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

Friday, January 29, 2010

Weather Update and Secret Family Recipe

Finally, something to write home about... or write FROM home about, as the case may be!  I know this may seem like nothing to you guys in the far North, but for us, this is the first REAL snow we've had in 8 years.

I tried to get the snow falling in the background.  It's not big flakes, but it's showering down.

Not exactly a pretty photo, but a better perspective on how much we have! 

We even have enough snow to make the family favorite... SNOW CREAM!

Do you make Snow Cream?  My husband thinks it's unhealthy to eat snow because of "acid rain".  Bwahahahaha!  I told him there had not been talk of acid rain since 1976, but his mom told him that 30 years ago and he's still convinced that eating snow will kill you!

We fill a bowl with snow, mix in a healthy heaping portion of sugar and a little milk and a little coffee creamer and voila.... snow cream.  Better than any ice cream you ever tasted.  I have made one health modification to the family recipe... my mom used to mix in a raw egg and vanilla, but I think it's probably best that my kids don't eat the raw egg now and it grosses me out anyway.  Plus my creamer is French Vanilla so you get the thickness and flavor in one fell swoop.  (Is it "fell" or "fail"?)  

Liam has gone to visit a friend.  Jack too.  Connor is across the street playing.  Meg and I are in sweats on the couch, eating snow cream, listening to the fire crackle and watching our 107th episode of Max and Ruby.  (Where are their parents, by the way?  Is this elementary school child rabbit really raising her younger brother?  Why aren't they living with their grandmother, who clearly loves them?  Why hasn't anyone called the authorities?  Does anyone else think about these things when they watch cartoons?  Like why has Caillou's mom been pregnant for 20 years?  And why does Caillou's dad always wear a sweater and long pants, even when Caillous is in shorts and a T-shirt?  :)  Oh no, the cabin fever has already driven me over the edge.....

Another S"no" day

You have GOT to be kiddin' me!  Seriously!  Remember this?  Well here we go again!

Yes, that is my deck.  And yes, we are out of school again because of "snow" and possible dangerous driving conditions.  The teachers are really happy, I know, but Mama ain't happy!  What I really want to do is curl up in my pjs with my book and a fire and some more coffee.  But what my kids want to do is not watch me read a book in my jammies.  They want to be run here and there.  ugh! 

While we're looking at this photo, don't forget to admire the BARN that's almost the size of my house that my neighbor plopped in his back yard two feet from MY fence!  GRRRRRRRRRRRRR!  That'll be great for resale! 

To add insult to injury on the no snow front, Brian is out of town for the night.  He had a business meeting in Atlanta.  Returning from Atlanta requires him to traverse "Mont Eagle", the one place in our state that probably WILL get some snow and ice today.  Great! 

And making it even WORSE is that my dear sweet friend/neighbor (who is the mother to my boys daily cohorts in crime) is out of town.  And she had the NERVE to take her kids with her.  People, this is NOT a good combination.  Not only is my confidante and fellow-commiserator gone, my boys entertainment is gone too.  And adding further insult, she's gone somewhere sunny and warm.  And she's gone somewhere fabulous for a very fun reason.  Did I mention that I hate her! :) Not really!  I love you, and you know it.... but right now I'm not speaking to you!  

So... since I don't have any fun snow pics to show you, I'll show you something really cuter... look at this new dress I got for Meg from my friend.... she made it! 

And, I might as well show you a little of what else has been happening around here....

This is my steps last week...

And my banister

And not exactly the "after" shot, but the "in progress" shot is behind Meg....

Ooooh, I'm so excited to have gotten rid of that carpet.... and check out my new spindles.  :)  Yay!  I'm so glad my friend (the builder) talked me into the iron.  I'm totally in LOVE!  I can't wait to show you the finished product, but it will probably be a few weeks.  I have lots of other before and after for you too! 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Adopting from Haiti, Africa, or Eastern Europe? All photos taken from CNN site on Haiti....

I need to speak very boldly and very plainly to you! 





Haitian orphan

These are children.  They are children, JUST exactly like the ones that grew in your womb, just exactly like the ones that are sleeping in the bed right down the hall from you.  They are children who want and need all the same things your kids need.  They are adorable.  They are lovely, they are playful, they are scared, they are lonely, they are hungry, they are in crisis.  But they are NOT a trend!   

In addition, they are traumatized.  This doesn't mean that they will fall into your loving arms and thank you every day of their lives for plucking them out of their personal hell.   This means that the more stuff you shower them with, the more overwhelmed they will probably become.  They haven't likely ever had the amount of "stuff" that we possess here, so instead of being like a "normal" kid in Disneyland, they will most likely be too overwhelmed to appreciate it and actually have very little interest in any of it.  Or they might want EVERYTHING they see and not be able to handle being told "no".  Sometimes they can't go to sleep in a room by themselves (likely never had to even try.)  This does not mean that they need to be conditioned the way you conditioned your birth babies to self soothe.  This means they need comfort and closeness and reassurance that you will be here and that you will be in the room with them until they feel okay for you to be in your own room.  For some children, this will be 6 days, for others 6 months.  They need to decide, not you.  It might mean that you sleep on the floor in their room.  It might mean that they sleep on yours.  But it will definitely mean that you don't get to sleep as usual, at least for a while.  

Children who are victims of trauma are not always easy to parent.  It's dangerous to generalize because of course, there is always the exception to every rule.  But it's never a good decision to adopt a child because someone you  know has done it and you want to be a part of what they have found!  I'm glad that there is alot of publicity and many walls are coming down for orphans, particularly orphans of color.  But the danger is that this is a "bandwagon" that people want to hop onto. And once you hop on it, there's no getting off, no matter how bad it hurts.

I want to be fully honest with you here.  I have adopted three times and twice I brought home children who blended right into our family (with a LOT of expected attachment work) and have not looked back much.  But one time I brought home a child who is going to struggle with alot of things throughout his life as a result of the time he spent as an orphan.  Many things will be harder for him than they should be.  No amount of love or wishing will change it.  Alot of hard work is being done to help it be as easy as possible, but it's never going to be what it could have been for him.  The work we do every single day is not glamorous, it isn't something people say, "Boy I wish I could go through that!", and it isn't something I would have thought I could handle.  But this precious child has taught me SO much about God and His love and relationships.  Every single day, though, I wish I didn't need to learn the lesson.  I wish he could just get up and dress himself and do his own homework and talk in a normal voice and not move around in exaggerated motions and just brush his teeth without prompting 10 times and didn't have to take multiple (expensive) meds daily.  Every day I have a moment where I just wish I could have an "easy" day.  But then I have to pray and move on because I'm not living in easy.  I'm living in faith and trust in God to get me through.  I'm living with a kind of dependence I wouldn't have had without this special child.  God clearly put this particular child in my family to protect me from myself.  But He also gave me this particular child so that I could openly speak to you about the difficulties and also about the right thing to do in the face of those difficulties.  I can assure you, no one is signing up for the work that traumatized, unattached, alcohol affected children require.  No one is hoping for that when they dream of parenting.  But for some, that is what we get.  And if that is your God-given path, then I will tell you flat out that to walk that path in any way other than total humility and resignation is dishonoring and prolonging your heartache.  You may get home and realize that the child in your life is inconvenient, it might not be as fulfilling as you thought it would be to change poopy pants on an 8 year old, it's not very rewarding to have a child that shuts down every time they go to a birthday party because they can't handle the stimulation, it's overwhelming to have your new child and your other children all regressing at the same time and wanting every ounce of you every moment, and a whole host of other things that I or someone I know have experienced.  Truly, when I say you will be worn to a nub by adoption, I am not kidding.  I sat with Gwen in the hospital.  Yes, it's awe inspiring that she can adopt four orphans, at least one of whom was wounded and scarred physically for all the world to see, but I can assure you, there is no great energy buzz sitting at the hospital for days on end or changing bandages on a 3-year-old's head every day.  Gwen will be the first to tell you that it's not glamorous, but she is walking the path that God put her on.  I can tell you it's not glamorous, but I too am walking the road less traveled.  Sometimes it's lonely, but God!  But God didn't call you to be rewarded on earth.  He didn't call you to bask in the glory of your good works.  He called you to be HIS HANDS and HIS FEET!  And if you remember correctly, His hands were touching stinky, dirty, homeless, lice-ridden, unlawful and ungrateful people.  His feet were going into homes down in the projects where the hookers hang out.  And he's just asking you to love your own child more than you love your comfort, your reputation, and your sleep.

I DO believe that we are all called to love the orphan.  I believe that MOST people are capable of adopting and should adopt.  I believe that if you examine your reasons for NOT adopting and find that most of them are a matter of personal comfort, then you might want to challenge yourself to step up and take MORE of the reward that God wants to give you!  I believe that if everyone who is capable would actually do it, there would not be any true orphans in the world.  I believe that everyone who has adopted should have adopted, but I also KNOW that alot of people who have adopted should have done a better job and been alot more deliberate.  I know alot of folks who should have put themselves aside more (myself included) and quit hanging on to how they wanted it to be and start embracing how God gave it to them.  I KNOW there are alot of resources out there for folks, but many of those folks are too proud or too stubborn to grasp what is there for them.  Like addicts avoiding rehab, people don't want to face the help because they don't want to do the hard work that it will require of them.  Most people don't really want to change.  They want God to make them righteous right where they are!  They just want to continue on in their ignorance hoping that with time, the child will just conform to their ideals and life will be okay again.  I believe BOTH extremes are possible... that everyone SHOULD pray very specifically about whether they are being called to adopt, I believe that the answer to that question in the great majority of circumstances is "YES", and I believe at the same time that people need to not be adopting just because it's "trendy", but because they want to get down in the dirty trenches with our Lord and get DIRTY!  Dirty is exactly what it sounds like... you'll literally be worn to a nub, tired, sometimes bitter, sometimes smelly, sometimes you won't like yourself or those around you or sometimes you might not even particularly like God for what He is asking of you.  Some mornings you won't want to get out of bed, you will curse the sun, you will dread your day, you will go kicking and screaming like a three year old into the battle that you fought so feebly yesterday and know you will have to fight it again tomorrow.   But when you see heaven (and you will), you will no longer see through the dingy glass of the world, but face to face, and you will know that even everything you gave wasn't nearly enough! 

Proverbs 3:28
"Do not say to your neighbor, "Come back later, I'll give it tomorrow" - when you now have it with you!"

Silly bands are driving me silly!

Do you have this problem at your house?

You see why it's a "problem"?  These things are EVERYWHERE!!!!!

And this is the scene at my house almost every afternoon... behind closed doors, "insider" trading, as I like to call it.  If you have the "rare" bands, you're in power.  I hate what power brings out in people!

Just look at all that rubber.... money..... power.... fun.  These are the boys bestest friends on the planet.  They are like my fifth and sixth children.  They are here almost every day.  And the trading is serious business.  Even Connor knows which ones are rare, who has what, and which ones to trade for.  It's like kiddy currency.

By the way, the kids are all in disguise because we want to protect the identity of these powerful officials! :)

Proverbs 3:27 The Message translation
"Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God's hand for that person."

Monday, January 25, 2010

A good book can change your life!

For some reason, I am always inclined to start every single post with the word "Okay", like I am continuing a conversation with you....

For me, if there is a quote in a book that I totally connect with, one that ends up in my sidebar over there on the right, it really doesn't matter if it's early in the book or on the last page, that book automatically becomes a one of my "must reads."

Last night, on page 49, a whole paragraph slapped me right out of my reading-less funk.  I am reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  A friend loaned it to me and I cracked it open yesterday, totally ignoring the three other books on my bedside table that I have been "wanting" to read, two of which I have started to no avail.

Here's the quote, I hope you get a kick out of it like I did.  Then I hope it challenges you like it challenged me.

In this chapter, Miss Celia (a white woman married to a wealthy man) is asking Minny (her secret maid, and a black woman), "Are you happy, Minny?"

"Course I's happy.  You happy too.  Big house, big yard, husband looking after you."  I frown at Miss Celia and I make sure she can see it.  Because ain't that white people for you, always wondering if they are happy enough."

And ain't it the truth?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Haiti Status Update

Nothing seems to be happening. I think things were going a little too fast to keep a handle on in the midst of such chaos and they have halted much action until they can assess and evaluate.  I am sure that calls and e-mails started flooding in and they were overwhelmed with the onslaught of folks wanting to help the Haitians.  I am always encouraged at how galvanized we are as a community when a tragedy happens.

I know this might be an unpopular opinion, but I do think they are doing the right thing by SLOWING down the process. Now if they stop the process, I'll be mad as a wet hen.  But I think when children's lives are involved, you have to be sure you have a good handle on what you're doing.  Don't get me wrong, time is of the essence and if I could pluck every one of them out of their situation, I would do it tomorrow.  But in fact, there has to be a plan in place to track the children and ensure their safety once they are in the US.  We have to have someone following the kids like a social worker, who can make sure they aren't getting passed around like a puppy.  We have to have a huge community of support to care for these misplaced children.  So while I would ideally like to see this happen in the next week or so, I doubt it will because I've never seen our government do anything that quickly, and the Haitian government couldn't possibly be thinking about it.

I saw last night that 80% of Haiti lives below the poverty level for that country.  I can assure you, there are alot of orphans who are not there as a result of the earthquake.  What I don't want to see happen is for it to become "trendy" to have a Haitian orphan.  So many people jumped on the international band-wagon after Angelina and Madonna made it "cool" and I don't want that same thing to happen to Haiti.  It's not always a good thing for a child to be placed outside an orphanage if it's not a good home that wants to parent a child.  I've said it a million times, but people who adopt because they want to save an orphan usually lack the stamina to parent their children through the traumas they bring with them.  If your pay-off happens the minute you touch down in America, then you're in for a very difficult time in the months ahead.  I don't want people to take Haitian orphans for the "thrill" of the rescue, only to realize that de-lousing, de-worming, ridding parasites that possibly the entire family will pass around, transitioning a child to family life, etc. are long and drawn out processes that take alot of energy for very little pay-off in the short-run.

I know I'm preaching to the choir here.  I guess what I'm saying is that IF the government is slowing down on things in order to get a handle on it, but not going to abandon the idea altogether (still remains to be seen) then it's a good thing.  If they are going to put the brakes on because the effort is too large, then that is another reason why government can do very few things well that individuals can do better!  It seems SO simple to me... if only they would ASK me, I could tell them HOW to manage this process, then I could have given them my very simple solution.  It's simply unimaginable to me that folks wouldn't be on board with plucking these children out of the danger zone, but of course, as soon at the jerk (you know, satan) got wind of something that was going to glorify God, he would have to stick his big ugly nose into it and start to scatter all sorts of seeds of doubt, etc.  JERK!

John 14:15-17 from The Message translation (emphasis mine)

"If you love me, show it by DOING what I've told you.  I will talk to the Father, and He'll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you.  This Friend is the Spirit of Truth.  The godless world can't take him in because it doesn't have eyes to see him, doesn't know what to look for.  But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be IN you!"

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I just wanted to raise my hand!

I really just wanted to raise my hand to volunteer, you know, like in the old days when the teacher needed someone to clean her erasers and you just wiggled in your seat, waving your arm like crazy so you could go outside and bang those erasers on the sidewalk for ten minutes of fresh air.  I want to go back to those days, when volunteering to do the right thing is as simple as saying, "I'll help!" to the person in authority.  But as we get older (and more cynical maybe) things are never that easy.  Do you think that's what Jesus meant when He said, "Come to me as little children"?  Anyway, the point of this story is that I have called three government agencies today.  Talked to someone from Congresswoman Blackburn's office, been routed directly to the "person who is coordinating this effort" and no one seems to be able to say, "Okay, we'll take you up on your offer."

You see, I have spent the last three days (since Sunday) trying to figure out how to get a group of Haitian orphans to Tennessee for fostering until their country is safe for return or families are found for them.  I know it's possible because it's already happened in Indiana and Pennsylvania.  They are trying to make way for it, Napalitano's Humanitarian Parole was a great start.  But I'm not talking about children who have families waiting for them, I'm talking about children who are on no ones radar screen.

Where are the churches on this?  Where are the outraged mothers?  Where are the Christians, the James 1:27 people?  Why is there not a buzzing of phone lines of folks begging the TN Congressmen and Senators to make this happen?  And why do I keep getting rerouted no matter what organization I talk to?

Every time Brian and I have been in an orphanage we have said, "If we could put people in front of these children, if they could see and touch these faces, then there wouldn't be an orphan in the world."  And that's the opportunity we have here.  If we could get these precious faces here, I promise you there would be no orphans in Haiti at the end of this disaster and God would have turned one of the worst disasters of our time into a blessing and glorification of grand proportion.  Can you imagine it with me?  A country as poor as Haiti with not ONE orphan to be had?  Can't you hear the angels singing in anticipation of something like that?  Seriously, it's almost too bright for me to even imagine or try to behold.  I just want to be a tiny part of something like that.  Inconvenience and selfishness and comfort aside, I want to be in the trenches with God on something like that!  I want to be totally bare and used up for Him and have Him say to me, "Thank you for giving everything you had and not holding back from me."  And I can tell you, it's not an easy thing trying to find someone who will tell me exactly what I can DO.  I just know I have to DO something.

I was painting Jack's room on Sunday and watching the news and there were times when they showed orphan babies (under 1) with no formula, living in the back of a trailer truck, and I just sat in the floor and sobbed!  Begging, "God, please show YOURSELF!"  And I know He wants to show Himself, but we have to fight our way through the ruler of this world to get to it.

Won't you please pray with me!  There are alot of people hurting, no doubt, from this tragedy.  But can you even imagine that you are the absolute least among a nation that is in total turmoil.  No one is coming for you.  No one is prioritizing you.  You have no voice.  You are at the bottom of the list, and yet you are among the most vulnerable.  Please, hit your knees tonight and just bang down the doors of heaven on behalf of these children!

This verse has never meant more to me.... I'm CLINGING to this promise for the children of Haiti and asking God to reveal Himself to them in a mighty way!  Possibly through the hands of some Tennesseans?

John 14:18
"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Proud Mama's Heart!

My big boys (that includes my husband) are leaving today for a little weekend ski-trip.  After the kids got loaded into the car, picked their movie, got buckled up, etc. Jack asked me to come around to his side of the car.  When I got around he whispered, "Mom, will you go get my Bible so I can read it on the way?"  What?  WILL I?  Are you kidding.  I really and truly do NOT know what has gotten into that boy (well, actually, I guess it's the Holy Spirit that's gotten into him.)  This is a major turn for him.  This is a child I have prayed for over and over because he was so "cool" when it came to all things spiritual.  He just never seemed to warm to church or Bible reading or praying, etc.  And you know what, God was working in him when I didn't think He was.

Did you ever feel like you were perched on the precipice of something but you didn't know what?  I do!  I feel like there is something big and heavy out there, just around the corner.  I can sense it.  I can feel it coming and it's a very unsettling feeling for me.  I'm "nervous as a long tail cat in a room full of rockers" as my Granma used to say.  It's a cagey feeling.  I don't know what it is, but I'm very antsy and I'm very ready to see what it is that God is gearing me up for.

Speaking of "gear"... 147 Million Orphans is donating 50% of their profits to a Haitian orphanage right now!  If you want to help Haiti, head over to and get your favs.  There is the most adorable new hot pink burn-out shirt that I got for Meg.  It's so cute and just the perfect color for little girls in the summer time.  And there's all sorts of new stuff I don't have yet.  If you don't have the yoga pants, take my word for it, you WANT some.  They are great for guys OR girls to use as loungewear.  I practically live in mine when I can.

I had an encounter last night with someone who is not a believer.  He believes in "some higher being" that guides us.  But he doesn't "buy the whole Jesus thing."  (It's hard for me to even write that.)  I never feel confident and comfortable in those situations where the Lord clearly pulls me into conversation with someone who's lost and then expects me to speak the truth.  I just don't feel strong enough in "the right thing to say" to be the one.  But on the other hand, maybe there's not another one.  So, the whole time we're having this talk over dinner, I'm just praying in my head, "Your Words, not mine, Lord.  Your Words!"  I have NO idea if I even planted a tiny seed in his mind.  But it was a very interesting conversation.  The thing that broke my heart was that he grew up in the church, attended a private Christian elementary school, and has parents who are faithful church-goers from the sound of things.  But his story is the one that I hear over and over.  He was turned off to Jesus by the dogmatic and judgmental attitudes of those who profess to follow Him.  Isn't that such a shame.  Did you ever read "The Poisonwood Bible"?  If not, you gotta get it.  The basic thing is that all of us at one time or another can kill the spirit of another person by following exactly the path we think Jesus called us to.  But in reality, we are leading that person so far from the Jesus path that they may never find their way back.  I don't like to try to beat people over the head with my Bible.  As Beth Moore says, I don't want to be such an exclamation point.  I want to live an exclamation point life, but speak words that are easy to swallow, non-threatening and non-judgmental when it comes to unbelievers.  I could have come close to believing the way this man believes.  As a child, I was around alot of folks from my church and surrounding churches who had "competitive churchiness".  In other words, they all believed that their particular church was better and there was a pecking order of prestige among the churches in town.  Folks wore their membership like some people wear Greek letters.  If I hadn't had such a strong believing family, I could have easily been turned away.  I was completely turned from my "religion" to the furthest thing I could become and still be Christian (thus my Catholic conversion.)  Anyway, it was just a really interesting experience for me.  It was a great reminder that there are people in my everyday life, churchgoers included, who are not believers.  This man is a very fixed presence in our daily life, he attends church, and both of his children attend Christian schools. It's so easy to just assume that everyone around you believes and knows the Truth.  It was a good wake up call for me.  And also a reminder that I need to have more Words hidden in my heart for such occasions so that I am not leading someone astray.

Okay, I'm off to take photos of some of the exciting things happening in my attic today! :)  Photos next week.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Help Haiti Now!

Hey friends, I have a heavy heart for the folks in Haiti right now.  I have never been to Haiti, but I have several friends who are extremely committed to Haiti as part of our mission work at Church.  All the local Catholic churches have sister parishes they support in Haiti and each church runs it's own mission to Haiti at least once every year.  Therefore I have alot of friends who are deeply committed and affected by this nation.

In addition, I have an acquaintance, and I use that term very liberally because in fact, I've only met him twice, but we have two close mutual friends, who is in Haiti right now and was there during the earthquake.  His parents run the Hands and Feet Children's Village (which is an orphanage.)  Mark Stuart sent this message today and I thought the words were really worth sharing, it's unimaginable.

"... we are very scared.  The buildings [in the village] held up great, but there are several houses right around us that have collapsed.  Many houses and buildings in Jacmel have collapsed, including the hospital.  I know most of the news there is coming from Port au Prince, but there is substantial loss of life here on the south coast.  We need prayer for wisdom and strength.  It's very chaotic here.

Last night was crazy.... slept on the dirt in the center of the village... away from buildings.  Tonight we may venture back indoors, but that is yet to be decided.  We only go in and out to get necessities.

The Haitian people are numb, and sadly, very used to death.  However, this has created what seems to be a hypnotic state.  I've never been in a situation where you feel SO helpless, fearful, and small.  The tremors are coming again as I type.  Whoa!!!"

I can't even imagine!  There isn't even a hospital to turn to if they need it.  Plus, it's believed that even more children will be brought into the orphanage due to the death toll.

You can check out the Hands and Feet Project online.  You can donate directly to Hands and Feet HERE!  HAF and Compassion have both asked that you make any monetary donations through reputable organizations as money sent directly to Haiti will not necessarily trickle down to the folks who need it.

TOMS is running a relief promo right now where in addition to giving a pair of TOMS for every pair that is purchased, they will give $5 to Partners In Health.  If you are not familiar with Paul Farmer, you must go get the book Mountains Beyond Mountains.  It will rock your world.  But in the meantime, take my word for it, get a great pair of trendy shoes AND give money to this fabulous organization in the process. Partners In Health is a totally reputable group doing amazing work all over the world, but they are centered in Haiti.

Additionally, Compassion International is always doing a good work and they are centered on helping the orphans too!  I can't begin to comprehend the need that will be generated from this catastrophe.  It can't be overstated how slammed the orphanages will be.  I know that the orphanage in Grand Goave crumbled in the middle of the night.  Many others are bound to be damaged in addition to needing to serve more children in the coming days and months.  I have attached a button at the top of my blog where you can give directly to Compassion for use in Haiti.  Also, you can click here for more options.

Isaiah 49:13b
"For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones."  

One dog, one cat, two fish and....

no hamster!  :(

Bubba has been very inactive over the past few weeks.  But it's been ice cold and I thought maybe he was just sort of hybernating.  But this morning, I woke up and he was laying flat on the bare floor of his cage.  Stiff!  :(  Seriously, I teared up.  And I am not usually one to get too upset over rodents, but this was most definitely the sweetest hamster I have ever met.  He was so calm and tame ALL THE TIME.  He never bit anyone.  He never tried to squeeze away from us like most hamsters.  He was really an all around great and easy pet.

Funeral services for the departed will be held today, immediately after school.  Burial to follow in the local common area under the electric tower. In lieu of flowers, friends can give their own pets and extra treat.

I know that in the grand scheme of the world, this is a non-event, but for our house, pets are a major part so we've lost a fun little family member today.  RIP Bubba! Have fun with Jesus.  :)

On another note, Jack is trying to read the entire Bible.  That is a totally noble goal and I hope we can make it, although he'll probably be finishing high school by the time we complete it.  He is up to Chapter 19.... you know.... Lot and his daughters.  Law!  I am realizing how tantalizing and racy some parts of the Bible are when I'm reading it through the eyes of my 10 year old.  Wow, how in the world to you discuss that whole situation?  I mean, we've had "the talk" with him so he knows about sex, but I wasn't quite ready to start explaining that some people abuse sex and use it for ungodly purposes.  Of course, Brian was conveniently working at this time so I had to navigate that one on my own.  I should have stopped in my tracks and asked God to take over because I am sure I totally butchered that talk.  Should I be "censoring" the Bible readings?  What do you think?  I just started to realize how many examples of bad behavior I am going to have to talk through over the next little bit.

If you follow my blog, there's a 99.99% chance that you also read Gwen's blog.  But in case you don't, I'd like to ask for prayers for my sweet friend, Maggie Oatsvall.  Yesterday she had her second surgery to insert extenders under her scalp.  The first surgery ended with Maggie getting an infection and the extenders had to be removed, so she went through alot of pain for little gain.  This time, two extenders were inserted.  Over the next few weeks, the extenders will be inflated gradually to stretch the skin on her scalp.  You see, Maggie was in a Chinese orphanage and she was a burn victim while in China.  My friends, the Oatsvalls, adopted Maggie, scars and all, knowing that one day they would have to allow their daughter to go through the painful process of removing the scar tissue so that her physical wounds of orphan life could be healed.  It's such a beautiful example of how God loves us too, don't you think?  He allows the pain that carving out scars the world has left on us so that we can be closer to his vision for us.  Scott and Gwen would love Maggie if her head was bare with scars for the rest of her life.  God would love us too, no matter if we are willing to shed those scars.  But life can be so much sweeter without all those scars to carry around.  And so it is for Maggie too.  They don't allow this suffering for themselves, Maggie is gorgeous to those of us who know her.  They allow the suffering for her!

Please please get on your knees today for our sweet Maggie.  She is only a little girl.  She doesn't have the understanding of why or what is happening to her.  She just knows that her mama is there, loving her, and she's getting stuck alot of times.  She doesn't know that the scars have to be enlarged so that they can be removed safely from her head, she just knows that it's painful.  Will you please please pray for her peace and her comfort.  Pray for Gwen's "mama's heart" during this time as she has to watch her daughter go through something she cannot deliver her from.  Pray for all the other Oatsvall kids that they would weather the time without illness and injury.  And pray for their Nana who is caring for them until their mom can leave the hospital with Maggie.  And don't forget to pray that Maggie's story will touch the hearts of some of the hospital staff and perhaps stir their hearts toward adoption.  Particularly toward special needs adoption.

Thank you, friends!  I love you!  I really do!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Project 365

I tried to do Project 365 last year, but I really lost steam after about February.  Such is the story of my life and resolutions.  Anyway, does this count as four days worth?

Quote of the Day

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.  Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.  It's more important than the past, than education; than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do.  It's more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill.  It will make or break a company, a church, a home.  The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.  We cannot change our past.... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.  We cannot change the inevitable.  The only thing we can do is plan on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.... I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it.  And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes!"

by Charles Swindoll

Charles Swindoll was someone my Granma read alot.  She has been gone one year.  And I still find that her wisdom is immeasurable and shows up for me, guiding me, all the time in the most unlikely of places.  I found this quote laminated, in a box, in my attic, as we were cleaning out this weekend.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Someone Please Explain This....

It has not been above 20 degrees here in three days.  Seriously... in the South, where it's not supposed to ever be below freezing for more than a day.  Needless to say, we are FREEZING!  We don't have clothing for this type of thing.  But that's not what I don't understand.  What I don't understand is where in the world all the snow is going.  It's been snowing a pretty good clip for 24 hours or more now.  We have some on the ground, but you can still see the grass quite well.  The deck is not completely covered and it's not piling up by any means.  Where in the world is it going?  It's not melting.  But it's not getting deeper.  It's funny because Brian said it looks like the movie snow, it's sort of "snowing up", which I think means the snow is so dry that it's just blowing around.  But still, at some point it has to land and go somewhere, right?

Here are some sad photos to prove how pathetic our snow is and how much kids in the South want to have fun in the snow.

See how spotty the snow is, it's mostly ice, actually.

My Russian girl who has lost her affinity for the cold.

Seriously?  Don't you feel sorry for them?  It's hardly worth the effort.

Now that, my friends, is brotherly love.... you will pull your sister on her sled, across dry concrete, so she doesn't have to walk back to the ice patch.  :)  Precious boy!

I won't be one bit surprised if we are out of school Monday too.

Barb, on second thought, I don't think I can move to Finland.  Tell me when it's warm, I'll come visit you then! :)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

This snow is so much fun!

Are you ready for the massive amounts of snow that dismissed schools this morning.... look really really close....

Maybe you can see it better from the flash shot?

No?  Still can't see it?  Well you'll just have to take my word for it, there IS some snow there on my deck railing.  Treacherous driving?  Probably not, but still, there is technically some snow! :)

Happy Snow Day everyone!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Snow Schmow - and Happy Epiphany, or 12th Night, or Merry Christmas in Russia

Here I sit, having some MAJOR de ja vu.  I seem to remember that the week that we returned from Christmas break last year, we ended up getting out for a 'non snow' day that week (actually I looked back, it was January 15th and that day we got out because it was cold!, not because there was snow...). Just when things were starting to return to normal... whatever that is?

Today is the Russian Orthodox Christmas.  Russians celebrate Christmas today.  Catholics celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany.  The Scottish celebrate 12th Night.  In any tradition, it's an important night!  So have a blessed Epiphany!  Merry Christmas! and Happy 12th Night!

Anyway, they are PREDICTING 1-3 inches of snow for here tomorrow.  Now keep in mind that it hasn't actually started to snow yet.  They are just saying that it will snow, but we haven't actually seen the first flake.  Also please keep in mind that we are in the CITY school district.  For those of you who live near rural areas, you know full well that this means our buses do not traverse any really narrow, winding, hilly country roads.  We pretty much live on city streets, the whole lot of us who attend every single school in our district.  Now maybe it will surprise you to know that school has been dismissed for tomorrow.  Pause for dramatic affect... yes, that's right, they have already announced that there will be NO school tomorrow.

Don't get me wrong, I really do love a snow day.  I actually look forward to them.  They are guaranteed to happen here in the South because none of us know how to drive on the snow, we don't have snow tires and chains and such around these parts.  I actually am not a total idiot on the snow, I did grow up on a farm and my Daddy taught me not to brake and turn at the same time, yada yada yada.  But still, I promise you, if the first flake falls, it will look like the day after Armageddon in the morning because no self-respecting Southerner would dare set foot in a car until 10 AM, at which time all the snow will be melted and life will return to normal, albeit a very cold version of normal.  My friends north of the Mason Dixon are really impressing me with their thermometer reportings in the negatives. I truly cannot imagine living where temps regularly dip below freezing.  We have had below freezing temps this week (20-30 degrees) and I've felt like I was going to die of frost bite every single time I've popped my head out the door.  But I have next week to look forward to, when the weather man is promising 40's and sunshine! :)

Anyway, the kids are out of school tomorrow and you would think they hadn't had a day off in months the way they were dancing around the house.  I was not very wise when I informed them at 7:30 that there would be no school.  Why on earth didn't I tuck their sweet heads into their beds and snuggle up with the new book Lindsay just sent me, next to my roaring hot fire that I had stoked in hopes of enjoying a movie on the couch tonight?  Why didn't I think ahead, they could have slept late in the morning, thinking they were sneaking a few more minutes of sleep prior to the arrival of the bus.  Why, why, why?

A few photos from the week, just because I have some time on my hands now that I don't have to beat the bus tomorrow morning! :)  Yay for me, I don't have to remember the napkins.  :)

Brian and I cleaned out our attic this weekend.  He found this crown.  I said, "Can we toss this?"  He said, "That's from when I was homecoming king!"  Me, "So?"  Him, "Would you throw away your crown if you were homecoming queen?"  Me, "Um? YES!"  So guess what we did with it?  :)

Notice that Connor is in a different outfit (different day) but still wearing the crown!  Every king needs a good dog, don't you think?  And a double headed axe! I'm actually starting to get used to seeing him in this thing.

Have you ever seen anything more pitiful?  Seriously, he looks innocent, but believe me, he would snatch that pizza off the table at his first available opportunity.

Guess what the kids got from their third round of Grandparent Christmas?  Is this thing safe?  Is 15 miles per hour really wise?  Don't they need a license for this thing?  I guess it's better than a REAL go-kart, right?  Try to just ignore the junk in our garage.  That's what I tell my husband about twice a week too!

Speaking of grandparents, this is my mom with the little puppy, who is now named Rocky.  And who has gone to live with my friends, the Hills.  My mom isn't really a pet person so much, so this will tell you how irresistible this dog is.  I know what you're thinking... how did a woman who doesn't really like pets end up with a cowboy, living on a farm, raising a daughter that loves everything with four legs and fur?  Well, I don't know how it happened to start with, but that they are now divorced shouldn't really be a shocker! My mom is very happy to be the coach's wife and attend church every Sunday.  My dad is very happy to worship from his deer stand and have a wife that enjoys taking vacation time to attend National Finals Bull Riding Events.  All's well that ends well.

And how exactly a post about the Epiphany and non-snow turned into an "it's okay, really" about my parents' divorce (which was well over 20 years ago anyway) is just further testament to my focusing skills and my gnat-like attention span.  Gotta go, I think I just heard a chicken!

By the way, Kristine, you have to jump over to my friend Carrie's blog (Laugh or Cry Carrie in my sidebar), she's the one who first told me about the chicken thing and it stuck!  Plus, you and I are already friends with all the same bloggers and Carrie lives sort of near me and is really one of the funniest people I've ever met.  Plus she has two tiny Russians in her house, so y'all have lots in common.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

New Years Resolultions?

I have been pretty intrigued by reading everyone's new year's resolutions or goals from their blogs.  I don't usually make new year's resolutions.  There are several reasons, but the main reason I don't is because I have Attention Deficit Disorder, which means by January 2, I've seen some sparkly bobble of a resolution that looked more intriguing than the resolutions I actually made, so I abandon mine and take up theirs and this pattern continues until I forget that there ever were resolutions and I move on to some other random tangent.  So, it's best for folks like me not to get too zealous about making sweeping change in our lives because it will inevitably lead to distraction and ultimate failure.  I'm not trying to be depressing here... I'm not wasted by this fact, just realistic.  It is what it is so therefore, I don't usually resolve to do a whole lot of things differently simply because the calendar reads January 1.

HOWEVER, since everyone seems to be advertising the changes they intend to make in the coming year, I thought maybe I'm somehow avoiding becoming a better person by missing this opportunity to change myself.  So here goes, my grand resolve for 2010:

1.  I will remember to pack a napkin in Connor's lunch like his teacher has been asking for a whole semester.
2.  I will try to be no more than 10 minutes late to pre-school for the remainder of the semester.
3.  I will actually brush my teeth every single day!
4.  I resolve not to make any elaborate plans and goals that I know on the front end I will not follow through on.

I know these will be very tough to accomplish, for an unorganized, distractible individual like myself, but I shall try!  I do not say that tongue-in-cheek, if I actually get a napkin in Connor's box every day it will be a major achievement.

I hope you have set some attainable, yet lofty goals for yourself as well.  If you have any goals for the year that don't involve losing weight or having a cleaner house, I'd love to hear about them.  I mean, if you plan to lose weight and keep a cleaner house, I really hope you achieve them, don't get me wrong.  Those are certainly great goals.  It's just that if I were a resolution making person, those would probably be my goals, and if you have those goals and share them with me I will probably get some grand idea that I, too, could keep a cleaner house and lose a little weight and I'll be tempted to join you in what would turn out to be a doomed venture! :)

Happy resolving!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Talk about a Not Me Monday

I absolutely, positively DID NOT get my kids up for school this morning only to figure out that school doesn't start back until TOMORROW! No way that I would do that because I have done that once before. I did not fuss at Jack because he wouldn't get up, only to realize (while packing the back-packs) that there is no school.

I did not embarrass myself even further by texting my carpool this morning at 7:09 saying that we couldn't drive today because we slept to late.  Man, I bet they thought, "Joke's on you!"  :)

In other news, it is not so cold here in the nice warm South, that it's snowing little flurries (nothing compared to what Lori and Danyele are seeing) and my dog won't even get out of his nice warm bed to go outside.  NOW THAT'S COLD, FOLKS!  Good thing there is no school today, they probably would have canceled anyway due to flurries... I'm not kidding!

Brian and I did not clean out our side attics last night in preparation for turning them into rooms for Connor and Liam to sleep in.  Only to realize that if we give up our side attics, that means we have to figure out where to put the junk that was in there.  We thought most of it was stuff to throw away, but it turns out there is alot of stuff keep.  Argh!  We have albums that have been in our attic for 11 years!  Wow!

So this morning, the coffee is hot, the fire is already going, the two little bugs are still snuggled warmly in their beds, big boys are occupied with their gaming, and I am off to do my Bible Study, which I have missed so much over the break, and watch it snow.  :)  This is a little slice of heaven!

Not sure if MckMama has her Not Me post up yet, but you can head over there to see what others are NOT doing now.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Why do I do these things?

My mom did take my tree down for me! :)  I can't tell you how happy that made me.  Now I wonder how long I will have to leave all the totes of decor in the dining room before Brian gets so sick of looking at it and takes it to the attic?  And I wonder at what point my neighbors will wonder if we're taking down the outside stuff?  My neighbor across the street has her Christmas wreath on the door, tree up, and two little pumpkins still sitting on her steps from Halloween.  And I live in an okay neighborhood too! :)  So I guess they'll tolerate my outside junk for a few more days! Believe me, they've tolerated much worse from me and not complained to my face.

I laughed at myself today as I was in the giant orange home store.  I went for one thing and 1 1/2 hours later, I'm checking out, talking the clerk about the new mop in my basket.  I was asking her questions about it (as if running the register at a home improvement store makes you a mop expert) and then I finally said, "Oh well, I'll just get it.  What do I know, I'm actually a terrible housekeeper."  Then I started laughing wondering why on earth I would feel the need to share that with the lady who just simply wants me to pay my bill.  And now I've gone and reminded all of you what a crappy housewife I am.  I think I should change the name of my blog to "Confessions of an Over Caffeinated Slob!"  I'm going to go have a glass of wine and stare at the clean spot where the tree used to be, THANKS MAMA!  See you tomorrow!