Crazy Zany Bands

Finally, I have found a use for all of those crazy, zany bands! or Zandy Bands as Jett calls them.

Back in August, the kids and I started memorizing the Sermon on the Mount.  We have had dry seasons along the way and are not as far as we should be; however, we are soaking in the words of Jesus.  We are chewing on the meat of the matter.  We are being changed.  We are finishing up the last few weeks of school memorizing Jesus’ words about murder, anger, and name calling.  It is no secret that anger is a sin that I struggle with.  It is a sin that my kids struggle with.  It is something that God has been working on in me for a number of years now. You can read about it in Anger Management?

Matthew 5:21-22, the words of Jesus

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.  Again, whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin.  But anyone who says ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

Sometimes we just need a physical, visual reminder of our sin.  This is where the Zany Band comes into play.  Each Lotz kid got their own Zany Band, along with myself.  Each time we lose our self-control, call a name, or get angry with each other, we have to switch the band to the opposite wrist.  It doesn’t sound like much, but oddly enough, it really seems to signal to my brain and to my heart that I need to carry on in patience and love toward my children.  Yes, I have had to switch my zany band.  Yes, I have to apologize and ask my kids to forgive me when I lose my temper.  Yes, it is humbling.

Today, Wilson acted unkindly to one of his siblings.  I immediately called him on it and asked him to switch his zany band.  He didn’t want to have to switch it, and I saw his heart grow heavy for sinning against his sister.  Hannah says it is helping her, too.  Even though it annoys the heck out of me, I will not lose my blue Tinker Bell zany band anytime soon…not till my heart is completely changed.

Oh the irony, I think Tinker Bell had anger issues, too...

On this Good Friday, I am thankful for the cross and the sacrifice Jesus made for my sins against Him.  I am thankful for the Holy Spirit and the process of sanctification on this journey Home.

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More Pine Forest Pics

I love this picture, but I would love it even more if Eric could have been in it with us!  I know that my hiking attire is so not ranking on the cute scale.  I needed that sweater for a little while though!  It was chilly.

Sweet Callie posing with her daddy.  The other kids were off playing “Hunger Games”!

There is some terrace farming taking place beyond the trees on the hill.

This shot was taken coming through the mountain pass and overlooking the valley below.  The whole day was beautiful and so fun!

Foret d’Pins

The Haitian Pine Forest!  Sixty-five degrees and fresh pine air awaited us at the top of the mountains, a welcome change to the hot and dusty streets of Port-au-Prince.  It is a rare day when we load up everyone in the middle of the week along with a big bag of muffins, Pringles, and some chocolate bars (that may have melted  beyond the point of eating).  Ahh, but that is what we did on Ash Wednesday, a day when all of the stores and schools are still closed in Haiti because of Carnival. The beauty of God’s creation surrounded us and at every turn we stood in awe and wonder at the One who made it.

Immediately as we hopped out of the car to hike up a trail through the pine trees, the kids spotted wild strawberries covering the ground.  They started picking and eating the strawberries.  As soon as they cleared out a patch, they went looking for more.  They were delicious, but only enough to whet the appetite for more.

There is no way these wild strawberries would ever truly satisfy my family of eight, but the kids were determined to try!  Strawberries are a coveted item amongst my kids. We found a 2 lb pack of imported strawberries at the grocery store for the bargain price of $13 just the other day.  Needless to say, we didn’t buy the imported ones.  I am pretty sure they didn’t taste as good as the wild ones anyway.

Other cool things we found on our trip to the Pine Forest:

Hannah's five leaf clover

Agave antillarum (as best as I can decipher)

Flower stalk of the Agave plant, close to 12 feet high!

As we were heading back near the end of the day.

I cherish these moments with my family.  I love the joy of hiking through the forest.  I adore the One who makes life worth living.

Saut d’ Eau

Last Sunday afternoon, we took a two hour drive out of Port-au-Prince to see a part of Haiti that we have yet seen.  Eric was scouting out the land to see about drilling a well in a little town called Zorange.  The fam piled in the car to spend some quality time together. What we found was beautiful!

The road up the mountain was actually a great road, wide and even.  This is always a bonus!  As we wound our way up the mountain, the sights of the city were diminished by an amazing view of the Caribbean Sea.

We found the little village Eric was looking for and instead of turning around and heading home, we kept going up and up.  We came to this beautiful waterfall cascading over the side of the mountain.  As we were gaping out the window, Eric asked a man on the street what we would find if we continued up the way.  He laughed and said what we were looking at was nothing and to continue further up to see the real waterfalls.  What a surprise!  We found this little community at the top of the mountain called Saut d’Eau, ( French for ‘waterfall’)and a Haitian national park.  We had to make a donation to get in and then a group of locals followed us to watch us look at the waterfalls.  Funny how they didn’t have to make a donation…

Christa with her little brothers.

Unfortunately, we showed up late in the afternoon.  We are planning a day trip soon so we can go prepared with lunch and swimsuits.  What a gem in the middle of a country where everything is difficult!

Oh yeah, and on the way home we found these amazing watermelons for sale.  Watermelon for breakfast in the middle of February? Sure, we can handle that.

 

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

God’s Blessing, My Children

When I was in college, I was an active participant in Christian Campus House at the then Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield, MO.  The name is now Missouri State University and the Christian Campus House is still a strong training ground for young Christians to learn to serve and to become “doers of the Word”.  It was through CCH that I went on my first cross cultural mission trip, and ultimately through Campus House that I found myself in Port-de-Paix, Haiti after I graduated.  I learned a lot about serving and doing as an extension of my love for the Lord, and my relationship with Him.  I am forever grateful for my years at campus house!  I met so many great people and I am so thankful for fb and for the opportunity to keep up with my college crowd.  It is amazing to see how God is using them across the US, and the world.  Truly CCH did (and still does) an excellent job training young people that our Christian service was something that was to go with us, no matter where that might be.

During our eight years in Joplin, five of those years were spent at the Wesley Foundation for Missouri Southern State University.  Eric and I were able to reverse our roles and be the campus ministers for some great college students.  Our oldest daughter, Christa was just a year old when we took that job and just after the beginning of the second semester, Hannah was born.  Wilson came along a couple of years after that and then Jett after a couple more.  It was a crazy time of babies, toddlers, much cooking, small group meetings, one-on-one meetings, late nights and early mornings!  Eric was also a student at Ozark Christian College.  Our lives were full and there was always something going on.  I remember having to cut short a discipleship meeting with one of our female students to attend to a crying infant. I remember praying, “God, I could do so much more for you if I didn’t have all these kids!”

Talk about a sudden and instant conviction from the Holy Spirit!  As if God really needed me to help Him accomplish anything, and what or who could be more important in my life than my husband and my children.  That was a humbling time of repentance and submission before the Lord.  God didn’t want me to do a lot FOR Him, He wanted me to become a lot LIKE Him.  I am so thankful and blessed that He chose six beautiful children to help transform my image into the image of His Son.  Oh, there is much left to transform and I am thankful for the willingness of my children to help teach me all about patience, love, self-control, kindness, and thankfulness, and self-sacrifice. 😉

Since that time, the Lord has continually drawn me closer to my home and to my family.  We are now in Haiti, homeschooling and living almost every second together.  Some days and weeks are difficult, but that is when we step back, re-evaluate our blessings, and re-establish our priorities.  Now I am thankful to be a “doer of the Word” in my own home with my own kids. I am grateful for the privilege I have to share the Lord with my little Lotz family.  Ok, maybe it isn’t so little anymore…

Callie (3), Jett (5), Wilson (7), Hannah (9), Christa (11) and our newest baby girl Aimee (8 months).

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does.”  James 1:22-25

A little "jumpoline" fun!

Thanks again to Melinda Wilson for taking some pictures of my kiddos.

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Made with Lotz of Love

We have company coming on Saturday!  Our friends from Atlanta will be here for the better part of the week and we have all kinds of great things planned.  The kids will be taking the week off of school so we can participate fully!  Since our days will be full, and we are going to have to eat in there somewhere, I have been trying to get ahead in the food department.

Last night, the kids helped me bake Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies to pop in the freezer for our guests.  I asked Callie to kiss each cookie with a chocolate chip.  She gladly agreed and proceeded to kiss the chocolate chip before she placed it on the cookie.  I tried to explain that she didn’t really NEED to kiss each chocolate chip before it went on the cookie.  Needless to say, these cookies were made with Lotz of Love.

If you don’t want any, I wouldn’t blame you…but who could resist?

Meet Miss Jasmine

Miss Jasmine is part of my sanity for this school year.  She comes every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday to help watch over Aimee, Callie, Wilson, and Jett during my morning school schedule with Christa and Hannah.  Jasmine is also our French teacher. After my time with the girls is finished, she takes Christa and Hannah and instructs them in French for about an hour on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. I get the boys during French until our lunch time.  Fridays they usually watch a movie in French during French class.

Jasmine is a younger sister of one of my former Sonlight Academy students.  She speaks English, (which is a huge bonus for me) and she is great with the kids. I really want for the kids to pick up more Creole as well.  Language is so tricky.  Callie understands a lot of the Creole spoken to her, but she refuses to say very many words in Creole.  Hopefully, they are getting it!

Christa glaring at me during French class.

 

Miss Jasmine and Aimee

 

She even helps me with Aimee’s hair.  It is so hard to braid!

Monopoly

It has been almost two weeks since my husband went to the States to have some minor surgery.  He took with him our sweet three-year-old, Callie girl.  I have missed them tremendously and I am looking forward to their return later today!

I wish I could write an amazing list of all the things I accomplished while they were away.  I wish I had gotten way ahead in my kitchen, but that isn’t quite accurate.  I wish I could say that all the laundry is washed, dried, and put away but it isn’t.  I wish I could say that the kids really advanced on their school work, but they just kept up with the regular assignments.

What we did do, however, was absolutely worth every second that was spent.  We honed our Monopoly skills.  We played for hours.  Christa, 11; Hannah, 9; Wilson, 7; and Jett, 5  and I spent much time rolling dice and moving our tokens around the board.  Jett was a great partner for me.  He stuck with me throughout almost all of the game, only running off momentarily here and there.  Wilson was most impressive to watch.  He did a great job counting money, buying properties, and going to jail (which he did quite regularly).  I was most impressed with his long attention span and his dedication to the game.  He didn’t ever want to give up.  It was a great time of learning skills of game playing.  We all practiced  speaking encouragingly with each other, taking turns patiently, losing gracefully, and winning humbly.  I purposefully determined to be in the moment with my big kids, knowing that these days are fleeting. I tried not to be consumed with all of the billions of things that I could have been doing.

Well, there is always tomorrow to work in the kitchen, do the laundry, and take care of life.  Today, I am thankful for the time I had with my big kids (some  games are best played without the three-year-old sister running around).  I am thankful my husband had a successful surgery and is healing properly.  I am thankful that our family will all be together for dinner tonight.  I am thinking tacos…and chips and salsa. 🙂

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A Little Quiet Time

Sometimes I need just a little peace and quiet.  In a family with six kids, ages 6 months to 11 years, I must demand it or I will never get it!  Every school day at 2:00 PM, all the kids head to their rooms.  Ideally, they are supposed to read silently or play quietly on their beds.  Reality is that sometimes they get a little rambunctious with building blocks and Thomas the Train.  The girls love to spend their quiet time belting out tunes with Hannah’s Karaoke machine.  Poor Callie gets shuffled between the boys and the big girls.  Seems being three-years-old is rather rough.  She is at that age where she needs a nap, but doesn’t want to give up the fight.  Some days she wins, some days I win.

As I have mentioned, home school did not start out so great for us.  Not quite a year ago, I started reading a lot from other home schoolers about their schedules, curriculum, and expectations.  I came across several families who insist on quiet time for their kids (no matter the age) and I thought it should be added to our day.  My oldest girls are readers and Christa was insisting that she needed an hour everyday to just read.  Quiet time was just what we needed.  It gives the kids a break from listening to their mom’s instruction.  They need a break just as much as I need a break from trying to teach, train, and guide them.  They now refer to it as “QT”.

At two o’clock, everyone heads to their room and shuts the door.  They are not supposed to come out until I excuse them.  Although they didn’t like it at first, there are no arguments now.  Everyone is content to play in their rooms.  Even Aimee lays down in her pack-n-play to take a nap as well.  I reheat a cup of coffee and  I escape to my room usually to fold laundry.  If there is a lot to fold (and there usually is), I turn on a Mark Driscoll sermon from Mars Hill Church out of Seattle, WA.  Sometimes I spend QT in the kitchen getting ready for dinner.  Sometimes I talk on the phone with my best friend Krystal.  Sometimes I accidentally fall asleep.  After an hour of QT, I am ready to take on the kids again!

I am so thankful that other moms shared this tip with me.  I love this time and I am thankful that it helps me be a better mom!

I sure wish I had started this earlier…

 

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Looking for Some Adventure

I was really hoping for some adventure today, but found the next best thing.  The whole Lotz family trekked up the mountain to Ft. Jacques, Haiti, where we spent our first year together when we came down in November of 2008.  The week before the Haiti earthquake in January 2010, we moved down to Port-au-Prince.  Today was the first time we went back to visit our old neighbors and let the kids run in the hills and through the gardens.  We got to see our overgrown pig that has been living and EATING up there in Ft. Jacques.  The air is cool in Ft. Jacques, a nice respite from the Port-au-Prince heat.

The kids on the "rout de coupe" or short cut from our old house to the main road.

On the way to Ft. Jacques, we stopped at the Baptist Mission for lunch. You can learn more about the Baptist Mission here. We feasted on pizza, chicken nuggets, french fries, and ice cream.  It is a fun place to visit, and has the most incredible view of the surrounding mountains terraced with gardens and small houses.   In addition to their “fast food” restaurant, they also have a great gift shop of hand made items that are made by the Haitians living in the area.  I picked up a nativity scene made from a coconut with hand painted figurines.  I know it is a little early for Christmas, but the last couple of times I have been there they were sold out.  I didn’t want to miss out again!

 

Wilson enjoying his ice cream. He finally lost his second front tooth!

 

Aimee eating her first bites of ice cream!

My new nativity scene! Hannah called it a "Cocohut".

Although we didn’t have a new adventure, it was great to take a peek into the past.  Fun day here for the Lotz family.