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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Butterflies, Birds, and More

 Penguins remind me of some special friends in Wisconsin and Aunt Marcie.  The penguin exhibit was pretty amazing.  They made a portion of the water area an alcove that children loved to sit in and watch the birds swim around and even take a rest right above them on the plexiglass.

 The zoo had several aviaries.  I especially like this one because people could feed nectar to the birds.  So even though we didn't feed the birds, they didn't mind us being close to them.  I'm always amazed at how brilliantly colorful God made some birds.

 The zoo had a special butterfly exhibit.  A queen butterfly is shown above.  Had there been a little breeze and a little more shade, I think I could have stayed in there for hours.

This banana spider was at least the size of my closed fist!  AHHH!!!  The zoo keeper caught it and a few smaller ones since eating the butterflies wasn't beneficial to the exhibit.  I wouldn't want catch spiders as part of my job.  No thank you!
spice bush swallow tail

swallowtail butterfly

zebra longwing butterfly

                                      sulfer  butterfly                                         white peacock butterfly

monarch butterfly

Zoo Chats

My Dad likes lemurs.  I find them often challenging to photograph, but this photo turned out pretty good.

Something that impressed both Kyle and I at this zoo was the water ways around exhibits.  Several of them were full of sea life we could easily see. 

 This snake is SO MUCH BIGGER than a photo can show.  I turned a corner, saw the snake, and backed up quickly.  There is a reason why people made a movie about anacondas.
 Of all of the animals we saw that day at the zoo, this turtle made me laugh the most.  That is moss growing on his head and shell.  It gently swayed in the water like a three mohawks on his head.

 We were praying for boldness and opportunities while we traveled.  While enjoying the birds in the aviary below, Kyle and a zoo educator started chatting.  I kept wandering and prayed for them to have a spiritual conversation.  After talking a while Kyle switched subjects and asked if he could ask a super deep and heavy question.  The educator was curious and willing.  "If you died today and were to stand before God, and He asked why He should let you into heaven, what would you say?" Kyle asked.  Our training encouraged us to wait patiently for an answer.  After awhile the young guy shared that he'd be scared to stand before God.  Although the young man had gone to church before he didn't know the gospel, but he was willing to listen as Kyle shared.  He was looking for cleanness, and Kyle explained that God is the only one who could give him the cleanness he desired.  

 If someone asked you how to get to heaven, would you be prepared to share?
The bird to the left is named Rosy.  She adores the zoo keeper I chatted with.  She is well accustomed to humans and sees the keepers as equals.  I asked if she was the keeper's best friend, and he said, "No, she is more of a nuisance."  She followed him around and wanted to be in his arms the whole time we chatted.

The macaw above is named Roxy.  Sadly, Roxy doesn't know he can fly.  He was rescued from an abandoned house.  The zoo keeper moved him to that ledge.  Even though he wasn't thrilled to be so close to humans, he didn't know how to fly away.  Even with other birds and another macaw flying around, he still didn't know to fly.

Roxy's lack of flight reminded me of what fear does Christ followers.  We don't realize how much God can do with us, because fear gets in the way.  I am often guilty of letting my fears stand in the way of sharing the gospel.   Soon though, I will share of sharing the gospel while at lunch.

For Sherry:)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Zoo Photos

 Kyle and I made a mistake while booking our flights for a mission expo.  It turned out we'd be arriving before the expo began.  Rachel saved the day by making us aware of this mistake.  I can't imagine what would have happened had she not noticed that the day I said we were leaving didn't match up with the flight itinerary.  The Lord does work in others, and I'm glad Rachel was paying attention.

 We decided to go to the local zoo with our extra day.  Although we had initially planned to go there via bus, it would have taken us 2.5 hours to go the 14 miles to the zoo.  With a bit of research on Kyle's part, we were able to rent a car for the price it would have taken us to go to the zoo via taxi.  That is excluding the price it would have taken us to get back to the hotel.
Polka dots???  I don't think I've ever seen a bird like this one before.

 I loved seeing animals we had never seen before!  I was startled to find these East African Bongos.

We really enjoyed how much space the animals had at this zoo.  Although it isn't as much as would be out in the wild, I felt they weren't as cramped as other zoos.

 No wonder alligators and other animals are able to hide so well in the water.  There was another alligator in the water.  You could only see his head because it was moving.  The rest of him was totally submerged.  I can understand how pieces of drift would are mistaken for alligators and vise versa.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Over the next few days Kyle and I will be processing a mission expo that we went to.  Part of the expectation of the expo was to have evangelism training.  Kyle and I finished ours a few days before we left.  I was amazed how my desire to see people come to Christ was renewed through the training.

We were supposed to arrive early this morning at 12:09am.  Instead our second flight sat on the runway for an hour which caused us to miss our connecting flight.  We joined a line that took me three hours to go through while Kyle napped.  He can relax and nap in an airport much easier than I can.  I'd been able to get some sleep while he talked about spiritual things with a lady for one of our two hours flights, so it made more sense to me to wait.  As I stood waiting, I tried to find reasons to be grateful while so many around me were complaining.  I was able to share some of them with a lady next to me who I think would have complained more had I not brought up some good things in the situation.  So here are a few things I found:

*Michele had let us know via Rachel that if our flights were delayed, then our final flight probably wouldn't go through since it is such a small airport.  This foreknowledge helped us to not panic when we got off our second flight and saw that our last flight had the word "CLOSED" next to it.
*Knowing that Rachel and Ruli were caring for Eliana helped me to not burst into tears when I could see the jet that was supposed to have us on it.
*There were 4-5 people helping the line rather than just one.
*Those who were helping us spoke English.
* Not everyone in line was able to get a hotel voucher due to conferences and early flights, but we were able to catch 3.5 hours of sleep at a nearby hotel.
*We were provided meal vouchers for breakfast.
*Although we dearly missed Eliana, we weren't having to try and soothe her after having had two flights and then waiting in line for three hours.  She was able to get rest as Rachel and Ruli continued to graciously and lovingly care for her.
*Kyle and I communicated well through the situation.

This morning while in the security line, Kyle and a man struck up conversation.  It was a good thing he had overall gotten more sleep than me.  I was fine staying up those extra hours, but my conversation abilities were minimal this morning.  As they chatted, the man shared that he had come to help his sister who had just lost her husband.  We got separated near the end of the security screening, but I spotted him as we cleared the area.  I asked Kyle if we could offer to pray for him.  You should have seen the man's face light up when we asked if we could pray for him.  He shared that he believed in Jesus as his Lord and Savior.  Before we prayed with him, he said that his fellow believers back home wouldn't be surprised at us coming up to him.  He believed that the Lord worked in these ways to encourage His followers.  He asked us to pray for his sister who knew about God, but admitted to not following Him.  Please pray for this family.  Pray also that Kyle and I will continue be bold.  Talking about God with others can be challenging, but He does calls all of his followeres to share the good news of His redemption with others.

Had we made our connecting flights, we would not have talked with this man or been able to pray for his sister.

Opportunities, they are often found in unexpected places.  Are you looking for them?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Eliana is 23 months old!!!

Blogger wasn't being my friend when Eliana turned 23 months old, so some of the updates for what she has been up to in the last month and the beginning of this month.

*Eliana has more words that I can count.  She has been putting two words together and some times even a phrase here and there.  This past week she said "baby sister" which blew me away since I hadn't been talking about the baby at the time.  She also said "big sister" the next day.  I think it has to do with so many people talking to her about being a sister.  Other phrases that come to mind: "fix it", "dog poo poo" (which we watch out for when we walk", and "Elaine's house" (which she points to when we walk to get the mail).

*After visiting my family two weeks ago, my mom gave us a mini potty for Eliana to use.  The next morning, she had her babies and stuffed animals take turns going on the potty.  Then she decided she wanted to go too!  That day she went 5 times!!!  Although I wasn't sure if she was ready yet, that made it clear that we were on the adventure into potty training land.  For the first few days I kept a diaper on her, and she told me most of the time just after she had gone.  Once Kyle left for his seminary class we tried the bare bottom approach.  She has had more successes than accidents.  She has had several starting in the wrong spot and then finishing in the right spot.  Her diaper is drier at nap time.  So, we are moving in the right direction!  I can't tell you how many hours I've spent this week reading to Eliana while she waits to go.  I tried having her watch some movies while sitting on the potty, but that didn't seem to help. It did make her want to watch tv a lot.  So, I cut that out after two days.  We don't normally watch movies, and I didn't want her to have that habit.  I save Veggie Tales for those days when I need to cook, she has whined a good part of the afternoon, and she is clinging to me while I'm trying to cook.  I know there are tons of ways to potty train.  The bare bottom approach seems to be working better than the days when she had a diaper on.  Plus, she likes getting a mini pretzel when she is successful.  She still wears a diaper when we are out and about or when company is over.   I am praying for wisdom as I can tell my frustration is starting to kick in when she was just sitting on the toilet and two minutes later she has an accident two feet from the toilet.

*New words since potty training: potty, pee pee, pretzel, tomato, Bob, and Larry.

*We're working on her asking for help rather than whining and then pitching a fit out of frustration.  I think we are making progress!!!

*Eliana talks a lot.  I LOVE it!  There may come a day when I wish she was quieter, but I'll take talking over the months when she was a screaming infant any day!  She understands so much, and she is constantly trying out new words.  Yesterday she learned Joanne, our dinner guest, and tried out awesome after Joanne said it.

*Eliana was "reading" to herself.  Eliana has loved books for most of her life.  She picked up Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb after it had been gone at a friend's house for a week.  She said, "Many monkeys" for most of the pages.  I was amazed that her memory is getting so strong.  It probably has been for awhile, but now she has words to show it.  After I read part of it to her today she said, "Dum, Dum, Dum" and "drum, drum, drum" as she read.

Kyle's Birthday and Seminary Class

Kyle had to leave in the afternoon of his birthday to drive down to a satisfied campus for a seminary class that was 5+ hours away.  So, we had a special breakfast outing before church.  I had been given a gift certificate for a local restaurant for the art lessons I taught this fall, and this was the perfect time to use it.  The breakfast was plentiful and super tasty.  Since it was Kyle's actual birthday, his meal was free.  We even splurged on a breakfast appetizer.

While at church Rachel and Ruli offered to take us our for Kyle's birthday lunch!  Going out to eat is such a rare treat.  Plus it was a nice change from leftovers which is what we normally do for Sunday lunch.

Kyle did well in his class.  It was very stressful in parts for him to take a whole semester class in a week, but by the end of the week he felt comfortable with the class.  He has a 15 page paper due on Tuesday, and then he'll have two of four classes required for us to continue the process of looking to serve in overseas.

I was a little worried about what our time at home would look like.  His car decided to fall apart a few days before he left, so he took my car down south.  His car was worked on by a friend all this week.  We had friends and family graciously take us to a pool party, a play date, my doctor's appointment, and by Kyle's office to drop off some equipment.  I had friends come over dinner twice this week, and we visited friends in our apartment complex.  Plus we were busy potty training, but that is a whole other post all in itself.  We are looking forward to Kyle coming home in a few hours.  Eliana has talked about her Daddy a little each day, but it has been a main theme of our morning.  She woke up saying his name, and she checked our bed to see if he was still sleeping.

Flowers and Family

 Aren't these nice hydrangeas?  Pop Pop has beautiful hydrangeas outside of his home.  I was impressed at how large his plants were, not just because of their beauty but also because I accidently killed some hydrangeas before in our heat and know they can be needy.

 These are in my parents' front yard.
 Awe lillies, how I love thee!

 A few weeks back we were able to visit with a ton of family.  We hadn't seen Papa Mark since before Christmas, so Eliana got a special Christmas present.  She has been carrying around her bear and dog around since then.
We hadn't visited this park in our hometown in a number of years.  It was great to have time with family visiting!  Aunt Marcie and Uncle Michael moved back.  We are looking forward to seeing them more often.  Aunt Dacra and Korin were able to make it too!  Eliana and Kallie enjoyed the swings and reminded Aunt Marcie of when Sean and Kyle were little.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Taylor's Graduation

Taylor cracks me up!!!  

I'm so proud of my sister!!!  Her graduation was one of the nicest I've been too.  It was so different to hear about God and pray at a graduation.  That is one of the many benefits she had by going to a Christian high school.  It was lovely to be in a gym where it was cool.  I was impressed with one of the seniors who had such a passion for the Lord.  Even though he was nervous speaking in front of a large crowd, you could tell he loved Jesus.  One thing that didn't differ was my amazement at how tall some of the girls' shoes were.  I don't know how they didn't fall going up and down stairs.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Trisha and Taylor's birthdays

I was in charge of making the cake this year.  The cream cheese with a hint of lemonade frosting was AMAZING.  The lemonade cake didn't have as much of a lemonade taste as I expected.  The cake was made totally from scratch, which I learned in this case made it more expensive than a box cake.  Oh, but the frosting just might be worth it. :)

We announced that we were having a girl by having my sisters cut open their birthday cake!

Ashlee, Madison, Mom, Tanya, Trisha, Taylor, an uncooperative Eliana, Tara, me, and the baby girl growing in my tummy.

                                             My parents                               Tara, Donald, and Ashlee