Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Landaws

When I was a freshman in college, new and totally green to the world of students. Our missionaries in residence were the Landaws.

I remember how in our very early classes they would be there- always together. They were a couple that made you feel welcome, loved, and important,

I wasn't a real MK, but having spent a year in those type of circumstances earlier on somehow I got thrown in the bunch of missionary kids who got invited to their home.

Jane Landaw was a sweetheart. I loved going up to their place early, before the other students came to help. I have always loved helping out, especially in the kitchen, and so naturally that is where I helped out best.

I remember making something, I think she called it "stacky uppy" or something like that. There was rice, and veges and all kinds of things we could add to the pile on our plates.

This was a couple that radiated love for one another and love for Jesus.

Jane made me feel welcome, when I was a lonesome student far from home my freshman year. She made me feel like my wild dreams of being a missionary were not so unattainable.

Now looking back I never was as close to any of the other missionaries in residence during my following 3 years studying.

But I am so thankful God brought the Landaws to my college when I was a Freshman. He knew I needed a family who would welcome me- when mine was so far. I am thankful for the things I learned from them- about becoming a missionary. Even now I remember how Jane shared about how she had to get out of her comfort zone and be with the people to show them Jesus.

Thank you dear friends for the example you were to those of us studying to be missionaries and for welcoming all of us MKs at your home.

Thanks for showing us a godly, happy marriage- I loved watching you both and hearing her exclaim, "Oh, Harry!"

Thank you for being Jesus to a bunch of college students, and to the people who have known you around the world.

You have blessed my life and the lives of so many others.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A new tie
For anyone who follows along with my painting and wonders if I am still at it- here is the latest in my shop. 

Winter is a time when I try to catch up on a lot of other things that I can't do in summer due to way to much yard and garden work, etc. I am hard at work at catching up the kids scrapbook/albums. And hoping to do a little sewing. 

But painting is ever going in my work area and I have about 10 things in process at the moment. Some are needing to be steamed, others need to be painted - since only the outlines are drawn, etc. How special that God allows us to do things we enjoy. 

Have a blessed day. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Me and my Boy

As parents of small kids sometimes it is good to take our kids on dates and give them our full attention. 

Today my D-boy (he's 5) and me headed to the big city. We rode the train- for him that is life at its best. 

I loved talking to him and answering his million questions. I loved seeing how he has developed since a year ago when we rode the train together. I loved helping him sound out letters as we read the names of the cities we passed. I loved just being with him. 

We did a little shopping- too much for a boy his age :) We had lunch. He has his first happy style kid's meal at a kebab place. He felt spoiled and I felt relaxed. One kid is SO easy when you have 3 all the time. 

Daddy had a great time with the little ones at home- and we all came together refreshed and thankful for one another. 

We went to the musical- Sound of Music and were delighted to be in the front row. My boy could see into the orchestra box and could examine all the instruments and decide which one he wants to play. He loved the preformance- and was so sad when it was over. It was a VERY shortened one hour version, but it was so fun. I know the songs and story so well from the movie and it was so funny to hear it all in Latvian. 

We had to wait a while for our train so we had some ice-cream and did a little more shopping and then made a dash for the train. Running to the train was something little boys remember and enjoy.

We read on the way home and talked about our favorite parts of our day out together and I loved remembering how my boy loved being little today. He loved holding my hand and being the ONLY child just for one day- 'cause when you are the oldest you don't often get to hold Mom's hand when doing outings since Mom's only have 2 hands and not 3. 

We contemplated the world and admired the stars on our dark and very cold walk home. 

And when my boy laid his head down tonight he said, "Mom, I love you."

 And my day ended with the blessings of three little mouths giving me their good-night kisses. 

Thank God for kids- and the blessings he sends to each of us. 

Thank God for moments when we can slow down and BE more with our children- letting our lives intertwine and making memories they will remember long beyond any gift. 

Thank God for family. 

Thank God for this day he let us live! 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Understanding our Daughters- A Letter to my Daughter

My darling, 

Now you are 3- but there will come a day when you will be a teenager. You will grow tall and even more beautiful and opinionated and then what? 

Yesterday I watched a movie- Ice Princess. Perhaps when you get a wee bit older we can watch it together. It is about daughters following their dreams and mothers understanding their daughters and misunderstanding their dreams. 

When I was growing up my Mom and I worked together, sewed together, cooked together, studied together, and grew together. But we did not dream together. 

My Mom never seemed to understand my dream to live in a foreign land and serve as a missionary. From the time I was 12 my calling or passion was clear to me. I heard a missionary speak about the need of English teachers to Chinese students and I thought, "I could do that." Long before the seed of a servants heart had been planted within me as our Dad read us stories of great missionaries. 

And so I grew up. I finished our family's home-school program. And I continued to dream. I knew I needed to study and I set my mind on attending a Christian college. I went against my Mom's wishes and will. 

Four years were spent at that college preparing me with Bible classes and every other course required to get my B.A in Intercultural Studies. I spent my practicum in China teaching English one summer- and that dream came true. 

Then I graduated and wanted to fly away to fulfill my dream. After a year of working 3 jobs and some help from a kind brother I was debt free. 

And that is how I ended up here- as an English teacher. 

Through 4 years of college and the years in between coming and teaching and finally marrying here I struggled with my Mom not understanding my dreams. 

I know that she loves me- but I didn't feel we understood each other. 

Now, as I raise you- my precious girl I want to be close you. I want to understand you and support your talents and dreams- no matter how different they might be than my own. 

Last night your Daddy and I talked about your futures. 

Some parents want their children to be famous musicians, or artists, athletes  or actors. 

We will never push you or your brothers to be that- unless you want it. 

Our desire for each of you is that you are well educated, and well balanced in  your learning. We will gladly give you music lessons and whatever else you need to understand your likes and talents. 

We want you to be a woman who had a kind and loving heart, we want you to know that you are beautiful on the inside and to take good care of this body God has blessed you with. 

We want you to pursue your dreams and talents in a healthy way and to do the things you love most. 

We want you most of all to know what this life is about and to know where you are going when it ends. 

We want you to live this life and this day to the fullest as you walk towards eternity one day at a time. 

We want to understand you, to love you and to support you each day of your precious life- our dearest daughter. 

- - - -

Note: I love my Mom dearly and in time we have grown closer. I know that she has wanted the very best for me and even though I have not done things the way she would have liked she loves me just as much as I love my dear girl.

Sunday, January 12, 2014


If you have left your homeland and now dwell in a new land perhaps you have often encountered feeling like the outsider.

We learn, we grown, we do our very best to "fit in". And yet then again comes one of the stupid moments when the whole charade comes tumbling down and again you rise above all the locals as the outsider.

I have now lived in this land 8 years. I like to think that being half Latvian makes it easier for me to "fit in". . . But who knows if that is true.

I like this land, most of the time. I like these folks and their country, after all I do have roots here.

But you know, there are some things I really do like about America too.

I miss friendly cashiers- as weird as it may sound. And every time I go to the States I am tickled pink by how friendly cashiers sometimes are- even to the point it makes me laugh wondering how genuine or fake they are. Or perhaps it just how uncommon they seem after the quiet ones here.

I miss feeling "normal."- I have never been one that fits in, even in the States. But at least there I more or less fit in. Here when people find out I was home-schooled they look at me like I must have grown up and been educated on some alien planet.

I miss fast food choices-that is not to say I was ever a big fast food eater. But we don't even have a single fast food place in the city I live in. And now and again I sure would love a slice of Pizza Hut pizza or a taco from Taco Bell.

I miss hearing English- I realized recently that I can say the exact same thing in English as I told someone in Latvian. But only when I hear myself say it in MY language do I really hear (as in my heart feels and understands) what I am saying. I so miss going to an English speaking church- and actually hearing the sermons. I understand Latvian fine, but between trying to keep kids quiet and all the distractions one normally has I don't seem to really hear much of a sermon- or it goes in one ear and out the other.

I miss family- By far the thing hardest about living an ocean from your family is the fact that you rarely meet. Keeping close is hard work and holidays are sad when you can't be together. If you are close enough to give your loved ones a hug- then DO IT!

But then there are those things I love about this place.

I love that all health care for my kids is free.

I love that it is more normal to eat healthy here and finding local products is not difficult and not pricey.

I love that my kids speak 2 languages fluently.

I love that having a vegetable garden is normal :) (When we visited my parents last time in the States we walked all over the city and saw only one garden. We were shocked). 

I am proud that I can carry on the Latvian line in my family.

I am thankful that I now have dual citizenship (As of the last couple weeks).

I  am blessed to be a part of two worlds.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Little Hands to Heaven

Over the past year and a half I have been working through the first book of the Heart of Dakota homeschool program with my oldest child.

I was delighted when we finally finished it just before the year ended. We have had so much fun using Little Hands to Heaven. And I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a Bible based, easy to use homeschool program. It is for ages 2-5. We began it when my son turned four and finished it when he was 5 and half. It took us while, since we were in no hurry. He has learned so much, and I have so enjoyed teaching him. One thing I would say though is that you should definitely get the Bible The New Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes. The first year or so we used our own children's Bibles, we had three of them. But there were a lot of stories that the teacher's book said to read that are not in other children's Bibles. The New Bible has all the stories needed it seems :)

I had all the materials ready to go for us to start up again in 2014 with the next program using Little Hearts for His Glory and even though it takes a lot more time and might be a tad hard (at the moment) for my 5 1/2 year old we are already really enjoying it. He loves the science book and also is very into the story of Reddy Fox.

I have also started the Little Hands to Heaven program with my 3 year old daughter, and she is enjoying that so far. We are still on unit one, but I am looking forward to a great experience with her as well.

Thanks to Heart of Dakota for these great materials with a focus on the Bible, we are so enjoying them.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Play Kitchen- We did it!

I wanted to get our girlie something special for Christmas. But play kitchens are so expensive. And the  more I searched the Internet, the more I fell in love with the idea of us making one ourselves. I gleaned tons of ideas from Pinterest. and finally convinced my very handy husband that we should do it. 

So we started out with this piece of furniture. TV stands here in LV are hard to find like ones in the USA, and this is what we ended up with. This was after my husband had taken the back off.

We had so much fun working together on this project every free evening down in the basement. This was the first time we have ever done something like this together and it made it even more special because of that. Hand made Christmas gifts are always the most special because they are made with so much love and thought. 

Her kitchen has a light in the oven, and a phone with a real dial tone :) It all looks so real that she asked why the water doesn't work. I had fun making her some felt play food, but there are so many great ideas on Pinterest and I can't wait to get some more felt and make some more :) 

She loves her kitchen, and now finally has a play area that is girly: )