Sunday, March 25, 2012

Hope for the Future

IMG_0268“If we cannot envision a better future, how can we consciously make the choices that will get us there?”

I read this in one of my books for my classes called “Resonant Leadership” by Boyatzis & McKee.  It really struck me in terms of my work here with the boys.  Too often, I have had fairly vague wishes, like “I wish I could teach them to read” or “I wish they wouldn’t break everything in sight” or “I wish they would have a conversation with me instead of a running list of who did what to whom!"

I’m praying for increased vision for my work with my boys, imagining what is possible and trying not to get bogged down by what I don’t yet see.  And I want to follow that up with conscious choices that will help me walk toward that vision.

Hebrews 11:1 says “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Please pray with me for increased faith and vision for raising these precious boys God has entrusted to my care.

What are you envisioning and are you making conscious choices to help make it happen?


(This is little Joseldo who was nine weeks old when these two photos of him were taken.  He weighed 2.4 kilos which is 5.5 pounds.  That was after he’d been with us for a time and had begun gaining weight.   I chose these photos because we certainly need vision and hope for the future of little precious ones like these that come to us.  He’s not in my dorm yet but someday, not TOO long off, he will be!  I want to keep growing and dreaming and choosing to make a home for my boys that helps fulfill the vision that God has for their lives!)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Huckleberry Finn?

IMG_0003Or is it Tom Sawyer?  I always forget.  But I thought it was adorable Sam was fishing while wearing suspenders.  He could have been a kid from 100 years ago, except he wouldn’t have been sitting on the floor in front of a fridge and stove, or playing with plastic fish!

Well, with a friend along, Afonso, it must be both Huck Finn AND Tom Sawyer!



Sunday, March 18, 2012

Building Bridges

“Men build too many walls and not enough bridges.”  Sir Isaac Newton

I just read this quote in one of my books on leadership I am reading for my classes and it really struck me, the profound truth of it.  How often do we allow offense or miscommunication or hurt to build up walls within us that separate us from others rather than build bridges that connect us together?

It reminded me of a time several years ago when the age of the boys in my dorm had risen and was bordering on adolescence and so we were encountering some behavior problems.  One particular evening, some of the older boys had been particularly disrespectful and I was hurt and offended.   I was in fact nursing the hurt in my head – building walls between us. 

I suddenly heard God very clearly speak to my spirit – “build a bridge to them.”    Of course, I said, “what?  is that you God?”  And again, I heard him say, “build a bridge – they don’t know how, you need to show them how.”

The moment is crystal clear to this day – the importance of building a bridge to cover the gap that grows between us during conflict.  And, especially with children, to model that for them in order to teach them what to do when they have wronged or been wronged.  How to forgive and seek forgiveness.

Since then, I have often found myself in a situation when I whisper to myself – “build a bridge Laura.”  I hope that will keep me from building too many walls!

Do you build bridges or walls in your life?  I’d love to hear your stories!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Fun in the Sun! And there’s always sun!


There’s a botanical garden not too far from our center, hidden away, way, way off the main road, down a bunch of dusty dirt roads.  They really do have an amazing amount of plants there. 

But the boys love to go there for their little playground, that’s the best part for them!  They love the big toys to play on that are different from what we have here.

Above, Paulo takes his turn at driving the car, by far the most popular toy there!


Pai, Alfeu, Reginaldo and Paulo Luis are enjoying the bridge.


Twins, Francisco and Lourenco are way too young to be driving!!!

IMG_0347AAlito is just about to set sail on his cool swing.IMG_0380IMG_0365

I love that Casmeiro is in the tube while Felizardo and Pai are swinging it away.  He doesn’t look any worse for wear!


“Hellloooo Agostinoooooo!!!”


Finished off by a yummy snack of hard boiled eggs, grapes, chips and a lolly – yum!  For the boys, that makes up for making them play outside when it’s a thousand degrees!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Computer-Free Wednesdays


(More handsome boys who have nothing to do with this post!!!)

To carry on with March’s theme of so-called sacrifice, I wanted to share another endeavor I have embarked upon.  But this isn’t just for March - this will be on-going indefinitely.  Maybe, maybe not forever.  But for some time.

By the way, I don’t write “so-called” in front of sacrifice to be disingenuous.  I am just aware that my attempts at limitations and giving things up are rather small and painless in the grand scheme of things.  This isn’t a 40 day fast.  I’m not evening fasting one meal (although I might have to if my money runs out – ha!).  Nor have I given up the internet entirely.  Not to mention personal sacrifices people make on a regular basis. I’m not even giving up Coke Lite for Peat’s sake (Hi Sam!). 

I’m just aware that what I am giving up is rather small and temporary and it just seems too self-important to keep referring to it as a month of sacrifices.

Back to the topic at hand!

In the last post, I wrote about realizing how much time I spend on the computer reading about doing things rather than doing things themselves.  I could no longer ignore how much time I waste on the computer instead of enjoying real-life things.  Like people, reading, crafting, cooking.  Even watching a movie!  I may have used the work “addicted” to refer to my time on the internet. 

I’ve always wanted to live an intentional life.  To live deliberately.  To Seize the Day!  I came face to face with the fact that 2011 was not “The Year of Living Deliberately” in my life.

Now, I do think that this year of what I might call laziness and inertia if you will, has it’s roots in my grief over losing Pedro at the end of 2010.  This impacted me in ways too deep to explore in this blog post.  Suffice to say, grieving took a lot of my energy and heart and time.  The internet was easy and didn’t require any effort from me.  I could lose myself in it. 

Mind you, God has been faithful and present and a great comfort to me since Pedro died.  But we all have coping skills and we all make choices.  And I think I chose to check out for awhile.

It’s time to check back in. 

So, Computer-Free Wednesdays.  I won’t be turning my computer on, on Wednesdays.  Not even for email.  I wrestled with this initially because of both my parent’s health and realized that if something happens, they both would call me anyway, not email me.  So there it is, no reason not to unplug for one day a week.

To show what a wimp I really am, I have to tell you, I chose Wednesday because it’s Home Group night here at the center so I knew 7-10 would basically be temptation-free anyway!  But as it turns out, it hasn’t been very hard at all.

And the neat thing is, between giving it all up on Wednesdays and giving up facebook and blogs the rest of the time, I really am beginning to live more purposefully again. 

I have decided to have people over for dinner every Wednesday, so I am both cooking and socializing (with real, live people, not their facebook photos!).  I am reading more, I’m exercising daily for the last month, I’ve even enjoyed a craft evening with a few friends.  (I’ve also watched two seasons of Survivor but hey, entertainment is still good!).

If you’ve ever wondered if you should unplug for awhile, disconnect from whatever screen takes up the most of your time, I highly recommend it!  Even if you set yourself a small time frame to begin with.  If you have ever done this, I would love to hear about it!  I get encouraged and inspired when I hear about people trying to make deliberate choices for their lives and it all looks so different for each one of us.

Now, I’m off to eat some of my homemade chili and read one of my textbooks!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Minimal Spending March

DSC_0036 (Gorgeous twins, Francisco and Lourenco, have nothing to do with this post, just thought you all might be missing some of these delightful faces since I haven’t written about the boys lately – enjoy!)

It wasn’t intentional that the month of March contains so much so-called sacrifice for me this year.  It happened kinda by accident, unless of course you consider the leading of the Holy Spirit intentional, in which case it wasn’t by accident at all!

As I wrote in my previous post, I am celebrating Lent this year by abstaining from facebook and from reading blogs.  Of which I read a lot.  Like 20 or so.  Every day.  The blogs I read are helpful and inspiring and there is nothing wrong with them, I’ve learned a lot from them.  They are about cooking, homemaking, raising and educating children, crafts, etc. I will likely return to reading most of them when Lent is over.  But they, with facebook, have been taking up too much of my time and energy and I haven’t been choosing real-life activities enough.

I was struck by this thought – “when did I start reading ABOUT cooking rather than cooking?”  “when did I start reading ABOUT crafting rather than crafting?”  I was aware for awhile I needed to break this habit.

But wait, this post is about Minimal Spending March, not Lent!  Let’s carry on  . . .

So, on one of these blogs, one of my favorites called Small Notebook ( I read about their family’s annual endeavor to be mindful of their spending.  It inspired me to do the same. (I told you the blogs I read are inspiring!) This is just one of the articles, they did it three years.  If you’re interested, this article will include lots more links to what they did, what they learned and what they took away with them

So, rather spontaneously, Minimal Spending March was born!  (It took me awhile to come up with that catchy label – “for one month I can spend money on things but not much, I’ve given myself a set, very restricted budget” was a bit cumbersome!).  It just “so happened” to be the same month as the majority of Lent.

I took the amount she spends on her family of four as a cue (obviously we live very different lifestyles, I don’t think she has to pay $8-10 for gas for one trip to the grocery store!) and set myself a budget of $20 a week, $80 for the month, for all of my spending.  This does NOT include spending on the boys or my work or giving within the context of my work.  This does include the $8 I will spend on toilet paper, representing 10% of my monthly allowance!  My friend asked to use my restroom and jokingly apologized for using up some of my precious TP/money!

This will include food, gas, phone credit, eating out, trinkets, etc.  In the interest of total disclosure, it does NOT include my Coke Lite!  This is my game, I can make the rules.  So there!

I’ve made a fairly big mistake so far.  Here it is, Day 10, and I’ve just sat down and written everything down that I’ve spent.  I also just now did the math to determine $80 for Mozambican Mets and realized I had 2160 mets to spend.  It suddenly made those 79 met grapes a luxury that maybe could have waited til April and I could have made do with the apples that were already in my fridge.  If I’d already had a running tally, I might have made a different choice.

Plus, one of the points of this exercise if being mindful of my spending!  Not writing down the first ten days made it fuzzy and vague rather than in clear focus.

Writing down what I’ve spent so far in ten days was shocking – $57.29!!!  That means I have $22.71 left to spend.  For the next 21 days!!!  That’s $1 a day! 

I hope I have enough toilet paper!!!

Monday, March 05, 2012

Celebrating Lent

Lent_16x9_580Although I am not Catholic, I have always appreciated the purpose and meaning of Lent (my limited understanding of it anyway).  I love the idea of preparing my heart and mind and spirit to reflect on the significance of Easter, Christ’s blood shed for me, the perfect sacrifice to make me wholly acceptable and pleasing to God.

I also love the process of giving something up as a small (pathetic really) symbol of what Jesus gave up for me.

And, I love the act of sacrificing something so that my heart and mind have more room for God.  And more time.

So the times I have celebrated Lent, I have never given up food.  Rather I have given up something with a time element. 

This year, I have given up Facebook.  And reading blogs.  Both of these things take up a lot, way too much, of my time.  Both of them are enjoyable and valuable and yet something that their absence will enable me to enjoy and value my time and relationship with God more.

So this post will show up on Facebook because my blog is automatically linked to it.  But if you want to reach me, try the “old-fashioned” way – email me at!

Anyone else out there celebrating Lent?  Or have you ever?  Would love to hear your stories!