Reflections from the Second Half of 2016

dsc_7595

We have been silent on this page over the past five months or so. It’s been a time of turning inward and needing to be quiet for a time. Josh – though keeping with his new career of teaching elementary art – switched to a new school in August. Jedidiah started the 4th grade and Lilia started 2nd.

Continue reading

Advertisements

From the ground up

Long before we packed our boxes to move from Chicago to Little Rock, we had heard that starting a community begins with a seed rather than blueprints. Many people were interested to hear our strategy for “building” a community. I understand you can take classes in seminary all about best practices for a successful church plant, but there isn’t a seminary course for us.

blueprint

Another statement we heard from the wise folks at Reba Place Fellowship is that it takes about eighteen months to feel like you’ve settled into a place — we have now lived in Little Rock for about twenty. Continue reading

A Different Sort of Summer

We are nearing the end of a lively and different sort of summer for our family. Last Fall, as you know, Josh took a job as an elementary school art teacher. So, as a teacher, this schedule meant that he’s had the whole summer OFF! It’s been really great to have him around, to have some time to work on a few house projects together, and to have the flexibility to take a couple of big trips together.

This is the last week of summer vacation for Josh. He’ll be going back to work (at a different school than last year) on Monday of next week. Our big kids will head to school the week after that.

Though our hope was to find more part-time work this summer, we have embraced the small work opportunities that have come our way and the beauty of family life that we often have little time to enjoy. Here’s some of what we’ve been up to…

VBS:

Typical Days:

Special Birthday stuff:

Lilia’s Birthday, Mothers Day, and Other Updates from April & May

by Candace

Here’s some of what’s been going on in April and May! It’s been a beautiful and busy time…

In April, we had a wonderful celebration of Lilia’s seven years of life! She planned a birthday party based on the Magic Tree House book series. It was full of adventure, creativity, and delicious food. Here are a few pictures:

20160409-PAD_0002
The tree house cake Lilia designed.
20160409-PAD_0005
Ready for adventure with their backpacks, notebooks, and pens…
20160409-PAD_0014
A Pirate Challenge
20160409-PAD_0015
Putting clues on the board to find out where the treasure is hidden…
20160409-PAD_0020
Teaching ninja moves for the ninja challenge
20160409-PAD_0030
The Mummy Challenge!
20160409-PAD_0033
The Knight Challenge – fighting the (pinata) dragon!
20160409-PAD_0035
Fighting the dragon was the best part! (filled with shell peanuts, bouncy balls, and plastic gemstone rings)

20160409-PAD_0008 20160409-PAD_0016 20160409-PAD_0031

 

 

P1010930
Lilia posing with her sewing machine and several of her creations.

Lilia got wonderful birthday gifts this year (we just do gifts from family, not friends). Every gift was exactly what she was hoping for, and she’s using them all regularly. She especially loves this new kids’ sewing machine, which was her big request this year.

P1010932
Funny Simeon wanted a picture with the sewing machine and Lilia’s creations, too…

The kids are getting better and better at helping with chores around the house. They have had chore charts and allowance this year. They’ve also been helping us without outdoor chores, including the “McCallister Farm” (really just a garden) that we are working on in the “no man’s land” behind our backyard fence.

P1010942P1010944

 

 

 

 

 

We celebrated Mothers Day with Candace’s family in Pine Bluff. Her almost 98-year-old grandmother is declining in health, and we cherish every chance to spend a little time with her.

 

20160508-PAD_0060

20160508-PAD_0061 20160508-PAD_0065 20160508-PAD_0070 Life continues to be extremely full and somewhat stressful as we adjust to a new place. We found out last week that Josh’s job is not promised for next year (we are still hopeful that he will get to keep it); but, with budget cuts, a new superintendent, and lots of upheaval in the school district, everything is up in the air right now. There is so much that I could say about all this, but my request is simply that you pray for our school district, for our kids’ school to remain open, and for Josh to be able to continue as an art teacher for next year.

IMG_0717
We attended a rally at the capitol to support our school district. There has been a great deal of turmoil and loss of local control over the past 18 months.

Tonight, we will host a group of students from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for dinner and a discussion of race, segregation, and integration in the South. Tomorrow, we will join my family and some of my extended family to celebrate my mom’s and nephew’s birthdays. On Saturday, we will join with neighbors for a baby shower and a college graduation cookout. On Sunday, we’ll worship at new Millennium church and then host our community small group in our home – there will be lots of kids, good conversation, and food to share. We’re making our way here – one day at a time!

As a final note, we are planning a visit to Evanston for early June. We will be sending out more information to our Reba friends soon, but here’s a heads up: we’d love to see you and share a meal with you! Thanks for continuing to be community to us from afar.

Springtime in Little Rock

by Candace 🙂

P1010912
Azaleas out our window!

We are having a lovely spring here in Little Rock! The azaleas are now in bloom, which may be my favorite time of the year here. The weather is pretty much perfect, too, which means we’re spending lots more time outside.

Thanks for all your prayers and encouragements as we began our small group here. We had a fourth gathering last night, and it was a great time together. There are lots of kids, plenty of space to have childcare outside/upstairs in our home, and great folks around the circle to share in prayer and discussion.

We ask you to pray that we would not become too homogeneous – it’s easy for us to attract white families in our age group. We are thankful to have had several people of color, single people, and older people come over the four weeks; but, we want to welcome all these folks in a way that makes them want to stick around. We gained so much from being a part of an intergenerational group at Reba.

Josh is a fantastic art teacher, from all that I can tell! He has gotten good reports on his observations, the kids seem to love him, and he is having fun finding lessons and teaching these children how to be artists. He has one more test left in order to get his official teaching license. It’s one week from today, and it is the one he is most nervous about. Please pray!

I am enjoying my work with women who have health issues they can’t seem to get past (like acne, low energy, headaches, and digestive issues). It is just the kind of work I have longed to do – supporting women in healing in a holistic way. My business is building slowly, and that is perfect. I am getting experience and finding that I can take the time I need with each person.

The kids are thriving. Lilia’s art was recently chosen for the district-wide art show (hers was the only 1st grade piece from her school!). Her birthday is on Wednesday (she’ll be 7), and we’ll celebrate with a Magic Tree House party on Saturday. Jedidiah is reading, reading, reading these days. He loves series books, and if you see him he’ll talk your ear off about it! He’s been reading Harry Potter, Eragon, Origami Yoda, Captain Underpants, and so many more I can’t remember. Simeon is a bit of a “threenager.” He is more emotional these days, but he is also hilarious and brings a lot of joy to our family. He is the jokester of the family and keeps us all laughing.

We rented out our garage apartment on airbnb over spring break, which was a fun new experience. We thought you might enjoy reading our reviews: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/11617430?preview. We got a laugh out of the one that called us “stylish and gracious.” 🙂

A friend of ours who came to the garage apartment for a bodywork session asked if she could live there for a couple of months while she is between places. She was even willing to let me keep using the space for bodywork sessions while she’s at work/out of town. What a perfect situation! She moved in on Saturday, and we’re loving having her around. The kids have been especially thrilled!

We stayed home for spring break, which was really nice. It’s been rare that we’ve had such unplanned downtime together as a family. We also decided to pay to have the top half of our house painted, as we were having trouble finding a way to paint these very high sections ourselves. The painters started over spring break, and they should finish this week!

A few spring break activities: going to the zoo, hiking to Cedar Falls (Petit Jean State Park), a date night for Josh and me, time with my 97-year old grandmother (she has declined some in the last month), and visiting a local art show. We also had a great Easter as a family and with our church. You can read more about that day here: http://sweetwateroffering.com/how-our-family-managed-to-avoid-candy-this-easter/.

Here are a few Simeon quotes:

On Sunday he sat with me during communion instead of being in Sunday school as he usually is. After church…(with a furrowed brow and an angry, disapproving voice): “Why did you drink blood during church? Why did you?!” We had a good talk about communion and what it means, but I think he’s still a bit confused. 🙂

“I can’t look at the camera, Mom! The sun won’t let me.”

While doing a little dance that definitely means he needs to use the potty: “I don’t need to use the potty mom; I’m just pretending I need to use the potty!”

When he gets really angry at someone: “You lil’ puh-puh!” or “You lil’ hanger!” (Threenager…)

After crying about something that didn’t matter much (as three-year olds will do): (smiling and chuckling) “I was just fake crying, Mom! I’m happy now.”

Here are a few pictures from the last month:

P1010854
Meeting cousin Ivy for the first time.
IMG_0638
Visiting my grandmother Gail.
IMG_0637
Waiting for the bus in the rain…
IMG_0636
Waiting for the bus in the rain…
P1010832
Lilia saved snow from the winter by putting it in the freezer. She was proud to pull it out on a warm day and make “snow cones.”
P1010806
Always reading…
P1010868
A picture I took with Simeon with all our groceries for the week.
IMG_0644
Lilia at the district art show with her piece!
P1010875
Friends digging in the dirt together.
P1010876
Friends and neighbors…
IMG_0645
Morning fairy.
P1010798
Front two teeth are coming in!
IMG_0651
Photographer Josh goes to the zoo…
Version 2
Photographer Josh goes to the zoo…
IMG_0665
Photographer Josh goes to the zoo…
IMG_0663
Three happy kids at our wonderful zoo. Any day now, the new farm section of the zoo will open!
IMG_0671
On a date…we didn’t actually go to this carnival – just saw it while walking around on our date.
IMG_0668
Famous art in Little Rock!
IMG_0678
On the trail to Cedar Falls…Lilia crossed this log and was quite proud!
IMG_0682
Cedar Falls
IMG_0688
Cedar Falls (look at the man on the left to get an idea of the scale).
P1010884
Easter Lilia
P1010897
Making play dough!
P1010903
Time to play (Simeon plays with play dough for hours every day).
IMG_0695
Opening fun Easter presents from the grandparents!
Easter 2016
Easter!
Simeon Easter 2016
Our little cutie!

First Small Group Meeting Tonight!

by Candace

When we moved to Little Rock, we planned to take a year to adjust and get to know our place and neighbors. Then, we would start a small group for anyone in the area interested in Christian community.

Today is the day we start that group! We will be hosting the group in our home. We’ll provide childcare from 4:30 to 6 pm while the adults have some time for centering, prayer, and sharing. At 6 pm, kids and adults will come together for a simple meal (baked potatoes, with toppings brought by our guests).

This is a new thing! A new day! Josh and I have been part of small groups for most of our nearly 14 years of marriage, and we’ve led and hosted small groups for many of those years. In a way, this is what we do best. But, really, it’s what feels like home and church and real life to us.

We’re excited to have people that we check in with every week. We’ve missed that. We’re hopeful that this small beginning is like a seed planted in good soil and that it will grow into something more.

We ask for your prayers. And, we invite you to join us, if you live in the area. Here we go!

Simeon Quotes

by Candace

Simeon says hilarious things all the time. I cannot possibly remember them all, but here are a few…

This morning: “Dad, did you clean off your dash?”

Josh: “My dash?”

Simeon: “Yeah! The dash on your forehead from Clem’s church.” (He meant the Ash Wednesday ashes.)


One day when the kids were working in the yard with Josh, and Simeon and I were inside the house:

Simeon: “Where are our kids?!”

Me: “Our kids?”

Simeon: “Jedidiah and Lilia – our kids! – where are they?”


Simeon: “My boogers taste like cheese pizza!”


All of us at dinner, asking playfully:

“Simeon, are you still a baby?” – he nods…

“Simeon, are you a preschooler?”

Simeon (smiling): “No, I’m a stay-at-homer.”


I met up with another health coach in the area recently. At the end, I said “Simeon, can you say goodbye?” He looked over at the woman and very smoothly gave her a thumbs up. Cracked me up – I’ve never seen him do this before!


When Simeon gets really mad at some one (especially Lilia), he says (in his most angry voice): “You little puh-puh!”


Simeon is our most verbally affectionate child – he tells us how much he loves us and misses us often. It’s quite endearing. 🙂


New update about the house: http://sweetwateroffering.com/house-of-welcome-and-peace-january/

 

Busy, Busy January

January has been an extremely busy month for our family. The month flew by before we had a chance to post once! Here’s a list of all the happenings:

  • We brought in the New Year with our neighbors (the family with 3 kids). We had a nice dinner together, some time around our backyard fire pit, and some singing and drumming in the living room.
  • Candace and the kids attended a Tamir Rice vigil in a nearby neighborhood.
  • Candace completed her finals (including a 2-hour oral final) for her Functional Diagnostic Nutrition course and officially launched her holistic health business: Sweet Water Offering.
  • Josh and the kids started the second half of the school year; all three were a bit anxious about jumping back in to the busy, demanding nature of the school year.
  • Our friends that moved away over the summer came back for a weekend visit, which also included the grand opening of the new Mosaic church space & a sermon by John Perkins. (Our friends attended this multi-ethnic church in our neighborhood, and we have visited several times, but it is not the church where we are members.)
  • One of our college friends we haven’t seen in 10 years came for a visit with her son.
  • Monica Laytham came to visit for a week! We had great talks and lots of laughs. She played a house concert at our place on Candace’s birthday, which Candace missed because…
  • She drove to Waco with her mom to attend the birth of her sister’s first baby. She felt honored to be there for the birth and so happy to get to support her sister in the first days of transitioning to motherhood.
  • Also – the day of the concert, Candace’s birthday, and the day for driving to Waco for the birth – THAT DAY – was the biggest snow day we’ve had here! There were 5-6 inches of snow – even weighing down the branches of the tree in front of our house, making them arc to the ground & creating a secret hideout space underneath. It was quite magical for the kids and their friends who came over to play.
  • Josh registered for his final teaching test required for his full teaching license (will be in April).

Here are a few pictures…

Christmas in Florida
Christmas in Florida
Snow out our front window
Snow out our front window
Magical hideout under the tree
Magical hideout under the tree
Fun with the neighbors
Fun with the neighbors
Fun with the neighbors
Fun with the neighbors & our half-way painted house – green trim on bottom half, but still red on top half…

 

 

What Candace Has Been Up To…

by Candace

We have posted quite a bit about our house repairs, Josh’s job situation, and the children’s milestones; but, I’ve been pretty quiet about what I’ve been up to over the past few months.

Sweet Water Offering

Of course, much of my time is spent in the daily rhythms of the house and children, but I’ve also been watering and tending to the small seed of a business I started while I lived in Chicago: Sweet Water Offering – Supporting Women and Families to Heal Naturally (www.sweetwateroffering.com).

I have continued to do some Thai bodywork and individual health coaching, but I have kept this to a minimum as I have supported my family through our transition and plugged away at securing my Arkansas credentials.

Education

This year I have done a course in functional lab testing, to be able to better identify underlying dysfunction and to create natural, drug-free protocols to restore health in the body. I have also been pursuing my Arkansas counseling license. I only needed one additional class – Psychopharmacology – which I took this Fall at the University near our house. I loved learning the medical treatments at the same time as the natural treatments. I could talk your ear off about the comparison of the two and the insights I’ve had over the past few months!

Group Programs & My First Webinar

After months (and years, really) of preparation, I am now charging into this new business venture with full force. I have announced a line-up of online and local group programs for 2016. And, I’m hosting my first webinar tomorrow night! It’s free, and I’d love for you to attend. If you can’t attend live, I’ll still e-mail you the recording the next day (as long as you sign up). Webinar Sign Up: What’s Draining Your Energy?

In my business, I will integrate these group programs with individual coaching and counseling, with functional lab testing, and with Thai bodywork (for local clients) – read more here. I am excited to offer a holistic approach, as the health problems people experience are always caused by a mix of factors – physiological, psychological, and spiritual. Most of my work can be done via the internet and telephone, but I’m also setting up our garage apartment to work with local clients.

Spread the Word

I am excited to be able to offer affordable, empowering, and genuine support to people with health concerns that are affecting their quality of life. I hope that Sweet Water Offering will be a lifeline to people who feel alone, unheard, or discouraged. Please help me spread the word to women looking for a natural health practitioner, especially in the case of chronic health and mental health concerns.

Logo - Darker Gray

Simeon is THREE!

We celebrated Simeon Thomas’s third birthday on November 15th. Just as he requested, we had a turtle party and Irish stew (an idea he got from a pirate book) with a group of some of his favorite people! We had a great time dressing up as turtles, eating turtle-themed foods, having a turtle dance party, and making turtles out of stones. It was a blast. Here are a few pictures…

Continue reading