Friday, March 31, 2017

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Spread the Love

  • First week of February: we rented a cabin with two other families (14 total) and had a blast! We also hosted a super bowl party (11 total) ;)

  • Second week of February: Ricky worked out of county most of the week; we went on a short prayer walk and hosted small group.
  • Third week of February: a friend visited for a couple nights, and then Aolani's seventh birthday! First, Grandpa came down and we had pizza/movie night. On her birthday, we went to her favorite park, got pizza, went to see Lego: Batman Movie, then went home to celebrate with homemade ice cream sandwiches (ginger snaps and mango ice cream) and gifts :) Uncle Robby got to meet up with us there. And then...

  • Fourth week of February: Aolani has a friend her age whose birthday is just a week later. So, Aolani got to have two friends for her first sleepover here to celebrate turning seven! She loved it! And we took the next day off school :) Later that week, we had a dear woman from church over for dinner, went to a cookout for a friend's birthday, and went to small group.
  • Micaiah thought that we had to go to Hawai'i to "get" Aolani's name and had to fly way over to Israel to "get" his Hebrew name ;)
  • Aolani informed us, "Peter Pan was right. Girls do talk a lot... because I talk a lot." Love it ;)
  • School verses: Micaiah -- Ephesians 6:1-2, Ephesians 4:32, Proverbs 15:23 ; Aolani -- Psalm 23:4-6, Psalm 119:105
  • Verses I memorized: Matthew 5:1-5  (I'm going to work on memorizing this chapter this year.)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

I Hold The Power

It's almost been four years, and I still think about "The Immediate Hallelujah" -- rejoicing in suffering -- a lot... like daily.

Here's a little different focus on that same subject.

I had talked about how we should delight in suffering for Christ's sake. How that can mean suffering that is due to faith in Christ, but how it also means all suffering that produces His character in us. Both meanings are accurate when the Bible speaks of suffering for Christ's sake.

In light of that truth, it seems I hold the power. If I can but learn to respond to any suffering with joy and peace, then I can make any suffering be for Christ's sake (and reap all the eternal rewards for suffering for Christ's sake!)

We are all going to suffer at some point; it's impossible to live in our broken world and escape unscathed by pain. So, the question is: If I am going to suffer, how will I respond? In anger and bitterness to make my suffering pointless and in vain? Or, in joy and peace to turn my suffering into being for His sake and thus purposeful and beneficial? My response determines the outcome. It really does depend on me.

I have the reins. I can choose.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Snow, Service, Sleepovers, and Silliness

  • 1st week of January: dinner with friends, got my hair chopped off (13 inches, eighth hair donation, gave it to Wigs for Kids), and celebrated our first snow this winter (6-9"). We went sledding on our street one day and at a friends' house the next day.
  • 2nd week of January: a friend visited one night, chiropractor appointments, dinner guests, prayer walk (a friend joined us and picked place), and small group.
  • 3rd week of January: Ricky worked out-of-county one day; we had a missionary over for lunch; and, I had the honor to plan and organize a surprise "service project" for some international friends of ours on my spiritual birthday (yay!) :)
  • 4th week of January: art class started for the kids, visited our friends to hear the surprise story on their end, small group, and... we, as a family, had a sleepover at our friends' home -- the kids partied till late and we partied later -- slept a little, coffee, brunch, played with kids, talked, board games -- lots of leisure and a super memory ;)
  • Micaiah wanted my packing tape one day -- to tape closed Daddy's box of LOTR Legos to prevent temptation. Micaiah kept sneaking in the office to open the box and play with them even though he knew they were off-limits (for now). After repeated disobedience, he creatively and voluntarily came up with this idea! I was so impressed with my 5-yo taking preventative measures to resist forthcoming temptation ;)
  • Aolani occassionally will still talk Micaiah into playing kangaroo -- they jump around the house with stuffed animals hanging out of their pants ;) [They used to do it often.]
First snow of the year
At a friend's house with their big,white dog (Monty)

The ideal kitchen table arrangement ;)
Watching history, America's Presidential Inauguration
Our living room floor stays covered in Legos
our friends' kids

pretending to be Mommy and Daddy

in Daddy's clothes

always constructing something...
quoting verses, eating dinner, and feeding Sarah
Now watch it again pondering: does God want me to feel this way about Him?
  • School verses: Micaiah -- Proverbs 3:12, Matthew 5:8, Proverbs 20:3 ; Aolani -- Psalm 23:1-3
  • Verses I memorized: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Names of Jesus

I don't remember where this is from, but I'm sure it's on the Internet. I just really felt like I should read through this again to inspire remembrance, praise, and adoration :) A banner for the peoples 
A Nazarene  
Alpha and Omega 
Ancient of Days 
Anointed One 
Apostle and high priest 
Author and perfecter of our faith 
Author of life 
Author of their salvation 
Blessed and only Ruler 
Branch of the Lord 
Bread of God 
Bread of life 
Chief cornerstone 
Chief Shepherd 
Chosen and precious cornerstone 
Christ Jesus my Lord 
Christ Jesus our hope 
Christ of God 
Consolation of Israel 
Covenant for the people 
Crown of splendor 
Eternal life 
Faithful and True 
Faithful and true witness 
First to rise from the dead 
Firstborn from among the dead 
Firstborn over all creation 
Firstfruits of those that have fallen asleep 
Fragrant offering and sacrifice to God 
Friend of tax collectors and "sinners" 
God of all the earth 
God over all 
God's Son 
Great high priest 
Great light
Great Shepherd of the sheep 
Guarantee of a better covenant 
He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world 
He who searches hearts and minds 
Head of every man 
Head of the body, the church 
Head of the church 
Head over every power and authority 
Heir of all things 
Him who died and came to life again 
Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins 
His one and only son 
Holy and Righteous One 
Holy One of God 
Holy servant Jesus 
Hope of Israel 
Horn of salvation 
Image of the invisible God 
Immanuel (God with us) 
Indescribable gift 
Jesus Christ 
Jesus Christ our Lord 
Jesus Christ our Savior 
Jesus of Nazareth 
Judge of the living and the dead 
King of the ages 
Lamb of God 
Light for revelation to the Gentiles 
Light of life 
Light of men 
Light of the world 
Living bread that came down from heaven 
Lord and Savior Jesus Christ 
Lord (Kurios) 
Lord of glory 
Lord of peace 
Lord of the harvest 
Lord of the Sabbath 
Lord (Rabboni) 
Man accredited by God 
Man of sorrows 
Mediator of a new covenant 
Merciful and faithful high priest
Messenger of the covenant 
Morning star 
My friend 
My intercessor 
One who makes men holy 
One who speaks to the Father in our defense 
One who will arise to rule over the nations 
Our glorious Lord Jesus Christ 
Our God and Savior Jesus Christ 
Our only Sovereign and Lord 
Our Passover lamb 
Our peace 
Our righteousness, holiness, and redemption 
Prince and Savior 
Prince of Peace 
Prince of princes 
Prince of the hosts 
Ransom for all men 
Refiner and purifier 
Resurrection and the life 
Righteous judge 
Righteous man 
Righteous One 
Rock eternal (rock of ages) 
Ruler of God's creation 
Ruler of the kings of the earth 
Savior of the world 
Second man 
Shepherd and Overseer of your souls 
Son of Man 
Son of the Blessed One 
Son of the living God 
Son of the Most High God 
Source of eternal salvation 
Sure foundation 
The Amen 
The atoning sacrifice for our sins 
The Beginning and the End 
The bright Morning Star 
The exact representation of his being 
The First and the Last 
The gate (door) 
The good shepherd 
The Head 
The last Adam 
The life 
The Living One 
The living Stone 
The Lord Our Righteousness 
The man from heaven 
The man Jesus Christ 
The most holy 
The One and Only 
The only God our Savior 
The radiance of God's glory 
The rising of the sun (Dayspring) 
The stone the builders rejected 
The testimony given in its proper time 
The true light 
The true vine 
The truth 
The way 
The Word (logos) 
True bread from heaven 
Wisdom from God 
Witness to the peoples
Wonderful Counselor 
Word of God 
Word of life 
Your life 
Your salvation

Friday, January 20, 2017

Finding God and Farm Festivities

  • The week before Christmas: We enjoyed our Advent activities, Ricky went to the movies with some friends, and we enjoyed our first holiday at home! On Christmas Eve, we went on a prayer walk and delivered cookies which was a great door-opener! A friend joined us (fun), and he wants to join us each future time :) We also got to attend our church's Christmas Eve service for the first time. On Christmas morning, Ricky got up early to start making a big brunch for seven (we had three Marshallese teenage boys over). We ate, talked, and played with them until late afternoon. Then, we had our own little celebration! After having the birthday dessert (pumpkin-apple pie and coffee ice cream and ginger ale -- kids' picks) and talking about the gifts we got Him and singing carols, we went outside before it grew dark to find 10 gifts from God to give him thanksgiving. Afterwards, we did our first scavenger hunt. This was so much fun; we hope to make this a new tradition! We had six clues, and the theme was Finding God -- washing machine, Ricky's back pocket, inside his Bible, tucked into a star hanging, in their bunk beds, and taped on the mirror. [We can find God in work, Daddy, His Word, nature, dreams/rest, and you! There's more, those are just the ones we did.] We finished the evening off with pizza and a Christmas movie :) It was a great first Christmas-at-home doing what we wanted and look forward to more!
  • The week after Christmas: We got to visit a dear friend at her home for the first time in five years! Then, we cleaned and packed and headed down to my parents' new house on their farm -- DaySpring! It's beautiful, and my parents did a lot of work to suit me and my needs :) My brother and his family joined us after a couple days. There's a video below of a lot of the fun we had, so I won't list it here ;) Some additional notes: I finally played Agricola solo for the first time; my parents gifted us with a new Bible (Joni Eraekson Tada's Beyond Suffering Bible, NLT -- love it!) and a globe, etc; I got to start reading Ann Voskamp's The Broken Way, easily one of favorite books!; Ricky got to hit golf balls into the woods (his favorite thing to do there ;); and, we were the only two who stayed up to ring in the new year!
Helping Daddy make the birthday dessert for Jesus -- pumpkin-apple bread :)

Acting out the nativity story (w/ friends)

Ready for delivery!
A Marshallese family we met on our prayer walk gave us some of their bamboo decorations, including some flowers :)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Symptometry Update (after three years)

I'll be brief and to the point.

Year 1 -- Improvements!

Year 2 -- Stagnant

Year 3 -- Decline (Doctor constantly trying new plans to figure out why I stopped responding); I lost half my improvements, kept half. We still did not feel like God had released us from Symptometry, though.

Now -- Last month, Doctor realized my circulation has become so poor that the particulates cannot flow through my veins well enough to be beneficial. So, we began a new treatment plan to focus slowly on improving circulation and increasing blood flow. I began it right before the new year, and... long story short -- it's working! My right ankle that had turned out in May 2013 has finally (drastically) improved! I had three pressure sores on it and could not stand on it as it kept growing worse ever since, eventually leading to a loss of leg muscle. It did point to 2 o'clock (at it's worse) but now it's like half past 12 (not all perfect but wow!) I am now able to stand on my foot! I can practice walking a little now :) My right ankle/foot was my #1 concern, so I'm quite happy and praise God for hearing my cries and alleviating the pain!

This video was taken on 7/6/2014.

This picture is from 10 days ago.

I hope to update my health improvements chart this week.

We're note sure where this is going, but we're going with God!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Bits and Pieces

  • I'll catch up on the first two weeks of December now, and I hope to go through New Year's next week. I aim to post a Symptometry update in between them.
  • The first full week of December: The kids so enjoyed no school and our Advent days! We had friends over for St. Nicholas Day; Grandma came for four days -- helped Ricky move out of our storage unit one day, made birthday cupcakes...; Grandpa and Uncle Robby came down; and, we all celebrated Micaiah's 5th birthday (more below)!
  • The next week: We had the Christmas movie marathon on his actual birthday and let him select our meals and pizza. We, also, got to hold a small birthday celebration for our friend, who turned 30 ;)
  • For birthday presents, we usually get our kids a book and a toy and renew their magazine subscription (Highlights/Ranger Rick). 
I just love the way these turned out! Micaiah wrote his name on them all (with Kwik Stix), and both kids stamped (with acrylic paint) the lego border :)

Making and icing 70+ gingerbread cookies

  • Micaiah turned five, so we had a big (20+) party for him complete with boy-friends and presents. It was a LEGO-themed party to celebrate his transition from Duplos to Legos. He loved it, and he is now obsessed with legos! For gifts, he received Legos, books, and dress-up costume stuff :)

Friday, December 30, 2016

Resolutions for 2017

The intro is from my post three years ago on resolutions (just because it still accurately expresses my thoughts!):

"Let me start by saying that just hearing the phrase New Year's resolutions rubs me wrong. I think that one reason is because weight loss is the first thing to come to mind because it is so common. Also, no one actually keeps them or remembers them after a few months. So they seem pointless and not very profitable.

But... it is hard for me to let such an opportunity to pass me by. I relish times of purpose to be still and reflect. [I sound like a Mary -- haha, but I really am a Martha-doer struggling to find (designate) time to be still and reflect.]

If God does not forbid it, and it strengthens your love-relationship with Christ, then I want to take advantage! Not that I cannot make "resolutions" other times of the year, but I have to be somewhat forced to sit back and reflect or it just does not happen because life is constantly demanding! Since this new year's time is already designated for making resolutions, then I'm going to let it "force" me :)

I find that I frequently need to evaluate my life in all areas to keep it going in the direction I want it to (towards glorifying God, of course). I hate regret and don't want to be on my death-bed, looking back on my life, and thinking, "If only I had done something with that part of my life back when I had the chance before it spiraled out of control."

The best way to change anything is to alter my spiritual life and let God have more access to my heart so He can bring true and lasting change to myself..."

Last year's resolutions were just too numerous for me. I found myself not even trying sometimes because the sheer amount of change was daunting, So, I am only aiming for one this year... one life-altering, game-changing resolution:
  1. Daily, routine devotional time -- The key difference will be the routine aspect. Right now, I read and do other stuff a little here and there throughout the day whenever I can spare a moment. However, I quote the Bible and memorize Scripture when I am in the tub soaking every night for 20 minutes. I treasure this time to go a little deeper pondering the Word and hearing from the Lord, but I want more of it. I stay grounded with my other reading during the day but it's not long enough to let my roots grow down deep because I have to keep moving! But I need to get back to routine now. I'd like to spend around an hour or so with God everyday, the sooner the better in the day. I hope to get up earlier so I know I will be going to bed earlier at night, so office and computer work will have to be cut down and back. I don't know what else will suffer, but we'll see. I'm prepared to relax on schooling or cooking or housework or whatever has to give to allow for this desperately needed chunk of time.

  • I'm excited! Happy resolving!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry CHRISTmas!

Because of God’s tender mercy, the Dayspring from heaven is about to break upon us,
Luke 1:78 

Crying out to Jesus, "Come Dayspring, come!"

Ricky, Aidan, Aolani (almost 7), and Micaiah (5) DiMartino

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Holy-days {Advent 2016}

[edited version of last year's Advent post]

Simple. Focused. Intentional.

That is our motto for this time of year.

If you want bunches of ideas for celebrating Christmas, you should probably go to Pinterest. We are more about cutting out a lot of the hoopla -- going for special and memorable (yes) but simple. It is Jesus' birthday; so, we focus on Advent ("waiting with hope") and then throwing a birthday party for Jesus. Simple as that. This will be the first year we will be home on Christmas Day! Here is what we have been doing so far this month:

Devotions: Advent is where we put most of our emphasis, because what is this holy-day about if we do not prepare our hearts waiting for the Christ-child to come? You can see our Advent wreath (carved out of wood, with 24 candle holes, and there's a movable donkey carrying Mary). We light the candle  after moving the traveling one forward. This year, we are using a new book -- Rembrandt: The Christmas Story (it's not a daily devotional but something we can work through sporadically throughout the month).

Activities: Our days have been so topsy turvy this month -- lots of unexpecteds, thank goodness no school to teach this month! Sometime in the course of each day, we:
  1. Read a daily Advent devotion from Advent Storybook (short with good insights!) 
  2. Aolani colors an ornament and hangs it on our Jesse Tree 
  3. Read together a Christmas book. I arranged and stacked all of the Christmas books we own according to our schedule. Then, I hid the stack and each day we get out the book on top. 
  4. This year we are doing an Advent Calendar. I came up with 24 things to do, one for each day leading up to Jesus' birthday. I adjusted the calendar so that the daily activities suited our monthly plans (i.e., we baked cupcakes for Micaiah the day before his big birthday party). However, when plans change and I need to switch activities with another day, I can and have, several times already, very easily (which is great)! We've missed some, but I hope to work those in and double up some this week. The list of this year's activities are below. 
  5. Schooling: I'm taking seven weeks off from schooling the kids (Thanksgiving week until after the new year), so we have more time for Advent stuff and traveling.  The kids are loving this winter break!
  6. Our Advent devotional in the evening with Daddy (depending)
  7. Reading Christmas Around the World at bedtime (depending)
  1. Decorate our home while listening to new Christmas album (Josh Garrels)
  2. Make paper plate wreaths 
  3. Put together Christmas care package for missionaries 
  4. Watch new Christmas movie under blankets (The Promise)
  5. Make a paper garland 
  6. Invite family friends over to celebrate St. Nicholas Day by reading his biography and watching the Veggie Tales about him 
  7. Make play-dough candy canes 
  8. Make clothespin reindeer 
  9. Make a birthday treat for Micaiah 
  10. Micaiah’s LEGO birthday party 
  11. Make paper snowflakes 
  12. Make snowflake window art 
  13. Make and decorate gingerbread cookies 
  14. Watch Christmas movie marathon 
  15. Pick out Jesus’ birthday gift 
  16. Interview each family member on record 
  17. Call grandparents and sing a Christmas carol 
  18. Play hide & seek in a tree lot 
  19. Make and give apple bread to our neighbors 
  20. Act out the nativity story 
  21. Make a pillow bed on living room floor and watch Christmas cartoons 
  22. Go on a Christmas light scavenger hunt 
  23. Make a birthday cake for Jesus 
  24. Go on a prayer walk and deliver cookies

Decorations: Most noticeably, we do not have a Christmas tree. We are not totally against them; we just choose (for several reasons) not to erect one at this time. We have other items (ornaments, stockings, nativity sets...) on display and hanging around. We keep the Christmas music playing. Also, we simply hang the Christmas cards we receive on ribbon with clothespins.

Treats: Our treats are sporadic this year again -- banana cupcakes, gingerbread cookies, pumpkin ale, apple bread, cake, ice cream, vanilla drinks, etc.

Presents: Last year we began to do it differently. Whereas we use to not exchange presents amongst just ourselves, we asked our extended families to work in "Christmas presents" with other events -- like new year's or increase birthday or summer or a new school year or a visit or other holidays. We want to teach our kids that just as they get presents on their birthday, Jesus gets the gifts on His birthday (see Matthew 25:45) -- just keeping it simple (and imitating St. Nicholas!). After I had collected like a dozen gift catalogs over the past month or so, we spread them out, allotted each person an equal amount of money, and let them go! Yet, we do buy a few New Year's gifts for ourselves as a family and some friends that are to encourage faith and witness (such as Voice of the Martyrs' prayer calendars) for 2017. [Yes, our kids get gifts from us throughout the year as does Jesus, but we all know that birthdays are special for the birthday person ;)]

CHRISTmas joy to you in your celebrations and preparation for the coming of the King!