Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Psalm 42

I certainly don't know what I'd do without the Book of Psalms on days like today.

Psalm 42

1As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longeth after You, O God.


2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

3 My tears have been day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?

4 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.

5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

6 O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.

7 Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.

8 Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.

9 I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

10 As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?

11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

From Kylie's Pen


What is really neat about homeschooling for 4th grade is I get to read everything that Kylie is doing and I know exactly what she is learning.   It’s been really fun getting to know Kylie in many ways I would not be able to if she were in a traditional school setting.  One of her penmanship assignments for today was to write an essay about where she would go if she could choose just one place in the world.  Here is what she wrote:

Dear Journal,

If I could travel anywhere in the world, it would be Ukraine.  I picked this unexpected country where not many English people would go because my two brothers were adopted there.  I’d love to go with my dad and go to a few orphanages and see the kids, play with them, and learn a new language.  I’d also love to eat the food there.  If I could go to Brandon’s orphanage, and meet his friends, and especially teach them God’s Word it would be awesome.  I’d love to go to more places in the world as well, but I picked Ukraine for my essay.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Black Friday Shopping Madness


It has taken me several days to calm down from Black Friday Shopping Madness this year, so that I can speak about it publicly without losing my "good girl " reputation (slight smile).  For 3 years in a row I have spent Black Friday in my nice, warm jammies shopping for Christmas for my GIANT family (including extended family) from the comfort of my own home.  No lines for me.  No freezing, cold temperatures.  No parking issues.  No searching for what size I need on racks that have been destroyed by greedy shoppers searching for their size.  No (other people's) kids screaming and fussing.  No traveling from store to store to find that perfect gift only to find out they are sold out, or that they never had the item to begin with.  The idea of myself or my family being trampled over or shot in public does not appeal to me at all. 

As much as I prefer to shop online, I ALMOST, yes, ALMOST quit the online method FOREVER.  Yes, I was THAT angry.  It started out fine on Black Friday.  I had 5 sites open and was simultaneously choosing various things, sipping my hot tea (laughing at all the "foolish people" shopping at stores) and keying all my discount codes in to find the cheapest “bottom line” price.  I was so proud of my progress down my shopping list.  Then the 2nd site locked up.  It was the one site that said I must order by NOON to get my 50% off STEAL of a DEAL.  It froze. WHAT in the world??!!!  I began again.  It froze.  I began again.  I fought that site for 2 hours and it was mighty close to NOON!!!  NOT COOL, Express Fashion (I so outted you Express Fashion).  Unacceptable!!  I called the help line—of course, they were “experiencing a higher volume of calls than normal.” Oh. My. Word.  I typed in the credit card number and hit “submit order” and it froze for the 90th time.  I could not get through to the help line, so I was unsure if that particular purchase hit my credit card ALL 90 times I hit “submit order” or even if it had gone through at all by NOON. Did I get my steal or not??? I was so ANGRY.  This was strike ONE.

Strike TWO was when I ordered 4 PERFECT, glorious, LARGE and completely unrelated items from 4 different companies and they came in the mail a few days later only to be PUNY!!  Why in the world do they enlarge photos and make the items look so grand only to be so small!??? I swear it's a conspiracy.  What a letdown!  So….all that money I saved on FREE SHIPPING and discounts went out the window because they generally deduct whatever shipping cost to return the items out of my credit they will put back on my card.  Grrr!!

Strike THREE was when I ordered some stuff from amazon from a company that had 5 stars and I never received the items.  The tracking on the items show them being shipped the day after Thanksgiving.  We definitely should have received the items by now.  It is SUCH a pain to file the claims on non-received items! 

Generally speaking something is OUT if there are THREE STRIKES, but let’s just say I’m a forgiving soul. …Or I could be a little more honest and say I am very lazy and I REALLY, REALLY HATE SHOPPING in this town. So in my world, there are FOUR strikes.  STRIKE FOUR is the SPAM!!!!!!!   For the love of money, MY INBOX is FULL of SPAM from all of these companies I ordered from on Black Friday!!!!!!!!  I order online ONE day a year and I’m cursed for the rest of the year with SPAM??!! BAH HUMBUG!!!!  Don’t get me wrong.  I do not mind being sent coupons.  But places like Children’s Place and EXPRESS FASHIONS and GYMBOREE and Pottery Barn and VICTORIA SECRET and DICKS and ABC Distribution are sending 10 emails a day.  All of their messages go something like this, “We are extending the sale for one more day…This is your last chance…This is your last, last chance….This is your friends and family’s last chance….This is your last, last, last chance to save 75% off and free shipping on your entire order.”  And (this could be strike FIVE) for those of you out there ordering from DICKS SPORTING GOODS, do not believe them when they tell you the item has FREE delivery.  It is a LIE.  What they mean by free delivery is they will give you a $20 credit on your bill and you will pay the difference.  So an item that is large, that typically costs $100 for shipping, that says “FREE SHIPPING” did not actually have free shipping.    I paid $80 for shipping once I looked at my bill closer.

So I will explain why I said I ALMOST quit online shopping forever.  Let’s just say, next year, it is GAME ON!!  I ALWAYS learn from my mistakes!  I’m no rookie now.  I’m already developing a better course of action.  I am not turning in my mouse just yet for a 4am-lounge-chair-line in town.  I will NOT be laughed at by all the smart people at home shopping in their jammies! I am opening a 2nd email address so I can still track my orders.  I will let that 2nd email address be spammed away and it will not clutter my iPhone.  For the larger items that I do not want to pay shipping for, I will send Tim (wink, wink) since he is so strong and DREAMY and willing to help.  If a site does not list correct dimensions of items, I will not order from them.  And as far as the website shutting down, I refuse to order from that company again.  Nothing from any website is so unique that I can’t purchase it from some other company that has better website service.  There you have it.  What doesn’t kill me will only make me stronger!!!!   

 

 

Friday, November 30, 2012

November Thankful Challenge

There are many specific games or challenges that go on in November.  There is a "Tough Man" challenge, which has to do with some running and obstacle courses.  Some have a challenge to catch a deer.  Others participate in "No Shave November" (which I seriously considered doing this year---no I didn't...Yes I did.  No. I. didn't. haha)  Instead of all those things I decided to participate in the "November Thankful Challenge." It is a challenge to write one thing you are thankful for in every day of November as your Facebook Status.

Here is a quick recap of November:


November Thankful Challenge Day 1: I'm thankful for the glorious hope of my salvation. I'm thankful for the peace that surpasses all understanding throughout this turbulent year.

Day 2: I'm thankful for the time I got to spend with my oldest son, Brandon. He brought so much joy into my life and I am a better mother and person because of him.

Day 3: I'm thankful for my Katie-Bug!!! I'm thankful for her tender heart toward God and her desire to do right. She is smart, affectionate and beautiful!! Our little chatterbox gives us such joy!!

Day 4: I'm thankful today is Orphan Sunday

Day 5: I'm thankful for our friends who had us over for a bonfire Saturday night. It's been our friends, church, pastors and family who have literally held us up through the hardest times in our lives. Thank you.

Day 6: I'm thankful for my Kylie Girl! She has such love and compassion! She's always writing sweet notes of encouragement and freely gives hugs. I love her to pieces and am so proud to be her mom!

Day 7: I am thankful for my Haley-Bee!! She is a continual ray of light and joy in my life. I love her girlie cuddles and affection, her "ditzy" sense of humor, her rolling giggles and her deep understanding and discernment of right from wrong.

Day 8: I'm thankful for my hubby! I still blush at the thought of marrying my boy next door, even after 15 yrs of knowing him. He's an awesome hubby, daddy to all our children and my best friend. I love you, Tim!

Day 9: I'm thankful today is FRIDAY and it's a long weekend AND we have something fun planned for the weekend with our kiddos!! :-)

Day 10: I'm thankful for gorgeous 70-degree Fall weather on a Saturday when our family can actually get out and enjoy it hiking!

Day 11: Today I am very thankful for a much needed family mini-vacation to Great Wolf Lodge. It is nice to get away from our hectic lives and just enjoy our children.

Day 12: I'm thankful for all of the military and their families....especially my husband, three brothers and sisters (in-laws) who are/were all in the Air Force!

Day 13: I am thankful for my job. It has helped pay for 2 adoptions in the last 2 years as well as Christian education for our kidlets.

Day 14: I'm thankful for pay day! After going over a month without any pay because we were in Ukraine, it gave me a whole new appreciation for our income.

Day 15: I am thankful we can afford to buy groceries....and when I was tempted to complain about the freezing cold rain today when I had to grocery shop, I was reminded that many are not so blessed to be able to afford groceries, especailly for a family of 6.

Day 16: I'm thankful for my friends, especially my special friends (you know who you are), who have been there for me this year through everything when many other "friends" dropped me when I needed them the most. I love each one of you!

Day 17: I'm thankful for my parents & the privilege of growing up in a Christian home where my parents stayed married through good times & bad. I love you guys!

Day 18: I'm thankful for SermonAudio, where I can watch my church service from home in my jammies when I have a fever and feel like poo. Additionally, I am thankful for my pastors who continually preach the Word of God, and who pray for the flock by name...and notice when someone is out.

Day 19: I'm thankful for my in-laws for raising such a godly man for me to marry. I'm thankful for them always being there for us to pray & bounce thoughts or questions off. I couldn't ask for a better 2nd set of parents.

Day 20: I'm thankful today is my Friday, even though it is Tuesday!!

Day 21: I'm thankful I have family coming to town today and for the 5 days we get to spend together.

Day 22: I'm thankful for God's Word! "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His Name! Because the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations!"

Day 23: I'm thankful I get to go on a hot date with my hubby tonight to see James Bond along with my sister and her hubby. I'm thankful for my Mom and Dad K who are willing to watch our crazies for us so we can go out alone.

Day 24: I'm thankful that my husband finally (after 6 yrs with a grannie flip phone) got an iPhone....and especially that I no longer have to listen to his The Office (Sitcom) music ringtone at all hours of the day and night. ;-)

Day 25: I am thankful for 4th Sundays of the month. I get my "baby fix" in the 0-6 month nursery at church! I love our church's beautiful little ones!

Day 26: I'm thankful for healthy children. Many of my friends struggle daily with sick children. I do not take for granted having 4 healthy children.

Day 27: I’m thankful for our two reliable vehicles and that we owe nothing on them.  Our Honda Pilot is 10 years old and has been paid off for 7 years.  Our Honda Civic is 4 years old and has been paid off for 3 years.

Day 28: I’m thankful for pets.  It may sound silly to commit a whole day to be thankful for pets, but I know pets who have cheered up the lonely, the empty-nester, the elderly, the sick, the blind and the grieving.  They are God’s little gifts of joy to humans.

Day 29:  I’m thankful for days off to catch up on house work, wrap Christmas gifts, go for a bike ride and to enjoy homeschooling with Kylie.

Day 30:  I’m thankful for this Thankful Challenge.  It reminds me how many things I have to be thankful for.  I am richly blessed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Some Days Are Harder Than Others

A year ago, a log with my Brandon fishing on it


Same location this year, just a dumb, empty, old, broken log
Some days are harder than others.  I'm not sure what makes it that way or what sets off my emotions.  I hate when I feel all sappy and sad.  I keep hoping one day my heart won't hurt so bad.  It certainly doesn't seem to be getting easier almost a year later.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Eight and a Half Months


This morning as I walked past the picture of his gleaming face just like I’ve done thousands of times before, I traced my finger against the outline of his handsome cheek.  I imagine, yet again, what it felt like to run my fingers through his thick, blond hair and the way he would turn slightly red and say bashfully, “Ma-ma” when I did.  I can’t believe I’ve made it now 8 ½ months without him.  8 ½ months was the exact amount of time I shared with him on earth.
 

I looked down at my blouse and shivered as I remembered I’d inadvertently put on the same blouse today that I wore “that” day—the day that my life tragically changed forever.  I couldn’t stand to have the blouse on all day, so I changed.

The 8 ½ months I got to spend with him seemed to fly by so quickly, yet these 8 ½ months without him seem to drag on relentlessly.  Many days I have felt the pessimism of Ecclesiastes 2:17, “Therefore I hated life, because the work that is here under the sun is grievous to me; for all is vanity and like striving after wind…..for all my days are sorrows, and my work produces grief (v 23).”

Every time that I vacuum the floor, I can’t help but realize more of his precious DNA is gone.  Every airplane that flies overhead inflicts the pain of knowing he’s not there to point it out to me.  Every song on the radio he loved, and those that were played at his funeral seem to torture me and bring his death back to the forefront of my mind.  Every single time I see a blond boy about his size in the distance, instinctively, I stare and wish it was my blond boy.  There are days I start and they do not go the way I’d hoped and because of my continual grief, circumstances seem so much worse than they really are. Every time that I dream about him at night, I wish I’d never woken.  As in the movie Tangled it says, “And for that moment everything was perfect.  Then that moment ended.” I felt like those 8 ½ months were the most happy and “perfect” I have every felt in all of my life. 
 
Now that moment has ended.

I have to be SO careful with my thought life these days because the Bible says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers and rulers of darkness.” I am not physically involved in a quarrel or wrestling with any people that I know of right now in my life.  However, I feel a continual battle around me.  I believe it is because demons and rulers of darkness would love nothing more than to render me useless for the cause of Christ.  What better way to destroy an entire person than to steal way God-given joy, because of the death of my beloved child?  Allowing my mind to linger back to all that I’ve lost and all that I feel inside is not edifying.  In fact, it is self-centered.  Put plainly, it is sin. 

I’m so broken and so wounded, yet I still have so much more to give to this world.  My heart’s desire is to serve Him every single day and for the rest of my life.  Though I’m weak and weary, I can still pray.  Most evenings that I lay awake crying, I begin praying for the needs of others.  Here are some of the things that I pray for:

·         My unsaved family members.  I beg God to open their eyes so they can clearly see Jesus Christ is their only hope of eternal life.  Apart from Christ, they will spend eternity in Hell.  I love my family members so dearly.  I can’t bear the thought of them dying and going to such an awful place forever.

·         My unsaved friends.  I pray they will be drawn to something more than this life has to offer—that they will be able to see their desperate need for Christ.

·         My country, my President, the upcoming elections

·         The orphans all over the world.  That more Christian families would be burdened to adopt.  That NOTHING (not fear, not money, not time or any other excuse) will stand in the way of complete and utter obedience to God in the call to adopt.

·         The sick, the lonely, the elderly, the unborn

·         Those blinded by false religion

·         The missionaries, the persecuted Christians

·         The military members and their families

·         The grieving and heartbroken people around the world

·         The pastors of my church and their families

·         My 4 babies fast asleep in their beds, for their salvation, that they will walk with Him all of their lives, that they will never doubt God’s love for them, for their future spouses

·         My husband and all his responsibilities at work, at church and in the home

I absolutely love John 15 because it is such an encouragement to me to keep getting up every day, to keep moving forward and to keep serving Him with any ounce of strength that I can.  I’d like to encourage those of you who are reading this blog and experiencing grief of your own, to simply endure…and when every other strand of strength is gone, just pray for others. 

Abide (remain, endure) in Me, and I will remain in you…He who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.  If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.  My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.  Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love….These things I have spoken to you, so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Homeschooling


Today I am going to say something I thought I would never say!  That is, I’m officially a homeschooling mom!!!  Why? You might ask.  Well, I will do my best to explain.  We have many reasons and it took us many weeks of prayer and consideration before we made our move to pull her from the Academy and I began to homeschool our middle daughter, KK.
KK and Brandon in the mountains


First, KK took Brandon’s death the hardest.  She is our most emotional child.  She loves the deepest, yet hurts the deepest.  Brandon was in her class at school.  Brandon and KK had a love/hate relationship.  They were the most alike in personality—he also loved deeply and hurt deeply.  They fought the most because they were most alike.  Even though they fought, they loved each other very much and Brandon would stick up for her when boys or other girls were teasing her at school.  She no longer has him there “protecting her” as she puts it.  This makes every day for her at school a constant reminder that her protector is not there.
KK and Brandon headed to the water park

Second, KK is the type of person that is loyal and devoted, but she also reflects how she is treated.  If she perceives that someone does not like her, or is being condescending towards her, she will have an attitude and also put up a brick wall a mile high.   Because of her age and personality, if this happens in the beginning of a relationship, there is little chance that the wall is coming down.  I am not even sure she knows she has put up a brick wall, but I can see this tendency in her as her Mom.  She had a major brick wall for whatever reason in 4th grade.
Brandon and KK playing

Third, her grades plummeted.  She has had mostly A’s and B’s in school prior to 4th grade.  For the teacher that suited her personality best (warm, affectionate, animated, encouraging, joyful, loving….), she even received straight A’s the whole year.  With the poor grades this year in 4th grade came teasing from the other students as well as personal discouragement for KK.  Imagine how you would feel to study 3 hours every night and pull D’s and F’s.  Poor grades are NOT like our daughter.  She is a very smart little girl.
On weekends KK and Brandon liked to have a sleep over in each other's bedrooms

Fourth, her attitude stunk.  Her daily behavior was NOT like OUR KK.  She would come home from school and hit and punch her sisters (something we’ve never allowed our children to do).  She would scream and yell at her sisters and me (again, we have never allowed this behavior).  She would kick the cat or dog (she loves her cat and dog.  This is the same child who cries if you even call the animals “smelly”).  She threw the remote control across the room (she’s typically careful with things that do not belong to her).  She scribbled through her homework (she normally takes pride in her work and always does her very best).  She did nothing but talk bad about herself regarding her looks ("I’m ugly.  I’m fat.  I hate myself.")  She did nothing but talk about dying and saying things like, “Brandon is lucky he is dead and in Heaven and doesn’t have to live on this earth.  I just want to die.” Imagine my horror after losing one beautiful child to hear my other beautiful child say she wanted to die.  She was turning into an angry, bitter child who felt she was a victim and her poor attitude and poor grades were everyone’s fault but her own.  We did not like this trend.

Fifth, she had WAY too much homework every night.  She would sit through a 7-hour day of school only to get home and have 2-3 more hours of homework and studying.  She would sit and cry as she heard the neighborhood kids laughing and playing outside while she was stuck inside doing homework.  I am a firm believer that kids need to play outside every day. Kids only have one chance to be kids.  They have their WHOLE lives to sit inside and work.  I grew up in a fundamental Christian school and I never once had 2-3 hours’ worth of homework.  I made it the real world just fine without homework!  Tim went to public school all his life and never had that volume of homework.  He made it just fine in the real world as well.  In fact, I would classify my husband as superior!  He served in the military and graduated with his Master’s Degree with a 4.0.

Sixth, on weekends she was her normal, happy, affectionate self.  She got along well with her siblings.  She cooperated around the house.  She did not talk back.  She didn’t throw things.  On weekends we had our sweet daughter back!!!  That is….until Sunday nights when she began with her anger fits again as we braced ourselves for another LONG school week.
This past weekend she was back to her normal happy self! PTL!

So, we thought and we prayed.  We noted her behavior on school nights.  Then we noted her behavior on weekends.  What was different?  We sat her down and talked for a while.   We listened to her spill her heart out.  This was NOT all grief, though that is weighing heavily on her heart.  What we discovered was a whole bunch of things were coming to a head at one time.  The biggest (and most correctable) things that stood out to us were poor grades at school and lack of play time.  That's when it dawned on me that I could probably just homeschool her.  What a simple fix!  Right now one-on-one time is what she needs more than anything.  Thankfully our school principals and pastors supported this decision as what our family needs right now.

Homeschooling is not for everyone.  Our other 3 children are still in the Academy.  However, Praise God it is working out very well for our little KK!!! We chose the online video course from A Beka because I am very familiar with the program since I grew up learning from the A Beka curriculum.  It is also the same curriculum the Academy uses so she will be able to slide back into a normal classroom setting if that is where God leads down the road.  I am happy to report she’s finished a week of homeschooling so far and she is back to straight A’s on everything.  She has been her normal, happy and affectionate self all week.  We have been able to play outside after school.  Sometimes as a parent you have to make tough decisions.  But I believe it is far better to listen to your child crying out for help while they are still young, rather than wait until they are a teenager and then try to fix all the damage that occurs throughout their lives of NOT listening to their cries for help.   We are so thankful for God’s leading for this decision.  We will continue to pray that we are able to help her get back on her feet scholastically and emotionally so she can move forward in her life! 

“Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.” Psalm 31:24

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fallen Hero


Please pray for this family.  This brave man sacrificed his life yesterday for our country.  We should never take for granted our nation, our freedom, our friends or our families.   It was an honor and a privilege to know him and to attend church and Sunday school with this family. Tim will definitely miss playing softball with him. 

My heart hurts for this sweet, young widow.  She will now raise their beautiful son without his Daddy.  It will be up to her to tell their little 9-month old guy about his godly, dedicated, faithful, brave father.   

They were the cutest little family and the two of them were very much in love with one another. He will be missed by everyone who knew him.  Anyway, thank you all for praying.

God bless you.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Bedroom Deep Cleaning


It’s been just about 6 months since our special guy left us.  It’s taken this long for me to muster up the energy and will to go through his bedroom.  I’m not typically a procrastinator.  I’m usually highly motivated and driven.  I have been dreading this day of having to clean out his bedroom every day since he’s been gone.  I had to get it done because our new little guy is coming home very soon.  What I’ve been dreading for 6 months really turned out to be a lot of fun.

 I’ve been flipping through a Pottery Barn Teen magazine for the last few months trying to find ideas on how to re-decorate the bedroom.  I wanted it to be unique and different than it was.  I wanted to prepare it special for our new little guy just like we prepared the bedroom before Brandon came.  Then, since PB Teen is not in our budget, we went to Hobby Lobby to purchase similar items.  I found new matching quilts for the 2 twin beds online.  The girls were so enthusiastic and excited about decorating.  How could I not get excited as well?  They absolutely loved hanging the new things up and helping organize drawers.  We enjoyed reminiscing through different funny things Brandon did and said.  I finished going through his desk and toys.  When I got to his closet, I found his shoes that were only 2 months old.  They were worn straight through to his socks.  He was always so hard on his shoes.  ”Aww, his shoes,” I said. (Insert sad face).  I pictured him kicking around his soccer ball, doing jumps with his Ripstick and skateboard, thumping down the stairs and coming home from school. He would ask me to drop him off at the end of our street and he would run like the wind down the side walk trying to beat the Pilot home.  “I wonder if I should save these?” I asked.  KT says, “Why. In the world. Would you SAVE his smelly, old shoes?” Umm…..Nevermind.   We both laughed.  And I didn’t save them. 

He was a bit of a pack rat.  Three garbage bags full of stuff left the house.  Every McDonalds toy he ever got, he kept.  He had oodles of drawings, some finished, some half-finished.  Often if it wasn’t “perfect” by his standards he would quit drawing and start a new drawing.  There were tons of parts to things from broken cars and electronic equipment.  He had random pieces of wood that he’d begun carving with his pocket knives.  In only 8 months he had 5 pair of worn out, smelly shoes. 
So anyway, I'm thankful that job is complete.  We all look forward very much to filling the empty little room with a new life that God has blessed our family with.  There will be laughter and joy yet again, along many new special memories built in this bedroom.
Bedroom BEFORE
Bedroom AFTER the girlies & I decorated
Another view of the bedroom AFTER


One of my favorite drawings.  I recall sitting beside him in the back row
of our church on a Sunday night in December when he drew this.

I had Brandon's back pack out for the first time.  Bella sniffed it for a while, then layed down beside it.
It's really quite pitiful to have a depressed doggy.  She misses Brandon just like the rest of us! 



Sunday, July 22, 2012

Worry


I’m working my way through a book called The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel.   It has been a real eye opener for me.  I’ve gone around recommending the book to pretty much everyone because it is helpful to anyone in any possible situation they are in right now.  When I talk about how great this book is, people just act like “yeah, whatever.” I know most people won’t bother to read it.

As you all know we travel very soon to adopt our 2nd son from Ukraine.  I have been in absolute turmoil as I have worked through every possible scenario in my head that can and will go wrong while we are overseas.  First, Scenario #1, we will travel to adopt Nestor and they won’t be able to find him.  It will take 17 weeks to find him only to meet him and discover he does not want to be adopted.  Scenario #2, we meet him and he begs us to adopt him, but he is really creepy and there is no way we want to bring him home.  Scenario #3, they do not even refer us to Nestor, because he is not available for adoption.  Scenario #4, we adopt Nestor and he is an absolute terror and we wish we’d never adopted him to begin with.  Scenario #5, we miss our flights and lose all our luggage and never make it to our appointment to get our referral to adopt.  Scenario #6, we come home empty-handed.  Scenarios #7-Scenario #5,000 are a bit similar from getting stuck in Ukraine because we lose our passports, getting thrown into prison, getting food poisoning , running out of money and having to sell our home and live in a cardboard box with all 4 children for the rest of our lives.

So, I sit down to read my book, The Christian Atheist (the very book that I am recommending to EVERYONE ELSE TO READ) and what does it say?

                Worry, in essence, is the sin of distrusting the promises and the power of God.  It’s choosing to dwell on, to think about, the worst-case scenario.  It’s faith in the bad things rather than faith in God.  Second Timothy 1:7 says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline”(NLT).  In this verse, you could also easily translate “fear and timidity” as “anxiety, tension, and worry.” Fear doesn’t come from God.  It’s a tool the evil one uses to distract us from our true purpose here….. When we live by faith, we believe that God has everything in control.  But if we start to worry, how we live says the opposite….Can your worry change anything? No. Can God change anything?  Absolutely He can. (98).

I am doing exactly what the author says makes people a Christian Atheist—I am calling myself a Christian, yet I am living and acting like there is not a Sovereign God.  Shame on me! This cut me right to the quick of my heart. I have seen His mighty hand work in our International Adoption only ONE year ago!  How soon have I forgotten His goodness in that?  I have seen many miracles in my own life with leading me to my godly husband, and the healthy births of our 3 biological children.  God has provided for us financially for both adoptions.  He has led us on a very smooth path this second adoption journey.  He has answered many prayers regarding many different things.

What are the “promises” we are distrusting that the author is probably talking about?  One promise that jumps out at me is in Philippians 4:6-7.  Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  I also think about the verses in Matthew 10 regarding not one sparrow falling to the ground without our Heavenly Father knowing it.  Jesus Christ says, “Do not fear; you are more valuable even than a sparrow.”

Honestly, it is a lot easier said than done sometimes to cast down our worries and just trust that whatever happens is ordained by God.  Jeremiah 29 is another promise that God is not out to get us and cause calamity.  After promising a future and a hope it says, “If you seek me, and you find me, when you search for me with all your heart, I will be found by you, says the Lord.”

Our prayer has been and will continue to be as we move forward, that God would lead us to the right boy that He would have us to love, nurture, teach and call our own child.  We could use a lot of prayer in the next several months to trust in His power and might to work out every last detail. 

Oh, please go purchase and read the book The Christian Atheist. It’s a really, really good book.  I promise you will learn and you will grow in your walk with the Lord.

(PS, I hope it's obvious I was exaggerating with some of those worries.  It will not take 17 weeks and Ukraine does not randomly throw people in prison...just thought I'd throw in this disclaimer.  I don't want to discourage anyone from adopting from the wonderful country of Ukraine). 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Hiking

Our family absolutely loves to get out and hike together.  God's creation is amazing!!  Today was around 96 degrees, but it didn't feel too bad through the woods.  These pictures were taken at William B. Umstead State Park near Raleigh.  The trail we chose was a little over 5 miles and there was a lot to see do along the way!  What a perfect day! (other than the heat).

Ready to hike!

About a mile in, the shoes and socks came off!
Cooling off in the creek.

That would be my husband of 14 years...Monkey See....
Monkey do

Little Miss Sophistication
Climbing the rocks with Daddy

Neat rocks to climb
The slippery log that led to a little "island' area to explore

Another view down the creek

This was as far as I got on the slippery log before I turned around
Katie went over to the "island" a different way

Phew! That was a steap climb!

Critter #1
Taking a break on the bridge

Critter #2

Close up pictures of Critter #2

Critter #3 (EEEEEEKKK!!)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

KT's Growing Up!

11 months old, scratch on her nose from climbing in a toy box

I can hardly believe our oldest daughter turns 11 tomorrow!  When she was born I was sure they handed me the wrong baby!  She had blond hair and blue eyes and fair skin!  Tim and I have dark hair and complexions!  As an infant she was both fussy and active. We later found out she was fussy because she was lactose intolerant.   I can't tell you the number of times she crawled out of her crib before she turned 9 months old.  She was my Houdini and climbed ANYTHING like a monkey.   As a toddler she kept me on my toes.  She once climbed and got a bottle of sunscreen and drank it all.  She's eaten play dough, soap, baby wipes and styrofoam. I recall having to push the grocery cart down the center of the aisle because if I got too close to the shelves, she would knock everything off as she reached for whatever interested her.   If you saw a streak of pink, that would be our KT Bug!  She did everything FAST and ran from thing to thing. She chattered a mile a minute and I was her own little personal translator because I was the only one who understood all her chatter due to her speech pronunciation issue.  At 3 she began preschool to get some of her energy out.  Teachers threw out the words "ADHD" and asked us to have her tested.  She was tested and they just said she was a just a smart, curious, little social butterfly and needed to learn self-control.  She was so full of personality and love for life and adventure! Once she started Kindergarten she could sit still and listen.  She was pink from head to toe until she turned 6 and she began saying she was a "tomboy"and has worn blue ever since!

Though she has settled down quite a bit physically, she still will talk your ear off and ask a million questions.  You better give her the correct answer and never make a promise you don't intend to keep because she remembers EVERYTHING and will quote you word-for-word years after the fact.  She has played piano for 4 years.  She likes to knit, crochet, read, play games on the computer and roller blade.  She likes to be indoors most of the time, except when the family goes out hiking.  She is very smart and has an active imagination.  She loves to perform science experiments and do any kind of craft there is.  Her favorite color is turquoise blue. She loves dolphins and would love to be a marine biologist one day.

What is neat about KT is she is eager to please and to do right.  She is very much my helper around the house and the leader of the pack, even when Brandon was home and he was the oldest chronologically.  I sometimes forget she is just a child because she will think and talk to you like an adult.  She has always been my "old soul" with wisdom beyond her years. I can trust that she will always tell the truth.  She consistently reads her devotions and Bible every night before she sleeps without being told.  She has really grown into a beautiful young lady!

Our KT Bug has always been and is such a joy and blessing!  I am honored to be her Mom!  I love her so much!
3 months old

Just turned 2 years old

3 Years old

4 years old

5 years old

6 years old

7 years old

9 years old

10 years old