At it again

I popped on over to Ann Voskamp’s blog again this morning for the first time in a while. Because it is a new month today, she has posted her September Gifts calendar.
Might as well dive in here and there and keep my gratitude meter appropriately running.

The fun thing about this morning’s dare is that I am sitting on my SIL’s front porch with the husband and I asked him to chime in.

3 Gifts Summer
The husband’s response:
1. Sitting on the back veranda in Africa watching the SPECTACULAR sunrise.
2. African babies
3. Reunion with family

My response:
1. Ditto the husband’s #1 but adding the part about it being so cool during the sunrise that we would cuddle up under a blanket with a coffee cup in hand. I LOVE cool mornings.
2. Break from my teaching career
3. Summer Camp! We help run Camp Life in Zambia, Africa for 7 weeks then my children are PRIVILEGED to just be kids at Sky Ranch in Van, Texas. This was Pumpkin’s 7th year. I know there are numerous camps similar to Sky Ranch (I actually worked at a few during my college years) but I am thankful we have ended up part of the Sky Ranch family. We have been pleased. Little Miss told me yesterday, “Too bad you don’t get to go to camp.” I am thankful the children are comfortable and safe there. This year Pumpkin was part Quest, the leadership camp. She came home very encouraged and determined to follow Christ. Well done Sky Ranch staff. Well done!

First day of school! (they hope)

Three kids

Little Miss

Little Miss (not so little any more)

Pumpkin

Pumpkin (gorgeous?!)

 

The Lad

The Lad (soon to be known as The Man)

 

Pics from the first day!  These three wonderful kids started school on Monday (along with most of the rest of Texas) and although they were not thrilled about returning, they have had good attitudes (and so has Mom), and the first week went very smoothly.  Although they may be wishing for summer to stay, they are off to another great school year at Sunnyvale Middle School and Sunnyvale High School.   No matter how they may feel about their summer coming to an end, they do understand how BLESSED they are to even BE in school – when so many children around the world can only dream of going.  This is definitely the case in Zambia where school is not a requirement but a privilege – for those who can afford it.  Sadly, many cannot . . .

Gloria Gloria with Pumpkin

Children like Gloria, a 9-year-old girl from Pumpkin’s group at Camp LIFE who lives with her aunt, uncle, and cousins.  They are mean to her, she says, and she wishes she could join her other siblings in the countryside where they live.  However, an education would be nearly impossible if she moved back with them . . .

Memory Memory with Little Miss

Or Memory, a 7-year-old girl from Little Miss’ camp group who lives with her mom in a one-roomed house.  Memory’s father passed away, and her mother depends on support from others in order to survive.  School is beyond their means.  Although Memory is sometimes beaten by her mother, what really pains her is the fact that she is not in school . . .

You can make sure that Gloria or Memory or another child like them is able to go to school next year by sponsoring one for $44 per month (with a $95 enrollment fee).  Click here to see a list of our kids and the children who need sponsorship.  Sponsorship provides education, discipleship, and a hot meal each day.  It is literally life-changing for children whose future is bleak.

To learn more about the Father’s Heart Sponsorship Program of Family Legacy Missions, click here.  Or send an email to andrew@familylegacy.com for more information.  Thank you for considering sponsoring one of these beautiful children!

 

 

Adjustments

We have been back on this side of the world for almost a month now. My daily thoughts and activities have naturally had to drastically shift – which makes Africa seem like years ago. Then there is that longing in my heart to hold my baby Mary, sing “Five Little Ducks” with the 12 girls in Della’s house, and witness the spectacular sunrise from our veranda. Seems like yesterday.

Oh how time plays tricks with my head! And my heart.

Typically as we transition back to the western world, dread and ungratefulness accompanies me. This year has been no different. What has been different is the choice. I always have the choice to happily bloom where I am planted. Although it seems like I am often unrooted and replanted, I still have a choice to thrive and contribute to making my world a more beautiful place.

My struggle once I hit American soil?
Answering the question, “Now what?” The obvious is to enjoy the wee bit of summer remaining with the kiddos and get ready for the new school year. For me, that means attending trainings, working in my classroom, and catching up with friends and family.
School has started and the rush of preparing all things new is slowly decreasing. A routine is settling again and we are back to our busy schedules. “Now what?” is more interesting than ever this year. The husband and I are contemplating and even pursuing a new adventure. We are still seeking peace and guidance but for now we are being obedient.
Curious?
Me too.
Can’t wait to see what God has in store for us.

Next question is, “Why?” I have a young student this year who asks this 1,001 times a day. Seriously. I laugh about it, judging that she is inquisitive. The mother shakes her head begging me to fix it. The truth is I, too, ask why. Maybe it is not in a sweet preschooler tone, but nonetheless I look up to the heavens and ask my Lord, “WHY?”
Why do I invest so much in a third world country then get yanked out of there quicker than a bolt of lightning?
Why do I put forth so much effort into my job and this crazy American life and then also see that come to a screeching halt every year?
Why am I privileged to be born an American?
Why do I fall in love with a 20-month-old African child and then am forced to say goodbye? Why did she wake up the morning following my farewell session and not see her “Auntie Cynthia?”

So….
We are adjusting to being back in our American life. We are adjusting to being obedient to where the Lord places us. We are adjusting to changes in our lives (two kiddos in high school is quite a change). We are adjusting to shifting our hearts to contentment. Well, I am the main one who struggles with that. :)

I am grateful that while, as a human, I have to make adjustments to the changes around me, I have a Lord who doesn’t change and guides me to follow HIM. And WHY do I fight the initial adjustment to follow and ultimately TRUST HIM!?!?!

Obviously, I am still adjusting…..

Extra Fun in Zambia

 Pottery!  We joined some of our other Family Legacy Families during break week at a local pottery place.  The girls loved it.  

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Slumber party with our friend, Indiana. 

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Fourth of July Party in Africa!  

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This is our car for the summer.  We affectionately refer to it as THE BEAST.  We are so very very very grateful for the wheels for the summer!

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This is Andrew supposedly “enjoying” the community but of course I caught him working on the bus.  My precious, dedicated man!!!

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Happiness from the day…

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Just a few things…

On this side of the world:  

1.  Our countdown to leave this beautiful country is dwindling, much to our dismay.  We will be back in the states in about two weeks.  

2.  I am embracing and cherishing the very cool evenings and mornings here.  Makes drinking coffee taste even better! 

3.  I find myself admiring my husband more and more while I witness him in action here in Africa.  He is AMAZING.  He works long hours and so very selflessly.  I have found myself struggling to accept lack of recognition for all he does but it doesn’t phase him AT ALL!!! I admire him even more because of it.  So pure and blameless!  I am his biggest fan! I wish I was more like him.  

4.  The Lord has put several young ladies in our home with us this summer.  I am so very blessed by their friendships.  

5.  Our son is happy this summer.  He was anticipating a dreadful summer.  

6.  Our second born has lived with her buddy, Kaleigh, all summer.  We see her quite a bit b/c their villa is nearby but I still miss being a family 24/7. 

7. I have a duo that cleans my house three times a week.  I lovingly call these two young women Mary Poppins.  They are precious and smile the ENTIRE time they are cleaning.  

8.  Little Miss is doing camp this week.  Unfortunately, she has been feeling a bit puny this week.  

9.  I have been able to sneak down to the village and see our little Mary a few times.  What a joy to witness her simply being a toddler!  I stand in AWE everyday what the Lord has built to “hold” and “cherish” these precious babes.  

10.  Have I mentioned how proud I am of my husband’s commitment to his calling to serve these orphans?  He is sooooo selfless AND just flat out GOOD at what he does.  

On the other side of the world: 

1.  My mom had her second knee replaced yesterday. Her decision to get it replaced was made after I arrived here.  She was planning on going to the doctor in June and scheduling a surgery for the fall but a surprise date popped up on the doctor’s schedule and she jumped at it.  I am so very proud of her for going through with it.  Of course it pained me to not be there but I know she has a army of folks loving on her.  

2.  I started thinking about going back to work.  My breathing about stopped.  I guess it is hard to think about shifting my thoughts and duties while I am here.  I need to pop the question, “how many children are on my roll now?”  I am a big fat chicken. 

3.  We have a sweet family house sitting our house while we are away.  I wish we could allow them stay longer.  They are putting up with our insane dog!!!  

 

There is more needing to be shared and pictures to post but the evening is ending and I must wrap things up on the computer.  

 

From the other side….

Once again, we are on the other side of the world.  The children and I joined Dad here in Zambia exactly two weeks ago from today.  Internet access is very limited so add that excuse to my many other excuses for not blogging….

A few things to note while I am on the internet for a few precious moments…

1.  Today is my 43rd birthday.  43?  I don’t feel that old.  I am so thankful for the full life I have been given thus far.  Yesterday as I was thinking about being one year older, I was thanking God that both of my parents are still alive and a very active part of my life.  True, they gave me life but they also gave me a life full of serving and loving the Lord.  I am grateful for so many things that they gave me such as education, encouragement, Christ-centered home, and even a stinky brother!!!

2.  Although the lack of internet is a huge source of frustration, I must admit that it is nice not to have it at my fingertips at all times.

3.  Due to the lack of electronics (how my son refers to the T.V., computer, phone, etc), my children are experiencing new things.  They are playing!  I love it!

4.  Winter has arrived in Zambia.  It was rather cool yesterday and very very windy.  I walked from the big kitchen (where I cook) back to my villa yesterday morning and had a mouth full of dirt.  It was disgusting!!!

5.  I have an actual kitchen staff this year that does the HUGE majority of the work. It is lovely but I am still figuring out how I fit into the picture.  Managing is what I mainly do along with some baking.

6.  Getting to know my staff and learning about the Zambian culture is one of my favorite aspects of living here during the summers.

7.  Little Miss somehow ended up with the microphone on Wednesday afternoon after the children left camp.  She sang a song in the native tongue in front of all of the Zambian staff and American volunteers.   I missed it but heard reports that she was AMAZING!  Even the Zambians were impressed.

8.  I also heard reports that my girls have been doing basketball drills with some of the Zambian boys.  The girls are suppose to be working out everyday but have not made it a certain routine yet.  We have been in limbo a bit but I am hopeful they are on a roll now.

9.  I am thankful that I have full access to a car this year.  We have lovingly named it “The Beast” but are so happy to have it.  The husband has also been given a four wheeler.  I love glancing out of my kitchen window and seeing him take off on the dirt road with dust trailing him.

10.  The new construction going on up here on the ministry’s property is AMAZING and beautiful!!!  The views are amazing, esp from our back porch.

11.  We are starting week 4 of Camp Life.  So many PRECIOUS children are being ministered to.  I can’t wait to hear that ALL of the children that attend camp this summer will become sponsored!!!

12.  I have laundry at my house this year!!!  Oh happy day!!!

13.  I have had internet for over thirty minutes now.  Happy Birthday to me!!!

14.  We are preparing to attend church with the children that live at our Tree of Life Village.  Always fun!!!

15.  I have a grand oven up in the kitchen that can bake SEVEN trays of cookies.  My life is forever changed!!!  In years past, it took me 5-6 hours to prepare cookies for all of the Americans on Saturdays.  Now I am done in less than 1 1/2 hours!!!  Baking my rolls, cornbread, and brownies is a breeze as well.  Having a staff clean up after me is divine as well!

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Thank you for your support via prayers while we are here in Zambia.  We are also thankful for your support year round!  My husband LOVES being a part of this ministry full time and the children and I love jumping in every summer.  So blessed!!!  If you would like to know more about the ministry and how you can sponsor children for $44 a month OR support us (paying my husband’s salary so more funds can go to the children), please visit http://www.familylegacy.com.

Happy Sunday from this side of the world!!!

 

a little snooze

I curled up in bed along with Little Miss, the two dogs, and the husband and snoozed this afternoon.  I snoozed in the middle of the day!!!  That never ever happens!!!

I snoozed!

Granted, it was for five minutes but a snooze is a snooze.

The snooze was brief but the cuddling lasted a while.

Happiness.

Now the house is clean and ready for Community Group and I am now sitting down to do some schoolwork.  Well, evidence shows that I visited bloggyland instead.

Last night I started thinking through our final 10 weeks of the school year.

I stopped breathing.

Well, maybe not completely but I am pretty certain you could have called it hyperventilation.

Oh Mylanta!  As guilt was trying to open the flood gates as I snuggled in bed today, I took  a deep breath and announced, “this is just the kind of day we need before the crazy storm of busyness arrives.”

The husband and I started making a plan of how to get through these next few months.  Well, not just to make it through but to actually thrive.

Restful Sunday afternoons are certainly a good place to start!

 

 

 

 

 

Taking a Break

We are taking a break from our daily routines, being home, and attending school.

The first part of Spring Break was extremely low-key with the exception of the three hour wait at the Passport office with all three kiddos.  I had no choice to take them.  We were there b/c it has been five years since we originally applied for their passports.  FIVE YEARS!!!  I am so in shock.  I am also in shock over the pages and pages filled with stamps from various countries our children have traveled.   I assumed that the state department would keep the old passports but I was informed that they would mail the new AND old passports to our home.  Yay!  I am tickled that our children will have a record of where they have visited.

Now we are spending a long weekend in Amarillo hanging with Aunt EJ and Uncle Lynn.  We are catching up on reading, iphone games, playing games, and spending time with our sweet loved ones.  The indoor pool is entertaining as well!

For our Knightly family, Spring Break marks the starting line for a rather long marathon of spring/summer events.  April and May are busy, busy times for families with school-aged children.  Our fam adds preparing for the summer in a foreign country so you can easily witness bedlam.

Both girls are on tournament leagues for basketball, occupying most of our weekends.  I am making a very quick trip to Zambia the end of April to set up the commercial kitchen I will be using during the summer.  I will be meeting with the manager of our new lodge and unloading my food and kitchen items from the containers.  Shortly after I return, the husband will head out for his 13 weeks abroad.  The children and I will join him about 2 1/2 weeks later.  Ending the school year for meas a teacher  involves many things. For our family, May will be filled with concerts, parties, projects, etc, etc.  While these are all very exciting events, we find ourselves easily exhausted, knowing that when that final school bell rings in June, we don’t get a break but are forced to find more momentum to complete the jobs set before us in Zambia. Weariness is a constant battle!

So….we are enjoying a pause in the dailies before the storms come.  We are very expectant of what the Lord is doing this spring and summer.  What an honor to be a part of it.

Practice

Little Miss amazes me in a variety of ways.  She is athletic, smart, musical, and just FUN!  She rarely lacks energy and is typically willing to accept adventure.  Today we were watching a recording of “The Amazing Race.”  I could read her emotions as she watched the teams compete in daring water adventures.  I asked her, “Would you like to do all of that?”

Her answer was an enthusiastic, “YES!”

I believe her.

I definitely believe her.

Along with her longing for adventure comes a desire for instant gratification.

With a desire for instant gratification comes a lack of patience.

She comes by all of this rather honestly.

Yep, like her momma!

I have tried my hand at numerous endeavors.  Due to the whole practice and commitment thing, I didn’t exactly excel in many areas.

Little Miss has attempted several things and unlike her momma, she has succeeded.

I am a proud momma.

There are, however, times when she does indeed need to push hard and practice, practice, practice!

This mainly applies to playing the piano.

She is not a big fan.  She is a big fan of playing the piano when it is easy.

We were discussing how she easily gets distracted by new pieces and wants to play ones she has perfected.

She told me that “practice does not make perfect.” She said her coach told her that “perfect practice makes perfect.”

I interjected and shared a quote I recently heard:  “Practice makes progress.”

And that my friends, is what we want.  That is what we want in all areas of our lives.

May Little Miss AND my other children remember that fact and work hard for progress.  Little by little.

May I remember that too!  I so often want to do something PERFECT, not focusing on the process of becoming who I am created to be.  And although we are called to be “perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), we also know that the pursuit of perfection is a journey – and a struggle.  The apostle Paul described it as “straining toward what is ahead” (Philippians 3:13).  Straining is painful, but it is worth the effort.  “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)

So here’s to piano practice, the pursuit of perfection – and the joy of progress.

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