Monday, November 29, 2010

The magic camera

We went home to San Antonio for Thanksgiving last week, the kids and I were there for a full 7 days, and let me tell you just how much I love my peeps, I was kinda sad to come home.  But now that I'm here I'm glad, well sort of.  I'm torn between feeling glad to be home and feeling sad that now all the chores belong to me instead of to my mom or mom-in-law.  Vacuuming, laundry, dishes, bill paying, list making have filled this first day home.  But that's not what I wanted to talk about, I wanted to tell y'all that when I went home I was given one of the best gifts I've ever been given.

My sis-in-law, Laura, is pursuing starting her own photography business, she's got herself one of those professional cameras and that combined with her mad skills makes for some pictures that make me want to do the happy dance.   After 10 years of marriage and 4.5 years of parenting, Kyle and I have yet to have professional pictures taken (unless you count the pictures taken at our wedding, on day 1 of marriage).  It is something on my to do list but 1) it cost money, 2) who should I hire 3) all the getting everyone ready overwhelms me.  So instead I did it spur of the moment, with no time to pick out outfits or even bribe my kids enough to cooperate and still they turned out amazing!

Now I get to send out a Christmas card picture in which my children don't look like they hate us and Kyle and I look way prettier than we do in real life, doesn't get much better than that.  Thank you Laura, it really is such a gift to have these pictures of my children and our family.

If you live near Lubbock and are looking for some family photos let me put you in touch with Laura, just email me and I'll get you connected.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful series, part 4

Part 4: Family

Let's end here on the day that started the desire for writing it all down.  Let's end on this day of thankfulness with those that I am most thankful for, family.

As I sit here, they surround me, hold on a minute let me count, 10 to be exact.  And because they're all here, I am content, nothing can go wrong in the world, because all the people I need the most are right here where I can reach out and touch them.

If I stop and think about it, if I focus really hard, I get back to this place, where family is all that matters.  When I can do it, I remember to be grateful, for I have been blessed 10 times over.  And on this day, where the smells from the kitchen wrap me up in goodness and the noise from the chatter soothes my nerves, this Thanksgiving day, I will be grateful.

I will try to carry it into this next month that is filled with noise and stress, try to remember to turn my face away from all that stuff and look into their eyes, and remember.  I will try to carry it into this next minute when my mind turns instead to the one who is missing, the 11th who has no idea her future holds Thanksgiving dinners.  I will be grateful, and allow the 10 to be enough, to be able to love the 11th and miss her, and still be content, with this moment right here.

There is bread to be crumbled, mashed potatoes to be mashed, pots to be stirred, and so I'm off.  I want to be there right in the midst of this day, pausing and remembering when I laugh at their joke, or look in their eyes, there is nothing in this world I need besides you.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thankful series, part 3

Part 3: All of it

* the color of kyle's eyes and how I always dreamed of having a baby with those eyes and God gave me Kylynn.

* the sound of Jack's laugh, if I could bottle it up with me I'd never be sad again.

* that my house is one big canvas, every room needing work, and the rest of my life to work on it as I find the time.

* for my friend H, that she sees me and still likes me, that she is slow to anger, slow to speak, and quick to listen.

* that Chloe's hair sticks straight up, just like her big sister's did.

* that Kylynn will have a sister, a relationship that shaped my life in wonderful ways.

* that my dad is the funniest person I know.

* this mac, oh how I love my mac.

* bloggers, your stories of your lives fill me up with joy and hope and the security of knowing I am not alone.

* my new necklace from 31 bits, it looks so good, if I do say so myself.

* these new yogurt places, with the real frozen yogurt and the endless toppings, and you pay by the weight, I do declare!

* i am being used by God right now, and it is something I haven't felt for the past couple of years.

* it's my mom's turn to have us for thanksgiving this year, and there's just something about eating the food your mom has made every year of your life.

* i know how to read, and I have a library card.

* the way I can apologize to my children and can talk to them about hard far, so good.

* christmas music, especially mariah carey christmas music.

* phone calls with my sisters.

* make up, hair dye, facial moisturizer, you get the picture AND the fact that there is not a person in this town who hasn't seen me make-up free with two inch roots.

* to have made it this far in marriage and find that after all the pain there is great reward, a love that truly does cover a multitude of sin.

* that people actually take the time to read the words I put down on this blog, thank you.

If you'd like a change of pace, read this great article by Dr. Russell Moore, Why I'm Ungrateful

Thankful series, part 2

Part 2: Community

Sunday night we got together with our homechurch (think homegroup or biblestudy) to have a Thanksgiving meal.  As I looked around a very full house filled with, the members of my group, and our friends, family, and neighbors, I thought to myself, this is what loving God is supposed to look like, this, right here, is what being a community is all about.

We began reading this book, this semester, and it has gently rocked my world.  It's a book about loving the non-Christians God places in your life, building relationships with them, and sharing with them how they can have a relationship with God, once you have earned that right (so to speak).  It is not rocket science, in fact, I often read a chapter and feel a weight has been picked up off my shoulders, because I can do this.  This, is evangelism that doesn't scare me.

As we've read through this book we've each began to build relationships with and love on people God has placed in our lives.  I feel like we've all become one big family, not just our homechurch, but the friends and family that we've been praying for over the past months.  We each care about the others and we each are invested in our goal of sharing God's love and truth with those around us.

One of the chapters in the book, is how evangelism is not something we have to do alone, reminding us that we are part of a body, and we need people of all different gifting to come together in order to be effective.  We've begun to serve as a community and I find that God is using that to knit us together even more.  There is something about serving with someone that makes you a team, you are reminded of why it is you're serving.

Sunday nights were once a time for family and I thought by starting this homechurch that I was losing that.  Instead I found that Sundays are still a time for family, just a bigger, more joyful family, with a lot more coffee and dessert eating.  I am so thankful this year for each one of them, for how different we each are, for all the truth that God has taught me through them.  I am so thankful for a community to walk this path with me, people who I can open up to when I fall down and people who I can rejoice with when I get it right.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thankful series, part 1

In honor of Thanks giving, I will be doing a series on what I'm thankful for.

Part 1: Friendship

Here I sit in a house that seems, in contrast, so very quiet and so very still.  The three women I began this motherhood journey with, have all returned home, their 11 children with them.  This morning the four of us allowed 13 children to run free so that we could just talk, if just for a minute or two and catch up on what is going on these days.  As I sit here, I feel such gratitude, to have this, these times with these women that care about each other and who's children have known each other all of their lives.

I remember it so clear, that it's apparent now that it was a life line that I desperately needed.  The coordinator of the infant playgroup invited me to attend, Kylynn was 8 weeks old, and my immediate response was YES!  An invitation was not needed to attend, but I'm not sure if I would have ever made my way there if she hadn't reached out to me.  To have a few hours a week, where I could have a conversation with, not just adults, but mommies in the same place in life I was, was a gift.  We shared our struggles and our joys and always left lighter than when we arrived.

The four of us have out grown a weekly playgroup, our lives are much too big for that these days, but we still need what it provided.  A place to ask questions, did this happen to you when you were nursing, did he ever gag on food, how have you dealt with talking back?  Even more a place to say the big things that you're afraid to say out loud, until you do and they say, me too.  To have someone you can look in the eye and tell the truth when they ask how you're doing.

And even after three hours, there were so many half finished sentences, so many interrupted conversations, insuring that there will be a next time.  A time to connect, as a group of four women, who were placed together in life because our circumstances were the same, and found in the end real friendship.  I for one am already looking forward to the next time, mostly because I know it won't be at my house this time :).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Big love

I awoke this morning to this beautiful bit of goodness (I took the bite, I'm impatient, especially when it comes to doughnuts).  After ten years, he knows, if you want to communicate love to me do it by leaving me a chocolate glazed doughnut waiting for me in the kitchen.  Perhaps that's a bit specific, I do experience love in other ways too, but you know what I mean.  Chocolate=love, doughnut=love, chocolate doughnut=really big love.

My sweet hubby, who has been busy, busy these past six months few days, decided to use his time creatively and take Kylynn on a daddy/daughter date in the morning before us normal people are awake.  They had doughnuts and kool-aid and Kylynn talked and talked, I'm sure, while Kyle barely got a word in edge wise.

Kylynn (can I tell you how much I love this fashionista, look at how she buckles her belt on the side, love it!) had a breakdown this morning because, in her words, "but I need to share Jesus with Jack mommy."  Talk about pulling out the big guns in an argument, geez.  Jack had said that Daddy made his boo-boo all better, and Kylynn needed him to understand that no, only God makes boo-boos better.  This began a back and forth of, no daddy!, no God!  And when I told her to stop arguing with her brother, she laid that one on me.  Oh, the pressures she puts on herself, she is definitely her father and I rolled into one up tight little girl.

Jack has gotten wind that his third birthday is 3 months away, and unfortunately my theory is holding up.  Terrible twos-some silly rhyme made up that has nothing to do with reality, terrible threes-oh golly hold onto your hats.  The boy will say no to things he really wants, just so he can say no, then he has to come back and change his mind, because what child doesn't want chocolate milk.  He has also decided that as of now he will take no more being pushed around by Kylynn, not gonna have it!  He also gets mad at her if she looks at him, tries to talk to him, breathes on him, or thinks about him.

The good news, Kyle found a secret cubby in our coat closet, under the stairs where the kids can be locked up play.  I'm hoping that they'll soon spend some more time in there so I can think clearly enough to cook some dinner, or catch up on a chore or two.  So far they just stayed in their long enough to decide they wanted everything in the Christmas toy catalogue that came in the mail and then came out to tell me all about it.

This is my life and I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy every crazy minute of it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

It's time to shop

Have y'all seen that nifty button up there on the upper right hand corner of my blog, you know the one that says "Home for Christmas."  Go ahead and click on it and check out all the amazing stuff you can buy for Christmas this year, or if you're like me all the amazing stuff you want other people to buy you for Christmas this year.  All of the shops listed (and there are a ton!) are raising money to help pay for their or other's adoptions.

LoraLynn over at Vitafamiliae put this list together and had that nifty button created to spread the word.  She also blogged about all the different shops by category, so if the vastness of the list overwhelms you head over to her blog and read her past entries to see some of her favorites, divided by category.   Did I tell you it's good stuff, and bonus: you won't accidentally buy someone something they already have.

Want to help spread the word?  Paste this code on your blog to get the button:

<a href="" target="_blank"><img a="" an="" border="0″ alt=" bring="" buy="" christmas.="" for="" gift.="" home!"="" home="" orphan="" src="" /></a>

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Enough about you, let's talk about me

I've often wondered if there is some common character trait that all bloggers share, if there is I think it would have to be an ability to always bring the conversation back to ourselves, I kid...kind of.

But since we're talking about bloggers, and I'm a blogger, and this is my blog, let's talk about me.  Thank you, each one of you, who has been praying for me, after being dealt the blow of learning that Chloe's adoption process is on a two+ month hold.  I have felt your prayers, in a big way, God has reached down and picked up the sadness I was carrying around like a wet blanket, and I feel peace and joy, for the first time in a long time.  It's bigger than me, so I've stopped trying to understand it, but I feel ready to wait for God to bring her home in His time and I feel blessed to enjoy this time as a family of four with as much fun as we can squeeze in.

One of the ways God is filling me up with joy is through the love of strangers.  When a stranger shows me kindness I am always overcome.  In their kindness I see Him, using their hands and feet, to say, you are loved.  The other day I was at the grocery store with both kids, after they had spent a nap-free day at school.  This equals crazy children, and sweaty and stressed mommy.  I was walking down the cereal aisle and Kylynn was dancing around and got in the way of an elderly gentleman walking the opposite direction.  I asked Kylynn to get out of his way, in I'm sure, a very exasperated voice.  He looked at me with such kindness, saying, "I'm in no hurry, she can keep on dancing, before you know it they'll be old enough to do the shopping for you."  I wanted to hug him, instead I just thanked him and hoped he didn't notice that I was about to cry.

This Saturday, our town had a miniature horse show at the expo center, it was free to go, so you know we were all about it.  We took the kids out and of course they were in heaven, horses just their size!  Jack was standing in the stands doing his donkey impression (close enough) and it's a really good one.  This lady just fell in love with him and asked us if we would all like to come and meet her horses.  She took us over and introduced us to a few horses, let us pet them, and let Kylynn walk one.  Her daughter was showing that day and she shared with us their story of how they came to be involved with miniature horses.  I cannot tell you how kind she was to our family, how nice it was to have a conversation that was real, with a woman who's name I will never know.

I walked away that day carefully holding something beautiful, yet fragile, I could feel it's weight and see it's beauty.  God had given me the gift of seeing His love in everything around me, and I held it close and smiled.

Truth be told, I still don't have a clue why Chloe can't come home today.  But I have finally, picked my feet up off the ground, stopped dragging them, and allowed God to drive the car.  Who knew being a passenger could feel this free, this light.  The wind is blowing through my hair and joy has settled deep in my heart.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Get a flu shot, get $5!

If you get a flu shot this year between November 7th and November 30th, Lysol will give you a $5 rebate.  To print out the rebate form and see details head over here.

I didn't actually have to pay for my flu shot so I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to get one, we'll see.  Good luck fellow frugal friends!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Because you served, free stuff

Happy Veteran's day, and thank you to all the men and women who have selflessly served our country. I can't personally thank you all but I hope I can help a few of you find a store or restaurant that would like to.

There are so many deals offered to veteran's on this day.  I was shocked to see just how many restaurants, stores, and parks offer free or discounted products.  Some of my favorites were 10% off at Lowes, a free haircut at Sports Clips, and a free meal at Texas Road House, check them all out along with the details at The Military Wallet, what a neat website!

Now go out and have a free breakfast, lunch, and dinner, get a free haircut, and then get some stuff for 10% off, it's way less than you deserve but I hope it brightens your day.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Living in the past

And now that Thanksgiving is around the corner I will get around to posting my halloween pictures, you're welcome :).

On Friday, we had a trick-or-treating event, that the company Kyle works for hosts every year, otherwise known as our first stop in our "how much candy can two kids get" experiment. 

Then we headed over to our church's country fair, also known as stop #2 in our "how much candy can two kids get" experiment.  We had such a good time, we took some International students with us and they loved seeing how we celebrated.  We went on a hay ride, played games, listened to live music, and ate some great food, and got candy of course.

This also happened to be the weekend when Kylynn got to take home the class mascot (is that right...I don't know), Max.  She had a great time dragging him everywhere we went so that Mommy would have something to write in his journal before sending him back to school.  I can't believe it's happening all ready, but it is, "Kylynn" has homework all the time (all of which is really for me, because it involves things she couldn't possibly do, like write in a journal).

We carved our pumpkins.  Kyle is the pumpkin carver in this house and this year he did one to look like each of the kids, it was pretty impressive, well to me at least, I can't carve a pumpkin to save my life.

See...notice Jack's eyes are more almond and less round than Kylynn's, he was going for details.

They were Superman! and a pumpkin fairy (don't ask, she made it up and it was free, so we were both happy) again on Halloween night, otherwise known as our third and final stop in "how much candy can two kids get" experiment.

We had our home church over to hang out on Halloween and one of our friends decided that if we were going to hang out it might as well be a little party for the trick-or-treaters.  So my friend made a lollipop pull and a bean bag toss (with smoke coming out of the pumpkin's mouth).  We had a great time hanging out and drinking cider and eating popcorn, everyone but Kyle who decided that he wanted to scare the children by pretending to be a stuffed scarecrow and then yelling at them when they took candy, luckily none of the parents punched him :).

Finally I should have a picture of our candy but I don't, it didn't occur to me till just now and it was long ago taken to Kyle's office before mommy gained 10 lbs.  But I will tell you that it would have filled up a 3 gallon bucket, easy!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My story

Today is orphan Sunday, a day to remember the 147 million, and to ask what should I do about it?  There are many roles that one can play in caring for the orphans in this world, the one that I am most familiar with right now is adoption.  But really, what can I say about adoption that hasn't been said before, not much I'm afraid.  What I can share with you is my story, my story of how I got here, it was a lot easier than you might think.

I didn't see this coming, this life I'm living now.  As a child it never occurred to me that children could join a family any other way than growing in their mommy's belly.  The older I got the more I learned about the world and all it's suffering and I remember how much I wanted to help make the world a little bit better, but I didn't know how to go about it and I wasn't brave enough to do much more than think about big issues, like poverty, AIDS, and orphans.  I didn't know that God had told me in His word that it was my job to care about these issues enough to act and even if I did I probably would have ignored Him all the same.

When Kyle and I decided that we wanted to start a family I had been ready for a while, so when it didn't happen right away I quickly began to wonder if maybe something was wrong.  I forced Kyle to think about it and to tell me what we were going to do if for some reason we never ended up pregnant.  For Kyle it was simple, if that happens we'll adopt.  For me that seemed like a consolation prize and a scary one at that.  Eventually I came to a place where I decided I could adopt, I didn't really want to, but I would do it if God asked me to.  Soon though I could forget those thoughts as I became pregnant with our daughter.

When it came time to make to add baby #2, Kyle was adamant that we adopt, his simple argument was this, if we don't do it now we may never do it.  I knew he was right and could see us meaning to adopt "someday" but then after giving birth to two or three children, being too tired to add another one, and part of me thought that would be just fine.  I was scared and very unsure about it all, but finally decided that this was God leading me through Kyle, so I jumped in, trusting He wouldn't let me drown.

It wasn't until I was all the way in, wet all the way up to my ears, that I began to feel about adoption the way I feel today.  In my life adoption wasn't a life long passion, a message spoken to me through a burning bush, or the only window left open in a row of closed doors.  It was just something that I stumbled upon, and chose to say yes.  I signed one piece of paper, then another, and another.

And now here I am.  A mama to not only Kylynn, but to Jack and Chloe.  Sometimes I let myself go there, to consider, what if I had said no.  I would have missed this, this raising of my son, the way he laughs, the ten times a day he tells me, "i love you mommy" and "mommy you pretty."  I would have been the old me, the one who hadn't been stretched and molded into this woman, I would have been missing a passion and a realization that I have a purpose on this earth.

That is my story.  It is not made for TV movie worthy, but I hope it speaks to someone out there that is hearing that whisper and is wondering if God could really be asking them to adopt, even though they're scared, even though they could give birth to children, even though it's never really been something they wanted to do.  I hope it encourages you that there are costs involved in adoption, but the pay off is greater than you ever dreamed possible.

Friday, November 5, 2010

They say it better

I'm in a bit of a rut, my mind is fully engaged in trying to process this adoption delay and still trust God, it takes all of my strength to do that, and anyway even if I had all my brain power these women still speak my heart better than I can.

Why I will adopt all the children God asked me to before I pour money into college funds

Why I no longer consider myself a republican or democrat, but just a lady who really loves Jesus

Stop telling God no, there is no blessing like adoption

And please watch this short video to get ready for Orphan Sunday, this Sunday!

Creation Groans from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

True Religion

This Sunday is orphan sunday, so starting today I will do a few posts relating to adoption, orphans, and how we all can make a difference.  But first I want to look at the need, this video does a great job or reminding us of what we are called to and how much we have to give to so many with such great need.

True Religion from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

When God says No

It is easy to love you, to worship you, to sing your praises when the blessings abound, when my heart only knows joy and peace is my constant companion.  And those times are good, they are worthy, they teach me about who You are and how You love.

But it is when You tell me no* that I have the chance to grow, to be made into your image, to show the world what it is that makes me different, that makes You different.  The no, seems all wrong, even knowing what a small piece of the puzzle I see, I can't imagine why a no would be better than a yes, why empty arms could be better than ones filled up with love.  But I can't seem to find my anger, all I feel is an assurance heavy in my heart, and a need to praise, to obey, to worship, and be made whole.

You have yet to answer my questions, for you do not answer to me, so I will never really know all the parts of the puzzle that you were creating.  But I have learned, through years of just almost understanding, I finally believe that indeed You have a plan for me, a plan to give me a future and a hope.  You have convinced me that You are still good, in all ways good, even when you say no, to a plan I had all worked out in my head.

You had whispered to me months ago, that I was praying for the wrong thing and I quietly switched, so I suppose you didn't really tell me no.  For I began to pray for your timing, for her to come to me when it is time, once you've completed that which needs to be done, the work in my heart, the work in others, the part of the puzzle You're building right now.  And you will always say Yes to prayers that speak your work into this world, and so I will continue to pray for Your timing and for the hope you have promised to create in me.

*We got news today that there will be no more children permitted to leave Korea this year, the quota has been met.  In January our process will pick up where it was left off.

Monday, November 1, 2010

31 bits

This Christmas season I have a couple of goals when it comes to the shopping.  First, spend less money, we just paid for Chloe's adoption and so money is tight, so I really want to be mindful of every dollar I spend during the holidays.  Second, find creative gift ideas and great deals so that no one knows I spent less money on them this Christmas (unless of course they read my blog that is) :).  Third buy gifts from organizations who take my money and use it to change lives.

So far, so good, but I had yet to spend any money to meet my third goal despite knowing several great organizations out there, until today.  Today I headed over to 31 Bits, that sells jewlery made by women in Uganda, earning an income that allows them to rise out of poverty in a war torn country.  The mission of this organization is, for "the women [to] earn an income that allows them to provide for their families, receive financial and savings training, and maximize their creative skills and abilities. We strive to build a loving community that cares for individuals’ spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical needs."

Their necklaces, bracelets, and headbands are gorgeous and if you don't like anything you see, wait a few days their winter line is coming out on November 4th!  Go check them out and buy a gift that will make bring joy to the receiver and to the lady who made it.