Living, Learning & Loving La Vida Nueva

Sunday, February 26, 2012

All Expenses Paid

Over a month ago we received an unexpected anonymous monetary gift in the mail.  Because we don't know for sure who gave it, I figured whoever it is might like to know what we did with that money.  In addition to buying a toaster oven to keep from heating the whole oven all the time, we decided to take a trip to Charleston to visit Brad and Hannah for the weekend.  We drove down Thursday evening and stayed until Sunday night.  Ryan came down on Thursday night as well and we were able to spend a couple days with him.  It is rare that we are all able to get together for more than a dinner at my parents'.

(re-heating yummo corn fritters and BBQ beef pizza from Pizza Hut which is amazing!)
We did a lot of nothing on Friday, which was a very welcome change for me.  I could hardly remember the last time I had lounged around all day with absolutely nothing I needed to get done.  It was fabulous!  Kyle enjoyed playing in Brad and Hannah's apartment - crawling around and getting into everything which wasn't yet baby-proofed.  By the time we left, I think that the place had turned into a giant play pen for him with no way for him to get into trouble.

On Saturday my parents and the youngsters drove over and we enjoyed an afternoon at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens together.  We skipped the gardens and opted to explore the swap instead.  While Dad paid, we got to pet the ponies who were eager to nibble grass from our hands.....

Kyle helped Daddy navigate down the driveway to the swamp.  We strolled around for a long while and met these guys...

Mr. Baby had the best ride.....

After dinner at Kickin' Chicken, we celebrated Ryan's 25th birthday with Holy Cow Cake.  A wonderful ending to a memorable day!  No photos of this part.... Too busy eating.

During our visit, we started talking about how silly it is that the majority of young girls take countless photos of themselves from the same angle......about a foot above their head.  Deciding that it is certainly time for a new trend in popular camera angles, we played with my (new:) camera and have determined that this angle is certainly one to be considered for the next favorite.  We'll call it the "shoot for the sky."  We all got a good laugh out of this.

Of course we got a photo of the newlyweds....

.... And sweet Kyle....

And of course the SILs went gallivanting in town. 
Time we are able to spend with family is deeply cherished.  Knowing that in the future we'll be "missing out" on family gatherings like this make each one bittersweet.  I am indescribably thankful for the opportunity to be here nearby my family and Jonathan's in the upstate.  It is truly a blessing and I know one day I'll look back through these memories longing to come home and make more.  So to whoever it was that sent the money for us to enjoy this weekend together, thank you!  Know that it warmed and encouraged our hearts.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012


After day two of information overload at AIM's candidate week, I feel like a horse headed to the stable tonight.  Wanted to give a quick update before I crawl into my bed and pray that my hours of sleep produce multiplied energy for tomorrow.

We are thoroughly enjoying our time here.  Meeting new friends is always an encouragement to us.  Our days have been completely packed.... My head feels like it is swirling with information which my brain still needs to file.  Fortunately, all of it is helpful and most of it is exciting.  The prospect of contracting malaria wasn't all that exciting....

We covet your prayers for stamina as we continue through this week.  Also, for my little mama heart which misses my baby boy during the days.  Lollee reports that he is doing well without us, so I shouldn't worry too much.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tea and Cookies

Being raised in the south, I came to love sweet tea at an early age.  I used to make a pitcher often and drank it constantly.  Since going off caffeine almost completely two years ago, I haven't had more than a sip or two of coke or tea.  This afternoon, as I was hunting for a snack, I poured a small glass of some tea I made for Jonathan and grabbed a few ginger snaps.

Instantly, I was reminded of this perfectly sweet and spicy combination I discovered years ago.  As a gingersnap lover, I have tasted many different varieties.  I love ginger crinkle cookies also, but there is something wonderful about the hard crunch of one of these tasty cookies which come in a brown bag.  Today mine are from Aldi; I find that they are just as good as the best I've had and much better than the Wal-mart brand (no surprise there!).  

Some days just call for a tasty afternoon snack.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ministry Update

The following is an update my husband wrote about a week ago and shared on our ministry blog.  With more definite plans coming together, we hope to be able to update that blog more frequently now.  Thank you for all your prayers and encouragement throughout this period of waiting.  We are excited for the future to see where the Lord leads us!

Dear family and friends,

At this point last year, we were at a very similar place, but with very different directions. Last year, we were on the way to Candidate Week with Operation: Mobilization without any specific leading on where God would place in the world. This year, we are on the way to Candidate Week with Africa Inland Mission (AIM) with plans to move to Kenya and teach in a Bible college, training national pastors and missionaries to reach Africa.

On February 13-18, Abby, Kyle and I will be driving to Atlanta to meet with AIM's US staff for a final week of interviews, training, and ministry. If we are accepted by AIM, we will begin the process of raising a support team again and leave for Africa as soon as the Lord provides.

This past year has been a very trying time for us, in one sense. God's timing is not our own and it can be difficult to wait on the Lord. We have tried to faithfully pursue every door that the Lord opens to us. During times when God closes doors, we have sometimes felt like we're getting nowhere. So we just wait, pray, seek wisdom, and pursue the next open door God presents.

At the same time, this past year has been one of great joy for us. I could not put into words how much Kyle has changed our lives. I'm sure every parent remembers feeling this way. Every day we live with him is full of joy and laughter. Abby and I have both said that before Kyle, we loved each other wholly, as deeply as we knew how. But having Kyle has deepened the level of love that we possess. We love him more than we thought we could. Not only do I love Kyle more, but I love Abby in a greater way than before. And I appreciate her so much more as well. I'd seen her be a wonderful wife, sweet homemaker, faithful companion and partner in ministry; but now I'm seeing what a great mother and caregiver she is as well. So our life is happier than ever. Even more, we can see God's purpose in keeping us here in the States when we wanted to be overseas instead. He has given us this time to learn to be good parents and set a foundation for the rest of life with our children.

To give you a brief rundown of the past year, we went to our Candidate Week at OM and at the end of that week they decided not to accept us. We've never been given any specific reason why they decided so, but we just took it as from the Lord that He had some other plan for us. The following week, we went to Cornerstone for Missions Conference and spent time with Paul and Leah Manyara about their ministry at Moffat Bible College. After some discussion with them and much time in prayer, we contacted Moffat about our desire to move to Kenya and join in their ministry. For three months, we were in contact with the Manyaras, the academic dean, and the principal. They said that they would love to have us come, so we then contacted AIM and began applying to serve with them. We've been in that process since September and are now in the final application stage with them. After Candidate Week, we are planning to go to Cornerstone's Missions Conference again.

During our time here in Aiken, I've begun seminary classes and am working towards a Masters Degree in Theology. After I complete that I plan to study further for a Master of Divinity degree. I am learning much and thoroughly enjoying my classes. I know that everything I am learning will further equip me to teach at Moffat and aid me in any other ministry the Lord presents us with. The Lord also provided for us to pay the entire cost for my classes upfront, without going into debt or making monthly payments. I have also been involved in the music ministry here at Millbrook, our other supporting church, by singing in choir, praise team, special music, and occasionally playing in the orchestra. Abby has volunteered to be the director of the young girls ministry (GA's) and has been doing an excellent job, from everything I am hearing. It has been nice to be involved in the ministry here, even while waiting for the Lord to direct us elsewhere.

To all of our Cornerstone friends, we are so looking forward to seeing you again. We also plan to stay for some extra time apart from the conference and would like to get together with as many of you individually as we can. Lord-willing, we will be making plans for moving to Africa by then and we would love to sit down and share with you personally more details on what we will be doing. We've been away from Cornerstone for a long time now and I can't tell you how much we miss our church family there.

As we go to Candidate Week, the cost for our time there will be $1500, which we have been trying to save up for out of our past month's support money. If any of you feel led of God to help us with that cost, our monthly support is still being sent through Cornerstone and you may send any gifts to them with a separate note designating it for our support.

God bless you all as you continue in faithfulness to Him. We love you and can't wait to catch up with you soon!

- Jonathan, Abby & Kyle St.Clair

Thursday, February 2, 2012

11 Months

It simply doesn't seem possible that my baby boy is eleven months old now.  Everyday with him is a new adventure and I love seeing him take such strides towards huge milestones.  He is cruising around all the furniture now and is occasionally trying to stand on his own.  He doesn't have great balance yet and he promptly squats down to the floor.  I can't imagine how he'll be able to walk unsupported on his little fat feet.  I'm content for him to keep crawling for a little while.  He's slower this way..... Kind of. Although, on my hands and knees I have a hard time keeping up with him.  Speedy little turtle.

Babbling has become the most common sound in our home.  He hardly ever stops except to eat or sleep.  I am trying relentlessly to teach him, "ball" but, he hasn't quite caught on yet.  He giggles when I point to him and say, "Kyle" and the same when I point back to myself and say, "Mommy."  Clearly he recognizes his name.  Occasionally he starts with "mamamama" as he crawls towards me or yanks on my pants leg.  Though I don't think he's made the connection yet, it is still heartwarming, unless he is crying, then it is pitiful.

Lately he has started clapping.  Adorable!  He stops whatever he is doing and just starts smacking his hands together vigorously.  Then, after five or ten times he gets so exited he screeches and slaps his legs twice.  Absolutely precious!

Kyle loves reading books.  Sighing happily every few words, I can hardly finish one page before he is ready to flip to the next.  During car rides I plop a book in his lap and a few within reach on the seat beside him and he sits there babbling to himself as he flips the pages back and forth.  It is positively irresistible!  Among his favorites are When the World is Ready for Bed which we read nearly every day, English First Words, and Mi Libro Grande de Las Palabras (more commonly known as My Big Book of Words).  He is well on his way to being bi-lingual.

Brushing teeth is another favorite.  Anytime Jonathan or I pull out our toothbrushes, he starts smacking his lips in anticipation of his.  I attempt to brush his six teeth before he tries to yank it away from me and gnaw on it endlessly.  Because he can't really mess up the bristles with his gums, I don't mind letting him chew on it as long as he lets me brush them first.  I am proud to say that my dad brushed my teeth at night for around ten years and I have yet to have a cavity.  I plan to do the same with Kyle and hope for the same outcome.

Lunch time is great fun now that he has graduated from solely mushed fruits and vegetables to crackers, banana chunks, bits of PB&J, mandarin oranges, tortillas, animal crackers and Teddy Grahams.  I'm not as fond of what comes out the other end now, but it is fun to watch him enjoy different foods and try to bite things with his little teeth.  He thinks he's a big boy when he eats off of his own plate or grabs his sippy cup by himself.  Why shouldn't he be?  He has come a long way from milk ten times a day.  We enjoy taking picnics to the park and Hopelands.... Like we did today.

Baby Boot Camp worked wonders on his sleep schedule and he hardly ever fights his naps or bedtime.  If he gets way off schedule or I have to wake him up prematurely, he isn't always such a happy napper; but if things are normal, he lays right down every time.  Nights are a breeze now unless he gets woken up by something (presumedly our neighbor's not so friendly discussions at 3AM) and even then he goes right back to sleep.  My fabulous husband and I take turns on who wakes up with him at around 7:45 or 8 while the other catches a few more zzz's in the late morning.  We are still teenagers at heart and neither of us enjoy waking up.  It is great being married.

Love this sleepy little monkey.

These past eleven months have flown by in many regards.  While it does feel like Kyle has always been a part of our lives, it doesn't seem possible that we are approaching a year since he entered this world.  I can remember that day like it was yesterday.  I often think as the days go by that I'll never get to hold him again "this small."  I almost ache to hold him again as a newborn but, I am so overwhelmingly thankful for each day with him.  I love him more than I ever thought possible.