Sunday, August 13, 2017

Dragon Boat Festival

It was a nice sunny Sunday here in Davao City. Our neighbors asked if we would like to go check out the Dragon Boat Festival. It is the beginning of the festivities here in Davao for the Kadayawan Festival. The next two weeks will be full of celebration, plenty to eat and some fun things to do and see. It is a time of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. Davao City is known as the Fruit Basket of  the Philippines. I LOVE THAT!!

We headed to the Santa Ana Wharf and were pleasantly surprised to find the races well underway. The event was very well organized and it was fun to cheer for the hometown team! 

The boats were sent down from Manila. The teams consisted of men and woman who trained hard. There were all male teams, mixed teams, races with 10 rowers and races with 20. Each boat was equipped with a drum at the helm to help the rowers find and keep an effective rowing rhythm. Hmmm, still not sure about the man standing in the back? Steerer? Coach? I will have to study up on it!

It was fun experiencing something new. Click here if you would like to see more pictures of the day. Some snap shots around the wharf and surrounding area. We are a bit sunburned and ready for bed early! I am grateful for fun neighbors and think new things to discover are something wonderful! 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

3's the perfect # for me!

I woke up early this morning and just spent time praying for my kids. Such warm beautiful emotions fill me. They are my favorite people. We had the privilege of all being under one roof this summer.

I love the little things, random hugs, numerous jokes, funny faces, hanging out shooting hoops, movies in the ladder room, skateboards, bikes, guitars, watching the sunset and just those quiet conversations. I love watching them interact with each other and with L. Such unique special relationships. Even though we all seem to going different ways, they will always be a constant  reminder in my life of God's goodness and faithfulness to me. Being their Mom is the best! Looking through pictures I am amazed at the life we have had to this point! From PA, to Jersey and back to PA again...Niger, Philippines and many points in between.

Trip to NZ

Hangin in the park

Blitz in t he Phils


Swimming in the Niger River

Oh, the joy of gingerbread houses!

Jersey kids

Getting  the sheep for the special Nigerien opening!

Watch out, crazy croquet!

Back in PA

Climbing a Baobab tree at Parc W

The good, bad and the ugly. What hardships we have conquered and what interesting things we have seen. The people we have met along the way will forever be part of our story. Such a rich life. And it is just the beginning....talking to my kids I am thrilled to see where life leads. Such optimism, so many dreams! So thankful for these precious gifts! Being a Mom is something truly wonderful!

Thank you for letting me reminisce. It is a new strategy to find JOY in these transitions of family of 5 to 4 now to 3 for the moment....

Monday, June 19, 2017


I am on what does that mean? More TIME to do stuff that I do not usually do. More TIME to see family and friends. More TIME to go places. But what I love the most more TIME to slow up and just do not much of anything...  THINK! So much on my mind and I do not even know where to start thinking? I actually "blog" in my head when I walk, complete with catchy things to say and even considering pictures to use to make things a bit more interesting. Then I get home and well, I forget or have other things to do. I am out of my routine. TIME is different at the moment. I think about  how to really use my time wisely and appreciate the people and things around me. My life seems to be changing very quickly, another child "out of the nest" and well, just realizing that things will never be completely the same again. Not sure what the "same" would look like anyway? I have blogged about seasons and change in the past, so I will not revisit those topics. I guess I just needed to get some thoughts out of my head to stop the blockage?

I am content but I want to plan. Enjoying the moment while learning from the past and having hope for the future. So interesting for me to ponder....TIME marches on.

Sometimes I want time to go quicker when I am looking forward to something. Seems like time just creeps. But then when I am looking at how quickly my kids are maturing, or want to savor a moment, I want it to slow way down and then there is the time you can never get back. Time well spent....what does  that look like?? I think about being intentional ALOT. Whether it is taking a few minutes to connect with someone or 45 minutes to reconnect, it is important to me. I try not to rush around and be busy, yes life is full. But it is possible. I love listening to music and so many times I am just stuck singing a song over and over. The song, "Gone" that Switchfoot sings really resonates with me and on their newest release they sing a song called "Live It Well", sometimes it feels like they are reading my mind!! I am sure that there are many people pondering the same things as me. I just want to be a great guardian of my time, making sure that my days here on earth matter. That impact made will live on and on and has an eternal  investment. Maybe this is just how you think as you age. Honestly I feel like I am still 22!! I am so thankful for this time to reflect and enjoy a change of atmosphere, but am really thinking about the future and want to make sure my TIME is well spent. Time is something quite wonderful and a commodity not to be ignored!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Grad's last days at "home"

Well, it happened. Another one of my children is now a HS graduate. This week has been a mix of emotions. The actual day of graduation, I was a little concerned because at closing ceremonies of Ben's last day in high school,  I was feeling like I would burst out in tears just watching him play his guitar for his last worship set at the last chapel of his high school days. 

Yes, I mean to be redundant in my referring to his last high school days and his last experiences doing certain things. Feels so weird. Final. AND yes, I have been through this before. I pulled it together and busied myself with the work of the day.

The graduation ceremony went off and all went to plan.  I spent a lot of the celebration laughing instead of crying. So not how I thought it would be. Let's looks ahead, right?  He was thrilled & the class with all of their fun quirks were just enjoying the moment. 

Being together. I joined right in. Even enjoyed the photo booth.

The celebration continued into the night as the whole class had an all night game night at a friend's  house. All together, just enjoying each other. Not crying and wondering how it would be, but instead enjoying the now, the moment. The great times spent together. I guess when I think of it, I think of how these kids are all going different ways. They are from all over.....some will return to the states, but different states (so happy a couple will  be in PA), others to Korea, Japan, NZ, and well, I think you get the picture. These kids have grown up enjoying each other's uniqueness. They have not always responded perfectly, but they are all who they are... what a rich experience, why not celebrate!

Ben was not home much yesterday and when he was, he was pretty tired.  We did manage to squeeze some Charlie Bravo's from Army Navy & the final Pirates of the Caribbean movie  in before calling it a day. Last moments being together. I lamented a bit as I was wondering how we were going to spend his last day at "home" where WE are together.  Funny because we will be in the states a bit this summer with him, BUT he will not return with us. It will be different after today! I keep putting that word HOME in quotations. I guess because it seems to change in location but it never loses it's meaning. It has always been where we are together, laughing, crying living life. It is a safe place of love and acceptance. The location is changing again. It has been something a bit different since moving Drew out two years ago, but alas we found a new "normal". Another adjustment. But this summer we will all be together again. 

So that brings us to today..... it started at 3:30 AM. Waaaaay too early. And after a late night power outage, we were extra tired.

We signed up for the Fun Run to benefit the Tebow CURE Hospital. In a moment of weakness B, B and Q agreed to run/walk. Picked Q up at 4 AM and headed to the race. I was the only one ready for Zumba
& loved that the most. So glad no one was taking pictures of that!! So thankful for Marlene's great race pictures so you can get a glimpse of these wonderful people who fill my life with fun.

I just love our staff & partners who joined in! 

 Action shots if my kids?? Well, they were less than enthusiastic this morning. 

Bex sat out due to a trampoline injury and B & Q sporting their blue hair managed to take last place....DEAD last! Their participation did not go as I expected but they are mine and I love them!

Andrew Bray did however finish 2nd for the Men's 5 K! Way to go! Thank  you for the awesome finish! And you even got to have your picture with the weird vitamin guy that looked well, let's just say very happy!

We were pretty tired and lazed around most of the day. Time to pack up! Boy, that did not take as long as I was thinking, although I keep finding things that he forgot to gather. Moving from Africa we purged so many things. So we travel pretty light these days. So weird to think that he packed his life up into one big suitcase with a few things straggling. He will not be the kid starting college with multiple trips from the car to the dorm. 

Last activities included a dinner of Naan & chicken curry while playing Scrabble. Games on Sunday night have continued to be held dear.  I love that about our "normal".  Scheduled fun time together. That will be one thing I miss most, just him being here. BUT He has somewhere else to be.

So tomorrow, we will take Ben to the airport for a fun trip to Oregon (without us). These three will not be back together until, who knows when? 

We will see Ben in a week! Spend June & a bit of July making sure he has all he needs to start on the next leg of his journey. L, B & I will return to the Philippines one more boy short. The 5 of us will not be back  "home" together until Christmas. Just feels so final, and I am not quite sure how I am feeling about that? I just know that there are wonderful things to come & forward motion is good! So thankful for these precious kids that God has entrusted me with. Even as I finish this post up, I can hear Ben & Becca laughing and playing Kirby Air Ride like they have so many times before.  Something quite wonderful! 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Martial Law, Cheesemaking & a load laundry

So first things first, yes. I awoke to the news that President Rodrigo Duterte had indeed instated martial law for the entire island of Mindanao. That is where we live. This was in response to the most recent ISIS terror attack at a health facility north of us. Here is more of the story here. So strange, never thought I would ever be able to say that I lived under martial law. But here I am. Nothing seems different, I anticipate extra security checks and more uniformed men around the city. But I do know, that it is not business as usual for some who re facing the day mourning or wondering what the next days will bring. Armed uniformed men have become a normal sight, when we had just moved to Niger in 2010, there was a military coup not even a mile from the compound that we were living in. Gee, we thought was road construction....jack hammers. We had only lived there a little over a month. It was peaceful and at siesta time when there were no civilians around. It is funny how living through these experiences have changed my views on so much. I has taught me how my worry does NOTHING. Just as the news today, I thought, hmmm what is it going to take to bring safety and security?  What is safe? makes me think and really thankful that God says he will never leave me or forsake me, but he does not promise safety. So, I pay extra attention and ask the Lord of wisdom & discernment.

 I proceeded through my day like usual. Great time with the boys in the ward. Great singing and praying and practicing my Visayan!  What a joy they are. Their smiles & giggles really make my heart happy. I enjoyed a few conversations with the nurses, checked in with a few others and then headed home for a much needed tea date with a precious friend.  I love just grabbing these times and I am so thankful for them. It is like water to my soul.

Time to make cheese. Ha ha ha. I was almost amused by the randomness of my day. I have enjoyed living in other cultures. Lots of new foods to try but a really great skills acquired...making food from scratch (more than I had ever tried, my Mom is an amazing cook who taught me much and well Bobby Flay too). Granola, croutons, tahini, hummus, yogurt, bissap, chapati, cheese. My favorite?  The art of making ricotta cheese. Well, for those of you that make your own you may be saying...Big Whoop, so easy. Yes, it is, but oh so good. All of that to say, I love learning new things and especially in the kitchen. At first it seemed a bit daunting but now, it is just normal life. Really, a simple pleasure.

As I continued through my day, it was like this blog was scrolling through my mind and then I started talking to myself and figured that I would try to write some of it down. So here I am at my computer. As I was noticing postings regarding the new news here on Mindanao, I started to think of all the things I take for granted. All of the luxuries. I was quickly reminded by a load of laundry.

When I returned from Christmas break earlier this year, our washing machine was broken down.  Tried to repair it and were told that the part that we had ordered was stuck in customs for weeks. Ugh, so we went to plan B. A new used machine. The first few washes seemed great. I think it was partially because it actually got all of the clothes wet and swished a bit, drained and then oh wow, it actually spun the clothing. So all sarcasm aside, I was thrilled with the replacement. Well, it quickly started with some mysterious beeps and we called the technician. BUT the day he agreed to come, it worked with no beeps! Ugh again. So he came anyway and suggested a minor repair that George took care of lickety split. So that brings me to right many wonderful things, news reports that inform, ricotta cheese, my smiley buddy, Lester, washing machines, sunny days to hang wash, & my handy friend, George. The randomness of life & new experiences. All very wonderful!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Keep on Playing

Oh the joys of being back in Kindergarten! Today, I had the opportunity to substitute in the K Class at the school where my kids attend. I love this. Back to sweet seeing the kids peek through the window and wave (or have their stuffed animals wave)....then hearing one particular child announce it all over the nearby playground...."Mrs. Lehman is here!", "Mrs. Lehman is here!". Can't help but smile from ear to ear. It got me ready for the morning.

The day started with circle time sharing, centers and then VeggieTales. So many great things about being in kinder....tangrams, memory, puzzles, marble run. I think my favorite is the use of imagination. We talked about animal homes and I loved how each child picked a different animal that they would like to be and then wrote a short journal entry about their choice and what that animals home might be. I remember my own kids imagining all sorts of things and then telling stories and just playing and pretending for hours. The fun has continued as they have grown and we are now at the stage of "would you rather" and the Continuous hilarious story game with  their cousins.

I see so many posts that urge individuals to embrace who they are, "Stay Young", "Dance in the rain", "Dance like No one is watching", reminiscing about childhood games of Spud or Kick the Can...and so on. I love looking back but forward motion is just as important. Pondering one of our core values at CURE, I have really loved thinking about Child-likeness in a new way. That amazing wonder that a child has, the millions of questions and those awe-filled moments. My own kids still love to ask crazy questions and ponder different possibilities. I love that about them.  I love that about me!!! So much to discover about life and the world around us and how we interact with others and with God. I have so much to earn and I love to learn much of it through play. New experiences are awaiting everyday, I need to be reminded sometimes but this is my goal.

With my second son's graduation only a week away, I love thinking about all of these stages of "play". We don't stop playing it just changes and evolves?  Isn't that one way we learn about our world? Like trying to use a comforter as a parachute from the play-set in the backyard? Trial by play. I most certainly remember my kids younger days but have grown to appreciate their youthfulness at all stages. Our "play" certainly looks a lot different now than sandboxes, squirt guns and bubbles. Well then again, B just bought a new squirt gun the other day and yeah, B spent a few hours on a trampoline and I am still obsessed with bubbles. So maybe not? I still love slinkies and spirograph and of course B uses the Lite Brite when we visit PA for the summer. We still have a night set aside to play a game and really love our times together. So funny, Payday was always one off my favorites, and it is B's fav too. I could go on, but I think I painted the picture. We are still learning and growing. Play is important.  It is something quite wonderful! 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Tea & Sanity

Oh boy, do I need a cup of tea!! Over the years, tea has been a consistent reminder to slow down and sit and chat. It is funny, I have never been a fan of coffee but tea, yes. It has been a relaxing reminder that there is always time to sit and be still and let the tea cool over quiet thoughts or rich conversation when I am with some of my favorite people. Everything will be OK! It has been a common theme  from NJ to PA to SC to Niger to the Philippines. My tea know who you are!

A few weeks ago, I was reading a story to the Kindergarten class that I love to visit. Owl, the character in the story was making "tear-water tea" struck a cord with me.  I have always been a crier, happy /sad, tears of joy and sorrow spill from my eyes. I have cried and even sobbed over many quiet conversations with Jesus and others over tea. Yesterday, I started a new Beth Moore Bible study with some friends here...mmmmm "Snowy Day Tea" was the choice for me. I honestly can remember multiple cups of Blueberry tea with Karen, Mint tea with Joy, a "proper" cup with Marcia, tea in the country with Beth, Tuareg tea with Julie et all my Nigerien friends, any type of tea with Mo, new tea experiences  with Jocy and certainly many cups with my tea loving husband and the list goes on.... my kids are even tea drinkers, but it is much more than a beverage choice to me. It is a tangible reminder of many precious times. It is time to be "real", it has urged me in some way to be authentic and honest with myself.

One of my favorite tea times was when I had sent my last child to Kindergarten. It is hard, right? The loneliness could be a bit overwhelming. Well, I felt the sweet quiet nudge of Jesus to make time to sit on the swing in the backyard and have tea with Him. It felt a little silly, but it changed my perspective totally. What a gift to sit and talk to Him, looking on to our beautiful yard and hearing the water in the pond, the birds in t he trees. Sweet quiet time just having tea.

I love the gentle reminders to slow down and not let circumstances get the best of me. This past few months have been quite hard, but yesterday, sipping my "snowy day tea" I enjoyed the peace and the sanity of being surrounded with ladies that I love and share life with me, who build me up and who I do not need to see all the time. Times spent with my Mom and Auntie Bren & Hillary. Man, I can not list all of you!! The connectedness is amazing, you know people who you just click with? One of those friends, I only see a few times a year when she is in town, but that has been full of joy. She often brings me this fabulous tea! I am so thankful for friends like her. The nature of our life has us living in two places, intentional  relationship is very important to me. It makes me savor the time spent!

Moving as many times as we have, I feel like I miss out on the really close..."I knew her since preschool" types of relationships, I have a bunch of what I would consider life-long friends. But I do not have a weekly girls night or a standing lunch date.  I do see those people, just not regularly. I have to be super intentional about who I see and when. I am constantly welcoming new friends and saying "see you later" to others. I am thankful for friends that have stuck with me through this crazy life of big and frequent changes. Those who speak those timely words, who pop me quick notes of encouragement, who hear me cry a lot and then laugh a lot, those who can be brutally honest with me.  I am loving this stage of life, yes, many challenges for sure, but sweet tea times  help me reflect and help me slow down and remind me of how rich my life is. I am so thankful for Jesus (who is constant through it all), tea and friends....they keep me in my right mind and bring me joy. Something wonderful indeed.