Monday, December 29, 2008


Originally posted in January 2007

We are leaving for Florida in two days, but we have been anticipating Florida for a LONG time.

Mya can't wait. She is more excited for Florida than she was for Christmas.

Kory can't wait. He needs a break from work.

The boys are clueless. But, if they could comprehend Florida, they would be excited too!

I can't wait. To have a break from the (sometimes) hum drumness of every day life sounds exquisite! A new (hopefully warm) setting, adults to talk to throughout the day, new experiences to share with my children (i.e. flying on a plane and going to the beach) all sound wonderful.

As I said, I can't wait.

The sad thing is, once it is over (and it will be very soon), I won't have Florida to look forward to anymore (at least in the near future). And, in all reality, our experience in Florida will never completely satisfy our desire to be there right now.

As C.S. Lewis puts it "The longings which arise in us when we...first think of some foreign land (or plan a trip to Florida)...are longings which no travel can really satisfy."

This again reminds me of one of my favorite quotes. It is by C.S. Lewis.

For those of you who have been reading since my blog began it will be review, but I think it is a quote worth reviewing.

C.S. Lewis says, "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same."

Heaven. That is a trip worth anticipating. And, the exciting thing about Heaven is it will be so much better than anything we can think or imagine. Florida will never satisfy - Heaven will exceed my expectations and COMPLETELY satisfy every longing I have ever had.

I can't wait!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

That Night There were Shepherds...

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.

Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.

The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!

And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.

After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.

The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

Luke 2:8-20 (NLT)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

An Unexpected Gift

This year we started a new tradition. We had our kids exchange names and "buy" a gift for each other. Last night we exchanged those gifts.

They were excited. Excited to open presents, yes. But also excited to watch their siblings open their presents. It was fun to watch!

Kory and I exchanged presents too.

Mine came in a big, microwave sized box. Which contained a smaller box, which contained a smaller box. (I remember watching my mom open similar presents from my dad.) I love what he got me - Kory is a great gift-giver. Because of the packaging, the actual gift was unexpected. It got me thinking...

So much of the Christmas story is unexpected.

A virgin girl gave birth to the Lord of Hosts. What must she have felt when the angel came to her? What was it like to hold the baby Jesus? What was it like to look into his eyes? God as a baby! What was it like?

Shepherds were the first to know. Poor, stinky shepherds out in a field! What was it like to see the angels singing, "Glory to God in the Highest!" What did they feel as they went to find the baby? when they saw him? What was it like?

Wise men traveled from afar. Foreigners bringing expensive gifts to a little, unknown Jewish boy. Why did they follow the star? What did they think they would find? What did they think when they found him? What was it like?

God giving the best gift ever given - his son. Jesus, leaving the glory of heaven to be born as a man. What was it like to bow down and worship him that first Christmas morning? To reach out and touch the hand of a baby who would save your soul. What was it like?

An unexpected story written by a God who loves us infinitely.

May you experience the wonder of the Christmas story this season.

May you be blessed with unexpected gifts in unlikely packages.

May you experience joy as we celebrate the birth of Jesus - the one who changed everything!

Merry Christmas everyone.

Happy Birthday Jesus.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Book Review - Billy

Periodically I will be doing book reviews on this blog because, well, I like books and you can receive free books from Thomas Nelson in exchange for book reviews on your blog and on-line retailers. So, without further adieu.... Here is my review of Billy!

Billy Graham is an amazing man. His life is inspiring. And, if you read the book Billy, you will discover that he was an ordinary man who chose to follow God’s call on his life. It was that choice which made all the difference.

Billy by William Paul McKay and Ken Abraham chronicles the early years of Billy Graham. It is told through the eyes of Charles Templeton a friend and fellow evangelist. It tells us about Billy before he became a household name: where he went to school, his early failures, how he met his wife and how he got his start as an evangelist. The book climaxes at a point where Billy has a crisis of faith and ends with the campaign that catapulted him into the public eye.

I’m guessing this book was written after the movie (yes there is a movie) was created. It felt like the author watched the movie and wrote the book accordingly. Regardless, it is an easy book to read, the material is interesting and it left me wanting to learn more about Billy Graham (I have added his autobiography Just As I am to my reading list).

One of my favorite moments came at the end of the book. Throughout the book Charles Templeton is being interviewed which is how the reader hears Billy’s story. (Templeton eventually became an agnostic and even wrote a book titled Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith.)

As his interview comes to a close the following happens:

“he suddenly grew quite emotional. ‘I believe Jesus was the greatest
teacher…the most moral person—‘ He stopped again and looked at Deborah [the

‘And…and if you will permit the expression…I
miss Him

In a sense this book is as much about Charles Templeton as it is about Billy. It tells the story of two men who started out sharing the Good News of Christ and ended up walking down drastically different roads.

If you any of this perks your interest and you decide to pick up Billy, I don’t think you will be disappointed.

My expert ranking: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Christmas Tour

Do you ever try to get a glimpse of the inside of people's homes as you drive past their houses at night?

Me neither, but today if you hop on over to BooMama's blog, you will get an inside look at numerous homes! What fun!!

Before you go, take a moment to enjoy a holiday tour of this home. Don't worry, the commentary is free.

We will begin our tour in the "family room," the most used room in the house.
To get a true feel for the room, take a moment to imagine a fire in the fireplace, a Christmas movie on the TV, and small children in their soft fleece PJS. Then add in a toy-strewn floor, a struggle for seat position and the consistent requesting of snacks and you will have an accurate picture of what a night in this room looks like.
If you turn your attention to the other side of the room, you will notice a nativity scene. Look even closer and you will find that baby Jesus is missing.

Inspired by a radio program discussing John 3:16 ("For God so Loved the World, He gave His only begotten Son...") your host decided to wrap baby Jesus. He will be the first gift opened by the family on Christmas morning to commemorate the BEST gift ever given.
In the hopes of creating an idyllic moment, the man of the house will open the present as the children gather round.
Now, please turn your attention to the bookshelf above the nativity. There you will see the wise men slowly making there way to the manger scene. If our host remembers to move them, they will reach their destination on Christmas day.

As we exit the family room, you may have noticed the stockings on the mantel were conspicuously missing. Due to an unfortunate accident involving a stocking hanger, the head of a young boy and the pulling of a stocking all hanging objects were swiftly removed from the mantel to the stairway. Thankfully there were no long term repercussions from the accident.

Moving on, you will find a "hand-me-down" set of carolers from our host's mother.

Rich in history, these festive carolers have been stored in the same box for over 25 years, fooling little girls who would like to believe their mommy actually held on to her Crayola Playtime Office all these years.
Please exit the home for our final stop of the tour.

Notice the unique placement of the bunched-up icicle lights that don't look like icicle's on the home.

Although slightly dysfunctional, these lights will certainly make a statement in the annual neighborhood Christmas light contest.
This concludes your tour. We hope you enjoyed it. Comments are always appreciated. Donation will be taken at the door.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cleaning the Bathroom

Company is coming, of the overnight variety.
I kinda need to clean the bathroom. You know so they aren't completely repulsed by the way we live and never return.
Cleaning the bathroom...
What else could I do?
I could...
read a few blogs, take some Christmas cards out to the mail box, tell a 3 year old he can't have another snack right now, argue with him for an additional 5 minutes (whose the mom here?), pick up the bedrooms (I'm not a complete slacker!), write a blog on cleaning the bathroom, read a few more blogs, schedule a hair cut, stare aimlessly out the window at the pretty snow falling...
switch the laundry, apply stain remover to the lip gloss colored bedspread, rescue a crying baby, put the same baby to bed, get a snack for the boys, discuss my eye color with a three year old, ignore a whining child, check the laundry to see how much time is left...
Then again, I could go upstairs and clean the bathroom.
Or maybe...

Monday, December 08, 2008

Everyday Unwrapped

My friend Emily is celebrating the everyday today. And I want to join her.

Time is a funny thing, it can drag by one minute, and fly the next. The older I get the quicker it seems to fly. I am still in awe that my baby is one year old. Didn't we just tell people we were expecting? How does that happen?

Time is unrelenting. It continues to march forward, even when you ask it ever so politely to stand still.

Time won't stop moving, so I better enjoy the moments. Especially the everyday ones. After all, those are the ones that make up a lifetime.

There are countless moments throughout my day, when I'm looking, that I wish I could bottle up. My brain just isn't reliable enough and camera's don't seem to do them justice. I wish I could bottle:

  • the comical looks - the way he makes his eyes do that!
  • the spontaneous hugs given by little hands without prompting
  • the smells of PJ's laced with maple syrup
  • the singing done when it seems no one is paying attention
  • the funny, funny words that come out of little mouths
  • the building of gigantic snowmen with daddy
  • the spontaneous dance parties
  • the excitement in my little girl's face as she tells me about her day at school
  • the snuggling on the sofa as the entire family watches a favorite show

Once those moments are safely imprisoned in my little bottle, I could pull them out and relive them whenever I wanted. Just like the first time.

But, I can't do that. So I try to memorize them in my mind's eye. I try to take pictures. I try to write down the memories. I try to really live the moments so they stick somehow...

That is I try to live the moments when I remember how fleeting they are. Too often, I am too busy to notice. Or too tired. Sometimes I notice, but choose not to join in and live the moment.

Honestly, today it feels hard to unwrap the everyday. It feels hard to create (or even participate) in those moments that make memories. Today I'd rather crawl back in bed and go to sleep.

Which makes this post a good reminder for me. I have been challenged by my friend Emily over the past week (find a few of those posts here and here). I am thankful for the reminder to live in and celebrate the everyday.

And, even though I don't feel like it today, I'm going to try to look for and participate in those everyday moments that make up my life... and celebrate them.

And the winner is...

Thanks to everyone who left a comment and entered the drawing for Journey On.

Unfortunately, there can only be one winner. Fortunately there is a winner and that winner is...

Julie D!

Merry Christmas everyone.

Remember, even if you didn't win - you can still purchase the CD at this site. 100% of the net proceeds will benefit orphans so it is a win-win-win!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A Cool Christmas...

Remember in this post, when I did some bragging about my little sister's new CD (It's really, really great. I'm not at all biased, well maybe a little, but its really, really great!!!)

Remember how I shared that when you purchase this CD for $15 you are helping orphans in Ukraine, Zambia and India because all proceeds benefit Lifesong for Orphans.

Then I told you if you want to purchase one of these CDs you need to send an e-mail to

Guess, what...

Today, (do you feel the anticipation building)...

I am giving you a chance to

WIN one of these fantastic CD'S. All you have to do is leave me a comment with your e-mail address. The winner will be announced on Monday, December 8th.

If you win, be sure and send a thank you Lysa Terkeurst's way because I am offering this giveaway in honor of her One Cool Christmas Contest.

I'm giving away one Cool CD.

In case you are wondering, this CD is a collection of songs of worship and prayer. Some of the songs included on this little project are: This is My Father's World, Beautiful Blood, Make My Life a Prayer to You, Twilight and I am Jerusalem.

Cool huh.

Once you've left a comment here, hop on over to Lysa's blog to find a host of other cool Christmas giveaways!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Why We Should Not Adopt - Reason #2

I finally know what it means to be knee-deep in paper. Ah, the joys of the first trimester of adoption (aka paper pregnancy)!

We are slowly wading through the mounds of paperwork, building steam as we go. The further in to it we get, the less overwhelmed we feel - most days anyway.

Our agency is very organized - that helps.

And, we are making progress - that's good.

Along with the paperwork, payment deadlines loom. Payment for the home study. Payment to the adoption agency. Lots of little payments as we sift through the paperwork. Payments to certify and authenticate. Payments to the Chinese government. It is more than a little scary.

The high cost of adoption is a barrier for a lot of people. It was #2 on my list of reasons why we should not adopt. Adoption is expensive, and we don't don't have that much money sitting in our bank account.

So, I am learning to trust.

Psalm 50:10 states that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Matthew 10:30 tells us God knows the number of hairs on our head.

He is a God with unlimited resources.

He is a God who knows me intimately and loves me anyway.

He is a God who will provide for our needs as we move forward in this adoption.

Obviously we need to be good stewards of what He has given. We cannot act foolishly with our money and expect God to grow a money tree in the backyard. He doesn't work that way.

But, I can trust him to provide for my needs.

When I let go of my financial worries and turn them over to my Father, I start to get excited.

I also get excited when I see His people band together to help lessen the financial barriers to adoption. There are a few organizations out there who offer grants and interest-free loans to families pursuing adoption.

Lifesong for Orphans is one of them.

We are hoping to work with this organization to raise funds once we get a little further down the paperwork road.

When I look at the bills that will be due as a result of this adoption, I get a lump in my stomach. I worry that we won't be able to pay for things on time.

Then I remember... my Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He will provide.

I need to trust.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Looking for Gift Ideas?

I have an idea for you! Allow me to introduce: Journey On.

I am slightly biased regarding this little project. The vocals were done by my sister AND the CD was produced by my dad.

It is a great CD!!!

Even better, by purchasing this CD you automatically become an orphan advocate.

All proceeds from Journey On will be donated to Lifesong for Orphans. That means your purchase will have an impact on orphans in Ukraine, Zambia and India. To find out more, visit While you are there be sure to check out Lifesong's Christmas Catalog.

The price of one CD is $15. I'm sure Lifesong would not object if you wanted to pay more. :)

To order this CD, visit Lifesong's website. Then find the contact us page. Send an e-mail to the address on the page requesting a CD.

There you go, Christmas shopping done.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Results...

Thanksgiving went well.
That trash-talking "red mound of holiday meat" never knew what hit it.

But we did.

And it was delicious.

Kory likes to think it was the carving that made the bird taste so good.

I like to let him think that. ;)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Watch out Turkey!

Thursday is Thanksgiving.

Its a big day. It will be the first time I host Thanksgiving at my own home. It will also be the first time I roast a turkey.

I am a little intimidated.

Check out that red mound of holiday meat. I can hear it trash talking from the garage refrigerator. It taunts me as it slowly thaws.

"You better have plenty of gravy cause I'm gonna be one dry bird."

"You better have lunch and dinner plans cause I ain't gonna be ready til Friday."

"Your momma..."


Better watch yourself turkey, your days are numbered. Taunt me if you wish, it ain't gonna change the outcome. I'm gonna roast you like there's no tomorrow...

Yum, Yum!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

"So I turned 30 today," she said quietly. Spoken matter-of-factly so as not to create a fuss, while secretly hoping a fuss would be made...

Yes, its true, I turned 30 today (aren't I brave broadcasting that number in this public forum). To some of you that sounds young. To others, it probably sounds old.

To me, well, I don't feel any different. I feel the same age I did yesterday... 24.

Although I don't feel any different, I am not crazy about the thought that I am in my 30s. It makes me a little sad. At least for the moment...

Mya was very excited that today is my birthday. That is something I miss about childhood. Birthday's were a big deal. They still are. But they seem to loose the magical feel and start to become a little more ordinary the older I get.

I remember not being able to sleep the night before my birthday when I was little. Definately not the case this time around.

My kids sang happy birthday to me this morning. Unprompted. On there own. It was fun. I told Mya it was a great birthday present. She quickly told me it wasn't a present.

I remember asking my mom what she wanted for her birthday when I was younger. She would usually ask for a clean kitchen, or something like that. I never understood her reasoning. Why would you ask for something that would be undone the next day or sooner. I am starting to understand a little better.

I will probably ask for the same thing some day.

Today I think I will ask the boys to play quietly without fighting. That would be a great present.

Probably not going to happen.

Actually, it didn't happen. But they are playing quietly without fighting at this moment.

Happy Birthday to me.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Dishwasher Humming

At my MOPS group the other day a friend made the comment that everytime she smells corn cooking she thinks of Tom Brokaw.

Or maybe it was everytime she hears Tom Brokaw she thinks of corn.

Here's why: Growing up her mom would have the nightly news on as she was cooking dinner. The smell of dinner and Tom Brokaw's voice are forever connected in my friend's mind.

That happens to me too.

The sound of the dishwasher at night (when the lights are dim) always takes me back to my Grandma's house.

I picture myself sitting at her table. The kitchen spotless. A game of scrabble spread out in front of us. Lights dim except the one above us. Periodic conversation. The dishwasher humming in the background.

Simple sounds, simple times and sweet memories from the past.

I'm curious...
What sounds, smells and experiences are connected in your mind?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Sigh of Relief

The election is finally over (can you hear the sigh of relief?). And while the outcome is not what I wished for, life does go on.

I read two posts yesterday filled with good advice. I want to encourage you to read them too.

The first one I found on Lysa TerKeurst's blog. I'll let Lysa speak for herself, because she does it so well. Just don't forget to insert my hearty Amen at the end of her post.

The second was written by Michael Hyatt, President and CEO of Thomas Nelson publishers. At the end of his post Mr. Hyatt encouraged his readers to make the following commitments. I am posting them on my blog because I am challenged by his words. He said:

"I want to do my part. Therefore starting today, I am publicly making four commitments to President-Elect Barack Obama:
  1. I will pray for him and our country.
  2. I will assume his motives are good, giving him the benefit of the doubt.
  3. I will not speak ill of him, even if I don't always agree with him.
  4. I will cast off the spirit of cynicism, and be a positive force for good."

These posts remind me that regardless of who our leaders are... Regardless of whether we agree with them and the policies they put in place... our roles as Christians do not change.

We are called to show grace and mercy.

We are called to fight for truth.

We are called to make a difference.

We are called to be holy vessels used for the noble purposes of our God.

Earthly leaders change. God does not.

(sigh of relief)

Monday, November 03, 2008

Why we should NOT Adopt - Reason #1

In a previous post I gave three reasons that were holding us back from pursuing adoption.

Today I'd like to talk a little about reason #1: We already have 4 children ages 5 and under.

Frankly, I wonder a little about our sanity. Maybe the kids are taking a greater tole on our mental health than we'd care to admit...

The other day I was listening to the radio (how's that for a transition!). Two young men were being interviewed for writing a book called "Do Hard Things." The authors of this book (Alex and Brett Harris) were 18 when they wrote it. They wrote it to challenge their generation to "do hard things" for the glory of God.

They were asked the question "What did your parents do to raise boys (their older brother has written books as well) who are doing these big, hard things at young ages?

They said their Dad gets this question a lot and gives this piece of advice to parents:
  1. Live your life
  2. Invite your children to live it with you
  3. If you need more steps, repeat 1 and 2

This hit home with me.

We have been feeling called to pursue adoption, but I kept thinking how restricting a large family can be. For example, the larger our family is

  • the less vacations we will be able to take
  • the more expensive babysitting will be
  • the more chaotic our family will be now and then (imagine what family gatherings will be like once they are all married and have families of their own).
  • Not to mention the kind of vehicle we would have to drive. I'm still not ready to go there!

The advice, "live your life" kept resonating with me. If God calls us to adopt and enlarge our family, we need to act. Yes, our children might not be able to take as many vacations, but if they see us living out God's call on our lives, isn't that better?

I hope my children will "do hard things" for the glory of God some day. But, if I am unwilling to do "live my life" and follow His lead, how can I expect them to?

It is encouraging to watch friends and family doing the "hard things" God has called them to. I have family who have left the states to follow God's call in other countries. I have a friend who gave up her growing business to "be there" as her children grow up. I have friends who are pursuing publication which inevitably means rejection because God is calling them to write.

Doing hard things come in many shapes and sizes. For us, at this time in our life, it means adoption.

What hard thing is God calling you to today? Remember, whenever God calls you out of your comfort zone He has a plan. And it will be worth it. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it.

I can't wait to see Him work!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Trick or Treat

The queen (aka big sister) led the way as her cowboy brothers followed behind. One cowboy dragged way behind as the trick or treating wore on. Dad was a little unsure he would actually make it home, but he did with a pumpkin basket laden with sweet treats.

Our sweet little puppy dog made the rounds being pushed by Dad in the stroller while Mom sat outside reading a book (interrupted periodically by trick or treaters).

A good time was had by all.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Last Night Was Fun

We went to a fundraiser.

I know that might not sound like "fun" off the cuff, but it was.

We got dressed up, left the kids with Aunt Leslie, ate a good meal, laughed and heard a great speaker.

AND, I got to meet two bloggy friends face-to-face. Girlie Girl who I only knew through her blog (but wanted to know in real life) and Abby who I knew, but barely. Abby and I sat at the same table. It felt like we had been friends a long time. I love that about blogging - the connections it breeds.

Good times.

The fundraiser was for SpreadTruth ministries. This is an organization to get excited about.

I was struck at how God gives passion to his children in different ways. I thought of three men in our area in whom God placed a desire to pursue kingdom purposes, resulting in three exciting ministries.

Lifesong for Orphans, Midwest Food Bank and SpreadTruth ministries all came about because God's children obeyed the call on their lives. God is using these ministries (and many, many others) to further the gospel in very different ways.

It is the body of Christ in action. It is EXCITING!

Jim Cymbala, pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York City, was the featured speaker.

I wish he would have spoken longer.

I left encouraged. Encouraged to seek God more. Encouraged to see people the way God sees them and love them the way God loves them. Encouraged to pursue the passions God has placed in my heart.

I can't do any of this on my own. But I serve a BIG God who can use me if I obey.

I really want to obey.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Listening In

The family has congregated on the sofa as Ty and ABC build another family's dream house. Bedtime is just around the corner. Daddy makes the following suggestion...

Daddy: How about after the kids are in bed we have a p - i - z - z - a? (spelling the word so the kids won't know what they are missing)

Mya: Are you going to make a pizza when we're in bed?

Ooh, we are so BUSTED!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Something to think about...

I heard a story on the radio the other day.

A guy mailed 500 Christmas cards to complete strangers.

They said: "Thinking of You this Holiday Season - Love, The Smiths"

He received Christmas cards back from 70% of those complete strangers.

The guy on the radio said it was because you reap what you sow. In other words, send out a little kindness, receive a little kindness.

That may be. Or...

Maybe the card receivers didn't want to look like jerks. Maybe they thought the cards came from a long lost classmate they had forgotten about. Maybe when they sent the Christmas card back they were really looking out for their own self-image. Maybe it had nothing to do with kindness.

Is that cynical of me?

Would you have sent a Christmas card back?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pumpkins, Gourds and Leaves Oh My!

I mentioned in my last post that I love decorating my house with pumpkins, gourds and leaves (oh my). Then I thought, why not show you where the aforementioned pumpkins, gourds and leaves garnish my home in the fall.

So, I snapped a few pictures of my autumn decorations to share with you. But that is not all, oh no that is not all.

I am curious, how do you decorate for fall?

I know this has been done on other places around the Internet, but I don't think it has been done in my little corner of the world wide web. So, I am setting up Mr. Linky at the end of this post so that you can share your fall decorations with all of us. Don't be shy, we really want to see!

I decorated our mantel this year. The picture doesn't do it justice, but I love how it turned out. The green squash on the far left (hard to see, I know) is my favorite fall decoration. I heart it so much!
Christmastime is not the only time to decorate the banisters! If you watch the sales, you can get leave garlands 50% off at Hobby Lobby which makes them a very inexpensive (and fun) way to add a little autumn to your home.
Every home needs a pumpkin or two on their doorstep. The arrangement on mine is not really an arrangement, but it works.
Nothing says welcome like a leaf wreath (say that 5 times fast), or something like that...
Every autumn, we take a trip to my cousin's pumpkin farm. My kids love it. They will grab pumpkins and gourds by the handfuls and pile them in our van. It takes strapping them back in their car seats to stop the madness and cut them off. Then I get to sort out the pumpkins I really want to take home from the ones that little hands grabbed for the sheer pleasure of it.

Regardless, we come home with plenty of little pumpkins and gourds to spread throughout our house. I love it!
Now its your turn. Post a few pictures of your favorite fall decorations - then paste a link to your post into Mr. Linky below. I promise, we really want to see!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Colder Days Mean Soup!

I love cool days.

I love leaves changing from vibrant green to orange, yellow and red.

I love decorating my house with pumpkins, gourds and leaves.

And I LOVE the return of soup to my meal plans.

There is nothing quite so cozy as a meal of hot soup on a cold fall (or winter) day.

(Do you see where this is heading?)

I am perfectly happy to fix a pot of soup (there are so many to choose from) at least once a week when the days turn colder. I have my favorites that make their way to our table with regularity (one I am sharing below), BUT I also love to try new concoctions.

So, What is your favorite soup? Would you share the recipe with me (please, please, please)?
(I'm also looking for a really good Chili recipe - any thoughts? Amber did you discover any good ones from your blog post?)

Here is one of my favorite soups (I shared this on Jami's blog a few weeks ago, but it is THAT good):

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Ingredients: 1 (6 oz) pkg. chicken and wild rice mix; 5 cups water; 2 medium carrots, shredded; 2 tsp. dried minced onion; 1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, cubed; 1 can cream of chicken soup; 2 c. cooked cubed chicken

Directions: In a large saucepan, combine rice, contents of seasoning packet. and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the carrots and onion. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in cream cheese until melted. Stir in soup and chicken and cook until heated through. Yields 6 servings.

So, what is your favorite?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why We Should NOT Adopt

A lot of people are adopting these days (at least a lot of people I know). Our church currently has children from Guatemala, China, Ethiopia and Korea. It is exciting!

Kory and I have always felt a desire to adopt someday. But it is a lot easier to commit to the elusive "someday" than to actually take a step forward and begin the process.

Over the past several months we have been feeling that "someday" might be closer than we originally thought.

That thought is more than a little scary, prompting me to come up with a list of reasons why someday is NOT today.

Reason #1: We already have 4 kids ages 5 and under.

Reason #2: We cannot afford an adoption right now. Throw in the current economic conditions and add up what is in our savings account and many people would consider us foolish to take on the cost of adoption right now.

Reason #3: Adoption sounds scary. What if I don't love our adopted child enough? What if our personalities clash? What if she doesn't fit in with our family?

But here is the bottom line...

Every time I hold and love on my baby boy, I think of the 143 million children who have NO ONE to hold and love on them. I read posts like this. I am exposed to organizations like Compassion and Lifesong. We feel a call to do more.

So last week we filled out and mailed our application to an adoption agency. Yesterday the agency called. We were approved! Which means, we have officially started the process.

We hope to adopt a little girl from China.

It will be a very long process. Currently it is taking over 3 years to adopt a healthy child from China. We are okay with the wait - for now.

As for the three reasons why we should not adopt, I'll get back to those in later posts. God has made it obvious to my heart that regardless of those reasons, He has called us TO adopt.

And that reason trumps all.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day - Talking about Poverty

Sorry friends, no Wordless Wednesday today.

Today I am participating in Blog Action Day. The topic is poverty.

Where I live, poverty is hard to imagine. I realize that poverty exists in America, but I don't see it in my day-to-day life.

The current state of the economy is making everyone fearful. It is getting harder and harder to make ends meet. Rising food and gas prices are something to be concerned about. They stress me out as I look at our budget.

However, at the end of the day we have food to eat, shelter (of the four-bedroom variety), closets full of clothes, and floors strewn with toys.

I do not know poverty. Poverty is hard for me to imagine.

In his book Soul Survivor, Philip Yancey writes, "I belong to a privileged minority. Everyone reading this sentence belongs, in fact, for only a small percentage of the world's people has the ability and leisure to read and the resources to buy a book."

Yancey raises the question, "How do we, the 'privileged ones,' act as stewards of the grace we have received? We can begin by finding a community that nourishes compassion for the weak, an instinct that privilege tends to suppress. We can begin with humility and gratitude and reverence, and then move on to pray without ceasing for the greater gift of love."

Prayer. That is the first place to go when looking for a solution of any kind.

But what are some other ways we can "act as stewards of the grace we have received?" as Yancey so eloquently put it?

I have two thoughts.

The first one came from the Beth Moore Bible Study I am participating in.

Don't lose touch with the poor.

This is easy to do in America where we are surrounded by affluence. But how can we help the majority in our world living in poverty if we ignore them and pretend they don't exist.

I think we should take the advice Daniel gave to King Nebuchadnezzar, "Make a clean break with your sins and start living for others. Quit your wicked life and look after the needs of the down-and-out."

The second thought, I heard in a talk by Andy Stanley years ago. According to Andy, the antidote to Greed (a symptom of materialism and an enemy of poverty) is...

Write a Big Check.

I know our country is experiencing economic stress right now. Families are experiencing economic stress right now. But there are millions of people in our world who have it so much worse than we do. We need to be writing checks. Big checks.

I feel hypocritical as I stand here on my soapbox because I struggle with materialism and greed. I fail to write the big checks because I spend too much money on myself.

And yet, I want to do something even though I fail miserably in so many ways. Maybe putting my thoughts in print will give me greater accountability to follow my own advice! One can hope...
If you are looking for a trustworthy place to write your big check as well as one that will help you stay in touch with the poor, I can think of two great organizations.

Compassion International is an organization that strives to release children from poverty. Through Compassion, you can sponsor a child and have a direct impact on a life.

Lifesong for Orphans is an organization whose mission is to bring joy and purpose to orphans. By supporting this ministry you will have a direct impact on orphans living in Ukraine, Zambia and India.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

Thanks for "listening" to mine.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Protecting what is "Mine"

"Mom, Did they eat my cereal?" my three-year old asked as I helped him finish up in the bathroom.

"No, they have their own cereal, I'm sure they didn't take yours." I replied.

Wanting a little more reassurance he asked, "Did you tell them not to eat my cereal?"

"No, but I'm sure your cereal is safe."

Ah, Human nature is a lovely thing.

I can so relate with my son's fears. Desiring to protect what is "mine." Even when there is plenty to go around...

It reminds me of a story I heard recently. (I believe it comes from Randy Alcorn.)

A man prepared a package. Lovingly he wrapped all the items, covered them with bubble wrap and packed them safely in a box to be delivered to a loved one.

Once the package was ready, it was time to be delivered. The man handed the delivery man the package and watched as the delivery man carried the parcel to his truck, sat down, ripped open the package, threw it over on the passenger seat and prepared to drive off.

Shocked at the delivery man's actions, the sender ran out to the truck.

"What are you doing? Why did you open my package?"

"Well," the delivery man replied as he drove off, "you gave it to me."

Who am I in that story? I am the delivery man. God has given me many gifts. I like to think they are mine to keep. I try to protect them. Like my son, I worry that someone will take "mine" or I will run out.

I think about this story a lot as I sit in a nice house surrounded by stuff. It motivates me to spend less on myself so I have more to share with others.

But honestly, I can feel materialism's grip on me. It is so hard to resist the urge to buy more stuff. Stuff I really don't need (although I am very good at convincing myself otherwise). I give in to that urge way more than I'd like to admit.

I want to do better. I want to keep the eternal in mind. I want to spend less on myself so I have more to give. I want to be free of materialism's grip.

But it is so hard.

I don't think I am alone in this struggle.

How do you lessen materialism's hold on your life?

I would love to know your thoughts.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Listening In

You know you've been married for awhile when...

You are driving in a car. Your kids complain of being cold.

You respond, "Hang on a minute, the heat is on and you will be warm soon."

A phrase tickles your brain and you are about to shout it out, when your husband beats you by mere nano-seconds (in official time) belting out a song from back in the day...

Yeah, we're that cool.

Or maybe we are just products of the 80s.

Come on, admit it, how many of you would have done the same thing?
(and how many of you young ens are still wondering what the song was?)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Lovely, Lovely Politics

Hey, did anyone else know we are voting for a new president this year?

In case you are wondering, that was a sad attempt at humor. It is that time of year (and the year, for that matter) when politics takes over everything media.

I can't help but notice how volatile the subject can be. I marvel at how easy it is to get mad at people I've never met because they think differently than me. Butterflies creep into my stomach when I think about what the future might hold.

I worry. I stew. I get bent out of shape.

People on TV make me angry.

Hmmm... I wonder how Jesus would behave during an election year?

Somehow I don't see him getting caught up in the debates and speeches. I don't see Him worrying about what the future might hold. I don't even see him getting irritated or angry with people who aren't on his "side."

Frankly, I don't see Jesus having a "side." I am pretty sure Jesus spent his time focusing on and loving individual souls regardless of how liberal or conservative they were.

The following quote from John Ortenberg puts things into perspective for me. It comes at the end of an article titled "Non-prophet Preaching" in which John discusses the church's roll in politics (the article appeared in the Summer 2008 issue of Leadership magazine).

He concludes the article with these words:

There is a longing. But it is not really about Camelot, or King
Arthur, or Shangrila, or Constantine, or whomever your favorite candidate is.

The longing is for a carpenter-turned-rabbi, who once ran for Messiah, and got crucified.

So we read about the issues. We debate. We learn about
policy. We pray. We speak respectfully in the public square.
We vote at elections. We serve on councils and cabinets. We preach
about God's concern for peace and justice and generosity and

But we always remember: this is something we do while we're waiting.

(emphasis mine)

I love that line "while we're waiting." It is just the paradigm switch I need when politics gets my stomach tied in knots and my blood boiling.

And while I'm waiting, I'm going to try to worry a little less and love a little more. After all, I serve a big God who loves me no matter what side I'm on - I think he'd want me to return the favor.

Friday, October 03, 2008

I Give Up!

Sometimes it feels like I am in the midst of a losing battle. Okay a lot of times I feel that way.

For example...
  • I pick up toys, they come back.
  • I put away piles of paper, the paper comes back in larger more overwhelming stacks.
  • I empty (or almost empty my e-mail inbox), the e-mails flood in.
  • I do laundry, the laundry baskets fill up.
  • I clean the kitchen, people eat and mess it up.
I was sharing my woes with my husband last night and he had a thought...

He thought, instead of giving up, I should...
  • Be thankful for the toys on the floor because they are a product of the healthy, happy children who play with them.
  • Be thankful for the stacks of paper because they are the result of a working household and paid bills.
  • Be thankful for the flood of e-mails because they represent people who value my opinion.
  • Be thankful for the endless laundry and dirty kitchen because they are proof that we have clothes to wear and food to eat.
Yeah, okay, so maybe he's right.
Maybe I need to be thankful (Galatians 6:9 comes to mind as well) instead of hiding in my closet hoping that when I come out the laundry and e-mails and toys and piles will have magically taken care of themselves.
But a girl can still hope can't she...
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Big Reveal

Remember 2.5 months ago when I said I was participating in this?
You saw the before here, now it is time for the after!

I know you have been eagerly anticipating... wondering how my little project turned out. I am sure you were more excited for this moment than the season premier of the Office last night

Speaking of The Office, I was so relieved that Jim and Pam finally had their moment. I loved the smiley rain-soaked Jim that returned to the Office for the final weigh-in (I was a little nervous it wouldn't happen).

What was up with the Toby ending - weird, random and not that funny.

One more Office observation. I love HR Holly in all her dorkiness. She seems to have the weirdness of Michael (which can be lovable) without the over-the-top, clueless inappropriateness. I'm sure the writers will have some fun with those two characters!

Yay, The Office is back!

But I digress; for all of you who are completely lost at this point, please keep reading, smile, nod and leave a comment. They make me happy.

Back to the Before and After...
In July I set two goals for myself. They were to

1. Paint the bathroom vanity and
2. Paint a few sea creatures on the walls for added bathroom fun.

Guess what? I completed my goals (granted I finished goal #2 last night so I would be able to say I finished my goals in a truthful, honest-type way, but hey that was the point of this little blog party - accountability).

Here are the lovely before pictures:

And here, drum roll please, are the afters:

I have to say, I am pleased with the final project. What do you think?