Monday, December 19, 2011

A Not So "Silent Night"

I'm taking a little break in my Sweet Sleep, South Africa blog series to bring you these hysterical darn right scary pictures of the kids.  A few weeks ago I saw this cute Christmas card picture on pinterest with the caption "Silent Night".


I thought it was so funny, clever and definitely fitting for my wild bunch so I decided to try to emulate this photo with my kids.  Our attempt did not go so well.  I told the kids to look surprised but I got more "serial killer" from Emma.  Jackson and Leah are always hard to get to look at the camera.  And, well, despite my optimistic attitude that maybe Noah would not totally freak out when we tied him up with Christmas lights and taped his mouth shut with festive red duct tape.... he did.






So if we do get Christmas cards out in time for Christmas this year, I think I will spare you from opening up your mailbox to find these fabulous photos (insert sarcasm here) and just go with something a little more traditional......  you're welcome.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Sweet, Sweet Sound

Sweet Sleep, South Africa, Post #3

We had the pleasure of building bunk bed #2 for 5 little ones stair stepping in age. These 5 kids were cared for by an inspiring woman named Sharon. Inspiring because she cares for her own 3 children and 2 abandoned children as a single mom with no income in a tiny 10 X 10 home. Inspiring because never once did I hear her words tend toward fret, worry or complaint in the midst of her circumstances. Only Joy. Inspring because being in need herself and being unemployed did not stop her from volunteering her time to help others in need. She even expressed a desire to help future participants in the Open Door classes. Such a giving spirit is a rare treasure in this world.

Sharon

I spoke briefly with Sharon outside her home as the bed was being assembled by the men on our team.

You know, because it only makes perfect sense that the men build the beds while us girls do what we do best...

talk until it is time to put the sheets on. Oh, I digress.

Back to Sharon, she told me a small part of her story that reminded me of what I need to be reminded of so often; nothing in our lives is too big,

or too small

for God to provide. She told me that she knew that there was a need in her home of beds for her many children. She said that she made plans in her mind to get beds for her family but she was unsure how she would make it happen since she did not have any income. After praying about this need for some time, Sharon began attending the parenting classes with Open Door, unaware that the graduates of this program would recieve Sweet Sleep beds for the children in their home. She said that when she found out that these strangers from America were coming to build her children beds, she knew that God had

very specifically answered her prayers.

Our team returned that afternoon to re-iterate to the children that when they pull their covers up over themselves at night to think about God giving them a great big hug. We were in store for an amazing blessing as Sharon asked if we would like to hear her children sing a song that she had written. Sharon and her children opened their mouths and a beautiful sound escaped from them. Take a listen for yourself.



It warms my heart that every day about the time that I am preparing to pick up my kids from school, somewhere half way around the world are 5 precious children climbing into their warm beds in a 10 by 10 house, making a sweet, sweet sound unto the Lord with their mama.

the little ones trying out their beds

Precious

To help more children like Sharon's little ones, go to www.sweetsleep.org and find out more about how you can help.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Many People, One Vision

Sweet Sleep, South Africa, Post #2

It is no doubt that Sweet Sleep has many partners on the ground all over the world that make it possible for a team to come into a country and build beds for a large number of children in just one week. I think of organizations that Sweet Sleep has partnered with but mostly I think of people. There is Lucia in Moldova, Josephine and Sweet Jennifer in Uganda and many more who have let the vision of Sweet Sleep infiltrate their hearts and their lives.

In South Africa we met many people who were a part of the ministry there, but I want to introduce you to this amazing couple that played such an important part...

Cedric & Veronica & Me

Cedric & Veronica live in the township of Oceanview where most of Sweet Sleep's work in Cape Town was done. Cedric prefabricated the 20 beds that we assembled when we got there. He truly worked hard as if "working unto the Lord". You could tell that he had joy in his work and the ability to provide for his family.

Cedric & Jen (founder & president of Sweet Sleep) team up to do some bed assembly

Veronica was a part of the parenting class at Open Door. It is evident that her leadership and spiritual guidance was a true light to the women who were a part of these classes. It was said that the classes were every Monday for 2 hours, but they ended up staying for about 3 hours every week because the support and fellowship was such a needed presence in the lives of these women. When the women expressed their disappointment that the class was ending, Veronica took the initiative to start a bible study with these women so that they could continue to meet together and support eachother. I had the pleasure of talking with Veronica on many occasions throughout the week we were there and I was so uplifted and encouraged by her faith.

Veronica cracked me up when she hopped on this excercise machine just outside someone's house where we were working. She is too funny!

Our team had the opportunity to share dinner and conversation one evening with Cedric and his lovely wife. We listened as they told us their story, about their life, their children and their journey with the Lord. We were amazed at the faith that this couple shared, at the way God strengthened that faith through times of trouble and at the way that God has provided and cared for them. We were happy that they expressed that they wanted to be a part of Sweet Sleep's future work in South Africa.

I was also so touched by the fact that Cedric & Veronica take in a teenage boy every day during the day when he is locked out of his house by his family until his mother returns from work. His name is Cedric also. We took to calling him little Cedric and you will hear much more about him in a future post.

Please pray for Cedric & Veronica as they continue to be a light to their community. Pray for the children that will be impacted by the future work of Sweet Sleep in Oceanview and other areas of Cape Town.

Want to help Sweet Sleep provide beds for the world's orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children? Help us meet our goal to provide 2500 beds to children in Uganda this Christmas. Just $50 provides a child with a bed, bedding, a life-saving mosquito net and a bible in the child's own language. Make a difference this Christmas! Go to www.sweetsleep.org to help today.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sweet Rowan

Sweet Sleep, South Africa, Post #1

It has been almost one month since I returned from my mission trip with Sweet Sleep to Cape Town, South Africa to build beds for some of the most vulnerable children there. I feel like I have had some time to process what I experienced and I now feel ready to share it with you. Many of you have been a part of this through giving financially or giving your time in prayer. I can tell you that nothing compares to being on a journey like this and experiencing it with all 5 senses, however I will try my best to take you to the places we went and introduce you to some people who I was fortunate enough to cross paths with. I invite you to come to South Africa with me over the next few blog posts and let yourselves fall in love with the people and the country. It's so easy to do!


Rowan and Me

First, I would like to introduce you to our very first bed recipient in South Africa. His name is Rowan and he kind of stole my heart. This said heart almost broke in two when he asked me and my team members to take him home with us. Rowan is 7 years old. We built a bunk bed in his home for him and his little brother Roland who is 2. When we arrived at this first home we were taken back by the small size and poor condition of the home. However, later, we worked in some other homes that made this one look very nice.


Little Bro, Roland, checking out my camera

Rowan's mother, Nicolette, took part in an 8 week parenting class through an organization called Open Door, which serves Cape Town much like the State Social Services Department does here. Open Door identified those children who were most vulnerable and invited their caregivers to take part in this class. Upon graduation of this program, caregivers were given Sweet Sleep beds for the children in their home. This class is so vital for people living in this area because it provides education to combat child abuse, drug abuse and other problems that plague Cape Town. The best part is, Open Door has already begun another class to help another group of children, Sweet Sleep is committed to providing beds again to the graduates of this program.


Nicolette at her first glimpse of the finished bunk bed for her boys

We built the bed in the morning while Rowan was at school but returned later that afternoon, once he had gotten a chance to see his bed. When we arrived he was sitting in his bed playing & so happy. My friend John got the chance to talk with Rowan a little about Jesus. We learned that sharing the gospel with a 7 year old requires a lot of patience. So. easily. distracted. Check out the video of our chat and pray for Rowan, Roland and Nicolette.

You can help other children like Rowan and Roland. Find out how. Go to www.sweetsleep.org Donate online, sign up to make Sweet Sleep your VBS mission focus, hold a youth Lock-in or Lock-out to benefit Sweet Sleep or do some Christmas shopping in the online Sweet Sleep store.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sweet Sleep Sponsor Spotlight on Carrie Koppin

I am happy to spotlight a special lady on my blog today. She is an amazing wife, mom, realtor, spiritual mentor and friend. I am thankful to her for sponsoring me and my upcoming mission trip to South Africa with Sweet Sleep.



Carrie Koppin works as a Realtor with Realty Executives in the East TN area. I personally have worked with Carrie on many occasions and can testify that she is smart, hard working, kind and always looking for ways to bless others with her work and her life.

Here are a few words from Carrie:

For generations my family has called Greene County home and I am proud to carry on that tradition! I know about the joy, frustration, disappointment and excitement of buying or selling a home (I have personally done both numerous times) and I want to be with YOU every step of that process. I have a teacher's heart and will patiently walk through each step of the buying or selling process with YOU. If you are looking for personal service and positive results please call me, Carrie Koppin,today at 423-552-0397, email me at carrie@realtyexecutives.com, connect with me on the web at www.CarrieKoppin.blogspot.com or stop by the office at 818 Tusculum Blvd. Let me put my knowledge and diverse background to work for YOU!

You can find many helpful and interesting posts on Carrie's blog. Find tips for home organization. Get real estate advice as seen in this post, The Walker Family's Journey to "NOT a Short Sale". Also, discover fun activities to do in East Tennessee like in this post titled, Marguerite Fall ROCKS! Follow Carrie and her husband Brett as they remodel their "Handyman's Dream" in posts like this one titled Stuck-Oh. Plus you can view videos of some of East TN's prime real estate, like the one below for 934 W. Summer Street, (MLS:309228)



Also, if you are in need of a builder or licensed contractor, call Carrie's husband, Brett Koppin, owner of Koppin Construction LLC at 423-620-8798

Thank you again Carrie for supporting me and the work we will be doing to help orphans in South Africa!! I couldn't be a part of it without people like you!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Kindergarten Finale

So, I have been a horrible mommy blogger. I blogged about the girls' end of the school year awards programs last May and had big plans to blog about Jackson's too but then summer began and the pool was calling our name and there were parks to visit and .... well you get the idea.

Jackson had a great year in Kindergarten. His teacher was awesome and Jackson just adored her. I feel like we have been so fortunate to have been blessed with some great teachers since our kids have been in school. I am so grateful to them for loving my kids and making them better people.



Here is Jackson's class singing the Humpty Dumpty Song.



Josh, Emma, Jackson and I at the post program picnic.



Mimi and Noah were there too.



I am going to try to be a better mommy blogger from now on because...
"the more we get together the happier we'll be"

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sweet Sleep: The Journey To Here

This post is full of linky love and orphan love. Yay!


The past year has been an adventure for us to say the least. This time last year, Josh was spending his last few days with Cedar Creek Church of God as Youth Pastor. We were embarking on a new journey to plant a church in the area... or so we thought. It's amazing how God can take the plans that you think He has for you and remind you that HE is Lord. Praise the Lord, we can begin to see the good that has come from what seemed like a failure at every turn.


I have related to Peter very much this year, feeling like I had the courage to step out of the boat and go towards Jesus but soon noticing the waves around me. I found it easy to focus on my circumstance instead of Jesus. Thankfully, He is always there to stretch out his hand and pull us back up to where He is. In spite of all of the failures in Peter's life he was still used in mighty ways for the gospel. Thank you Lord.


Through the trials of this past year, God brought a wonderful thing in to my life. Shortly before our time ended at Cedar Creek. I had begun a journey with a direct sales company called Thirty-One Gifts. At the time, I thought I was joining just to get some super cute bags at a good discount... maybe enjoy a night away from home with some other ladies every once in a while. As we soon found ourselves struggling financially, I began to work this business with new motivation.... just to make ends meet.


It's amazing how the Lord can be teaching you about something very important without you even realizing what He is doing. I started to learn the best ways to spread the word about my business. Finding new ways to share and get the word out, I soon saw how the little bit of effort I had put into my business had multiplied exponentially. As if I had received a blinding flash of the obvious, I realized that this is exactly how Jesus wants us as disciples to spread his good news.

Give of my time and energy.

He will bless and multiply.


At the same time that I received this revelation, God was also laying it on my heart to become more involved with a faith based non-profit organization called Sweet Sleep. Sweet Sleep shows God's love to the world's orphaned and abandoned children by providing beds, bedding, mosquito nets and bibles to them. These children would otherwise be sleeping in unsafe and unsanitary conditions with little hope for the future.


I had first heard of Sweet Sleep a couple years back after reading about it on the Bring the Rain blog one day in this post. Since the organization is based out of Brentwood Baptist where my brother and sister-in-law go, I also heard about it when I would visit and go to church with them. Soon after, my sister-in-law, Sam, became very active with Sweet Sleep, eventually traveling to Gulu, Uganda on mission. She took all of the pictures in this post. And so, my heart would be reminded of these sweet orphaned souls even more and more.


I finally worked up the courage to send a message via a general info email address that was listed on Sweet Sleep's website. My email stated that I knew God had been urging my heart to help with their cause, but I felt challenged because I lived four and a half hours away from where Sweet Sleep is based. To be honest, I never expected to hear a reply from my email.


I was definitely surprised when I received an email back letting me know that they had been praying for people just like me who could be regional representatives for Sweet Sleep in other areas of the US. It's always a blessing to find that something you did turned out to be an answer to someone else's prayers. Still suffering from surprise, I agreed to pray about the tasks set before me. How could I not say yes? Knowing that it was a total God thing made the decision relatively easy. And so, I became the first of Sweet Sleep's Regional Reps.


I had already been hoping to go on mission with Sweet Sleep one day, but once I started to work with the organization in this capacity, I knew that it was something I had to do. I was set to wait on God and his timing though. The trip to South Africa was officially put on the calendar in early August. Through various experiences, he made it clear to me that this was the time for me to "go".


And so, I will be traveling to Cape Town, South Africa on November fourth through the fourteenth of this year. While I go to minister to others, I anticipate that God will move like never before in my heart as well. I pray that it will be so.


I have been blessed by what I have raised financially towards my mission trip so far but there is still need. If you feel so led to donate towards this cause, please message me at cbeddingfield613@hotmail(dot)com and I will give you instructions with how to proceed.


If you wouldn't mind, please lift us up in prayer as we prepare to do the work God has for us in South Africa. Pray for our mission team, the children there, the country, safe travel and a special time. If you wish to follow our journey, be sure to check out the Sweet Sleep Blog.

I leave you with this video, made after a Sweet Sleep journey to Uganda. What Hope He has given...

Under the Stars from Sweet Sleep on Vimeo.


P.S. If your church, children's ministry or youth group is interested in a helping orphans while hosting a fun event, check out some of Sweet Sleep's events and find out how you can help.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Emma's 3rd Grade Awards Day

Here are some pics from Emma's End of the Year Awards Day for 3rd grade.



She received an award for the A-B honor roll.



She received an award for having exceptional cursive writing.



And, she received the national fitness award (quite the accomplishment!)



Here she is with her teacher, Mrs. O.



And her assistant teacher Mrs. C.



She celebrated with her classmates by enjoying a sundae.



We are very proud of your accomplishments Emma! Way to go!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Move over Flynn Rider

All right, listen! I didn't want to have to do this but you leave me no choice....

Here comes the smolder...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Beautiful Beginning....The Sequel

Leah will be moving on from Pre-School to the big Kindergarten next year. We are very proud of how much she has learned this year. We again are so thankful for a wonderful program and a truly amazing teacher. Mrs. L is definitely special to our family. We are already hoping that Noah will get the privilege of being in her class one day just as his big brother, Jackson, and his big sister, Leah have. You can also read about Mrs. L on this post that I wrote after Jackson graduated Pre-K last year. Thank you again Mrs. L. We love you!



Here is Leah with her assistant teachers, Ms. W & Ms. B. We love you too!



With the BFF...



With the boyfriend.
She is already making plans for marriage ;)



They performed some of Leah's favorites during the program...

The Wide-Mouthed Bullfrog




A Tootie Ta-Ta



Leah received the same candy bar award that Jackson did. The "Pop Rocks Award" for being the "Most Energetic". We are so excited that Mrs. L chose the same award for Leah that she did for Jackson last year. It fits her just as well as it fits Jackson. :)



We love you
Leah Caroline "Princess Buttercup" Beddingfield!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Leah's Dance Recital

Leah had a big day yesterday! Pre-school Graduation Awards Ceremony followed by her dance recital. It was all about her and she ate it up! She loved performing her dances for us. Of course, we thought she was adorable.






She did the Twinkle, Twinkle dance...



The Music Box dance...



and The Pony Parade dance



Here are the girls with their teacher, Ms. Loriann. She is wonderful with the girls and we are thankful for her!



Pics and videos to come of Leah's Pre-School Graduation.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Emma's Ballet Recital

Both girls have been taking Ballet at Central Ballet here in town. We have have been so happy with how well they have done there. Both are making great improvements in their dancing abilities. Emma had her Spring Recital last night.



She did so awesome!



Of course, I'm not partial or anything!



Here is a video of their Fairy Dance



She also did a dance with her class called The Children's March. She was so excited about this one because she got a solo part and she got to be lifted up by a "cute boy". I'm still not sure how I feel about that. But She did great!



If you are looking for a place for your children to take ballet, we highly recommend Central Ballet! Check it out.



Pictures of Leah's Recital are coming soon too!