The truth as I know it:

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life. But those who make their journey home across time & miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us by God's very own hands. ~~~ Kristi Larson

Thursday, December 31, 2009

To Take Advantage or Not to Take Advantage?

My mom reads my blog.  And she loves me.  And as luck would have it, she's coming to visit today.  AND as procrastination would have it, my tree is still up.  :)  Guess who is offering to take down my tree for me!  There is no end to the amount of things guilt will make a mother do for her children.  I used to feel bad about stuff like this... and I sort of still do feel bad about it, truth be known, because my mom does ALOT of stuff for me.  She is babysitting tonight while we go out for New Years, she does my laundry when she comes in, plays tirelessly with my kids, buys oodles of clothes for Meg every season and sends the boys little surprises in the mail on a regular basis.  In general, I'm still the spoiled child I have always been when it comes to my mom, even though I am far from that child in every other aspect of my life.  But the question is, do I feel bad enough to try to get it down before she gets here so she won't have to do it?  Well, probably not!  :)  Maybe that is something the two of us can do together, actually.  It will definitely be easier to do that than do it by myself.  I know I am whining alot about this tree thing, but seriously, I'd rather drink hot water to wash down a mouthful of dirt than take this tree down! Argh! 


Gwen gave me the COOLEST shirt for Christmas.  On the back it has a quote from Mother Teresa that I have always loved.  It says, "It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you can live as you wish."  Oh my, don't you just love that.  It has so many meanings.  It's obviously applicable to abortion.  But it's so applicable to orphans as well.  Isn't that truly what we choose when we turn our backs on what we know to be true?  We choose that those faces staring out at us from waiting children websites and TV screens will die, figuratively or literally, so that we can be comfortable.  I am excited to wear the shirt.  Gwen said it was destined for me because I always "bring it with a sledgehammer".  I think that's her way of telling me I could be a little more subtle in my approach! :)


I hope you all have a great New Year!  I'm looking forward to my mom being here. I know it will be a hard weekend for her since she lost her mom, and my Granma, this time last year.  I'm glad we'll be together.  It's the circle of life, but it seems like after a year anniversary, things are always a little bit easier.  


Have a great New Years!  Happy 2010!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

If you really love me....

I hope you all had a very very Merry Merry Christmas.  And I hope that you are looking forward to a fab new year!  I always get a little melancholy about the old year leaving.  I won't go into all the deep seated psyche that goes into my "fears", but I get a little paranoid that the new year will hold something tragic.  I have not had a year that I was ever super happy to say goodbye to.  Last year, this fear was proven out when my beloved Granma died on January 2.  So I think I don't like the new year because I always know in the back of my head that "this could be the year that ...."  Anyway, that's waaaaaay to deep and dark for this post.  You can explore my dark side some other time.

What I really want to ask is WON'T SOMEONE OUT THERE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE come over and take down my Christmas decorations?  Seriously!  If you love me, you will!  It's this time each year that I question why in the world I thought it was a good idea to get out ALL the tubs of decorations or why I thought it would be fun to add a few new ones to the collection.  Seriously?  I think next year I will buy a live tree, buy some red and green plastic balls at the dollar store, and throw the whole thing out to the curb the day after Christmas.  It helps me really understand something I never liked or understood as a child.  When I was a kid, my parents had a fake tree that had been flocked.  It had blue glass balls on it with maybe blue or white lights, I can't remember, I just know it was a monochrome homage to Elvis and 1976!  Every year, that tree came out of the attic on December 24.  We removed the sheet that had been protecting it for the other 363 days of the year and plugged that puppy in.  On December 26, the sheet went back on and up it went to await it's two day appearance the following year.  Sort of funny now, when I think about it.  And on December 26th, I TOTALLY get it.  It's always amazing to me how the decorations that looked so homey and ethereal at midnight on December 25, magically transform themselves to JUNK and clutter overnight and I can't wait to not look at them for a few months.

So.... if you love me, and surely someone out there does.... you will come over and take down all my decorations.  You might even organize them when you are in the attic.... if you really really love me.  I'll make you a sandwich and an ice cold coca-cola! :)  Pretty please!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Another Proud Parenting Moment, Brought to you by....

Connor!

Last night, the Hollis family was hosting a Parent's Night Out to benefit Reece's Rainbow. They are raising money for a family who is adopting Evangeline.  The cutest little girl you have ever seen.  When we dropped the kids off, three of my four were totally fine with joining in the fun in the playroom.  There were games, dolls, Wii, and music.  Kid heaven, in other words.  But ONE of my children was having none of it.  He did not want to stay and he had a giant fit to prove it.  For a full 45 minutes, we tried to get him happy.  Finally, we left with him screaming his head off.

I called on our way out of the neighborhood to see if he was doing okay and I could hear him in the background screaming at the top of his lungs, "I DON'T WANT TO TALK TO HER ON THE PHONE!!!!"  Well, okay then.

The comedy is that Melanie said after we left, he bolted out the door.  Chappy looked at Mel and said, "He's gone!"  Chappy ran out the door after him and said he might not have caught him except that Connor had on his gorilla feet house shoes and he had stopped to take them off so he could run faster.  I wish I could have seen Chappy bringing Connor back in, most likely kicking and screaming!  :)  It's a fine parenting moment when your child embarrasses you in front of people who have well behaved children.  Luckily, the rest of my kiddos were apparently on their best behavior because Melanie said she enjoyed having them.

Caleb finally won Connor over by letting him play with their little dog, Trudy.  So at least they knew the way to the boys heart!

And to assuage my horror, I needed to get a fix of something that I am actually good at (since parenting and baking don't seem to be the reason God put me here.)  So we brought this little foster fellow home today!  Have you ever seen anything so cute?



That's Joey with Connor and my niece.  He's so darn precious!



Yes, I know he's wearing a sweater.  Yes, I know I think it's really silly when dogs wear clothes.  But he's only 10 weeks old and it's so funny to me to see him in it that I can't bear to take it off of him.  Though I probably should, but I can't help myself.  I've never had a dog in my house this small.  Vince wasn't even this little when he was 6 weeks old.  Joey is some sort of Chihuahua mix, but he's every ounce of precious! :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

This is why I don't bake... among other things!

I watch alot of cooking shows.  I love the food network.  Love Giada.  Love Rachel.  Love Emeril.  Love Iron Chef.  Once in a while when I watch Giada (for some reason, she always inspires me to believe I can actually do this...) I will get the bright idea that I can come up with some fabulously tasty culinary creation. Remember the Butternut Squash Debacle?  Well I do!

So for those of you who wanted to know what  Santa cake is, I think you better read this first.  I can share the recipe if you promise to keep it in the family! :)



This is our Santa cake.  I know he looks a little messy.  Believe me, it's an issue I struggle with.  I didn't actually want to let the kids help me decorate him because I wanted him to look perfect.  But I thought that would be really really ridiculous.  So Connor did all the red parts! Which also meant that some of the white got a little messed up too.  But that's not the reason I don't bake.


 See this big crack between the two halves of my Santa.  See all the frosting that is supposed to be holding him together?  See how it has all poured out onto the tray instead of holding him together like it was supposed to?  Yeah, that's because I always take the shortcut.  I decided frosting would surely hold him together as well as Chocolate Ganache (like the recipe called for.)  Right?  Wrong!



This is our elf attacking the cake overnight.  Just thought I'd share that SOMEONE got some joy from the cake.


This is how we found the cake this morning.... you can't tell very well, but there are alot of sections of the cake that are missing their frosting... because Vince... the dog..... stood on his hind legs and licked him clean this morning.  At least all the parts Vince could reach.  Remind me again why I didn't get a teacup poodle?

Anyway, I just wanted you all to know that every time I enter the kitchen, I am reminded again why it's been six months since I last attempted anything closely related to homemaking.  Remember the exploded baked potatoes incident?  Seriously!

Oh yeah... as for the recipe for the Santa.  You have to run down to Willi@ms S0n0m@ and get a santa pan.  The recipe is on the back of the cover.  Or if you're like me and you like to take shortcuts, you can use two boxed cake mixes.  I will take both boxes, by the way.  And icing cannot be substituted for chocolate ganache.  Just in case you were wondering!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I'm Baaaaack!

What do you do with a sick day? Why, publish two blog posts, of course.

We woke up this morning at 4:37 AM to a sick little girl with a fever.  This is the first fever she's had since she came home from St. Petersburg.  That's over 17 months without an illness.  Let's here it for the hearty girls in the family!  :)



So in addition to sitting on the couch watching every episode of Dora and Diego ever created, we also built a roaring fire.  Daddy came home for lunch to bring us some eggs.  We needed the eggs so we could do this:



We wanted to do this so that we could then do this:



And while we're waiting for our Santa cake to finish cooking, Connor decided it would be a good idea for me to try to photograph him doing some of his most popular stunts.



Sorry about the lighting and the blur in these photos, I just can't work up the energy to edit them.  Give me a break already.... I'm making a cake for heaven's sake.  I built a fire.  I lit some candles.  I can only do so many domestic "mother of the year" things in one day or my system will go into overload and the whole thing might short circuit.

Right now the kids are watching Diego and you know how he wants you to repeat everything a whole bunch of times?  Well, they keep saying llama and I keep saying "What?"  And then I realize they aren't actually saying "mama".  :)

Okay, back to domestic insanity tranquility.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Fun

You may have noticed that I am under contruction.... I was having alot of trouble with getting my photos to post right, so I am changing things up a bit.  It was time for a change anyway.  Why not, I have SOOOO much time on my hands to be changing up the blog.

Today Meg had her Christmas program at school.  I couldn't even tell you what she sang, Connor and I were too busy waving at her.  But I got it all on video and hopefully I can figure out how to upload it soon.... as soon as I find the right cord.





This photo really has nothing to do with Christmas, I just can't resist how cute she is! :)





Liam asked my dad for a cowboy hat for Christmas.  Guess what he got?  :)





Look at this outfit.  My dad gave Connor cowboy boots.  Also the only thing on his list.  How do you like them with those fancy plaid Pippers?  Nifty, don't you think?





This is Connor after his little Christmas concert.





Reilly (my niece) and Meg after the Christmas singing.  Gorgeous girlies!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Got any good suggestions?

I am really desperately in need of a great book.  I have read alot of stuff recently that maybe broadened my perspective or changed my point of view, educated me on a topic that I most likely had hoped never to be educated on, or in general, was probably to my betterment, but maybe not to my entertainment.  I have been feeling some major writers block lately on the blog and I think I need some serious inspiration.

SOO.... please tell me what book you've ready lately that you LOVED!  What is the best book you've ever read?  I am listing my top few books in case you haven't read these, they are must-reads if you're a reader:

1.  The Poisonwood Bible
2.  The Twilight Series (I know, how can I still consider myself a serious reader?)
3.  Ahab's Wife
4.  The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood
5.  Crazy Love

So... there you have it... some good suggestions to dig into for the Holiday.  Please share your suggestions... I'm in a dry spell.

Thanks!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Whew!

Is anyone else out there totally exhausted already?  I was complaining only two weeks ago that I had no parties to attend... now I have one like every other night from now through December 23.  The 23rd!  Seriously, that's practically Christmas.  By the way, Kristine pointed out that this might have come across as saying I'm popular... it's not that.  I just hang out with popular people (like Gwen) who are nice enough to include me in their revelry! :)

Coming from a "blended" family (isn't that the PC term for divorced parents these days?) I have a marathon Christmas season.  The unwrapping extravaganza starts this weekend with my dad's visit.  It's always a super easy visit though.  He and his wife get the kids one toy each.  He brings his step-son and his wife with them and the six adults and my four kids go out to lunch at Famous Dave's (same place every year.)  They bring their grand-dog (a Westie) and it's a riot because this dog travels with a diaper bag, bed, bowls, etc. for a DAY TRIP!  I guess that's the sort of thing I did for my dog before I had kids too.  Honestly, I look back and laugh that I actually said to someone I couldn't ever imagine loving a child more than I loved  my dog.  HA!  As soon as kids came along, the dog was a second class citizen.  Anyway, I'm off track (again.... oh look, Kristine, there's a chicken!)

So.... let the merriment begin.  And just to let you in on another little piece of the absurdity that is my life... I had a hang-nail last month, that I bit off with my teeth.  You know how you can never exactly get a hang nail all the way off with your teeth and you end up "tearing" it a little too short and it gets sore, etc.?  Well, that happened to me and I didn't think that much about it.  But it never stopped hurting.  In fact, it started getting more and more sore.  Then it started to swell.  Then it got hot and red.  Then the part right next to my nail turned WHITE and started "weeping".  Yuck!  So... only ONLY I could get a staph infection from a hang nail that I am now taking anti-biotics for... seriously people...

1 Peter 4:8
"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins."

Monday, December 07, 2009

Are these things sweeping the nation?

Or it is just our tiny town?














Because around here, the Elf on the Shelf is a blessing and a curse.  He gets my kids out of bed in the morning like you wouldn't believe. Seriously, sleepy heads that are normally the last to rise and very cranky even then, seem to spring out of bed with enthusiasm to see where this little dude has landed in the night.  AND, the children are constantly telling each other "be careful, the elf is watching."  Wow, maybe he should just live here year-round!

But the curse?  Well, when you're a sleepy mom who sometimes falls into bed before the kids are actually asleep (they are all tucked in, but I have a "roamer" who finds about 20 reasons a night to get up before finally falling asleep), it's hard to make sure that Carl (that's our Elf's name) is actually on the move.  And the elves are very mischievous (sometimes they TP the house, sometimes they leave "gifts" and sometimes they get into stuff.)  So to keep up with all the elfin activity is nutty.  Plus... it's sort of an elf competition of sorts now, at the bus stop, we have to discuss who's elf did what and then I get chastised if our elf isn't silly enough, or get the long faces!  Grrrr!

So, do you have an elf?  I think we need a support group!  :)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Permission to Hope

I don't often read Angie Smith's blog, Bring the Rain.   But I went there this week to get the link to String of Pearls for a friend who just suffered the loss of her baby on Thanksgiving Day.   When I read the title of her latest post "Permission to Hope", it really settled into my bones.  I thought it was so fitting for Advent.  This is not why Angie titled her post, it had nothing to do with Advent, but that's what it made me think of.  And then today I was talking to one of my dear friends and she read a passage to me that said as Christians, Advent is a time when we HOPE for "the invasion of holiness."  Let that settle into your bones for a moment.  Think of what an INVASION looks like.  For me, it brings to mind someone storming into my home, an army overtaking a city and taking control, ants moving into my house in the thousands!  That is an invasion in my imagination. I can be excited to wait for, to hope for even, an INVASION of HOLINESS!  Ummmm, just imagine it!  Angels storming the city.  Legions of saints overthrowing the darkness and triumphing over all the accepted evils we fight against every day!  Imagine witnessing the glowing heavenly hosts running in, swords drawn, and seating "holiness" in a reign of power!

Webster defines hope this way:
hope is a feeling that what is wanted will happen; desire accompanied by expectation!  A reason for hope.  A person or thing on which one may base hope, reliance, to EXPECT!  YES! YES! YES!  Isn't that Jesus!?!?!?!  An EXPECTATION that some day, this vision will be realized and holiness will prevail?  All will be set right?

All day this theme of hope has been running through my head.  I think little Hope Hollis is hope personified.  Talk about permission to hope, a reason to hope!  And also, isn't Advent a reason to hope?  A season to look forward with expectation that what we wait for (hope for) as Christians will SURELY come to pass!  A day when there will be no more orphans, a day when widows will not be lonely, a day when all will walk, all will laugh, all will love, and all will have peace.

So... for the month of December, I have decided to focus on JOY and HOPE!  I want to embrace the true spirit of Advent, for my family, for my children in particular, and for myself.  I can't forget that there are bone deep pains out there that stir me to the core (orphans, poverty, hunger), but for this season of preparing for the birth of our SAVIOR, I have permission to hope, permission to rejoice.  Permission to know that though these things are a reality on this fallen earth, where darkness rules, my LORD already overcame all of this and we wait in JOYFUL hope for the coming of our Savior.  It's an anticipation that what we wait for WILL happen.  And it will be an absolute INVASION of holiness like no one can imagine!

And since I'm turning a significant number (ending in zero) this month, I think a big dose of hope is just what the doctor ordered.... hope I don't croak, hope I don't get any more cellulite, hope I can keep the next size pants at bay... hope my kids don't kill me... hope my hairdresser doesn't leave town (cause after 15 years with him, he's known me as long as Brian, and I need them both more than ever)... hope gravity will lose it's affect on me.... well, let's just say there's LOTS to hope for.  You get the point! :)

John 16:31-32
"I'm not abandoned.  The Father is with me.  I've told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace.  In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties.  But take heart!  I've conquered the world."

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Raising Successful Children

I know it's been a long time since I've posted.  And I have a couple more families to highlight in ways you can give.... but my husband sent me this e-mail this morning and I thought it was too good to pass up.  I have no idea where it came from, but the author is credited to the full in the lines below, so please know these are NOT my words.  But they are my new perspective.  I find it so hard to parent children without applying the world's standard of success to them.  I find it hard not to measure myself as a parent by how much my children "shine" on the world stage.  And therein lies the lesson and the devotion in this following message for me... parenting my children is not about ME!  (I know, a lesson I'm continually learning.)  It's not about how I look or feel as a person, it's about them and steering them toward the Lord, whether that looks like a rock star or a janitor, if they are in the roles God has for them, then I have done my job as a mom.  I think Lysa says it way better than I am....


I Don't Want to Raise Successful Children

Lysa TerKeurst



 "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn
from it."

Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)



Devotion:

I don't want to raise successful children.  That's a shocking thing to read,
and a shocking thing for a mother to type.  So, let me clarify.



I used to define success according to my child's report card.  Good grades
and academic achievement would surely equal a good child with great
potential in this world.  But then several of my children wound up being
average students with average grades.  Though we carted them off to tutors
and spent many a late night at the kitchen table helping them, they remained
average.  And I remained concerned and frustrated.



One report card day I found myself facedown in the fibers of my carpet
crying and wondering, "Where have I gone wrong as a mom?"



I dug into Scriptures.  I begged God for wisdom and discernment.  I prayed
for God's perspective with each of my kids.  Finally, one day it dawned on
me - what if I simply chose to embrace the natural bent of each of my kids
as God's way to protect them and keep them on the path toward His best plans
for their lives?



What if my A student needs academic success to prepare her for God's plans
while my average to below-average student needs to be steered away from a
more academic future?  What if my sports star kid needs that athletic
excellence for his future assignments by God, but my benchwarmer kid is
being protected from getting off course by her lack in this area?



And that's when it finally dawned on me.  My job isn't to push success for
my kids.  My job as a parent is to recognize the unique way God created each
child and point them to Jesus at every turn along their journey toward
adulthood.  Yes, I want my kids to learn and thrive and grow up educated,
but it's not a flaw in me or them if they don't have straight A report cards
and trophy cases full of sports medals.



Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is
old he will not turn from it" (NIV).



I am challenged to ponder these words, "... in the way he should go."  Are
we training our kids that the "way he should go" is to chase worldly
achievement or to chase God?  Whatever they learn to chase as a child, they
will chase as adults.  Therefore, we must be challenged to honestly assess
the way we are pointing them to go.



My daughter, Hope, is one of my average students.  She has also warmed many
a bench in the sports she's tried, and can always be found hiding on the
back row of the stage during school concerts.  Using the world's benchmarks
for achievement, Hope wouldn't be seen as a child positioned for success.
But God...



This past January, my 15 year old Hope, shocked me when she announced she
wanted to go to Ethiopia with some missionary friends of ours and live in
the remote African bush for the summer.  Yes, she may not have trophies and
straight A report cards but she does have a heart of gold.  And because
she's not entrenched in sports and academic pursuits that could have created
obligations for her summer, she was free to go to Africa.  Free to chase God
in a really big way.



One of the first e-mails she sent me from Ethiopia read, "Mom, I've fallen
in love with the AIDS orphanage children.  They rushed at me when I held my
arms out and I tried with all my might to hold all 30 of them at once.  I 

love it here."



Now, don't get me wrong.  I do expect Hope to return to her studies this
fall, give 100% effort, and finish her high school career having done her
very best.  She will most likely then go to college.  But she probably won't
be delivering the valedictorian address or wearing the honors cords and
medals.  She'll be the one with a vision of a dying AIDS orphan pressing
against her heart ready to chase God's plans to the ends of the earth.



So back to my original statement, I don't want to raise successful children.
It's true, I don't.  Though Hope's sister coming behind her is an A student
and can always be found on the front row of school performances - we don't
chase after success for her either.  I trust God that she needs those things
in her life for the plans He's unfolding in her life.  We train with that
bent in mind.  But, we don't chase it.  Just like Hope, we point her in the
direction of God at every turn and pray like crazy.



I stand by what I said and I'll say it again, I don't want to raise
successful children.  Because--- raising God-honoring adults who will set
the world on fire for Christ is just so much more rewarding.



Dear Lord, being a mom is a really tough job.  Please help me, teach me and
show me how to define success for my kids. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I've been blessed!

I want to share an amazing blessing with you.  On Sunday afternoon, I went over to the Hollis' home to take photos for people.  For a $25 donation to the Darya Project, I took photos for people to use for their Christmas cards.  I was totally blessed by taking photos of some very special little girls.  I loved it!   And I hope that I have the opportunity in the future to take photos of other special needs kids.  I can't tell you how blessed I was by this experience. Melanie shared with me that there are some photographers who won't work with special needs kiddos.  And she said that when they do find a photographer, it's often a really bad experience because they don't always know how to interact with the kids.  I really can't imagine not knowing how to interact with a child with Down Syndrome.  I believe it's fear and uncertainty of their own abilities that hold them back, surely not aversion to the children themselves.  But on the other hand, I'm not a "line up and say cheese" kind of "photographer."  (I put that word in quotes because I don't know at what point you officially get to call yourself a photographer.  Is it when you start getting paid for your work?  Is it when you are recognized?  I'm not sure, but it feels a little phony to say I'm a "photographer" just yet.)  It doesn't bother me if people aren't perfectly posed.  I'm not trying to capture museum models, I'm trying to capture relationships and personalities.  I believe if you get a brother pulling hair or a sister trying to tickle everyone, that's who that child is and that will evoke a memory later in life that a perfectly posed portrait won't capture.  

Anyway, my point is, I think that photographers who won't work with special children are missing a fantastic blessing.  I had a blast, I was honored, and I hope that the parents are happy with the result.  Here are a few.  



This is Caroline and her brother, Stuart.  This little girl was so sweet and loving.  She followed directions so well.  She just hammed it up for the camera.  (This picture is straight out of the camera, I haven't edited it yet.)



  
Of course, the precious Hollis chidren.  It's easy to see that they make a photographers job very easy! 



This mom and dad are in for some t.r.o.u.b.l.e. when these girls grow up.  Look at these gorgeous girls!  And little Delaney was a peach!  I have another sweet shot where her sister is looking at her with so much love it melts your heart!  Precious! 



Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How Crazy is Your Love?

Folks, I can't tell you how inspired I am by my friends, the Hollis family.  Melanie and I became friends years ago when we had the good fortune of having the same driver on our respective trips to Russia.  It's funny to me now that Melanie and I met over a bottle of vodka because I can't imagine either of us drinking a bottle of vodka.  But that's another story.  Let's just say it involved one very passionate Russian driver with a generous heart.  And the precious Hollis family carried a bottle of vodka LITERALLY around the world to a family they had never met or even heard of.

Anyway, it just goes to show you that God can use ANYTHING to bring two hearts together for Him.  Melanie and I have been friends ever since and something has kept us close even through the wavy paths we've both walked in life.  We've prayed together, done Bible studies together, and laughed alot!  Melanie helps me laugh at things I want to cry over. And she inspires me every single day to be a better mother and Christian.  I thank God for her!

But lately, I've been even more inspired by the heart Mel and Chappy have formed in their children.  They have the most amazing kids.  Contrary to my house, when you talk to Mel on the phone, no one interrupts, no one is screaming in the background, and no one is competing for attention.  Which is amazing because she has five kids and they are all at home and two of them have Down Syndrome.  Now will someone please tell me how in the world to accomplish this?   But that's not what is so impressive (can you tell I'm a little jealous? :)  What's so impressive is the love these kids have for God, special needs children, and particularly children with Down Syndrome.  Now here is where the good stuff comes in.... I promised you a month filled with ways to live out your conviction that God didn't make too many children.  I hear Katie say this all the time, that she is pretty sure God didn't mess up and make too many children so there are obviously some adults who aren't stepping up to the plate and doing what God intended for them to do through adoption.  But not the Hollis family.  They have the most open hearts and arms of anyone I know.  Melanie's attitude is always, "I can take more."  Now this is a very fun challenge she has thrown out to her sweet daughter Lydia.  Lydia fell in love with a little girls on a Down Syndrome advocacy site called Reece's Rainbow.  Mel told Lydia that if she could raise $20,000, the Hollis family would adopt Darya, a little girl with Down Syndrome who is living in a Russian orphanage without a hope in the world.  (I can't wait to hear what Chappy has to say about this when he gets back from his mission trip in Africa!)  Darya is left in her crib most of the time with no one to love on her, hold her, or interact with her.  So...  Lydia and her giant faith has started praying that God will bring $20,000 to the family by Thanksgiving!  That's one week from tomorrow.  But in her 11 year old sense of grand love, she has figured out that if she could just get 200 people to give $100 then they would have the money and they could let Darya know by Thanksgiving that she has a family.  I don't think I have 200 readers in a week, much less a day, but if the 20 or so folks that do read would give $100, then that would be a grand start!  (Lydia raised $800 today, one day after her campaign began!  I love this girl's heart!)

Check out the Hollis Family blog (the button with the cute girl in pig-tails and glasses on my sidebar.)  And give $5, give $10, or give $100.  I would love to see God bring $20,000 to this child by Thursday so she could have a family for Thanksgiving... and I can't wait to see the gigantic things Lydia will accomplish next when she sees how easy it is for God to raise $20,000.

I think this is a girl we should all watch because I am expecting some great things from her.  I told Melanie this week that her daughter is the total package, she's beautiful, she's talented, she has a heart of gold, and God would not raise all this up in one person and not do a mighty work with it!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Another Great Chance to Change a Life

Well, my "tomorrow" turned into several days. But I have a very good excuse. MICHELLE came to visit me! We had so much fun! She flew in on Friday morning and we hit the ground running. We went all over the city, criss-crossing back and forth until we fell into bed that night. I won't bore you with the details, but it was anything but boring. I am not sure if Michelle's husband will ever let her come back because I took her shopping to a couple of irresistible stores.

As I promised on Thursday of last week, I have a really great gift idea for you this year. It's only $85 and it's a chance to really change someone's life.

For me, sometimes the numbers of orphans, numbers of people suffering from hunger, numbers of people without clean water, etc. can be very overwhelming. Sometimes I feel like a drop of rain in the ocean and like the things I am doing amount to absolutely nothing and that there is no progress or headway being made. But then I found out about the blood:water mission campaign for Christmas to give biosand filters to families in Africa. Check out this video:

The thought I have when I see this video is that even though I am a drop of rain in the ocean, for ONE family I can TOTALLY change their life for $85. That's not that much money in my world. Can you imagine being THAT family who is given the gift of clean water.... water in your home? Can you imagine not being able to feed your baby because you don't have CLEAN water to mix your bottles with? Can you imagine not having the option to nurse your baby because you are HIV+ and you can't feed your baby formula because the water is contaminated and so you have to hear your baby's cries of hunger? Have you ever been woken at night by your infant, who just wants to be fed? If so, can you imagine just laying there listening to your baby cry because you have no options for meeting their needs? You can alleviate this reality for one family! Seriously, you can totally change a person's future, a family's experience, a life! You have it within your power to completely change life for someone. And imagine how pervasive clean water can be in someone's life. Imagine the things that change when something as basic as water becomes a non-issue? Imagine the hope, the good-will, the joy, the empowerment that comes from being given the gift of water.

So, watch the video and please consider giving the gift of water for someone this year. If you have someone on your list who has everything, then give this gift to someone who has very little. I got this for my birthday from Brian's sister (Brian got it too) and I guarantee that this gift will last longer than any other gift I get for my birthday this year. (The filters are supposed to last up to 20 years.)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

An award? For Moi?

Carolina Girl gave me a Sugar and Spice award... and well, since I'm not famous like Gwen and Katie, but hang around on their coat tails, so when someone sort of throws me a bone of "popularity", I'm all about it! :) Thanks for listing me in your ten. There is a cute little photo to go along with this "award", but I can't seem to get it to upload, so you'll just have to work with me here!

I'm supposed to list ten random things about me and then nominate ten other bloggers that you need to get to know.

Random things:
1. At last count, I have six blogs. Two you will never find unless I accidentally comment under the wrong ID (s0 far, Barb is the only one who's busted me!)
2. I have an uncommon love for orphans. It totally consumes me some days and I have to struggle for air.
3. As you probably know, I grew up on a "farm" where my dad raised beef cattle, had rodeo livestock, and broke horses for Loretta Lynn's Dude Ranch.
4. Therefore Loretta Lynn was my childhood idol!
5. Some of my best friends I met through blogging. Some of them I've never laid eyes on. Some I see every day, but I didn't know them until I found their blogs!
6. One of those bloggy friends is coming in to see me tomorrow morning and I couldn't be more excited about it.
7. I have ADD. I truly do! People say they do all the time, but they just mean that they are hyper or scattered. I really have it and it drives some people crazy to try to carry on a conversation with me. I think Sallee over at It's Poppy Dip might have been a little exhausted by me yesterday because she and I were in the same room for 2 hours and she's very calm and peaceful... I'm not! I definitely exhaust some people.
8. I have no tact whatsoever. I think it's a trait I inherited from my dad. I really don't mean to be abrupt and clueless, but sometimes I am and for the life of me, I can't figure out when I'm about to blurt out something that will get me into trouble!
9. I have the best husband in the world. And whenever I say that, the thought always runs through my head that maybe he will make a fool of me someday and I will find out that behind the scenes, he was a scoundrel. But I think he really is just that good, it seems to good to be true and I'm a skeptic, but he keeps on being this amazing guy and I just keep on falling for him over and over again.
10. I have no memory whatsoever. I can watch a movie several times and swear I have never seen it before, all the while, Brian is telling me we've seen it together. Then at the end, I'll finally say, "Oh yeah... I remember." Brian always says, "It must be nice to watch this again for the first time!" :) I think that might be hereditary too! I hope the giant butt and large stomachs aren't... but it's not looking good for the home team!

The ten bloggers you need to meet are:

1. Lynnette Kraft at Dancing Barefoot
2. Suzanne at Joining the Journey
3. Barb at Holm Sweet Home (who I swear I am going to visit sometime in the not too distant future!)
4. Kim at Everyday Adventures in Faith (she moved with her husband to Hong Kong (and did I mention they have four kids?) Talk about stepping out on faith!
5. Melanie, of course I couldn't leave Melanie out! She's at The 30 Day Journey for Hope. Mel cracks me up, she asked me yesterday, "Why would I ever buy Hope a dress from Target when I can buy her Poppy Dips and support an orphan?" And when I told her that I needed to stop buying stuff from Gwen because I had very little in my wardrobe that didn't talk about orphans, she said, "Why?" I love her!
6. Everyone already knows Kristi over at We Love Our Lucy, but I have to list her so that you're sure to stop over and take a gander at the gorgeous Lucy Lane and the other Johnson kiddos. This is a woman on fire for orphans, let me tell you!
7. I really love Amy at He Wanted 2, I wanted 4". She has a like heart.
8. My sort-of cousin, Bethany, has a great little blog that will make you ashamed of how much you spend on groceries. But it's worth heading over there to check out her story of adopting Caroline from Guatemala. What really blows me away is that two little bumpkins from Fulton, KY have traveled halfway around the world to bring home their kids. Unbelievable!
9. Oh my goodness, you have GOT to meet the Minovich family! They are at Unveiled Faces and they are the most precious family ever. Just go check it out!
10. My friend, Lori, who is terrible about consistently blogging, but when she does, fasten your seatbelt because she's liable to take you on a ride! Sometimes her posts are about life with her gorgeous and very well behaved children. But sometimes they rip your heart out... Plus it's another chance for me to remind you to buy a Pendant and support an orphan!

I have an awesome Christmas gift opportunity to share with you in honor of my November awareness posts. But since this one is so long, I am saving it for tomorrow so you can get the full affect of what I have to tell you... be sure to check back over the weekend because you really are going to want to get one of these for the person on your list who has everything! They definitely DO NOT have one of these!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Fire!

It's SOOOOO hard for me to spend a day around a bunch of people on fire for orphans and adoption and not miss that fire and desire of the process. So many people were just waiting for referrals and that anticipation can be intoxicating! I know, I know... I just need to go read a few of those agonizing posts from the days we were waiting for Meg and I wouldn't really say that. But adoption is like pregnancy, you tend to forget the pain when you have been out of the process for a while and one whiff of a newborn can make your hair stand on end (or one conversation with a waiting mom.) Don't anyone panic or start telling me how I don't need more children (Mom!) I know all this... I'm just saying, it's really hard to be around a lot of people who "get it" and not want to DO more. Argh... I feel like my hands are tied. Liam said to me the other night, "Can't we just get ONE more child? Why can't we just have ONE more, Mom?" I told him that we COULD get one more, but that the problem is that there would still be 146,999,999 left and that we definitely CAN'T get that many more children. So we have to, as a family, figure out a way to do something bigger than bringing home one more child, right? But what? I have so many desires of my heart regarding orphans. One thing I am really really on fire about is "minority" kids in Eastern Europe. When we were adopting Meg, if I had a dollar for every time a Russian asked me if I was okay with the fact that she is "an ethnic minority" I could have paid for my adoption. Seriously? Are you kidding me? As if I care? As if she isn't the most precious little girl on the face of the planet in my eyes. As if I wouldn't have taken her if she was darker, more "ethnic", more "different"? So it breaks my heart to think of how many children are wasting away in Eastern Europe simply because they are "ethnic minorities." In fact, Meg is ours because another family wanted a blonde child. Wow, what good fortune for us that they wanted to be color coordinated for life!

Anyway, rambling here... back to the point woman! And be quick about it! But if God wants to do through me what I can't do, then I might as well think big, right? Let's dream BIG here! Katie Davis dreams big and God delivers! I believe we are partially limited by our lack of faith that God will give us the desires of our hearts that are in accordance with His will. So I'm dreaming big that somewhere, someone is able to start a program that will find homes for all the little girls like Meg, who are languishing and bound to their condition because of the color of their skin. Little girls like this one....

She's only 2! And she probably won't have a family because she is a minority and people don't go to Russia to adopt minority children. People go to Russia to adopt white children, as a general rule. People who are open to little girls who look like this go to China or Kazakhstan.

And what about this little girl? She has been waiting for a family since we were in the process of adopting Meg (I remember her face staring out at me from the database back then too). She was born in August of 2006. She has very little hope of a future because she is a minority. She looks like a "gypsy" (Roma) and this race of people are widely discriminated against in Eastern Europe.

What if these two little peanuts could have a mommy and daddy? What potential is in their life that will not be reached? What did God have planned for them that won't be fulfilled because they were meant to have a family, but that family missed their call (maybe it was even their biological family?) Is anyone with me here?



But the odds are against them, in all honesty. They are most likely condemned to grow up in a Russian orphanage and age out of the system. Maybe they don't even have citizenship. And if they don't, then what will their choices be for making a living when they are no longer wards of the State? I can promise you their chances won't be good ones!

I a little boy who was born in Russia to an Uzbek mother and an African father, neither of whom were in the country legally. Their son was left in an orphanage (the same one Liam was in) and had no citizenship whatsoever. The Russian government actually petitioned the Uzbek government to give him citizenship and then release him to Russia so that my friends could adopt him. But what would his fate have been if they hadn't followed the Call to free him? Probably very grim. Without citizenship what would have become of him? He for sure would not have been adopted by a Russian family. His only hope was an international adoption, and let's face it, not many folks are traveling to Russia and forking out the exhorbitant fees for brown skinned children! That's just the fact. It doesn't make me a racist, by all means, I would take a child of any color! Color does not matter to me! But the cold hard fact is that I would say almost 100% of the people who go to Russia are hoping for a caucasian child. Not everyone, certainly, but a great percentage. I'm not criticizing these families in any way. Certainly caucasian children deserve families as much as minority children. My only point here is that the children of ethnic decent have a much lower hope of redemption than other children because Eastern Europeans aren't adopting them and westerners aren't adopting them. So... there's a whole forgotten class of people. It's heartbreaking to me and my daughter could have very easily been one of those statistics. God is SOOOOO good! The family that turned her down was registered "out of order." Our paperwork was in first, but for some reason, they were registered before we were. If we had been registered first, we wouldn't have gotten the referral for Meg. We would have gotten the referral of another little girl who was older than their age limit who actually went to another family, from another agency. But she was within our age range... we would have gotten and accepted her referral. Meg would have gone to the other family, they would have refused her, and she could still be there, waiting. But God takes care of every single detail and He saw what we could not. Thank You, LORD, for Your goodness and for Your incredible restraint in parenting us!

Okay.... now you have got to go check out this opportunity to help a "minority" child! Ha! My sweet, dear friend, Lori, has an amazing gift of creativity and this woman can do ANYTHING! Don't you love knowing people who can make anything they see? I do! Lori used to live near me and I was constantly sending her photos or dropping stuff in her mailbox and asking her to recreate it. I am sure people who come up with their own amazing designs just LOVE when people ask them just to copy stuff... but that's what happens when you have friends who can't think outside the box! :) Anyway, Lori loves me anyway, but still, she's way more talented than just copying stuff. And secretly I think she's being called to adopt and doesn't even know it herself yet.... God told me so! hahaha (She reads the blog so work with me here!) Anyway, she has come up with this AMAZING idea. I'm giving this to myself as a birthday gift for my 40th, which is coming up. I can't get over how precious this idea is... why didn't I think of this? Oh yeah, because I'm in the box.... never mind. Without further ado, here is my favorite new idea I've seen since Gwen's blue T-shirts! Check out this necklace and get an awesome heirloom piece and help an orphan at the same time! You have to get behind me in line though, I've already got my order in! :) My necklace will not have photos. It will have maps of Russia and the US for my Russian born kiddos and my one odd-ball American-American.

Okay, I'll hush up now (and go to bed) because I'm pooped from today. But we DID have fun! And we sold quite a bit of stuff. I think it was worth everyone's time.

"In everything, do to others what you would want for them to do to you. This is what is written in the Law and in the Prophets."

Matthew 7:12


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Shopping for a Cause

This has nothing to do with shopping, but I had to show y'all how cute my kids were today, playing in a giant pile of leaves. The big kids weren't off the bus yet, but my niece was here. Even the cat got in on the action! :)
.... well, maybe the cat was a little reluctant, but he was there! :)

*********************************************************************************

I'm so excited. I'm sitting here looking at the cutest stuff that people have brought over to sell at our Holiday Open House tomorrow. I just had to post a couple of photos for you to see. Gwen dropped stuff off this morning, Katie's Kreations and Orphaned No More are here already. I have about four others coming tomorrow morning at 9. I'm thrilled to offer my friends a way to gather some unique and fun gifts while giving something to orphans at the same time. I have prayed over every single thing I have set out. I am asking God to bless the person who buys it, bless the person who the money supports, and bless every person that walks through that door tomorrow. I am so hopeful! I have heard from several folks that they are inviting others and my sincerest prayer is that someone will walk through the door and be moved toward adoption. That's what God can do with a simple open door! It's just thrilling to sit back and watch and just be a part of it! I'm just thanking God tonight that He chose me to walk this path of supporting and loving and caring for the orphans. It's consumed me and wrecked me and destroyed me in so many ways, but the key word there is "me".... I want to continue to be destroyed for what God is pursuing until there is nothing left of "me" and only what He is doing through me is left.






Monday, November 09, 2009

Orphan Sunday (and Monday... and Tuesday...)

Last night I was so privileged to be part of the Orphan Sunday event here at Christ Community Church. I say I was "part", not because I spoke or performed or anything, but because you could not be a mere spectator in that room if you have a heartbeat. If you have two hours, you can go to the Gospel Music Channel and watch the video for the next few days. If you can only spare 30 minutes, go and watch the last part of the event and hear Steven Curtis Chapman. He talks about the loss of his daughter Maria last year, adoption, orphans, and just parenting in general. And of course, he had us all on our feet with his music. It's awesome!

Today I started the Living Beyond Yourself Bible study. I so hope you're planning to join us. It's going to be so amazing. I did this study a few years ago, but I can tell you it's speaking a whole new and fresh Word over me this time around. My circumstances are different now. I am viewing it with different eyes as the person and mom I am today, not the person I was then. As I listened to that introduction to the study by Beth Moore this morning, a couple of things kept echoing through my mind as they related to last night. Coming fresh from that event into her challenge to Live Beyond MYSELF was really making me step out of my "me" box and into "more". She challenged us to approach our lives as an OPPORTUNITY to do the things we are not capable of doing. I haven't really thought of my challenges and difficulties in life as an "opportunity" to do something beyond my capabilities, but that is exactly what I am charged with every single day. Parenting some of the issues we face are definitely beyond me. It's an OPPORTUNITY Christ has given me to achieve the impossible. HE CAN!

Phillipians 3:12-14 says that God has grabbed hold of us for a purpose. Think of the language Paul uses... God has GRABBED HOLD of you. Ever GRAB HOLD of one of your children? it's probably not a nonchalant gesture. When I grab hold of my kids, I mean business. So, if God has grabbed hold of me for a purpose, then, like Paul, I want to press and strain to grab hold of that purpose! Beth Moore says that if we are going to grab hold of that purpose, you can bet that you're not going to touch it from your comfort zone. You're going to have to reach and stretch and PRESS and STRAIN to fulfill that purpose, because it's beyond you. So, in light of knowing that God has grabbed hold of me for a purpose, and to my knowledge, that purpose is orphans, then I am to assume that He is going to press me and strain me to get a full grasp on that prize. Believe me, I'm being pressed and strained every day, not just by my overwhelming love for the orphans, but also by the overwhelming'ness of some of the issues we face as parents. But John 11:43 is calling us out of our tombs of darkness. Like Lazarus, Jesus is asking us to COME OUT! And if the true joy of life is BEING USED UP for a purpose, then I want to pour it all out. I want to leave not one drop. I want my purpose to absolutely consume me to the point that there is no me left, only Him working through me.

I don't really know what my point is here... I guess just to say that I want to press on in that direction, no matter how distant or overwhelming, until I reach that place that God has carved out for me and my family!

And in light of highlighting some other ways that you can live out James 1:27, I wanted to introduce you to another family who is raising money to bring home an orphan. Joe and Aime McGinnis are selling some really cute T-shirts to raise money to bring home their child from Africa. I had a thought occur to me today as I was preparing to write this post. Last night at the conference, Dennis Rainey said, "Find out where God is working and go join Him." He said he sees God working in the orphan crisis so that is where others should be also. But specifically, I see God working overtime in Africa. I just see so much coming out of that continent that can only be God because the poverty and circumstances there are so overwhelmingly not of God. But He is thriving there because He is God! So, even if you haven't adopted from Africa, even if you never intend to, you can grab one of these shirts and support God in what He is doing there. This is what finding where God is working and joining Him is all about. (Lori, I thought of Hallie's Christmas stocking immediately when I saw these shirts! You know me, always thinking! :) hahaha

Okay folks, enough of my preaching for the day! Sorry if I have bored you, but I have to tell someone and it's easier to tell people who can skip the parts they don't want to "hear." :)

Psalm 27:13
"I am still confident of this; I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Today is Orphan Sunday - November 8, 2009

Orphan Sunday from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.


You are called! This is it, now is the time! Do something tangible today!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Ways to live out your conviction

Well as you might have guessed, I've gotten a few e-mails from friends telling me that they embrace the truth of James 1:27 and will accept my challenge to pray this month, but that they know they are not called to adopt. Okay, I realize that some people are never going to adopt, no matter how much I WISH that all Christians would adopt ONE, it's just not ever going to happen (though a girl can pray, right) and people need other ways to live out their conviction to help widows and orphans in their distress. I mean, truly, for me, I know that I need to do this too because another adoption isn't in my future but that doesn't mean that I'm off the hook in this. You can't sit back and rest on what you did yesterday, that's the pesky thing about God, He's always urging us to keep going with our gifts. :) Anyway, I guess that's a long way of saying that people need options on how to help the orphans if they aren't called to adopt one.

So, in light of that, I'm going to try to highlight a few very real and direct ways that you can help an orphan. Today, I want to highlight a mom who has a very definitive plan for bringing her daughter home. Her daughter is in China. Her name is Isabella, and her mom is working hard to emancipate her from her bondage. YOU can be a direct part of caring for this specific orphan by purchasing a bracelet from Daleea or making a donation to her adoption. I bought 6 bracelets from her for gifts and everyone who has one has loved it. And some people have even asked me where they can get one of their own. So... today, you can do something little that will be an investment in the life of a specific child and get a great little something for yourself or someone else too! Click the link below and be a part!

Starfish Cleft Home

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

November is Adoption Month

November is such an appropriate time to celebrate the wonders and joys of adoption, don't you think? Because without it, there are a TON of us who wouldn't have nearly as much to be thankful for! (And that includes all of you who were adopted into the family of God through the work Jesus did on the cross.) So, it seems completely appropriate to me that the month we celebrate Thanksgiving would be the month we celebrate the thing that I am most thankful for and that I feel is extremely close to the heart of God.

I read the best post today from my friend over at A Thorn Among Roses. You'll have to head over there yourself, I'm not going to recap it, but I think it's so perfectly stated. And it inspired me to focus this whole month on awareness and some other tributes to this thing we so passionately support.... adoption!

Today I just want to say that I have heard from SO many people over the course of my professional and personal experience with adoption that they are interested in adoption, or have thought about adopting, but so many follow that up with an excuse on why they can't do it. Most of the time it centers around finances, but sometimes it centers around room in the home, time, etc. You don't have to be Brad and Angelina to give a home to a child. They won't mind sharing a room, they're already living with about 100 other children!

I can tell you that if God put it on your heart, then He has a blessing waiting for you; an inheritance He wants you to claim that will bless you beyond your wildest imagination. The kicker is that you have to put it all out there and step through the door, He's most likely not going to drop a child on your doorstep, ding-dong ditch you and run off. (Although, that would actually be pretty nice!)

We live in a place where there aren't warehouses of babies just around the corner like there are in many countries in the world. You can't walk past an orphanage on your way to get water or catch the train. But those children are staring you in the face, nonetheless. If you are reading this, then you know they exist. And once you know they exist, you can't just pretend you don't know! You can't because God already knows that you know! So, if you have been thinking about adoption, or if God has put it on your heart, then I CHALLENGE you... I can't state it strongly enough.... to explore that urging this month! Pray! Ask God to reveal Himself to you on the topic and ask Him to close the door on it or make your burden so strong that you can't miss it. I guarantee you that if you are truly seeking Him on it, He won't be lukewarm. He's going to challenge you, He's going to require something of you, but as is typical with God, He's also going to bless you in every aspect of your following His leading and He's going to equip you to do what He calls you to do. Put aside all the excuses you've been coming up with. Just set them aside for a little while and listen. Truly put those excuses to the test. Truly hold them up to the Light and see if you can't see all the holes in those excuses. When you lay them at God's feet, I guarantee they won't seem as big as they did when you were carrying them around yourself!

There will be more. I have alot to say on the topic (shocker!) so if you're feeling convicted and uncomfortable, then you probably ought to skip the blog for the month. :) But in the meantime, please challenge your reasons for not taking a step toward education and discernment. See where God's wild ride will take you!

Proverbs 24:12
"Don't excuse yourself by saying, "look we didn't know." For God understands all hearts and sees you!

PS - Don't forget to sign up for Living Beyond Yourself and the Google Group we are going to use to discuss the weekly lessons! Information is in an older post if you need it.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Living Beyond Yourself Bible Study

Hey everyone,

I'm very excited about getting our group started. I can't wait to dive into this material with all of you.

I have set up our web-mail id. You can click here and request to join the group. The title of the Group is Living Beyond Yourself Bible Study. This will be much easier than everyone sending me their e-mail addresses and me entering them manually.

I think sometime in the next few days, once everyone has had a chance to sign-up, we will start introducing ourselves. I have a couple of friends who aren't "bloggers" (gasp, can you imagine that there are people who don't blog???) who have asked if they can join and I always think that's funny, when people ask if they can join a Bible study. I mean, wouldn't that be a little counter to what you are professing to do if you dismissed a request to study God's Word? I mean, the person who said no to that would be in serious need of some Bible study, don't you think? :)

I would like for us to all commit to having the introduction session viewed by next Wednesday, November 11. On that day, we can all just sort of start commenting and talking via the "group" and go from there. Obviously, if we set November 11 as our first week, then the 2 week date would fall the day before Thanksgiving. This is fine with me as I will not be leaving for the holiday until that Wednesday night. But if this doesn't work for everyone, we could make a three week break between the first two lessons.

I'm so excited... if you haven't gotten your id for the study yet, head on over to Lifeway.com and register so you'll be ready to go! Yay! Can't wait!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Whew!

Wow, what a whirlwind of a week. CRAZY! I will post some photos of the whole thing tomorrow, but here is the rundown....

It all started on Thursday at 12:30 when Connor had a little Halloween concert in his pre-k class, from there we RUSHED home to get ready for Meg's birthday part at 3:30. We had six little girls here (Hope was supposed to come, but at the last minute her daddy put his foot down and made Melanie obey the doctor's orders! :( I can tell you emphatically that seven little girls are VERY different from 7 little boys at a party. It was not loud in my house, the house was not a mess when they left, and it was rather quiet for a crowd. My mother-in-law came in town that morning and she took Meg for a "salon" visit that morning. They went to sweet n sassy salon and had Meg's hair done. It was SO adorable. I send some photos tomorrow when I get them uploaded.

That night, Brian, Liam and I had an appointment so my MIL stayed with the kiddos. We didn't get home until 9 PM.

Friday morning I got to go take photos of one of my favorite friends and her kiddos. Her husband is getting ready to deploy to Iraq so it was an honor to do the pictures, but alot of pressure for me. Then it was more school parties, picking up a rescue dog (another story... I know I know, I should learn to say no, but.... ) and then my MIL and I cleaned out Connor and Liam's room. You would NOT believe the stuff those boys had stock-piled under their beds. Gross!!!! Brian finally got home from work and we all went out for Mexican. I needed a margarita after seeing how nasty their room had gotten in the hidden crevices, believe me!

Saturday, of course, was crazy with ball games and then getting ready for Halloween. Jack waited until Saturday to decide he wanted to be Michael J@ckson so... let's just leave it at that. Brian went as "the money you could be saving with GEic0." :)

Today we got up at 5:00 AM because someone forgot to tell Meg that we were supposed to get an extra hour of sleep and I had to wait until 7 AM to get my coffee because we were out of cream and I had to wait for the stores to open. What a day. I'm exhausted, but on the bright side, we were early for church for once! :) This afternoon was my niece's birthday party, which was F@ncy N@ncy and just about the cutest thing I've ever seen.

I have fallen into bed and am exhausted. But as a result of so much stuff going on, I have a ton of adorable photos to share tomorrow... right now, I'm going to curl up and get into my state of hybernation! :)

Have a great week!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fun with Photos!

Okay, in case you haven't guessed, I love to take pictures. And I stepped out on a limb last weekend and took photos for some other folks in an "official" shoot. I've done this in the past for family and close friends, but this is my first real "work" as a (cough cough) photographer. :)

I just had to share!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Living Beyond Yourself Bible Study

Okay ladies, I have purchased my access to the on-line study of Living Beyond Yourself. It's pretty simple to register. You just go to this site, click "Enroll Now" and then pay as if you are ordering something online. You will be given a username and password. I chose to use "Overcaffeinated" as my username so that others would be able to identify me if we are on together. Most people know my name, I realize, but maybe some people don't????

I think this should be fairly easy for everyone since you can watch at your own time and you can sort of set your own pace. Barb, I'm pretty sure this should work for you too??? Anyway, now I am trying to figure out the best way for us to "discuss" the lessons together. Here are the two options I have thought of, but I'm open to other suggestions:

1. I could set up a Yahoo group for us and we could all just chat away regarding each days lessons, weekly, etc. with e-mails going to everyone in the group. This would definitely be the more private way to do it in case we end up bringing up feelings that we don't want published for the world. I have done two studies with Beth Moore and she has a way of bringing out some things that you might not have realized needed airing! :)

2. We could do a "blog circuit", much like Not Me Monday, etc. Then each week on a particular day (or every two weeks, whatever we decide) we each post regarding our thoughts and ideas about that week's lesson. The downside I can see to doing this is that a) I don't know how in the world to set up a blog circuit and b) it's a very public way to share and it might prohibit some from sharing the whole story? The very positive side I can see to this is that there might be some out there who would just follow along and not participate in the study but might be touched by something God is speaking into someone else's life. What do you think?

Just let me know your thoughts on all of the above. Once we get a format settled, we'll set a date for our first lesson and get started. I'll work out a schedule too. Let me know if you prefer every week or every other week. I think every other week is more realistic for me, but honestly, I'm so last minute that I would probably do it all the night before either way, so if you prefer the intensity of every week, we'll go with it. I am flexible. :)

Psalm 32:8
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Favorite Photo Friday

Okay, this photo really cracks me up, I may be chastised by my husband for posting a photo of my daughters tutu clad booty so if you come back later and it's gone, you'll know it was daddy worried about protecting his daughter's honor! :) I think what makes me laugh if that the "club hand" as we called it is so out of place in this photo.

If you would like to get a good photo of Liam, don't say, "Smile" because this is what you'll get! :) Is that a smile or a grimace? Hmmm, maybe he's doing that on purpose from one too many times of staring down the lens of my camera.

I'll be using this one for black-mail later on in life!

What a cutie pie!
Uncle Dave picked up the Jelly Fish... don't try this at home kids!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Some Housekeeping**** Edited

I can't post without showing off my treasures....


I have a few things I wanted to mention so this is going to be a hodge-podge post.

First of all, a while back, several of us talked about doing an on-line Bible study. I need it so badly right now. I am so out of the habit of studying the Word and I need something and someone who will hold me accountable for it. I have asked the Father to direct us to the study that needs to happen and I am going to start searching for something we can all do remotely and come together weekly to discuss. Please please please weigh in if you feel led to a certain study. It just might be YOU that God is inspiring to direct us to the Words He wants to give us this fall. Going into the holiday season, I want to be sure that I am meditating on His Word and not caught up in my own frenzy all the time. Jack had a memory verse for church last week that hit me in the face, "I have hidden Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You." I haven't been arming myself too well lately and the jerk always knows when you are running low on ammo... you can bet he'll come after me if I take my eyes off Jesus.

**Here is what I have found.... the first one is Believing God with Beth Moore. I have done this study before and it's amazing. I would happily do it again, in fact, I've wanted to do it again. It's intense. It will have you on your knees within a couple of lessons. Check out the info here.

The other one I found is another Beth Moore. This one is called Living Beyond Yourself. This sounds like something I could really use a lesson in, for sure. It's based on The Fruits of the Spirit as found in Galatians. I'm open to this one too. Here is the info. on that course.

I could not find any other courses that were offered where you could get full access to everything anytime you wanted. There were some that started and stopped at a particular time, but I thought with some of us living in different time zones, it should be self-driven. Just "vote" for which one you want and we'll pick a date to start. **

Another thing I am praying about that I wanted to throw out there just to get some response and guidance is that Michelle has been encouraging me to write a book. It's something I've thought about for a long time, but never quite knew where to start. Actually, I still don't know where to start, but I trust that will come if He ordains this. Anyway, the book would basically be a reference guide for families when they are experiencing difficulties during transition. I would have resources listed, stories of other families, and "advice" from myself and some actual experts. It would be a go-to sort of thing when you experience x, try z. It wouldn't be a novel, but more of a reference manual. I have felt for a long time that agencies are falling far short in their commitment to preparing families for the aftermath of adoption. I can't tell you how many families I talk to who had no idea what to expect or how to react. The vast majority of families have heard about some of these PI behaviors, but have not been coached in how to respond when they experience them in their own homes. I wonder how many children are a mess today as a result of bad reactions from parents? I wonder how many of those kids are out there giving international adoption a bad rap because people think their issues are due to the time they spent in the orphanage, not the unpreparedness of their families to heal them. I can tell you that for sure there are alot of kids dealing with on-going issues that could have been solved by parents who understood what was needed. It's not that these families didn't want to do the right thing, to the contrary. Who goes around the world to rescue an orphan and doesn't have enough love to give them what they need. Most of these families responded incorrectly because they didn't know how else to respond. It's not rocket-science, but it's often counter-intuitive. Okay, so maybe I've just written the intro to the book... hahaha. At least I'm passionate about the topic. Anyway, I really want your HONEST feedback. If you think it's ridiculous, please say so. I'd rather be shot down now before I invest myself in a project that falls flat. And if you don't think it's something that would be well-received, you might be God's voice encouraging me to wait. So, please don't lavish encouragement if you think it's a bad idea. I'll blame Michelle since she's the one who thought of it in the first place! :)

1 Peter 5:6-7
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you."