Thursday, December 16, 2010
So the other day I got schooled by my son. And it really makes me proud that he called me out.
But first things first - I need to announce that if you haven't noticed the side thermometer - we MET our goal of $5630 for our referral fee!! In little increments of $10-$30 from Olivia's store!! And a few sweet donations to boot.
A referral fee is the last amount of money you pay to 'seal the deal' when you get your baby's photo and history - THE CALL. The money helps pay court costs, medical costs, and everyday orphanage care for our child.
Anyway, you get THE CALL and then have to return your acceptance papers and $5630 in just a few days. So to have this money in the bank thrills me.
So when the boys found out that a holiday market at their school had pushed us to $5628 they were so excited and wanted to know - "NOW can we go get her!". Well no, not now. We still have to wait til we're number one and then we'll be able to give them the money to accept her. (which by the way, we are now #12, I think)
To which Seth asked, "so then how much more money do we need?"
Me: "Well, we need a minimum of about $10,000. And that's just for me and your daddy to go on the first trip and me on the second."
Him: (in a huff) "so you're just hoping that you'll get enough money for you and dad to go!!"
Me: "It's not really hoping Seth. I have faith that God will provide enough for us to go."
Him: (now mad) "so you don't have enough faith that God will give us enough money for us all to go see her! You should have enough faith that he can give enough for us all to go!!!"
To which I had to give it to him - yes - I would love for my kids to be able to go with us to meet their sister, play with the children at the orphanages, see poverty first-hand, and hopefully birth in them a desire and love for God's children who are so often forgotten. I would love for them to go on this trip so that they will never forget.
But no - I guess I don't have the faith that God would provide for those tickets too. Cause that's a lot of money. And He's already done so much for us. How much more can I ask Him for??
However, as I told Tony - what lesson will I be teaching Seth if I push him to dream small? Isn't this entire adoption a huge dream to begin with? And what if he really does have God telling his little heart that he will go on this trip? And I tell him he needs to just ignore that?
So the question is now - do we take that big leap of faith and tell him "come on buddy, let's go get that passport..." or do we sit back and wait to see if God moves on that front too?
Being an adult stinks. I wish I had the child-like version of this faith journey all the time..
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
My adoption buddy at "My Crazy Adoption" just started her 1st annual Bloggy Christmas Cookie Exchange and hey, anything that does not involve me putting any brain cells into a real post, but keeps my peeps coming back to visit every once in a while - I can go for.
So here is the simple, but glorious, chocolatey cookie dessert that I promise you will thank me for. Cause every time I make it, everyone loves it and I get the credit, although my friend Amy actually shared the recipe with me. So go ahead, make it simple and then rake in the compliments for the easiest taste of Heaven ever:
Cookie Dough Heaven:
1 large refrigerated choc. chip cookie dough roll (or two regular size)
1 cream cheese (or low-fat version)
3/4 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350. Press 1/2 of the dough down in a 9X13 pan until covers most of bottom. Mix cheese, egg, and sugar and spread over the top of the dough. Drop crumbles of the remaining dough all over top. (it wont cover it all, that's fine). Bake around 30 min or until cookies on top are beginning to brown. Best when served room temp.
And.... as an added bonus - my famous homemade chocolate chip cookie recipe -
A few years back, I had a cute little questionnaire where I asked the boys questions about their mom. What do you love most about your mom? She makes us cookies. What does your mom do best? make cookies. What is your favorite thing that your mom cooks? Her cookies.
Mind you, they were interviewed separately. So I'm thinking that a little extra effort for the homemade variety has scored me a few brownie points. However, after typing the above, I'm preeetty sure that the first lady now has me on her hit list and will be contacting DSS to report my poor parenting - as everyone knows, we should not show our love through our food.
Home-Made Choc. Chip Cookies:
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/4 cups a.p. flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 cups semi-sweet choc chips (1 if you want to taste the cookie, 2 if you are a chocolate addict like me)
Preheat to 375. Mix sugars, butter, and egg. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt. Batter will be stiff. Stir in chips.
Drop by rounded tablespoons onto baking clay, 2 inches apart. Bake 8-10 minutes.
**to me, the secret to a perfect cookie is the baking clay. It allows the heat to go through the cookie instead of charring the bottom or having hard bottom, soft top cookies. It's just perfect - thank you Pampered Chef...
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
The story of a father, who went to Haiti, to rescue his son. A son that they had been planning for, preparing for, and dreaming of for years. He saw his son in trouble, and he went to bring him home.
Ernest and Ronel Parker then slept 9 days on a hard Embassy floor - waiting to come home to their family. With disaster and death all around them - the son clung to his father, his hero father, asking "we go now?"
On his mother Debra's blog, she wrote of the day Ernest left for Haiti:
"He did not have an ounce of fear in his body. He was more determined than I may have ever seen him before. The look in his eye was intense and his heart was beating just a bit faster. He was going to fight for his son. He did not care where he would sleep. He did not care what he would eat. He was not scared of what danger there could be. Nothing would stop him. A father's love was the drive behind the strength."
A Father's Love...... this time of year, as we celebrate the season - we see twinkling lights, wrapped gifts, and we picture the sweet, sweet picture of an infant in a manger.
And while that story should be celebrated, I think just as much, we need to focus on the impact of that sweet child. That it was not the birth of the babe that impacts us, but the arms of the Father coming to bring us home to our family.
He did not care what he would eat. He did not care where he would sleep. He was not afraid of the dangers that he might face. He was coming to bring his children home.
But still, do we realize? Our world is no less broken than Haiti still is today. Broken by the sins of greed and hatred. Littered with the trash of immorality and perversion. Full of plague and pestilance, growing day by day. Spiritual death is all around us and increases every day.
And how often do we, instead, of being comforted in his arms, tell him, "just a moment, I need to stay outside and play in this rubble."
How often do we, instead of running and yelling from the roof-tops - "Our father is here to take us home, he will take all who come to him!!" Do we instead keep his gift to ourselves as we are ashamed of our status as his children.
How often do we, instead of talking to him and loving him, do we instead, stay pent up in our own rooms until Sunday, when we might emerge to tell him hello and then go back to our own cares?
Christ did not come to be a babe in the manger. Christ came to bring us home. To rescue us.
And he did not come to have us sing quick 'hello', but to worship him for the gift of our adoption. And to tell the world of his love. And to bring others into his arms and out of the destruction. To show love to those that have no one else to help them.
Spiritual death is all around. And you never know when the walls of judgement will fall down on top of you. When the plague of sin will destroy your joy, your health, and your life. Only through Christ can you have the peace that no matter how hard this world is, no matter how bad you may have once been, you are still loved, and it will be alright. And that he is still here, ever present, always watching - and doing miracles in the lives of his children. He is alive and active.
Do you know who your Father is? Because over 2000 years ago, he came so that he could take you home. All you have to do is run to his arms.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
3 Month DTE, and no exclamation marks this month. It has been pretty uneventful with our agency pretty much at a stand-still for the last month. Unfortunately, one of the main feeder orphanages is going through a re-licensing process which has cause many families to be stuck in limbo until the certification is complete. Which causes us little people underneath them to also be stuck in limbo. As no new babies can be brought in while there are still babies who haven't been able to pass court and go home yet...
However, one month more of waiting means one more month closer to seeing Olivia, so we still celebrated, albeit a few days late.
The flavor of the month, chosen by Addison was:
Yummmmmy. As you can clearly see..
This, my friends, has got to be THE messiest priss pot there is. Every meal ends up on her clothing, hands, arms, toes, you name it. But as I said in the last post - chocolate makes us happy!!!
Monday, November 29, 2010
1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? I can't say I've ever had Egg Nog but just the thought of drinking eggs kinda makes me throw up a little in my mouth. You can also hold the hot chocolate. In the way of coffee, I'm in chocolatey heaven with just enough Mint Chocolate Truffle to turn the color from black to a beautiful caramel. A little coffee with my cream please. (with a Lactate on the side) And I have to say I am committing adultery on my old love affair with Peppermint Mocha. But Mr. Truffle now has my heart.
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Santa declines to wrap the Wages gifts. Primarily because Santa is a cheap scape who buys most of her gifts from consignment sales. So if they are never wrapped but always open, one can always pass good-as-new as brand-spankin-new. It's just easier on the elves all the way around. Cuts down on production costs.
3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? white. white. white. On the tree, cause I love to lay on the couch, take a lactate, drink a mug full of mint flavored cream, and watch the stars twinkle. Stars just don't twinkle in red and green, it just ain't right. And that goes for outside icicles as well. If I saw ice hanging from my roof in shades of red, I would be wondering what nice Southerner shot Rudolf on my rooftop. It just ain't right..
4. Do you hang mistletoe? There is no need. We needed medical intervention to stop this baby producing mill.
5. When do you put your decorations up? The weekend after Thanksgiving. Although at the moment half opened boxes are littered all around my house as my children have decided that their mother is either too lazy or too slow to actually get the house decorated. So the children's rooms are decked the halled. The rest of my house, not so much. Unless you count two empty Christmas tree boxes in front of my fireplace and bubble wrap sprinkled all around.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish? turkey stuffing. Yummmmm. Why we only make it 2 times a year is beyond me?
7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? making the rounds at all the grandparent's houses and being given MnMs and chocolate covered cherries. Due to divorce and healthy grandparents, we were able to know 3 sets of grandparents and 3 sets of great-grandparents. That's a lot of MnMs to be had.
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I thought I had things figured out in 4th grade until we were in the middle of building a house, living off of hot dogs and bologna sandwiches. When I got a new bike from Santa - I KNEW he had to be real cause that bike must have costed at least $500!! (says the 4th grader with no concept of money)
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Not normally. Although I've picked up the tradition of giving the kids p.j.'s on Christmas Eve. Just cause I like cute Christmas morning pictures vs. pics of my scrawny boys hanging out of hand-me-down boxers.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? I've given each kid's room it's own tree to reduce all child interaction with my piece of art. Hey, don't judge me. I can smile at their Charlie Brown trees and smile at my carefully spaced holiday masterpiece.
11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? Loved it as it makes it's way to the Carolinas so infrequently that it is awesome to see how much joy my kids get out of a few stray flakes. Even better, last year's South Carolina blizzard came in one night, was enough to make snow men out of - and was gone by the next afternoon when the kids were playing in short sleeves. It's like a drive thru version of Frosty the snowman.
12. Can you ice skate? Coordination is not my strong suit. If you count standing up and then skidding on your rear, yes - I can skate. Just not on my feet.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift? a couple years back Tony gave me a charcoal portrait of Seth drawn by our artist friend Noah. He was about 3 and it made me cry. First present to ever make me cry but I loved it.
14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? the babe in a manger that grew up to be my Daddy. The answer is always Jesus.
15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? do I have to choose just one? Although you can't go wrong with anything chocolate - I love the icebox fruit cake rolls my mom and I make. It's fruit cake with no cake involved, but lots of powdered sugar, graham crackers, and cherries.
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? giving my kids ornaments every year that reflect their interests. They could care less, but I love doing it. And they love their personalized, self-decorated Charlie Brown trees.
17. What is your favorite Christmas Song? Mercy Me's version of Angels we have Heard on High. It's a song headache all season long.
18. Candy Canes: Yuck or Yum? could really care less. Unless they are ground and mixed with chocolate. Chocolate makes everything happy.
19. Favorite Christmas Show? Charlie Brown's Christmas. His tree makes me smile. Can ya tell??
Thursday, November 18, 2010
They were everywhere.
In my jean drawers...
In my p.j. drawer....
Even on my bathroom ceiling....
And a week later, they haven't moved at all....
And why do I allow these miniature critters to continue to greet me every morning??
Because it cracks me up that such a plot could have been orchastrated by such a sweet little thing as this.... it just isn't possible.....
Or such an angelic face as this.... no way would HE have planned such an attack...
Angels. My little angels. That crack me up.
Although I may need to take down the bathroom mice as visitors may not find it as funny as I do that rodents are stuck to my ceiling. Real or not.
(And Braeden's black and blue forehead and cheek - Seth hit him with the dog lead. By accident. Because he was laying on the ground. And when I called Tony to tell him that we had just narrowly avoided another ER visit -- he immediately asked "what did Braeden do???" How did he know??)
Saturday, November 13, 2010
I'm talkin about ME.
You know, the one who has faith God will provide for this adoption..
until the due dates for payments loom near.
You know, the one who has faith that God has the perfect daughter destined for our family..
until I get down that it is taking so long.
You know, the one who has faith that God loves me..
until bad things happen.
Bad things like lay-offs. Again. The third time in the last year. Unless I've lost count, which is possible.
Last time was the week before Christmas. At least this time we had a month to go...
Last time I had a mini temper tantrum. O.k., a big, full-out, screaming-stamping-my-feet temper tantrum.
This time I had a mini melt down. O.k., a stay-in-my-pajamas-and-avoid-all-conversation-as-I-sit-in-a-corner-and-pout temper tantrum.
Last time, God provided another job in two days. And I chastised myself for my lack of faith. I even wrote a blog about how stupid I had been.
This time, God provided another job in three days. And so I am now chastising myself for my lack of faith. And writing a blog about it. So I can once again look back later at how immature my Christian walk can be.
We had been praying for him to get a better job where he could move up and be successful enough for me to scale back my hours more when the baby gets here. His last job was quickly showing itself to be a dead end. A big, fat dead end where a boss gives you no work to do, you beg for work to do, and he assures you it will come, not to worry about loosing your job. And then he lays you off the next morning.
This job has an exciting boss who is pumped about his partnership and is planning on growing and succeeding together. Kind of like we had been praying for. And silly me for worrying about God taking away his crappy job. And having a temper tantrum. And acting like a two-year old. You would think I would learn.
Another job in three days in a bad economy. It's kind of like He has a big plan which is better than mine isn't it?? You would think I would learn....
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Sunday was National Orphan Sunday. I never would have known that until this year. Orphan awareness was preached in pulpits across the country. And yet, before this past year, I was so unaware. If it isn't on the news, it didn't affect me. If it isn't on the radio, it didn't affect me. If it isn't front and forefront in your daily life - I'm guessing it doesn't affect you either.
It's so easy to get wrapped up in the need for new cleats, the need for a winter jacket, the need for another box of cereal, another gallon of milk. We have so much that we focus on that our focus becomes completely inward - with the outside world as only a shadow of reality.
Until that reality drops on your doorstep, and then it affects you.
Lately we have had parents who are visiting their children in Ethiopia reporting back about the conditions of the orphanages there. We all knew they weren't the most clean places. Happy places. Places where children are well fed and loved. We knew that. But to hear first-hand descriptions of where my daughter, may, at this moment be sleeping --- it brought me to tears several weeks ago - and it brings me to tears again today.
From another AWAA parent's blog:
"Tuesday was another one of those highly emotional days. Wow. We started off early in the morning to visit two orphanages. The first one was right down the street from our guest house, and when we got there, we realized that these were the kids we hear singing every morning!! Boy did this place grab a hold of us. We walked in to dozens of older children all sitting in a line outside. Then we went to the toddler room. As soon as I picked up the first child, I discovered that they weren’t wearing diapers and just about every one of them was wet. Their beds were soaked. Some didn’t even have mattresses because they were laying out in the sun to dry. One little boy was so scared when we came that he ran to a corner and faced the wall to be avoided. Then we visited the infant room where we saw a similar situation. No diapers, wet mattresses, 3 to 4 babies to a crib. It was heart breaking. One of the families brought diapers to donate, so the ladies immediately started putting diapers on the kids, covering mattresses with plastic and sheets, and holding each of those babies. I don’t tell you about these conditions to speak badly of the orphanage. The truth is, it’s all they have. I picked up the first baby I saw in the room, and she clung to me for dear life, crying if I tried to put her down. When I could calm her down to put on a diaper, her entire bottom was blistered. We stood crowded in that tiny room as long as our guide would allow us to stay. There were moments when I thought about all the germs, infections, and rashes I was touching, but we all decided it was more important for these children to be visited and loved than for us to get dirty. B and I also spent some time outside with the older kids and they would beg us to sit next to them in their line. When we did, they’d weave their arms through ours and hang on tight to ensure we wouldn’t get up. Some would cry if you didn’t sit by them, some would search our pockets, and one even snatched our camera. An older girl walked down the line with an old rag wiping the tears and snot from their faces all on the same spot. Needless to say, our group gave bins and bins of donations to this particular orphanage. To those who donated from home, THANK YOU! Pictures weren’t allowed, but I just wish you could see with your own eyes how needed this stuff was. You cared for the least of these on Tuesday through your generosity."
And this orphanage is, thankfully, being helped by those visiting parents. Who bought those mattresses. Who bought the plastic sheeting to wrap them. Who bought the diapers to put on those babies. And yet - the need is still so great.
And yet - this is only one orphanage in Ethiopia. In the world. That is 'lucky' enough to have a relationship with an agency which can help to support them and improve their conditions. What about the other hundreds of orphanages in Ethiopia? In the world? What about those orphans?
Often times when asked why we are adopting from Ethiopia - Tony has told them - 'if your child was sick, and hungry, and a million miles away. Wouldn't you do everything within your power to bring her home to you?'
So before this post leaves your mind and doesn't affect you at all anymore - could you take a moment, in this, National Adoption Awareness Month, to wonder what you, as one person, could do? You may not think you have room for another child. Or maybe you are too old. Or maybe you aren't called to adopt, or foster.
But you could sponsor an orphan, with Compassion International.
But you could research the possibility of adoption - our agency - America World Adoption.
But you could donate to families who are trying to do everything within their power to bring their children home. With it made easier by lists of families with items for sale for Christmas -
Shopping with a Purpose
One Stop Adoption Shop
Home for Christmas
You could do anything. As long as you do something.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
ha! I bet my mom just freaked out - two months mom, not two babies...
However, in prayer time tonight at church, someone mentioned that God always gives more abundantly than what we ask for. I quickly reminded them that, no - we really only want one baby, thank-you-very-much..
So without further ado--- we are now ----- number-----seventeen!!!
Courts finally reopened and we sat, and sat, and sat - with no movement. Then last Friday the floodgates opened and referrals started rolling out! So here we are! In addition, 11 of those 16 families ahead of us have now gotten their 'on deck' email which means they should keep their phones close as their call could come anytime from now to 3 months from now! Wow.
So in honor of our 2 month DTE-versary -- the three little monkeys actually agreed on our flavor of the month --
Seth - "it's nasty". He, obviously, is not my child. Chocolate + caramel can NEVER = nasty.
Mommy = one very happy phisherman. Chocolate and caramel make the world go round.
SO -- here's our latest question we are getting quite frequently - "so how old is she and when do you get her?"
We don't know --- she may not even be born yet. My understanding is that there are many babies in the out-laying orphanages, left by surviving parents or family members who could not care for them. Our agency runs a 'transition home' which can only house and care for 100 children. As children/babies are taken home, new children/babies are brought in from the outlaying orphanages to the empty beds. How they choose those children is beyond me. I just cannot imagine. They are then tested medically and a file or dossier is designed for each child. Once our name is #1 for a baby girl, we would then get a referral call for the next baby who's dossier is ready that fits our requested criteria - under the age of 12 months and with only minor, correctable health problems. So she could be anywhere from several weeks old to 11 months old. We just don't know.
As to when we would get her - right now our agency is still officially saying 7-11 months from DTE date to referral date. Although the last several referrals have been around 5-6 months from DTE. So we could be getting close to half-way there, or we could have 5-9 months more of ice cream trials ahead of us until we see her. Which is NOT a good thing...
Monday, October 18, 2010
Average giving of American church goers (the Christians.... you know.... the ones given the mandate to "go unto all nations" and "feed my sheep" and "take care of the widows and orphans":
- In 2005, only 5% of American Christians tithed - an average of 2.58% of their income.
- In 1933 at the height of the Great Depression, Christians gave an average of 3.3%
- Of that tithe going into the American church - 98% goes back into those churches and communities, with only 2% going out into the world to fulfill Christ's commandments.
goes to the world's poor, widows, and orphans.
That's about 6 cents per day from you and I.
BUT - we NEED that money right?? It's a recession and we all are on hard times ---
For the next big numbers, just a reminder - a billion is this big: 1,000,000,000.
Amount American teenagers spend, ages 12-17 -
Amount Americans spend on their pets -
TOTAL US-government foreign assistance budget -
More numbers -
Cost to eliminate the most extreme poverty - $168 billion
Cost to bring universal primary education for children - $6 billion
Cost to bring clean water to most of the world's poor - $9 billion
Cost to bring basic health and nutrition for everyone in the world - $13 billion
Number of orphans worldwide today - 165 million.
Number of children (2006) waiting in US foster care to be adopted - 126,967
Number of children (2006) adopted domestically - 50,379
Number of children (2009) adopted internationally - 12,782
- and ourselves -
- Richard Stearnes "Hole in our Gospel"
Thursday, October 7, 2010
And make cookies. With my new Africa cookie cutter. Cause that is what my little girl wanted to take for her preschool snack day and well.... if I can't go to Africa right now - I may as well chow it down with a glass of milk.
Which actually is a lie because milk now makes me feel like puking. What kind of person becomes allergic to milk at the old age of 35?? Ridiculous. Cookies just aren't the same with a big cold glass of Diet Dr. Pepper.. But these, my OCD self must say, turned out pretty darn cute.
What I have also been doing, (since we aren't moving our name up the waiting list), and are just sitting here twiddling our thumbs at #23.... is shop. My excuse is, to spread the expenditures out. Since I was done having babies. And sold everything. People -- I mean EVERYTHING except for the cutesy dresses with "A" embroidered on them. So while I'm not trying to get completely stocked up - I will feel better with at least some basics covered.
My other excuse is that MAN I have been finding some deals!! This diaper changer (that is in our room as that is where we will have to have little Miss live for the first several months of her life here). I got for $25. No kidding.
The shoes under it were my absolute favorite for Addi - "Angel" shoes. The best baby shoe ever. Which are outrageously high but I will buy anytime I see them under $10. They are just that soft and cute. Cause I have flashbacks of uncomfortable, hard Mary Janes and the indention they would leave across the top of your foot. Uh-uh. These shoes rock.
And this cute purple sling?? With the adorable matching leg warmers (doesn't that just make you smile when you imagine them on her??) I got for FREEEEEEEE. Well, I paid shipping and a little extra for the warmers. But I had to. HAD to. Cause what good would a fashionable sling be without baby leg warmers?
And all the cute sleepers, bibs, and burp clothes inside?? (Please don't think I am that prepared. It's just that I am that lazy and don't want to trek up to the attic to put them away in bins.) All in bags of 3 for under $3 at the same consignment sale. And my husband wonders why it takes me 4 hours to do one. I look through every......single......pile. True thriftiness takes patience.
Somewhat like waiting for our number to climb up that waiting list. Which it isn't doing... Have I mentioned that yet?? Pray for me friends. It's going to be a long winter.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
explanation: all paperwork has been in the waiting line for our little girl, or 'Dossier To Ethiopia' for one month. One month down and hopefully only 5-8 more to go before we see her sweet face on our computer screen!
At 1 month DTE (as of August 27th), we were #23 in line for a baby girl. We fell down a spot since someone announced their date as prior to ours that we didn't know about. There really hasn't been much movement this past month. BUT, the courts in Ethiopia have been closed for 2 months due to the inability for witnesses/families to travel due to the rainy season and flooded roads. BUT, courts have officially re-opened as of yesterday! So hoping the ball gets rolling on those new referrals soon and we start movin' on up that list of waiting parents!
To celebrate this momentous occasion, we did as all pregnant families do -- we stocked up on ice cream (hold the pickles). I had read this suggestion on another blog as a way to celebrate DTE Birthdays and might I say, it felt like a stroke of genius to me. Every month they shared a container of a different flavor of Ben & Jerry's. Who am I to turn down an opportunity to eat outrageously over-priced ice cream? And let me tell ya, 5 people in one family = one itty bitty cup of Ben & Jerry's when shared..
So the flavor of 1 month DTE, chosen by the chilluns, was officially
Which was o.k., but I'm hoping future month selections will trump. A little caramel just makes everything a little more happy. Also hoping that the months of ice cream sharing are few, cause I really would like to still fit in my pre-paper-pregnancy jeans when this is all over and done..
Thursday, September 16, 2010
My angelic 4 year old has now turned into a 30 something pound 16 year old. Whippee.
So now cue the pickiness that seems to go along with royalty; add one mama who's job it is to 'fix' said finickiness at the dinner table; and you get something very akin to World War II.
So while I love to cook meals that are at least somewhat healthy, my daughter has now decided that she would much rather just go to McDonald's thank-you-very-much. And here comes the part where my long time rule of "you eat what I cook or you just choose not to eat" vs. "I am the tiny princess of this home and you will cater to me" come into conflict.
Now mind you, I am a professional. Trained to deal with food issues, sensory issues, behavioral feeding problems. But trained to stand-off with a 4 year old who has decided she doesn't like anything with hints of tomatoes, speckles of green herbs, or slivers of onions - this has been testing my skills.
After a few meals of her picking around her food and just complaining, she has now moved on up to the heavy-weight round with the induced gagging. Usually with a bite of food in her mouth (that Tony has made her try). And she sits beside me. Cue mother induced gagging.
And I am now at the point of my story - our prayers. Heaven help us.
The other night I had made a homemade lasagna. And not the mommy-love kind with spinach but the daddy-love kind with sausage sauce and meat. Not my favorite but sometimes a girl just feels like being generous. Anyway, first, princess laments the minuscule onion she finds, then the specks of green basil, and then pretty much just rejects the whole lot and can't even find redemption in a plain ole noodle.
The king of the house orders said princess to make a choice, "eat your dinner or go to bed". And then goes to the ballpark. Thanks. Hand down a sentence then leave it up to me to do your dirty work. So after 30 minutes of sitting at the cleared table with only her plate of untried lasagna in front of her, I am working at the computer with my back to her refusing to listen to the whining about how awful it is. "Not listening to you... nah, nah, nah, nah."
Until - she starts gagging. To which I tell her I KNOW it isn't that bad. Nothing is in it to make her sick and she needs to quit. She then tells me, in the midst of tears running down her face, with complete sincerity...
"but I pwayed to Jesus like Bwaeden did that I wouldn't get sick.... but it didnnnnnn't woooook"
Explanation - Braeden had prayed to Jesus that his upset tummy would feel better in the morning. However, Jesus doesn't seem to respond as well to little girls gagging on lasagna. Lesson learned. Maybe he likes Italian??
Friday, September 10, 2010
My middle son must be destined for greatness. He will be a missionary. A pastor. The chairman of a major children's charity. Something.
Because he has had a fish hook in his eye, which #1 didn't hit his eyeball, and #2 fell out miraculously after a prayer for Jesus to help.
Because he fell from the monkey bars, passed out, went blue, was unresponsive. We were sure he had broken his neck. 30 minutes later he was running around the emergency room unscathed.
Has had his pointer finger swell up to about three times it's size. It was MRSA infected. And it didn't fall off, as it looked like it would.
Because he fell in a yellow jackets nest this past weekend. Stepped right in this hole. And didn't get stung a single time.
God has His eye on him. Destined for greatness I tell you. And as long as that doesn't involve community organizing or elections - I will be very thrilled about that....
(this picture cracks me up every time I look at it. This is a photo this poor Asian couple took during their visit at Biltmore. Little man thought that he should be remembered for posterity's sake obviously. I just happen to quickly get a shot of his posing for them too. Little cheeser.)
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
We arrived home from a great Labor Day weekend to the following letter from my little boy Amanuel in Ethiopia. "My mother is sick so she can not fulfill any job. My sister and I go to our grandparent. Please pray for my mother to be healthy and then she can grow me and my sister."
This news would not be so upsetting except that Amanuel's father passed away 5 years ago. Widows in Ethiopia often struggle to provide for their children, but through our sponsorship and the help of Compassion, his mother had been able to start a business to provide for her children. So for her not to be able to take care of her children, much less work, worries me greatly. I do not know what his father died of. I just know that I love this child, I loved his mother, and as of two years ago when we met, she was not a Christian.
I pray things have changed. I pray that my little boy will not be one of the millions of orphans in Ethiopia every year due to AIDS. I pray that his mother will recover from whatever illness she has so that the Compassion church project will have more time to minister to her both emotionally and spiritually.
Again, these children are not just faces on a packet. They have names, they have needs, and they have the love of God above - who has asked us to love them too. Sometimes it is easy to live our happy and privileged life in America and chalk the pain, hunger, and sickness of the third world up to just a sad story we occasionally hear about on the news. And sometimes that pain smacks us in the face and wakes us up to the real world. Would you please pray for Amanuel's mother with me?
And more importantly, is God calling you to reach out to a real child, in a real relationship, and be the hands of Christ to them? There are so many children like Amanuel who are more than just statistics. To be a missionary does not require you moving to another continent. Will you?
Friday, August 27, 2010
NEON SIGNS AND EXPECTATIONS:
At one point in my life, I would hear others talk about how God had worked in their life and if I honestly and truthfully stood back and thought - I wouldn't be able to think about an example to give. Yes, I was blessed. Yes, I was a Christian. But did I have any instances where I personally felt HIM, up close and real?
Then a few years back, after the birth of my second son. After I had just quit my full-time job. After I had just told him one night how "comfortable" I was. Tony was laid off. He was then offered a sweet deal in Florida. I didn't want to move, I cried every night. But we got down on our knees together and prayed, "Lord, if you want us to move - you're going to have to sell the house. We can't afford two payments." The house sold. In two days. No sign up. No real estate agent. Neon sign in the front yard from God "Your tail is moving to Florida."
Fast forward more years, I start volunteering for Compassion. Start feeling God telling me to go to Africa. Just that little voice you hear that you can't really make out - "was that my conscious or God's voice in my head??" We make a commitment and give it all to Him praying, "Lord if you want me to go, you're going to have to help us get the money." I had the money. In about a month. With $10 to spare. Neon sign from God "Your tail is going to Ethiopia."
And now less than 6 months later, I have that little voice again. Can't really make it out, is it my conscious or God's voice in my head?? Saying: you need to adopt. You need to follow my commandment to look after the orphans (James 1:27). Um, hey God, I have three kids already. That's a-lot. I'm helping with Compassion. Helping lots of kids. Isn't that enough? And yet I hear the voice still. I kind of ignore it as just me. Keep it to myself.
I'm driving down the road to Columbia, by myself. Thinking of my trip. Remembering how excited I was and talking to my new friend Mike for the 16 hours over. I think to myself, "how cool would it be to be able to experience that with Tony? To be able to go back with him?" And then that little voice out of nowhere, in my head: "you will when you go to get your little girl." And right then, with a cloudless sky. Perfect Carolina blue sky - it starts drizzling just a little. And I break into tears. I can only describe it as the feeling of when you think you have lost your two year old in the mall and you see him, the feeling of that weight being lifted. Neon sign from God - "I want you to mother another of my children."
So I tell Tony and we agree this is huge. (understatement) We really need to pray about this. So for about 2 weeks I have prayed faithfully every morning. "God let me know if you really want me to do this. God please make it without a doubt clear if you really want me to do this. Please God, don't let me make the wrong decision for my family. By the way God, could you really let me know if you want me to do this?????" And then this week - I am looking at a normal blog. See an icon for "Ethiopian Coffee for Orphans" to the side. Click on it and read about the charity. See a mention of the couples dear friend's blog "Blessings from Ethiopia." I click and go on to read the post I mentioned to you earlier this week. But I didn't then give you the last line of that post as I was still too scared to acknowledge that Neon sign. It said, "Go. leave behind the life you planned. SEEK OUT the orphan. Don't ask God one more time if He wants you to adopt. Because... HE's been asking YOU, who WILL?"
Do I feel God? Absolutely. Am I scared out of my wits? Absolutely. And by the way, I had Tony read that post and he had the exact same reaction that he had last September when I said God really wanted me to go to Ethiopia, "Well, if God wants you to go - I guess you'd better go." "I love that man" would also be an understatement.
So now - we are scheduled to attend a workshop with an agency on August 1st just to learn the basics. And we really thought about not writing or telling anyone until after we had all the facts and could make an informed decision. But then - when you have a Neon Sign from God, is a workshop going to make a difference? As I have told others now, I am much safer living in God's will than out of it. So I think I should be more scared to disobey Him than to dive right in head first. One glance at the Old Testament will tell you that disobedience comes with a hefty price.
So I guess in a way we are expecting baby #4. But I am still paralyzed. I have the feeling of a woman pregnant with baby #3 who just found out she is pregnant with twins. Oh.....my.....goodness..... what did I just get myself into. We don't have the money. We don't have the time to figure out how to get it. We aren't the most patient people. And a year or two of worry is a long time.
I am expecting much pain.... I am expecting much fear......I am expecting much impatience...... I am expecting much cost........ But I also know that in Jeremiah, God says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
So to all my friends, I am expecting a little girl.... So please pray for Tony and I. I would really love to have some more Neon signs up to tell us which way to go from here...
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
HOW BOUT --- My first GIVEAWAY!!!!!
Since this is my first giveaway and I have no idea what might motivate others to visit my blog, I'm going to go cheap (for me) and offer up a piece of Lil' Olivia art!
Winners can choose one 5X7 personalized piece painted by yours truly.
Art can be chosen & personalized from art currently for sale
(also have: butterfly and frog pieces drawn but not painted)
Or I can custom design a simple 5 X 7 piece based on previous
artwork painted, or the design element of your choice.
(please allow 2-3 weeks for custom designed paintings)
**Visit Lil' Olivia's Store for additional past work
I know you are excited, so here's how to play:
~Post about this giveaway on your blog (with link back) - 1 entry!
Remember the purpose of the giveaway is to let more people know about our fundraiser items for sell (bracelets, stuffed animals, coffee, art).
So here's the link for our African items store.
Artwork can also still be designed and painted for anyone from Lil' Olivia's store.
Awesome coffee can still be purchased from Just Love Coffee.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
SO - our newest fundraiser!!!! These items were shipped from a company which buys from Africa and then donates a portion of their proceeds to feeding hungry children. Please, please, please forward this link to everyone you know, share on Facebook, (take out a road sign) etc. We can always order more items and would love to see that thermometer on the right moving again!
Adorable, stuffed giraffes and zebras; made in Kenya. $10 each They would make great keepsakes for adopted little ones or just as a unique gift for someone you love.
Massai beaded wrap around bracelets ; also from Kenya - $7 each.
Large colorful Tuareg bangles; Made in Mali. - $5 Each.
Small, woven Tuareg bracelets; Made in Mali. - $2 Each
Bangel Set: 1 large bangle and 4 smaller bracelets - $10 Set.
** Orders may be made on our PayPal donation site on the right. Please specify in the comment section which items you would like for your donation to our adoption fund. We would also appreciate you adding $2 for each order (no matter how many items are ordered) to help defray shipping costs. (unless you are having me hand-deliver of course - for my Lexington or SC friends)
Why still fundraising?????
Now that we have submitted our dossier and finished that stage of our adoption (think first semester of pregnancy - the throw up, nauseous, tired part) - we are on to the 'Honeymoon' portion where we wait months and months until our name is farther up the list - and then the third trimester, the heartburn and stay-up-all-night portion, of this paper pregnancy commences!
In the meantime, our goal is to raise the money needed to accept the referral of our little girl. When we get her picture, information, name - we will have 2 days to send in our acceptance paperwork and $5500. This money pays for her care in the orphanage and the remainder of our agency fees.
A month to two months later, we hope to have a court date assigned and will have to travel to Ethiopia to the tune of about $5-6,000. And that's just for Tony and I. We would love to take the kids on that trip but are leaving it up to God as far as funding goes.
Thank you so much!!
Sunday, August 22, 2010
In an attempt to journal the crazy things my kids do, I couldn't leave this nugget of information out as I'm sure my son will greatly appreciate my sharing when he is trying to get a date or get into a good college.
He's an addict. And I'm o.k. with that (most of the time). My son is a dumpster diver. There. I said it. He loves to go with his Daddy to the county dump on Saturday to "hunt for treasure". And he's proud of it.
Since I'm not a dumpster diver myself, as I understand it, there is a special "Treasure Dumpster" where he finds his stash. He's come home with an ambulance, goggles you "can see race cars in!!!", barely used bikes, which his Daddy then changes out a seat on or replaces a tire tube in - and they're good as new. They have then given these bikes to neighborhood kids that don't have bikes, or taken them to Goodwill. Tony's highlights of the year were a real barber's chair to cut the kid's hair, and a good as new pitching machine for the ball team. Like son, like Daddy.
Now that I have completely grossed you out that we allow our son to bring home treasures from the county dump, (and most likely secured it that you wont let your kids play with my kid's toys anymore..) let me get to the point...
We Americans throw away half a pizza un-eaten, left-overs that we 'just don't feel like eating again tomorrow', shoes that were 'so old I had them in high school'. And yet still, we often are able to say, without a hint of sarcasm, that we can't afford to help out children in poverty. It amazes me. Even in a recession/depression, as we tighten our belts and watch our money more carefully, we still have more than we need. But maybe not all that we want.
In a personal reference letter a great friend wrote for me for my adoption packet, he wrote that I was "passionate for social justice." And that made me cringe. Social justice today has come to mean Michelle Obama's pie explanation - we need to take some of your slice of pie to give to someone else who doesn't have as much pie. And while that imagery fits - it is still wrong.
Today's social justice in America is - the government taking what they think is your excess, and (wastefully spending) on those that don't have an excess. And that, to me - is not justice, that's stealing.
But how much good could we do if instead of being forced to give, our wages stolen out of our hand and given to another - that we would be known as a Christian society that instead just gives. To hang on to our excess, to turn our eyes from those in need because we never know when we may need that extra money, is not Christlike. That's more like greed.
Because even if my husband is laid off again, even if my car is repo-ed, even if we have our house fore-closed on and have to rent a smaller place - we still have more than we need. And that's painful to realize.
So my little son - we are so, so blessed that you can find your treasures at the dump. That you can smile over a new toy. We are so, so blessed that our children have more than they need. That they have more than one meal a day and it does not come from a garbage pile. Just something to think about in these tough economic times.
As we are able to bring gently used items home to our clean home, soak them down with Lysol and anti-bacterial wipes --- there are thousands of children around the world who don't have that luxury. Their treasures are not used bikes, or push toys - but scraps of food. Food that is needed just to make it to the next day. To another day of scavenging on the streets, or the city dump. This is the images that have been on my mind lately - a place in the very city I visited in Africa. I place that I didn't know about until recently. A place that many of the orphans that come into agency placement may come from.
"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows what we know, and holds us responsible to act."
What is it that God would have you to do with that which he has given you?
Help others to have clean water Sponsor a child in another country give to a poor village help mother's and babies in need provide help for street orphans give a barefoot child a pair of shoes
Thursday, August 19, 2010
This is a quick little SHOUT OUT to our families.
DO YOU READ OUR BLOG??
Seriously, we’re curious. My sweet sis definitely pops in. Have you??
Most of the extended families haven't made a peep. That makes us sad....Let us know you’re here! Show us some love! You guys are one of the reasons we’re keeping this blog, so it’d be great to know if you stop by. At the very least, to know who knows what so we'll have our communication bases covered!
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Current official wait time for a baby girl is DTE + 7-11 months. So early next year we may be seeing Olivia and finding out more about her. (although recent families have been receiving their referrals in approx 6 mos.) But no getting my hopes up!
We are so excited! So excited that I bit down on a granola bar, chipped half a molar off, and now have to drop everything for a dentist appt. ( I have a dental phobia... truly) Away from me Satan!! Your not stealing my joy today, I am stoked!
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
TWO MORE WORDS:
ETHIOPIA BOUND!!!!!!! (by way of Virginia & DC)
that my friends, would be one piece of paper that was prayed and waited for (and not patiently I may add) for 117 days. And is now with the other 14,568 pages of our dossier, in triplicate, on it's way to be proofed in Virginia at AWAA - then to the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington for authentication - and then to Ethiopia! Hallelujah!!!
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Day 10 of our trip was to be our last. I would love to say I cherished every moment of it - but getting out of bed that last day was tough. I was sick and I was tired. I wasn't able to eat much. And I really missed MY babies. BUT... God in his wisdom, took me back to a place of joy and of rest, knowing that we had come for a reason. On that last morning we visited one last Child Survival Program (CSP) in Addis Abada. At this program were the most beautiful children, the most loving mothers, and a wonderful morning to book-end our time in this beautiful country. Who wouldn't smile when greeted by these little munchkins?? It was here that I met the woman I had spoken of in a previous blog that volunteers with mothers in the community. To hear her talk about "so many disabled babies", and once again, see these beautiful and healthy children - I knew Compassion had made a difference in the lives of these mothers. Just the weight that must be lifted when you know that your child will not starve to death, or die of a preventable disease like diarrhea or malaria, must free these mothers to instead hug their babies every day, without the fear of loosing them. And to know that your baby will have the opportunity to go to school, to learn, to just be a child - is priceless.
It is a gift that we take for granted everyday. Yes, I worry about my children. But my worries are more the "what ifs". Sex. Drugs. Pregnancy. Homosexuality. Atheism. Selfcenteredness. Naivete. Most of those worries are for another day and not the survival in the here and now. (Although Braeden likes to test that theory...)
In that church, we had a wonderful morning playing with those babies and it really put my heart at peace. If it had not been for our ride to the center through the poverty and the dirt, if we had just been placed in the little church compound, you would never know that we were in a place of immense poverty. Now I don't want to brag about the wonderful thing that the great America was able to bring to those mothers and children. It wasn't like us high and mighty Americans were happy to see what great things our money could do in that barren land. Now follow me here: instead - it was mothers meeting mothers. God's children playing with God's children. We were not giving to them, not blessing them with our presence. God had found a way to level the field and bring His blessings to His people in that land. And we were there to be able to witness that and to see the smiles His gifts had born. To remember with humility that those children are healthy, and smiling, and playing - because God gave to us, so we could give to them. And that was my peace. It's not about us. It's all about His children.
Luke 18:16 "But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."
Compassion now offers sponsors the ability to partner with a specific CSP project in the country of their choice. You receive quarterly newsletters, information about the women in your project, and letters from the mothers. Your money - $20 a month; can help the above mothers remain mothers to their babies through health and AIDS education, prenatal/infant care education, and economic training or assistance. God-willing, these babies will not be orphans.
Partner with a CSP project today.
Click on "make a contribution"
Then choose "Child Survival Project" from the left side column.
**90% of Child Survival Project babies meet their developmental milestones on time.
**At the first CSP project we toured, over 1000 mothers stood in line for the available 50 slots. **Why not help more? Because we need you to help first.
Matthew 25: 34-36,40 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'... "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"