Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tirzah is 5!

We celebrated a much anticipated birthday this week.  Since she has a friend who has already turned five, and three siblings who have had their birthdays recently, Tirzah was counting down the days until her birthday.

 Mrs. E stopped by with a birthday treat for Tirzah.  So fun!

I asked Tirzah how she thought her birthday should go.  She requested decorations, which Eden did.  She also wanted everyone to be wearing dresses.  At the end of the day I was too tired to put on a dress, but we made sure Tirzah looked her best.

Tirzah also requested homemade pizza for her birthday.  I made 6 pizzas: two pepperoni, one cheese, one cheeseburger, one hamburger, and a barbecue chicken.  (The hamburger one is dairy-free for my little daycare boy).

Tirzah requested strawberry cake for her birthday.  I made the mistake of making cupcakes.  She kept asking where her cake was.  Oops!  I thought she wanted cupcakes, and she did, but she wanted cake too.  She had a great attitude about it when I explained to her what happened.  For my daycare kid who must must have dairy-free and shouldn't have a lot of eggs I made cupcakes using my banana bread recipe that I know he can have.  I made a simple butter-cream frosting since he can have butter (just not milk).  They turned out great!

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to...oh wait, it's not my party...

Mercy threw a full-blown temper tantrum because we wouldn't let her up on the bench when Mitch and I were taking a picture with Tirzah.  Seriously?

Patience brings good things, little Mercy.

I went to bed one night and she was asleep in her room with the light on, wrapped up in her "new" blanket (a garage sale find) and with her new lip gloss set close by also.

At five years old, Tirzah
~wears size 5 or 6 pants, shirts, dresses
~wears size 10 1/2 shoes
~is super excited to start school, and can pass the ear test
{We say that a child is ready to start school when he/she can touch his ear like's just a silly test, but fun for the kids.}
~has a new saying for things that she loves, "It's the bomb!"
~loves to draw
~will spend hours playing by herself with her dolls or barbies
~loves her daycare friends
~likes to sing (right now she especially loves the songs from the movie Frozen, no surprise there)
~eats a pretty good variety of foods
~says words like "school" and "cool" with a nice southern accent
~loves the color pink
~loves to wear dresses or skirts

Tirzah is such a well-rounded, smart five-year-old.  She has a sweet spirit (certainly flawed like all of us, though!) and really is a "Joy".  It is so fun to watch her grow and learn and mature.

We love you, Tirzah, and we're so glad God gave you to us!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

HDR Images

I tried playing around with HDR a few years ago, but I got nowhere with it.  It was over my head complicated.  Today I wanted to take a picture of my radishes on the window sill, but couldn't quite capture their beauty.  I decided to take some bracketed photos and hopefully find an easy way to create an HDR image.  A quick (super quick) google search landed me at this website:  I uploaded my photos and voila!

For just-playing-around/experimenting/learning-something-new, this was really fast and fun!  As for the radish, Mitch will get to eat that soon.  :)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Nicaragua Update (Raising Support)

Our passports arrived! I can't believe we're really going!!

 Photo credit: Andres Almarza (2012)

When I think about it going throughout my normal day, I worry about leaving my little kids.  I wonder if I made the "right" choice, or if I was just being impulsive.  Mercy is still nursing nearly full time.  Will she be angry with me?  Will she be scared?  Will she be confused about where her momma went?  Why would I want to leave my baby?!

Photo credit: Andres Almarza (2012)

 I'm sure that by July Mercy will be ready to wean, and by the end of July, when we travel, she will be weaned.  When I watch the Nicaragua video, or look at pictures of the smiling faces of kids from the village, my heart warms.  I can trade 12 short days with my babies in order to have the opportunity to love on others (and hopefully even the mommas).  Twelve days are a small sacrifice, and will be a blip of memory for most of my kids, especially Mercy. 

We have sent out a few support letters, and we have quite a few here that we want to personally deliver.  We have not sent out any electronic letters yet (which should be the easiest, right?).  Of course I have a few excuses.  ;)  We're getting there, even if it is slowly.

In the event that we don't manage to contact *you* personally, here is our letter.

Greetings from the Theis household!  This summer Micah and Eden have their first chance to go on a foreign short-term missions trip. The youth group from our church, Calvary Community, will be going to visit our sister church in Managua, Nicaragua.  Mitch and Steph have taken the opportunity to be two of the adult leaders on the trip as well.  We are excited to have this chance to serve God together.

Our team leaves for Managua on July 24 and will return August 5.  Before that trip, we will be participating in Operation St. Cloud.  This is an outreach here in our city, where we will be ministering to the needs of people in St. Cloud.  Serving meals and cleaning at a local homeless shelter are tangible ways of trusting God to prepare us for Nicaragua.  Street evangelism in the downtown area, and hosting a free sports camp in a low income part of town will be two other ways we are trusting God to prepare us for what He would have us to do this summer.  

We will be encouraging and assisting the local church in evangelistic outreach, construction, and VBS.  Mitch is excited to participate in the work God is doing in Nicaragua, and the opportunity to share the reason for the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.  Steph hopes to be able to overcome language barriers and build relationships with other women in Nicaragua as she finds ways to meet their needs.  Micah is anticipating the spiritual growth that takes place on a trip like this, and the gaining of a clearer picture of the place of missions in our lives.  Eden is looking forward to meeting and working with the native people of Nicaragua and assisting with the VBS.  

We have set two goals for our trip this summer.  Our first goal is to find a team of 25 or more people who will commit to be praying for us daily, beginning today.  We believe prayer is vital to our success, both as we prepare, and during the trip itself.  We would be very encouraged to be able to send prayer requests to this team on an ongoing basis.  Our second goal is to form a sending team. 

 As a family, we have experienced the joys and blessings of financially supporting both short and long term missionaries.  We want to invite you to be part of our sending team, and experience that blessing personally.  Each member of our team has a goal of raising $1,800 (this covers airfare, food, lodging, and our building and ministry materials).  If you are interested in being on our prayer team, the sending team, or both, we would love to hear from you. 

Pressing onward,

Mitch, Steph, Micah, and Eden Theis

A chunk of the money we are raising does go to cover our airfare and travel expenses.  But it covers more than that.  Our team will buy the materials needed for the church construction project.  We will be building (with help from locals) the roof for their new church.  We also bring and buy the supplies needed for Vacation Bible School.  The team also looks for opportunities to meet needs of the church in tangible ways.  The last time they went, they were able to purchase a refrigerator for the pastor and his family. 

A long way to go...each box represents $10.

One way we are raising support is simply by asking.  We are asking people to pray for us.  To receive updates and prayer requests, email me at stephtheis at  We are also asking for donations.  Tax-deductible donations can be made by writing a check out to Calvary Community Church (leave the memo line blank!).  Mail it to The Theis Family at 6323 Cape West Ct, St. Cloud, MN 56303.

We are also willing to work to earn some money.  As the end of the school year draws nearer, we will have more availability.  Eden is available for babysitting.  Mitch, Micah, and Eden will all be available for "handyman" jobs.  I am sewing gift bags to sell.  Soon I will have finished 100 bags.  I hope to list many of them for sale in my online store.  Even if you don't want a bag, perhaps you could share with your friends!

(We used these at Christmas time for wrapping presents and they were AMAZING.  I can't say that I'll *never* buy wrapping paper again, but I know it will be an unusual thing if I do.  These are going to be a staple at my house from now on.  Not only are they much faster, they are also much easier to store.  Ok, more on that later.) 

Thank you for reading all the way to the end of this post.  We are grateful for your support and love.  It is exciting to plan and prepare and partner with the body of Christ in order to share the Gospel.

April thus far

Instead of multiple posts, here's just one:

Spring, finally?  We had a week of gloriously warm temperatures--including our first high of 70F! It was wonderful.  The kids and I went out and cleaned up the yard.

 Mercy had her first trip down the slide.
 It took a few days, but eventually ALL of the snow and ice melted, even from the shady spots on the lawn.  For a while there, it was a soupy, muddy mess.  We have spots in the yard where we need to sew some grass seed (and pray it grows in).

Mitch heard about a Rubik's Cube competition from his school, so we signed Caleb up.  This past Monday he and I traveled down to Delano, MN, for his first-ever competition.  It was so much fun!

 The best part for me was watching Caleb make friends.  He asked questions and learned a few new tricks.  One kind boy there tried out Caleb's cube (which was quite sticky).  He tossed Caleb his own cube and said, "You can have it.  I have lots at home."  That was pretty awesome! 

Caleb didn't win, but he did well according to my book!  In the first round, he solved 3 cubes in 9:02.  In the second round he solved them in 7:30.  He was thrilled to improve in the 2nd round.  Since we have been home, he has taken apart and oiled his generic cube.  He's been practicing and his best time so far is 1:56.  Whoot!

This past week, on April 16th, we got another storm.  This time we got a little over 8 inches of snow.  It was a record for April 16th.  It also put our total April snowfall up to 12 inches, making it the 4th snowiest April on record.  Ufda.  Spring is on the way again, however.  The snow has almost all melted, and we are expecting nearly 70F again for Resurrection Sunday (Easter).  ::sigh of relief::
This was a really wet, heavy snow to move.  Mitch was home sick because of a major cramp in his neck (it may sound silly, but not being able to turn your head is a pretty major thing, especially when you have to drive to work.  He has all my sympathy!).  I was relieved that a neighbor came and snow blowed our driveway Wednesday evening, so we didn't have much left to push.  That chunky stuff at the bottom of the driveway left by the snow plow was brutal.  Many times I just picked it up with my hands instead of the shovel and threw it.  ;)

A familiar morning dove returning is a great promise.  And while our winter seems to be relentless, we have nothing on Noah and his family, who spent nearly a year shut up in that Ark.

Buried again.

My plants inside are growing well, oblivious to the weather outside!

March in Photos

Yeah, it's April 19th. But I wanted to do this last month, so here it is.

This winter has been hard for me.  This seems to be the constant state of my floor, and it drives me nuts!
::sigh::  God is working on my heart attitudes!!

Of course, these are cute and fun moments:

We bought seeds to start for our garden, but then I couldn't find my planters (Mitch put them in storage).  I waited a couple more weeks before I started improvising.

The kids all had great checkups at the dentist!  No cavities in the 8 older kids (we didn't have Mercy seen yet).  Obadiah was such a big boy laying there and getting his teeth polished.

March 18th brought more snow:

At least it was pretty!

And the temps are now warm enough for me to let Obi play in it!

Sometimes I forget how important these moments are.  Instead of being frustrated that I'm "tied down" on the couch, I chose to relish the moment.

I found a generic Rubik's Cube at Goodwill for $0.99 and gave it to Caleb along with a book that my grandfather had given me.  Caleb memorized the algorithms for solving the cube, and is getting faster and faster.

Tirzah is loving to dress up.  She loves to be a ballerina.

We dissected a fish (perch):
And a frog:
Gross, Micah!

Funny girls!
Eden had my camera one night and took these next few photos:

March 27th it snowed again.  Again, it is beautiful.  But the kids are wondering what happened to spring.  Haha!

I started using any containers I could find to start my seeds.  I decided to try growing radishes indoors.  I started some cilantro, tomatoes, and a pepper.

Eden, who is working at the humane society, adopted a super-cute guinea pig.  Mitch brought home the rabbit from a different classroom one weekend.  They were fast buddies.  My kids were overly thrilled.

Finally the weather warmed enough on March 30th for me to want to use the grill.  The high was 53F, our first time above 50 so far this year.  Caleb and Grandma Karen helped clear a path.  Wow, that jerk chicken was good!

Mercy didn't care that the melting snow was icy cold.  She was SO excited to discover the world beyond the door.  Staying inside has been torture for her ever since she got her first taste of outside.

Tirzah and Obi are whipping up some Mac and Cheese for us!