Thursday, December 5, 2013

Amazing Grace

I came across a video that was uploaded to Facebook two years ago (this week!) and just had to share.  In this video hubby and I are singing at Simferopol Baptist Church in Ukraine with some of the dearest friends we have on this earth. Oh, how we miss these people, this church, and the Russian language!  We are thrilled with what God is allowing us to do in our lives today; however, we have nothing but sweet memories of what God allowed us to do in our yesterday.  Really, though, our yesterday and today are quite inseparable.  We couldn't have one without the other.

The song we are singing is "Amazing Grace," just to a tune that is different from the familiar one.  Yes, God's grace truly is amazing.  His grace has been evident in our lives as well as in the lives of the others who are singing with us.  We all have been touched with His grace.  {You can hear the song by clicking here: Amazing Grace}.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

First family snapshot

{Below} Thanksgiving Day... our first family snapshot of the "new us."  There are 7 of us now.... the "perfect" number, wouldn't you say?!
 {Below}  Here is the little princess on Thanksgiving Day... one week after her birth.
We have SO MUCH to be thankful for this year!  The holidays are just that much sweeter with a newborn to cuddle.  Little Miss Mackenzie Grace has melted our hearts and there just isn't enough of her to go around!  My bigger kids said it is too bad I didn't have triplets so that they didn't have to share just one baby.  Ha!  As sweet and perfect as she is, I am glad there is just one of her.  She too has much to be thankful for with this adoring audience that can hardly wait to get in line to hold her. What a blessed little girl! And what a blessed little family we are!

Thank you, Lord, for this beautiful gift of life!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Mackenzie Grace

Mackenzie Grace Sloan was born early Friday morning at 12:40, on her due date (a girl who knows how to be on time?!).  She weighed 7 lbs, 1 oz. and is 19 inches long.  Mommy and Mackenzie are both home now recovering.

All of the pictures in this post are from the first 20 hours after her birth and are all iPhone pictures.  They are not perfect quality, but are precious nonetheless.  It felt nice to keep things low-key and easy, not worrying about the perfect Kodak moment.

{Below}  Ah... THIS MAN.  He was my strength, and I could not have done it without him by my side.  He is the perfect husband and daddy.  My children and I are unbelievably blessed to have him lead our home and love on us.

{Below}  Thursday evening, when labor was imminent, our children were picked up by friends' parents for sleepovers. They rode to school with their friends the next morning, excited to share the news that their sister was born; however, they had not seen her yet.  Hubby went to their school mid-morning, picked them up (They loved being called out of their classes!), and brought them to the hospital for a visit and lunch with Daddy.  Here they are with a hospital dog that visits patients. 
Nearly everything about Mackenzie's birth was different from my previous four children.  One of those things was the fact that this was my first time to not need an induction after being at least a week overdue. Mackenzie apparently wanted to be part of the 5% of babies actually born on their due date.  So, unfortunately, I was counting on getting my 40 week picture on her due date and missed it altogether. Instead, here is what I have (crooked, imperfectly designed collage) which I think is a great substitution.  I'd rather be holding that baby in my arms than in my tummy anyway!
A huge thank you to hundreds of deserving people who have sent congratulations, bought gifts, flowers, and balloons, brought home-cooked meals, and loved us through this time.  Our family is overwhelmed by the loving response of so many people who are dear to us.  We are undeservedly blessed and oh, so grateful during this Thanksgiving season when we have so much to be thankful for.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Lesson on Contentment from a Mouse

We never had mice in our home on the mission field... that is, until we started building a house out in the village.  We had no "crawl space" under our house, but those sneaky fellas sure did know how to find their way in!  And you know what?  Desperation taught us how to become expert mice catchers.  Let me tell ya... you'll try anything when you're desperate, and we tried every method we could think of.  Don't be fooled into thinking that cheese is the only way to trap a mouse.  In fact, we found that cheese is not the best method because a mouse can steal a piece of cheese right off of a trap in a millisecond and get away alive, fat, and happy!  The key for us was learning to put something on the trap that the mice had to work at getting off (like peanut butter). But, since I can sense you are shuddering as you read this already, I'll just let you believe me...

It was rather frustrating to be building a home out of all brand-new materials, only to see that mice were finding their way into our home regardless of how much money we had put into it.  Rich or poor, new home or old, everyone in our village had the same problem when the weather turned cold: mice seeking refuge in our homes.

Living as missionaries, sometimes it is so easy to lump all of our problems into one big reasoning:  We have mice (or whatever problem) because we have sacrificed to be missionaries.  Of course, we lived for 6 or 7 years on the mission field before mice started inhabiting our home, but that is besides the point.  It kinda felt good to think we were suffering for Jesus to be on the mission field (i.e. in our case: dealing with mice).

Then... we went on furlough and the whole mice problem went away for awhile.  Oh, I'm sure they were enjoying our home in Ukraine just the same, but we didn't have to see them or deal with them for awhile

By and by we stayed as guests for a few days in a beautiful ranch home.... a glorious home that most of us will only ever dream of living in.  This home had it all... 6 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 2 living rooms, formal dining room, swimming pool, fishing pond, acres and acres of land, etc...  And, I won't even try to describe the gorgeous decor! Why, every corner of this house looked like it came right out of the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens!

But guess what?  I was sitting in (one of) the gorgeous living rooms, and... you guessed it... I saw a mouse scurry behind the furniture.  I couldn't believe it!  Right then and there I felt like the Lord tapped me on the shoulder and said to me, "See, Jolene... mice are everywhere in this world!"

And here was my lesson:  Being on the mission field really is no sacrifice.  

Sometimes missionaries fall into the trap of feeling like America is the land of paradise and utopia.  If only I were back in America, I wouldn't have these problems...  But, God showed me that day that my little home in a village in Ukraine was just as much a paradise as any American home, as long as I made it that way.

When I returned to the mission field a few months later, though I despised the mice as much as ever and worked harder than ever to trap them, I had to smile to myself because...

God used a ranch mouse to teach me a valuable lesson in contentment.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Focus on Missions, 10-14

For the introduction to this series, click here.
Here are the next week's installment of Focus on Missions 5-minute segments from the internet radio station KNVBC.  I thought it would be fun to include pictures of the missionaries who were featured during this particular week.

October 14, 2013 - What is Biblical missions? part 3

October 15, 2013 - Missionary Interview: Eric Bohman (Africa/BIMI director), part 1

October 16, 2013 - Missionary Interview: Eric Bohman (Africa/BIMI director), part 2

Eric Bohman family

October 17, 2013 - Missionary Interview: Joel Daku (Kiribati, island nation in the South Pacific Ocean), part 1

October 18, 2013 - Missionary Interview: Joel Daku (Kiribati, island nation in the South Pacific Ocean), part 2

Joel and Brooke Daku

Thanks for listening!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Focus on Missions, 4-9

For the introduction to this series, click here.
Here are this week's Focus on Missions 5-minute segments from the internet radio station KNVBC.  I hope that you will consider using some of these in your personal devotions, family devotions, or even in your weekly ladies' prayer meeting.

October 4, 2013 - What is Biblical missions? part 2

October 7, 2013 - Missionary Letter: Dr. Mike Patterson (Mexico)

October 8, 2013 - Missionary Interview: Dan Morris (Mexico), part 1

October 9, 2013 - Missionary Interview: Dan Morris (Mexico), part 2

October 10, 2013 - David Brainerd (American Indians)

October 11, 2013 - Missionary Letter: Dr. Rick Martin (Philippines)

Thanks for listening!

Friday, October 11, 2013

30 weeks

I really, really don't like sharing pictures of myself!  However, I realize that these pregnancy pictures are not actually of me... they are of a growing little miracle inside of me.  So, you are seeing... not me.... but my sweet baby girl growing.
My photographer is an 11-year old big brother, so while the fence may not look straight in these comparison pictures, I appreciate his patience with me.  I am sure there are other things he would rather be doing than taking pictures of his Mom.

As I write this post, I am actually 34 weeks along.  Only 6 weeks left to wait... 42 days... {Oh, yes, I am counting down!} It seems surreal that another little person will soon be joining our family.  The funny thing about the countdown is big sister Brianna.  You could probably ask her at any given moment how many days are left until her baby sister's due date, and she could answer correctly.  She is like a giddy girl counting down to her wedding date {but we won't think about that countdown for awhile!}

It is fun for me to watch my older three children (ages 11, 9, and 6) with other people's toddlers and babies. It has really hit me lately how good they are with little ones.  Anytime I babysit for a friend, it is a breeze. I'm not sure when I got here, but having these ages of children is a wonderful stage of motherhood.  So, while my two-year-old may still be a handful and a newborn on the way may seem daunting, my older three give me hope and serve as a great reminder that those more difficult, younger days pass way too quickly!

My oldest two boys and hubby go out on church visitation every Saturday morning (and I go with the ladies on Tuesdays), so I have decided that, from now on, those few quiet morning hours will now be "baking time" for 6-year old Brianna and I.  {Two-year old Micah will still be home, but we'll find something constructive for him to do... like banging pots and pans together while we work - Ha!}  I am looking forward to our first official date tomorrow morning, and I know Brianna is too.

Daughters are absolutely wonderful.  But you know what?  Sons are too!  Motherhood is truly a gift from the Lord, and I am grateful for the task the Lord has given me of rearing these amazing people who live under my roof and in my heart.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Focus on Missions, 1-3

I am excited to announce that my hubby now has a regular segment on KNVBC called "Focus on Missions"!
If you are not familiar with KNVBC, it is a 24-hour internet radio station that provides conservative Christian music and programming.  It is a ministry of North Valley Baptist Church in Santa Clara, California, where we currently serve.

Listen to KNVBC Revival Radio Now!

Other than great uplifting music, you can tune in to KNVBC to hear favorites such as Patch the Pirate, Unshackled, Alexander Scourby, great preachers from the past and present, etc.  KNVBC was our favorite program to listen to when we were on the mission field, and it is a little surreal to us that, not only are we here now, but taking a small part in the programming!

The 5-minute series Focus on Missions began this week.  It is scheduled to air weekdays at 12:15pm and 10:00pm, Pacific time.  However, if you are unable to tune in during those times, I will be uploading the clips to this blog weekly so that you do not miss out!
If you are able to listen live, you just may catch some fun giveaways, such as the one shown above from this past week.  Also, go "like" KNVBC on Facebook in order to not miss future announcements and upcoming giveaways!

For those who did miss out (or if you just want to hear them again, Mom!), here are this week's first three broadcasts of "Focus on Missions:"

October 1, 2013 - Introduction and William Borden (China, 1887-1913), part 1

October 2, 2013 - William Borden (China, 1887-1913), part 2

October 3, 2013 - What is Biblical missions? part 1

Thanks for listening!

Saturday, September 7, 2013


Since I was on such a long hiatus from blogging, I missed posting about my kiddos' birthdays this year.  I am sure they are going to look on here one day and ask, "Mom, what happened to 2013?"  So, in an effort not to disappoint, here they are...  
We begin birthday celebrations almost as soon as we break out the calendars for the new year.  Brianna and Micah both have January birthdays, so we glide smoothly right into these parties after all of the holiday cheer. After all of the red and green, we gladly welcome the color change into pinks and purples. 
We spent Christmas in southern Mexico and were traveling to California {People, that is a long trip driving with 4 kiddos!}, and our half-way mark was El Paso, Texas, where we were able to stop in and spend a few days with cousins.  Brianna loved the break from traveling, the time spent with girly cousin friends, and the birthday celebration at Peter Piper Pizza.

Once we were settled into our new home {staff housing at the church} for the next 5 months, it was time to celebrate our littlest guy's transition into the terrible terrific twos.  
When I was busy cutting and distributing cake, Micah grabbed his candle and took a bite out of it.  Guess that was a good lesson for him in learning that not all things that look pretty taste good!  Wow... if that was any indication of what his year of being two would look like, I would have hidden  in a closet right then and there.  Of all of my children, Micah is the one who has kept me on my toes the most keeping him out of trouble and danger.  I never thought anyone could outdo Nate's wild and wooly toddler days, but Micah has proven me wrong.  I seriously should be journaling all of his escapades!

In May, right after school let out, we celebrated Davey's 11th birthday at an indoor kid-park called Bounce-a-rama.  I am thrilled with how our kids have adjusted to school and making new friends.  They fit in as though they have always been here...

{Below}  What can I say?!  The things you think are cool when you are in middle school!

Nate enjoyed Davey's birthday so much, that when his rolled around two months later, he wanted to go to the same place to celebrate.  In July, we rounded up his summer-lovin' buddies and took them for the indoor, air-conditioned Bounce-a-rama as well.  
Though a Mexican-style face dunk into the cake was attempted at Davey's birthday party, it was successfully fulfilled and thoroughly enjoyed on Nate's big day.

I love these kiddos that are growing much too quickly under my {albeit un-approving} watch.  Why, oh why, do they have to keep insisting on birthdays and getting older?!

And to think... next year we will be celebrating FIVE kid birthdays in our house!

Did I just say "five"?!

I never, ever would have thought that I would become the mother of five children, but here I am {almost... just 11 weeks before my due date}, and guess what?  It is not as scary and intimidating as I would have thought.  It is tremendously wonderful!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sugar and Spice

Our family is very, very thrilled to announce that we are expecting a GIRL!  We already have three boys and only one daughter, so the news of another girl was the biggest excitement we have had in awhile.  Hubby was with me during my ultrasound, and before the nurse even made the announcement, he said, "It's a girl! That is, without a doubt, a girl!"  I just started laughing.  I mean, really... can anyone else make sense of those black and white ultrasounds?  Hubby must have a gift, and maybe it is because his father was a pediatrician. (Although his father never, ever gave ultrasounds).  
This picture was actually taken last month, but it is all I have to show.  I am actually 27 weeks along now and almost exactly 3 months away from the big day... my due date, November 22nd.

So, how am I feeling?  Pretty great, actually!  I am, without a doubt, no longer in my 20's, and I can feel that. I also am anemic (meaning I need more iron and am taking supplements), but that seems to be a pretty common pregnancy trait and easily taken care of.  I definitely have nothing to complain about.  I have an adoring husband and four adoring children who love to touch my tummy and send their love to their sister. November is going to be a month to celebrate, for sure!

{Below}  Brianna at Disneyland with Princess "Sleeping Beauty," last October
The most excited person in our family is, no doubt, big sister Brianna.  She will be nearly 7 years old when she finally gets her sister, and I like to tell people, "I am not having a baby.  Brianna is having a sister!"  I recently saw this picture for sale online and thought it was perfect:
Yes, Brianna will be losing her "only girl" status, but she is completely okay with that.  Sometimes I think she is even more excited than I am!  In fact, she has even helped us choose her sister's name, but I will share the name later, once it is completely decided on and won't be changed.

So, sweet little baby girl, we are very happy about your arrival!  We are beyond excited to have you join our family!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The men are headed home!

Yes, my men (Nate is one of my "little men") are headed home later today and we are all ecstatic!  My cutie-pie 2-year-old son Micah thinks they have been in "You-Train" for two weeks.  I wonder what he thinks they have been seeing and doing there?!  

I don't have many pictures to share in this post other than pizza, pizza, and more pizza.  Apparently my guys sustain themselves on pizza when there are no women around to cook for them.

{Below}  One last pizza date with Daddy before their first flight headed home.  Hubby said a crowd of our church people traveled to the airport to see them off and there were many tears shed.  I am almost glad I wasn't there for that part of the trip... Goodbyes are just so hard!
For just about $5 more than their first time around, they found a nicer hotel in Kiev to stay in during their overnight layover.  (Their "overnight layover" was really only half of the night since they had to leave for the airport by 3:00 am.) From their description, their hotel this time was quite the upgrade from the one they stayed in two weeks ago... newer bathroom fixtures, nicer beds, air conditioning, fantastic view, etc...

{Below} And just to say they had the experience, they ate their dinner at Domino's Pizza.  Domino's Pizza, people!  In Ukraine!   (If you want an idea of the prices on the menu shown in the picture below, the current exchange rate is approximately 8 to 1.  This means a small, classic pizza costs around $5.50, a medium costs around $10, a large costs about $13, and an extra large is about $14.  A large "premium" pizza costs $18.)  Prices have been rounded to the nearest dollar or half dollar.  I'm curious to find out if it really tastes like authentic Domino's Pizza!
Hubby and I have missed each other like crazy.  Except those few days during camp when our telephone time was limited, we have enjoyed long "catching up" chats through the wonderful internet telephone service Skype.  In the picture below, you can see a photo that hubby sent me.  He was sitting in a cafe and had pulled out an old high school picture he had of me in his wallet.  Wonder if he was thinking about our dating years?  We dated FOUR years before we were married.... from the summer before my Senior year in high school to the summer before my Senior year in college!  Those were amazing days in my life, but I wouldn't want to go back.  I love where we are now in life too!
So, excuse me while I take another little blogging break to enjoy having our family reunited.  My next post will be a pregnancy update, but until then we'll be enjoying one another's presence again.... and I will be feeding my guys something other than pizza for awhile!