Why I “Count it all Joy” Wednesday

Welcome to Why I Count It All Joy Wednesday!!
To join in on all the JOY, grab my button for your post, 
make your own JOY list, and link up below this post!  
Don’t forget to post a link back to me!

I am filled with JOY because we got to spend the day swimming with Loren and her family.  It is so cool that we met and became BFF’s in 7th grade and today our granddaughters are playing together!!

Rylee, Loren's princess and Ella, my princess 

I am filled with JOY because we were able to host Joseph, our missionary friend, and were so blessed by him and by the things he taught us.

Dan and I with Joseph

Joseph gave us this painting for hosting him at our house!!  It is soooo cool!!!

I am filled with JOY because the 4th of July is this weekend and my sweet hubby has an extra day at home with us!!
I am filled with JOY because a friend told us about a kids bowling program for the summer and we signed up and now we get to bowl for the rest of the summer for free.  We so aren’t good bowlers, but the kids love it.
I am filled with JOY because Ella was shopping with her momma and she saw a sleep mask, asked her mom what it was, and requested that she buy one for me, her nanny, because I don’t sleep as good as she thinks I should.  She was so excited when she brought it to me!!

Had to have a picture with the mask on for Ella!!

I am filled with JOY because everyone in my family loves to cook and we do it together all the time!!  Creating great memories!!

I am filled with JOY because I was reading Proverbs and was reminded that is says, Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life. Proverbs 16:31  I love more than anything that you can find a verse for everything you go through, even getting gray!!

I am filled with JOY because our vacation to the beaches of California is only a month away!!  I have never been there and I am SOOOOO excited!!
I am filled with JOY because when I was really having an upsetting day, and the enemy was really trying to steal my JOY, Jesus showed up in a big way to restore my JOY and comfort me. (see yesterdays post)
I am filled with JOY because His word says, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33  Praise His holy name!!!

What fills you with JOY??
Counting it all Joy!!

The Peace of Jesus!!!

As most of you know, my son is in the army and scheduled for his 2nd tour of duty in early 2011, this time to Afghanistan.  As his mom, I carried him in my womb, I had an immediate bond with him when they first placed him in my arms, I spent countless hours rocking and cuddling him when he got his days and nights mixed up, I acted thrilled and excited when he first came in the house so excited to bring me a pocketful of worms, I was there all through his school years, most of which were at home.  I was there when he had his tonsils removed and couldn’t swallow, for too many sports practices and events to count.  I was there through all the roller coaster years of teen life, girlfriends, friends, so-called friends, church camp, youth groups, sending him off on a couple mission trips, and finally meeting with the recruiter and signing up for 8 years of service to our country, knowing that he would eventually be sent off to some other country to fight for our freedom, mine, yours, and every other American.  
We recently heard about a fallen soldier in Owasso.  This always seems to knock the wind out of me.  This young man, turned soldier, is like my son, someone’s baby, someone did the things for him that we have done for our son, right up to sending him off to fight for us.  Some family just had their hearts ripped out of their chests.
Yesterday was his funeral and if you have read my friend, Loren's post today, you know the people of Owasso turned out for his family in a big way.  What an awesome community, a family.  You also know, that awful church group came to protest, it’s just SICK.  He died fighting for the freedom that allows these horrible people to be at and protest his funeral, something is WRONG!!  God is a God of Love and Peace and JOY, not hatred!!  How can anyone represent Him in this way???  I was just sick thinking of it all and of how. as his mom, I would feel if that were my sons funeral.  
I was really praying about it and praying for the safety of my son and all our soldiers, but I was also having a hard time not allowing myself to have hateful feelings toward these protesters, for these people who came to make a mockery of his death and so I was really praying about that too.  I was begging God to give me the love I need to have for them (not what they do), to be able to pray for them, and live in the Joy knowing that my God will WIN this battle for our freedom.
At the end of the day, I sat down to read a few blog posts and to post a book review, while doing this, I checked my facebook.  There was a post from the wife of a soldier my son was deployed with.  She had attended the funeral and taken pictures of all the people with flags lining the street. 
This is the main picture on her post labeled, “Shot this picture as the family arrived”
There was my peace, my JOY, my strength, my answer to all the prayers.  There was Jesus showing up, wrapping His arms around me, and saying it will ALL be OK.

"One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock."  Psalm 27:4-5

Counting it all Joy!!

Jelly Bellies

Recently the boys bought a box of Jelly Bellies (fancy jelly beans).  It was actually a game.  There were lots of colors, each color had two different flavors but you couldn’t tell by looking which flavor you were getting.  The funny part was for each color there was a good flavor and a bad flavor, like the brown ones were either chocolate pudding or canned dog food.  When the boys asked to buy them, I knew the bad flavors wouldn’t be very good but I never dreamed they would actually taste exactly like the bad flavor they were supposed to be.  So we separated the Jelly Bellies into colors and handed them out not knowing who got the good flavors and who got the bad flavors.  Lucky me only had to try them if there were more than four of one color, which wasn’t too many.  The great thing is I got all the good flavors.  While I was eating peach, strawberry jam, blueberry, and coconut my pour husband and the boys were eating  baby wipes, tooth paste, vomit, and skunk spray.  I mean I have never eaten canned dog food, skunk spray, or any of the other horrible flavors but I have smelt them and let me tell you, when the boys would bite into the Jelly Bellies the smell gagged me and I didn’t have to taste them.  Oh my, they were all gagging and spitting them out and I sat here and laughed and laughed, not because they were gagging, but because they are boys and no matter how bad the flavor was, they continued to go back for more!!

He looks like he is crying, but believe it or not he is laughing and gagging!!

Another good GAG!!
Last night one of the boys was talking about that day and eating those gross Jelly Bellies and he was saying how they are kind of like the world.  You can’t always tell if something is good by the way it looks.  You can see someone or something with a great outer appearance only to find out you were mistaken, appearance can be deceiving.  It sure makes me JOYful to hear things like this from my guys.  To know they are getting IT!!  
I think the appearance thing is something everyone struggles with occasionally, not only in the world, but even in ourselves, especially girls.  We can get so caught up making sure we look good, our hair, our tans, our nails, our make-up, our clothes, and even the shape of our body, than we do our hearts.  I know the Lord wants us to care about our outer appearance but I also know HE cares way more about our heart than our looks!!  Because in the end, you can be the most beautiful thing but once someone gets close enough to you to see your heart, you can lose that beauty if your heart is not beautiful.  I pray that from this day forward, I always look at my heart first and keep it healthy, and looking good.  
1 Samuel 16:7 - "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
What are your kids reminding you of today?
Counting it all Joy!!

Sing a Song

Yesterday I really had some internet problems and couldn’t get my post up until late in the day, so today I want to share this song and encourage you to read yesterday’s post about Joseph!!

We have been singing this song at church for quite some time and I have always loved it, but this week as we have hosted Joseph and tried to help him accomplish some of what he came to America for, this verse has been the cry of my heart.  It seems I go to sleep singing it and wake up singing it.  I even had a comment from my “we think alike” friend Loren with part of this verse in it.  
Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks yours
Everything I am for your kingdom’s cause
What is the cry of your heart??
Counting it all Joy!!

Who is This Man

When Joseph arrived I got so caught up in the moment, I failed to introduce him properly.  
Joseph Dayamba is a Children’s Minister from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, West Africa.  He was born and raised in West Africa along with his one sister and seven brothers.  He is married to Aimee and has two children, a son - Ezeckias and a daughter - Jaelle.  
Joseph knew at a young age the Lord was calling him into the ministry, Children’s Ministry.  Being African and being raised in the African culture, he knew this was going to be a huge challenge.  They do not believe in ministering to children.  They are of the opinion that since kids can not tithe and support the pastor they are not worth ministering to, this is even the practice in the Christian Churches there.  (I would love to go there and read some specific scripture to them, but that will have to be in another post)  Joseph grew up and attended a University there and then has gone through a lot of training to become a Pastor.  He says even in training when he would tell them he was going to do children’s ministry they would just look at him like he had lost his mind, pass him over, and go on to the next person.  
Now several years later, he is doing Children’s Ministry there.  He does annual children’s camps, evangelical outreaches, as well as his normal weekly ministry.  He started a Christian School and they now have 160 students.  The sad part is last year they turned over 100 kids away because they didn’t have a place to teach them.  He also recently rented a house and began an English Academy.  The Africans believe you have to be able to speak English if you are ever going to succeed.  The Academy began this year with 3 students, but they have 48 more starting in the fall, which is all they have room for at this point.

These two pictures are of the kids at school!!

This picture is during camp and they are reenacting when Jesus rode into town on a donkey.  My kids thought it was awesome that they had a real donkey for this at kids camp!!  They said, “We always have to pretend!!”

Over the years he has gained the respect of many prominent people in his village and beyond, but not for his ministry.  The government has allowed him to use some of the land, but only because he is giving these kids a good education, they are just willing to allow the ministry part because of the education.  The Imam (Muslim leader) in his village is allowing muslim children to attend the Christian School because the education is so much better than what they get in public school.  The wonderful part is they also get the Word of God and the Love of Jesus!!  He said the parents are praying their Muslim prayers and preparing to go to the mosque, meanwhile the kids are singing songs about Jesus!!  How awesome is that!!

These two pictures are of Joseph doing an outreach in West Africa.  He said it starts out with just kids and the parents just watch from a distance.  They play games and sing lively Jesus songs and eventually the parents get interested and excited and they come down and sit with the kids to be a part of it too!!  It's that contagious JOY!!

Joseph has lived his life stepping up to the call and challenges of the Lord’s ministry in Burkina Faso.  Please keep him and his family in your prayers as he continues to do the Lord’s work, making a difference in the lives of these kids!!!

I believe if we all work together, we CAN change the world one child at a time!!
Counting it all Joy!!

Why I “Count it all Joy” Wednesday

Welcome to Why I Count It All Joy Wednesday!!
To join in on all the JOY, grab my button for your post, 
make your own JOY list, and link up below this post!  
Don’t forget to post a link back to me!
I am filled with JOY because the Lord is stretching my heart in ways I didn’t think it could be stretched anymore!!
I am filled with JOY because Joseph, our missionary friend, is staying with us and blessing our lives by being here.
I am filled with JOY because I know the Lord sees Joseph’s heart and hears his cries and will bless him with all he needs.
I am filled with JOY because I got to lay by the pool yesterday and bask in the beauty of God’s creation.
I am filled with JOY because the Lord is speaking to me and showing me things in a big way.
I am filled with JOY because for every person who believes children aren’t worth ministering to there is someone who not only knows they are, but is also willing to do it.
I am filled with JOY because during a conversation about how much it would cost to feed a family in Africa, we learned $20 would buy a bag of rice and $30 would buy a bag of corn meal, which would be their main food for a month, one of my twins asked if he could just give Joseph $20 so he could buy an extra bag.
I am filled with JOY because I don’t have to worry about what, when, or how I will feed my kids and with less than I spend a month on snacks for my family I can feed a family in Africa for the entire month.
I am filled with JOY because not only do I have a husband who understands when my heart is breaking, but his breaks too.
I am filled with JOY because I started this new meme last week and had several join in and lots of great feedback.
Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Matthew 18:3-4
Be JOYful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
What fills you with JOY?

Counting it all Joy!!

Breaking What's Already Broken

As this week progresses, I can feel my life changing.  As we live side by side with Joseph and see and hear about his life and ministry, I feel my heart coming out of my chest.  The heart I have always claimed was broken for children because we do children’s ministry, because we buy gifts for sick kids, and send money to someone if they need it.  Now I’m asking, is that really a heart for kids?
As we ate dinner last night, we were asking Joseph questions about their meal times, you know normal questions like what do you guys eat.  Boy were we in for a rude awakening.  
His reply was, “We have one thing, like if today is rice day, we have it for lunch, which would be a bowl of rice with some sauce to pour over it so it will have a little flavor and then for dinner we eat it again.  Then tomorrow will be corn day and we will have corn for lunch and again for dinner”.  He then looked at our plates and said, “We would never have anything like this, we only have one thing to eat.”  
Okay, I can’t remember the last time I had only one thing to eat for a whole day.  This man has kids, what if I could only feed my kids rice or corn?  He said sometimes if someone needs food, his wife will take his food and give it to them and he is very blessed when she does this.  If all I ever had to eat was rice and corn would I be blessed if Dan gave it to someone else, I would love to say I would, but I’m not so sure.  I seriously started to cry thinking about Mom’s who can’t feed their kids, thinking about how they must feel, how I would feel if I knew my kids were going to school or to bed without eating!!  
We talked about the JOY these kids have even in these circumstances.  The little girls who have only one skirt and they have to wear it everyday to school and they are so filled with JOY.  I know there are times I’m not filled with JOY when I enter my closet to pick something to wear and I have lots of options, a full closet and I am still saying “I don’t have anything to wear!”
JOY is my motto, my theme, we must find JOY in life, it’s my battle cry but seriously would I be able to find any JOY in all that?  
My oldest son asked how much it costs to feed his family for a month.  We knew there is four in his family, but he said there is always someone staying with them so there is usually at least 6 people to feed in his house and it cost about 100 U.S. dollars to feed them all for a month.  My chin hit the table, that’s like 55 cents a day per person.  I buy a pop at our local Quik Trip all the time in the summer because they are 49 cents, I could feed one of them for a whole day for the cost of my extra drink!!  How can that be.  I know I hear, it’s different here, this is how things are here and they are used to how it is there, they don’t know the difference.  But does that make it okay?  Just because someone can justify the way we live, does that make it alright?
I don’t know what the Lord is doing, I don’t know how my family fits in all of it, I don’t know where we are to go from here, but I do know He is breaking the heart that I thought was already broken.  
Counting it all Joy!!

Joseph and Father's Day!!

I am, again, so amazed at the way the Lord lines things up in our lives.  
Several weeks ago, we agreed to host an African Missionary in our home.  The date for his arrival was changed a couple of times, but Joseph finally arrived Saturday evening, and boy were we excited!!  You see, when we had agreed to this, we didn’t know much about him, we just knew he would be here and he would need a place to stay.  When the announcement was made at church, Dan and I didn’t even talk about it, we made eye contact over a couple of kids heads and knew that our hearts were lined up, so after church Dan told the pastor we would host him.  I knew this would require getting a room ready for him, but I also knew the Lord blessed us with a house with an extra room just for this kind of thing.
While anticipating and preparing for his arrival, we learned a few things about him.  The most exciting of which was, he is a Children’s Minister!!  Oh did that make our hearts sing with JOY!!  The Lord was sending someone to stay with us that has the same heartbeat we have!!  He hasn’t been here long, just long enough for us to all know the Lord put us in his path or him in our path for a reason.  The Lord is doing a great work through him in Africa where they don’t feel children are worth ministering too. I will be sharing more about Joseph later in the week!!

There was an immediate bond between Joseph and the boys!!

Needless to say we had a great weekend.  It started Friday with a trip to the theater to see Toy Story 3.  It was fantastic.  I laughed and I cried and so did everyone else!!
Here we are in our 3D fashion glasses!!
Father’s day was wonderful, all the kids and Joseph were here to celebrate it with us.
Ella loves her Papo!!

Cooking here is a family event!!  We made Chicken Fajitas, rice, beans, and Drew’s famous Salsa!!  For desert it was brownie fudge sundaes with bananas and strawberries!!!
Joseph entertained the kids while we cooked!!

My handsome boys helping out!!

Someone always stops the cooking for a photo shoot and someone always thinks it’s funny to take a picture of the photo shoot!!

Hope you all had a wonderful Father’s Day too!!
Counting it all Joy!!

What's in a Word

We are a Mac family!  We all have iphones and I have an ipad that I let the twins play on.  We recently found an app called Words with Friends and we all love it.  It is like the game Scrabble.  It is really cool, only two people can play each other, so  we all always have several games going at once.  The best part is you don’t have to just sit and play it, you play a word when ever it is your turn and you have time.  It then alerts whoever you are playing, and they can play back at their convenience.  Too Cool!!
Anyway, we all have been playing it and as usual, you win some and you lose some!!  Sometimes you have only little words not worth much and sometimes you have good words worth a lot.  Last night I was playing with Drew (my 18 year old) when I was needing to start my blog post for today, so I randomly said “I need to go blog, have any ideas?”  He said, “Words”  at first, I thought, “Thanks a lot, you’re a lot of help”, but then I got to thinking that wasn’t such a bad idea even if he only said it because we were playing that game.
Words, some good, some bad, some meaningless, some powerful, some will cause us to lose and some will help us win!!  hmmm???  It’s so cool to me how the Lord uses things in my life like this silly little game to make me stop and check myself.  I sat down in here to blog about something else and couldn’t get “WORDS” out of my mind.  I know that it is just a game, but they will do the same for us in life.  We spend all our time choosing the very best words in the game, but do we do that in life?
We have to choose our words and we should always choose them carefully.  We should always choose the words that will help us and those around us win.  We should always choose the encouraging words, the comforting words, the edifying words.
There is an amazing amount of power in kind and gentle words.  The smallest word of encouragement or support can really brighten someone’s day.  These are the words that should be on our lips.
Kind words are like honey--sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.  Proverbs 16:24
The bible is full of warnings about the power of words, they do good and evil.  
Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.  Proverbs 12:18
I know I am guilty of choosing the wrong words at times.
May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.  Psalm 19:14
I pray that my words always bring healing and that I spend my days choosing the winning words!!
Counting it all Joy!!

Why I “Count it all Joy” Wednesday

Welcome to Why I Count It All Joy Wednesday!!
To join in on all the JOY, grab my button for your post, 
make your own JOY list, and link up below this post!  
Don’t forget to post a link back to me!

I am filled with JOY because there is never a day when I don’t feel, hear, and see how much I am loved by my husband, kids, and granddaughter.  Thank you Jesus for such an awesome family!!
I am filled with JOY because today I am kicking off this new meme.  I have so enjoyed doing my Why I Count it all JOY Wednesday posts, I have been thrilled and so encouraged by all the comments I have gotten, and I am honored that so many of my bloggy friends have enjoyed it enough to want to join in!!  
I am filled with JOY because I have a wonderful new blog look, that I love, a new button for you all to sport, that I love, and an incredibly talented husband who did it all for me, THAT I LOVE!! 
I am filled with JOY because the twins were allergy tested last week.  It appears they are allergic to just about everything, but I know when we go to the Doctor tomorrow to get all the results and treatment plan, no matter what it is, my Jesus has a plan, He is in control, and there will not be anything presented that we can’t handle!!
I am filled with JOY because the African Missionary I mentioned in a past post will be here this weekend to stay with us for a while!!
I am filled with JOY because I spent the day with my wonderful friend Loren.  We met early for coffee, eventually had to order lunch, and before we knew it, had to leave before we needed to order dinner!!  
I am filled with JOY because it is summertime and we get to cook-out, go to the pool, go for long family bike rides, and take the time to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation more!!
I am filled with JOY because I have still been doing the 30-Day Shred with my Shred Sisters and I am starting to be able to see some muscle definition in my arms, which have always been kind of scrawny no matter how much I weigh.  Now I feel like I am going to be a Nanny with guns, LOL!!
I am filled with JOY because I believe JOY is contagious and if we all continually focus on the JOY in all situations, we can change the world one smile at a time!!
I am filled with JOY because my JESUS LOVES ME!!
Be JOYful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
What fills you with JOY?
Counting it all Joy!!

Sharing the JOY!!

I am so excited to kick off my new meme today - 
Why I Count It All Joy Wednesday!!
If you haven’t read one of my past JOY posts, click here or here to read one.  To join in on all the JOY, all you have to do is grab my button, post it on your Wednesday blog along with a list of the reasons you are filled with JOY.  Post it all tomorrow and then come back here and link up so everyone can read your JOY list!!
I know for me, the trials of life are more bearable if I look for the JOY, the stumbling blocks seem smaller if I look for the JOY, and the celebrations are more JOYful when I focus on the JOY!!
What a difference we can make if we focus on the JOY in all things and teach our kids to do the same!!
Here are a few verses to get you started!!
Be JOYful always. 1 Thessalonians 5:16 

Consider it pure JOY, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.  James 1:2 

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime!  Weeping may last through the night, but JOY comes with the morning.  Psalm 30:5

Counting it all Joy!!

My First Blog Award!!!

I’m so excited, I received my first blog award from Kat at  Heart 2 Heart   If you have never met Kat, you should go by and introduce yourself!!  You will be glad you did.
Here are the rules:

For me to accept this award "I must list 7 things you don't know about me.
1.  Up until a few months ago I was the owner of The Sweet Lady - Tulsa’s Gourmet Cupcake Company.
2.  I used to have a velvet Elvis hanging on my bedroom wall.  No real reason, I grew up liking Elvis and someone gave me the painting as a gift, just can’t believe I actually kept  it up so long!!
3.  I almost died of the whooping cough when I was a baby, but that wasn’t the Lord’s plan for me.  YAY!!
4.  Mango makes my tongue swell.
5.  Growing up, my family was very dysfunctional, the JOY is, I was raised by my wonderful Nanny and Papa.
6.  When I was a little girl, I wanted to grow up, marry someone wonderful, and have 10 kids.  Well I grew up, married someone wonderful, and had 5 kids, BUT when they all get married I will have my 10!!  God is so good!!
7.  My family and I are extreme Foodies!  We all love to cook, try new recipes, make up new recipes, and eat too much!
I am also supposed to pick some of my bloggy friends to pass it on to, but I love all of you guys and you have all been such blessings to me, that I pick all of you!!  Please pick up the button at the top, post it on your blog and wear it proudly.
Tomorrow I will be announcing my new meme.  Please come back and join in on the JOY!!
Counting it all JOY!!