Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Stories about Sophia Grace

In honor of our daughter's 2nd birthday coming up soon (on May 6th), I wanted to write a post documenting a few stories about our fun-loving princess, Sophia Grace. 

So many people who are very dear to us live MUCH too far away...  I miss sharing the little things, the cute stories and every day simple joys of life with our sweet little girl. So here I will attempt to share a bit of our family life with you.
The Batman T-Shirt
While in the USA last fall, I went shopping with my mom one day.  Knowing my husband Felipe absolutely loves the movie Batman , I bought him a Batman t-shirt on sale at Kohl's for 8 dollars!  Great deal!  A week later, we were out shopping again at Old Navy and Felipe found a matching baby Batman t-shirt.  Felipe really wanted to buy it for Sophia, so of course we got it. 

Surprisingly, Sophia has developed an obsession for her Batman t-shirt.
  If you ask, "Sophia, what do you want to wear today?"  She will say, "Batman shirt, Batman shirt." 
 She has even cried a number of times and also ransacked her drawers to try to find her beloved Batman t-shirt. If Felipe just happens to put on his Batman t-shirt, Sophia will proceed to take off the shirt she is wearing and then asks to wear her Batman t-shirt to match Felipe.  It is SUPER cute!  Sophia wants to be like her Daddy!

The difficult thing about this Batman t-shirt is that sometimes it is dirty (therefore not available to be worn) and it is also a long-sleeve t-shirt.  It seems like Sophia ALWAYS wants to wear it on extremely HOT days too, which we have a lot of here in Brazil.  Thankfully my sister recently bought her another Batman t-shirt that is short-sleeves and it is in the mail on its way to Brazil right now.  Sophia is going to LOVE that package!

A Few of Her Favorite Things ...

Sophia loves ice cream, which she lovingly calls "i-beam!"
Sophia loves homemade popsicles too - straight out of the freezer.

Sophia loves to eat and she especially loves fruit!  Her favorites are bananas, mangoes and papayas, which we have in abundance here in Brazil!  It is wonderful because the fruit here is super cheap and very yummy!

One of Sophia's favorite places to play is on Mommy and Daddy's bed.  She climbs into our bed and covers herself up saying, "Night night!"  Many days, just after I have made the bed, Sophia comes along and "unmakes" it for me.

Sophia is super attached to her Pooh Bear lovey.   Pooh Bear is her favorite stuffed animal and sleeps with her every night.

Sophia loves watching Toy Story, Curious George, Boz the Bear and Mickey Mouse.

Sophia's favorite book has got to be Brown Bear - and she already reads along repeating some of the text in the book.  She also loves the book Good Night Moon!  We read stories every night before bedtime.

Sophia's two favorite songs are Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Oh Happy Day!

(This video was taken in January. Sophia is now singing even more words of the song!)

Sophia loves to wear BIG flowers in her hair.

Sophia is obsessed with bubbles and she even manages to blow some, which is quite impressive coordination for a little girl who is not even 2 yet.

One of Sophia's favorite things to do is dance with Daddy!

 Sophia Says...
Sophia is really talking up a storm!  She speaks mostly in English, but also says several things in Portuguese.  She surprises us constantly with her growing vocabulary and ability to communicate.   We are focusing on teaching her English at home and naturally she will learn Portuguese here in Brazil.

At the moment the phrase that Sophia most likes to say is,
"Oh No!"  She says this with much expression, drama and often with a loud gasp!
"(GASP), OH NO!"

When Sophia gives kisses she then will say, "Hug?" and then she gives a BIG hug!

When Sophia sees a guitar she says, "Sing song! Sing song!"

Sophia is doing a good job remembering to say "thank you" and "please" and recently it seems she is saying "thank you" constantly and for everything - even for the littlest of things.  I am proud of her manners!

Sophia loves her cat Amora.  Often she will see Amora laying on the couch sleeping and she will say, "Aww, CUTE!"

Sophia really enjoys praying.  She is already praying by herself and sometimes even leading us in prayer at meal times and before naps and bedtime. Her prayers often go like this (with head bowed, hands folded and eyes all squint-up, peeking through)...
 "God...Thank you..."  And then she begins to list random things, "...breabuh (bread), food, Mommy, Daddy, Meow (what she calls our cat Amora), Humble (the dog)..... AMEN!"  
She usually lifts both hands up in the air when saying amen too! 

The Word "help"
At the moment, the word Sophia is having the most difficulty pronouncing is the word "help".  Sophia does not put the "p" sound at the end of the word, so she ends up actually saying (yes you guessed it) "hell".  We are correcting and correcting her, strongly accenting the ending "p" sound, but she STILL has not quite gotten it...

  We are quite thankful that many Brazilians have no clue as to what she is saying, but it is also quite funny and cute too.  She is so serious and very sincerely asking for "help" daily but it comes out more like this, "Hell, hell,  Mommy, hell!"

Hope you enjoyed some of these fun stories about our sweet Sophia!  It is so hard to believe that she will be 2 years old in just a little over a week.   Time really flies! 

We are so thankful to have this precious, funny and active little gift of life in our family.  God uses her to teach and bless us SO much!  When I look at my beautiful Sophia Grace my heart is full of such joy and love....
 My cup truly overflows with thankfulness and the goodness of God!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Full House!

We have a FULL house here at the Lighthouse Community Center!  Currently about 30 people are living and participating in some way in the activities going on here.

On April 9th, a YWAM training school called Foundations of Community Development (FCD) started.  I did this school last year and had an awesome experience.  The five students participating in the FCD school will be living here at the Lighthouse for the next 3 months, learning about community development and sharing life with us.  We are super happy they are here!

To read more about the FCD course click here!

This past Monday, a team from a YWAM base in Los Angeles arrived here to serve short-term at the Lighthouse.  There are 12 young people on this team from 7 different nations - Denmark, Holland, Germany, France, United States, South Korea and Norway. They are here completing their Discipleship Training School (DTS) Outreach phase and will be here until the end of April.

Between the Lighthouse staff, students of the FCD school, and this short-term missions team, there are 10 different nations represented here at the Lighthouse at the moment! Here are the nations listed: Brazil, New Zealand, Canada, Denmark, Holland, Germany, France, United States, South Korea and Norway. I think this is AWESOME!  Many nations are united for the purpose of bringing glory to God!

As I am observing so many people here at the Lighthouse Community Center, I am in awe of a God who works so personally and beautifully in the lives of His children.  I see Him at work in everyone who is here at the moment - from the Lighthouse missionaries, the FCD students, to the DTS team.

I see the students of the FCD going to class and I know they are being challenged, learning powerful truths and growing in their calling and walk with God.  The school is such a special season of growth in God, and I know this from experience... 

I am also observing the YWAM team from LA and I remember my Discipleship Training Outreach (I went to Thailand).  Each person on the team is growing in faith and stepping out to do new things that many of them have never done before.  Many of them are seeing what life is like in a slum and are face to face with great needs in the world.

Felipe is directly overseeing the DTS outreach team from Los Angeles and has been very busy working with them and with various organizational things the past week. Soon, I hope to share more specifically about some of the ways the LA team has been serving and blessing lives here in the slum.
Pray for us all here at the Lighthouse during this busy season!  May God be glorified in all our lives and use this ministry for the honor, glory and love of HIS Name!
May His Kingdom Come here in the Cafezal Slum and in the world!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sophia's Brazilian Easter Egg

We have had lots going on lately, so just today I finally took time to look at some photos Felipe took on Easter Sunday.

Here in Brazil, the tradition is for children to receive a big chocolate Easter egg on Easter or around the holiday. So this year Sophia got her very first chocolate Brazilian Easter egg.  Last Easter she was still under one and was not eating sweets yet. :-)

On Easter Sunday, after going to church and a special Easter lunch with our YWAM family, Sophia got to open her big, Brazilian chocolate Easter egg!   This egg was extra special because inside the egg was a surprise toy from the movie Toy Story - which just happens to be one of Sophia's (and Daddy's) favorite movies.    

I wanted to share a few cute shots here of Sophia enjoying her first Brazilian Easter egg here on our blog!
What excitement!
Examining the egg wrapped in foil... What is this Mommy???
She loved the Buzz Lightyear toy that came inside the egg!
Sophia already knows what is good in life - chocolate!

Chocolate Easter Bunny whiskers!

She made a mess but loved every minute!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sharing the Gospel

Today in the girls' group, we shared the story and gospel of Jesus Christ... 

To follow-up the Easter season we shared part of the Jesus Film (a version made for kids) and then I led a hands-on activity reviewing the story of Jesus' death and resurrection with various objects.  Actually the activity I did is often called "Resurrection Eggs" (click here to see how I made my own resources).

All the girls listened attentively and respectfully participated as they were learning about Jesus.   However, I noticed that two of the girls were particularly impacted by the film and the words spoken today.
  One girl, we could tell, has never learned much about God or Jesus. She has been to church very little in her life and her parents are not believers.  This little girl is the youngest in our group and it is amazing to watch her learn of God for the first time here at the Lighthouse.  We pray her heart would be open to God as she continues to hear about His love for her.

Another girl seemed to be soaking in every single word during this special time of talking about Jesus' death and resurrection.  She paid careful attention to every detail that was spoken and presented.  I could see a hunger and a sweet tenderness in her towards the Lord. It is beautiful, as I can literally see God working in her.

We spent some time in prayer, praying as a group, for Jesus to be Lord of our lives... The girls were shy to pray aloud, but we did it all together - repeating a simple prayer of invitation to the Lord.

During this special time, I was thinking about how simple yet how complicated sharing the gospel is...  I shared a bit about my own life and how I accepted Jesus. I simply shared about God's hope and love and because of Jesus' death and resurrection we have forgiveness and relationship with the Father...  It is challenging to wrap your mind around the vastness and complexity of it all... Yet, at the same time, the gospel of Christ is so simple.  I know He is REAL. I know Jesus loves me.  I believe in Him and trust Him!

After the group my heart was stirred with many thoughts and questions...

Did the girls understand?
  Was I clear enough?  Did I explain it well?
  God, what are you doing in them? 
I felt the gentleness of the Lord as He spoke, "Trust Me..."  
I must trust God is at work.  It is His Holy Spirit at work in these girls' hearts and lives.   I am simply an instrument allowing God's love and message to flow through my life.  Ultimately, He is revealing Himself to them.  

I was also reminded of this verse...

And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?
 And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?
 As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"
   ~ Romans 10:14-15 ~

God has sent me here to tell them of His great LOVE and I pray they will know Him intimately and powerfully.  Please pray with us for these precious girls.  It is our prayer that they would come to truly believe in Christ and live a transformed, abundant life in Him.
  A life of HOPE and a life with a great FUTURE!  
 That is what many of these girls need in the harsh reality they face everyday, living life in a slum.
There is LIFE and HOPE because of the gospel of Jesus Christ!
  He ROSE again from the GRAVE! 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Thankful for the Cross!

So thankful for the Cross of Christ!
 Remembering today all the Lord has done through the cross.
I wanted to share two songs that really meditate on the power and gift of the cross of Jesus Christ.  Enjoy!

At the Foot of the Cross

The Wondrous Cross

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hawaii Bound, if all the doors OPEN!

As many of you know, my husband Felipe is a very talented photographer.   As you may NOT know, Felipe is completely self-taught.  Everything he has ever learned with photography he learned through studying photography manuals, watching tutorials online and of course through hands-on experience with a camera.

For some time now, we as a family have been praying and thinking about the possibility of Felipe taking some kind of photography course to invest in and develop this God given-gift and talent of photography. Then we learned about a Youth With A Mission (the missions organization we serve with) Photography School, which combines both of Felipe's passions - missions and photography! 

We prayed about the possibility of Felipe applying for this photography training and sensed God leading us to step out in faith and apply.  Our continual prayer has been, "Lord, if  You want this, OPEN THE DOORS.  Not our will, but Yours Father...

Felipe found out just last week he was accepted into the School of Photography, which will take place January through March of 2013!
The first door was opened!

 Felipe was chosen to be 1 of the few 16 students that are accepted each year to take part in the School of Photography, which is an intense 3 month photography course held at a YWAM base in Kona, Hawaii!  Click here to check out their awesome website.  What a beautiful and wonderful place to do a photography school, don't you think?
Every year many people apply for this YWAM photography school, but few are chosen.  Felipe was chosen!

The first door was OPENED!  Felipe was chosen to be a part of the school!  We are rejoicing, yet realistically we are still facing a few more "doors" that need to be opened in order for us to be able to physically go to Hawaii so Felipe can do this photography training.

The next door we are trusting God to open is regarding Felipe's visa status. We just learned that Felipe can NOT go to the USA on the visa he currently has, but must change it since he will be doing a type of schooling.  This was a surprise to us and is just one more challenge we are facing...

The last door we need God to open for us is in the area of finances.  Between now and January we need to raise enough money to pay for the Photography School, room and board fees, health insurance, ect...  Plus on top of that, we need to buy plane tickets from Brazil to Hawaii for our family, which will be a family of four by then!  We made a general estimate of how much we will need (what we know of so far), and it already comes to over $10,000.  WOW!

Raising this MUCH money is a HUGE stretch of faith for us as a family! We are praying and seeking God already in how to go about raising these much needed funds.  Please pray with us!  If you would like to donate a gift towards this cause or have any creative ideas in how to help us raise this money, please let us know.  Your help in any way is very welcome!

We really sense God is giving us this opportunity to go to YWAM Hawaii, not only for Felipe to grow in the area of photography, but also as an opportunity for us as a family to learn and grow in our walk with God and the calling He has on our lives as missionaries.

We are SUPER excited that we may be Hawaii bound, if all the doors open...  Yet we are continually placing our lives in the Lord's hands.
  His will be done! 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

It's Not a Race

At the beginning of the year I decided I was going to take on a personal challenge of reading the Bible in one year.  It really has been a challenge, but God is revealing His heart and His perspective to me and this is good!

During the month of January, I was on top of all my daily readings and I was doing really well!  Then February and March came and I was HIT full force with pregnancy SUPER fatigue!   There were days I would sit down to have quiet time, and then suddenly my quiet time would turn into a much needed afternoon nap.  The past few weeks I have been gradually playing catch up with my readings, and now I am back on track with my 12 month reading plan...

During the set back time I was getting a little discouraged, but I determined myself to push on.  I figured reading the Bible in a year plus a few extra weeks or months is better than not trying at all! 

One night, I was telling my husband how I was getting a little discouraged with trying to read the Bible in one year because I was getting so behind in my daily readings.  He gently told me, " My love, it's not a race."

  It was SO funny that he would say those exact words to me because my mom had also told me the exact same thing just weeks before.  The exact same words!   I knew the Lord was trying to speak His loving encouragement to my heart.  He is so faithful and tender to do that....  Through all this I felt God speaking that He does not want me to rush and race through reading His Word.  He lovingly wants me to know and grow in relationship with Him.

So this phrase has been bouncing around in my heart ever since.
  "It's not a race."
  I don't want to rush or race time just to accomplish the goal of reading the Bible in one year's time.  My ultimate goal, my heart's cry, is to know the Lord more and to grow in His Word, taking time daily to read truth and fix my eyes on Him.   Reading the Bible in one year is just a way, a tool, to help me accomplish this...

So I have decided. I am going to keep on pressing on, but remembering all the while... "It's not a race."   It is all about RELATIONSHIP with an amazing and loving God!