Friday, August 24, 2012

Our Last Day in Susu

The Last day in Susu I was able to go out and see Grandma again and check on how she was doing. She was sitting up and seemed much better, she even asked for some fried chicken :) It was so good to be able to see that maybe some of the medications and a lot of the prayers were working and she was feeling a lot better. 

Inez was her cute little self and excited to see us again. She was a lot less shy and came right up to me to talk and play games. 

We couldn't stay long because we had clinic that day so I needed to head back to help the other nurses assess all of the people that had come to see us.
 Clinic day was probably one of the hardest we were some what limited on the medications we had and could give yet there were so many that not necessarily needed the medication but wanted the medication. The reason is because Nurses for Africa is the only medical team to come to their village and we are only there for 6 days, and only 2 of those days are clinic days the rest of the year they are without medical care. Can you imagine?? Really think about when you have a sick child or you have a parent or grandparent that is sick.......Here we just call up the doctor make an appointment and usually seen pretty quickly and if it's an emergency we are seen immediately. They don't have that kind of access. So while we are there they want to stock pile they want the medication so it's available when they are sick. Can't blame them for that!! But with the limited resources we had it was emotionally draining. 

This little girl was one of my patients......she had the most beautiful smile!!
speaking of smiles it was kind of shocking to me to see how many of them had such great white teeth! They don't always have access to clean water let alone tooth brushes so how do they have such good teeth and here in America our teeth are so rotten, yellow, and we have to pay money for white pearly teeth?? 

Well when they eat, they have healthy food, natural food, and not all the candy, sugar, and pop like we do!

Everyone loved to see their pictures on the digital cameras!

This is Jayme our Hands at Work leader talking to Sharon. Sharon is a Grandaughter to the Grandparents We have been visiting in their home. Sharon I believe is in the 7th or 8th grade and was wanting paper and pens so she could work on her "test" I believe they need to take in order to graduate. I pray a lot for Sharon and hope that she is able to continue school. She is currently the oldest in her home and does most of the house work and getting water etc....since her Grandparents are so ill. 

I miss Susu dirt on my feet.........

Susu has forever left a footprint on my heart, and I will never be the same!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Kids Day

How can you not love a full day of kids getting to be kids??!!

That is just what we did on Thursday we all Loved Loved playing and being a kid right along side the children of Susu. I'm actually not sure who had more fun the kids or the nurses. 

Kids day is when I fell in Love with another Little Girl named Gloria. (I seem to have a heart for little girls :) When I first saw Gloria she was sad or mad during the opening of the children singing. She frowned at me and wouldn't smile at all, it broke my heart and I made it my mission to see this little girl smile by the end of the day. 
Gloria is the little girl in the middle frowning at me.

Once I smiled at Gloria and started trying to make her laugh she soon became totally attached to my hip and she didn't leave me until our bus left at the end of the day! Gloria has a special place in my heart! 

All the kids loved sunglasses!! Gloria got to wear mine most of the day :)
We played games with the kids, they held a runway show for us sporting their school uniforms and so super cute models, we did lots of singing, face painting, and LOTS of LAUGHTER!!!!! 

We also served the children lunch at the Susu Kitchen and Feeding Program. Since it was a special occasion with us there they had there "thanksgiving" type meal. The meal consisted of chicken, a cole slaw type salad, and rice. For most of the children this is the only meal they get a day. Nurses For Africa supports the feeding program year round which cost $20/month per child. The feeding program goes on every day around 1pm and the "orphaned" children are fed. This feeding program is a huge help to the families that have taken in the orphaned children since they already have very limited funds and food to care for their family. 
The Girls also got to go home with new dresses!! There is an awesome group of ladies here in the United States that sews some amazing pillow case dresses for the girls in Africa and we had the privilege of handing them out and seeing the smile on the young girls faces. We also made up special little gifts for each of the kids that consisted of things such as glow sticks, crayons, stickers, sunglasses, beads, etc......
The JOY and EXCITEMENT of each child was just amazing to see. They were so appreciative and thankful for everything they received. There was no but he got that or she got that, I wanted that.....they were just thankful!! What a blessing these children are and they are so hopeful and full of spirit!! 

And She smiles...................So Beautiful sweet Gloria!! 

There is No better medicine then Laughter!!! 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mobile Clinic

Most of our evenings at the lodge were spent preparing for clinic day. Hannah took on the huge task of organizing the medications and setting up "stations" for us to count and pack pills. I made a station just for the liquid medication and took on the fun task of pouring liquid medication into 100ml bottles. It was a sticky mess but it all worked out and we were prepared for our first clinic day.

For all my pharmacy friends.....we for sure used the resources we had I'm certain this isn't the way it works in the United States :) 

Clinic Days were exhausting emotionally and physically!! When we first arrived on Wednesday morning for our first clinic I was just amazed by all the people that were there. When our bus started down the dirt road to Susu there were people following and chasing after the bus just excited we were there. 
Like every morning in Susu it started with a prayer and a lots of songs from the children and it was an amazing start to our day! When the children are standing there singing and praising God I couldn't help but SMILE and know that God was watching over the village of Susu and protecting them.

The first day I think we assessed and talked with over 360 patients. Most of which were just minor things a cough, headache, back pain, etc......It was burn season while we were there which they can only burn fields in August so there were a lot of people complaining of a cough most likely due to the smoke. I did see one little girl that appeared very sick she was lethargic, had a rash, fever, and runny nose......we were able to treat her with antibiotics and some Tylenol and I pray that she is doing well today. It is hard to see really sick people knowing they need to be in a hospital but in Susu the resources just aren't available. It's an hour drive to the nearest hospital and none of them have vehicles so it's at least an 8 mile walk to get to the nearest road where someone may give them a "lift" or a ride. Most people have no money to pay for health care, and can't miss a day working in the fields to provide food for their family. 

Around 2pm I looked out of my clinic station to still see a long line of people waiting to be seen, I was afraid we were going to end up having to turn people away and not be able to see everyone. This was hard to think about knowing that several of these people had walked miles in hope that we could help them, how could we turn them away?? It was Amazing I'm not sure how we pulled it off other then through God he showed us we could do this and we did by 5pm everyone had been seen and through the pharmacy. 

I think most of us can say that night we were exhausted and emotionally drained frustrated wishing we could do more. We did everything we could do with the resources we were given and yet at times it still didn't feel like enough. 
My Room mate Blair and I getting ready to start our clinic day

The villagers waiting to be seen

Pharmacy workers preparing medication and talking to care workers. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

2nd Day of Home Visits

I was blessed to have a great group of Nurses and Care workers to go on Home Visits with we had a lot of fun getting to know each other and walking lots of miles to visit the sick. Val and I started to come up with some big plans to get medical care to Susu more frequently, we even came up with some crazy ideas like contacting George W. Bush :) President Bush was recently in Zambia and opened a new clinic in Kabwe to help women and educate on cervical cancer. 

We also talked about our starting NFFA, Nurses and Families For Africa. Where we could bring our husbands and children to also help in Susu. The Husbands could build a clinic in Susu and our children could help serve food, play with the children etc......Sounds like a great Idea!! :) 

Like I said we walked lots of miles up hill in the heat we were probably a little exhausted, a little dehydrated, and a little delirious.....but we got BIG PLANS and we need our BIG GOD to help with these plans :)

On our 2nd day of home visits we were able to stop and see Grandma and Grandpa and their family again. Grandma did look a little better but still appeared weak. Again we prayed for her and visited with the family. 
Playing Games with Inez and teaching her high fives and fist pumps :)

Grandpa and Inez with our nursing group and awesome careworker Godwin! 

Praying with Grandma in her hut where she had blankets set up as her bed to lay on the ground.
I'm so in Love with this little Girl :)

We did visit another sick gentlemen this day and had a hard time telling him there was not a whole lot we were going to be able to do for him. He was complaining of losing his vision and was nearly blind. When we arrived it was clear that he had cataracts. It was very difficult to know this is easily treated in the United States with surgery but out in the bush village of Susu his vision will most likely just continue to get worse. He requested we return with an eye if any one knows an eye specialist willing to travel to this wonderful village let me know!! His Wife was out doing work since he was unable to work in the fields anymore due to his vision. We prayed with him and we served in his home doing dishes to hopefully lighten the load for his wife when she returned home. 

After we returned from our walk and made it to the "main" part of the village we found the children from the feeding program playing games at the play yard. Our group was excited to jump right in with the children and join the fun. Since there is a little bit of a language barrier and most of them speak Bemba and just a little English it was fun trying to figure out the rules to their games!! :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Building Relationships and visiting their homes in Susu

The first day of home visits was tough we went to see one family who were very ill. When we first arrived at their home we were there to check up on the Grandfather who had been sick but we soon realized the Grandmother was also very sick and had not eaten anything for 2-3 days. This couple is an amazing couple as they are caring for 3 orphaned grandchildren. Our group of 4 nurses quickly took out all of our snacks that we had taken for ourselves and gave them to the Grandmother to eat, we treated her for possible pneumonia and gave her antibiotics and pain/fever medication to try to help.It was a hard day for our group seeing someone so ill and knowing there was not a whole lot we could do. In the United States she would have been admitted to the hospital, we would have started IV antibiotics and we would have been able to do chest x-ray, lab test, and all the tests we have available to us. 
Instead we prayed and we did everything we could do to comfort the family. We went and collected water for the familly and I became quickly attached to this little girl in my picture Inez who is 4 years old she is one of the orphaned children. 

The second house we went to that day did not need any of our "nursing" skills but welcomed our help as we helped them do dishes and sweep. Doing dishes in a rural area with no running water and no Norwex to be heard of became quiet the experience!! As Blair states "Pintrest doesn't have anything on Africa!" They are truly resourceful and use everything they have available including dirt to scrub their pans :) 

Blair and Rosemary took on the job of sweeping. They did an awesome job getting all the leaves and sticks swept away from the homestead!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Worship in Susu

To describe in words what Church was like in Susu is nearly impossible and it's an experience I will never forget and it's truly a life changing experience. I stand in awe and listen to them worship and praise God, even though in our eyes they have "nothing" but as you worship you realize they have EVERYTHING.

I have never felt so close to God as I did that Sunday and the only way I can describe it is I had peace and with every song we sang, with every word that was said, the only thing I could do was smile, smile because I knew God is there in Susu caring for the poor and I was blessed to be called to be the hands to do the work that God has called us to do.

A little story about Susu from the Hands at Work Website:

"Susu is an extraordinarily poor and isolated community in central Zambia. When Hands at Work Field worker Lawrence Kunda began visiting Susu the community was in despair. Poverty was widespread and alcoholism was a way of life. Nearly everyone existed only by subsistence farming and couldn't afford access to schools or a trip to see the doctor for sick children.
Local Community member Sanday was in such a situation when Lawrence discovered him. Lawrence struck up a friendship and began mentoring Sanday, slowly discipling him over many months about the love and compassion of Christ. In 2009 Sanday realized his faith was leading him to start doing something more for the vulnerable community around him. "

Sanday is now the pastor of the church in Susu and is an amazing leader and servant for the village.

Sanday and Lawrence sitting together on a bench outside of the church in Susu

Church service lasted approx 3 1/2 hours I think and it didn't end when we left the doors it continued on as the choir continued outside singing and worshiping. All I have to say is can you imagine if our church service lasted that long???!!! The children that sat there in church didn't have toys, or coloring books to play with, there were no children's bulletins, they sat on the benches so calm and so quiet and worshiping God......AMAZING!!! 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

It's Zambia Time

We arrived in Lusaka, Zambia early in the morning on Saturday. We were greeted at the airport by the most wonderful people and Hands at Work staff to begin our Journey. After 10 hours on a flight and a total time change of 7 hour difference the team was exhausted and hungry. We traveled to Kabwe where we ate at Tuskers.....Let me tell you we had the most amazing Pizza ever....yep that's right I traveled all the way to Africa for the best Pizza in the world :)

Tusker's is also where I started to truly understand what it meant to be on "Zambia Time". When we arrived and ordered our drinks and they came out with our pops about an hour later, and then we patiently waited for our food, and our bill. I think we were there for around 3 hours for lunch :) I realized then that we were going to be doing a lot of waiting and practicing a lot of patience!
Our awesome Van and transportation from Lusaka to Kabwe and back to Lusaka :) 

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Journey to Africa

Well the Team has made it to London!! We have had a long journey just to get this far and still have a long ways to go. Our Team is made up of 10 nurses we are from California, Washington State, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin, and North Carolina. We all met for the first time in Chicago and already becoming friends we might not get each others names right just yet but we have a few days to work on it :) I can already tell it's going to be a fun trip with these great gals!

Saying goodbye, I handled it well as for Teagan not so much she woke up crying and cried while telling me goodbye and then for about 45minutes after. I will miss all 3 girls and Brandon very much but I know they are in good hands!!

My Dad drove me to chicago which was super nice to not have to worry about checking bags etc prior to meeting the team. I have learned that as I get older I get more anxious though around the busyness of the city or maybe I'm growing comfortable with small town Parkersburg.

The 7 hour flight to London was long, the food was good, but I didn't sleep worth a darn! So I'm hoping to catch some zzz's on the 10 hour flight to Luska. My Carry on bag got taken in London by the airline to be checked to go to Zambia, evidently it was too big and some how my bag was the one they picked out because it's the same size as everyone else....please just pray it gets to Zambia, it has all my clothes in it!!!

Alright gotta go, no editing just a quick blog will update/edit when I return home

Love you all thanks for the support and prayers

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Strong Willed Children or SWC

I remember it clear the day I was in Drug Town and I wanted a coloring book, it wasn't just a normal coloring book it was one of those with the thin paper between the coloring pages can't remember exactly how those works but I wanted that coloring book, I was 4 years old. My mom said no (how to my angel face :) I have no idea but the answer was no. I proceed to throw a fit in the front of Drug Town on the floor screaming and kicking at 4 years old. I recall the cashier trying to give me a balloon or a sucker or something but I wasn't having that....was that lady crazy??!! That's not what I wanted, I wanted the coloring book!! I didn't get the coloring book that day but I did get a spanking, and I remember clearly my mom talking to my Grandma on the phone shortly after the incident. I wish I could say my Strong Will stopped that day with the spanking but it didn't.

Another Time I recall very clearly was in the 6th grade, Track and Field day. My PE coach told me I was too weak to throw the shot put. I told him I wasn't and I threw the shot put.

In the 9th grade my golf coach told me I would not be playing in the first soccer game of the year the night before state golf tournament, I told him I was and came with the facts from the school handbook of how I could indeed play both sports and I wasn't any more likely going to get hurt playing soccer that night as if I was out riding my bike.

High School graduation Tom Vilsack came to speak as our guest during election year, on the top of my cap said Ganske for Senate.

The list can continue of great stories like that but those are just a few. My years 17-21 were terrible for my strong willed. I'm reading a book on strong willed children (perhaps because I have 1, 2 or maybe 3 the jury is still out on Blakely) and the book describes a lot of what I was feeling as a child especially my older adolecent years. I realize now that I was testing my parents I truly think I was testing to see if your love was unconditional....guess what you passed the test :) I put both my parents through some terrible times and not that I was out addicted to drugs or anything but it still makes me sick to my stomach to think some day my girls could be the same way.....and honestly there is nothing I can do about except pray.
I was very blessed God brought me to my knees in Springfield, MO one day and I knew my life had to change, it didn't all happen at once and I am still growing daily with my relationship with God. But like they say at The Way Church in Newton something along the lines of "We don't care how you got here we care where your headed." I love to say my parents raised me really well, and while I'm pretty sure they were about to give up on me when I was 19 or 20 they didn't and the outcome I like to think is pretty good :)

They didn't spend years trying to break my spirit or my will, they spent years praying. And here I am a few years later finding myself doing the same thing praying, praying hard that my strong willed little girls will not lose their spirit that I will not break their will, that they understand I unconditionally will love them forever and in the end they use their strong wills for the glory of God.

So as I continue to struggle daily with a few of my own SWC, I pray for wisdom, I pray I learn to choose my battles, and to not push them away from God or from Brandon and I. And my biggest prayer is that I don't let what I think others think about our family, and my girls in the midst of craziness, dictate how We parent or discipline, that We choose not to raise pharisees of the law and We choose to raise Girls that understand what God's Grace truly means.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

This is not where I belong!!

All I know is I'm not Home Yet
This is not where I belong Take this world and give me Jesus. 

I really find these words powerful especially during the days I struggle with being a mom during the "little years" and after that I'm going to struggle during the elementary years and so on and so on. We are always in a "stage" of life sometimes we enjoy that stage and other times we don't enjoy it at all. 

Today was a struggle as I sat at swim lessons watching my 3 and 4 year old both in the same class huddle together screaming about having to jump off the diving board and go under water (with life jackets on). The other kids some jump, some dive off with joy, others timidly get up there while the instructor helps them off. My 2 girls sat there screaming while I sat there and watched. I struggled with what to do in this situation, do you "rescue" them do you say its ok you don't have to go this time or do you throw them off the deep end and let them "survive"??!! Maybe the instructors didn't care, maybe the other parents didn't care but you know everyone has a thought of what they would do if they were in that situation, if it was their 2 children. Its easy to think what you would do if it was your kid when its not your kid. Seriously I was the best parent in the world my kids were perfect, good athletes, good students, respected Brandon and I, and were just all around perfect that is until I had children. My kids are not perfect my parenting skills are far from perfect and I struggle daily with it. 

And like the ads tell you daily if you ever listen to life 101.9 I get in the van frustrated, embarrassed, exhausted, and overwhelmed and I hear All I know is I'm not Home yet, This is not where I belong Take this world and give me Jesus........It was exactly what I needed to hear, it gave me a sense of peace, and knowing this is not where we belong and as I listened to Teagan singing it out as she loves this song I ask her.....Teagan where do we belong and she says "in heaven with Jesus" so simple so easy and she didn't even have to pause, oh to have child like faith. 

So as I continue to screw my kids up one day at a time, traumatizing them by throwing them in the deep end, I pray that through the Grace of God that when we end up where we belong my children are right there with me worshiping God. 

Also nothing like a day like today where I'm put back in my place, I admit I still see kids scream in the store, yell at their parents, cry when their parents leave, all those things that kids do........and I think to myself well why don't they just do this or that?? Well sometimes unless its our kid our situation we don't know what we would do, and its not our place to judge. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What Happend to Seven???

For the whole month of March we were totally dedicated to 7 we were going to decrease 7 areas of excess in our lives and we started with food. It was tough it was a total challenge and I think we accomplished it!! So where are we now in 7 thats the question I keep being asked?? Well embrassingly I have to admit we've probably failed some in the eyes of people watching. We haven't done anything since March we had decide we would take a short break between each area of excess and our short break has turned into a long break. I think in part due to the fact we all think food was by far going to be the hardest. Plus its easy to fail, this challenge is suppose to be hard and when its not a law or a requirement and really were not being punished for not doing why why do it???

Well I'll tell you why.....because it keeps coming back to me the thought of all our EXCESS!!! I have been sitting in my laundry room sorting piles and piles of clothes and I wonder why in the world have I let all these piles build up?? Well to be honest because I can were not out of clothes to wear, we all still have clean underwear, and my girls don't care if they match so there is still clothes to wear. So why do laundry???!! Well one its rather ridiculous the amount of clothes we have, the choices we have, and with all that to me comes stress. Stress of having so much laundry to do, so much to keep up with, and stress when it comes to deciding what to wear. So instead of sitting here being upset about the amount of laundry I have I'm going to do something about it. I'm starting the second month of 7.......7 articles of clothing, not including underwear. When all I have to choose from is 7 articles it makes things much easier in the morning to get ready!!

So I ask that people hold me accontable, keep asking where I'm at in my 7 challenge and encourge me to keep going!! As soon as I get out of the mountain of laundry I will choose my 7 articles of clothing and continue on with getting rid of excess!!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Loving "These Days"

 We have been enjoying the weather!! We've run through the sprinkler, rode our bikes, and been playing at the park!! The girls are growing up so fast and I'm enjoying watching them learn new things. This past weekend Harper learned to pump her legs on the swing and Teagan learned how to ride her bicycle!! We were all very excited and it is so cool to see the excitement in the girls faces.

Blakely's favorite thing to do is go on bike rides! She loves riding in the trailer and more then anything she loves to wear her helmet. Hehe she is so funny she won't even take it off at the park :) I really have to convince her to take it off to go to bed!
I absolutely love this picture!! Teagan and Harper are soo close and they have so much love for each other. While they do fight and argue over toys, where to sit at the table, who's underwear is who's, and pretty much anything and everything they still have a lot of love for each other!! It's funny when they've been separated for a little while like if one is with Daddy or at a friends house when they see each other again they get soooo excited!!

The weather has been amazing and I hope it stays like this all summer but I have a feeling were in for some hot dry days this summer!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I know it has been forever since I blogged, but wow was April busy!! And here we are already the 2nd of May??!! Really time flies by so fast!!

We have really been enjoying the weather and being able to be outside! We have already checked so many projects off our list and can't wait to get a few more checked off soon!! I'm loving this, seriously maybe a little too much but this is the first time in 5 years that I feel like I can actually get out and do a few things outside, or its ok if Brandon is outside mowing and geting stuff done because I don't have a baby this summer. My youngest is a toddler and she's able to play and I don't have to carry a baby on my hip all summer (although Blakely would still love that), and I'm not throwing up every hour because I'm not pregnant. It's so cool because I can see God's timing in all of this, I know I can be honest and everyone knows it true.....If I wasn't going to Africa in August I would more then likely be pregnant but instead I'm being obiedent to God's will in wanting me to serve in Africa and I'm being blessed with enjoying my 3 beautiful growing girls and my wonderful husband, and while someday we want to continue to add to our family we are doing a lot of fun stuff this summer!!

One thing we did this year is we took a step and invested in bikes, bike trailers, and helmets. One of my greatest memories is riding bikes in Newton with my parents, even as I got older I enjoyed riding with my dad. Last night we got to go on our first family outing and not much has changed except for I'm a lot older, out of shape, and I was willing wearing a helmet. We kind of laughed as were all wearing helmets and Brandon and I still feel like total dorks wearing them but hey being an ER nurse and setting a good example for our kids were wearing helmets! Honestly I wish it was a law to wear a helmet and not because I want to take away a freedom of you being able to choose (I mean if you want to risk getting a head injury thats your choice) but I wish it was a law so that some part of my parenting was easy, I wouldn't be the mean mom that says I don't care that none of your friends wear helmets your wearing one....(I can already hear me saying that and its a few years away before I have to do that) Right now they just do, they don't really think much about it, and its not uncool. In fact Teagan thinks its totally cool and whenever we see helmets she asks can I get one like that??! Oh well I haven't found one part of parenting easy so why start now right??

Since I lasted blogged I celebrated a birthday I only have one more left to celebrate until I turn 30 then I can be one of those people that can say I'm celebrating my 29th birthday for the 5th time. Ok not really I will never be one of those people, and honestly I could care less about turning 30 I don't really find it a big deal...yet but then again who am I to judge I'm not there yet. So this year I had a great time celebrating my birthday with my family and I got two of the best presents and they are totally on the opposite ended of the spectrum (sorta, I'll explain more) but I got a Kindle Touch, and my awesome husband built me a clothes line which sad but true I love!! I've fallen in love with reading again and I hate clutter so my Kindle is awesome, and my clothes line its perfect, its the right size, it looks really nice, and its simple!! So why I've decided these two things are more a like then you might think is because everything I've been reading lately is all about simplicity. My life seems pretty hectic most days and so I love to read and learn about how I can simplify my life. I think I continue to feel convicted about all our busyness, materlisism, and just "stuff" we don't need and I truly want to live a more simple life, one that doesn't seem to be so hectic and filled with "stuff". I want to slow down and enjoy this time with my family because we all know it goes by WAY to fast.

Here is a few pictures of what are summer has looked like so far :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Nurses For Africa

A day doesn't go by that I don't think about Africa. I love love to talk to anyone that's willing to listen about my trip to Africa. My girls are starting to talk about it more and more and Teagan asked me tonight if I would bring home a little girl from Africa :) (and oh how I wish I could bring all of them home ). As I sit in my room and I think about how my room is about the size of their house it makes me appreciate what I have but even more I'm excited about the opportunity that I have to serve the people of Zambia. Wow what an amazing thing it is that God has chosen me to be a nurse and to serve others. Brandon and I are both really excited to see how God is going to work in our lives to serve other people. This has become a family adventure and although my family isn't coming with me on this trip to Africa they are a huge support and I hope that we will be able to go together someday soon. Some people dream about taking trips with their kids to Disney World, I dream about taking my kids to Africa. I know not everyone is called to go to Africa and not everyone is as excited about the trip as I am but I really do feel like this is what I'm called to do.

This week I have started to send out letters for help in supporting my trip to Africa. There is no way that I could go on this trip without the support of friends and family. Thank you to everyone who has already supported me financially and through prayer. Please if you would continue to pray and if you feel led to support me either contact me and I can get you the info or I have a previous blog on the foundation and how to send money.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Family Weekend!

 We had a great time last weekend. We took a weekend break from 7 foods and we celebrated family. We had a great time celebrating Grandma Kennedy's birthday and Harper's 3rd birthday. It's always fun trying to get 5 grandkids together for a picture :) Harper loved getting some new lala loopsey stuff and Teagan had a great time trying to learn how to ride her bike. Learning to ride a bike is quite a challenge with no training wheels and I have the attitude of "My dad wouldn't let me have training wheels my kids don't need training wheels either" But let me tell you I think it's harder work on the parent or grandparent then it is on the kid!! Wow I got my work out in!! It is always fun to see my nephews that I don't get to see often enough and watch them grow up sooo fast!!!

Then Sunday afternoon we got to continue the fun at Grandma and Granpa Sowers to celebrate Harper's birthday with them. The Sowers side is a whole lot of crazyness with 5 granddaughters but a lot of fun! The weather couldn't have been more perfect I think it was like 80 degrees sunny and no wind. The girls played outside on their Grandma and Grandpa's new swing set and trampoline.

These 3 are going to have a lot of fun over the years growing up and being so close in age!!

And I just love these two, it is fun to watch them interact......I'm pretty sure this is Blakely saying I can only lift my leg this high can you lift yours? :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

I've turned into my Mother

I came to the realization probably long before today but even more so today that I've turned into my Mother. It's hard to admit that there were times growing up that I thought she was crazy and I vowed I would never do some of the things she did. But this morning as I was getting packed and ready to leave for Newton I had this major realization that those things I vowed I would never do when I was a mom, Yep I did them. 
Okay so my mom was right occasionally and she's not actually crazy or maybe I've turned crazy not sure which. When I was getting ready today to leave for the weekend I was cleaning the house, now I always wondered why my mom got so anxious about cleaning the house before we left, I remember saying things like "sure mom I'll make sure my bed is made for when the robber breaks in while were gone." but here I am 20 years later cleaning my house before we leave. I've figured out that it is really nice to come home when your weekend is over and you have a suit case full of dirty clothes to have a nice clean house.

Now I wish I could say that my anxiety and craziness this morning left my house clean but it didn't in fact our house probably looks like a chaotic mess. While I was packing and cleaning the girls were pulling out and making thing dirty. Teagan can never decide what to wear and is very picky about the material, were in the process of pulling out spring/summer clothes and going up to size 5T so that in itself was a challenge this morning. Then while I was packing and thought the girls were quietly watching cartoons I came out of the bedroom to find that Harper had started getting water out of the fridge and pouring it into the water table which left a big water puddle on the floor in the kitchen and Harper's was soaked!! Blakely was trying to climbed on the computer desk and pull stuff out, then going into the laundry grabbing shoes, clothes, trash can, whatever, then I found her with a marker when I went to get the marker back somehow she made a nice red line straight down the shirt I had just put on. (side note why is it when I'm packing it feels like I have no clothes, while any other day I'm purging and trying to get rid of all the excess?) All the stress and anxiety got to me and I finally said FORGET IT!! Everyone shoes on and out the door, house is going to be a mess for all those robbers! 

Maybe someday my house will be clean......but as for now It's a sweet life in a SOWERS home! 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Our Sweet Harper Turns 3!!

Today was all about Harper!! Harper is our beautiful little girl who turned 3 today. She has a head full of curls that I'm afraid to ever cut in fear that they will go away and she has a personality like no one I know. Harper got to pick today's events which included a donut and chocolate milk for breakfast, a trip to the indoor bounce park in CF with her friends, playing outside, and scratch cupcakes for dessert!!

I interviewed Harper and hope I can get the video uploaded soon but here were the questions and answers.

How old are you today:  3
What day is your birthday: March 20th
What is your favorite color: PINK!
What is your favorite number: 2
What was your favorite present: Lalaloopsy
What was your favorite thing today: Playing outside
What is your favorite thing to do with your sisters: Make Puppets
Who is your favorite person in the whole wide world: MOMMY!! (YAY :)
What is the one thing you sleep with every night: Keepy
What is your favorite food: Broccoli (Way to make Aunt Alicia proud)
What do you want to be when you grow up: A mommy
How many kids do you want to have: 4
What is your favorite dessert: Ice Cream
What is your favorite movie: Tinkerbell

Harper you are the most amazing little girl. You are so smart and it just amazes me how your mind works. I love your curls and reddish hair, your beautiful hazel eyes and LONG eyelashes. You are super sweet and cuddly when you want to be and you have a fierce streak of independence that I know will take you far some day. Sometimes you scare me and I pray everyday that God will teach me how to raise you and I thank him for his Grace because some days I'm just totally lost. You are a total Daddy's girl and a morning person. You are the first one to wake up (besides Daddy) and every morning you ask where Daddy is and then tell me the sun is up so it's time to get up. (Harper just so you know......I am so NOT a morning person!!!!) You could live off of chocolate milk if I let you, in fact you make sure we say God bless chocolate milk at supper. You love playing duck, duck, goose with our pigs and you love being outside. You are a wonderful sister, daughter, and niece. We love you very much!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

On to Week 2 of 7 foods

Well we made it through the first week without any major problems. We didn't get any breaks, we didn't mess up and accidentally eat something that we weren't suppose to, and we didn't kill anyone (always a plus for any week really :).

Now on to week 2! It's actually become a lot easier, it almost seems "normal" whatever that is. I don't even think much about it, I know theses are the 7 foods I have so that's that. We are counting down the days though until Harper's birthday. With the approval of the Council (our advising and accountability team) we are taking Harper's birthday off and enjoying the day celebrating Harper. Harper's birthday is March 20th, that day we plan to attend Timothy Christian School's annual steak supper, and then home to have Scratch Cupcakes!!
 Side note: If you've never had a Scratch cupcake you are missing out and the next time your in the Cedar Falls area stop by Scratch on main street CF and get yourself a cupcake!!
So One more week until we get to enjoy some really good food and oh most importantly Harper's 3rd time flies!!

Speaking of Harper's birthday I have had a really difficult time deciding what to get her. It's really hard when you have 3 girls, I feel like we already have everything. There is nothing she really needs and she doesn't really ask for anything yet (I better enjoy this now). When I asked Harper what she wants for her birthday she says a baby and crayons....ok I can probably handle that.

I've continued to read past the chapter of foods in the 7 book and right now I'm feeling overtaken by my house and all the stuff we have!! I've been organizing and pitching and putting stuff in a pile to either give away or sell. I think we might be moving possessions up to month 2 instead of 3 because seriously I already have my 210 items I could give away for the month!! This could be fun....I'm so not sentimental.....Brandon on the other hand, may have a difficult time this month because I already have an eye on his clothes.....seriously he's got more then me!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Day 6 of 7 foods

Yesterday I didn't blog or post anything which was probably a benefit to us all. I was a total grouch!! I think its the lack caffeine, cookies, and only being able to drink water. Thank goodness for my good friend Marissa and My husband who both reminded me of the reason were doing this experiment. I woke up in a much better mood!!

This morning I had the privilage of going to the Grundy County Convention for the republican party. There they served all kinds of refershments and pastries that looked oohh so good but I was good and grabed a bottle of water, chewed my gum, and enjoyed some entertainment....yes entertainment ever since I became interested in politics which was pretty young I enjoyed going with my Dad to see people speak and I enjoyed being in Government class but the one thing I figured out that no matter what policital event you attend there is always at least one person that seems a little off their rocker!! But hey thats the beauty of living in a country where we have the freedom to speak, and the freedom to vote :)

Then this afternoon I enjoyed the afternoon outside playing with Teagan and Harper and enjoying the weather. It was about 65 degrees and sunny but a little bit windy, the girls really enjoyed playing with the pigs and our dog Bella.

Then tonight Our friends invited us to go to Saturday evening service so we enjoyed going to church at Prairie Lakes and letting our kids go and play with their friends. I felt like a little kid sitting in church again though when we took communion. Looking back it was probably a poor choice that I decided to sit next to one of my best friends in church who is also doing the 7 experiment with us, I really should have an adult sit in between us to keep us from talking or laughing during inappropriate times during church. But we couldn't help but laugh when we drank the 20ml glass of grape juice thinking how rewarding it was to have a different taste!!! Seriously it was like candy for 2 seconds and both of us a course looking at each other just started laughing.

Then we came home and enjoyed the best meal yet of the 7 experiment......PIZZA!!!! Yep thats right we had a whole wheat crust pizza with Avocado spread for our sauce, chicken, apples, and red bell peppers and let me tell you it was amazing!!! Now I have to be honest we ate late so it was I was either really hungry or it was really good!! I would even consider eating it post 7 food experiment :)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Day 4 of Seven experiment

Day 4 food is starting to taste blah! Need to come up with another way to mix my 7 foods. Here are my 7 foods: Spinach, Avocados, Whole Wheat Bread, Apples, Eggs, Red Bell Peppers, and Chicken. So heres the challenge if you read this I want you to come up with a good recipe so I can try it can only use these 7 foods and include salt, pepper, and olive oil thats it nothing else! So please Send me your ideas I have 3 and 1/2 more weeks of this!!

Funny Story:

Brandon: I could go for an Ice cold Coke
Me: I would love a whole sleeve of thin mints!!
Teagan: Why in the world would you eat coats and sleeves??? Those are things you wear not eat!!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Day 2 of the 7 experiement

Ok so its day 2 and you would think well it's only been 2 days not to hard right?? Wrong!!! Seriously the last 2 days have kind of sucked I'm retraining my mind to not just open the fridge and grab those fresh grapes I have washed and ready to snack on whenever, or little stuff I didn't realize I did that much like finishing my kids left overs or licking my finger when pouring the applesauce into there bowl and some spills. And then on top of that I've had to work the last 2 evenings, Monday wasn't too bad I didn't have time for a bathroom break let alone think about sticking food in my mouth....but I did want a Mt. Dew to sip on yep still missing that Mt. Dew I gave up 3 weeks ago. Today I thought about food all day when I ate my apple all I could think about how it would be better with peanut butter and I should have considered peanut butter as one of my foods but its too late now, then at work we have a popcorn machine in our break room and everyone was eating there fresh popcorn oh how it smelled so good, then the worst thing possible is I had to stop at the grocery store on my way home to grab some more avocados (Which evidently is all 3 of my girls favorite food) and all the possibilities in the grocery store....the cupcake sale, the fresh baked cookies, the candy bars in the check out line, even the bunny grahams I bought for my girls.........AHHHH wonder what April is going to look like I hope by then I will have made some habit changes and I wont just go on a binge buying a whole bunch of junk food and consuming so much to make myself sick.
Well I could spend all this time thinking about the foods I should have chosen but what a waste of my time and energy!! Time to put that energy to good use and see what God's plan is for this experiment. I will tell you a few things I have learned already in 2 days.....I've become really good at combining these 7 foods and making some stuff I would have never put together. When your hungry Avocado, Whole Wheat bread, and egg actually taste really pretty good, and mashed up Avocado and chicken really YUMMY!!! I used to be a pretty picky eater so trying all these new concoctions (sp?) is really good for me.

Now enough about the experiment and on to why I really blog my 3 beautiful girls!! We had some exciting and funny stuff today.
1. Blakely is starting to use the potty....yes I'm crazy but hey the less diapers I buy the more money I save. She peed on the potty for me 4 times this morning and pooped once before day care!! YAY!!! She has even started to sign potty. :) Pretty good for 15 months.

2. Teagan and Harper are both really into die and kill right now, I know that part of it is we live on a farm another part is there age but still it really bothers me how they talk about it.(And unfortunately I think they know it bothers me, which makes them do it all the more) Anyways today they were dancing around the room singing "I wish to die for my birthday, die for my birthday" which resulted in me saying something like "girls now I really don't want you to use that and it makes me sad because I don't want you to die" so they stopped and I went on to put a load of laundry in the washer as I'm getting ready to come back to the living room I hear them singing again only this time it was "I want to meet Jesus for my birthday, I want to meet Jesus". SO WHAT IN THE WORLD DO YOU SAY TO THAT???? I love that they understand that you get to meet Jesus when they die and I love that they want to meet Jesus but I would just prefer it not be in heaven for a very very long time. Wow they are sooo much smarter then me!!!
It was kind of cute and kind of funny but it really got me thinking.......One thing I have had a huge conviction and guilt about is God gave me 3 beautiful little blessings and I have had a really hard time with thinking someday I might have to give one of them back to him and it really just hurts, makes may heart sad to even think about and while I know it is all God's plan and timing I know I would be angry and that I wouldn't be ok with it. I'm crying just sitting here even typing this but I wonder if today was God saying your girls know me, your teaching them about me, and when I call them home there going to be ok, there in my hands, and God's hands are so much bigger then mine!!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The 7 Challenge

I was absolutely horrible about blogging in the month of February. I could come up with a whole long list of excuses but really I just didn't feel anything blog worthy and when I did I didn't really feel like blogging. So today I'm starting out with a blog that is probably going to put me in the list of "crazy Christians". With the help of our good friends Dallas and Marissa we are joining in with them on reading 7 by Jen Hatmaker which is an experimental mutiny against excess. We are diving in to take on the challenge and here is why.......
Since feeling the conviction to go to Africa and use my skills as a nurse to help those that live in poverty I've been pretty obsessed with learning about Africa. The first book I read was Kisses From Katie which I think I mentioned in my previous blog. Now really all I can think about is how we have so much more in the United States, more stuff, more opportunities, more health care, more money, more, more, more and you know what.....WERE STILL NOT SATISFIED!!! We want more and our wants have become our "needs". It really has become a huge conviction that I should be satisfied with what I have and that Jesus is more then enough for me. God has hugely blessed our family and we need to give back to those that don't have all the "Stuff" we have. So when Marissa asked me to join in on the 7 challenge I said sure.....not really knowing what I was getting myself into but heck why not?? :) Then as I started to read the book learn more about it Brandon joined on board first I pushed him on board with another one of my "crazy" ideas but now he's actually really excited. (Kind of like how he has now become a Cyclone fan :)!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and no that's not a joke its true).
So hear it is the 7 things that Jen Hatmaker lists as excess: Food, clothes, shopping, waste, possessions, media, and stress. The Challenge is to get rid of this excess for 1 month 1 thing at a time for 7 months. Then we get to go back to our normal comforts but hopefully will be forever changed and aware of excess be thankful for what we have and not obsess about wanting more.
 To start the challenge off it is food. So for the next 4 weeks Brandon and I will only be eating 7 foods. The 7 foods has yet to be completely decided and we have until midnight tonight to decide.
Here's what were possibly looking at: Chicken, Whole wheat bread, eggs, apples, avocados, red bell peppers, and spinach. With the help of the book and my dietitian aka sister these are consider 7 healthy foods. The only other ingredients we can use, salt, pepper, and olive oil and water to drink. That's no pop, no coffee, no mayo, no ranch dressing, no cheese, nothing! I'm pretty sure this is going to be my hardest month as I love food, love cheese, love ranch ahhh yum love love love!!
Honestly it's going to be uncomfortable and that's the whole point and open up for the holy spirit in our lives and to be thankful for what God has given us. There are moments as I think about starting the challenge and I continue to read the book I'm just like "God I really just want to stay comfortable for a little bit longer, let me finish remodeling our house, pay for a few more clothes I really want, and spend money on myself get myself set up a little better financially then when I feel like I have excess then I give, and eliminate what I feel is excess." But then my thoughts of Africa how they live with very little clothes, very little food, and yet they are happy with what they have.
So before we start our challenge tomorrow we are having our "last supper" I'm sitting here writing this blog enjoying popcorn and M&M's, I may or may not have eaten a whole sleeve of thin mints, we went out to eat twice this weekend and enjoyed all the comfort foods that were going to say goodbye to for the next 4 weeks.

Don't worry the girls still get to eat normal food and will not be forced into this months challenge. But next month they will be joining in on giving up on excess of clothes.

For those of you that this has peeked your interest or you want to find out more visit She has more books then just 7 and she is a hilarious writer, can't wait to start reading more of her books!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

You might a Mt. Dew aholic when?

You Might just be a Mt. Dewaholic when?

1. You wake up and the first thing you do is grab a Mt. Dew out of the fridge.
2. The last thing you do at night before brushing your teeth is take a drink of Mt. Dew
3. You have to go to the dentist to get your cavities filled (In my defense they were the first 2 ever!!)
4. You think about how much you spend in Mt. Dew a month and it adds up to almost $100
5. You have garbage bags full of empty Mt. Dew bottles in your garage.
6. You can easily still fall asleep after drinking a 20 oz of Mt. Dew
7. You find random empty Mt. Dew bottles around your house because it's your 15 month olds favorite toy.
8. You tried multiple times to quit and you continue to go back to drinking Mt. Dew almost always drinking more then you did before.
9. You get a headache if you go more then 12 hours without caffeine
10. A 4 year old says to there mom "Why does Nicole drink so much pop? It has so much sugar and sugar is not healthy, will you please tell her that mom?" LOL Thanks Maleah :) SO BUSTED!!

Ok so I admit I'm a total Mt. Dewaholic and I sooooo wish I could quit. I wish that I could just drink water but it is just not the same. While I think I might get a little kick from Mt. Dew in the morning to start my day I know I am way more tired then if I would just eat healthier and drink as much water as I do Mt. Dew.
As a nurse I strive to help people make better choices for their lives, such as smoking. I can tell you that I have several patients come in that wear oxygen, or have lung cancer, or COPD but they don't stop smoking. We consider these patients "Non-compliant" and their health continues to deteriorate all because they are addicted to smoking. I have never smoked in a large part thanks to my Grandpa Kennedy who smoked like a chimney and I couldn't stand being in their house because of the smell, but I do know that most people that smoke don't continue to smoke because they want to, they smoke because they can't handle the side effects that come along with quitting. And Yes I am certain it is much easier to quit drinking Mt. Dew then it is to quit smoking and that is why I'm going to quit!!

Some reasons Mt. Dew is seriously bad for you: Cavities, Mood swings, insomnia, weight gain, risk for diabetes, cost, can cause heart problems and GI problems, and I'm sure many more then I've listed here.

As I write this I just finished my last drink of Mt. Dew that I had in our fridge, I'm going to try not to buy another one tonight when we go out to eat, but since it's my last night of Mt. Dew I might have to go on a binge :)
So whats my plan and why tonight?
Well I'm having a tonsillectomy tomorrow, Mt. dew going down a raw throat just doesn't sound all that appealing, I will be on pain medication so hopefully this will help decrease the headaches, and I have a plan for where the extra $$ is going.
Plus Brandon has made some jokes about what will I do while I'm in Africa for 12 days without Mt. Dew......Problem Solved I'm quitting :)
The last couple days I've been reading the book Kisses from Katie which is an amazing book that I think everyone should read. Katie is a 22 year old girl that has given her life to serve God, at 18 she decided to not go to college and Moved to Uganda and has since adopted 13 little girls and has a ministry to serve a lot more kids then that. The ministry is really amazing and what I love so much about it is she provides these children with basic needs that were not being met and an education so these kids can learn to be able to provide for themselves. I think one of the most frustrating things to me is I see so many people in the United States that rely on the government and don't strive to better themselves. So first my money will be going towards my trip to Africa to serve, and after that I want to give my money to Katie's Ministry called Amazima.

Now that I'm finishing this I'm on Day 4 and missing the taste of a good ol' mt.dew and I have a slight headache but I continue on with my mission to give up Mt. Dew for my health and to help others :)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Update on Africa

I have officially got confirmation on dates for my trip to Africa. I will be traveling to Kabwe, Zambia for 12 days from August 16th-August 28th. I'm sure it was a difficult process for the leaders to decide which team members would go on which trip. I think there around 40 nurses going on 4 different trips this summer. I have prayed a lot over the last couple of weeks that I would be selected to be with the group of people and team that God wanted me to be on. When I got confirmation my initial reaction was actually that I was surprised to be going on the last trip for 2012 and that it was going to be that late in August. I probably was even a little disappointed but I was reminded quickly that this is God's plan not mine. Then my next thought was I wonder how that lines up for my work weekend since I work every 3rd weekend I better start planning and asking someone to trade my weekend, so I looked at my schedule and guess what????!! It's perfectly planned around my work weekend and I will not have to trade with anyone because the 2 weekends I will be gone are me weekends off. Wow!! God really did know what he was doing :)  I am very excited to get to know everyone on my team over the next 7 months....Sometimes there are awesome benefits to facebook as I've already been able to meet a couple of team members. 

Another thing people have been asking me about fundraising and how to support me. I received this information today. If you feel lead to support my trip to Africa this is how a donation can be made. 
You can send a check directly to the organization, make check out to: Ten Talents Global Initiatives 
and on the memo line:  Nicole Sowers/Nurses for Africa 
and send it to:
Ten Talents Global Initiatives
PO Box 460472
St. Louis, MO 63146

This is a 501c3 charity for tax deduction purposes. 

If you would like you can also give a check directly to me made out to Ten Talents Global Initiatives and I can send it on, or if you don't worry about the tax deduction you can give me money directly that I will give to the charity to support my trip. 

I am very excited for this awesome opportunity to serve and I will continue to update and will definitely be talking about the trip when I get back :) 

I thank everyone in advance for being supportive whether financially, with prayers, or helping Brandon with the girls while I'm gone! 12 days is going to be a long time to be away yet such a short time for a life changing experience I'm sure. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

We brought the Snow inside!!

I feel that it is important to get your kids outside everyday possible! Lately I have not  been able to convince my kids that going outside and playing in the snow can be fun. My girls evidently are too smart they say "it is too cold, snow is cold!"I couldn't agree with them more but I really am running out of ideas to do inside. Today I decided to bring the snow inside and put it in our water table that Blakely got for Christmas. The girls put on mittens and spent a good 30-40 minutes finding fun ways to play in the snow. 

This activity did get a little messy inside but the girls had a lot of fun and they didn't get cold like they would have if they were outside.