Saturday, October 31, 2009

Overload maybe?

Lately, we have been scurrying around trying to find all the things necessary to finish the house (carpet, tile, wood flooring, sinks, faucets, trim, countertops, lights - in and out, etc.) so we can move in before too long......



Of course, we were doing it all as hastily as possible since there appeared to be a large chance that I might be able to go to Ch*na before Thanksgiving. BUT Dw talked to our agency on Thursday and he learned that a family whose paperwork requesting TA (Travel Assignment)was sent the exact same day as ours - yeah, well they are in Ch*na right now bringing home their little one. HUH? But we have not even heard a word......Talk about wondering what in the world is up???



Then in my "spare time" over the last 8 days I had four dental appointments. It was a long process to remove all the mercury fillings I had acquired as a kid. Not exactly my idea of a good time, and not exactly one of the top things on my fun Bucket List.....but we were feeling it was pretty necessary.......My dentist is an awesome Godly man, attends our church and dedicates much of his vacation time to serve the orphans of the world. He may even be going to Uganda with Dw this coming year. Two of the appointments, in the midst of removing it all (with only novacaine as the pain reliever) I fell sound asleep. My snoring woke me up!! Our dentist thought that was hysterical!



Anyway, I asked the dental assistant to take a picture of me, all "dolled" up. Knew you guys would love it - and certainly you'd be wishin' it had been you! So between the dental appointments, the house stuff, waiting to hear from Ch*na, out of town friends visiting and "normal" life.....the other day I found myself coming home from WalMart talking on my cell. The cabinets we had ordered for the house had arrived and they looked horrible - nothing like the sample that we had chosen. Long story. So I was on the phone with the cabinet rep as I left WalMart. He was very kind and we are returning the cabinets. But I talked to him the entire way home. I pulled in the driveway and Graham ran out to the car because he needed a ride to worship practice. As he opened the front passenger door to climb in beside me he found this on the front seat loaded with our groceries. Oooopsie!! I completely forgot to take the groceries OUT of the WalMart basket. I burst out laughing. I had not noticed putting it in the car, nor had I noticed it the entire way home. Nor had I noticed it while I sat in the driveway waiting for Graham. My kids thought it was really funny.......Mama's head must be a tad overloaded. And yes, not to worry, I will be returning the basket thingy to WalMart on my next visit....
Then a day or two later I went to the basement room to walk on the treadmill. I have been diligently working to get back up to snuf. I have always been an avid exerciser. Never needed an incentive, just always loved to exercise. But since the fire? Not-so-much! So this particular night, when the four little ones were in bed and the big kids were at the house working on things with daddy I went down and walked for 41 minutes. I watched HGTV's House Hunters (love that show!) while I walked. When I finished there was still a good portion of the show remaining so I sat in the chair to watch the rest.
Here's what happened:

Graham had come in the room and found me like this.....he ran and found my camera and snapped these pictures. I slept thru all his snapping and laughing. He then called Josh and Emma to come see. I guess everyone thought it was rather comical that I had fallen asleep on the hard chair.

Then Graham said, "Mom you always post pictures of us on your blog, even pictures we don't like (okay, whatever son, whatever).....so you have to put these on your blog too."

So there ya' go friends - there ya' go!! In fairness to my family - it's the real me....the real deal....Unedited and in living color.....and yes, I am wearing one of my Third Day tee-shirts.....wait till you hear where I got it!!


And lastly, in the midst of all of this I realized that I had not chosen a Memorial Box winner - so tomorrow I will announce that!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Homecoming!!!

Our high school football team, since we moved here 5-1/2 years ago, has never been one to win too many games - - - - - until this year!! A new coach and they have been rockin' the city!! This past week-end was homecoming and we were tickled to pieces to go to the game and cheer them on to yet another win!!! So far they are undefeated - wooo-hoooo!! This would be listed as a true miracle in our city!! (And Yippee Jesus it all happened before the snow came.)




The Homecoming Parade
We really do love #88 - a sweet friend of Emmy's and


his parents are also good friends of ours....#88 (Ben) and the girl who asked him to escort her to homecoming.....The high school marching bandThe game....and there's #88...Stuart was here for the game......


Isaiah and April - one of Emma's buds & Josh's sister



Graham and Spencer and EmmaAnne (Graham & Spencer's friend)

What would be more fun after the game then lunch at our fav restaurant??The girl seems to have some attitude because
she gets to carry Mommy's purse....

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Grateful/Thankful Thursday - A Whole Bunch of Stuff



Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.


Psalm 107:1 NIV










This Grateful/Thankful Thursday I am soooo grateful/thankful
for so many things:







The privilege of helping chaperone some of our youth girls to California a couple of weeks ago.....and while there Emma & I were able to spend an afternoon and evening with Abi & Ryan (who had driven all the way from San Francisco to see us)....


Grateful/thankful that while in California I was also able to meet a sweet bloggy friend, Melody, who has now become a real-life friend. We had lots and lots of fun together!!!


Grateful/thankful that last week-end our longtime friend, Stuart, came for a visit from Arizona. We had not seen him in several years and it was so good to spend time together....We had a blast!!!



He is one of our empty-nester friends yet he really loves all our kids....and they love him to pieces.......evidenced by the way the three littlest ones were all clinging to his legs as he was "walking".....(one of the nights the big kids sat around with us for hours and we just laughed and talked - they really love spending time with Stuart)....


I am always forever grateful/thankful for "skin-on" friends who love me, right here where we pastor.....last week I was out really late one night. As I pulled in the driveway with the four youngest kids, I noticed - we'd been hit!! I started to laugh....I have t-p'd more than one house in my day so I guess it was our turn.....but I immediately wondered who would have done this??

And then I saw it....the "trademark"......(long story)....but when I saw that special "trademark" (42DD in avocado green no less!)....I knew exactly who had done it and I sat in my car and laughed and laughed and laughed till tears came........there is a little group of us girlfriends who often go to dinner together (and always have a stinkin' blast!!)....yes, it was a few of them.......it is so fun to be loved by my crazy friends!!
I am so grateful/thankful that I found a man at our little county fair who makes metal signs.....I ordered one for Dw's anniversary present (yes, slightly overdue) but he delivered it this week..... Dw loved it.....it will hang at our new home before too long.....
Grateful/Thankful for the privilege of homeschooling our kids for the last 21+ years......and also the privilege of having a hot tub at this rental....yesterday after the snowy start to the day Emma suggested that we discuss our Bible lesson in the hot tub ( while sipping the Starbucks that Autumn had surprised us with).......so we jumped in and had a blast....and yes, we really did discuss our Bible lesson....and yes, it was mighty cold as I stood in my wet swimsuit taking the picture.....
Lastly, yesterday Dw brought home a package from Pottery Barn....it had arrived at the office....and when we tore into it, we found this.......a Christmas Stocking for Jubilee......with this note: "Believing with you, for you and in Him. Looking forward to Jubilee's homecoming. I love you guys!! ChrisAnn"
We started to cry......
ChrisAnn is a sweet real-life friend who lives in TX but she and her husband also have a home here, so every now and then we get to see their sweet faces and hug their necks at church.....which brings me to another thing.....

We continue to be grateful/thankful for all of you who stand with us pounding heaven for news from Ch*na about our sweet baby girl Jubilee Promise.


A couple of days ago while on FaceBook, I noticed that it was my sweet bloggy friend Lisa's birthday. So I posted a tiny comment on her wall wishing her a happy birthday. She wrote me back and said that nothing would make her birthday better than hearing on her birthday that we had heard that Jubilee was coming home. I started to cry when I read her words....it was her birthday and she wanted news of our Jubilee...how amazing is that? I said to Dw, "Do you realize how many people are praying and thinking of our sweet girl regularly?" We are overwhelmed by all of your continued support and love, dear bloggy friends...thank you!!


Tomorrow marks 6 weeks waiting for TA.

It is normally a 4 week wait. We are not sure what all that means,

but we know that the fervent prayers of God's people are effective!!


Thank you from the bottom of our hearts and should you one day, hear uproarious screaming in the distance, check in here, because it will confirm that the shouting, weeping and joyful noise is our family's celebration that we have finally heard that it's time to go get our long-awaited girl!!!!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The White Stuff


We woke up this morning to the white stuff on the ground and it was, at the time, coming down pretty hard. When Liberty got up and looked out the dining room window she said, "Ugh...I'm not ready for this." I'm with ya' Liberty girl, I'm with ya'.

On the other hand, Graham got up, looked outside and sort of shouted,
"AWWW! DID YOU SEE THE SNOW? THAT'S AWESOME!!"
He is one of the avid snow boarder/skiiers of the family,
so his perspective is entirely different....
And for all my sweet bloggy friends like: Keri in Florida, Kathie in Georgia, Rachel in South Carolina, Lavonne, Tina and Pink in SanAntonio, Melody in Southern California and all the rest of you.....please, please don't tell me that you are in flip flops....cause it just may cause me to stumble - big time!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Memorial Box Monday - The Contact Lens


I love the story I am going to share this Memorial Box Monday. Although it goes all the way back to 1975, it serves as a powerful reminder of what God can and will do -
just because He loves us so!!


As I've mentioned briefly before, my dad was very abusive. He infact, took the word to a whole new level. Since I had accepted Christ as a little girl all I wanted to do was please the Lord. I was an obedient, respectful daughter, yet because of his hatred toward me, I walked on eggshells. I was scared to pieces of him and what he would do to me. Everything and anything would set him off and it would be horrible.

It was my junior year of high school and I was casually dating our pastor's son. His parents happened to be painting the outside of their home, so I went over to help paint. His parents had gone inside and we continued painting on one of the sides of the house. It happened to be Spring and it was super windy. Really, really super windy. I was wearing hard contact lenses and my eyes were dry, probably from the wind, and all of a sudden, literally, one of my contacts was grabbed by the wind and blown right out of my eye!



My first thought was, "Oh no....my dad is going to kill me." Even though I had my own part-time job and paid for all my own expenses (including this possible replacement contact), it wouldn't matter. I knew what would happen if my dad found out. And the thought sent me into a panic! I started to cry and at the same time I started to pray, outloud, and with passion!! "Jesus you know where that contact lens is! You know what is going to happen if my dad finds out! Please, Lord, please show me where that contact lens is! Please!" I continued to plead with the Lord to show me where it was.


From a humanly perspective, one little lone GREEN(!) hard contact lens blown by the wind? Not any chance of ever seeing it again! There was green grass everywhere!! Really it looked useless to even try to look. My boyfriend didn't know what to do. He was a kind-hearted, shy kind of guy but he just had that glazed look on his face. The situation looked impossible!!



But we started to look - first on my shirt.....then he helped me look through my long, long hair. He and I both looked at the grass. How in the world could we find a teeny, tiny contact lens in this wind while standing in a yard surrounded by grass? We looked at our paint pan, the paint can and the brushes.


We checked my hair again. Again, I looked all over my shirt, on my shoulders. It was so windy that from a human perspective this looked ridiculously impossible. But I knew that God could do anything - if He could part the River for the Isrealites to walk through on dry ground, if He could give sight to a blind man, if He could feed a crowd larger than 5,000 with 2 small loaves and 5 fish, if He could hold the mouths of the hungry lions closed while Daniel spent the night in their den, if He could allow 3 obedient men to hang out without even being slightly burned in a fiery furnace - the same fiery furnace that had killed the men who had merely gotten close enough just to throw the three guys in in the first place(!), if He could take one jar of oil and fill a bazillion empty jars from that same one jar of oil for a widow and her son.....then it was not too big of a task for my God to show me where that fly-away contact lens was!!


So I got down on my knees and started looking through the blades of grass. My boyfriend got down and started looking too. Of course, I knew that there was even the likelihood that I had stepped on it, but I asked the Lord to pull it out and make it whole....just please Lord return my contact back to me.

We continued searching for probably about 45 minutes. Slowly, carefully, moving aside each blade of grass, inch by inch. Nothing. I was not going to give up. (I'm guessing my boyfriend thought I was nuts.) It really did look impossible. The same wind that had whipped it out of my eye, was still blowing, so just how far could it have gone?? Really, anywhere!!

But I knew that I was serving a Miracle-working, Mountain-moving, Awe-inspiring, Gasp-giving God, and I totally, completely believing that He was going to show me exactly where it was. I was not going to give up until He did! He could surely point me to exactly where it was. And if it had blown 500 feet away, He was more than capable of having a ministering angel pick that thing up and put it where I could find it!!



We continued looking - I was not going to give up!! I said, "Show me Lord where exactly it is!" Probably over an hour had passed and all of a sudden I felt the Lord whisper to me, "Stand up!" So I stood up. Then I waited. Again, I felt Him whisper with His still small voice, "Walk over there, I will show you when to stop."
My boyfriend was watching me.
I walked, slowly gingerly toward where I felt He had said to go. I kept walking, so carefully tenderly taking each step. All of a sudden, now probably 12 feet from where we had been painting and looking, I felt Him say, "Bend down and part the grass!" I bent down, and in one exact movement, I literally parted the grass and there probably two inches down tucked in the blades of grass was my tinted green little hard contact lens!!!!


I am crying as I type. I grabbed that contact lens and started screaming and jumping up and down and squealing and rejoicing at what God had done!! I ran to my boyfriend, "LOOK! LOOK!! Do you see what God has done? Do you see where it was?? DO YOU SEE? He told me exactly where to look. God showed me where it was! Did you see that??"

My loving Heavenly Father understood completely what would be in store if I had come home without that contact and He had miraculously answered my prayer!! He had spoken so precisely - He had done it in such a dramatic way!! He had shown me where it was, many, many feet from where it had all started. It was an amazing time of faith-building for me. It was an amazing time of again, learning to recognize and hear His voice.


The other thing that struck me that day was that He had not done it instantly. I couldn't help but wonder and think that He had wanted to see if I would persevere in my trust of Him. What if I had looked at the situation and said it was impossible? (Which it sure would have looked!) What if I had only looked for a little bit and given up? The hour that we searched, against all human odds, He had been building my faith.



And I do believe He was testing my faith. He was wondering if I would give up or would I trust Him that He was going to show me. Would I give up after a few minutes? Would I give up after a half hour? Would I give up?


So now, let me ask......are there some things that you are about to give up on? Are there some things that look impossible? Is there a specific situation that you think is just too big? If it is too big humanly speaking - then it's perfect!! Because our God is waaaay bigger!!! In fact, He is HUGE!!!!

I learned a valuable lesson that day and it is contained in this verse:

And without faith it is impossible to please God,

because anyone who comes to him

must believe that he exists

and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Hebrews 11:6 NIV

Is there a time that God has surprised you with a miracle? What story do you have to tell? What would go in your Memorial Box? Leave a story in the comments and it will count as an entry for our giveaway....drawing to be held WEDNESDAY!!

If you are uncertain what a Memorial Box is, read about it here....

Friday, October 23, 2009

What If My Family Isn't Really Into "It"?


I receive tons of emails each week (which I love getting, by the way) from many of you. With all my little cherubs I am unable to answer them all (although I often try like crazy!). Every now and then though there is a sudden recurring question in the emails and when that happens I begin to pray and ask the Lord what He would have me say in a post. After much prayer this is what I’ve come up with recently… so read on - if you’re brave enough..……=)

The recurring theme (lately) has been: “what if our family really isn’t that into us adopting?” Or “our family is against our adoption?” Or “some of our family have said some pretty mean things about the children we have adopted or are going to adopt?” Etc.

First, let’s see what scripture says. It always must be our compass! The mandate from the Lord is clear: James 1:27 clearly states: Pure religion in the sight of God is to care for the orphan and widow. It doesn’t say, “If your family is into it, then take care of the orphan and widow.” Throughout scripture God pleads on behalf of the orphan. He does not say, ‘if your family is into it – care for the orphan” nor does He say, “check with your family before being obedient to me.”
In fact a rich young ruler and Peter were in a discussion with Jesus about giving it all up to follow Him. In Luke 18:29 Jesus remarked: “’I tell you the truth,’ Jesus said to them, ‘no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.’"

Now someone could say, “but scripture tells us to honor our parents.” True! But honoring is showing respect, whether married or not. It is not obeying. When a person grows up and leaves home they are “out from under their parents ‘rule’.” The only one we are to obey is God. In fact scripture says, “It is better to obey God than man.” (Acts 5:29)

So what are we to do when our parents or our family don’t like that we are adopting? Do we shrink back or do we obey God? We must obey God!!
Please hear my heart. It can be incredibly painful to not have family support. BUT, we strongly believe that God will use our testimony and life to influence. That being said, we cannot be content living our lives to make our parents or siblings “happy”. What we have also learned is that when we attempt to make family happy, often they change the rules and they are no longer happy about that either and so we are contorting life and standing on our head and doing somersaults and guess what? They are still not happy!!! The only one we are to please is God – period!!

From my end, I need to set the record straight. We have not always had family happy that we were adopting. Not at all!! One of the most horrible statements I have ever heard in my entire life came from a family member a few years back. It is so horrible I have not nor would I ever even repeat it. Ever. Sincerely – not ever to anyone!! It makes me sick to my stomach when I think that this person, whom we dearly love, could have said such a yukky thing. And the mama bear in me would like to have “straightened them out”….but that’s not really my job. We chose to keep our mouths shut and pray for their heart. Scripture says that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” so I’m guessing that there is a lot of yuk in their heart, so we keep praying.
On the other hand, at one point we withdrew contact from another family member because they were being very ugly with their comments. We still honored them – just from a distance. We did not trash talk them. We just prayed. We felt strongly that it was detrimental for our kids to be in close relationship with this person, so we kept our distance.

Many years ago when the word spread through our family members that I had lost another baby (the third loss)….I received three phone calls (talk about Job’s comforters! – three of them!! Gracious be!). A little background. Having always wanted a boatload of kids, we wanted them from everywhere and we thought it would be fun to mix a few birth up in the pile too. Over the course of 10 years I only got pregnant 4 times and eventually lost all four – one quite far along.

Everyone grieves differently. I am one who withdraws. I have to pull in. I have to figure it out and cry and grieve and feel. I do not want to hear some “encouragement” from anyone. I need the Lord to encourage me and only the Lord. Hearing someone say, “It was God’s will” does not comfort. Hearing someone say, “He must have needed another angel in heaven” (besides being doctrinally incorrect) also does not comfort. So I would just pull in and grieve until I hear God speak. Then I come out of hiding. Besides if I heard one more “friend” say “I know just what you’re going thru” from someone who has NO clue – I would probably spit and not necessarily try to miss them!! (Ooops did I say that?)


Anyway, Job’s comforters called me. Each of them called individually, but there was no doubt that at least two of them had been chatting prior to calling me. Cause the conversation was something like this: “Don’t you think it’s time you got over this whole wanting more kids thing and just got busy doing something else?” Excuse me? I/we had never grieved with them about our loss. We had never complained about the kids we did have. We had never asked them to babysit for us. We had never asked them for anything. We were not and are not on public assistance. We wanted lots of kids. Like somehow our wanting more kids made them uncomfortable or something. I was polite, but really, could they be serious?

On the other hand, some family members have been wonderfully supportive.


When we took the kids East a few weeks ago I was so touched how my cousin Billie started to cry as she hugged me and said rejoicing to me that they were thrilled that the three little ones were with us. So precious!! That whole gang of sweet cousins were thrilled we were ALL there and they pray daily for Jubilee’s coming home day! (No wonder it is so hard to be away from them and why we treasure the time we do have together!)

And what about our friends? Surely they have been cheering us on? Nope, not really. Most of our friends don’t understand. And no, they are not cheering us on. Most of our peers are empty-nesters. We are anything but!! We have lost friends along the way who “just couldn’t get into it”. Some have said some pretty unbelievable things. Oh well.

Dance shows are routine at our home...




Although I don’t know what their motive is I often wonder if people have been opposed to us adopting - maybe, possibly because it all makes them uncomfortable because maybe just maybe they even feel a teeny bit convicted? I’m just sayin’.

And here’s some real gut level honesty….
.

No doubt - The road to adoption can be a lonely one. No doubt - The road to a large adopted family is even lonelier. I think that some people thought when we were adopting Isaiah that we “would get it out of our systems.” So contrary to what one may think……we did not have a huge crowd cheering us on when we announced that we were adopting again. Instead most jaws dropped when we told our friends and family that we were adopting a gorgeous princess named Jubilee Promise.



Then we really freaked everyone out when just six months later (before Jubilee was even home) announced we were heading to Africa for another beautiful African 2 year old princess named Elizabeth Mercy and a one year old handsome young warrior named Elijah Mueller.


People’s reaction? We think they were thinking……. “Oh my gracious – I’m beginning to think they’re serious about caring for the orphans.” The crowds? Not even a small one cheering. The airport celebrations have been teeny-tiny, (my mom - who has been thrilled and a couple of friends and when I say "couple" I mean "couple") and yes that has made me grieve and even cry. My joy at showing the world my new little ones….well, I’m learning that my skin-on “support” comes from the blogging world. The friends we have made and continue to make. The people who “get it” out there. You!! You are the ones who cheer us on, pray with passion, sometimes even fasting....you are the ones who join us in saying, “Asian, African, “special needs”, Hispanic, Caucasian, Bi-Racial” - - - - ALL ARE PRECIOUS IN HIS SIGHT!!!
And really, I have to come back to the fact that we “sing and dance” for an audience of ONE - Jesus Christ – the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords – the lover, protector and defender of orphans – OUR Miracle-working, Mountain-moving, Awe-inspiring, Gasp-giving God whom we praise with all our might, day and night!! He is the only one we sing and dance for. He will, Lord willing, one day say: “Well done thou good and faithful servant. You were faithful with little. You were faithful when I gave you much. I am pleased with you.”




PS All the pictures I posted throughout are just a few that I would not have, had we "listened" to family.....we would have missed out on our precious country-serving Tyler, out-of-the-box Autumny, African-loving Emma, accomplished musician Graham, ever-smiling Liberty, still-waiting Jubilee, tender-hearted Isaiah, princess-loving Elizabeth and snuggle-bug Elijah (SO FAR).... Oh my heart grieves at the thought of missing nine of my most treasured possessions - - - instead we have memories forever etched in our hearts because we obeyed God rather than man!!!