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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Our Fun Friday

As you probably know, the Owens family has one car. Yesterday said car needed a day at the car spa for some new brakes and a general tune up. Which left me stranded at home all day with three babies. Yikes.

Here in the ATL it's 100 degrees out -- it's way too hot to play outside and our pool is not within walking distance. We don't watch TV. I am not crafty. And no other young children live on our street. Seriously, what's a momma to do for 8 hours?

Now, we're not the type to go out running around town all day long everyday. I like being at home and my children are great at entertaining themselves. But honestly, I like to get out of the house once a day even if it's just a quick trip to the school to pick vegetables from my daughter's garden plot. Just a little change of scenery keeps me sane and helps break up our days.

Although I have to admit that often one quick errand turns into three. And running into target for one $5 item has the tendency to turn into a $100 shopping trip. Somehow I always spend more time and money than I  intended.

So anyways, I started my Day At Home with a bad attitude and without very high hopes. But I must say we just had the best stinkin' day ever. We had tons of fun and it didn't cost me one red cent.

First we "painted" in the garage with pudding.

Then we used the hose and the water table to clean up.

Then we checked the mail and a package came and the kids played not with the package but with the box it arrived in. Seriously, they had way, way too much fun with this box. They turned it into a car, they put it over both their heads and played "two headed monster," they wrapped up their toys and gave one another pretend birthday presents. And so on. Makes me wonder why I ever actually purchase toys for my children.

We read some library books, colored a few pictures, did some chores and cooked dinner together. And at the end of my dreaded day stuck at home, I decided we need to do it more often.
Monday, July 26, 2010

Bibles Delivered

In June, The Cupcake Kids had a special cupcake sale where they also asked folks to bring bibles that we could take with us to Uganda for the children. The pictures below are of the children receiving those very bibles. They were so excited to get them and in particular to know they came from children on the other side of the world - sharing with them something so special. 

We didn't have enough for each and every child to own their very own copy but that is not necessarily a bad thing in this case. One thing Nathalie has been working with them on is taking care of the things they receive, so it was an extra opportunity for her to reiterate this so that they could share this unique gift with each other. She also encouraged the older children to read to the younger ones.

We also placed an order with The Bible Society of Uganda while we were there for an additional 50 children's bibles in Luganda so that they could also have copies in their own language. They were out of stock when we visited, which we took as a very positive sign.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Straw Mat

Look what Dan brought back from Africa.

No, not the children. Just the beautiful purple and white hand-made mat. It was a gift to Dan from a Ugandan pastor and his wife who are currently caring for, feeding and loving 11 orphans in their own small home.

The pastor, Ernest, and his wife, Mama Kathryn, own a number of these mats and use them like picnic blankets for outdoor meals. But their mats are not in shiny, new, perfect condition like the one they gave us. Theirs mats are old, worn and ripped.

Does it seem odd to you that they would give away a beautiful, new mat in perfect condition (especially to "rich" westerners who could just go buy their own) while they and their children sit on the old, ripped, worn mats?

This most generous gift reminded me of something I recently read in Kefa Sampangi's book "A Distant Grief," about Uganda and Idi Amin's reign of terror. Here's an exerpt...

"The humble poor give from themselves, not from their surplus. They give from the abundance of their hearts.... They offer weathly guests their most prized possessions. They give to the city dweller in their midst their only plate. They slaughter their last goat for men who own factories and have fat salaries. And it is seldom an attempt to impress. It is only a sign of respect. It is to say 'we are humble people, but we will meet you at your level. We are humble people, but take this, it is all we have that conforms to your own high standard."

What does your giving look like? Dan and I have a long way to go but one day, we hope our giving looks more like this.
Sunday, July 18, 2010

New Clothes

Remember the outfits our children sent with me to Uganda? They have some happy new owners...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Loving Your Family

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters -- yes, even his own life --he cannot be my disciple."
– Luke 14:26
Now I'm no New Testament scholar but I’m pretty certain that Jesus does not teach things that contradict other parts of the Bible. So that makes me pretty sure that Luke 14:26 is not a call for us to really hate our families.

One of my favorite teaching pastors explains this difficult passage this way… the idea is that we should love Jesus so much and He should take such priority in our lives that compared to Him, our other relationships look like hate. The New Living Translation says it this way – “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison…” Basically, we are called to love Jesus way more than we love anyone or anything else, including ourselves.

So that said... Dan is back in Uganda. He's missing stuff around here:
Today, Madeline had a little “graduation” ceremony from a Backyard Bible Club she’s attended for the last few years. As a rising first grader, she’ll be too old to return as a camper next year so she graduated and will return next time as a junior counselor. The ceremony was nothing major but it was very sweet and she was oh so proud of herself. Dan loves supporting our children in that kind of thing and I know he would've loved to have been there.

Over the past few days, Baby Charlotte cut her first tooth, learned to drink from a sippy cup and has started "scooting" (which I guess is her precursor to crawling) around the floor. Again, it's not as if she's taking her first steps or anything but missing any baby "firsts" is a hard thing for a Daddy who adores his baby girl.

And tonight, I discovered that my 4 year old son did something dreadfully, horribly bad to the headboard of his very nice, rather expensive mahogany bunkbed. I only made this discovery moments ago and am still too horrified to disclose the details... But boy oh boy I could've used Daddy at that moment. It was late, I was horrified (did I mention that already?) so I put the boy to bed and told him we'd talk about it in the morning.

Anyways, as I was saying, Dan is missing stuff around here... he's missing us and we're missing him. But that's ok -- because Dan is called to love Jesus more than anyone, and that includes the kids and me.

We talk so much in our Christian circles about the fact that our families should be our first and most important ministry. Well who says you aren't ministering to your family by getting out on the mission field? By comparison to many others, Dan and I have sacrificed very little for his mission work -- but this is a start for our family. Making your family your "first ministry" doesn't mean always being around and available to make everyone happy all the time.

Jesus calls us to count the costs of following Him. He doesn't tell us it will be easy -- in fact He promises it will not be easy. The costs of serving Him are high, but so are the rewards. While he's away this week, Dan is teaching my children and me far more than he could ever teach us than if he'd chosen just to stay home, stay comfortable and do nothing about the children of Mukisa in Uganda.
Monday, July 12, 2010

Here We Go Again

What do a box of cliff bars, a bunch of hand sanitizer, 100% deet insect repellent and 3 cell phones have in common??

Answer: Tomorrow they're all going to Africa in my suitcase. (Yes, I take 3 different cell phones when I travel. Doesn't everyone?).

So I leave for Uganda tomorrow. The Sixty Feet team has been planning this trip for months but somehow it really snuck up on us. And last night's terrorist attacks and bombings in Kampala have certainly added an unexpected twist and some stress for the wives staying at home.

Our little family and our close friends have spent much time in prayer over this trip. Terrorist attacks or not, we know this is the week God has called our team to be in Uganda.
Our children are truly excited about my return trip to serve the children of Mukisa. As a family, we've spent hours praying over these children, looking at their pictures and viewing video footage from the last trip.

We are praising God for the opportunity to teach Madeline and Davis about global mission work at such a young age. Through Sixty Feet, God has made a way for our family to commit our whole hearts to a specific cause and then run after it like crazy. This is not a casual commitment to just raise money or to participate in a mission trip once a year or so. It's literally becoming part of who we are now because it is one of those works God prepared for us in advance (Eph 2:10).

Speaking of that, earlier in the week we challenged our children to think of something they could give for me to take to two children at Mukisa who have become very dear to our family. We thought Madeline and Davis might draw them a picture or dig through their closets and find some toy they don't want anymore. They both shocked us with their responses -- our 4 year old especially. Davis came to us bearing his most treasured possession, his shiny silver and blue Lighting McQueen outfit (my son would literally wear this thing every single day if we allowed him) and announced that he'd like Daddy to take it to Uganda. We talked it over with him... "are you sure? If Daddy takes it, it's really gone." He would not relent. And tonight, he packed it himself in my suitcase.

May we all be so generous and joyful in the giving of our worldly "treasures." As Jim Elliot said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Amen to that.

Davis is excited for another little boy to wear this outfit

Packing like a pro

The sign you are finished packing is when it's too heavy to lift.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Easy Life

Yesterday I read these words on one of my favorite blogs: "We can be sure that if life is too easy -- we might just be missing our calling because one thing we are promised is that following Him will never be easy."

Dan and I blogged a while back on a similar topic that you can check out (here) if you'd like. It's just so true. What is with our obsessive desire to make everything easy? It's not supposed to be easy. And I'm growing more and more convinced that the easy life is the unfulfilled life. The easy road is way overrated.
Monday, July 5, 2010

The Crazies & Sixty Feet

We rang in the 4th of July with some dear friends on Lake Oconee this weekend. (Pictures are below and they have absolutely nothing to do with this post, they're just fun).

At any rate, while we were out on the lake yesterday, our friend's 9-year old daughter asked about the name of our non-profit, Sixty Feet -- "where did that name come from and what does it mean?".  And it occured to me that others may have the same question. We've never really explained Sixty Feet on this blog or discussed how the Crazies (along with a few other friends) also became the Sixty Feet people. While you may have read about it already, we wanted to elaborate a bit more.

Over the last two years, Dan and I have seen the Lord move in very intentional ways in our lives. He's put teachers and sermons and friends and books in our path that all point to the same road. We basically realized that many parts of our lives were not surrendered to Christ. That much of what we were striving for in an attempt to be a "Christ centered family" had been influenced much more by the people and culture around us than by the Word of God.

One night in our den, Dan and I got down on our knees and we put everything we had on the table... our home, our cars, our investments, our private school tuition, our savings account -- all of it, and we asked the Lord to show us what He'd have us do with all these resources. We were sick of using everything at our disposal to indulge ourselves and we were finally ready to hand it all over for Kingdom purposes (which is why He gave it to us anyways...).

After that night, interesting and awesome things began happening. He started showing us needs around us and needs around our world. And then, "by chance", we learned of a horrible place in Uganda that confines hundreds of children who live in horrible conditions. We posted some information about Mukisa one night on our blog. A few readers stepped up and wanted to do something about it. A few more stepped up and wanted to give some money. We prayed and prayed and prayed some more. And then we knew this was it. Our call. And SixtyFeet was born.
Oh, and the name SixtyFeet... we can't take credit for that one. It came from one of the other Sixty Feet founders, Matthew, as he was researching companies that drill wells in Uganda. Here's the idea... in the country of Uganda there is no shortage of water - it is abundant and plentiful, but polluted. And many people are dying because they do not have access to clean water. We've learned that often less than 60 feet underground, they find crystal clear, clean water that could change their lives forever. And so in response...  Sixty Feet is the link between those in desperate need and the help, support and resources that already exist but are just out of reach. In short, here's the thing... God has already done His part. He has provided all our needs. Some people need help accessing those provisions and that's our part. Dan and I and the rest of the Sixty Feet team are praising Him that we even get to play a part in His plan. How awesome is that?
Thursday, July 1, 2010

Summer Fun

Let me just preface this post by saying that Dan and I are not interested in throwing our scraps, our left-over money, to the poor. What we are interested in is giving away as much as we can, living sacrificially in order to give and using our many blessings to bless others, not indulge ourselves. And when those things are your priority, every buck counts. The little things do add up. Every dollar you don't spend on yourself is a dollar you can spend on someone else -- someone who really needs it.

Here's an example of some cheap summer fun around the Owens house... We live about 1 mile from a Bruster's Ice cream stand. We frequent that place All The Time in the summer. But lately we've realized that it really is a bit expensive and yes, indulgent. A special summer trip or two is fine -- once a week, not so much.

Recently, I found a great recipe on this blog for super easy, super yummy homemade ice cream. It costs one banana ($0.19 at Trader Joe's) and a few drops of milk. I really am not a big fan of bananas and even I have to admit this stuff is fantastic.

Break a banana or two into smaller pieces and freeze. It'll look like this:

Stick it in your blender or food processor and blend with a bit of milk and eventually it looks like this:

I let my kids eat it for breakfast this morning and now they think I'm the coolest, funnest mom ever because I let them eat "ice cream" for breakfast. Don't tell them it's just a banana and milk.