Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014 Books of the Year!

It's time for my annual book recommendations! I felt like I didn't read as many books this year - only 57! And now, without further ado...

Bridge to Haven - Francine Rivers

It's Francine Rivers + 1950s + Hollywood + Jesus = what's not to love???

I read some really great non-fiction this year, but this book I just LOVED. I am not into the Kennedys and wasn't expecting to fall in love with this book, but I did!

Mrs. Kennedy and Me - Clint Hill

Here Mr. Hill tells of his experience being Jackie Kennedy's bodyguard - it was a really great story!

And, while we're on the subject of books...coming in just a few days...

Ripples, Book Three of the Boy Named Boy series!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Wrapping up 2014....

I have never been so ready for a year to end - 2014 has been a really tough year. I hate to even say that, because it sounds so trivial compared to what others have gone through. I didn’t lose my husband to pancreatic cancer. I didn’t lose my little girl to a brain tumor. There were no major tragedies in my life – my family is healthy, we have enough to eat, and we continue to serve our God in this place He has called us.

Still, 2014 was a tough year. From struggling relationships where I have tried to figure out where I have gone wrong, to difficulty processing things happening in our extended families, to difficulty processing the deaths of Precious, Jeff, Dr. Bob, and a little girl named Amanda, to the constant goodbyes that come with missionary life, to the fact that I haven’t seen my mom or dad once in 2014, to sometimes feeling forgotten, to trying to hold up to the constant pressure involved in running a non-profit organization….the list could go on.

I have found my plate so full this past year that I have had to back away from many things – I have backed away from our volunteer program, I have backed away from things that don’t really need my “leadership”, and I have caught myself backing away from people. “Please don’t need something from me,” I have found myself thinking. “I just don’t have anything else to give.”

I have really tried to process through things this past month, because I don’t want to live through another year like 2014. I came back to Zambia this past January with one word on my heart – GRACE. I wanted to strive this year to show grace to others – to not be so judgmental, to give people room to make mistakes, and to show kindness to anyone I encountered. I think I did ok in the grace department – not perfectly, but I feel like I really TRIED to offer grace. The number one thing I learned is that if you take the time to get to know someone’s heart, you don’t have to work to show grace – it flows out of you.

Where I have struggled, however, has been with JOY. I have had a hard time finding joy despite my circumstances. I didn’t find joy in the vehicle breakdowns, in Precious’s death, when relationships were hard, when the power was out, when our house was overrun with spiders – I saw no joy.

This past month, however, I feel like I have gotten a recharge. First, I read a book called A Thousand Times Yes by Wana Ann Fort. The Fort family was some of the pioneer missionaries in Zimbabwe, and reading her book and her experiences reminded me of why God has called me to this land, to this people, to these orphans. Secondly, I have been doing a Bible study on Nehemiah by Kelly Minter. I have had this Bible study for a while but just never got around to doing it. I opened it, expecting to learn more about Nehemiah and his call to rebuild the wall for his people. Instead, I have learned about relationships, about pressing on when struggles around us seem so unfair, and about choosing joy.

“If we have a vacation on the books, we have joy. If the promotion happens, the dress fits, the boy calls, well then…joy! We look for little pockets of happiness to sustain us like quarters being popped into our joy meters – which are always ticking, always gobbling up whatever we just fed them. True joy is different. Unencumbered, uncomplicated joy needs nothing but the presence of Christ to light its wick in our hearts. Joy frees us from having to constantly feed the meter with our next big plan, pleasure, or purchase.” – Kelly Minter, Nehemiah

So this coming year, in 2015, I choose true joy. Joy amidst the trials, joy when I don’t feel it, joy when life seems unfair. What do you choose?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Merry Christmas from the Tidwells, Part Three!

For our third part of Christmas, we went to the Cooks house for an "American" get-together!

But first, aren't my parents just so cute?? ;)

Cambree in her new overalls - she told me thank you THREE times!!

We drew names for Christmas gifts with the other Americans here, and Cambree got Austin! Here he is reading her letter, while she runs off to hide! :)

Ricky got Blu's name and got Blu an avocado tree! Blu was so happy he gave Ricky a big hug! :)

Blu's new tree :)

Caedmon playing charades - his was "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree!"

Kelsey got Cambree a "real" Barbie!

Cambree tells Uncle Ricky everything she got for Christmas!

Carolyn enjoying some appetizers!

Caedmon got Carolyn lotion, body wash, cappuccino, and earrings!

Cason chilling with Austin in the hammock!

Austin got Cason some Avengers and Power Rangers stuff!

Me playing Charades :)

Niki got me a new puzzle - yay!!!

Blu got Debbie some Tupperware, a pitcher, and cups for her house!

The dessert table - everything melted pretty fast!!

We had fresh (as in we shot it 2 days ago...) ham, macaroni & cheese, green beans, potato casserole, deviled eggs, and rolls!

Niki working on the ham!

Merry Christmas from the Tidwells, Part Two!

After Advent and present-opening, it was time to get ready for the Christmas service at church! We cleaned up pretty nice!

Mama's baby!

The kids heading into the very muddy church!

Blu led the kids in songs as we waited for more adults to show up!

Melvin gave a great Christmas message! My favorite part: "When you say you are celebrating Christmas by drinking, is that how we celebrate the birth of God's Son?"

On Christmas afternoon, we delivered baskets to the widows/elderly that live around us. Each one received a plastic tub filled with oil, beans, sugar, tea bags, soy chunks, juice, soap, washing powder, bread, butter, jam, a live chicken, and 2 liters of milk! They were so excited to get them and sang and danced!

Mr. Chikutwe - a faithful attender of our church who is 81 years old!

Elena - she is the woman who donated the 66 acres of land to New Day

Georgina - she lives the closest to the church and has forgotten how old she is :)

You can see in the distance Blu, Cason, and Joseph delivering some bread, butter, and jam to the headman's family (both the headman and his wife died last year).

Salome - she has gone downhill in her health and is sad ALL the time, repeatedly saying that God is punishing her for all of her sins.

Stella, who lives near the church, still holds tightly to many traditional beliefs. She was the most excited and danced and danced! She said she is going to save the special tub to be used as the ceremonial dish for washing her body after she dies.

The New Day kids LOVED making these deliveries - it was their favorite part of Christmas Day! What a blessing to be go to sleep knowing that these few people went to bed a little fuller tonight and maybe understanding a little more about God's love. We can't help them all, but we can help a few.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas from the Tidwells, Part One!

Well, the fun began at 4:55am this morning!! (It seems like every year is getting earlier and earlier!!!) The kids came into our room and said "We woke you up at 5am!!" We said, "No, it's 4:55!" And they said, "Oh yeah, Caedmon's watch is set 5 minutes ahead..." AAAAHHHHH...

We were up late as my amazing husband made cinnamon rolls for the entire orphanage for Christmas morning :)


At 4:55am, after pushing START on the coffee pot, our Christmas began with our last Advent devotion. Cason lit the Christ candle.

This was Cambree's year to put Baby Jesus in!

Then it was time for gifts!! Blu was a little confused here - he opened the accessories to a present that would come later!

A GoPro camera from me!! (More Rocky videos are in your near future...) :)

My husband is a little OCD about his fruit trees...he has 2 peach trees planted, a mango tree, and last week planted 20 more fruit trees right outside our fence! Santa brought him some fruit tree fertilizer in his stocking!!

Blu lusting after the Fat Max measuring tape that Caedmon & Cason got!

Caedmon's turn - a new book from The Kimbroughs!

This boy LOVES soccer!!

He was so surprised to find this shirt he wanted in his stocking. I'm telling you, my kids LOVE clothes!

His very own tool pouch filled with tools from Paw & B-Maw! Better hide that, Caedmon!

A Ninja turtle mask/sword!

A new church outfit from Mama Dee & Grandpa! He was SO excited because he's been wondering what to wear to Mulenga's wedding!

An awesome new watergun!

Cambree's turn!! She got this Brighton bracelet from Paw & B-Maw! She said, "B-Maw always gets me beautiful, special things!

A cross-stitch kit for my little sewer!

A new dress and matching doll dress from Mama Dee & Grandpa!

Barbie movies!

Her most favorite gift she has been asking for forever - a pair of overalls!!

A scrapbooking set from the Kimbroughs!

A full stocking!

A make your own ballerina theater kit!

Cason's turn! A Dr. Seuss book from the Kimbroughs!

He was so funny opening his stocking - he did a little dance with each thing he pulled out! :)

A tool pouch to match Caedmon's!

This was definitely his favorite gift!!

And a "church outfit" to match Caedmon! Like I said, these 3 LOVE clothes!!

My turn - organic dark chocolate from my man!

A cute new outfit from my awesome parents!!

A puzzle (and a new workout dvd!) from The Kimbroughs!

My husband bought me this adorable shirt from Foschini!!! I LOVE their clothes (there is one store in Lusaka) but it is WAY too expensive for me! He really surprised me!! :)

Caedmon bought me my favorite chocolate snack here in Zambia - chocolate covered hazelnuts!!
Thank you to our families/friends for thinking of us!! It is now 7:30am and the presents are put away, trash is dumped, and Blu will deliver his cinnamon rolls soon! We are headed to the church's Christmas service soon - more blogs to come later!