Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thankful Thursday

I sat on my porch this afternoon watching my two girls ride their bikes up and down our street. I read back through some of the last pages of "One Thousand Gifts . . ." and sat there trying to take in the depth of Ann's words. In the ordinary moments of our lives, the routines, the typical, the simple occurences that are so simple that they are profound--God is whispering, "I did that just for you."

So, here I am on the first "Thankful Thursday" on my journey to a thousand or beyond and as I've tried to live with my eyes open and my ears attune I've sought to realize the gifts and graces of God if my life--sometimes in the simplest, the most ordinary. I realize I miss so many of God's gifts in my life. I'm so busy. I'm often so focused on what life is not that I miss what it is. I'm praying that God will open the eyes of my heart. That He will search my heart and cleanse me and break me with a heart of gratitude.

Every Good and Perfect Gift. . .

1. Watching my two girls lost in each other's company, walking through our backyard, making memories, and happy with the gift they have in each other.

2. Hearing the sweet voice of my sick daughter say "mommy, will you hold my hand", reminding me of the great blessing I've been given to hold them, to love them, to care for them

3. The faithfulness of a friend who would pray through the night for our sick daughter

4. Rejoicing with a friend as she announces that baby four will join their family, what a blessing!

5. The pure joy my 6 year old finds in the hand-written notes she received from her Sunday school class and then from two of her best friends and also from her cousins--a lost art in our day of technology, but truly a gift that blesses our hearts.

all from above!!!!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Will You Join Me for "Thankful Thursdays"?

Recently I read a wonderful book, you know the kind that makes you stop and reflect, leaves you thinking afterward, and compels you to do something with it. For several months I had seen the book recommended on a few blogs I read regularly, but it seemed that I always had something ahead of it on my "reading queue". Finally, I downloaded it to my Kindle and dove in.

WOW!!! I found myself reading WAY PAST MY BEDTIME, wanting to lose myself more and more into its pages, rich with meaning. However, as I read more I dreaded it coming to an end; I wanted to savor each word, each chapter, each thought from the author's pen as you do your favorite cup of coffee or your Mom's best dessert. The author wrote the words with eloquence and deep meaning, in a tongue that sometimes left me rereading just to make sure I caught the depth and fullness of what she intended. It wasn't my typical read, in style at least, but I was captivated by the author's story and the truth behind her journey. I was convinced that her journey to realize the fullness of life all around her, the blessing in the simplest, most mundane task, and the treasures underneath her own roof was one that was truly spiritual, leading her to the face of Jesus, realizing that truly "every good and perfect gift comes from God." (James 1:17) And then, there was an unexpected twist, one that we all come to on our journey of life, one where we have to face the reality that sometimes we have to choose to see the good, to choose the thankfulness in what seems far from beautiful or desirable. That truth alone left me staring straight into the face of Jesus.

So, after the few days it took me to devour the words of the book, and the days of reflection on its meaning and purpose for me, I began wondering what I should do about it. And. . . I knew that it was time for me to begin being more intentional than ever before about seeing the "gifts" in my life. So, I accepted the challenge that the author too had accepted--the challenge that became the unfolding story of this book. I have decided that I will spend Thursdays journaling my "Thousand Gifts." The way I have it figured, it might take me the better part of a year (maybe a little more) to see this thing through, but I'm taking the challenge. I'm going to live with my eyes WIDE OPEN to the GIFTS ALL AROUND ME. I'm going to journal them here, for myself and my family, as testimonies of God's faithfulness to us, as remembrances of just how blessed we are. Maybe you will feel compelled to start your own "Thankful Thursdays", journaling the gifts in your life--with the goal of reaching 1,000 of course (BUT NO ONE SAYS YOU HAVE TO STOP THERE!!!).

I would suggest the book to you. It's called One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. It's by Ann Voskamp. Here's a link to the author's blog too ( You might enjoy reading about her journey.

Will you join me in taking the dare of seeing one thousand gifts that are smack dab in the middle of your ordinary, coming and going, life just as it is? Go ahead, I dare you!!! Start your list of gifts.

I'll blog mine on Thursdays, but I'm going to start writing them each day--as I see, hear, touch, smell, and taste them. Let's make it to 1,000 together!

Will you comment below and let me know if you'll join in? I need some accountability here, and we'll all be richer for it as we start living in the fullness of what we already "hold in our hands" instead of buying into the lies of our culture that always keep us wanting and looking for something outside of what is already ours in Christ Jesus!!!

Our first "Thankful Thursday" post will be this Thursday, so start living with your "eyes open, ears tuned, nose inhaling every scent, taste buds savoring, and hands feeling" the life you're living RIGHT NOW!!!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Face of Haitian Adoption

I read a great post today on another blog, "Rage on the Minivan". I thought her post was worth sharing, so if you're interested in knowing more about Haitian adoption I invite you to visit and read the facts. The facts are sometimes overwhelming, but I found them to be reassuring to me as we push forward. They remind me that we must stay the course even when the paperwork is daunting, the cost is overwhelming, and the timeframe seems ridiculous. The orphan is near to the heart of God. He commands us in James 1:27 "to take care of the orphan and the widow." We must not grow weary; we must stay the course! There are 163,000,000 orphans around the world counting on us!!!! We can't reach them all, but we can make a difference for one (or two) of them. And, every Christian can do something--adopt, pray, sponsor, support. . . What can you do?

Please continue to pray for us. We are seeing progress daily. Monday marked our last visit to complete our homestudy. We're just waiting for it to be written and approved. Then, we can file that ever so important government document--the i-600a. In the meantime, we're collecting each piece of paperwork that must be in the dossier and then it will be notarized and apostiled and on it's way to Haiti!!! We're hoping that this could be completed in the next few months. We've added a link for the orphange on "Blogs I Read"--GLA Haiti. You can read blogs from the orphanage here to get a peak at the orphanage where our son/daughter(s) will spend their life before coming to be a part of our family.

Here are the links I've mentioned. I hope you'll take a few minutes to read and above all else, please PRAY!!!!

Blog Post about Haiti Adoption Two Years Post Earthquake

God's Littlest Angels in Haiti

Blessings to your family as you pray for God to break your heart for the things that break His!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

One Step Closer to Haiti

Many of you know that for the better part of 4 years our family has been on the journey of adoption. We first started praying and researching and praying some more in the summer of 2007. This journey has not been a straight path with no bumps or twists or turns for us, but it has been one where we have seen the hand of God and learned to trust that He who calls you enables you and will sustain you even in the darkest of nights. Now, at the beginning of 2012, we are finally seeing things begin to take shape and believe that we are indeed jumping the last of the hurdles and entering the final stretch of the race as far as paperwork is concerned.

We have our final home study visit on Monday with our wonderful caseworker (Kelli) at Bethany Christian Services. She will then finalize our home study and we will be able to file our I-600a (Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition) with the USCIS. Once we have fingerprinting done and approval from our I-600a, we will be well on our way to submitting our Dossier (the BIG BULK OF PAPERWORK one piece of which is the home study) that will travel to Haiti AFTER being notarized, state sealed, and authenticated in the U.S. Then, the waiting begins for our referral (the picture of our little one(s)).

Would you help us pray?

Would you please pray for us that the next few weeks of paperwork collection, notarizing, state sealing, and authenticating (is that really a word? HA!!) will go without too many kinks? We read the blog for our orphanage regularly and receive newsletters from them, and the truth is that there are many little ones who are waiting. . . just waiting for their FOREVER FAMILY!!! We are confident that God's timing is perfect and that things are totally in his control, but we need you to pray for us that through each step of the following weeks we will be diligent, that careless mistakes will not be made on our part or the part of agencies who are completing time sensitive documents.

Would you also continue to pray for our little one(s) in Haiti? We have no way of knowing if they are already in the orphanage or if even in the next months their mommies or daddies or grandmas or grandpas or aunt or uncle will have to make a very difficult decision, a decision to give them a hope and a future, to choose life for them rather than death because of malnutrition or disease. Would you pray for their sweet little hearts and minds as they grieve this loss and as they learn to trust those who are taking care of them in the orphanage? Would you pray for their birth families who love them but can't care for them?

Would you pray for the orphanage workers--Dixie, John, Susan, Molly, Melissa, and others--who are rocking them, feeding them, teaching them, and making sure they are loved and cared for until God places them with their forever family? Would you pray for their strength and well-being? Would you pray for their protection again evil and harm? Would you pray that they would have wisdom beyond their human understanding to know what is best for each child in each situation?

Would you pray for Jason and I as we seek God and ask Him to prepare our hearts and our home for the transition that will occur as we grow to a family of 5/6 and learn to parent a child who has been through more than we can even understand or grasp?

Thanks for sharing our journey. God has turned our hearts to Haiti, and we can't wait to bring our son/daughter(s) home!!!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Peeking Back and Looking Ahead

I saw this over at Rage Against the Minivan and and thought it was the perfect way to reflect on our 2011 and put somethings in focus for 2012. It's hard to believe February is staring us in the face. Is it just me or does time really move much faster as you get older??? It seems like it was only last week that we were celebrating Christmas and then taking down the decorations, and now, look at us, we're anticipating Valentine's Day and hoping for spring, already seeing Easter decorations, . . . Wow!!! How can it be that our days really do pass us by this quickly?

So, here it goes--a review of our 2011 and a reflection on what we anticipate for 2012.

1. What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before?

I quit my job as a teacher and we began homeschooling. What a great adventure!! Honestly, it had been my heart's desire since becoming a mom in November 2001, and now I'm getting to spend my days not only be a mom but getting to be their teacher! What a joy!

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more this year?

Well, I don't honestly even remember any New Year's resolutions, so my guess is NO!!! I'm not really into making those things. But, I do have a few goals for this year: 1. to run/walk a 5K and 2. to live more intentionally than ever before/not put off till tomorrow what I know I need to do today (i.e. if God puts someone on my heart/mind--call them then, not later, if I feel like I should invite someone to lunch, do it that week not three weeks or a month later, etc.) 3. maintain a healthier lifestyle (food intake (more organic/natural), exercise, sleep, etc.)

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No one in my immediate family, but boy did our Sunday school class explode with babies. What a blessing to attend showers and see those cute little ones in class on Sundays!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No one in my immediate circle died, but it seems like someone in our extended circle is always hurting or losing someone. Death and sickness is definitely a part of our lives as a part of humanity. Thankful for God's sustaining grace.

5. What countries did you visit?

NONE!!! This is changing though--YAY!!!

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?


7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory and why?

June-We made a decision to change the direction of our adoption journey. We're adopting from Haiti.

Nov. 13th-Anna Claire was baptized.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Having the faith to walk away from my teaching career to stay at home with the girls full-time. I am so at peace with this and know that I am "doing a good work and can not come down." (Thanks, Sharon!!!)

9. What was your biggest failure?

Failures are sometimes too numerous to count, and honestly I think we're often too close to them to see them at the time. I'm still trying to process some of the hurt of one of those and it's way to raw to talk about. Let's just leave it at that--I could go on and on about failures, and I'm having to leave those in the hands of God and trust Him that He rewrites our stories and is a God of second-chances!!!!

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

2010 was a year of great illness for me, and 2011 was a year of wholeness and healing. Praise the Lord for medical interventions that work!!!!

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I didn't buy it, but it was bought for me--Kindle 3G!!!

12. Where did most of your money go?

Considering, I quit my job, most of our money went to day-in, day-out expenses of LIFE!!!

13. What did you get really excited about?

We enjoyed going to Disney in March. We also we're really excited about the possibility of moving to Tulsa, but then those plans changed and we're still processing that mile marker in our family journey.

14. What song will always remind you of 2011?

Blessings by Laura Story

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

-happier or sadder? I'm less stressed, which I guess translates to happier. Overall, I think I'm happier. However, Jason and I both know there's still a part of our story not written and we're unsettled about that.

-thinner or fatter? About the same, and I really don't eat much, which makes me say UGH!!!! I think I have the metabolism of an elephant. I REALLY need to exercise, so that's part of my problem, but that causes some joint/muscle discomfort, but I am working on it. PRAYERS appreciated.

-richer or poorer? I'm unemployed!!! You do the math!!!! But, then again, I'm richer in ways that can't be calculated in dollar signs or checking accounts, and for that I'm GRATEFUL!!!!

16. What do you wish you'd done more of?

I wish we'd spent more time entertaining friends/family at our home. We always enjoy this, but everyone just seems to be TOO BUSY!!!

17. What do you wish you'd done less of?

I wish I'd spent less time worrying over things that are out of my control.

18. How did you spend Christmas?

We had several extended family Christmas. We spent Christmas morning and afternoon at home. We always go to Christmas Eve service at church--it's wonderful!

19. What was your favorite TV program?

NADA!!! I really watch no TV.

20. What were your favorite book of the year?

The Help, Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker, Kisses from Katie, A Thousand Gifts

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

I love worship music--Travis Cottrell, Chris Tomlin, Casting Crowns, Third Day. . . I also like Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood for a little change.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

I think The Help is one of the best movies I've seen in a very long time. I also saw Courageous and would recommend it highly.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 36. I'm sure we ate out, but really, I don't remember what I ate for dinner three nights ago, much less 5 months ago. SORRY!!!

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

We are still pressing forward with our adoption journey. If we had our little Haitan baby(ies) home, that would be incredibly satisfying. Jason and I are also both hungry to find God's specific place of service in ministry for us. That will be immeasurably satisfying too. More of CHRIST--Less of us!!

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

Hahaha!!! That question is really for someone else--not me!!! Wish I had one. But most days I don't have time to think about it. Just trying to get where I'm going is my goal.

26. What kept you sane?

Knowing I could hash it all out with God--nothing surprises Him about me!!!! Jason and I can talk through anything. We don't get it right every time, but we're committed to talking it through and sticking it out. A couple of very close friends who are faithful to pray for me and to be REAL!!!!

27. Tell us a valuable life less you learned in 2011.

It's really just about you and God--no one else's approval will really matter in the end (Gal. 1:10). Although everyone has an opinion, very few people are tried and true and will stick with you through the good, the bad, and the ugly!!!!