Wednesday, December 31, 2014

For All That You Have Done for Us - 2014

January - the Flood
Your grace will never be forgot
Your mercy all my life

February - Maddie turns 4!
Will be my source for every song
My story and my light

March - the end of snow...finally!

From mountain top to valley low
through laughter and through tears

April - learning patience
Surely the goodness of my God 
Will follow all the year

April - Hannah turns 6!

For all that you have done for us
For every battle won 

May - a much needed getaway
 We'll raise a song to bless your heart
For all that you have done

June - moving on from our lives of 5.5 years

 You know our failures and regrets
You always led us home

July - redefining what summer break really is
  Redemption's arm has raised us up
Our triumph in the storm

August - first days of school all around
  In unity we'll stand as one
A valiantly we'll go

September - the Stache Dash
Shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand
Into the great unknown

October - Owen turns 8!
October - running for those who can't
 For all that you have done for us
For every battle won

November - Thanksgiving

 We'll raise a song to bless your heart
For all that you have done.

December - enjoying a true "Winter Break"

 The lyrics are written by Rend Collective.  To hear the song click here.

This song speaks to my heart and is a great summation of this past year.  I'm using it as my anthem as we march into 2015 as well.

He has brought us through the valleys, has raised up our faces to the light

In spite of all we have done to mess things up - He brings out the beautiful from the broken.

All glory goes to Him - for ALL that HE has done.

Happy 2015.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

December Lookback: Christmas Edition

There are so many pictures taken in December, I feel I can't just pick a few. So to avoid making a post that is ridicuously long, I'm going to split it up.

This is the Christmas Edition, a lookback at our family Christmas's, for the family's sake.

The Suvar Christmas. 

 The girls helped Grandma roll out and fill the dough for cinnamon rolls.

 It was...a bit messy.

 These girls get along so well - so glad for cousins!

 Of course we did the traditional Slovakian Villia Dinner

 Sam and Kat have the ideal spot for a family gathering - thankful for the hospitality year to year!

Suvar, Party of 5, Christmas

 Dressed up for Christmas Eve Services

 The kids got puzzles in their stockings, which they put together after a breakfast of cinnamon rolls

 We did our traditional 'Picnic in the Living Room'  
Everyone chose a dish they wanted to have be a part of the dinner. 

 Watching Polar Express while we ate supper.

 They all got handmade robes.  
Loved that they showed up for breakfast the next morning wearing them!

 Maddie forgot until the next morning about a gift she had for Owen and Hannah.  She made a ballerina and cat with paperclip arms and legs for Hannah.  Owen got a cowboy and horse with similar appendages...

Steffen Christmas

 ALWAYS lots of sweets

 Matching sweaters from Grandpa and Grandpa

 And there is always at least one kid who has to watch the trains...

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The days following

As Christmas Day, and all it's celebration, is now in the rear view mirror, I can't help but feel a bit deflated.

There is all this build up and then it's gone. 

The anticipation of family time and coziness and delicious food and then it's over.

I guess all good things must come to an end.

Or do they?

If we think about the real reason we celebrate - the birth of our King - what was it like 2 days after for Mary?

For the shepherds?

I can imagine them, back out in the field, talking over the experience with awe as they continued their watch over the sheep.

And Mary, no doubt in the middle of a late night feeding, in quiet contemplation, a smile on her lips as she reminisced the past few days.

For them, the celebration was not over.

It was just beginning.

May we not see this as the end of a season, but truly the beginning.  

Be not content this Babe to know

Nor stay at Bethlehem.

But go with Christ to Calvary's brow

Beyond Jerusalem

Tis there men learn to know the Christ

For there He bore man's sin.

So open wide the door of heart

And let the Savior in.

"The Babe of Bethlehem"

Monday, December 22, 2014

To our level

Do not be proud, but be willing to associate 
with people of low position. 
Romans 12:16b

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it happened again.  A verse I assigned to the month of December way back in January, with no thought of what was to come.  It was just the next verse in line.

But yet that verse up there is so fitting.

What a better time of year to discuss someone willing to associate with someone of a low position than in the month of December?

The month that we celebrate the time when Someone gave up His throne, His glory, His comfort.

For us.

Right now I bet you can think of someone that is a little bit better off than you.  Has a few more creature comforts.

And I bet you can think of someone who looks at you that way as well.

But here came Jesus.

He leveled the playing field.  We are all of low position.  We have nothing to be proud of.

Even the best among us are tainted by sin.  We are all in need of the saving hope that came that one night in Bethlehem.

I am so very thankful that Jesus was willing to associate with people of low position.

To live as a human and associate with all of us.

He knows our need.  To our weakness is no stranger.

He knows the feeling of feeling low.  He hit the lowest point for us.  And was able to triumphantly rise from it as well.
This Christmas week, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, let's not idly pass by the manger, but stop in awe that God chose a baby to come live among us.  

Us of low position.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Merry Christmas from the Suvars (our Christmas Letter)

We’re doing it again.  Just as we have for the last 2 years.

We are buying another goat...and a few chickens.

And just like the last two years, it's for someone that we will never meet (this side of heaven at least).  I hope that with this gift of food and income, that the message of the Good News will reach them too.

If you want to join us in the gift giving you can go to:



All are great organizations who are reaching out in Jesus' name.

So instead of a picture in the mail with a happy holiday greeting, you get this email update. And a montage of pictures taken in about 5 minutes of throwing everything together.

In June of this year, Paul and I, and our 3 kids, moved on from our tenure as houseparents at Gateway Woods after 5 1/2 years.  This has been a roller coaster of a year as we struggled with burnout, saw a 75% overhaul of our home as it was damaged by water, and then took on new roles post-Gateway.  Our lives look a bit different from where we were a year ago, but we pray that God continues to work in us to make us who He wants us to be.  

Owen is 8 and is in 2nd grade.  He is reading books and doing math, and building fantastic creations with his Legos.  Hannah is 6 ½ and is in 1st grade this year.  Hannah is our in-house artist.  Daily she is making things with random recyclables and markers and glue.  She needs her own studio with the amount of "art" she is pumping out.  Madeline is nearly 5, in preschool, and has quite the personality.  She is the most independent and headstrong of the three.  She loves to color and draw and cuddle on the couch and makes us laugh daily with the little things she says and does.

In August Paul saw a 13+ year dream come true as he took on a job as a high school Math and Science teacher.  We are currently in the trenches of ‘first year teacher’ and all the lesson plans and grading and miscellany that goes along with it.  As the kids went back to school, I made a lateral move at Gateway from houseparent to Foster Care Secretary; front lines to the back lines.  I love being the support behind the department as we license foster parents and support them as they take care of hurting children.

Leaving houseparenting also meant moving homes.  Thankfully the reconstruction of our house from water damage was completed one week before we needed to move in.  We are loving our new home and thankful to be able to stay in the community we have come to appreciate over the last 5 years.

We thank you for your prayers and want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas.  We are so thankful that so many years ago Jesus was willing to come to earth and live a human life, devoid of sin, and die on the cross for each of our sins.  We don’t deserve His sacrifice on our behalf, but we are SO very thankful for it!

A very Merry Christmas and a joyful, Happy New Year!
The Suvars
Paul, Nichole, Owen, Hannah, and Madeline

Monday, December 15, 2014

What it's looking like around here

You know how the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence?

Yeah, I am seeing now that I had that outlook a year ago.  I read this post from last December and I had to laugh at myself.  I still feel that way.

Why does Christmas feel so different to me now than it did just 5 years ago?

I still feel the blanket of meloncholy.  The pull to keep things simple.

I thought for sure I would bust out all-the-Christmas-things the first Christmas after houseparenting.  So much more time!  So much less stress!

Can you spot the error?  Yeah, I left it like that from last year...

And then I remembered that I can't bake a cookie to save my life (family can attest!)

And this introvert doesn't do crowds.

And I prefer simple decorating to lots and lots of things going on everywhere.

So Christmas time here has leaned toward the simple and slow. 

We've caroled to the elderly at a local nursing home.

We've assembled a boxed gingerbread house.

We've decorated a tree and play all-Christmas-music-all-the-time on Pandora.

But why does a part of me feel like I'm not doing the Christmas thing?  That I am missing out on something?  Perhaps it's the Martha vs. Mary battle?

Nowhere does it say I must do all the Christmasy things that the pretty magazine pictures and the bright flashy billboards tell me to do.

But I have read somewhere about the patient waiting for the arrival of something BIG.

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
    and increased their joy;

 For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.

Isaiah 9:2,3,6,7

 Staging done by resident 4-year-old.  Seems that Joseph and a Wiseman are having a conference over in the corner...

So, I will choose to speak these words over the guilt that tries to pull me down.  Telling me I'm not doing enough to "celebrate" this season.  I will choose to sit and listen to the stillness, where His voice is heard best.

Who wants to join me?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

November Lookback

November brought us Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving brought us the croupy-up all night hacking-can't breathe through my nose-I'm exhausted sickness that has left us all breathless for a good week.

At any rate, I am just now surfacing and feeling like I have energy enough to sit at the computer and download pictures.

Back to November.

We hosted a potluck night with a few good friends.  Since Novemeber was Adoption and Orphan Awareness Month, everyone brought a food dish from a country where they knew personally of someone who was adopted from, or works with orphans.

 We had Haitian, Indian, Zambian, and Hungarian dishes.

Didn't realize how monochramatic it would all turn out to be - but it was all good!

As it got darker earlier, and colder, more evenings were spent indoors.

 Also, No-shave November was in effect.  This is only about half-way through the month though.  Oddly enough, I didn't want him to shave it when the month was over....?

Just a random picture that Owen wanted me to take one day.

 Maddie had a Thanksgiving Feast at her Preschool.  For her Indian name, she was supposed to pick her favorite action word and favorite animal.  Thus, Sleeps with Cheetah is her name...

Thanksgiving celebrating with the Suvars and Garrisons!  This year we started a Turkey Trot that happened before all the eating began.  Shirts and running tags were made up, turkey calls were handed out to each kid, and Turkey hats were awarded.

 Paul won his hat for finishing first (of course) and Owen was voted the "Most Jive Turkey."  He ran over 2 miles without stopping!

And we wrap up the month with a little tree.  We may need to upgrade the size at some point...