Steam Threshers!

 Apparently, there is one big thing (aside from Der Dutchman) that you should not miss when living in this special country town….the annual Steam Threshers parade! We have never had the privilege of going before now but decided to have a Plain City experience this year:)

The boys went early with Papa to stake out a spot. This is the highlight of the year for these country folks, with people coming from all over to participate and watch! Eliana and I came with Mugga a bit later and surprised them by bringing Winston along:)
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Someone’s hoping for candy!

It started drizzling a bit while we were waiting so I found a few umbrellas in my Grandma’s car for us all to use!

Waiting for the first tractors to round the corner…

And here they are! It started off with a very old, antique tractor. I am not well-versed in tractor language nor do I know farmer’s etiquette. All I know is….this was really really old!

Lots of tractors from the early 1900s..

And some people dressed up as an old-time baseball team.

This guy turned out to be the highlight of the parade for us because…

He was pulling a basset hound in his trailer! He got a huge kick out of seeing Winston and all of our hearts melted with his Basset and Winston met eyes. Seriously, love at first sight! They started barking at each other and then the girl in the trailer rested her head on the side of the wagon and stared mournfully at Winston all the way down the street. So cute!

I was requested to take pictures of some of the more unique vehicles in a very long, unending line of tractors!

This one was a monster! We couldn’t get over how big it was!

There were a few floats thrown in, such as Miss Strawberry Festival or something like that. Eliana like this, of course:)

You should not be surprised in a town like this to see a truck/tractor combo!

One of our friends was pulling this cute ensemble with kids in it! The parade was over an hour long. Never seen so many tractors in my life!

The kids had a really great time (and Winston, too!) and then we headed back to my grandparent’s where I had Stromboli ready to pop into the oven. A good way to end a (country) fun night!

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A New Zoo!

 We were gifted with a Columbus Zoo pass and we’ve already gone twice! It’s a really big zoo and even after two trips, we haven’t seen it all!

On the first trip, we went with Ben’s mom (a.k.a. Grandma!), and the boys’ cousins on his side of the family. Even though it was pretty hot out, they had a really great time together!

Last week I decided to get out of the house and took the kids to the zoo myself. It was a gorgeous day, 76 and sunny and the zoo was SO crowded but still fun! We got to check out the new Africa exhibit, which was cool. Like looking out onto the Savannah.

Lions!

My favorite!

My cuties!

They climbed inside an old WWII airplane and stood in line to “fly” it. The boys took such good care of Eliana!

I see a cutie in the window!

 Cheese!

We saw Cheetas…

And found more giraffes! There were 9 giraffes in all. Wow!

This one was trying so hard to reach some plants..

His buddy came over to help..

You could almost reach out and pet them!

There were 4 bald eages

And 2 elephants! We haven’t seen elephants in a long time because our zoo at home lost their elephants a few years ago.

Zakkai’s favorite were the tigers! This one came up eye to eye with this man.

The animals were wide awake because it was so nice out.

This is probably my favorite picture!

We had a really good time together and are planning on going back soon while we can!

Next up….the Steam Threshers Parade!

Beauty In The Midst.

“Do you trust Me?” Is the question God asked me this morning. And I am ashamed to say that my answer is, “Yes. No. Sometimes?” I know He can do amazing things, I just struggle to believe that He will anymore…because He hasn’t for awhile. Make sense?

I realized on Sunday that for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been mad. Mad at God. Sometimes I think we don’t even know that we are. We’re mad at the situation. We’re mad at people around us for not understanding enough or trying to understand too much or just for being near enough to get burned by our emotions. We’re mad at what was and what isn’t and what we didn’t get. We’re mad because there’s nothing, nothing we can do to change it!

But on Sunday morning, as we drove to church, Ben was sharing something he had been reading and he said something about people being angry with God when things are out of their control and it was like an arrow flew through the dewy morning and pierced my crusted heart. Mad…

And so, the ice that had been ever so slowly been encasing my wounded heart, cracked a little. And then with the first words of the sermon that morning, “I lift my eyes up to the mountains. Where does my help come from?” the tears began to fall from my eyes. The ice began to melt.

We’re climbing up a steep mountain right now. And our eyes are fixed on the supposed “prize” at the top but we’re missing out on what is around us as we struggle to find the next hold for our hands, the next rocky indent for our feet. We miss the tiny yellow flower blooming in the middle of lifeless rock. The gentle sound of flowing water down the mountain creek. The pretty bird singing it’s happy tune in the nearby tree. And we say, “Where ARE You, God?!” all the while missing the small glimpses He gives of Himself to sustain us.

“My help comes from the Lord. Maker of heaven and earth.” Cannot He who made the heavens, which we cannot even fathom, and the earth with it’s vibrant colors and abundant life, help us?

“He will not let your foot slip. He who watches over you will not slumber.” My heart has believed that My Father has been slumbering and has forgotten us. Slumbering while we cry out for mercy and just a small taste of His goodness.

He spoke to me that morning, wiped my tears that fell without restraint down my cheeks, and said, “Wait on Me. Hope in Me. I am not slumbering while You call upon My name. I hear You. I see You. I love you.”

My tears fell at His feet and He wiped them with the hem of His robes. He lifted some of the burden from my shoulders and gave me some of His strength to keep hoping and trusting. And while we’re waiting, we can keep loving those around us and looking for ways to Honor Him and bless Him. I pray my words of complaint will turn to words of blessing and hope. That my tears of sadness and frustration will turn to tears of hope and joy. And that our story will be one of hoping in the midst of pain and beauty that comes from ashes.

Eliana in Stitches.

 What would our life be like without a little added excitement?! We actually had a very good day today, with some personal encouragement I will share another day. We got back in the afternoon after grocery shopping and 10 minutes later, just after putting away the last of the groceries, I heard a really loud “THUNK” and came around the corner to see that Eliana had fallen off a chair and hit the corner of the tv table.

From her reaction, both my grandma and I knew that she really hurt something. I picked her up and started the mommy process of checking out her body and trying to figure out where she was hurt when I saw blood all over my hands. I checked her mouth immediately but quickly realized it was her head when she kept reaching up to grab it. There was blood dripping all over the place so I rushed her to the bathroom and called Ben up to get some ice. We determined pretty quickly that she needed to go get some stitches so off we went.

I called my mom on the way and she offered to come with us which was such a big help, as we had trouble finding the place! There was a children’s hospital ER/urgent care attached to the main hospital nearby and that’s where we went. Aside from Eliana being hurt, it was a great experience. Every single person we came in contact with was SO nice and helpful!

The cut is on the back left side of her head so they had to wrap it all around to keep the cotton with numbing gel on her head for a little while. She looks like a war victim! She was so so good while we were there.

Waiting for stitches…

She laid perfectly still on the bed while the lady put 3 stitches in her head. Thankfully they didn’t have to shave her hair! My mom read a book with her to distract her. Then they gave her a popsicle because she was an angel!

We came back and I gave her a quick bath right away to wash all the blood out of her hair and she snuggled with my mom and her cousin while we got dinner ready. She did great until right when I tucked her into bed and she reached up and felt the stitches and kind of freaked out. It was like she hadn’t even realized she had gotten them until that moment. I had to calm her down and explain why the stitches were there and that she wasn’t to touch them! She was so worn out from everything and as I was leaving the room she said, “Thank you for taking me to the hospital, Mommy. That was very nice of you.”

She’s a sweetie! Just wish she wasn’t all stitched up!

Birthdays and Waiting!

I am so out of my routine that blogging has fallen by the wayside! I have been meaning to blog all week but am staying up waaaay too late, now that we’re social every day:)

My cousin and her family have been in town this week from TX, which has been SO fun. We haven’t gotten to spend good time together in the past few years and this week I have gotten to meet and fall in love with her sweet miracle baby!

It will be lonely when they leave tomorrow:(

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Nothing much has changed with our situation, which has been incredibly frustrating. We are praying hard for some answers and a door to open for us. My grandparents have to submit a letter to the board of their community to ask if we an stay here a little longer, which is really hard. The meeting is next Thursday so I am praying that we will have an answer by then. Will you pray with me??

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We celebrated some birthdays this week! I feel terribly guilty that I didn’t give my boy his birthday blog post! I will have to post some pictures tomorrow. Our sweet Samuel turned 9 years old on Sunday! We didn’t have a big party or anything but I told him next year will be a good year for that. (10 IS a big birthday, after all!) I made some waffles with strawberries and whipped cream for breakfast, we tried out a new church in the morning and after a rest in the afternoon, we met some family for ice cream at one of the best places in Columbus; Graeter’s. Yum! Samuel got every thing he wanted for his birthday! He got a pogo stick, soccer cleats and a canvas and some paints. He was a happy boy!

And then 2 days later, I got older (yea)! The boys woke me up early, making lots of noise. I stumbled out of the room to scold them, only to find that they had colored a homemade sign and hung it up on the wall for me. A big banner spelling out, “Happy B-day Mommy!” Well, who could be grumpy after that??

Samuel painted me a picture on one of his new canvases and Zakkai colored the wrapping paper:) They were so sweet to me all day, just wanting to make sure I had a really good day and felt loved. I had to spend the morning getting a new driver’s license since mine was expiring. Doesn’t everyone want to spend their birthday at the BMV? 🙂

But it turned out well with a pizza dinner with family and a homemade ice cream cake from my beloved husband! We don’t usually get to celebrate birthdays with family around so it’s a really nice change!

Hopefully I will have some good updates soon….praying and hoping!

Happy 4th of July!

 It has been a harder week for us this week so we were thankful to have a day yesterday to lay some things aside and focus on having a little fun!

We found a free soccer camp nearby for the boys on Wednesday nights which has been fun! Ben’s mom got the boys some soccer socks and they picked the brightest colors they could find!

Eliana got a new Dora helmet for working hard to stay dry at night last month and she wants to wear it around like a regular hat:) We played on the playground while the boys were playing soccer.

If you look in the background, the boys were doing warm-up exercises. Samuel is in the gray shirt at the top of the stroller and Z is in red.

Samuel’s done and Zakkai is taking off! They are easy to spot in their bright socks:)

About a half an hour in, the rain just started pouring sideways and every body made a run for their cars! The only problem for us was that Ben had dropped us off to go run a quick errand and we were stuck! We walked up the long gravel driveway and found shelter under a covered bridge. At least 4 people stopped to offer us rides:) They are very friendly out here!

Yesterday we didn’t feel like driving far and fighting crowds for a big parade so we decided to stay local. My handsome boys;)

Ellie May and her Daddy:) We found a great spot in the shade and only waited about 20 minutes for the parade to start. We didn’t have high expectations for such a small town parade and that was good, as it turns out!

Being silly with her hat! The boys asked if they should bring bags for candy and we said no, thinking that there wouldn’t be much, if any, and boy were we wrong! For such a small parade, they sure made up for it with candy!

What would a parade in the country be without a tractor or three?

Less than 20 minutes later, the parade was over, ha! It was short and sweet. The best part was that we were back at “home” within 10 minutes.

We had a big family picnic and then some of us put on some sweatshirts and headed over behind the local fire station to watch fireworks. Normally, the fireworks in this little town aren’t anything to hoot and holler about but they were getting double the fireworks this year, thanks to the contest the neighbor of my mom won! Remember being on the news and all that?

We had sparklers for entertainment while waiting…

Z mesmerized by the sparkler…

Samuel!

My mom and stepdad, who were barely off the plane from a vacation in CO! Love this picture:)

My cousin and her husband and adorable little boy are in town from TX and it has been so fun to see them! They gave their little one a late nap so he could enjoy his first fireworks:)

Getting darker!

Obviously, the pictures of fireworks did not turn out at all but the show was really great!! We were so impressed and had a perfect view! It was the first live fireworks that our kids have ever been to and they all loved it. A great way to end the day.

Now we have another special day tomorrow….stay tuned!

The Ugly Place of Discouragement.

Today we are feeling really discouraged, hence my ugly post. We have spent the last two days actively looking for a place to live and we have discovered two things about Ohio that we didn’t know. a) places to live are way overpriced, often comparable to Chicago or even MORE unless they are rundown and creepy and then the price is amazing and b) you are expected to make 3 times the rent amount in income to qualify.

What in the world are we doing here? How are we in this place where nothing makes sense? Why did we think it was a good idea to pack up our life and every earthly possession and uproot our kids to move a few states away? We are in this bizarre waiting/hanging on period where God doesn’t make sense. Why is it so easy for some people and we have to live like nomads with no home and no great income and no prospects for some amazing job that will get us a place to live in the first place? What is God trying to teach us???

I am just feeling so very frustrated. We only have 2 more weeks of approved time to spend at my grandparents before they have to request special permission for us to stay on longer. And who wants to have a family of 5 staying with them for a month anyways? Seriously.

We felt like God was asking us to let it all go and walk away for awhile. It’s too crazy that every single job didn’t pan out this year and every single door was slammed shut in our faces. He has demanded everything from us. We have nothing left to depend on. Nothing left to make our god in His place. Where is He right now?

We are looking down and there is no trampoline to break our fall. No miracles to pull out of our hat. No long-lost rich great-uncle to pass away and leave us a million dollars in his will. No rent-free home waiting empty for our family and my piano that is even now getting damaged in the storage unit that leaks from the rain.

We are waking up each morning choosing to trust that He has not left us and that He will provide for our family. But that’s not easy some days! We are in a place of choosing to be thankful that we can have food to eat today and that we do have a roof over our heads for another 2 weeks and that we are all healthy and together. I know that in these uncertain trials in our lives we have a choice: We can walk away from God, choosing to believe He has abandoned us and doesn’t care about our hurts and needs or we can choose to trust He loves us and that His plan is ultimately better for us, even if it doesn’t make much sense in the right now.

We would definitely appreciate prayers, that we can keep our eyes fixed on what is truly important: becoming more like Jesus and trusting that all the other things will be given to us in time. How can these trials do anything but strengthen us and make us more dependent on Him?