Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Merry Christmas

It's been quiet around this little patch of Internet for several weeks, and just in case you are curious, it's going to continue to be quiet for several weeks more. At least into January, maybe more, we'll see.

Until then, wishing you a Wonder-filled Christmas, from our family to yours.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Giving Thanks for Choices

"Boys, before we head home, we're going to thank Jesus for all this food. You know why? Because we have choices about what to eat! Many children won't get even one meal today. We have several kinds of cereals and soups. We have sandwiches and crackers. We even have some cookies and juice. Let's say thank you to Jesus."

-taken from Growing Grateful Kids by Susie Larson

Why is it so easy for me to focus on what I don't have? I look at my closet of clothes and feel I have nothing to wear. I look in our pantry of food and feel I have nothing to eat. I look at my furnished, roomy home and feel it is lacking. I look at my relationships and feel I/they fall short.

And yet, if I follow the promptings of His Spirit in me, and give thanks for the choice of what to wear and eat, for a warm, roomy home filled with people who love I am reminded of what I have. What He has given me to steward.

He has made me rich indeed.

Gratitude is a daily, minute-by-minute choice. One that leads to contentment and thanksgiving, and turns my focus back to the Gift-Giver. Away from my wants and myself.

It reminds me to give freely because I have been given much.

But oh how I struggle to stay grateful and content.

I love that we celebrate a holiday focused on thanksgiving. I need the reminder in a big way. This week many will be focusing on the gifts that have already been received and giving thanks.

Today I'm giving thanks for choices, what about you?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Shopping with Purpose

Wanted to let you know, I found one more "master list" to share...

Go here, shop and help families adopt!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Birthday Fun?

It is a well documented fact that birthdays become less "fun" the older you get.

I don't anticipate them like I used to, thinking about "the day" for weeks, even months before it actually arrives. Instead, they tend to sneak up on me making it hard for me to remember how old I actually am or will be.

I don't have trouble sleeping the night before my birthday anymore anticipating the day to come. The only sleep deprivation that occurs now-a-days comes with the normal nighttime "I have children" experience.

My kids look forward to cake on their birthday, discussing the color schemes and candles long before I begin to plan that birthday staple. And while I still love chocolate cake and birthday icing, it just isn't the same when I'm the one who has to make it.

(a quick shout out to two friends, you know who you are, who surprised me on different birthdays with birthday cake, a lovely, lovely surprise!)

I'm not saying there is no fun on birthdays as you grow old, just less or maybe different fun.

This year, I've been surprised by a different, unknowing, self-manufactured kind of fun...

I have been treated to a free coffee at Starbucks, a free stir-fry at Flattop Grill and best of all, a free entree at Moe's (translated, FREE NACHOS). All this for simply sharing my e-mail address with them.

Panera e-mailed me too, letting me know that I have a "surprise" waiting for me. I'm not sure when I'll make it in to discover what my surprise is... just knowing I have one is nice.

There will be other pieces of birthday fun too, a date-night with Kory, telling my kids the best present they can give me would be a clean room or getting along (if only it actually worked), having a reason to get out of making dinner or changing diapers or getting up in the middle of the night with a crying kid for the day(maybe we could celebrate my birthday week?), and receiving Facebook and blog birthday wishes (ahem... hint, hint).

Fun, sure, but more of a grown-up kind of fun.

After all, it is a well documented fact that birthdays become less "fun" the older you get.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

When Gotcha Day Isn't a Dream Come True...

Last week I shared a little of our adoption story here at my sister's blog, today I am guest posting at MomLife Today, "when gotcha day isn't a dream come true..."

Go here to read (insert Paul Harvey voice over), "The rest of the story."

or at least another chapter :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

I Love This...

...on so many levels. The surprise factor, the music... so FUN!!!

It would be a blast to participate in something like this don't you think?

If you ever hear of something brewing, let me know. :)

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Following the Bread Crumbs...

My sister asked me to guest post on her blog today, to share part of my story in a Thursday feature she calls "Everyone has a Story." Head over here, to read a little bit of mine.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Get Shopping!

Christmas is around the corner. I've been at the job of Christmas shopping for several weeks now. Making my lists, checking them twice, and all that.

I love giving gifts, but sometimes I struggle with purchasing more-stuff-that-we-don't-really-need while lining the pockets of corporate America in the process. So this year I set a goal. It doesn't necessarily help the "more stuff" issue, but I have found a way to give twice as much with one gift.

I've challenged myself to buy all of my extended family (this includes anyone outside the 7 who live in my house) gifts that support other causes. There are hundreds of families creating and selling amazing products to raise funds for their adoptions. There are organizations who do amazing work to help alleviate poverty and the suffering of others who sell great items.

I have found some great gifts that I am really excited to give and knowing that my money is supporting adoption and other worthy causes makes me even more excited.

Just in case you'd like to do a little "shopping with a purpose," I thought I'd share some of the great sites I have found...

  • Kristen, at We Are That Family, and her family have recently been called to start The Mercy House in Kenya. Their etsy shop (go here) has a great selection of items that are constantly changing. Your money will support The Mercy House .
  • Mama Mimi, at The Domesticated Diva, has put together a large list of links to help you find adoptive families who are fundraising, she has even separated them by category! There is lots of shopping to be done here!
  • My Cup Overfloweth gave adoptive families the chance to link up and share their fundraisers. There are currently 42 links with a huge variety of products. Shop here to help a family bring their child home!
  • Linny, at A Place Called Simplicity, had the same idea. Go here, to find over 40 more sites where you can Shop with a Purpose!
If you have found other great places to "Shop with a Purpose", please share them in the comments.
Otherwise, happy shopping and Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Check this out!!!!

You have no idea how seeing my baby girl take 5 steps on her own thrills my momma heart.

I am SO PROUD of my little China doll!

Go Suhn Go!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Grace is...

The King of the Universe desiring to adopt us and make us His own

Even when we fight Him and refuse to accept His gift

He continues to offer grace in unbelievable portions

Waiting for us to accept and surrender

"The love of God is manifested brilliantly in His grace toward undeserving sinners. And that is exactly what grace is: God's love flowing freely to the unlovely."
A.W. Tozer

To find more "snapshots" of grace, head over to Chatting at the Sky

Adopt an Orphanage

Do you have 2.5 minutes to spare today?
Then please watch the following video. Not only do I believe in the cause it shares, I love the way it is presented. Plus my little sis has put in hours and hours and hours to hand draw, trace, photograph and present this little 2.5 minute video to you.

I think you owe it to her to watch. :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hanging Out

I think Thomas's friends must read my blog because after Wednesday's post I walked in to find this:

I think they've found a new favorite hang out.

Aah Thomas, I will miss finding you in random places around my house someday.
Don't move on too fast.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Boys will be Boys

I am the oldest of three girls. I did not grow up watching the antics and stunts of little boys, although I vaguely remember the rumblings. I had exposure to boy cousins (that are still some of my closest friends today). I remember a few run ins with neighborhood boys and boys at school, but overall my interactions were limited. I heard stories about the boys I knew, but they rarely acted "that way" around me.

When I got married I heard even more stories. My husband's boyhood escapades are very entertaining and I've heard them many, many times. Especially when he is surrounded by his childhood friends. So when I found out we would be having not one, but two boys at once it was more than a little intimidating.

As our boys started to grow, I began to hear more "rumblings" from other moms. The "boys will be boys" kind of stories filled with close calls and broken limbs. Most of them innocent in nature, but dangerous none-the-less.

Yesterday we had one of our own stories to add to the overflowing pot. Minor in danger and risk, but its a start.

I missed the actual event, although Kory saw it happen. I'm still not sure of all the details, but as best I can tell the boys decided to push their race car up the slide so it could "get worked on." While one of them was holding it at the top, the other climbed in. That's when the one doing the holding decided to let go. He says it was hurting his foot.

The result of letting go was the car and driver shooting backwards down the slide, flipping over backwards and spilling its surprised contents into the yard.

Tears came for a minute, until the boy at the top of the slide started laughing. In his words it was "hysterical." It didn't take long for the stunt driver to join in.

We laughed over the story at supper, although the driver did not laugh as hard as the rest of us, the sheepish look never completely leaving his face. If you looked close, however, you could see a glint of pride at having carried out the ride successfully, even if it was unintentional. His brother thought it was the "best X games stunt ever." That helped too.

We'll see how long this stunt lasts at the top of their list. I may or may not have seen them carrying a scooter up the big slide after supper...

It's true you know, boys will be boys.

I know you've got your own boy stories, I'd love to hear them in the comments!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Yesterday, Mya's friend was captain of a daily recess kickball team.

She picked Mya first.

Usually Mya gets picked near the end. She doesn't mind, except that when you get picked first you get to kick first. A definite advantage when your recess time is limited.

I like to be picked too.

A friend of mine is advocating for a little girl in China who has a severe heart issue. She is a beautiful little girl who has not been picked, when being picked really matters. It is hard not to ask why? Why are some kids picked and others left behind?

Logically I know it is one more ugly result of living in a fallen world. People make wrong choices. They choose to serve themselves instead of their Creator and the result is a messed-up, hurt-filled world.

I know the Creator has not abandoned us. He gives us a way out. He gives us grace and if we accept his gift he lets us partner with Him and redeem some of the ugly.

This knowledge doesn't take the hurt out of the question. I don't know if anything will. But I know He cares and because He cares He calls us to act and be His hands and feet.

I want to ask you to pray for JiaYi, the little girl I mentioned above who needs a family. Pray for healing and pray that she gets picked.

Also, I want to mention that Orphan Sunday is November 7th this year. If your church has never participated in this nationwide event, maybe you can give them a little push in that direction. It is a great way to raise awareness and help for the orphan. Go here for resources and ideas!

"Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when He could do something about it."
"Well, why don't you ask Him?"
"Because I am afraid He would ask me the same question."

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Backdrop of my Story Today and Remembering (two posts in one)

Sometimes you miss the backdrop of your story because the plot is moving too fast.

On my way home tonight, I took in the fields as they were stripped of their bounty by hungry combine monsters. Seeing tall stalks of corn turn into flat farmland as they mow down the fields always amazes me.

Once their job is complete and the fields are empty, you can once again see houses and silos dotting the terrain. Mile after mile they stand, no longer hidden by the growing corn.

To ease the embarrassment of the naked land, the trees begin to display their glory. Drawing eyes to the orange, red and yellow that start to emerge and take over the green of summer. Today they were still unsure if Fall is really on its way. A few days of Indian Summer confused them leaving pops of red amidst the remaining summer leaves.

This is the setting of my story today.

Driving Suhn home from PT tonight, taking in the scenery, my thoughts drifted back to a group of people who shared our story for a brief space of time on the other side of the world. I remember parts of the backdrop of that story. Mainly, I remember the plot and the characters.

I thought about our gotcha day, the chaos of the moment. Fifteen babies meeting their parents for the first time, everyone helping everyone record the momentous occasion. Over the two weeks that followed we laughed, celebrated, cried and prayed together.

And then we went home.

To different backdrops.

To continue our stories.


I miss them. And while I have to be content with following their stories from afar for now, I hope that our paths will intersect again and we can take in the scenery of another place and share another moment together before too much time gets in the way.

Group 1591, I'm missing you today. Thanks for sharing our story.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Don't Compare

Don't compare. Don't compare. Don't compare.

I remind myself a million times a day, sometimes more as I read blogs, talk to friends, sit in church, venture into the library, swing by the grocery store, work out at the gym.

I compare myself to dear friends and complete strangers.

I compare up, putting myself down, making me feel inadequate and insecure.

I compare down, lifting myself up, allowing ugly pride to manifest itself inside my head.

Regardless of what direction it goes, when I compare I find myself discontent and lacking peace.

You'd think I would learn or that the battle would get easier. It doesn't seem to. The thoughts creep in, sometimes I dwell on them, sometimes I argue with them, sometimes I pray for grace to expel them.

I have a sinking feeling that it will always be a battle. It is the nature of life on earth. The thoughts will continue to come, and I will either fight them or allow them to rank me, measuring myself against an inaccurate standard. Until I remember, via a holy prompting, to stop and raise the battle cry once again.

Don't compare. Don't compare. Don't compare.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Book Review: One Hand, Two Hands

One Hand, Two Hands by Max Lucado is a sweet children’s book focused on, you guessed it, hands. The story follows a little girl throughout her day, highlighting the uses, feel and smell of her hands. The book ends with the simple ways she uses her hands to serve including giving hugs, writing a letter, picking up messes and of course praying.

The story is short and simply stated, the pictures are soft and fun and the overall presentation is pleasing. This is a book you could read many, many times without getting burned out, an important feature of a children’s book, especially if you have a toddler.

I am always looking for good picture books that help reinforce the character traits I am trying to train my children in. This one fits the bill. Better yet, the end of this book has a “hands on” section that lists specific ways our “loving”, “kind” and “helping” hands can serve. Under each heading is a list of four action items any child can do from “clean my room” (helping hands) to “share my snack” (kind hands) to "wave to a friend" (loving hands).

For young children, especially preschool age and toddlers, I think Max Lucado has written a winner!

***DISCLOSURE NOTICE: A free copy of this book was supplied to me for the purpose of review by Thomas Nelson Publishing. No monetary exchange was given. All comments and wording in this review are purely my own.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An Update... Help Orphans in Liberia

This summer a VBS in Illinois helped fund a VBS in Liberia. Go here to read the story.

2010 Liberia VBS from Lifesong for Orphans on Vimeo.

The goal is 70 people. $28 a month. One year commitment.

We currently have 25 commitments... 45 to go in just 3 days!

Can we do it? With your help we can!

Join us in bringing joy and purpose to orphans.

Contact info@lifesongfororphans.org to commit!

Wordless Wednesday - You Never Know Where Thomas will Turn up... (and in case you were wondering, they are sleeping on a boat)

For more of Thomas's favorite places, go here!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Breakfast Date

"Mom" she says as she points to the chair beside her.

She wants me to sit with her as she eats. So I do.

The word "basement" follows breakfast. The place where her brothers are. The next stop on her itinerary for the day.

And so begins another day with Suhn.

Last Thursday an e-mail came from the woman who started Angel House, the foster home in China where Suhn lived for almost two years. In it were a few more details of Suhn's history. Some known to us, some unknown.

Some gifts are hard to unwrap; they hurt.

This was one of those gifts. And yet, despite some of the hard things that happened to my little girl, the evidence that God was with her each step of the way is undeniable. She has an amazing story and we get to be a part of it.

The details have me looking at her in a new light.

She has been through so much in her short life and yet she is quick to smile and laughter is never far behind. She loves her family and her joy is reciprocal. It affects us all. It is miraculous.

And while the tears are quick to come when someone she loves steps out the door, the tears come honestly. She has been left before. It will take time for her to fully believe she is home.

I am so thankful for the precious gift God sent us to China to receive.

As a result, the to-do list went on hold because she asked me to join her for breakfast. I relished the moment while it lasted, marveling at the miracle that brought this little girl to our table.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Help Orphans in Liberia!

A quick note, make sure you watch the video! Not only does it share a message I'd like you to hear, but my little sister put it together and (as you will see) she has quite the talent, but enough bragging, on to the message!
Let's be the Hands and Feet of Jesus!

This week we are inviting our faithful readers and supporters to step up and help us in a time of need for Lifesong Liberia.

Lifesong has partnered with The Master’s Home of Champions orphanage and is providing a loving and safe home to many destitute and abandoned children, some of whom are deaf.
We seek to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and are focused on the goal of raising up champions for the good of Liberia and glory of God!

This summer, another orphanage was in dire need, and thanks to an unexpected donation Lifesong was there.
Praise the Lord we can help more children! But now, we need help too! We need your help to make sure these children are fed every day! We need your help to care for the fatherless! Will you join us?

70 sponsors in one week is a tall order.
We know this. We also know that we serve a big God who has told us that caring for the poor and vulnerable is at the very heart of who He is! We believe we can make this happen! We pray that God will call hearts this week and we trust that you will answer!

Contact us at info@lifesongfororphans.org to commit!

Hear personal stories & follow the progress on our blog all this week!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"They began to cry out to God"

The book Radical by David Platt has been on my reading list for several months.

It probably would have stayed there for several months more except I discovered a Radical Read Along on an author named Marla Taviano's blog.

It sounded like fun.

So here I am reading along and blogging a few of my thoughts while I go.

If you are visiting from Marla's blog, welcome. If you are a regular here, well, you are always welcome! Thanks for stopping by.

"and with their faces on the ground, they began to cry out to God."
-taken from Radical by David Platt

This line describes how a group of Asian church leaders prayed one day. They met in secret. They shared the struggles of their churches, "and with their faces on the ground, they began to cry out to God."

I had to think. Do I ever cry out to God like that?

When I'm at my wit's end, desperate for God. When a situation feels hopeless. When I realize afresh the sinfulness of my heart and the holiness of my God. It happens, but not very often.

And yet, I can slowly feel Him working on me, forming me, moving me to that place of dependence. He's done it through my marriage, when the differences between us feel too great to bridge. He's done it through my kids, when my reactions to them showcase the selfishness in my heart. He's done it through our adoption, when I am desperate for His love to fill me and spill out. He's done it through His Word, when he exposes the pride that clings to my soul.

It is painful, this refining process. So many times I'd rather take the easy road. Sometimes I do. But for some reason He refuses to let me go.

His love is like that.

I'm learning that revival and true change comes only if I go through the refining process. Humble myself, confess my sins, repent and watch Him change me.

Then the world will see a radical lifestyle emerge, a reflection of the Refiner and His love.

I am persuaded that love and humility are the highest attainments in the school of Christ and the brightest evidences that He is indeed our Master. - John Newton
To read more "Radical" responses, go here!

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Chance to Help!

China will always have a place of honor in our hearts. We have our little China doll home, but there are millions more waiting. So, when my friend Emily shared this family's story on her blog, I wanted to share them too.

They are working to bring home two boys. They had committed to adopting Joey, but several months later discovered that Joey and another little boy who had tugged at their heart strings earlier not only lived in the same foster home, they were best friends.

It is no small task to adopt two from China, but when God's hands are directing, it happens.

In order to raise the additional money it is going to take she is holding a raffle on her blog. Go here to see the details (and the cool prizes). I am confident God will provide for this family in a big way; this is an opportunity for you to partner in the provision!

So, with that said... pass it on!!

Friday, September 10, 2010


Confession: I cannot multi-task.

Not even a little.

If I'm talking to you on the phone and try to do something else, my uh-huhs to your stories will turn hollow and by the time I'm done doing what I was trying to do I will have to apologetically ask, "What did you just say?"

I'm an embarrassment to the great multi-tasking female race.

On another note, I like to be productive. I like to make it through a day with something accomplished. Preferably several somethings.

It has been said, maybe by Jill Savage, that motherhood is the ministry of interruption, or maybe it is the ministry of availability. Regardless, this does not bode well for a non-multi-tasking-likes-to-be-productive woman (the same could probably be said of a multi-tasking-likes-to-be-productive woman, although she would probably handle the interruption better).

Kids Interrupt. Often. Everyday. Always.

Don't get me wrong, I want to be available to my kids. I want them to know they are more important than any project I may be working on. But in real life, this does not always show. I get frustrated by the constant interruptions, the refereeing, and the cleaning up of messes that I probably could have prevented if I wasn't so focused on the task at hand.

And this is why motherhood is good for me in the take-your-medicine-even-though-it-might-not-taste-good kind of way. Because when it comes down to it, motherhood gives me daily opportunities to lay down my life for another. To lay down my to-do list and my agenda and serve someone else.

So I guess this means I need to start giving thanks for the interruptions, the refereeing and the cleaning up of messes. Maybe even look at them as opportunities to serve my Creator instead of my self. All the while reminding myself that my first priority as mom is shaping and molding and not planning and accomplishing.

Or I could keep getting frustrated...

The answer is obvious, if only it was that simple to act on in real life.

Instead I have one more area to confess my weakness, pray for help, seek truth and depend on His grace.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Suhn - An Update

It's been a little over two months since we first received our little Rui of Suhnshine. A crazy two months it has been. Ups. Downs. Tears. Cheers. And even though it has only been two months, it feels like forever. I can't imagine life without our Suhn.

She is a happy little girl that fits our family like a glove. But then, she has been God's plan for our family all along so that should come as no surprise.

I have discovered that bonding and attachment is a process that takes time. It did not "happen" as quickly as I hoped. Knowing myself and the way I am wired that too, should come as no surprise.

I've heard it said the first days/weeks/months with a newly adopted child can feel like babysitting. I understand that in some respects. But it is different too. There have been days when I have not felt as attached to Suhn, where I have lost patience quicker than I should have, where it maybe felt a little like babysitting. However, in those days my commitment to her never wavered. That is where it is different.

Two weeks ago it felt like we turned a corner. Emotions have leveled out and we are getting down to the business of living life as best we can. A family of seven.

One of the biggest joys of the past two months has been watching our kids. They have welcomed Suhn with open arms. I love watching them love on her. The tenderness they show her and the love she rebounds back to them.

I love watching her laugh at them and joyfully exclaim "hey guys!" when they run up to her.

And then there is Mya and Suhn. These two have a special relationship which is something I had prayed for. I love watching God's answer.

As emotions have leveled, the relationship between Suhn and Sean has blossomed as well. Don't get me wrong, there is still a LOT of two-year old behavior going on, but these two get each other. They laugh at the same things. They like the same games. They clap together when they hear clapping on the radio.

He probably bugs her the most, makes her cry the quickest, and completely adores her.

We are transitioning into our new normal; busy with school, weekly PT sessions, learning to navigate 5 children ages 7 and under... I'll stop there.
Life is full.
God is good.
Giving thanks.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Neighborhood Parade, of sorts...

It was kind of like a parade.

A one-float, one block, neighborhood parade.

Eight houses down from us, a play set was left on the curb. We had been talking about enlarging our swing set, the play set on the curb was very similar to the addition we had been planning.

That got Kory thinking... which almost always leads to action.

So, last night, Grandpa brought the truck, neighbors provided a sled and manpower, and our little parade began.

Completed by an audience of neighborhood kids (mostly ours).

Kory's biggest concern was having enough manpower to transfer the play set.

As he was getting ready to go down and start the move, a couple walking their dogs stopped to chat. He offered to help.

Then as our strange little entourage approached the driveway, a man, who we never officially met but have seen around the neighborhood, jumped out of his van and offered his assistance as well as two rollered platforms.

We had the perfect amount of help exactly when we needed it.

As they moved into the yard, I thought how cool to have neighbors willing to help like that. People we barely know, as well as our next door neighbors made themselves available.

I've gotta think if there is a need most people want to help. Sometimes they don't know how, don't want to interfere, or just don't know.

If we put ourselves out there and ask, or accept help, a connection is made.

Giving, receiving, sharing, living together. In an age where it is easy to isolate yourself, sitting in front of the TV or computer, connection/community is becoming rare.

This made last night even more special.

I'm going to admit it, the thought of dragging a play set down the street struck me as a little awkward and slightly hilarious. I'm glad we did it (using the word "we" very lightly). It made me thankful for our neighbors, including the ones we don't really know.

And we got a free play set!

It needs a little sprucing up, but I think it will be the perfect addition!