Friday, May 29, 2015

The Girls' Room Redone ~ An Updated House Tour

So about a million years ago {or so it feels!}, I started giving a tour of our home here in Ghana!
From there we moved to our front room, where we eat and enjoy spending time with friends and family.
We toured the hall and the kitchen and the schoolroom.
We took a peek at our master bedroom twice, because the first time around was incomplete.
The last place we looked was the girls' bedroom.
At that time, we knew it would be temporary, because Mackay was a newborn, and our plans were to move all four girls together once she moved out of mama and daddy's room.
We'd decided on bunk beds, but we knew it would take a while before Mackay would be ready for that.
When she first switched rooms, we put her in the crib and tucked it under an upper bunk.
In the blink of an eye {and all those sad and true cliches!} she grew right out of the crib and it was finally time to put the girls' room in more permanent order.

I loved the idea of my girls having quilts made with Ghanaian fabric when they grew up, but I'm no quilter. One lovely thing about Ghana, though, is that there are amazing seamstresses everywhere. My husband met a lady at the market who sold large portions of patchworked scraps for clothing. He ordered the size we needed times four, and told her to make the dominant color blue. Once she was finished, we had a tailor we know sew lightweight blue cotton on as backing, and the quilts I'd dreamed of were finished!

We painted the walls completely light blue and had shelves made for each bunk. We found tiny white lamps for each shelf, and did a good bit of purging and reorganizing.
{And just in case you are wondering, the answer is NO, my daughters' shelves are not usually this clean, but I couldn't stand taking pictures of clutter, so I "staged" their shelves a wee bit!}

The letter strip initials we made quite a while ago, and Carey made the paper doll garland for Ella for Christmas. The small pillows are just cotton dish towels folder over, sewed, and stuffed.

We made the bowls out of homemade air dry clay, and then painted them to look like fruit {not because I'm really creative, but because one got a crack in it, and I thought it would be less noticeable on a patterned bowl, rather than a bowl painted a solid color!}.

Sarah Jane added two more prints to the collection we already had, so daddy got them as a special gift for the girls. Be patient. Be curious. Be smart. Be friendly. Be happy. Be nice ~ beautiful little reminders for four girls sharing one space!

We had some old cork boards on the doors of their closet, but they were crumbling apart. After finally scraping all the old mounting tape off {which took about two weeks! that stuff is insanely sticky!!!}, I was looking for a replacement. I found two halves of a piece of foamcore I'd brought with us from the states, glued them together to make them thick enough, and then tacked on a piece of an old curtain. Voila! A new corkboard!

The last thing we did was make a small vanity area for our older girls. The bathroom is quite small {I'll be sharing that soon!}, so they needed an extra place to get ready {how could I possibly have girls old enough to worry about getting ready???}

We decorated the vanity area with garlands we made out of pom-poms, beads, and paint chips.
Lili made the jars for Carey and Ella as a Christmas gift using old jam jars, a bit of paint, and some drawer pulls I picked up in the states for $2 each at Anthropologie.

We are in the process of redoing the photo wreath, and that will hang on their room door.
So there it is.
A happy cheery room for our girls.
Though I enjoy decorating our home, I also love when a project is complete!

*So, comparing the first and the last picture, can you tell it's the same room?
Which version do you like better, the first or the second?

Sunday, May 24, 2015

For the Days When You Feel Like a Coward.....

On this weekend set aside to remember the brave ones, I'm feeling anything but brave.

One of the things that I want to instill in my children is bravery, courage, intestinal fortitude, guts.
I desire for them to be willing to face the difficult, to endure whatever comes their way.
I want them to think, eat, breathe, play this truth.
I read them Bible stories and truth stories of women who didn't run when faced with hard things: Esther, Ruth, Hannah, Deborah, Abigail, Sarah, Mary;
of men who fought for something greater than themselves: Joseph, David, Ehud, Joshua, Caleb, Jonathon;
of those who seemed weak, but knew with all their being what they must do and did it: Lucy Pevensie, Jane Eyre, Sarah Crewe, Gladys Aylward, Sarah Noble, Laura Ingalls, Heather Longtreader.
I yearn to raise brave daughters, those who don't shirk from God's call on their lives.

While reading my girls the best stories about bravery, I desire more to live it.
I want to live an undaunted life, unafraid of what lies ahead, refusing to flinch when I face the hard places, willing to step out by faith when God asks much of me for His glory.
But THIS, this is much harder than reading rousing stories of heroes and heroines.
Being really brave requires action, not just imagination.
While it's easy to dream of being courageous, it's much simpler to live as a coward.

Most of my weekdays are spent inside my home, with my church family, and in my surrounding community.
Here I'm known not just as a foreigner, but as a neighbor, an acquaintance, a customer, a friend.
Yes, I face battles on a daily basis, but these are the ones where I usually understand the enemy and know the rudiments of the fight.

When I wake up on Saturday mornings, though, I feel it deep ~ fear.
Weekends are my call to war.

Saturday mornings are a blur of activity as I feed the family and help John out the door for visitation. I do my best to mark through the list of things that must be ready for the weekend:  clothes ironed for Saturday and Sunday, lessons prepared and packed for Kids' Bible Club on Saturday and Children's Class on Sunday, reading lesson thought through for Sunday afternoon, lunch made, supper decided on, meals planned for Sunday, school lesson plans for next week finished, and my bag packed for the day.
My first test comes as I head out the door for Bible club with four kids in tow ~ will I be able to hire a car easily, or will it be an ordeal?
As we hurry to the junction, I pray for God to give me courage.
I don't like hiring cars, bargaining over prices.
It is not something I enjoy, but then again, being brave isn't always enjoyable, is it?

My next trial arrives when I reach Bible club.
My helper isn't able to come today, and I have twenty or so rowdy kids who may or may not want to listen.
I try to rehearse the story in Twi in my mind, hoping I can remember any odd words or phrases so the lesson can be clear.
The clearer the story, the better behaved the children are.
I beg God for help to stand and teach, though at moments I feel like running away.
The last thing I feel is brave.

After Bible club I head out on visitation with a church member.
Inevitably I will be faced with more than one language failing, someone whose accent is quite thick, a person trying to trip me up, a Bible question I've never thought of, an overly friendly man, or a parade of children who want to follow the white lady.
I ask God to help me endure being made a spectacle, instead of lashing out in anger or frustration.

Sunday is another long day, and by evening service, I'm weary.
Some Sundays the babies sleep at the right times and are manageable without a nursery, but this Sunday is not one of them.
From the moment church starts I know this is going to be a trying evening.
The crying and whining starts almost immediately and doesn't let up, even when I half drag both my 3 1/2 year old and my 20 month old out the door.
There is nowhere to go but outside.
Both of them want to be held, and both of them want to sleep, but neither of them wants the other one to be in my arms.
I feel the resentment and anger simmering in my belly.

And now, I must choose: am I going to be brave in the face of attack {though this attack is in the form of two tired kiddos}, or am I going to lose the fight to endure a hard thing?

Though I often make the wrong choice, by God's grace, today I chose courage.
I chose to speak quietly when I wanted to yell.
I chose to hold my fussing babes close when I wanted to push them away.
I chose to live out the hard choice of courage when I wanted to be a coward.

As I write, the Holy Spirit slips this truth into my mind ~
tribulation works patience,
patience works experience,
experience works hope,
and with hope,
I know I can choose to be brave again.

*Though my days may look different than yours, there is truth for all of us here.
God, help us be brave when we most feel like cowards!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

On A Walk

While I may live in Africa, I also live in the city.....
a really big city, for that matter {we only live with roughly 2 million other people!}.
I like to tell people we live in the jungle.....the urban jungle where we are surrounded by concrete.

When the walls get too close, and I'm finding it hard to breathe, we take a bit of a walk.
Would you care to join us?

* So thankful we live close to KNUST. Their Botanical Garden makes for a fun afternoon for our family!