Thursday, October 30, 2008

Posts are Better with Pictures!

Our trip has been great. We have been REALLY busy! Some of these pictures are from a week ago, so you might already know what we "did" but here's some evidence.
We have been driving a lot. I get to look over at this handsome sight...
We drove to Allentown, PA on Wed (22nd) to meet Aunt Heather. She and Uncle Paul live in NY. We miss being so close to them. They are expecting their first baby on Jenna & Asa's 3rd birthday. Our kiddos are excited to meet him/her.
Heather & I have been friends for a long time. We met in junior high through tap class! We got reacquainted in college as we served in ministry together. Heather signed my abstinence covenant on April 19, 1998 as my accountability partner. Seven years later she was with Joel & me on April 19th when our first daughter took her first breath. She's been such a great friend. We are secretly (well, not any more) hoping they will move to Texas, where Paul's from.
Aunt Heather read the kiddos books in between driving places.
Joel really misses the rolling hills. This isn't a great shot, but the colors are pretty and the land sure isn't flat!
After a long day of visiting and having fun, the kiddos all crashed in the car. I love that they are all leaning the same direction.
Wednesday night we returned to Harrisburg, enjoyed dinner with friends, and then went to youth group (where Joel served as youth pastor). In honor of his visit, Jason (our good friend and the new youth pastor) had the kids play dodge ball. Meanwhile, our three kids enjoyed gym time with other young kids.
Getting ready for dodge ball.
The youth seemed excited to have us back for a visit.
We had dinner at Pastor Ross & Mrs. Nancy's on Thursday. The kids had tons of fun playing with all Brad & Jon's old toys. And, Asa was having a blast being lovey.
Pastor Ross loves to play with kids.
He gave horsey rides.
And, when his back was tired, he moved them up to his shoulders!
We hosted a dessert Thank You reception for those who have partnered with us financially. We know it is a great sacrifice on their part and wanted to do something special. I made a TON of dessert and we've been munching on some of it all week!
Justin, Ben, Dani, and Melissa joined us.
Heather let me use her house to do all the cooking. Diane helped us get things set up and has been our hostess since we arrived--we're crashing with her family and using her van.
Dani was my photographer throughout the night.
We all enjoyed the food, but the fellowship was best as friends gathered around tables and spent time chatting.
Asa was being a ham!
Saturday we had breakfast with the Derrs and then headed to Whitaker Center with them so all our kids could play. Rylee and Tyler love each other!
It also gave Jason & Joel and Chrissy & I some time to talk.
The play area has a huge grocery center with all kinds of veggies and fruits and products. It has a scanner and carts. The kids love to play "store". Tyler was weighing a pepper here.
They also have a dress-up area where you can press buttons and here a story to "act out" on stage. Not sure what Asa was acting out here.
Tyler had on an interesting costume too.
A group was hosting experiments using markers, coffee filters and water. Jenna was being a little scientist here. Isn't she so cute?
There was also a HUGE water table. I think my boys enjoyed it most. Asa spent most of his time there and Joel was just as fascinated. He made a waterway where Asa could race boats.
Our cute little actors.
After playing, we had lunch and then watched the big marble maze.
Sunday morning we were at New Love to visit again. Rylee enjoyed Sunday school in GaGa Paula's class.
Rylee had a sleepover at GaGa's house on Sunday night. Monday we all took a trip to Chocolate World (in Hershey). The kids had fun on the tour with singing cows and in the chocolate factory packaging kisses.
GaGa and Daddy helped them get their kisses all closed up and put on the conveyor.
Tuesday we had a play date with the A team--Amanda, Adam and Anja. All the kids enjoyed dressing up.
That afternoon we went to a local mall to play.
The kids were playing together so well and really enjoyed a chance to climb, run, and slide.
Our trip has been lots of fun. We have stayed really busy. It has been great to see so many friends and supporters. For the past three nights we attended the East Shore Baptist Church mission fest. It was great to see the folks there and be encouraged by them. Many of them talked about getting our newsletters and enjoying them. It's great to know they are being read and the information is helpful to our prayer partners!
Today we're headed to northern PA to Joel's parents'. The kids are excited to see Grandma, Papa, and all their cousins. We will be sharing at Calvary in Elmira tonight and at Bentley Creek Wesleyan on Sunday. We'll also host a Thank You dessert on Saturday.
Thank you for praying for our trip. God has been sustaining us with His strength and energy. I know that on my own I would have been zapped a week ago! We covet your continued intercession on our behalf. And, we'll post some more pictures next week when we get back to Texas. (I won't have internet access until then.)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Good Blog

Sometimes, just sometimes, I get accused of spending too much time on the computer.

Often, I'm guilty.

I say I'm guilty only often because a little bit of what I must do involves the computer--finances (paying bills, our checkbook, accounts), keeping in touch with supporters (reading about them, emailing, and keeping our blog updated), looking up information, work related to GFA, etc. The rest of what I do is usually wasting time (though lots of fun and not necessarily bad).

I don't like how much time I spend on the computer, though. It's something I'm trying to get a handle on.

But, I also spend time reading blogs. Sometimes it isn't so good for me. As I've said before on here, sometimes I read blogs and then feel worse about myself because I compare my life to others. I get jealous or envious. Sometimes it's not good because I get proud. So, I have to be careful about what I read.

But, there is a blog I read that has really challenged me. There's a link over in my sidebar, but I figured I'd post about it too. I found the blog when I was looking for a discussion forum or something on Shepherding a Child's Heart, the parenting book we really like by Tedd Tripp.
Heather, the blog's author, writes in a very down-to-earth style and often addresses issues that are completely on target for stuff I'm dealing with in life. Most recently she posted a link to a video that she liked and it got lots of responses from people. She ended up writing lots more on the topic, which happens to be about women working and the role of women. I like Heather's approach to always go to the Word for truth. Here's a link to the post that sort of sums up a lot of it.

I'm not saying I always agree with everything she says. But, if you are looking for a blog that is fun to read (stylistically) and can really challenge you to grow in your walk with Christ (particularly you ladies out there), I encourage you to see what Heather has written.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

More of Our Trip to PA

I will upload more pictures soon--just not right now.

Our trip has been lots of fun. Thank you to ALL of you who are praying for us! The kids have handled the various sleeping arrangements very well (not always the same place or the normal time).

After being frustrated that the twins wouldn't go to sleep on Sunday afternoon, I let them get up and just play. I reminded myself that there was no need to stress about it and they would adjust. Sure enough, they both fell asleep about an hour later as we drove to meet friends for dinner. Thankfully the ride was long enough for them to get some much needed rest.

We have had great times visiting with friends. We have enjoyed almost every meal with a different family--catching up on the last year of their lives and sharing details about all God's doing in ours. It's really neat to explain the specifics of what God's been teaching us and realize just how much He's been at work!

We knew God was taking us to GFA and Carrollton to grow us, but we had no idea the areas or how He would do it. The best part is that it has been full of joy. We've had tougher times here and there, but I honestly can say it has been good. Maybe it hasn't seemed so unbearable because we wanted to be broken and grown. Maybe I can look back on this last year and say it was good because in light of eternity my momentary discomfort pales in comparison. Either way, it's been neat to realize all God's done and is doing.

We will worship with our church family at New Love in Christ tomorrow, eat lunch with whatever friends want to join us, and then participate in the East Shore Baptist Church Mission Fest starting tomorrow night (going through Wed night).

Please continue praying for us. We appreciate your partnership!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Update from Pennsylvania

These pictures aren't in order. They're actually in reverse order. But, I did manage to put the picture of us on the plane first. Here are the kids coloring in the seats. It was a short flight and they did very well. We even had a lady sitting by us tell us how well behaved our kids were. That's a blessing!

We went to visit Mrs. Helen on Tuesday. Joel grew up cutting her grass and helping her around her property. She moved to Lebanon earlier this year, which is close to Harrisburg. It was great to see her. Asa loved the turtle at her house!

Here's Joel with Mrs. Helen.

Our kids love Mrs. Denise and Mr. George.

Mrs. Denise played play dough with them!

GaGa Paula read them lots of books while we were at her house on Monday.

We went down to see the ducks. Pappy carried Jenna. How sweet!

Jenna was the only kiddo willing to pose to pictures.

Here's our welcoming crew at the Baltimore airport. Becca, Dani, Ben, and Jonah came to greet us (along with Diane, not pictured).

Our only mishap coming from Dallas to PA...the zipper on our suitcase broke causing the contents to spill out when Joel grabbed it off the conveyor! Oh well...the bag was well used and it only happened AFTER the flight!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Support Trip

Hopefully I'll get some photos uploaded soon. But, this text will have to do for now.

Our flight was smooth from Dallas to Baltimore. The drive from Baltimore to Harrisburg was full of laughter. My kids were enjoying the entertainment of the crew that picked us up! Well, except Asa, who slept for that car ride.

We enjoyed a simple and delicious dinner at our friend's home (where we're staying) prepared by several other good friends. It was great to see some special people right when we got here. It took the kids a little bit to warm up. It probably didn't help that Asa had just woke up and that Jenna had just nodded off before we reached the house. Plus, we aren't really sure who they remember since we've been gone a year. But, once they were all fully awake, they were giggling and running around like usual.

Today we shared at our sending church, New Love in Christ Church, where Joel served on staff for 5 years. It was a great blessing to see our church family here and catch up. Warm, welcoming hugs greeted us, as did lots of smiling faces.

Joel taught the message in both services and we both shared during the Sunday school hour in the Auditorium. We explained what we 'do' at GFA and talked a lot about prayer. We have both grown so much in the area of prayer since joining staff a year ago. We even shared some information about Orissa and had the group break up and pray in smaller groups. It was great!

This evening we were blessed to spend time with a family very dear to us. I'm finding my heart aches that I've missed so much of doing life with them. But, I constantly remember that the Lord called us to serve with GFA and these aches are minor in comparison to the privilege we have of reaching millions with the Gospel who have never before heard that Jesus loves them! Plus, it just means I need to be better about emailing and calling them!

Thank you for praying for us while we're traveling and are away from home. Joel will be sharing at a men's breakfast tomorrow morning. We will visit with more friends, as well.

Some specific prayer requests:
--I have a cough. I think my allergies started acting up when I got on the plane. Please pray for completely restored health and rest for me.
--Pray the kids would take good naps. They really need them. Today the twins fought it and then conked out on the way to meet friends. Pray we will have grace in parenting when we face these 'battles' sometimes.
--Pray we will seek the Lord and spend time with Him more, not less, as our days are filled with visiting, playing, and sharing. It's easy to go on vacation with quiet times and prayer when we are out of our normal routine.

Check back soon for some fun pics of our travels.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Good Reminder

We just went to Tuesday night prayer. I always enjoy it.

We talked about the economy. Big buzz these days! The presenter shared some stats. Drastic, major, quite scary things! It can really be daunting!

You know, it would be so easy to get scared, worried, and fearful of the future.

Our prayer is that we would TRULY turn to God during this time.

Is the state of the economy scaring you? causing you fear?

In Whom do you place your trust?

We are financially supported by those who choose to give. It could be very "scary" to us. But, it's not. We aren't worried. I do have to give this over to the Lord if I dwell on it because my flesh wants to worry and think about it and fret.

But, the reality is...God has called us. God has said He would provide. And, you know what, God sits on the throne!

We really do serve a mighty God. I was so glad to be reminded of His power and greatness tonight.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil. 4:4-7

I'm praying those who trust in money, even those who don't realize how much they trust in it, will be challenged by this "crisis" and will completely turn their hearts to God, Who will never fail us!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fall is Here!

Well, you can't tell fall is here by the weather in Texas, but you can by the food we're eating around the Fletcher house!
We made caramel apples last weekend. The kids LOVED them! So did Mama and Daddy.
It was an ooey gooey mess, but lots of fun and oh, so sweet!
I would love to post pics of the kids eating them, but we stripped them down to their undies and took them out on the back porch to lessen the mess in the kitchen! So, just imagine these adorable babes smiling ear to ear with caramel on their faces, noses, and chins!
A wonderful friend of mine from Arizona, Ms. Judy, sent my kiddos some gifts she'd been collecting for them! What a joy!
They love the educational games, clothes, and stickers. They were really excited to get some stamps for craft time fun!

This week has been a test of my patience. Sadly, I have failed much. God is constantly refining me as I parent. It's such an amazing process. I'm so grateful God doesn't stop working on us!
There was a sweet bit of fruit I got to enjoy today as I took the kids to the play place in the mall. My kids had fun and were very well behaved. We even received a few compliments from other shoppers as they looked at some sparkly Christmas ornaments on display.

However, I happened to witness another family nearby whose children were anything but obedient and respectful to their mom. It was really sad. The kids pitched fits and threw tantrums; they were mean to each other and spoke rudely to the adults. My kids ended up playing with one of their kids so I was able to interact with her as well.
It really struck me as I "helped" them all share a toy plane we had brought that this little girl was really a victim. She is a victim of parents who either don't know what to do or don't want to do it. When the girl would become a little "anxious" for her turn, I'd remind her we were sharing. At the same time, one of the adults would yell across the play area to her "you leave that toy alone" (and then tell the other adult something like "she just can't share!"). The poor girl was not being TAUGHT how to share!
Before you think I'm throwing stones, I am often very much like that adult! Instead of sitting with my kids and showing them how to play, I sit back and yell at them for not playing as they should. What saddened me the most is that this little girl is the one no one will want to play with. Her parents' lack of willingness to teach/train her will result in her being rotten!
It made me realize how completely unfair my laziness is! When I am unwilling to do the inconvenient parts of parenting with patience and love, I am not just making my life easy. I am making their life very hard!
And, kids pay the price for years and years and years! Letting them be selfish may be easier than teaching them self-control, but it will give them much heartache when they get older and realize--the hard way--that the world doesn't revolve around them. It could even hinder their walk with God in major ways as they discover they were not created to be served, but rather to serve!

I have read a few good books on parenting that Joel and I have found very helpful. Our favorite is Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp. We went through the Bible study this spring with a group from church. The study guide digs into God's Word. I want to parent my kids based on what God says, not what anyone else thinks.
God is so good to let us see some fruit so we don't grow weary in doing good! I am finding more and more that His Word really does contain EVERYTHING we need for life and godliness.
Because the kids did so well, we came home and made cookies! (the pics above are from the play place and then cookie making...fun day!)