Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Rings in Spring

"Sweet springtime is my time is your time
is our time for springtime is love time and viva sweet love. "

-- e.e. cummings

The Rings love Spring, especially when we get to be outside running in our front yard, enjoying the sweet breezes, and the beautiful new flowers in bloom. The boys get lost in the yard. Can you spy them?

While they run around, I go in search of new flowers in bloom.

And Patrick works the land. Okay, so he's laying down new sod,
but "works the land" sounds so much more rugged and manly.

And true to being all boy, Caelan finds ants to crush
while Patrick works the land. I just like saying that.

I'm enjoying watching them play as
I blog this from my office.

The windows are open and I can hear
them and smell the spring air.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Losing Touch with the Poor

This past weekend, we had the privilege of hosting an event at our home to raise awareness for the building of an orphanage and medical center in Eburru, Kenya to benefit David's Hope International. The husband and wife team behind the mission is Pastor Steve and Mary Njenga, who we got to host in our home for four days. I didn't know what God had in store for us when we agreed to host them, but it was more than I could have asked for or imagined.

When they first saw our townhouse, Pastor Steve asked, "How many families live here?" When I said just one, he then asked incredulously, "Really, how many kids do you have?" Oooh. When we offered them eggs for breakfast, they promptly declined and said, "We only have two meals in Kenya. If it's going to be a big meal, than it will be dinner so that we may sleep all night." Gulp. So then we gave them bread served on separate plates, and they asked for the family to share one plate. We said that we had plenty of plates and they replied, "Yes, but we don't want you to use too much water to clean them." And that was only the beginning.

I had received a fresh perspective from God, and had to ask myself, have I been living so long in the lap of luxury that I have forgotten the poor, the oppressed and the needy? Are my problems even big at all in comparison to not having basic needs? I looked around and saw from their eyes, all that I have and more: A stocked pantry which, if we never went to the grocery store for weeks, we would be okay. My children's abundant toy room. My walk-in closet with shelves of shoes and accessories. My multiple TV's, cars, phones, computers. What have I taken for granted? How can I have all this and not be flat on my face thanking the Living God every day?

Micah made a special connection with their 6-year-old son, Lucas. After seeing all our toys, he asked his mom, "Why do they have so much?" And Mary, unfortunately, couldn't give an answer. I would struggle too, if I were that poor, to see so much excess while others can barely feed their children? We gave Lucas a new tool set. Just one little box. His face upon receiving it was priceless. An enormous smile from ear to ear. He jumped up and down with pure joy and declared in Swahili, "I will show all my friends at home my new gift!" It cost me nothing to give the toy to him. It meant everything for him to have it.

We Westerners live on what is arguably the most lavish soil in the world. And we have some stuff, don't we? Nothing but boxes in our storage rooms labeled "stuff". The question is: Has this stuff corrupted us? Addicted us? Hardened us? I don't want to be guarded against a cold heart, I want a heart that burns with fiery passion for Christ and for a world He came to save. He had a heart for the poor and the needy. I want to take my place in the times to which I've been entrusted. Somehow automated checks to distant institutions and an annual love offering for Turkey Outreach just feels pale in comparison. I'm reminded it's not how much we've been given, it's what we do with all that we've been given that will count.

God is doing something fierce in my heart, and I am glad. I've seen the poor, I've been to the poorest of countries, but something about our little time together with the Njenga family has just broken my heart to the point that I am weepy over this people group. How can we serve? How can we pray? What can we do to be the body of Christ? There's a real trap happening in the U.S. when we stay stuck on our selves, and our own desires. We miss something incredible that God could be doing when we look outside ourselves. While this has been painful to watch, the pain perhaps is a great sign that I am thawing-- I am not cold anymore, and I don't want to be desensitized any longer. I thank God for having them here, and the small opportunity to provide them fellowship and a place to sleep, but most thankful for the impressions they've left upon my heart.

Here are some pictures from our time together:

Friends of Kenya having a Kenyan inspired dinner in our sun room. Pastor Steve later gave a talk over dessert.

My good friend Christy Germani, who was a missionary's daughter in Kenya, taught me a Kenyan Curry recipe. Rice, toppled with curry and loaded with the choice of peanuts, coconuts, pineapples, tomatoes, onions, mango. Some tandoori bread and light salad. It was a hit!

The Njenga Family: Mary, Steve, Kenneth and Lucas.

The three superheros ready to change the world.It's encouraging, isn't it? If they can do it, so can we.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter: A Multi-Celebration

What a fabulous weekend for the Rings. First celebration - Spring! The weather was in the 80's and the Cherry Blossoms were out. We headed to DC!

Uncle Sonny and Auntie Ivey
had Friday off, so they met us downtown.

Caelan couldn't stand how much fun it was.

Micah wanted to be as cool as his uncle.

It was fun taking pictures of trees,
but more fun taking pictures of cousins.
Patrick's cousin, Danielle, got caught in my camera.
It was so fun running into
Danielle, John and Baby Reagan.

Second celebration: Easter!

It is thee celebration of all celebrations. The Tomb is empty!
We worship a Risen Savior! Hallelujah.
Of course, we put on our Easter best.

And had a little fun at the grandparents
house with an Easter Egg Hunt.

Oh my gosh, tell me this kid isn't cute??

Best part of this Easter was Micah telling me the Easter story. "Mommy, He's alive! He died on the cross for you and me. And free (three) days later, He rose from the dead. And now He's alive!" He told me the whole story from beginning to end. Wow-- there's nothing more rewarding than a moment such as this.

Third Celebration: Grandpa's 70th Birthday!
Wow. Seventy!

Mom made dad's favorite roast beef, jello salad,
angel food cake with chocolate chips,
strawberry toppings and ice cream. Um. Yum.
And here's a catchy tune we sang to grandpa:

We pray your Easter was filled with great memories!
Micah and his friend, Liam, are still celebrating!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Happy Half Birthday Caelan!

My little baby is 18 months today. April Fools! No, really, he is. To celebrate, we have a one and a half, half birthday cake. I'm getting so sad thinking the second candle will be raised in six months. I'm just not going to go there....

Caelan doesn't get a lot of blog press because well...he doesn't say enough funnies like Micah. But that's all about to change. Here's some notable achievements at eighteen months:

First sign: "More". First word: "Momma". Second word: "Tank Du" (Thank you). First song: "Bob the Builder, YES-HE-CAN!" (Bod da bidder Dah-Dah-Dah!). He likes music, and dances immediately when he hears it. There's a song that asks him to clap, stomp, nod and then shout "God Loves Me!" Whenever that song comes on--wherever we are--we'll hear Caelan shouting, "God Dah Dah!" He doesn't miss a beat.

He's quite the ham.
Hmmh...not sure where he gets that from.

He also signs his favorite songs. This time he does it to Micah's rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Well, sort of --he signs a few verses, then gets bored and would rather climb--which is also another notable achievement. I hope this gives you a few chuckles:

His favorites are all things fuzzy: Stuffed animals, blankets, even my slippers. He gets so excited seeing birds and airplanes in the sky. He loves to read with his daddy about fish and all sorts of animals. And don't try to separate him from touch-n-feel animals that are also fuzzy. Insane combo.

He does this funny thing we call "The Face". He can do it on command, and usually does it when Micah requests it. He squints his eyes and lifts up his nose, and gives this ridiculous half-smile. It's pretty hilarious.

The two brothers have definitely bonded. And to think that I wanted a girl. I definitely thank God for unanswered prayers. These two have so much fun together. You'll hear in the house when they are separated: "Mimah? Mimah? Whee awwwe yuuuu?" Caelan is usually found sitting on top of Micah's face. A lot. If I hear giggles from another room, it means Caelan is yet again sitting on top of Micah.

He's also fiercely loyal to his brother. If Micah gets a Time Out, Caelan usually waits quietly facing the wall, next to him, and commiserates. This time of course, I get "The Face".

Whatever Micah does, he aspires to do as well.

He still has not given up his personal pacifier, yet.
I'm okay with that. He's still my cuddle bug baby.

Although it's half his birthday today, he's twice as much fun. It has been my GREATEST JOY being his mom. Today, at the park, I just found myself weepy at how little and amazing this kid is. He doesn't want help up the steps, but wants help down the slide. He screams in the park at his loudest, "MOMMMMMMA!", but then he silently signs "Help!" by rapidly patting two hands on his chest. When I come to the rescue, I am rewarded by a big smile and two amazing dimples. Adorable. I don't want to miss one moment of this!

Half birthdays are worth celebrating. You can also
calculate your half birthday. Enjoy!