Friday, September 20, 2013

Matsiko in our Hearts

dic was going through some videos and pictures on his phone tonight and he came across this one.
i was immediately brought to tears.

(pause my blog music in the upper-left corner to play video)

we miss those faces....those voices.
ya know, it's just like anything.....
the feeling starts to fade as time goes on.
but we think about them constantly (luke even asked me today if i missed them),
and talk of our time together a month ago.

fun day at Watiki Water the GOGGLES!

we aren't soo naive as to think that we are/were the only family that touched them and loved them.

a little bedtime arm-wrestle match with Diego (14) Sunnie (12)

we only know that every single time another group of kids come here through matsiko we will love them.

love....our first time hosting boys......Jeremiah, Diego, Sunnie....we adore them.
we have hopes and dreams for them.

a sweet reminder of why i love to do this every year. a precious bunch.

 they are a light that can't be put out.

FAMILY doesn't mean you have to live in the same house.....FAMILY comes from the heart.

we know that they will return to their countries in november, after being in the states for 10 months, and they will be changed forever.

all our the Matskio boys. there were only 6 this time.

they will have an experience that none of their friends or family will ever have.
they will have a hope that they never dreamed of before.
they will know they are special.
 they will return to their country and be a shining example of HOPE that everyone longs for.

our last morning together. a few tears shed, per the usual.

we are soo proud of each one of these young people and those who have held them tight along the way 
(thank you Don & Jennie Windham, for your vision of wanting to do more
 and following your heart and God's calling).
 i'm sure it wasn't an easy journey for any of them.
but they have/will make it.
they are the light and love......
of Jesus Christ.

you have blessed each and every one of us with whom you came in contact.
we will talk of this experience for as long as we live.
God placed our family right where it needs to be.
each time you visit us, we become more aware of the need in this world,
which is what this is all about.

we will pray for sponsorship of every child until every one is educated....
...until every orphan has a family....
....until every belly is full...
...until every child feels God's love...
...until every one knows Christ.

we will pray.
we love you all.
sweet blessings to you, Matsiko Family.

the chiolis fam.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


       i look at this garden.....
over-grown, messy, tired, unorganized, disappointed, sad, confused, heavy-hearted.
                                                         this is how i've been feeling lately.


i see these weeds and strawberry plants that have taken over
and i feel like i could just lay down there and they would cover me up in a day,
 and my troubles would just go away.

and then my 10 year old boy wakes me from my self pity to tell me that i'm pretty.
"even though you're standing outside taking pictures in your bra and underwear", he says. 
(at 7:00 on a sunday morning)
and i am forced again to see my blessings.

Monday, August 12, 2013

MATSIKO WORLD ORPHAN CHOIR comes to Rapid City, SD!!!!

Those of you who know me know that this organization holds a very special place in my heart.
This will be their 3rd time to Rapid City and we've had the pleasure of hosting and organizing each time.

And they are coming next week.....a whole new group of kids.....but with the same concept. 
They are raising awareness and dollars for their brothers and sisters a half a world away.
Their performances will allow people to actually see and touch a child who has been through the despairs of a third-world country. So many of us think that if we can't see them, they must not exist....or they don't matter. It's the reason people who travel across the world want to do something bigger than what they did before.
It's such a perfect link the people of  HERE to the people of THERE and know that we are all ONE. 
Kudos to Matsiko (which means HOPE in Uganda) and ICN (International Children's Network) for loving on the people's of the world.....on all of the edges and the in-betweens. 
From front-to-back and side-to-side and ocean to land. 

THIS year's group

from Peru, South America & Liberia, Africa

12 girls & 6 boys

our family with our girls from last year

 this year our boys begged to host boys.....we've had girls the last 2x. 
Aregash isn't as excited, but she's had her girl-time.
 in fact, those girls placed a burden soo heavy on her daddy's heart that he said YES to adoption after they came in 2008.

our girls in 2008....a start of something beautiful

i'm sure that everyone who has come across Matsiko has their own special story......
and now we will have three.
the choir and the work they do will always be something we're passionate about.
i think the misconception at first glance is that the purpose of their journey is to create opportunities for these chosen children who are traveling the United States, when in reality, they symbolize everything that we CAN'T SEE across the world.
the money that is raised during their trip across America will provide sponsorship for their neighbors and classmates and siblings so that they will have the SAME educational opportunities as these few chosen children in the choir. it's an amazing cause and something i'm proud to be a part of.

if you can't come to Rapid City, SD to see them, look on their Facebook page for more information about where you can.....and how you can be a part of it all.

every time they reach another city or town they reach hundreds more people who just didn't know....or didn't care.....or didn't think there was anything they could do.
and now they'll know how to love someone who isn't a part of their family, or a part of their circle, or town, or country.
these children are not forgotten.
thank you, Lord.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

a note to my husband

i tried this yesterday on facebook and decided the whole world didn't have to see my message to you. today i've decided that i don't care who sees how much i love you. 

thank you for taking time out of your last few days to give me and our marriage what it needed. 
thank you for putting up with me and all that i can sometimes be. 
it doesn't have to be your birthday or our anniversary for me to tell you that you are an amazing, godly father and husband. 
that your giving heart is something that will make your kids want to be better people.....
like it makes me want to be a better wife and mother and friend. 

thank you for working soo hard to make it possible for me to be home with our family,
for us to always be together. 
i know it's not easy. forgive me for questioning that. 

you are my rock and my best friend. 
i've been a mess and you still hung with me even when i know you wanted to run.
 and now that i'm back, i'm soo happy for the reminder that you are the man i want to be with for the rest of my life.

i believe that god gives us these times to make sure that we come back and lean on him, laying it all down in trust. 
these are the times he gives us to make us grow and gain strength.
i know that this won't be the last of the hardships we endure, but i am grateful for this one more chance to see that you won't give up on me.

 i appreciate and adore you, dic chiolis. 


Saturday, June 22, 2013


i am praying today for things as little as baseball games and as big as forest fires..... 
to things as small as obedient children to things as big as a baby being born.
 today i will pray for my relationships....with our families and with each other and with friends.
 i will pray for broken promises and hardened hearts and resentments built. 
i will pray that love is found in a place of despair and anger and loneliness. 
i will pray and praise for the lost who are found and the children in families and the endless kisses given.
it feels like a great day to pray....

you know my heart, you know my needs,
you know every part of me.
so even if it's just to speak Your name.

lifting my hands......

i'm gonna pray.

Friday, June 14, 2013

God's story.....a leap of faith from Sweden to America.....and the in-between

 i truly believe that god places us in situations to test our test our commitment to him.....
to see if we will do what he wishes of us.

this is a recent story that began in a mcdonald's late at night after a baseball game. 
my family has learned to really dislike mcdonalds, for apparent reasons, but i felt this need to go there.
 i even made the comment, "let's just go grab some cheap burgers".
i NEVER say that. 
but this night i felt drawn to ronald mcdonald's house.
a god-thing?
now i truly believe it was.

 on this night we met daniel. he had a little "set-up" at his table, which was very close to ours.
it was about 10:00 pm so the only other people there were some cute little grandmas sitting behind us talking about how their grandchildren never send thank yous for anything.
i felt like maybe THIS was the reason we were here.....
i was suppose to be learning a lesson from them....
but i almost always have my kids send thank yous to people.
so i'm good.
must be something else.

and then dic did what he usually does.....
he struck up a conversation with daniel.....a 20-year-old swede who found the desire to see the U.S. 
the kicker? he chose to see it on a bicycle. 
beginning in new york city and traveling across the country to san diego, ca.
lucky for us, he chose to ride through the coldest parts of the country (and even a little into canada).
he said he had wondered after a bit if it was a wise decision to possibly head south after he came across rotten, snowy, cold weather in new york. he actually said that there were nights he was soo cold he wasn't sure if he'd wake up in the morning.
when he had done his internet research, it appeared that new york would have descent weather when he started his journey in april.
not soo much.
and he HATES the cold.
he's such a positive person, so i could tell that he meant this when he spoke of the cold.
we are alike in that respect!

anyway.......we asked him where he stays when he's done riding for the day.
he tent camps. that moment he was in an area of our little town where there isn't much tent-camping (none), and the motels aren't much to speak of. but, he did say that someone had referred him to x-place.
x-place where someone was stabbed-to-death (or shot) last year.
not a nice place.
and then the words came out of dic's mouth.....
"would you like to sleep in our camper?"
i was a tiny bit stunned for a second
 (not sure why, as i have a heart for "strays"....but i've never brought a "stray" human home. :)

1st morning.... bugs

and now i realize that he wasn't a "stray" at all.
he was EXACTLY where god wanted him.
and us.
and so once the translation of "camper" came through and was understood, he shockingly accepted our offer.

and so our story begins.
and so GOD'S story begins.

taking time out of weeding the flower beds to play

loud and crazy dance party

daniel's first s'more

he took our boys on a couple of bike-rides across the city.
WE have never left from our house on bikes because of the highway traffic, yet we trusted our new friend with our kids.
they had a blast.
and came back very tired.
22 miles later.

little one didn't get to go this time, but she sure looks good on her new bike, huh?

he had planned to ride his bike through the Black Hills.......he hadn't experienced hills yet.....
or mountains.
we asked if we could take him. 

he's waited a very long time for this.

he was amazed and excited to finally be here.

i love this picture. i thought i had moved far enough away from his shot. guess not. 

is HE our 5th child i've been wondering about???

hiking up to Harney Peak

at the top
we were above the clouds....soo cool!

daniel had NEVER seen a baseball game. 
he told us about a sport in sweden that would be closely related to baseball and would translate to english as "smash-ball". you use either a skinny bat or a flat bat and a tennis-like ball.

he stayed an extra night to watch zach play baseball--zach is playing 1st base (shown behind daniel)

chairlift to the presidents slide in keystone

ready to go!

crazy horse monument

Sylvan of our favs. places. soo beautiful


 and then it was time to say goodbye.
daniel had intended to stay in rapid city for 3 days. 
he stayed for 8 full days.
because of rain and wind he was held up a little longer than he'd anticipated.
(oh, and because he LOVED us!!!)

mapping out the roads of the big horn mountains and yellowstone

dic had a great time having daniel here.....we both did.

dic drove daniel into the big horns to make up a couple of days he had lost.
his goal is to meet his parents in san diego (flying in from sweden) to continue on to Hawaii for vacation.

i was disappointed we didn't all get to see him off, but seeing pictures, i'm pretty sure my tears would have been flowing.

all ready to go!

this was an experience we will never forget.
and hopefully God brought daniel into our lives to KEEP him a part of our lives.
we all talked about having him come back next summer to stay and work and hang out with us.
(hopefully our next house will have a spare bedroom so he will have his own space).
he loved it here!
we loved him here!
here is the video dic took of him riding away. *sniff sniff*

we love and miss you daniel!!!

hands from across the world.....from africa to sweden to the u.s.

god's story is the greatest story.
and from this time on i will remember that even when things seem a little bit silly and crazy,
if i am feeling led to something,
 i will continue to take that leap of faith and go with it.

...even if it means eating gross burgers at mcdonald's.....
...even if it means taking in a "stranger" at the drop of a hat....
...even if it means taking an entire week off of normal weekly activity to play......

FAITH is so important.
FAITH makes us grow.
FAITH is fun.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

hair it is!

so i'm up at o'dark-thirty cause i went to the film "Girl's Rising"(a link to the's a must-see) with my friend Pauline and we may or may not have gone for coffee before-hand and i may or may not have had a large-caffeinated beverage at 5:30p.m.
the story was amazing and informative and hard to watch and i felt grateful all over again.
i am blessed to be soo fortunate to live in a country where women are free to do anything a man can.
i am soo excited that our little town of 60,000 people filled a theater to gain awareness about the crisis girls and women are facing all over this world.
it was inspiring.

and in this film i saw girls with the same hair as aregash.
so let's talk hair. :0)

 here is my beauty with her extensions i put in, with the help of my friend deena, and her daughter alyssa a few days after easter.
i have had to redo them several times since then.

the other night we decided that it may be time to think about taking them out. 
mommy misses her curly hair and even though it isn't much work on a daily basis like her natural hair,
 they are still lots of work.
her natural hair is almost as long as where i cut.
WOW! it's long!

still lovely and a totally different look.
this is similar to what it would look like if we just braided her hair without the synthetic hair.

the pile of "fake" hair, as she calls it. :)

so the plan is to let the braids unravel from the bottoms and when they get far enough up we will take the extensions out.....
if not before.
it very well could happen before. :)

wouldn't it just be soo fun to have hair that you can do all these fun things with???

hair 101.

i think the coffee is beginning to wear off now.
i sure did accomplish some crazy-amazing tasks while i was wired!

good night all!!

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