in a public Kindergarten and I am a tad bit concerned of the questions that may arise about her being Chinese American and her parents just being American. That she may face those questions we face on a fairly regular basis but it will be from her peers. Just praying that we equip her and prepare her but not dwell on it. Well, we met our new neighbors last night...a man and his son - his wife was not home. Get this....wait for it.....this little boy, Oliver, is Chinese and will be in Hope's school, one grade ahead of her! How cool is that?

The man is from the brown province-Henan (about in the middle to the right a bit from the center), right below him in yellow is Love's province Hubei, and below her's in pink is Hope's province Jiangxi. He speaks mandarin and works for the 7th Day Adventist Church and his job is visiting churches in China. He will return to Hong Kong in September. Such sweet fellows. He suggested we get together and talk about China. Ummm...yes please! I feel like it is the Lord's provision for Hope a little friend who looks like her and he is friendly and it is a BOY!! If it were a girl, she would not be as excited. Oliver was speaking basic mandarin to us and when we repeated it correctly he gave us a thumbs was so stinkin' cute. I think we are going to have many a play date with him :)

Oh, one more thing...when we registered Hope for Kindergarten...turns out another little boy that was adopted from China goes to the same school Hope will be attending. He will be in 1st or 2nd grade. Now really - how cool is that? If you knew our hometown and its demographics you could probably appreciate the magnitude of having Hope go to this school. In fact the statistics are only .83% of our hometown residents are Asian/Pacific Islander - really is a big deal!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Her Version of Cowgirl

Love is a music loving, song singing, instrument playing, dance doing chick. She cracks me up...most of the time I don't have time to catch her with the camera.
She is a simple cowgirl...nothing fancy...beads, cowboy hat, pull-up and a red guitar. I love the cocked up leg with the foot a tappin'

Thank-ya...thank-ya very much ;)

4th of July Pics...

Parade Loot!
What happens to your teeth after you consume too much of said loot.
Can you believe they actually threw out "Billy Bob" teeth at the parade? Funny.
Swimming at the bil/sil's
Fearless jumper...who can also swim pretty well now underwater :)
The new "hippy-fied" MiMi after Hope decorated her for fireworks
The girls atop the 'burban watching the fireworks!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

To See Clearer & Love Deeper

So this past weekend when Shaley and Kelsey stayed the night...we pulled an all we would have it no other way. We beat our last all nighter record. Gosh, it was 5 or later in the morning before we finally hit the hay. It is always good stuff. Real stuff. Talking, eating, learning, sharing, loving and praying. Shaley name dropped a guy I hadn't really heard of. I didn't think much of it. But, as I generally do when she drops the name of a person, pastor, book or church, I had to dig into it. It is always worth looking into.

Well, the name was Shane Claiborne. I stumbled upon this. It is long. But, I promise you will not only be blessed if you watch the will be changed.

My most favorite line in the whole sermon is this: "Jesus never talked to a prostitute. Because he didn't see a prostitute. He saw a child that He was madly in love with."

Lord- I pray for new eyes. Eyes like yours - to see the image of God in every person.

I want to be that radical "lover". I want to get out of my own way. I am my biggest obstacle. I think things out...I want answers and solutions and schedules and rules. I want the security. And, if I would get over myself and see that God wants the best for me, all the time, even when it hurts. Even when I don't see it, He does. In fact, He wants more for me than I could ever even fathom for myself. His best for me is things that I can take with me to heaven. And when it gets right down to it...those things aren't things at all.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Some Lukewarm Thoughts...

For Father's Day the kids and I bought Big Daddy a couple of great books...The Hole in Our Gospel and Crazy Love. Big Daddy began with The Hole in Our Gospel and I have been reading Crazy Love. I am digging the book.

Here are few things (abbreviated excerpts from the book Crazy Love) have me thinking hard about our lives, here in the Harris home:

Yet we keep questioning Him: "Why are so many people dying of starvation?" "Why is my family so messed up?" "Why don't You make Yourself more obvious to the people who need You?"
The answer to each of these questions is simply this: because He's God. He has more of a right to ask us why so many people are starving. As much as we want God to explain himself to us, His creation, we are in no place to demand that He give account to us.

As Tim Kizziar said, "Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter."

Francis Chan says, "I believe that much of the American churchgoing population, while not specifically swimming downstream, is slowly floating away from Christ. It isn't a conscious choice, but it is nonetheless happening because little in their lives propels them toward Christ."

So, that is where I am at...deep thoughts, inward thoughts, uncomfortable thoughts. Of, what if any difference are we really making outside the walls of our home. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus...but right now...I am feeling as if we are not nearly productive enough for the kingdom. We are still part of the body but we would be more of a novelty...say hair...something that a body would function just fine without but to the world, oh to the world - hair is important. Shame on us!

Why are we not serving among God's people who have hearts for the widows and orphans? Who back up their words with their actions? Whose benevolence fund far out weighs their building fund? Boards, committees, politics...slowing the wheels of the church. What is holding us back? Why have we become so content in our place in this world as just being a mother, father, volunteer church worker, etc.? Why can we not be more, do more, live life to the fullest...making a bigger difference in lives of the less fortunate, the homeless, the uneasy to love? I will tell you why. Because we have bought the lie, we have swallowed what the world has to offer, we have been deceived, all while really loving the Lord. Living, being complacent right where we are at. Sure we have a relationship with the Lord, but is it deep enough, close enough that we answer the call to follow Him - always - even when we don't feel like it, or at all cost? We tithe, we attend church regularly. We even serve inside the church. But, isn't that what most people do? They love those who love them?

Jesus asks for everything. But we try to give Him less. Jesus said,

Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor the manure pile; it is thrown out. Luke 14:34-35

Jesus isn't just making a cute little analogy here. He is addressing those who aren't willing to give everything, who won't follow Him all the way. He is saying that lukewarm, halfhearted following is useless, that is sickens the souls. He is saying that this kind of salt is not even fit "for the manure pile".

When salt is salty, it helps manure become good fertilizer...but lukewarm and uncommitted faith is completely useless. It can't even benefit manure.

Wow! Lukewarm faith is useless, isn't it? I pray I am not lukewarm but I am concerned there are lukewarm areas in my life...and really if part of the life is lukewarm, isn't all of it? You can't have a hot and a lukewarm vessel at the same time.

All this and I am only beginning Chapter is good read. The kind that makes you get your Bible and savor the Scriptures, chew on them, process them, fall in love with them all over again...I guess hence the title...Crazy Love.

It feels good to be really stretched to be challenged to be accountable for your choices. Change is good. It is exciting to step back out of the boat...

A huge word of praise and thankfulness to the Lord for my friend Shaley! Girl, you are one radical woman when it comes to Jesus! I thank God for sharing you with me. You sharpen me ;)