Raising Olives Giveaway

Posted: September 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

I don’t have a lot of free time on my hands. Especially now, at the start of the school year and all. There are two amazing blogs I read daily, pretty much without fail. The first is New Life on a Homestead. Kendra keeps me encouraged and moving toward our goal of living a self-sustainable life. I’ve never read a post and not learned something or thoroughly enjoyed the 60 seconds.

The second blog I read almost as faithfully as my Bible is Raising Olives. Kimberly (a mom of many) shared her musings and suggestions on successfully parenting children who love God and people. Their family is encouraging to me. I find I leave the site feeling that I have what it takes to finish this task in excellence with the Lord’s help. Her posts are so tangibly helpful! Her latest post on scripture memorization gave such a great method for learning scripture that I’m sure we will make more progress!! AND, she’s currently giving away 2 Bible memory CDs here. You should definitely check it out!

Large Family Logistics Giveaway

Posted: July 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

I have two equally favorite blogs. Kimberly over at Raising Olives if offering a really great give away that I am excited about. Large Family Logistics is one of those books that’s been sitting on my wish list at Paperback Swap forever. I’m waiting patiently. But wouldn’t it be great to win it now??!!

Even Michelle Duggar has soemthing to say about this book:

Large Family Logistics has lots of helpful ideas to encourage moms to prioritize their lives and get their surroundings organized using creative methods. These tips will free up time and allow moms to stay focused on their children’s hearts. —Michelle Duggar of ’19 Kids and Counting’

So if you’re a mom of many, or even if you’re not, head over to Raising Olives now and enter to win it (even if you’re only going to give it to me {wink, wink}).

New Beginnings

Posted: July 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

Almost a year ago we started this blog to keep everyone updated on our family’s cross country trip during the summer of 2010. We really enjoyed blogging. The pictures, the writing, the feedback. Over the last year, I’ve even missed it. So I’ve decided to pick up where I left off. No, we’re not going on another fun-filled seven week adventure across 36 states and 11,000 miles. We’re staying here in New Hampshire. But each day is a journey and I enjoy sharing it. So join me if you choose!

These Things We Are Sure Of

Posted: November 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

Liz here. We’ve been praying hard all week to determine the next phase of the resource center. We’ll be fasting tomorrow if you care to join us. As we’ve prayed and asked God to speak tangibly to us concerning where this is all headed Ism and I both agree that a few things are for sure.

1. The dream God placed in our hearts has not changed. Just as Joseph’s dream did not change while in the pit, slaving for Potiphar, or serving a prison sentence, neither has ours. And just as the happenings between being sold into slavery and being restored as second in command of Egypt don’t make a lot of sense to most, neither do ours…at the moment. But the story is not over yet. So keep reading!

2. We are going to move forward as time allows. Th next logical steps (aside from continuing to reach teens with the love of Christ) include finishing the task of filing the 501(c)3 and beginning to teach classes that incorporate discipleship with life skills. Though we don’t have the center built we can still make a difference. So Ism will be connecting with a friend (who happens to be a lawyer) about the paperwork and I have begun to put together the first class.

I’m sure you’re just dying to know what I’ll be teaching and running to signup every teen you know but hold on a minute. It’s still in the works. Here are some topics we are considering:

-seasonal crafts


-creating a budget

-household management






-basic cooking

-Italian cooking

-Thai cooking

-Cooking comfort foods

-Soups, stews, and chowders

-Communication skills

-Basic writing skills


-Writing a Research Paper

-Cross Stitch

-Musical Instruments



-Building skate ramps

-Emergency preparedness

-Vegetable gardening

-Growing fruits and berries

-12 Weeks to Christmas

-Writing a resume/finding a job

I know. Quite a list. So we’re in the process of deciding where and when to start. We’re tossing the idea of doing a quick 3 week Seasonal Craft class at the Marion Garrish Community Center in Derry the last three Saturday evenings before Christmas. The projects would cover making a wreath, creating a centerpiece, and ornaments. All the crafts will be inexpensive to make. The other idea we’re looking into is starting classes in January and kicking off the semester with a 6 week course on creating a budget.

So what do you think? What are our best options?

Gingerale and Marshmallows

Posted: November 13, 2010 in Uncategorized

Liz here. We led youth church last night with the team and had some fun moments. We led a contest in chugging ginger ale and marshmallows. Three boys volunteered. Two dropped out with half the 2 liter and half a bag of marshmallows left. The winner gripped his guts and moaned. But thankfully, or maybe disappointingly, he kept it all in. We had a good group of kids. About 40 showed up. Some other memorable moments include

-Ism running full speed ahead to tackle Cody (who unknowingly picked up a marshmallow at just the right time), hurling himself into the air, and throwing himself over Cody and onto the pavement.

-one girl sharing that you can fit 20 baby pigmy shrews onto a tablespoon and ants get drunk sometimes.

-a lesson on Ezekiel 8. Have you read this chapter?? God spoke to us about idols in our hearts and what detestable really smells like to God. We spoke about making sure that when we enter the courtyard that we have come to worship God.

-Seven teens visited for the first time. Please pray that God grabs the hearts of Briana, Jordan, Kirsten, Dan, Deja, Hannah, and Joe. Also pray protection from the enemy for them this week and that they continue to come.

4 weeks home

Posted: November 12, 2010 in Uncategorized

Liz here. Tomorrow marks four weeks since we returned home from our crazy cross country trip. We have wanted to share a final update on the trip before moving to the next phase of building this resource center. We talked about what to write. We prayed about how to share. We didn’t know what to say. I’m going to do my best…so here goes!

At last count we travelled 11,000 miles between Aug 29 and Oct 16. We went through 2 oil changes (those big vans only need it every 5,000 miles), stayed at 11 KOAs and 17 WalMart parking lots. We spent 3 nights with friends in Tampa, a night in a church in Cape Coral, one in Nevarre Beach, a night in Oklahoma, and two weeks in Sacramento. We visited with friends and family. We spoke at churches across the country and met with different ministries. We watched an amazing skate ministry called Ramp 48 in Fort Lauderdale, FL during their Tuesday night Bible Study and learned from them. We were challenged, we grew, we fought, we laughed, and we drove!

People ask us, ‘How was your vacation?” But this wasn’t vacation. Others ask, “How was your trip?” and we wonder, “Do they really want to know? How much time do they have?” It was one of the most challenging experiences of my life. We worked hard and did things that don’t come natural to us. We stepped out of our comfort zones to share our hearts’ vision (the thing that keeps us going through blackest night) with people we didn’t know. We drove through places we’ve never been and we brought our 7 kids with us.

The trip was amazing. We were able to see 36 states in all. This country is vast and varied. It is beautiful and heartbreaking. There is poverty and great wealth. Fundamentals and pentecostals. Democrats and republicans. Black skin, white skin, and every shade in between. Deserts, valleys, mountains, rivers, oceans, great lakes, forests, canyons, mesas. After completing a 2 year study of American history, this trip brought it all to life. Talk about living history!

But we had three goals when we left New Hampshire jut as my garden was reaching peak production. First, to see our country; to build a pride of homeland that will carry our kids into adulthood. Second, to see Ism’s family who live in California; to build a pride of family heritage that we can share with our grandchildren. Third, to see support raised for God’s vision; to build a youth resource center in Derry.

As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, we met our first two goals. Those were the easy ones. The driving force behind this trip was the third goal though. We wouldn’t have made this trip if we didn’t feel God leading us in this direction. As we travelled and shared the vision with pastors and people from churches we were met with great excitement. Most folks received the vision and were excited to become a part of it. All are praying with us toward the goal. We were blessed financially along our path. This money was used to pay for gas (we got about 10 miles per gallon) and campsites at the KOAs. These were our only expenses as all our food was already taken care of and we brought everything else we might need.

Though we were loved incredibly, when we did our final calculations we still brought in about $1400 less than we were given.  Now we owed money to our home church. Sadness filled our hearts. To add to that, we weren’t able to raise enough monthly support to continue pursuing this vision full time. We gave our all for the vision God put in us and followed His voice but still we felt like failures. But how could we say that to people?

We’ve spent the last four weeks praying, fasting, and talking with our mentors. Where do we go from here? We haven’t abandoned what God has called us to do, but how do we continue if Ism works a full time job and I’m left to care for the kids, their schooling, and our home? We don’t have all the answers, but we do know one thing. This vision has been put in our hearts by God and it hasn’t changed. Even if our lives change, He hasn’t. So for now, Ism is looking for work that will provide for our family. I am rescheduling our day in an attempt to make room for small ventures the kids and I can use to bring in money. We will continue to move forward as the Lord allows. The first step is our 501(c)3. A lawyer friend has offered to help us with that. Once completed, we will have a board to help with advising and can take tax-deductible donations directly. From there we will continue to raise monthly support to cover our salary and from there to build the center.

Would you continue to pray for us? That God would lead us in His next steps. That we would hear His voice clearly. That the money we need to move forward comes in. That impatience doesn’t capture our hearts or those of the folks who will invest when all is ready. That above all God’s will is done. Would you also take a minute to share our vision with someone you know? When considering your giving, would you keep us in mind?

We love and appreciate you all.

Liz here. We are settled for the night in Boise at the nicest KOA we’ve been at yet-and the price was one of the best too. The kids are tucked in and Ism and I are sitting in the laundry room waiting for the dryers to stop.

After a long day on the road and facing another tomorrow we discovered the indoor pool. It was already almost 9 pm and we still had to get everyone showered but we decided to take a few minutes to play. We all had a blast.
The pictures we included may need some explanation. The landscape is Mt.Rainier. If you look right above the trees you can faintly see it through the mist in the middle of the picture. Yes, that’s actually mist-not smog. Isn’t that beautiful?!

The other picture is Micah getting her first ride on the board. We start them young so they don’t develop fear! Papa took her for a ride around the park and she loved it so much that he gave her an opportunity to check it out first hand. She loved it.

We drove into Idaho today. That makes 27 states so far. Tomorrow we take Nevada and Utah. We connected with a friend from a church outside Salt Laker City and we’re headed there to meet. It will be a LONG day of driving tomorrow. Please keep the kids in prayer as you think of it.

Also, please lift our littlest girls up in prayer as they are fighting some kind of yucky tummy thing. It’s not severe, just uncomfortable.

Sacramento to Seattle

Posted: October 5, 2010 in Travel

Liz here. It’s been a while. We’ve missed sharing with you!

We drove the long haul on Sept 20 from outside Los Angeles all the way north to Sacramento. We arrived just in time for dinner. The original plan was to take 2 more days to see Death Valley and Sequoia National Forest but Ism was itching to hug his mom so we bypassed them and headed straight for Yai-Yai’s house. We were there until yesterday morning. By adding a few days at the beginning and a few days at the end we extended our stay in Sac from one short week to two.

We were blessed to visit with pastors representing 3 different bodies as well as numerous folks that Ism knows from his time living there. We attended services at two different churches and fellowshipped with more believers than we remember. All of that served our trip’s first purpose of gaining support toward building the teen center in Derry.

We didn’t just work though! Our oldest girls spent days in the kitchen with Yai-Yai. They learned to prepare Pad Thai, Pad Ka Pow, Pad Se Ew, Spring Rolls, Thai Fried Rice, and Larp. (We will be eating well when we return home!) The kids played with Nathan (the only grandpa they know) and we visited many local spots that had meaning to Ism: the elementary school he went to, his favorite skate spots, and places he used to get in trouble.

We spent a few days visiting with the rest of the family too. We enjoyed meals and desserts together and played family vs. family games, and our kids were thrilled to have some quality cousin time. We also visited with one of Ism’s closest friends growing up. He and his wife credit Ism for them being together. They all lived a tough lifestyle together as young adults and we are so excited to report that about 18 months ago this family was saved! It was so exciting to fellowship with them for the first time…well at least the first time without needing a fan and an open window. Anyway, it fills the heart with joy!

So after all that, packing up to leave was tough-to put it nicely. But our family in NH is waiting for us; sending friendly reminders to make sure we come home soon. So we pulled out of the driveway Monday morning and it felt bittersweet. We were excited to be continuing our trip and sad to be leaving our family. Yesterday we drove into Oregon and stopped for the night. The mountains of northern California were stunning-unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

And now we’re just about to our KOA for the night. We’ll be staying just outside Seattle, WA. This is breathtaking country. The mountains and rivers are pristine and the people are friendly. Florida may have it’s beaches and Arizona’s plateaus are nice but the untouched acres here are whispering my name! I can just picture building a little homestead on one of these hills one day. Of course that would have to be God’s plan too!

Grand Canyon

Posted: September 20, 2010 in Travel
Tags: ,

Liz here. Friday morning we left New Mexico headed to the Grand Canyon. It was a long slow drive and finding a spot to park our rig was worse, but it was all so worth it after a short 4 minute hike to the lookout spot closest to the Visitor Center. I have dreamed of seeing the Grand Canyon for as long as I can remember and it was just as magnificent as I imagined it to be. The canyon is over 200 miles long and averages about 10 miles across from the south rim to the north rim. We only spent about 2 hours exploring and let me tell you- it was not enough! If you’ve never been, there is a reason the entrance fee covers a 7 day pass. You need at least that long to see and learn all that’s there!

Grants, NM

Posted: September 16, 2010 in Travel

Hey, it’s Ism. Na, just kidding. Liz here!

Yesterday we drove north from Amarillo through a small piece of Oklahoma and into southeast Colorado. We drove through the breat taking Comanche National Grasslands and south into New Mexico. We spent the night at the KOA in Raton, NM last night so we could shower, wash the clothes, and get rid of the necessaries. We were thrilled to see bison and jackalopes on our journey!

But something even more amazing also happened. While driving through the grassland our empty light went on. I pulled the GPS to see where the closest gas station (JP’S Shell) was and it found it was about 45 miles out. Yeah, you read that right. A drive that distance has typically taken just under a quarter of a tank. Ism and I started to get really nervous. We pulled into the next driveway we came across and down a long road to a sketchy looking ranch house. Two big dogs climbed out from under the truck in the yard and we’re decided honking the horn was the best option. After a few blows, no one appeared and we decided to move on. We all noticed a large private gas pump on our way back to the highway. None of us was willing to risk the dogs though. We took the next hour to spend some time in prayer and stretching our creativity. As we pulled into JP’S Shell in Trinidad we all breathed a sigh of relief and offered a song of praise for God’s provision. He has carried us 45 miles on E! The rest of the day’s marvels quickly paled in comparison.

Today we drove from Raton across New Mexico to our current WalMart spot in Grants, NM. Gos had another little surprise for us here which we’ll get to in a minute. We took a mid-day lunch break in Santa Fe and enjoyed all that really neat city had to offer. Our kids loved the pueblos and the beautiful work crafted by the local artisans. After our stop we loaded back up and continued toward the Arizona border. We decided early in the day that we’d be stopping at the Grants WalMart as we’d heard rumors of the dangers of overnighting in the Gallup lot from a security guard in Amarillo. Funny, huh?! Anyway, as we pulled off the freeway Ism and I smiled at each other. This was the exact same place we stopped over 7 years ago on our honeymoon trek from Florida to California! The same Denny’s where I got food poisoning is still here! The WalMart we’re camped at is the same one we stopped at to change our oil! This all may seem silly but it was a confirmation to us in a tough day that God’s hand is still on us. Just as it was 7 years ago on our first cross country road trip. God reminded us to look to His promises when our circumstances seem shaky.

Please pray for wisdom as we discern God’s plan for our house back in NH. We received a letter confirming that we have less than 60 days to make a decision about putting it up for sale. Leaving NH in this situation was a tough choice to make and probably seems irresponsible at best, but we know it’s what God is calling us to do. Pray that we are able to walk this path of faith to the end without growing weary. Pray that God continues to bring the folks across our path who have been gifted to give to God’s ministry through us and that all our needs are met.