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!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Thankful When Soaring or Not

  • Four weeks ago: we got to attend a Wycliffe Associates banquet, go on our Autumn walk, host the second annual flag football game with our church and community, hold our first Poppin' Party*, and attend a birthday party for a baby boy from the Marshall Islands turning one (in their culture turning one is a big deal, and the baby gives us presents!). There were a lot of people and food, and choreographed dancing and singing :)
  • *The Poppin' Party is what we invented. I figured out that rolling on bubble wrap was very therapeutic for me, so maybe others in wheelchairs would too! We took a big roll of it to a nursing home (with another family). Set it up with music and balloons (which the kids sat on and popped). While some of the residents participated, most loved watching the kids go wild popping. My next dream is to take this joy to a children's ward at a hospital :)
  • Three weeks ago: we had some church friends over for dinner, went on a date to a Lecrae concert (our favorite rap artist), and I was sick in bed all day one day and had to beg a friend to come over the next day to help me pack the family because Ricky's grandma graciously flew us out to Arizona for a week! We wrapped up our 15th week of homeschool this week and are now enjoying a 7-week break; our school will resume January 9, 2017 ;) Also, my parents finally moved in to the house they were building on their farm -- so exciting! We can't wait to ring in the new year there!
  • Two weeks ago: Arizona! A wonderful trip; we were just so honored to be with there! Grandma even gave us her bedroom and slept on the couch (she's almost 90-yo) -- crazy! Ricky's mom was got there before us, so we got to spend a few days with her and Grandma before Ricky's dad and brother joined us. We got to go see the Grand Canyon (my first time) -- cold but worth it! Simply indescribable. Other events; swimming, park, home-cooked Thanksgiving, water-balloon fight, golf cart rides, miniature golf, saw Moana in theater, games... Oh, and a great "small-world" story: Ricky's mom's shuttle driver in Arizona happened to be the brother of dear friends in our church's small group!
  • Last week: We returned home late at night to a dead fridge/freezer and had to throw everything out (the smell was putrid). The repairman announced it was just turned off; Micaiah admitted to possibly doing that before we left on our trip... A costly child mistake... Then, we got to support our friends by attending their boys' baptism :) Also, we had a Marshallese family over for dinner, had our pastor for lunch, went to a dinner party, held Mission's Committee here, and was sick again one day with food poisoning :(
  • Kids' measurements: Aolani -- 46.5" tall & weighs 50lbs; Micaiah -- 43" tall & weighs 39lbs 

Veteran's Day nature walk on Greenway
Poppin' Party set-up
The kids really loved it and had a blast!
Ready for the signal
How many...?
the Marshallese birthday party
Lecrae concert

Meanwhile, the kids...
Ready for takeoff!
Chopping the apples for Thanksgiving's applesauce :)
They enjoyed playing in the desert-rock yards :)
the saguaros

Grand Canyon
Yep -- indescribable.
Putt-putt with Grandpa and Uncle Robby

Everyone in great-Grandma's neighborhood uses a golf cart to get around
Aolani made our Thanksgiving place cards and mats
The kids got to see the cockpit!
Our dear friends got to have all of their boys baptized together
  • School verses: Micaiah -- Proverbs 26:23, Proverbs 15:8 ; Aolani -- Isaiah 55:7, Proverbs 15:8
  • Verses to memorize lately: 2 Corinthians 5:12-5

Friday, November 18, 2016

Still Learning

I learned morality from my parents
I learned immorality and wickedness from myself
I learned hopelessness and despair from my heart
I learned of hope from Church
I learned grace and truth from Jesus
I learned about Jesus, the Living Word, from the Bible, the Written Word
I am still learning

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Slinging Mud and Love

  • Four weeks ago: Our friend came to visit for the weekend as I threw my first jewelry party on behalf of Freedom Firm, with the proceeds going to the Indian girls who made the jewelry after being rescued from sex-trafficking. While that was going on, I planned a surprise for my friend and had a bunch of men show up at their house, rip up their carpet, and lay new flooring -- they were humbled, surprised, and grateful :)
  • Three weeks ago: We had friends over for dinner, went to some friends' home for dinner (and kept the kids up way too late), took me to a pregnancy care banquet, visited the chiropractor, attended a book signing at the library, entertained Ricky's dad and brother for a visit, took them to the Renaissance Festival (had a blast), and partied at our church's fall festival.
  • Two weeks ago: Friends came for dinner and games, we went on our monthly prayer walk, and we attended a Reformation Day party at a local church (complete with costumes, acts, trunk or treat, bonfire...)
  • Last week: We had friends over for All Saints' Day, Micaiah enjoyed mud-slingin' one morning by throwing mud all over the porch (floor, walls, ceiling, stuff) and putting mudpies on the door (yep), did early voting, got my new wheelchair tires put on (thanks Mom and Dad!), and our friend came to visit for the weekend as we threw a surprise bridal shower for our friend who's been married for 14 years (she didn't have a shower when she got married, and my friend and I really wanted to bless and encourage her as she continues on her journey) -- she was surprised, and it was lovely!
  • Also, we were blessed by our families who jointly purchased a new washing machine for us, and it is SO nice and fancy ;) 3x bigger than our old one!
 Jewelry party -- paper balls and food display
 All the earrings are on the right (not shown)
 I had an intro video playing on repeat and some cards with individual girls' stories showing
 Talking to Superwoman (and her surprise below)
 It looked beautiful!
Micaiah mimicking the chiropractor ;)
with Uncle Robby
 "shooting star"
 He wanted the sledgehammer!
 nailing Luther's 95 theses
Johann Tetzel, Queen Esther, and the Centurion who had faith
 Batman ;)
She is open for business; leave a tip and you get a serenade :)
Aolani's penmanship :)
The surprise bridal shower
  • Micaiah reading via his imagination, and Aolani reading the book she wrote for me.
  • School verses: Micaiah -- Psalm 105:1, Exodus 20:15-6 ; Aolani -- Deuteronomy 6:4-6, Isaiah 55:6
  • Verses to memorize lately: 2 Corinthians 5:10-11

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

May We Not Be Like Bedbugs

"Christians are like bedbugs. Don't trouble them. As you continue to crush them, they would increase in numbers as bugs. Instead give them all conveniences. In the comforts, they would flourish and start fighting among themselves, and be separated as sects, and in the end they will just disappear as insignificant insects."  ~ Rajagopalachariar (GG of India)