Friday, March 26, 2010

Moving Along!

The adoption paperwork process presents an interesting dichotomy between waiting and action.

You start with a flurry of action, as you prepare your dossier. Time is of the essence. You dot your i's and cross your t's. Everything must be perfect. Once it is, you mail that baby off, immersed in relief, happy to be one step closer to your child.

Then comes the waiting. Months of it in most cases, sometimes years, with nothing productive to do but pray (which in reality is probably the most productive thing you can do at any stage of the process).

A referral finds its way to you. You know who your child is. She becomes more than a theory and an idea. She is real and suddenly the wait becomes ten times harder, along with more things to do!

Another flurry of activity, followed by... more waiting.

All this to say, we've made it through another period of waiting. We received our Letter of Acceptance from China this week!

It has once more moved us from waiting to action. This time I believe the waiting periods will become much shorter. Our end is in sight. Lord willing, we will be traveling to China in June, hopefully early June.

We have entered an exciting stage as we apply for visas and get ready to TRAVEL! It feels overwhelming as I look over all the things we need to do in two short months. Stress comes when I forget to trust, wondering if our paperwork was completed correctly. Will it cause delays or hurry us to Suhn?

I can hardly believe we are at this stage in the process. I've got China on the brain and butterflies have taken up permanent residence in my stomach. If I don't seem completely "there" when we talk, this is why: I've got a little girl in China and we are going to get her soon!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Change is Coming

I've been feeling a little melancholy today.

We are in the process of moving Sean out of Suhn's room. Sunday night was his first night in a "big boy bed" which he shares with his sister. Today I will be moving his clothes and toys into the boys room. The kid will have one room by day and another by night.

It is exciting. It signifies the coming of change. I have never been great with change.

I think every pregnancy this melancholy feeling visits me as I realize our family dynamic will transition to somethingn else. No matter how much I look forward to the change itself a part of me mourns the idea that things will never be the same. This "pregnancy" is no different.

I know the feelings will pass. I know we will adjust to our new family dynamic. I can't wait for Suhn to come home. But for me, transitions are hard. They mark the end of something.

When I remember they also mark a new beginning, the melancholy feeling dissipates some.

Never completely, but I am okay with that.

Its just one more part of the journey.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things - The Photo Version

#1 March Madness. I stress while filling out my brackets, but there is nothing quite like the NCAA Men's basketball tournament. The downer this year is the absence of my team, the number one seed in the NIT, the most depressing #1 rank given out in sports.

#2 Dusting. If I had to pick a "favorite chore", this is it. Always has been because listening to music is easy to do while you dust. Is my house dusted. No. It is a chore. And that is all I'm going to say about that.

#3 Getting the mail (this also applies to e-mail). You never know what surprises will be out there waiting for you...
#4 You know I'm a lover of books. Here are a few of my favorites, past and present. If you are looking for a good book to read, may I recommend:

#5 My favorite spot in the house. A chair in the living room with a glorious backyard view that I never get tired of. I work on the computer here. I read here. I pray here. I rest here.

To Discover more "photo favorites" head over to My Cup To Yours!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Hearts at Home is Coming... Will you be there?

Mom, do you know how valuable you are?

Do you want to be inspired and encouraged?

Are you in need of refreshment or rejuvenation?

Do you want to laugh?

A Hearts at Home conference gives moms the unique opportunity to pause along their mothering journey to refresh, refocus, and renew themselves. The 2010 National Conference, Mom’s the Word, is being held at the Bone Student Center of Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois on March 12-13.

See what others are saying about a Hearts at Home conference:

“I attended the conference this year for the first time. I enjoyed it immensely. I was lifted up, instructed, convicted, encouraged, and brought to tears, sometimes all at the same time.”

“I loved it. I feel so full of information. I need to sit and read my notes and just process it. It was really encouraging to hear all the speakers and be with all of those moms. Thanks so much! “

“This past weekend was awesome and life changing. This was my first Hearts at Home Conference and I am telling everyone about it. “

“I want to thank you all for keeping these conferences going each year and for making them so refreshing for women at various stages in their parenting.”

Hearts at Home wants all mothers to know how valuable they are! Check out this video for a small dose of encouragement from Nicole Johnson and be sure to join us March 12th-13th for more!

Featured guests include Nicole Johnson, author & motivational speaker, a favorite at Women of Faith, Jill Savage, author, international speaker, CEO & founder of Hearts at Home, and Christy Nockles, Dove Award nominee & formerly of Watermark.

Visit for more information.

Growing Grateful Kids

Today I'd like to welcome author and speaker Susie Larson. Susie's new book Growing Grateful Kids has just released and I've invited her to share a little bit about this great resource.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

My husband and I have been married 25 years and have three grown sons (all in their early twenties). Our oldest son Jake works on the business side of the Christian music industry. Our middle son Luke is married to his beautiful wife Kristen; he works full time at a bank and part time as a worship pastor. Our youngest son Jordan is studying to become a surgical nurse. My husband Kevin is a commercial construction manager by day and manages my ministry by night (and weekends). Bless his heart.  I am an author, speaker, and an on-call radio host for Christian talk radio. Together, Kevin and I serve as advocates for justice on behalf of modern day slaves and human trafficking victims.

Tell us about your new book, Growing Grateful Kids: Teaching Them to Appreciate an Extraordinary God in Ordinary Places.

Even when economic times are tight, our children enjoy an abundance of material possessions. Yet, amidst all this wealth, discontentment and competition seem to be on the rise. Instead of teaching children virtues such as gratefulness and patience, many parents are bending over backwards to get their children the latest and greatest item - or feeling guilty when they can't. In spite of the currents of materialism and entitlement that flow so strong, it is possible to raise children who are simply grateful. Though teaching perspective and gratitude to our children is critical, it is not difficult.

Why did you want to write this book?

To be completely honest, I never wanted to write a book on parenting. I wanted to protect my kids’ privacy and give them time and space to become the men God wants them to be. But in the last few years, I have been especially burdened with the level of selfishness, entitlement and disrespect I see among children today. Furthermore, moms seem more stressed than ever. When I asked my sons their thoughts on writing this book, without pausing they all said, “Do it, mom; that book needs to be written!” I think I wrote a book that not only equips young moms to raise humble, grateful world-changers, but also one that nourishes the soul of the reader and encourages her personally.

Throughout the book you remind the reader that we cannot impart what we do not possess. Can you explain?

If we never deal with our own fears, insecurities, and hang ups, but we try to teach our children to believe in their divine value, over time, our words will not ring true to them. First God wants to do His work in us before He does it through us. They say that lessons are more often caught than taught. If we parent from a place of conviction and real freedom, our children will be affected by what we teach them.

One of your chapters is titled, “Take Time to Play.” How does taking time to play teach our kids to be grateful?

To me, taking time to play says a lot about the level of faith we possess.

If our children hear us confess that we love and serve a BIG God and yet they see us striving and straining through life, they will come to believe that more is on our shoulders than on God’s. If we can trust God enough to step away from our busy-important lives, to make a fort in the basement, or play a game with our children – even in the most desperate of economic situations – we will give our children a sense of much needed security and that all is well in their world.

What do you want readers to take away from this book?

To answer this question (I hope you don’t mind), I would like to share an endorsement from one of my sample readers. She expressed my deepest desire for my reader:

“Growing Grateful Kids is such a great source of conviction, encouragement, and inspiration to spur me on to finishing this parenting race well and not sputter out along the way. This book compels me to submit my own character to the refining of the Holy Spirit that I may be equipped to impart those lessons onto my children. Thank you, Susie, for taking the time, for submitting in obedience, and writing this down for a generation in desperate need of this kind of parenting book!” –Gail Miller

This is a Hearts at Home book. What is Hearts at Home?

Hearts at Home is an organization that encourages, educates, and equips women in the profession of motherhood. Hearts at Home encourages moms through annual conferences, our extensive website (, a free bi-weekly electronic newsletter, a radio program, and an entire line of books designed to meet the needs of moms all over the world!

Any closing thoughts?

I am very excited about the message in this book. It is my prayer that every one who reads it will be nourished, encouraged, and equipped to parent from a place of fullness, conviction, and confidence. Raising grateful, confident kids will be one of the most heroic, important things you do in your lifetime. God’s blessings to you!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


In a house with small children, peace and quiet can be a hard to find.

With the birth of each child, the everyday clamor has slowly increased. A cacophony of sounds have made themselves at home, making quiet a scarce commodity in our house, especially in the hours before dinnertime!

Voices play-acting, footsteps running, tromping and jumping, blocks falling, toys flying through the air and landing, boys yelling in fun and frustration, doors slamming, little boys crying, laughing, falling, water running, kids barking, chasing, tackling...

Some of the sound bites that come my way, I wish I could bottle up and hold forever. Hearing my tw0-year old hum Jesus Loves Me as he plays or listening in on the twins as they play trains are moments I treasure. When little voices say "Thank You Mommy" or even better "Love you Mommy" I can't help but smile.

Sooner than I think this house of mine will fall silent and peace and quiet will become the new norm. So today I am giving thanks for the gift of a noise-filled home and the dull roar created by the special little people who populate it.

What are some of the noises (fun, endearing, or frustrating) that fill your home?

Monday, March 01, 2010

Living with Less

Today I'd like to welcome Jill and Mark Savage. Jill and Mark's newest book Living with Less so your Family has More just released and I've invited them to share a little bit about this great resource!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

We have been married for 27 years…17 of them happily. After finding ourselves in a marriage counselor’s office around year 8 or so, we realized that we really didn’t know how to be married. We worked hard to turn things around and now we like to share that hope with other couples.

We have five children ranging from 13 to 25. Our oldest three are married. Anne (25) and her husband, Matt, live in Zion, IL, and are expecting our first grandchild in April. (We are very excited!) Evan (22) and his wife, Julie, have been married a year and a half and they live just a few miles from us. Erica (19) married her husband Kendall last September. They live in Augusta, GA, and wherever else the Army takes them.

We have two teenagers still at home. Kolya just turned 16. He’s learning to drive and we’ve nearly worn a hole in the carpet on the floor in the passenger seat trying to find that non-existent brake pedal. Kolya is the newest member of the Savage family. We adopted him at the age of nine from Russia.

Austin is 13 and in the 8th grade. He wants us to make sure and tell the world that this “living with less” life is a real bummer because he’s the ONLY kid in 8th grade who doesn’t have a cell phone.

Tell us about your newest book Living With Less So Your Family Has More?

The world screams the message that bigger is always better, but we have found that is not often true. When it comes to raising a family, less materially can actually result in more relationally. Children don’t need the best houses, the best lessons, the best cars, or the best clothes. What they really need is the best home life and the best family relationships we can give them.

Why did you want to write this book?

We didn’t start out with the “less is more” mindset. We started as a double income family wanting to have the “best” of everything. Then Mark decided to pursue ministry. We went from the “high life” to the “frugal life” very quickly as we moved to another state for him to go to Bible College full-time.

That experience introduced us to the concept that less is more. We definitely had less money, but we had more time. We had less stress and more peace. We had less activities and more fun.

Since that experience, we’ve continued to live primarily on one income for the past twenty years. We’ve had to battle cultural peer pressure and make different decisions for our family than many other families in our neighborhood have made. But we’ve never felt that we were materially depriving ourselves or our kids…instead we’ve focused on what we’ve actually been able to provide for them emotionally and relationally.

What do you hope your readers will gain from this book?

We hope the reader is encouraged to evaluate how they are living their life, spending their money, and thinking about family matters. Our goal is to introduce families to the “less is more” concept and then equip them with the attitudes and actions to actually make that happen.

For families that are already committed to less is more, we hope to bolster their resolve and help them stay focused on the long-term goal of providing relationally for their kids.

In today’s economy, there are many families being forced to live with less. We want to help them see the opportunity they have with this unexpected downsizing they’ve been forced to do.

And for those who have just been a little discontent with their life and saying things like, “I’m tired of the rat race of life,” or “Is there more to life than drive-thru meals for dinner?” we hope to help them see other choices they have and how they can lead their family in a different direction.

What unique elements will the reader find in Living With Less So Your Family Has More?

For couples who want to read the book together, we’ve included discussion questions at the end of every chapter. This helps move the readers to discussion and eventually actions. Even a single parent can use the discussion questions for personal evaluation.

Readers will find this book a practical guide to changing your attitude and your actions to live a successful “less is more” life. They’ll find our writing style to be a warm, casual, honest discussion where we not only share our victories but our mistakes along the way. We are an average couple living successfully on an average income who want to help others to see the possibilities before them.

This is a Hearts at Home book. What is Hearts at Home?

Hearts at Home is an organization that encourages, educates, and equips women in the profession of motherhood. Hearts at Home encourages moms through annual conferences, our extensive website (, a free electronic newsletter, a radio program, and an entire line of books designed to meet the needs of moms all over the world!

Any closing thoughts?

It’s healthy for parents to occasionally pause and evaluate their vision for their family and the choices they are making. We hope this resource will help them do that together and that it will lead them to live a life of little regret.