Monday, December 24, 2012

Here with us...

It never gets old. 

The story that I've heard and read over and over and over. The birth of Jesus, God's son, in a humble stable to two unlikely parents, lying in straw. The story is sweet and yet bitter. Born to die - and then to live again. Hard to even comprehend the sacrifice, love, and poetry. 

Photo credit
I love all the Christmas carols - so hard to pick a fave. They are the background of our Decembers and so much a part of our yearly traditions. A few wonderful new ones have come out as Christian music has become more contemporary. I love so many of them - Mary, Did You Know might be my all time fave. I think what I love is the sweet and bitter. The innocent and peaceful baby - the creator, healer, and controversial teacher - the innocent man who suffered a brutal death on the cross to pay the price for us - and the risen Christ - triumphant - all wrapped up in a little baby. The nativity story isn't just about his birth - it is about his death and eternal life.  

Oh Jesus, be born in us so that we, despite the trials and sufferings of this life, will one day rise to live again.

 Here's another current fave. It depicts the bitter with the sweet and I will warn that there are a few difficult scenes from The Passion of Christ movie. The song is just beautiful. Take time to listen to the beautiful words and thank God for his precious gift.

Wishing all of my friends and family a peaceful and special Christmas.  Continue to pray for the families of Newton, CT on this very difficult Christmas - may they feel the outpouring of love from this country and most importantly, the loving arms of Jesus' comfort wrapped around them.

Merry Christmas!

It's still a mystery to me
That the hands of God could be so small,
How tiny fingers reaching in the night
Were the very hands that measured the sky

Hallelujah, hallelujah
Heaven's love reaching down to save the world
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Son of God, Servant King,
You're here with us
You're here with us

It's still a mystery to me, oh,
How His infant eyes have seen the dawn of time
How His ears have heard an angel's symphony,
But still Mary had to rock her Savior to sleep

Hallelujah, hallelujah
Heaven's love reaching down to save the world
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Son of God, Servant King
Here with us
You're here with us
(Ohh, mmm, here with us)

Jesus the Christ, born in Bethlehem
A baby born to save, to save the souls of man

Hallelujah, hallelujah
Heaven's love reaching down to save the world
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Son of God, Servant King
You're here with us
You're here with us

Friday, December 21, 2012

Why Adoption??

I viewed this video for the first time earlier this week and posted it to Facebook (I find people rarely view the videos I have posted there). It so beautifully tells a Biblical perspective of adoption. I just love it. What an awesome family. Following that is a great music video that echoes the same theme. Enjoy!

New Film Premiere - I Like Adoption. from on Vimeo.

Children Of God"

Praise to the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ
Our God and our King, to Him we will sing
In His great mercy, He has given us life
Now we can be called the children of God

Great is the Love that the Father has given us
He has delivered us
He has delivered us

Children of God, sing your song and rejoice
For the love that He has given us all
Children of God, by the blood of His Son
We have been redeemed and we can be called
Children of God
Children of God

A mystery is revealed to the universe
The Father above has proven His love
Now we are free from the judgment that we deserve
And so we are called the children of God

We are the saints
We are the children
We've been redeemed
We've been forgiven
We are the sons and daughters of our God

Adoption Link-up - families getting ready to travel

A blog that I follow (found here) is hosting a link up for families who are in the process of adoption - nearing travel to adopt one child - and still needing funds. Linny and her family are just amazing and have such hearts for orphans and adoption. They are planning to share links to families who are still fundraising for the final fees to bring their children home forever. She has asked that to participate, we answer the following questions: (I apologize for all the different style print in this post - all due to lots of copying/pasting to put the questionnaire on here)

1.   Tell us a bit about the child you are adopting - including this treasure's age and name {Please post a picture if allowed.}

Our homestudy and placement agencies do not allow us to post any pictures or share her name yet (until we are in China!). She is "T" and turned 5 years old this past summer. We found her through a waiting child listing and we were instantly drawn to her. She is in foster care and very attached to her mom (good news!), and loves to dance, and help around her house.

 2.  Is the child you are adopting considered "Special Needs"?  

Yes, T is listed as having mild CP and a speech delay. She appears to have had hydrocephalus at one time (unknown cause).

3.  What country or geographic area are you adopting from?

China (Hubei province)

4.   Have you adopted before?

Yes. We adopted two siblings (sisters) from Ethiopia in 2009. The blessing of adoption goes both ways. It is very hard to not want to do it again once you see what having a family and love and can do for a child. It has changed our perspective on life. Adoption is such a pictures of God's adoption and redemption of us. We feel so blessed He let us in on this special life and journey.

5.   How close to travel are you?

We just got our Letter Seeking Confirmation. We are told we should expect to travel in three months.

6.   Do you attend church regularly?   If so, what type of church is it?

We regularly attend and are active in Maple Grove Christian Church - which is an evangelical, Bible-believing church (no specific affiliation).

7.    Do you tithe with each pay {at least the scriptural standard of 10%}?

Yes, we truly believe that the Lord asks this of his followers. 

8.  This week, did you participate in any way with the day of Praise, Prayer by giving praise on the link and then posting your request?

I did not participate this week but have on previous prayer days.

9.  Have you read the entire Deadbeat Dad series?  {Yes or No}  Please read it in full, so you can better understand the heart of God for stewarding the money He has graciously gifted us with. 
It is a four part series and can be found here:  Part 1Part 2, Part 3Part 4

Yes - all but part 4 but am off to read that now! Update: just finished Part 4!

10. How did you hear about this Link up we are having?

I am a regular reader of Linny's blog. (A Place Called Simplicity).

11.  Is there anything, briefly, that you would like to share with our orphan-lovin', God-honorin', Jesus worshippin' bloggy friends reading this?

During our first adoption, we worked very hard to pay for everything ourselves. We had no idea that others would come along and assist us financially and when it seemed we wouldn't be able to do it - we leaned on God - and it all came together. This time,  we said "yes" knowing that we really didn't have the funds to do this, but trusted that if it was God's will and calling for our family, that He would provide.  We have worked so hard to sell so many of our personal things, hold several fundraisers, and sacrifice and save wherever we can. God has blessed us constantly - even on the days when we were so discouraged or even questioning if we were doing the right thing. We have even been able to bless others who are also adopting during this time. In faith, we know He will provide and bring our little girl home.

Finally, understanding that each gift received through this "Response Time" has been entrusted generously for our use from our loving Father, we promise, in the unlikely event that we would be unable to or decide not to adopt the children we are advocating for, we promise to return all of the money gifted to us as a result of this link to International Voice of the Orphan so they can, at their discretion, give to other families currently adopting.      

{Please place your initials on the line.} 
Yes, I will submit___JFS___             No, I am unable to submit to this ________

Advent festivities and decor

Well, I am almost done with our Christmas prep. The presents are bought and in piles and bags and boxes in our closet. Lots of sorting and wrapping to do still (and one more homemade project for me) but it's coming together. The house needs a major cleaning (top to bottom) and then I will feel ready. My parents are making an unexpected visit this year (I asked them sorta last minute) and we couldn't be happier. We are so excited to have them with us for our loud and crazy Christmas morning. They are in for some fun - and lots of laughter and screaming (we are a loud bunch). Shh...don't tell the kids but there will be lots of games under the tree this lots of gaming will be going on here.

The elf on our shelf has been busy - not in creative ways like one sees all over the internet - but I actually haven't missed a day of hiding him in a new ("Mom, these aren't so hard") spots. My secret? My phone alarms at 6:15 each day to remind me in case I forgot the night before. I need to do tooth fairy alarms next time she's needed. I stink at tooth fairy-ing.

The Christmas cards are out. This has been a tradition that I have been slowly giving up. We get so few cards anymore and most years it is just a stress to get the right picture, pick the right card, and get them all addressed and out.

I do enjoy seeing my friends' pictures each year and watching their families grow and grow up, so I am torn about giving up the whole card thing.

We have always just sent long distance cards, and now with Facebook, I feel less motivated to do the whole card thing. Most years I use coupons to get a deal on the cards but end up spending my savings on expedited shipping since I have procrastinated so long and am so late...haha. Last year we took off from doing cards to save the money. This year we sent the cards to announce our adoption.

The Santas are out...

The Nutcrackers are out...

The tree is up with all our sweet handmade-by-our-kids ornaments and all the others that are so sentimental...

sorry for the blurry effect

Jesus is prominent - I hope. Each year I put less and less decorations out and more and more out that point to  "Jesus." This year a friend even gave us an extra sign she had (I had commented on hers). For years I have wanted a sign or something outside that just said "Jesus." After all, wreaths and greenery, and lights and all the colorful outdoor decor - really don't directly celebrate the reason we even have Christmas. They are pretty and wintery, but not about Jesus.

So this year we have a Jesus sign in the yard (even spotlighted - John's idea)! I am so happy about it. We live at the front of a large circle so everyone drives by our house. Praying that it will give neighbors (and myself each day) a gentle reminder to remember the reason we celebrate, decorate, and give our gifts.

Christmas music is playing here all day and school is sorta out for my homeschooled kids. College classes and exams are over for Drew (he rocks - his hard work paid off!). We had planned to do school all week but the little girls were home sick on Monday so we lounged around with them. We will do a few schooling items as the week draws to a close but mostly I will get all the wrapping and cleaning done so we can enjoy being together doing some of the family traditions - a drive through town to look at lights, making yummy Christmas cookies and sharing some with neighbors, and making a gingerbread house.
Last year's cookies

Last year's gingerbread house

We had a Christmas party here last Sunday with our lifegroup and, luckily, we haven't been inundated with lots of holiday gatherings and parties this year to fill up the schedule. It is a more peaceful December than ever before (last year we had Nutcracker practices and performances all through December). I'm loving it. We have even had the chance this year to do a weekly advent candle lighting during our family night - reading parts of the first Christmas story from the Bible, and watching pieces of The Nativity Story movie. Lovin' that too...

As the year draws closer to a close, I realize that through the stress of parenting and schooling, the exhaustion of days of teaching and driving all over and what seems like non-stop disciplining, that I am living my dream. I am blessed and in love with my life. I am "expecting" another blessing in the next year and can hardly believe the exciting path that the Lord has led our family to. Lest you think things are perfect around here (and I realize that some of my writing might lead you to think that), please know that things here are never perfect. Days are often chaotic and messy and noisy and hard. Our kids are normal kids (if Santa really did the coal thing, some might find that on Christmas morning). We fail miserably at times around here - both the parents and the kids. We need to be constantly reminded how to love each other - and how we need a Savior. There are disappointments, tears, and trials, but through it all, I still see the blessing that this life is.

Merry CHRISTmas to all!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Twenty years and counting...

 Twenty years ago, two young and in love kids (ok, so we weren't exactly kids),  took the "plunge" and pledged their love in front of family and friends. It was John's 26th birthday. It was a magical day/weekend and far surpassed anything I had every imagined as a girl. I can remember standing up there feeling so excited to be joining my life to John's, to be Julie and John, not just Julie.

 It's even sweeter now. Looking back at these pictures I see the promise in our faces. The excitement to start our life together as partners in every way. We look so young, so innocent really.
We had no idea the journey God was planning for us. Amazing.

We were blessed to find each other, blessed to get along so well. We are blessed that we can still make each other laugh, and smile, and blush. I still can't get over how cute my husband is - he really is. Still.

I am blessed. We are blessed. I can't believe I found the man of my dreams. John is a renaissance man, he can do and make anything. He is smart and witty and compassionate and loyal. He is musical and talented in many things. He is knowledgable and strong and generous and selfless. He is a man of God and has taught me so much. He puts up with me and has given me the most precious children. He is my knight and my hero. Ok, sorta sappy...but true. I just love and adore this guy. He is God's most special gift to me. I waited a long time to find him.
We have had so much fun over these 20 years. We have grown together and grown our family (that's for sure) and have cried and laughed (mostly laughed). It's been a fun 20 years!
I'm excited about the years to come. 
Love you John...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Oh my heart...

photo credit
I have tried to sit down several times to write but haven't been able to find the words. Yes, I had several posts all lined up in my mind. One was going to be photos of some of our favorite tree ornaments - sweet and humorous stories about them. Another was going to be one of all the signs of Christmas going on around here - the happy excitement of Advent and family traditions. Yet another was to be an ode to my wonderful husband as we hit our 20th wedding anniversary on his birthday (yes, the same day), December 13th. 

But those posts didn't get written. December 14th happened and quite honestly, I have cried and been unable to write about what seems absolutely trivial, unimportant, and sorta flimsy in light of the heartbreak and sheer nightmare that families in Connecticut are living and breathing right now. Like all of you, I sat glued to my tv or computer most of Friday and the weekend (unless my little girls were around), just trying to wrap my mind around what had happened and putting myself in those families' place (just can't help myself). I felt destroyed. I have prayed, and prayed, and prayed some more. It's really all one can do.

Monday's news of funerals and burials left me teary all throughout the day. How can it be that parents are having to bury their precious young children at Christmas time? Why, Lord? Why?

I have a six year old - I have had 6 six year olds. My heart hurts. This age is pure delight (well, ok, most of the time...). Oh God help us.

Amid the talk of stricter gun laws (ps - I hate guns) and improved care for those with mental illness (which I do agree needs to be addressed), and even all the talk about God not being allowed in our schools (which, although He lives in the hearts of students and teachers who are true believers, is altogether true), there are a couple of basic truths that are not being discussed.

Evil is real and here and seeks to destroy. No one really wants to say it.

This world is broken. God made it perfect and was WITH us until we, with our free will, decided to destroy the relationship with God by our greed and selfishness and sin. Ever since then, God was planning a way to redeem the relationship and bring us back into relationship with Him. His promise was fulfilled in a broken and messy world by the birth of a baby. The dark world that He sent His only son into, was a time, much like ours. There was hatred and violence, poverty and need.  Jesus came into a poor, messy, violent, and dark world. The world needed Jesus then. We need him now. Oh Lord Jesus.

(note the nativity set amid the "messy" dining table covered in my teenagers' school papers, etc)

And so, my posts will resume, probably in a day or two. I will probably end up doing a few Christmas posts (complete with ornaments, decorations, and traditions). I will also share some wedding photos. But for now,  I continue to pray and thank God for the baby Jesus who came down into our dark and messy world.

Amid the darkness there is still hope. Amid the darkness there is still Joy.

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


64 days ago our adoption dossier (the huge pack of papers covering every detail about us) was logged in to the People's Republic of China's adoption affairs offices. We knew the wait at that point could run anywhere from 30-90 days. 

Today marked day 64 and I had stopped even expecting the phone call from Seattle. So today when I least expected it, the call came and the phone said Seattle, and well, tears slid down my face.

You see I had just had a pretty emotional last 24 hours with some kid "stuff" here at the homestead. I had no sleep stressing over the situation that was going on and was not feeling too well on top of that. Today found me teary and defeated. To get the call today that our Letter Seeking Confirmation for our adoption had arrived to our agency from China...well, it was a gift from God today. He gave me a wink. 

So what does this mean? Well, this is a huge turning point because at this point, we know, that barring any problems, we will be traveling in three months!!! YAY and EEK! That means mid-March! 

It also means that we are able to send off a care package to OUR little girl (well, she's not technically OURS yet, but it is as tho' she is "promised" at this point). To receive permission from the agency now, telling us how to go about sending a package, is huge. Back when we were in the process of adopting our girls from Ethiopia, rules were much more relaxed there and we were able to send several packages - even some before the girls were told about us. With the sending of those packages, we received back words about how the girls had reacted to gifts, pictures, even video. Precious, precious gifts when you are waiting so far away with so little info about your children.

This will be our first and probably only care package to our little girl in China. My guess is that this will be when her foster family will officially tell her about us and explaining that she will be leaving at some point to her forever home in America. As excited as I am, my heart breaks a bit too. This little girl can hardly be expected to know what this all will mean for her. It will be a bit frightening and overwhelming. I am excited to finally make the connection to her, but sad as well. Her foster family could never really be the long term solution for her, we know that. But she is young and has only her memory of them as her family. 

Tomorrow I will be contacting the organization in China who sends out the care packages (yes, there are actually several groups who do this as a job!). We will be ordering a group of items - probably a doll/stuffed animal, blanket, food, and a photo album of our family (gonna have to choose a bunch of great photos of all of us and life here). Often a disposable camera can be sent with the package for the family to take pictures of everyday life in the foster home. This camera will be saved to come home with her for us to develop and save for her - precious memories of her days in China. The care package deliverers will take pictures and get an update on our daughter for us. I can hardly wait!

So at this point, we are now in about a month-long process of immigration approvals, then on to visa applications for all of us and T, then awaiting travel approvals and plans. Can't believe we are actually to this point!


I had mentioned before, that the puzzle is completed (we will be putting that together over the Christmas break). Thank you to all who donated a piece(s).

The numbers are in on the Holiday Market fundraiser - we made just over $1,000!! That was our goal and despite such odds the week before the event, God was faithful. Thank you to all my friends and family who ordered, and came to shop that day. 

We are sending off grant applications and will be awaiting, with hope, some help with travel expenses.

Our "Cha-ching for Ting" banks are not in yet. A few have come in and we are hopeful to raise a good bit from this fundraiser. If you missed out on getting a bank, you can still help by saving your spare change for us in a jar. Drop it off when it's full. Every little bit helps. We are putting everyone's change into a large jug that we have (and it's getting full!). When all the banks are in, we will have a coin rolling party and figure out our grand total. Bless all of you who are participating with this project.

And, our "Chip-in" is still located in the right side-bar. If you are still wanting to donate toward our costs, you can give a Pay-pal donation that way (or by mail or in person). We aren't too proud to say that we can't do this without the Lord moving in hearts to help us.

All our precious donors' names are at the bottom of the blog (scroll down). If you have helped in some way but don't see your name, please let me know. I don't want a single one of you left off. All your names represent answered prayers as well as proof that God is able to bring a little girl all the way across the globe to the family He picked out for her before time began. What an amazing thing. Can't even believe we get to play a part. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

It makes a difference to this one...

One of my first friends at our homeschool co-op, was Julia. We met when my son poked her son in the eye (can't recall if it was an accident or on purpose!). We were on a field trip with them and kept bumping into each other on future field trips. We joked that we obviously needed to get out of the house as we took advantage of any and every field trip...

Years have passed and Julia and I have known each other a long time now. She and I share being homeschool moms of sons and - a shared passion for orphans. She traveled to India with a friend who was adopting not long before we announced we were adopting our girls from Ethiopia. Her family adopted a precious little boy from Ukraine following our return home with our girls. She has been incredibly supportive of us now, as we embark on the journey again.

Aaron - he has the cutest dimples ever!
Julia's story of her adoption, on her blog, was so beautifully told. Julia has a real gift of writing from her heart. A true calling slowly grew throughout her adoption process. Aaron, her son, had a physical special need (arthrogryposis) and in his country, if you are not adopted by age 4 and have a need that is obvious like his, you are then sent on to an institution. There you will live out your days with severely mentally handicapped men (in his case), with no toys, no stimulation, no love, and no hope of ever being adopted. 

Julia's family was the first to adopt a child out of Aaron's institute and it was an unbelievable story of their perseverance and of God's faithfulness to Aaron and to her family for rescuing him from a future that was not a future. Her little boy is home now and is a delight and an amazing young boy. Praise God.

But Julia was forever changed by what she saw and what she knows goes on behind the gates of institutions like Aaron's. She has a passion like you have never seen, to advocate for the special needs children around the world who face futures of institutions, boring days without stimulation/touch/educaiton, no visitors, no family coming for them to care and love on them, and no one to share with them about the love of Christ.

Julia has become an amazing advocate and encourager to families seeking to answer God's call to care for the orphan. She has kept up her blog which has a huge following now and regularly fundraises for families or for the adoption accounts of children on Reeces Rainbow (an amazing ministry that promotes Downs Syndrome adoption and other special needs by keeping adoption accounts for waiting children to defray some of the huge costs for the families that step forward to adopt). Hundreds of Reeces Rainbow children will be celebrating Christmas this year in their own home with their own family because of the work of the Reeces Rainbow group - of which Julia has become one of the loudest voices!

Today on Julia's blog, she has announced a wonderful giveaway she is running to assist in increasing the adoption funds of 5 special children in particular - but also, of all the little ones listed with the Reeces Rainbow ministry. There are so many precious children who long for a mommy and daddy, siblings, family, tradition, their own bed, their own teddy bear to hug at night, for Christmas mornings, cousins, grandparents, storytimes, and learning to read (the list could go on and on - all the many things we, who have always had family, take for granted). By adding to their accounts, families who are being called to these children get a little bit of a break in fees. It is a blessing. Our little girl in China had a similar account through another organization and for that we were incredibly grateful.

So please, hop over to Julia's blog and read about her huge giveaway, the gifts you can win by participating, and the children she is trying to save. She will have you link over to Reeces Rainbow's angel tree where you can choose children to give to. You don't have to give a can be very little. One year (and this was also Julia's suggestion), we gave each of our kids a 5 dollar bill. We told them to choose a child on the angel tree and we would mail off their donation to the child of their choice. My kids had not even seen kids with some of the needs pictured. It was a great thing for them to take a minute to ponder what life must be like to have a special need and no mommy. Pretty powerful...

Here is Julia's blog:

Here is Reeces Rainbow:

All donations to Reeces Rainbow are tax deductible. If you have time, go back to read about Julia's adoption story and her descriptions of what she saw. It is painful at times to see and read - but might serve to give you an idea of something you could do to help. God bless!

Friday, November 30, 2012

I'm a cold, dark stone...shine on me...

The past two nights we have been treated to a deliciously clear and starry sky, lit up by a full, large and gloriously white moon. The moon has been low and huge and seeming to be just within reach as it has illuminated the evening sky while I drive kids to and from activities.

All full moon nights typically invade my bedroom late at night as we have a huge window in our bedroom that has no shade or curtain and we face the woods. The moon rests in the sky above the woods out back in the middle of the night and casts a lot of light into our room. On those nights, and particularly the last couple of nights, it never gets dark in our room. I will wake up sometime in the middle of the night to roll over and see the moon's face with its lopsided smile staring in at me, bright and glowing.

It has always fascinated me on nights like this that we can look at the moon in the black sky and the glow is just amazing. It is hard not to stare in wonder at something so bright in a sky of darkness.

And then I remember...

The moon is not white at all - it doesn't give off ANY light...

It is all just a reflection of the sun.

It is the sun's beautiful light that makes it shine amid darkness.

(Before you head off to read another blog because you are disgusted at how "duh" this is, stay with me a minute...)

The moon is a cold and dark stone - without heat or light. The other side is even called the "dark side of the moon."

The moon is dark.

It is a stone.

It's then that I realize the metaphor and remember the Sara Groves song that I loved a while back that described it so perfectly.

He is the sun; I am the moon.

I am a cold, dark stone with no light of  my own.

When I turn my face to the "sun" I can shine and be beautiful and glow amid the darkness of this world.

I have no light of my own.

From what has become my favorite of the Gospels, John -"In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it...The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world." John 1:4,9.

In Isaiah..."The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned..." Isaiah 9:2
"For the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory...the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end."  Isaiah 60:19,20

"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:6

We are heading into the season of Advent, a time to prepare for the birth of the Light of the World. Look to Him. Take Him in as the gift He is...and shine.

 Lest we ever take the credit for the light shining out from us on any night (or day)...remember that we, like the moon, have no light of our is God's light shining on us as we turn our face to Him. The beauty is His...

**(I couldn't find a great youtube video of this beautiful song accompanied by beautiful photos of the sun and moon like I would have liked. This is someone's personal video of sisters singing this song. Although a bit like a home movie, these sisters do a beautiful job singing this song with pretty harmony. The tune and words are just beautiful and the point of why I am including it).

Lyrics to You Are The Sun :
You are the sun shining down on everyone
Light of the world giving light to everything I see
Beauty so brilliant I can hardly take it in
And everywhere you are is warmth and light

And I am the moon with no light of my own
Still you have made me to shine
And as I glow in this cold dark night
I know I can't be a light unless I turn my face to you

You are the sun shining down on everyone
Light of the world giving light to everything I see
Beauty so brilliant I can hardly take it in
And everywhere you are is warmth and light

And I am the moon with no light of my own
Still you have made me to shine
And as I glow in this cold dark night
I know I can't be a light unless I turn my face to you

Shine on me with your light
Without you I'm a cold dark stone
Shine on me. I have no light of my own
You are the sun, you are the sun, you are the sun
And I am the moon

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I can't even believe it...

Back in April when we started brainstorming for fundraisers, we debated doing a large puzzle. I had heard about other families doing the puzzle fundraiser and it just seemed daunting to me. It required lots of donors, lots of money, and potentially, lots of time in order to complete it.

But we decided to go for it and I have to say, the first few days after we announced it, I was encouraged. Lots of people joined in and were generous, but then it dwindled.

Over the months, we would go long stretches without a donation but then a friend mentioned us on a blog and we had some donations from folks we didn't even know. The last couple of months have brought us much support and large donations. Some one would hand us a donation (some didn't even know about the puzzle, but their names went onto puzzle pieces after donating - some asked to be anonymous). Anyone who has given to us over these months - whether for puzzle pieces specifically, or just a donation toward the adoption from then til yesterday - got puzzle pieces.

Yes, my good news is that WE ARE DONE...THE PUZZLE IS COMPLETE!

PRAISE GOD that through your very GENEROUS gifts...we have raised $5000.00 through the puzzle. Wow...amazing.

In the next weeks, amid the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations, we will be trying our best to complete our puzzle, get it framed between two pieces of glass, and hang it in a prominent place in our home. Our family is now from all the ends of the earth and a map of the world is so fitting.

Thank you to all who have donated.  We have left our "chip-in" on the blog for any who still would like to donate, as we are still raising necessary funds.

In other fundraising news:  Thank you to all who worked so hard to help pull off our Holiday Market - still waiting on numbers to announce to you how much we raised there.

Thank you, also,  to all who are saving loose change for us in our Cha-Ching for Ting banks. We received a huge bag of change from a very special-to-us family yesterday... such kindness. I will one day post the total on that fundraiser once all the banks come in...

As you bring your Cha-Ching Change in, I will add your name to the bottom of the blog. I want you to know how thankful we are! And if you missed out on the puzzle and want to help our little girl in some way, save up some loose change in a jar for us. Every little bit helps!

Adoption is not cheap. One day I will break down the expenses on here. Although we are able to afford to raise another child, the money for the adoption and travel costs are not just sitting in our accounts. That's where we had to just trust God and proceed anyway. We determined that at the onset we would need to fundraise for half the costs (that comes out at roughly $15,000).

Thankful to GOD and to YOU doesn't begin to tell you how we feel.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Over the years, I have not always been as successful as I would like to be with my quiet times. For many years, I guess, it has been hit or miss whether I was able to get in a devoted time to pray or read my Bible. For many years, I did a women's Bible study which had weekly homework, so I had something pushing me to sit down, read, think, and pray on a regular basis.

I have had many fits and starts of journaling. Most fizzled out as quickly as they started...I loved picking out the pretty journal, pens, etc. but never kept up with the journaling - many times in the morning, I just can't gather the thoughts to write them.

I have from time to time joined online Bible studies - did them on my own time - sometimes in the morning, sometimes at night. These studies consisted of studying a book in the Bible - verse by verse. Writing a verse a day - then writing observations, applications, and a prayer about that verse. I found sometimes that that felt forced too. I wasn't always in the mood to have the words to write out the application or even a prayer about that particular verse.

One thing I found tho', was that I really enjoyed writing the verses.

Writing slows you down in a way that reading doesn't.

Why am I telling you all this?? Well, I have found the most wonderful tool for my quiet time.




Journibles are journals that are set up to be your own transcribed Bible.  The idea comes from Deuteronomy 17:18 where God tells the kings of Israel to handwrite their own copy of the Torah - the book of laws. The reason was so they would write it, learn it, have it with them always, and teach others from it. I found even as a student (and interestingly my college son tells me this all the time about himself), that I studied best for tests (and retained the material longer) when I could write what I was studying over and over.

The righthand page of a Journible, is where the verses are to be copied. Each verse is listed by number with ample lines for each one. The lefthand page is for notes, comments, doodles, prayers, and often a question is written to lead to deeper thinking or research - or you don't have to put anything at all! With my iphone with me, I can quickly do an internet search for a word definition or help with an answer.

I am LOVING my Journible. I am learning so much and retaining more - and it's becoming something I can't wait to do in the morning. I started out with the book that includes 1Timothy, 2Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and Hebrews. The company has books of most of the New Testament and much of the Old Testament. They are still producing books with the plan that at some point, the entire Bible can be offered.

I am enjoying being a scribe of God's word. Copying with my best handwriting and precision while slowly taking in what I am writing. Then rereading to get more (I even "listen" to the word too using my YouVersion Bible app).

I am even taking a daily picture while I do my Journible (on Instagram - my name is Mustardmom on there - look up #writingtheword to see lots of others doing the same) - to keep a record for myself of my time in the word. It's been fun and I am enjoying getting up early with my tea, my Bible (or Bible app on my phone - I am doing the ESV Bible, a version which I do not currently own), my Journible, and sometimes a fire in the fireplace - to meet with the Lord while I rewrite his words and take them in.

Just lovin' it and thought you might too. I learned about the Journibles from another blogger, so I thought I would pass it on to other bloggers (or blog readers) as well.

Here's the link to the Journibles website:!  

Monday, November 26, 2012

Giving thanks...

Our Happy Thanksgiving is over...sniff, sniff...

I love Thanksgiving. It is a relaxing, slow, holiday with family, friends, lots of talking, laughter, and yummy eating. It is time to reflect on the past year, all that we have been blessed with, and the beginning of the excitement that the start of advent holds.

I just love it...

We spent a wonderful Thanksgiving visit with all the Snells up in Maryland. Mimi and PopPop hosted a wonderful few days of awesome food (despite their new oven not working - yes, turkey can be done on a grill!). We got some shopping done (just the craft store for me - I don't really like shopping!), and lots of cousin time. We even got to visit for a while with John's aunt and uncle from Maine and their son and his wife and their cute little boys (who live on the Maryland coast).

We returned home to find our house...alarming. Smoke alarming, that is. We had received a call, the first day away, from a concerned neighbor (thanks Carol!), who had been walking her dogs by our house and heard our alarms going off. She called our house to check on us and luckily our home phone rings our cell phones if we don't answer. We tried to talk through telling her where the hidden key is located and where the power box is in the house, etc.

Luckily there was no smoke or smells, but nothing turned off the alarms. They are connected to one another electrically but even without power, they all have batteries. We didn't want them to have to deactivate all the batteries on all three floors. So the alarms sounded the entire time we were away. Nothing too loud outside, except if you were walking by (we have a sidewalk that many walkers use - I'm sure it turned a lot of heads. On the bright side, no robbers would have come near...)

Mimi and PopPop's treehouse in the woods for the grandkids - complete with built in bunk beds, ceiling fan/heater, dvd player, front porch with a porch swing, real windows and doors. It was a labor of love and is a family favorite!

John found the problem when we returned and fixed it. Although, just now (as I was typing), I had to run and take down the one defective alarm as they all just went off again. Guess it still needs work. Man, they are loud...

Thankful that there was no fire, among all the provisions that I thanked the Lord for this week.

Reminding myself that being thankful and giving thanks is something to do daily - not just once a year.

Thank you God for all you have given me. I am one lucky girl...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...