Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Conleigh update

As many adoptive parents have done, D and I have always tried to make sure Kenson and Conleigh had pictures of us to look at while in Haiti. This, though, is problematic. Orphanages are not conducive to keeping personal property personal. It usually becomes community property and is broken or lost. We have sent Kenson photo books twice but never actually witnessed him have them in his crib. We took a photo book with us in June for Conleigh and personally put it in her crib but it disappeared within the day. So, I decided to make Conleigh a blanket with a photo of us holding her. My thought was that it would be a "lovey" for her which she might get really possessive of thus thwarting other kids attempts at running off with it plus the photo would make it easy for staff and the other children to see who it belonged to. There are kids at the orphanage who do try to help enforce the "rules" but, my reasoning is, that with a photo book, the kids/staff don't know whos family is who and they may not be able to read the names written on the book. So, I puchased a small baby blanket and then photo fabric to iron on a photo. (And of course I scrapbooked around it because it just looked cute!)

Lori, a worker at HCH, recently sent me this update on Conleigh along with several pictures of
her with her blanket.

She's still her princess self, but she is starting to get funny now! She has a different nanny now, and that allows her more interaction with the kids her age, which has brought her out more, in terms of interacting and playing!She loves that blanket you guys sent! She just gets this big grin on her face when I give it to her at night. It sits on the dresser by her bed during the day, and so far has managed to stay around! Hurray!

The pictures and update warmed my heart. Here's to hoping the blanket stays around for a LONG time!

Bye Bye 2008

The Livesay family recently posted about welcoming the new year in and challenged their readers to think about describing the old year (2008) in 5 words. I thought about it for awhile but I am not sure I could do it 5 words. We've just had too much go on in the last year. From D's 52 year old mom dying but living eternally to adoption timelines bypassed to spending time with our kids to resigning from teaching to stepping into more front and center roles in our faiths to being upheld by our family and friends to learning about God's character and being close to Him. There's just a lot we've done in the last 12 months. So I've got ten words for the old year, done in semi-chronalogical order.


Monday, December 29, 2008

I600 approval

I called USCIS today to check on our I600 status. I was told that our I600 had been approved. They are supposed to be emailing confirmation of this soon. (If I don't hear anything by Wednesday, I will call again.) Our parent liason told us to go ahead and contact the Embassy to schedule Kenson's visa appointment. So I emailed them and got a generic reply back. (ie if you don't hear back from us in three days, please resend your message) Hopefully, we hear something before three days have gone by. It has been wonderful to hear that we have I600 approval because, although it doesn't routinuely happen, people can have their I600's denied and then their whole adoption is in jeopardy. Hearing that we have approval has lessened that small burden for me. We would love to hear that we have a visa appointment scheduled before New Years but I don't know that that is feasible. I also don't know when they will be closed for New Years. The website says just New Years Day but since that's on a Thursday, I'm wondering if they will take January 2 off too. We'll see. But soon we will have a visa.

We don't have travel dates yet as we are going to wait to make them until we know Kenson has a visa. D is taking time off of school and if we head to Haiti and then get stuck there waiting for a visa, he would be using part of his adoption leave to sort out paperwork rather than spending it at home being with Kenson. So even though I wish we could leave tomorrow, we'll be staying put for awhile. Again, soon, we'll be going...soon.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Random Christmas photos

My cousins enjoying their Christmas gifts, KNEX and a harmonica. Quinn also got a harmonica. He wants everyone to know that he doesn't know how to really play a song so he just invents the songs himself!

My cousin opening one of Kenson's gifts. My cousins open Kenson and Conleigh's gifts since they aren't here and we take pictures. Then we can put the gifts away but still feel like our kids were included.

D is thrilled with the new lamp we received from my aunt. To make a long story short, there is a running joke in our family about paperclips and D. We've gotten garland for our Christmas tree made out of paperclips as well as recipes for using paperclips and this lamp.

My grandma usually does not wrap gifts. Her normal wrapping job is a Walmart bag with all the gifts inside. This year, she bought reusable grocery bags to put our gifts in. She even used tissue paper to stuff around the gifts. That is definitely an upgrade. Look how amazed Jared is!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Over the last few days...

-we celebrated Christmas with my family. Way too much food but wonderful times of simply being with my family. My grandma got a digital picture frame which my cousin preloaded photos onto so that was fun to watch all the photos she had put on it.
-our dogs thoroughly enjoyed their time at the farm and we have experienced the smells to prove it!
-we have tried to not obsess about getting a visa. USCIS was closed Thursday and Friday so there is no new news. So far, I wouldn't say my attempt at not obsessing has been very successful.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

USCIS update

We've been wondering where our paperwork was at the last few days as our processor was saying it was at USCIS and USCIS was saying they didn't have it. Our liason asked our processor for more information and he said that he had turned it in last week to USCIS. So I called USCIS again today. Initially, they told me they didn't have the paperwork. So then I asked them to double check as our processor said he had turned it in to them. So they checked again and then said they had it. I'm a little uneasy as their first response was that it was missing but as of right now, we'll just believe it's where they are saying it is.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Menu Planning Monday

Turkey Wild Rice Soup with fruit (Believe it or not, I'm still using up left over turkey from Thanksgiving.)

Spicy Black Beans, grilled chicken breast, mixed vegetables

Baked Potatoes with the works (nacho cheese, sour cream, bacon bits), carrots and celery

Nachos (Nacho cheese, salsa, refried beans, sour cream, and my own personal favorite ingredient, a drizzle of Dorothy Lynch salad dressing), fresh fruit

One of the things I like least about adoption is...

Emotional whiplash. We have spent the last few days going through emotional ups and downs which have not been much fun. Thursday, we were told Kenson's dossier and passport had been delivered to the USCIS office where they would be approving and printing his visa. We were told to call the USCIS on Friday to see if we had approval yet. Thursday night, I could not sleep. All sorts of things were running through my head. Like depending on how long it takes to get approval we could actually be ready to travel by the end of Christmas week. So I didn't sleep much. I checked airline prices. I made mental to do lists. I felt like things were really going to happen sometime soon.

Then on Friday, I called the USCIS office in Haiti. They said they did not have our passport or dossier which they have to have in order to approve our visa application. Ugh! So I emailed our liason who said she would contact Haiti to see what was going on. That was Friday. No news as of Friday night so I emailed back to check just in case. Still no news. I figured if we hadn't heard anything by Friday night, I probably wouldn't hear anything over the weekend so I just resigned myself to having to wait until Monday to find out anymore. Over the weekend, I've been forced t0 accept that there is a really good chance our dossier and passport may not even get to the USCIS office until after Christmas, two full weeks after we actually had our passport.

And I've been telling myself that the chance of our dossier/passport actually being lost are small and that it's probably still with our processor in Haiti or was not logged in at the USCIS office when the woman I spoke with checked. I worked today and we still had not heard anything today by the time I got home. So I emailed back, asking for any new information. Our liason didn't have any and said they had been trying to find out answers all weekend long. So up and down, up and down, that's how it all goes. Somehow I'm sure this is supposed to make you stronger.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Flip Flop Fleet

I just added a new widget to my side bar. It's a link to a project a fellow adoptive parent is working on. And the simplicity of it is beautiful. Their goal is to send shoes to 3rd world countries, specifically Haiti. The simplicity of it is that they are asking individuals to commit to collecting 50 pairs of shoes at a time. This can be done through a group effort where many people work together (like a Sunday school class) or by families on their own. We always have a Haiti box going so we just added to that by making a box for flip flops and other shoes. We have been just watching for cheap shoes and then adding them to our collection. We have both new and used shoes in our pile. Just yesterday I found 4 pairs of flip flops at Old Navy for 97 cents a piece. If you live in a cold weather climate, now is an especially great time to find shoes really cheap. We're up to 19 pairs so far so we're almost half way to our goal of 50. My experience has been that often people want to help others but really don't know how to go about it. The truth is there are always opportunities to give and minister if you really look and ask. So my challenge to you is to start your own flip flop fleet. Visit Dawn at the official web site and then sign up to find 50 pairs of shoes. It's a wonderfully easy way to make a difference around the world.

My Ugly Green Heart

Today my heart is a bit ugly and green. It's not looking like what I want my heart to look like. It's jealous and frustrated and weary. We have seen two families from our orphanage who exited MOI after us, receive passports and visas ahead of us, and have either already picked up their children or will be picking them up shortly. I want desperately to be excited for those families. (And I am.) But my selfish old heart says "Why them? Why not us?"

Jealousy is one of those adoption emotions that often gets swept under the rug. No one wants to admit that they are having trouble rejoicing for someone. No one wants to admit that they have spent time literally crying tears of sorrow and frustration over someone else's praises, because they wanted those praises to be their own. But the truth is, for me at least, jealousy seems to lay fallow just beneath the covering of my heart, ready to jump out and take me hostage when someone else gets the very things I've been longing for. I can't say that I have ever been more aware of this than in these last few months. We have consistently felt passed by, as time lines have been surpassed. We know that the small voices that creep up and say things like "That's not fair." and "Maybe sending someone a more assertive email will help." are not productive voices. But that doesn't change the fact that they are still there, lurking in the back of our minds.

So if you've been there or are there, in that place where jealousy seems to be eating at your core, know you're not alone. Your quiet discontent is all too familiar. But I also know that God has given me a wonderful promise: He has given me all I need for Godly living. And that means His gifts of self control and joy are available to me if I choose to accept them. Sometimes taking those gifts isn't easy. And sometimes, it takes me multiple attempts to firmly get my hands on them. But I choose to believe that perhaps tomorrow my heart won't be quite as chartreuse as it is tonight.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Adoption Update-Kenson

Well, Kenson's passport and dossier have been submitted to the USCIS office. I'm not sure exactly when it got there because when I emailed Tuesday it had not yet been done but then when I emailed tonight to ask again, I was told it was already submitted but with no date. For those of you who don't speak Haitian adoptionese, the next part is for the USCIS office to approve a form called an I600 which is essentially an application for a visa to enter the US. I have no idea how long it will take to get I600 approval. Hopefully, it is quick. We were given a checklist when we filled out the form of things that this office needed to approve our case and all of these things have now been completed or are sitting in their office.

Once we have I600 approval, we will have to get a visa appointment for Kenson and then his visa should be printed. Again, I have no idea on time frame. Christmas is next week and I don't know for sure when the offices close. D printed off a sheet that says they are only closed for Christmas Day but who knows. But we're guessing a couple of weeks.

We would really like to be home before the first of the year for selfish, tax based reasons. We will be able to claim an adoption credit on our income taxes and we are not sure if Kenson comes after January 1 if we will have to wait yet another year to claim this credit. This sounds silly to quibble over a year but in 2008 I was employed full time and we will owe much more in taxes than we will in 2009 where I will be staying at home. And we would of course have liked to have been home like yesterday for personal, loving on my baby reasons.

Anyway, we're making progress.

God and Me-Advent Repentance

The words "advent" and "repentance" are two really churchy sounding words, words that get glossed over by a lot of people in a lot of ways. Some people have heard those words a few hundred times and when asked would probably say that they know what they mean but when pressed would struggle to define them. Some people would say that they have no idea what those words mean, maybe something to do with religion? And some people would be able fire off definitions for both words but would be unable to apply those words to their own lives. And all of those people would be missing the point.

Advent is a season, a period of waiting for something, usually used to describe the weeks leading up to Christmas. It's a time frame; it has parameters of when it starts and when it stops. It can lead to specific behaviors like decorating a Christmas tree, wrapping presents, or buying gifts. Advent's truest purpose though was preparing the way for the Lord Jesus to come to earth and to ultimately come into our hearts. In a physical way, God directed the scene for His birth by filling a woman with child and a manger with hay. Later on, some 30 years later, God provided a donkey for the King and a road laid with palm branches. In a spiritual way, while the ancient Isrealites were waiting for a Messiah, God used the Old Testament prophets and John the Baptist to share powerful images about what the end of their advent would look like.

And God does the same thing today. He spiritually prepares our hearts. He desires for our hearts to be places where Jesus lives and dwells constantly, where we allow Him to cover our sins with His death and where we work to change our hearts to be more Christlike.

That's were repentance comes in. Repentance is saying "I'm wrong." Repentance is putting down your pride. Repentance is changing your behavior. The current advent season, while a time to prepare our homes for Christmas, is a time to prepare our hearts for Jesus. It means repenting, either for the first time or for the thousandth. It means asking God to show you what things you need to repent of. Sometimes, that's easy because you know how messed up your life really is. However, more often than not, we all think our lives are just fine, that we don't have any major problems and therefore have no need for repentance. But what if our hearts aren't quite as perfect as we think they are? Pray a quick prayer to God, asking Him to reveal any areas in your life that you need to rearrange in order to make room for what Jesus wants to do.

This is essentially the sermon our minister preached on Sunday. He followed it with a song I thought was very powerful because of its simple words and application of repentance beyond just lying, stealing, violence, and the like. Some of the words that really got me were repenting of domesticating God into someone who looks just like me, repenting of fake righteousness, and repenting of wanting more things all the time. Anyway, please click on over to the song I Repent as sung by Derek Webb. It's a great way to apply the season of Advent to your life.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Kenson photos

The photo updates have been a little spotty as of late. (As in, they may come or they may not.) So I am especially grateful for these pictures. They always make me miss my kid like no other but I would be terribly sad to not see recent pictures of him. And the best part? Seeing his wonderful smile! The kid seriously does not know how to be crabby. (Okay, he does...we have seen that in person.) But in general, he is so easy going.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The first Haitian Eskimo

I've puchased a few clothing items for Kenson's homecoming...what do you think?
Seriously, it is stinkin' cold here. Like normal temperatures of below zero with windchills of 20, 30, or 40 below. My poor little Haitian baby would be seriously wanting some of that tropical weather if he were here right now. Man, is he in for a rude awakening!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Menu Planning Monday

Hop on over here for more menu and recipe ideas.

Turkey Pot Pie, apple slices, corn
(I have turkey left over from Thanksgiving in my freezer. I'll add some broth and vegetables and then thicken. Then into a cooking pan and topped with a premade Pillsbury crust.)

Carmel Bread Pudding, turkey bacon, fresh fruit
Carmel Bread Pudding (Should really be a dessert, I swear. But I have leftover middles from some bread bowls to use up so it's a good excuse)
1 loaf of Vienna bread (or other sturdy white bread)
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 cups milk
1 cup light cream
2 t. vanilla

Cut bread into cubes. Beat eggs until frothy. blend in sugar. Beat in milk, cream, and vanilla. Combine bread cubes with wet ingredients. Pout into a greased 9 x 13 pan and bake at 325 degrees for 65-7- minutes.

Sauce-Combine 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 cup whipping cream. Heat to boiling and cook for one minute. Remove from heat and add 1 t. vanilla. Serve over bread pudding.

Coconut Crockpot Chicken, rice, California blend veggies

Grilled cheese, vegetable soup
(We normally can't get Brie locally but since it's Christmas our grocery store has it. I'm hoping to have a Brie, pear, and ham sandwich.)

Chill Dogs, carrots and celery, pudding
(Using up left over chilli from last week)

Blushing Pasta, lettuce salad, breadsticks
(The bread stick recipe is new. Now that I'm home more, I am really enjoying getting to do some more with yeast.)

I am so brave that...

I cut off all the tags on the clothing we have purchased or received for Kenson! I know, what an adreneline junkie I must be!

I have been hesitant to cut the tags off of the clothing we have because it always seems like there is this huge "what if" hanging over us. And if that "what if" for some reason happens, I wanted to be able to either return the clothes or resell them as new with tags. (Just trying to be practical.)

But since we had many new things to put away from yesterday, I took the plunge and cut off all the tags on everything in his armoire.

I am the queen of thinking ahead, always in prevent mode, always trying to minimize the chance of looking foolish or making a mistake. And God has been teaching me in the last ten years that living in the land of what if or it might not work is not a good place to live. It cuts into my ability to trust Him and creates a false sense of control within me. It elevates my planning to a position of godhood, where it is by my planning and my planning alone that disaster is averted. So those tags are now gone and we are doing our best to live in a place where we believe God will continue to work to bring Kenson home.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Toddler Shower

My friends hosted a toddler shower for me today. Many of my work and church friends blessed us with gifts and their presence. It was a great time for conversation for a bunch of busy women. And I fielded many questions about Kenson coming home and what that transition to home might look that. Sharing some of the things we will be doing attachment wise will hopeful make that transition easier as our friends have now heard about it beforehand and will know some of the rationale behind it. My friends, Nicky and Meghan, who are biracial also talked about their experiences as someone who looks black but lives with a white parent. Good conversations about seldom talked about things!

We really didn't NEED anything but we received many useful and thoughtful gifts like DVD's, clothing, toy trucks, large legos, and much much more. And there were some things we knew would be purchasing like small stools, medicines, extra crib sheets, samples of body and hair products, and thermometers that we are especially grateful to not have to purchase.

Thanks so much to Ann for the use of her home and her beautifully braided egg and bread pastry. Thanks to Lisa for pulling out all of her homecky Becky skills and baking several items as well as putting together a scrapbook for us. Thanks Nicky for bringing fruit and dip. And thanks to anyone who did invitations and what not. I am so thankful to have the friends I do who have prayed with us, rejoiced with us, and invested in our lives.

Friday, December 12, 2008

More photos for another mom

Sorry the rest of y'all have to be party to my shameless sharing of photos. To me, this seems easier than trying to get photos to email. Plus, if I keep posting photos, pretty soon one of you who reads this will fall in love with the beauty of some kiddo and think "I should adopt from Haiti!"

To the mom who I'm posting for-I hope this is the right kid! If not, let me know and I'll go back through my photos. (And we're going to HCH very soon so I'll definitely have some photos then.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Passport is printed

Woo hoo! Kenson's passport has been printed. Now his paperwork has to be submitted to US Citizenship and Immigration Services in Haiti. They approve his visa paperwork and then the visa is printed and we can travel. I don't know the timeline on this but we're hoping it will be short since a lot of the things necessary for his visa have already been done.

I should also add that I don't think we'll be traveling before Christmas. It's possible but probably unlikely. Who knows though?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Menu Planning Monday

Homemade pizza with 1/2 pepperoni and 1/2 ham and pineapple, celery and carrots
(I made this crust for the first time yesterday and left out the wheat germ. It was a super easy, very tasty wheat crust.)

Homemade chilli in Wal-mart bread bowls, fruit
(Just a dump recipe using tomato juice, ground beef, beans, onion, celery and spices)

Italian Bean Soup, lettuce salad
Italian Bean Soup
3 celery ribs, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 cans of chicken broth
2 cans of butter beans, drained
1 can of tomatoes, diced
1 t. basil

Put all into a large pot and heat through.

Brown sugar and salsa marinated steak, baked potatoes, mixed vegetables
(I saw a recipe for marinating/cooking pork in brown sugar and salsa; I'm going to try it with steak because that's what I happen to have.)

Cheese and veggie quesedillas, fresh fruit
(Thinly slice whatever vegetables you want; I'm using red pepper and onion as well as some cilantro leaves.) Layer a layer of shredded cheese, the vegetables, and another layer of cheese on a flour tortilla. Add another flour tortilla on top and cook. You can do this in a regular skillet/griddle on your stove or if you have an indoor or outdoor grill, you can do it there too. You don't need a fancy quesedilla maker. To make it easier, start with the bottom tortilla in whatever you're cooking on so you don't have to try to transfer an uncooked quesedilla to the pan/grill. Then build the quesedilla.

Chill Dogs using left over chilli, fresh fruit, pudding

Saturday, December 6, 2008

MM Hummel Bates, December 25, 1922-December 5, 2008

Motorhome adventures
Yardstick in hand
Shop 'til you drop
And great apple crisp

The last week in pictures

Christmas decorating (D is way into stockings this year, don't know why.)

Crazy quilt Huskers table runner for a Christmas gift

Homemade strawberry lemonade concentrate for a Christmas gift

Saying bye bye to my treasured orange kitchen floor (the dogs just kept tearing the paint to pieces)

3 purses for 3 lovely granddaughters of a friend, all for Christmas

Friday, December 5, 2008

Adoption Update-Kenson

Um, there is none. No new pictures either. Our update said that they are waiting for our passport to be printed and that Kiki (the processor) was hopeful it would be ready the first week of December. That projected date is not looking any too promising. Sometime we'll have a passport but when is anybody's guess. As for why it is taking so long to print the passport, no one seems to know. They were out of passport books at one point in time but I know that problem has been resolved. Sometime soon, we'll have a passport.

Those of you who think this is ridiculous, let me share the most ridiculous part of this. If I had given birth to this child in Haiti, he would have been issued an American passport not a Haitian one and, if I understand it correctly, he would not need a visa to enter the U.S. But because he is adopted, he has to get a Haitian passport and then an American visa. So because he is an adopted child and not a biological one, it adds time to the end of the process. There is currently legislation pending that would ammend current laws to allow children whose adoptions meet certain requirements to come home on US passports without a visa, so that these children are given the same rights as your bio children would have. EACH is an organization that advocates for children and has a site that explains this legislation. If you click on the legislation tab, it will tell you the name of the law, etc. and then you can contact your Senator or Representative to ask them to support the changes in the law.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

God and Me 23-Death Where is Thy Sting?

As I write this, my maternal grandma is dying. Her 86 year old body is ready to be done. She's been in and out of the hospital for a month now with a variety of ailments including a cancer diagnosis. Really though, the cancer isn't what is the real issue right now. She hasn't eaten in weeks. She has fluid on her lungs. Her heart has been out of whack. And her kidneys are not functioning right. She has struggled with dementia for the last few years as well. Her body is just failing her.

We went to Omaha to see her last night because my dad said we should come. She has a breathing tube so she is unable to talk. I just stood by her last night and told her about my day, about the kids I taught and the weather. And I prayed for God's peace to fill her mind, for her to be able to rest in His promise of heaven in these last few days.

This is the second time in less than a year I've been with someone who is dying. My 52 year old mother in law passed away last January after a 4 month battle with lung cancer. Along with my brother in law, we spent the last week of her life with her. She was not really conscious due to the pain medicines but I prayed those same prayers for her as that week went on.

Both my grandma and my mother in law believed that God loved them enough to send Jesus to earth as a sacrifice for their sins. And I believe that both of them wanted Jesus to be a part of their lives. For my grandmother, she has known this most of her life and, to be honest, I think has struggled to put a relationship with Jesus as her top priority. I think living out her faith, while important to her, was hard for her due to her childhood and marriage. My mother in law only became a Christian a few years ago. For her, I saw many things change in those years including her priorities. My mother in law knew she was really sick, and she said she wondered if this illness and the way she would respond to it, were part of how God might use her now that her boys were grown up, that if she responded with grace and dignity and hope, that God might be glorified.

But the bottom line is this, for my mother in law and for my grandma, there are many things worse than dying. I know my mother in law hated the thought of leaving D and his brother behind and not meeting Kenson face to face. But she also believed that heaven would be good, that God's presence and the freedom from earthly struggles like pain were worth looking forward to.

A month or so after D's mom passed away, I was doing some talking with God. About her death. And God's reply to me was "Do you think you love her more than me? She's now in a place where she knows unconditional love, a love she won't ever wonder about. She doesn't have to wonder if she's good enough, if she measures up, if she's done the right things to make people love her. My love for her in heaven is the same as it was on earth, unconditional, but her humanness kept her from seeing it. And now she's free."

So death oh death, where is thy sting? For my grandma, hang on, He's coming. And for my mother in law, you're home at last, home at last, surrounded by the ever present, ever real love of Your Heavenly Father.

Monday, December 1, 2008


At least if I have to have stress induced habits, why can't they be fruitful? Why can't I paint or exercise or clean? Why do I bake yummy high calorie foods or eat said foods or sleep way to long? Is it really too much to ask? Or at least make my friends who exercise and clean and paint stay far far away and not make me feel guilty!

More photos for another mom

Here's a photo for another family who was recently matched with their little girl. This is from May of 2007.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

God and Me 22-Other gods

We are still waiting to hear that Kenson's passport has been printed. Not that I'm counting or anything but we were released from MOI 32 days ago. And almost every one of those 32 days has been a struggle for me. My patience for this process has run out. I am quite weary of it. My emotions have been all over the place for 3 out of 4 weeks. I've done a lot better over the last 10 days but like I was telling D today, it seems like every day is a battle to keep my emotions in check.

I do believe the last week or so has been better because God has been convicting me of my actions and thoughts, that God has been telling me how I'm turning Kenson's passport into a god of sorts because I'm spending all my time thinking about it. And I have tried to replace those passport based thoughts with thoughts of God's character. (Which in "churchy" terms is meditating on God.) I do believe that has helped. God has reminded me lots of His faithfulness and His trustworthiness.

I also read a verse this week from Jeremiah 50:6 "My people have gone from mountain to hill; they have forgotten their resting place." God has been convicting me of forgetting my resting place and instead inserting the god of a passport. But even though I've been convicted of this, it is still a battle. It is a battle for my thoughts, for my worries, for my fretting. It is a battle for short tempered responses versus long suffering, a battle for peace versus stress, a battle for trust versus impatience.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Haitian kiddos for a new Haitian mommy!

These girls at FHG now have a home and the easiest way to share the old pictures I had of them was to post them here for their mom to download. So Shelly, here you go. I thought I had one of G and now I'm not sure. I thought she was in the one with the little girls.???

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tagged with the 8's

I've been tagged by Terry. Here are the questions and my answers:

8 favorite tv shows
Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe
Big Bang Theory
Law and Order
Burn Notice
American Idol
I Love Lucy
The Cosby Show

8 things I did yesterday
Roasted a turkey
Made mashed potatoes
Baked a pumpkin dessert
Steam cleaned my carpets
Listed items on Ebay
Taught reading to kindergarteners
Made paper turkeys with kindergartners
Watched tv

8 things I look foward to
Traveling to Haiti to pick up Kenson and visit Conleigh
Receiving Kenson's passport and visa
A long Thanksgiving weekend with no obligations
Trying my hand at ploobing, thanks to my friend Rhiannon
Getting all my laundry done this weekend
Cleaning out some of the junk in my house while reorganizing the basement
Spring (I'm not a real fan of winter.)
Soccer season starting again (why, I'm not sure...)

8 of my favorite restaurants
Olive Garden
Carlos O'Kelleys
Christina's (local Mexican place)
Los Guanacos (local place owned by a family from El Savador, they make great pupusas)
The Tumbleweed (mom and pop cafe from my hometown, my grandma used to be a cook there)
Red Lobster
Hu Hot

8 things on my wish list
A passport and visa for Kenson
God's financial provision for our next trip to Haiti and the rest of Conleigh's adoption
An ever present sense in my childrens' hearts that they are loved by God, by others, and by us
A peaceful, rested heart for my mom as she helps her mom and brother face health concerns
Continued spiritual growth for D and myself, especially in the area of parenting
A mad rush of orders on Etsy which would thin out my purses
For our basement to be easily cleaned up and worked on (if you live in an old house, you know that nothing is ever as easy as it seems)
For kids everywhere to have the security that functioning families offer

Wow! That was actually harder than I thought. It took a lot more time too! Anyway, I tag the following people to reveal their deep dark secrets:


I think a bunch of you were already tagged by Terry but if not and I missed you too, feel free to play along anyway. Just list your answers and then tag some more friends.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Thankful Heart

This Thanksgiving, I know I have much to be thankful for. You know, the basics like a steady income, a lovely home, a car that runs... Just the month of November has a way of making us think about those blessings. But November also is special to me in another way. It makes me thankful in wide and deep way. We accepted Kenson's referral in November of 2006. And we began making inquiries about Conleigh in November 2007. So November is a month where our hearts are thankful for how God has worked to bring our kids into our lives. From a baby who shared a birthday with me which made him stick out in our minds to a little girl whose foster mom passionately wanted her to have a home, God has been at work.

November 2007 and November 2006 photos of my kiddos.

I am so thankful for His provision. And I also pray for His provision in life of another little boy, James. James is currently living at Haiti Children's Home and, as far as I know, is still in need of a family. He has been there for a long time, watching other kids leave to go home to their families. He desperately wants a family. His desperation practically oozes out of him. So here's my post for James. Please pray for a family for him. Please pass his info on; you never know who might be considering adoption. Take the time to help a little boy who wants a family of his own to be thankful for. Contact information for James would be Patti Vold at .

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Weekend Recap

This weekend, I did a craft fair and tried to sell some of my purses. My cousin, Alissa, who also has crafty stuff came and brought her stuff too. We didn't do great but we did sell a few things. I sold one purse and picked up orders for two more. I would prefer someone bought the purses I already have made just so I don't have to store them but I suppose I shouldn't complain. I'm really not in it to get rich. I just need something to help occupy my time on the days I'm not subbing. And if I get to sit with someone I enjoy like my cousin for a whole day, that's a great bonus. She actually stayed overnight for two nights so we got to talk and bug my husband. Great fun. Funnily enough, the purse I actually sold is one I thought was kind of ugly, one that didn't turn out the way I wanted. I guess it's all relative when it comes to personal style.

D also has been working on our basement. Right now, our basement is a typical 100 year old house basement. It's a little creepy, really dirty, and home to about a million spiders. It also has several kinds bricks on the foundation, with funny patch jobs done where they installed plumbing. I'd like to get the patch jobs redone so they look a little nicer and paint our walls and ceiling so everything is one color. Our goal is to make the basement more of a useable space. The ceiling is so low and the limestone walls are kind of crumbly so we really can't make it a true finished basement but I would like to make it into a playroom of sorts. So D has been working on that lately. I think that's his diversion from thinking about passports and other adoption stuff. If you live in an old house and have done something wonderful to your basement, let me know what you've done. I'd love some ideas.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Menu Planning Monday

Turkey Noodle Soup, lettuce, breadsticks
I made a turkey for our church's Thanksgiving dinner but they wanted you to bring it in deboned, etc.. So I kept the carcass and boiled it for some turkey broth. Now I'll just have to add noodles and veggies.

Honey Baked French Toast, turkey bacon, fresh fruit

Minute Steak Crock Pot Supper, Magic Mousse Jello with strawberries
I'm going to use the recipe I've linked but use minute steak instead. I also use reduced fat soup and sour cream. With the cheese in the recipe, I use half low fat and half regular. Reduced fat cheese is one thing that isn't always as good as regular; it doesn't melt nearly as nice and can do funny things if you use it when cooking. I also don't brown the meat ahead of time; this saves both time and fat calories since you are asked to brown it in oil.

Savory Skillet Noodles, California blend, fresh fruit

Thanksgiving Meal (at my house, I grandma is in the hospital so the plans are a bit up in the air)

Mashed potatoes
Dacia's Scallopped Corn Casserole
Green Beans
Three Fruit Relish (Really yummy, crisp and tart, cold cranberry salad)
Pumpkin Dump Cake (kind of like an upside down pumpkin pie)

Check out this blog for more recipes and ideas.

Friday, November 21, 2008

God and Me 21-Wrestling with my flesh

My brother and I used to wrestle a lot when we were little. I thought it was great fun until my brother got stronger than me and I started losing most of our matches. This week has been a wrestling match of another kind: one where I am continually battling what my flesh wants.

Sharing at church has prompted people to talk with us about our adoptions. Though we've always had people visit with us about it, sharing just means even more people want to talk to you about it. Throughout the course of our adoptions, we have heard things like "You guys are so patient." or "I don't know how you do it." We've also heard things like "You guys are still doing that? I thought maybe you'd given up."

The truth is we wait because we have no choice. I would say that while there are certainly times when we've been able to rest and not fret about our adoptions, there have also been times where fretting and wishing for things to go faster have been all we've felt like doing. We are not saints by any stretch nor do we have the patience of Job as has been suggested by some.

Right now, I am not feeling patient. I am not feeling very gracious. I am not feeling very peaceful. We are now on week 3 of waiting for passports, something that can take as little as 2 weeks. My head recognizes lots of things: that God is ultimately in charge of when Kenson comes home, that one more week or two more weeks in process isn't the end of the world, that lots of things happen in Haiti that are out of people's control. But my heart is bent out of shape. I want the passport to be issued in a timely manner. I want people to recognize how long the last part of our process has taken, that we have had a child who has been legally our child since April. I want people who are working on our paperwork to know how any apathy they might have towards Kenson's dossier is unfair.

God is at work in me during this time, I'm sure. And I know He has given me all I need for godly living. But truthfully, part of me doesn't want to do the godly living thing. Part of me wants to throw a pity party and be mad and crabby and indignant. A big chunk of me would like to yell a bit. And I'd really like to follow that yelling with some crying. Of course, none of that changes the situation nor is any of that what God wants from me. So my flesh and I will continue to wrestle. Adoption Battle 223 has now commenced.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Holiday Baking

We are food people in my family. Every gathering revolves around food. Food translates to love. You prepare food for people because you love them. One of my most favorite memories of my great grandma is knowing that every holiday she would be bringing pies and that at some point during the year, she would ask me a few days before the holiday what kind of pie I wanted her to make just for me. (Gooseberry or chocolate, just for the record.) My grandmas, my mom, me, we all cook. We especially cook if there's a reason but often we cook for no real reason. I don't have to do holiday baking. In fact, I usually bake and then try to figure out who to give it to rather than baking with a specific person in mind. Anyway, I'm going to try to get some of that baking done this weekend so I thought I'd share some of the things I will be making.

Oreo Balls (by far the easiest thing I make and something that always gets rave reviews)
Crush 20 ounces of Oreos; set aside. Beat an 8 ounce package of cream cheese until smooth. Add crushed Oreos. Mix. Roll into 1 inch balls. Refrigerate until set. Dip into melted almond bark and refrigerate until set.

Peppermint Potato Candy (haven't made this before, but we're going to try it)

Chocolate Chex Crunch (also a new recipe, it sounds awesome, hopefully it is)

Have any favorite holiday recipes that you know you'll be making?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Twiddling my thumbs

...and waiting for news. Still nothing on passports. I know there are several families from our orphanage waiting for this as well. And I know one of these families has been waiting a ridiculous amount of time to get their girls' passports. And I know lots of others are stuck at other places in the process so I hate complaining when we're so close to the end. But, that's half the problem. We're so close and I would like things to fit into nice neat time frames. (Those of you currently in the Haitian adoption process, quit laughing at that thought!)

This type of waiting is the worst. There should be some news. Any day now it feels like you should have news. And then you wait. And wait some more. And get discouraged.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


That sums up how my friends have made me feel today...blessed beyond measure.

My day started crazy and chaotic. We were supposed to be presenting for 10 minutes today at church about our adoptions, Haiti and effects the hurricanes have had there. Next week, we're taking a love offering for several organizations in Haiti and this presentation was setting the stage for that offering. I had put together a presentation on my computer and even made a special trip to church yesterday to make sure it worked, which it did. We got to church earlier today to set out our display table and get our presentation up and running. It would not work. I worked on it. Our associate pastor worked on it. No go. D was ushering so he was busy getting the supplies for that plus two ushers cancelled on him Saturday night so he needed to find two more ushers. So we weren't even really able to discuss a plan b before the first service started.

As people started arriving and I knew we would not be able to use our presentation, I was in panic mode. I had no idea what we would say to fill that 10 minute slot. I left the sanctuary in tears, looking for someone who would listen to my frustrations. I walked over to my friend, Ann, who promptly prayed with me. Then, as I started trying to figure out what the new plan would be, my friends Daneda and Jeanette saw me looking frazzled and offered encouraging words. By this time the music was playing for worship in the santuary and I was a bawling wreck. I went in and found D sitting in the back with the bulletins and I quietly started talking to him about what we could say since our presentation was not working. Then he started to get teary. I knew if he was crying, that I wouldn't stand a chance of not crying. I was worried about what we would say since we hadn't really practiced anything. We were both frustrated at our kids not being home. We both were bummed because we hadn't (and still haven't) heard any information about passport processing on Kenson. It was starting to look like our presentation was going to be a tear filled mess.

But what can you do? So when it was time, we got up on stage with tears in our eyes and no real words in our heads. I started to apologize for being teary and said something like "I'm sorry we're both a bit emotional. I think we just miss our kids." Then awkward silence. And my friend Daneda who was standing in the back pipes up, "Tell us about the kids." And so we did. We talked about our kids and Haiti and the 3 ministries we want our congregation to support. Was it perfect? No way. It was discombulated and messy. But it was honest.

Then during the last part of the sermon during the first service, our associate pastor came over and told me he had gotten our presentation up and running. He spent the entire first service working on it. Not because he had to but because he cares for us. Second service went off as we had planned, with less tears.

Then after church I went to Lincoln with my friend, Lisa. We had already made plans to go do some shopping, just us girls. We had a great time of honest talking about life. During lunch, she wanted to know if she and some others could do a baby shower for us. We've already had one other person ask but I kind of beat around the bush because we really don't need anything. But I also recognize that by saying no, you are taking away an opportunity from others to serve and love on you. So I said sure.

We started our shopping and as we drove, she asked if we could go to Target so I could register for gifts for Kenson. We had a wonderful time completing my baby registry. (She's also pregnant with her first so she got some ideas for her own registry as well.)

All in all, I spent the day feeling blessed by friends who have held me up and loved on me, supported by friends who truly care for us. I've just been blessed. So if you're reading this and were one of those friends, thanks. My heart was really touched by your thoughtfulness.

God and Me 20-

This week, I have heard a new song on the radio that I particularly like. It is a lovely letter, written from God to us. It just really seems to sum up the things He's been teaching me and the things I've felt recently. It also has some great messages about loving a child who is lost and confused and trying to figure it out on their own, which makes me think of my kids. The struggles I anticipate having with my kids are so clearly the same struggles I have with my Heavenly Father. The song is called By Your Side and it's by Tenth Avenue North. I added the greeting and closing.

My child,
Why are you striving these days? Why are you trying to earn grace? Why are you crying? Let me lift up your face. Just don't turn away.

Why are you looking for love? Why are you still searching? As if I'm not enough? To where will you go child? Tell me where will you run? To where will you run?

Cause I'll be by your side, wherever you fall. In the dead of night, whenever you call.

Please don't fight these hands that are holding you. My hands are holding you.

Look at these hands, at my side. They swallowed the grave, on that night, when I drank the world's sin, so I could carry you in and give you life.

Here at my side, wherever you fall. In the dead of night, whenever you call. Please don't fight these hands that are holding you. My hands are holding you. And I, I love you And I want you to know That I, I'll love you.


Menu Planning Monday

I have two new recipes I really want to try.

One if for Crock Pot Curried Rice. We both are big fans of the flavor curry gives to dishes so I'm hoping this is a hit. I think I'll grill some chicken breast to go with it. (Although I could probably just throw them in the crock pot with the rice.)

The other one is Fish Stick Po' Boys. I generally do not buy prepared food like chicken strips or fish sticks as they are usually not all that healthy and, while I'm not a total organic girl, if I can, I avoid processed stuff. But this recipe only uses 3-4 fish sticks per sandwiches and has a spicy kick to it. Maybe some California blend on the side wtih some fresh fruit?

Lasagne, lettuce salad

Tuna melts, oven potatoes, peas (tuna melts are so easy, just your usual tuna salad, topped with cheese and then broiled in your oven)

Philly Sandwiches, chocolate pudding with bananas and Cool Whip (I saute green peppers and onion in a bit of butter, then add sliced deli roast beef, a bit of Worchestershire sauce, and top with cheese)

Cheesy Potato Soup, lettuce salad, garlic bread (I usually use low fat Velveeta and omit the bacon. I also mash/puree the potatoes before I add the milk products for a creamy soup.)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Two Quarter Quotes-November

On Godly living...
Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. -- C. S. Lewis

On relationships...
God never gives us discernment in order that we may criticize,but that we may intercede. -- Oswald Chambers

On faith...
A love that requires absolute assurance in order to act is not love...when we can say we will follow God regardless of the uncertainty, then real faith is born - for love acts not whenever a certain set of criteria has been met, but rather because it is in the nature of love to act."~Pete Rollins

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Safe Haven

My first real teaching job was a summer school job teaching at a group home for middle school and high school boys. Oh, was it interesting! And stressful. But also sad. I saw kids with serious mental health issues who would max out of the state system at 18. I wondered what would happen to these kids when medications ran out and counselors could no longer serve them. A week or so ago, I think I saw the answer to that question. One of the boys who used to be in that facility was arrested for stabbing someone. Not just slashing at them, stabbing them. When the police arrived, the woman had a knife in her back. For most of the boys I taught, I am afraid that prison will be their permenant dwelling place.

I also saw an adoptive family who was essentially disrupting their adoption without the legalities of disruption. They adopted their son, V, as a toddler who had been horribly abused. As he became a teenager, it was clear that he was a threat as a sexual perpetrator. This family had daughters who were younger than him. They felt that as hard as it was, they could not have him in their home. They often drove 2 hours to visit him but knew he would never be coming home.

Interestingly enough, these kids have been in my mind a lot lately. This fall, the state of Nebraska passed a safe haven law. Many other states have laws like this that make it legal for women to leave their infants at hospitals, police stations, and fire departments. These laws were designed to prevent woman who feel hopeless from discarding their children in dumpsters or otherwise abandoning their newborn children.

When Nebraska passed their law, they did not include any age requirements. The law as currently written makes it legal for any age of child to be dropped off at safe haven locations. In the few months that have gone by since the legislation passed, not one infant has been dropped off. 36 older children have. Most of these children were teenagers. At least 3 were from other states including Georgia and Michigan. Families in crisis, families who are desperate, families who feel like they have no other options, these families have now taken center stage. Many Nebraskans have been forced to accept the reality that there are many parents and children who are hanging on for dear life, who are in some giant tug of war where winning doesn't really feel like winning. This law has pointed out that for kiddos like my former students, unless you have committed a crime, help can be hard to come by. For kids who are not in the juvenille courts system or the health and human services system due to abuse or neglect, help often is far away. Help is expensive. Help cannot be forced. Help often comes only after a horrible tragedy has occurred.

Are all of the parents who have left their children purely motivated by a desire for their children to get help? Of course not. But to think that the majority of these people are adults who simply want their lives to be easier, that these parents think that it's not their responsibility to care for and nurture their children, well I just don't buy it. These are desperate people doing drastic things.

Tomorrow, our legislature will be meeting in a special session to work on ammending the safe haven law so that it will have a more narrow age limit. The law will be rewritten and the "abandoned" children quickly forgotten. But there will still be families who don't know where to turn or what to do next. I hope and pray our leaders invest their energies into providing real solutions for families who really do need a safe haven as they deal with attachment issues, pychological disorders, and a lack of affordable resources.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Weekend Recap

Friday, D and I finished a project we started last weekend: adding insulation to our attic. Actually, the words "D and I" are misleading. We started last weekend and then decided it was not a two person job. So D asked a couple of his soccer boys to come help. A third boy overheard and asked if he could come. His words were "You don't have to pay me; I'll just come watch." Anyway, they came and helped and the project got finished in like 1 1/2 hours. We had supper and got to visit with the boys too. In some ways, we'd love to live in Crete because we'd like our home to be a gathering place for the soccer boys. But that's not where God has us right now.

On Saturday, we celebrated Thanksgiving early with D's grandparents. Now that his mom is gone, they only have us and D's brother as family. So holidays are a little odd as if we don't spend it with them, they are often alone. But we will offer them the choice of coming to be with us as we visit my family, even though we know they probably won't accept that offer.

Sunday was church and groceries and finishing another project in our basement. A portion of a wall in our basement needs to be rebuilt so a company is coming next week to do that. But all of the stuff in our basement needed to be moved or covered to keep out the dust from the project. The boys who came on Friday helped move some things but we needed to cover the rest of the stuff with plastic. That's all finished and ready for the demo crew.

Now my poor hubby is working on the last few assignments he has for the class he is taking. I'm so proud of him because this class really is hard. It requires so much reading and note taking, both of which he hates. I know he's got a lot on his plate but he has really tried hard to help me at home and help get ready for Kenson. He's stinking awesome!

And today's my mama's birthday. She has spent the last few days away from home, taking care of her mama, as my grandma had sugery over the weekend. So I hope she has taken some time for herself and not been too busy with everything and everyone else. Happy Birthday, Mom! (Ignore the naughty dog who looks like she's licking my poor mother's neck. The only other picture I had downloaded had her making a weird face.)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Menu Planning Monday

Follow this link for more recipes...

Smothered chicken breasts, orange glazed beets, California blend
Smothered chicken breasts
Grill or pan cook chicken breasts; season with salt and pepper. In a separate pan, saute sliced onions in butter until tender. Top chicken breasts with onions, shredded cheese, and bacon pieces.

Orange glazed beets (this is new, I'm not normally a beet fan and D's not a fan of vegetables in general so we'll see...)
In a large skillet combine 3/4 c. orange marmalade, 6 T. orange juice, and 1/3 c. butter. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 3-4 minutes or until thickened. Add 3 cans of sliced beets that have been drained. Cook and stir 6-8 minutes longer or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Turkey and noodles over mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables

Lasagne (No real recipe here, just follow the basic layers and bake it.)
Lettuce Salad

Refried bean and cheese tostados, homemade guacamole
Bean and cheese tostados
Heat cooking oil in pan; add 6 inch corn tortilla. Flip when browned on one side. Remove from oil and sprinkle with salt. Spread with warmed refried beans. Top with cheese and salsa. Nuke for 30 seconds. Add shredded lettuce, guacamole, and sour cream. Repeat.

Homemade guacamole
Avocados, canned salsa, lime juice, salt, cilantro
Peel avocados, slice and mash with a fork. Add canned salsa, lime juice, salt, and cilantro to taste

Chicken Bruschetta Casserole, lettuce salad
Chicken Bruschetta Casserole (also new to us)
1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes, undrained
1 6 oz. package of chicken stuffing (Stove Top)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, shredded or diced
1 t. basil leaves
1 c. shredded mozerella

Combine stuffing mix, 1/2 c. hot water, garlic, and the undrained tomatoes. Stir until the stuffing mix is moistened. Place chicken in a 13 x 9 baking dish. Spring with basil and cheese. Top with the stuffing mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

God and Me 19-Apart from the vine, I am nothing

D and I both want to parent from a Biblical standpoint but we weren't exactly sure how to do that. D was raised in a family that were occasional church goers with little emphasis placed on spiritual growth. My family was active in church my whole life with much of my childhood centered around church. Both of our families were very good at teaching right vs. wrong. My family also focused on God as a force in your life. And up until now, I probably would have said that was what Biblical parenting was all about.

Recently, I've read The Mission of Motherhood and The Ministry of Motherhood, by Sally Clarkson, both of which have given me a new perspective on Biblical parenting. These two books, along with a blog two adoptive parents have written on attachment issues, have really helped me to see real life examples of Biblical parenting. (Thanks, Cate and Dawn!) Some big ideas that I've walked away with are using Scripture as a parenting tool and letting the Holy Spirit be at work in your parenting.

In the last month or so, I've seen multiple examples on using Scripture as a talking point when dealing with both good and bad behavior. So once Kenson arrives, we're going to really work on using the Galatians 5 Fruits of the Spirit as our key Scripture as we parent, with our discipline and interactions with our kids and each other flowing out of those 2 verses. I know the concepts of love, joy, peace, patience, etc. are abstract but I truly believe that young children learn abstract concepts by exposure to them and then examples of those concepts. Plus I know D and I will benefit from focusing our relationship on these fruits as well.

God has also been really working on me in the area of letting the Holy Spirit work in my life, to let my independent spirit rest and to let the Spirit of God be at work. For me personally it means not being a know it all. Those of you who have seen me at my worst know that I can come off that way, often unintentionally. I am afraid that I have spent much of my lifetime thus far being a know it all with God. Many things come easy for me and it's so easy to just chalk that up to my own ability to do certain tasks. In fact, admitting that I'm at a loss as to what to do or that I need someone to help me are not things I like to do. I usually walk away from situations like that feeling like a complete failure and replaying the situation to try to fix what went wrong. I know I will approach parenting the same way. I know that I ask God for advice and guidance as a last resort not as a first step. And I know that I have a tendancy to want to be perfect and not make any mistakes, especially when parenting. God wants to relieve me of the pressure of perfection and the burden of discouragement by giving me His Spirit.

I want my parenting to be Spirit driven because I believe that who I am as a parent teaches my children about who God is as a Father. And I want to embrace the times of frustration and discouragement in parenting rather than get frustrated or angry over those times. I want to not be hyper critical of myself and enjoy the experience, warts and all. I believe that those not fun, Mama's a little cranky and worn out times are the times where God can lead me the most, if I'll let Him. Those weak areas are opportunities for me to recognize how it is always God at work in me that enables me to be successful. I need to see that my successes are only successes because of God, that apart from the vine, I am nothing. I need to see that I am not a failure when I don't know what to do next but that I am a human who is woefully misguided most of the time.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

MOI release

To answer questions and other comments posted in regards to this...

We accepted our referral for Kenson in November of '06. Our dossier arrived in Haiti in January of '07. So that means we've been in process 22 months. We actually sped through the first part and were out of the first steps, including Parquet by like October of '07. But the last few steps of Judgement/2nd legal, getting into MOI, and then being in MOI took a long time.

To my cousin...tell your mom to save those tears. He's not home yet. She can cry then.

Election Thoughts from Kindergarten

I subbed for our speech and language teacher today. I had a small group of two students this morning who were working on drawing some sounds. As they were drawing, the conversation shifted towards the election. One little boy said he wasn't going to tell me who he was voting for. To which I replied, "I don't share who I vote for either."

Little boy number two says, "Well I don't trust Obama."

Little boy one, "Are you poor? Obama will make you pay less taxes if you are poor."

Little boy two "I don't think I'm poor, 'cuz I have a Wii."

Too funny to hear...they're both in kindergarten. Wonder who their parents are voting for?

I'm Back...

Although I'm sure most of you didn't even know I was gone. Especially since I had several posts I had scheduled that automatically posted last week. We didn't really go a whole week without the Internet as I think today is day 5 but those days off were valuable and restful. It is so easy to just spend your extra time sitting at your computer, surfing. It just seemed like we were spending our time poorly. I would be online while D worked in the living room on school stuff or watched tv and then when I got off the computer, D would hop on it and I'd go to the living room and do my thing. We were spending all this time on line, not enjoying each other or getting things accomplished. So it appears that it is just as I thought...the world will not disintegrate because I'm not constantly checking in on it. On Sunday, our minister's message was on delighting in God's word and what keeps us from doing that so that message was also timely as it is easy to skip your quiet time but then find lots of time to check websites and blogs. Anyway, we're back...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Gospel Truth-November

I recently read a blog where someone was describing their nine year old's reaction to the idea of Jesus living in her heart. The question the child posed was "When Jesus comes into your heart, does your heart explode?" The literal answer is "no." But one can see how a child could easily think that Jesus in your heart is a confusing topic that means Jesus is a man trying to fit into that small organ in your chest.

I don't think its just kids who are confused by that idea. I think adults get confused as well. For me, the idea of having Jesus in my heart has been an odd idea, an idea that kind of combines a warm fuzzy and that creepy hair standing up on my neck feeling. I just think the wording is a bit wierd.

But I do believe that once you ask God to take over your life, once you surrender your heart to Him, your heart of stone is softened and in some ways, just like the little girl's idea, your heart is exploded. God smashes our old hearts; we start seeing things through His perspective and choosing to listen to His words.

And the real truth should be that our lives are never the same again. Having Jesus in our lives should completely destroy our lives. Gloriously ruined are the words Rick Warren's wife uses. Unfortunately, for too many Christians, nothing really changes. Their words might change; they might sound really holy. Or actions might change; they might attend church a bit more. But the reality is their hearts have not been blown to smitherens by God's love. They live instead carefully planning out their next moves, crafting a life that involves small bits of convenient obedience rather than foolish amounts of love based faith.

So the truth about what it means for Jesus to live in your heart? It's complete and utter destruction where your heart is changed into something that is totally unrecognizable. It's a heart that rests in God's presence, listens to His voice, and is then compelled into action. May your heart wrestle with such change.

Election Thoughts

Other than wishing for the stupid commercials to be over, please remember that

What is morally wrong can never be politically right. -- Lord Shaftesbury

Elections are about so much more than voting based on what is best for me.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Praise the Lord!

Our blogging break has been interupted by the news that we are out of MOI!

We were really doing pretty good about only being on the computer for essential things like keeping up on our ebay auctions and checking email. But then I realized today was the last day in October so I had to weigh following our internet "fast" or checking to see if we had an update from the orphanage. Guess which won out?

Anyway, Kenson's dossier has been released and is hopefully sitting at the passport office, awaiting printing. No time lines are ever definite with Haitian adoption but we are hopefully looking at 4-6 weeks until we travel. (Or maybe more...or maybe less...) Not a full fledged bawl fest this morning but definitely a few tears of joy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Blog Break

D and I have decided we need a bit of an Internet break. We are spending way too much time consumed by checking for details about Haiti and adoption. It can't be all that healthy to be neurotically checking the same websites over and over, hoping that something has changed within the last 10 minutes. (And we're spending way too much time on Ebay.) So we're taking a break for a week or so. See you all next week!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


D has been working on his master's degree for about 18 months or so. I already have a master's so I've been down the road he is on. My master's is in literacy and education while his is in art education so we've taken different classes but some of the classes have been the same. Like Research Design. It's a bear of a class. The goal is to create a paper that scientifically researches a topic. If you actually follow through with the whole class as well as an additional project that counts as another class, you end up with like a 50 page paper. Good times...I did both. D decided to do just the class and not the additional project. So instead of 50 pages you write like a 20 page paper. For my husband who does not like to read or write, it's been drudgery. The articles you have to read are scientific in nature, even if they are written about education. (Translation-they are often boring and can be difficult to read.) And you have to have read like 10-15 articles to even begin writing your paper.

But on Sunday night at 11:00 pm or so, D finished his paper. He actually was finished closer to 9:30 or so but it took like 1-2 hours for me to sit down with him and help him edit it. But it's done! So yeah for my hubby for finishing a real monster of a project! He only has 1 or 2 classes left and his whole degree will be finished. He's getting close.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Blog Fundraising

I have several friends who are adopting and currently have fundraisers going on via their blogs. I thought I 'd take a minute to post those blogs and encourage my readers to consider donating to one or more of these friends. Adoption is not cheap. It costs a birth family the opportunity to parent a child. It costs an adoptive child the freedom from nagging questions like why and what if. It costs adoptive families time, and energy, and money. But despite the cost, families choose to believe that those losses will be redeemed as a child is nurtured and provided for in a uniquely complex way based on the simple concept of love. Anyway, hop on over to these blogs and consider how you might encourage a family through your gift.

Terry is doing an afghan raffle. $5 tickets for a chance to win a beautiful afghan.

Kathy, Christina, Tracy and Dawn all have donation buttons on their blogs. (If I've left anyone who I usually read out, let me know. I thought I got everyone who had a button or special event going on.)

Adoption Fundraising and God's Economy

We have personally had several people at different points in time choose to bless us with different gifts along the way. Those gifts have encouraged us. We have also written about those gifts in our childrens' scrapbooks so that our kids might come to understand how many people cheered for them and cried with them and waited for them and prayed for them, so that they might understand how they were loved before they were even known. Gifts like that reflect a sense of fellowship and community. When Christians choose to share life, to invest in the joys and hurts of one another, that examplifies what God wants fellowship to be like. Sharing one another's burdens is the truest form of fellowship.

Let me also say, we have never expected anyone to give us anything in regards to our adoption. We believe that God called us to this and asked us to step out in faith that the money would come from somewhere. We believe that He may or may not use the generosity of others to help fund this ministry. And we believe that He expects us to be good stewards of the resources He has already blessed us with.

We started both of our adoptions with $0 set aside specifically for adoption. We had savings but nothing that was designated as money for adoption. We have had the benefit of having two full time jobs. We have sold and are selling items on Ebay and . I am currently selling purses on etsy as another way to bring in a bit of extra money. All in all, we have always had what we've needed and managed to have no debt associated with our adoptions. We still have half of Conleigh's to pay for plus plane tickets for at least two more Haiti trips. But we believe that somehow, someway God will provide the money for that. God has continually given us what we've needed. Like the manna and quail the Isrealites ate in the desert, God has given us just the right amount to pay our adoption bills. He asked the Isrealites to gather only what they needed for one day and we believe that is how God has worked in financing our adoptions. He has given us the amounts we've needed, when we've needed it, no more and no less.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

God and Me 17-Watching Water Boil

These last few weeks have been difficult. We are fustrated with the lack of progress with Kenson's dossier. It's like watching and waiting for a pot of water to boil...for weeks on end. Any day now, we could have the approval needed to get his passport printed. Or it could be another month. Or another two months. It's nuts.

For me, it's been times of real discouragement interspersed with times of real encouragement. God has continued to be faithful and send out bits of hope here and there. And I am so thankful for that. But there are still quite a few times where I'm left feeling like things are unfair and that things are not working the way I would like. This week, God reminded me to stop and see what He has done through a song sung by The David Crowder Band. The words "Come and listen to what He's done. Come and sit a while with Me." echoed through my head one day followed by the words from another song "God is good." I found myself just sitting in silence and being reminded of God's faithfulness to me, and others both my contemporaries and the people of the Bible. Today at church we also sang several songs that reminded me that "out of Zion's hill salvation comes" and "what have I to fear, what have I to dread, leaning on the everlasting arms." I would ask that you continue to pray for the release of Kenson's dossier from the MOI office so that his passport might be printed. And I would ask you to pray for us as well, that we would not be discouraged, that we would pray from God's perspective as we wait.

Menu Planning Monday

Cabbage Patch Soup, with carrots and celery

Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (I use low fat cream cheese and then do half regular cheese and half low fat cheese), canned vegetable soup

Poor Man's Prime Rib cooked with potatoes, carrots, and parsnips, baked apples
Any cut of roast, 1 can beef broth, 1 package dry Italian salad dressing mix-cook in your slow cooker for 8 or more hours. Add potatoes and carrots prior to cooking for a one stop meal. I'm also going to add some parsnips if I can find them.

Leftover Beef and Veggies over biscuits, with corn

Turkey and Noodles over mashed potatoes, with mixed vegetables
I have a cooked turkey tenderloin in my freezer from a previous meal so I will shred it, and add it to about 3 cups of water and 3 chicken bouillon cubes. I boil this, then add frozen egg noodles. Once the egg noodles are tender, reduce the heat. Then, I mix together corn starch and cold water, a couple tablespoons of each. This then become the thickener when you stir it into the turkey and noodles. You then add the corn starch/water mix to your turkey and noodles and stir as it thickents. If it doesn't thicken as much as you'd like, mix together some more corn starch and cold water.
(If you haven't ever used a corn starch thickener, adding it to cold water is really important. If you just dump it into the hot water, you will get clumps of corn starch. )

I rarely make 100% real mashed potatoes but I'm not a fan of the instant flavor so I do my mom's trick of doing a half and half mixture. I boil a couple of potatoes in water with a cube of chicken bouiloon. I then mash the potatoes right in the water and use the hot water/potatoes mixture in place of the boiling water the instant potatoes recipe calls for. I usually measure out the water that the instant potato box calls for before I boil my potatoes so that way I can kind of follow the recipe on the box. After I add the potato flakes, I add the milk and butter. I think adding sour cream or cream cheese can also reduce that instant flavor so I usually add one of those too. I just dump the milk, butter, cream cheese, or sour cream until I like the taste or texture. If it gets to runny, just add more flakes. The real potatoes make all the difference.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Lori, a worker at HCH, just posted this photo on her blog.
It is titled Princess Conleigh on her blog. None of the other children's pictures she posted have such a subtitle. Those pictures just say the names of each child. (I'm not complaining because the subtitle is true.) Again, as I've said before, Conleigh is full of it. (What, I'm not sure. Spunk. Attitude. Assertiveness. I don't know, all of those and some more.) She knows what she wants and is unhappy if she doesn't get it. Fun times ahead. A toddler who thinks she's an adult. We laugh now; oh how I hope we can laugh in a year or so.

Me vs. the weather

Well, it's officially started. The weather here has been positively weird, cold and rainy for three days in a row. And the southwest parts of our state were supposed to get up to a foot of snow last night. Before Halloween!
So now, it's game on! It's me vs. the cold where I try to keep our house warm without breaking my budget. Oh, it's such a fun game!!! (Not really.) Our house is old and fairly large and has lots of things that don't help with heating it. (Like some ductwork made of wood!) The first winter we lived here we just set the thermostat to a temperature that was comfortable and ended up with an $800 heat bill for one month.
We don't do that now. We have a programable thermostat that we keep really low. We sleep with an electric blanket. We put in all new windows last spring. (25 windows in all, one of which the window guy starts measuring and says, "You know, I don't think I've ever measured a window this large before. Nice...and real cheap too!) We have insulation purchased to go in our attic as soon as we can figure out how to cover up the old wiring that is up there without setting the house on fire. And we bought a corn stove. It runs on corn out of the field and wood pellets you purchase at a store. (Unfortunately, corn is selling really high right now so it's not as great of a money saver as it used to be but it still helps us out by not having to run our furnace as much.) It's by far my favorite energy saving investment. It really helps to take the chill out of the air on our first floor. It makes it a bit more hospitable. You don't feel like you have to wear a sweatshirt or offer your guests one. Plus it just feels cozy especially when it's overcast and drizzly outside.

Monday, October 20, 2008

God and Me 16-A Sovereign Father

God has a funny way of knowing exactly what you need. Today was no exception. I have not worked for 10 straight days now. Actually longer than that, now that I think about it. I've been stuck at home. And I've been sick for three or four of those days. So I've spent a lot of time with no energy or without something to do other than clean. (Yuck! If I haven't ever shared, I dislike cleaning. To clarify, I enjoy cleanliness but that's as far as it goes. I am not one of those people who get a kick out of vacuuming or who feels a sense of accomplishment over a well polished faucet.) It was discouraging. When I resigned, I knew that I would have times before Kenson came home where I felt discouraged about not working but that doesn't mean I really am ready to embrace them. Anyway, I have thought a lot about Conleigh and Kenson over the last few weeks and have really wished we were finished with both processes.

I have missed Conleigh fiercely. She absolutely loved having us there and basically just fell asleep in my arms every single time I picked her up. Holding her meant her sleeping way too much so I often had to put her down just to keep her awake. And she would cry and cry and cry. Those tears were seriously haunting me last week. And Kenson...well I spent most of last week feeling badly over how long this has taken. I was frustrated over the lack of progress that we seem to have made in the last three month, I was frustrated in things not moving more quickly than they have, I was frustrated over other families being home and together while we are not.

So today, I think God just decided to show me how Sovereign He is. The first song during church was Blessed Be the Name which has truly been my anthem song as we've tried to adopt for the last five years. The message today was on Hebrews 11:1-16 which is a chapter all on faith. Our minister reminded me of some wonderful truths about God. Like that relationships must have trust and obedience to be authentic. And that my relationship with God is no exception. And that the essence of faith is believing that God's plans are better than any possible alternatives. And then today, while I was researching some things for the Bible study I teach, God showed me a video with several passages from Psalms 139. In the last two years, I have prayed Psalms 139 over both of my kids often because it reminds me so much of God's presence in their lives even in my absence.

So God showed up. He reminded me today of how much He cares, of how well He has all of this covered, of how He is at work even when I don't see it. Today was not a tear free day, but it was a day where God saw my bare heart and where He responded like a Father who loves His daughter and wants her to know that it all is going to be okay.