Friday, January 20, 2012

Welcome 2012! We've been waiting for you.

My family has been in the process of becoming a foster family since April of 2011.  We finally finished our last home study last weekend and now all we're waiting on is our paperwork to be signed for the official license to be drawn up.  I can hardly believe that our journey is really getting ready to begin.  It feels as though we've been talking about it, preparing for it, reading about it and going to classes for it forever.  Now, all of sudden, it's becoming reality!  We are so excited to expand our family in this way and it could happen at anytime now!

Believe it or not, becoming a foster parent was my husbands idea.  He told me that a friend of his in High School was a foster kid and his foster parents were really nice.  That stuck with him all of these years.   When my husband first asked me about becoming foster parents, I was NOT interested.  He explained that he really wanted to make a difference in the lives of kids in our community.  He went on to tell me about his friend in school and how his friend's parents had made a difference in that young man's life.  My husband is a man of very few that fact that he came out with all of these thoughts and feelings was a kin to the parting of the Red Sea--MIRACULOUS!  LOL! 

I really had to pray hard about this foster care thing, because up to this point I was NOT interested!  I had always wanted to adopt.  Growing up, my Mom's best friend adopted a beautiful Korean baby girl.  I remember my Mom's friend having a room ready for a new baby way before her adopted daughter ever arrived in the U.S.   As a child, I thought it was so neat that if you wanted a child badly enough that you could bring one home, from another country, that may need good parents and love them like your own.  That has stuck with me for a long time.
Last year I met an incredible couple who had adopted this adorable blond haired, blue eyed boy.  He is so darn cute! After getting to know them more I found out that he was originally a foster child that they adopted through the foster care system.  (Can any of you hear the bells and whistles going off in my head??)  My friend told me all about their family's journey into foster care and how much it had blessed their family.  She was able to get me in touch with the right people and a year later here we are! 

She is still and will continue to be one of the greatest resources I will have.  When the Department of Social Services calls us in the middle of the night to place a child with us, she will be the 1st person we call or text.  If we're not sure how to handle a particular situation, you know who we'll be calling. =)  My husband and I are so thankful for them and their family for their support! 

Maybe next time I write to you I'll have a little person playing at my feet or a baby sleeping in the next room.  You never know.  What I DO know, is that God has great plans for my family in 2012!  Hopefully we'll be growing our family by a person or two---or three for that matter. 

My prayer is:  God, use our family to strengthen and uphold other families who are hurting.  Please give us the compassion and patience it takes to "bring up a child in the way he should go".  May we lean on you,Lord, each day for our every need and not forget that EVERYONE is valuable to You---even if our society may not think so.  Amen

We're looking forward to 2012.  Are you?  I'd love to hear what you think might happen for you this year.  God bless each of you.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Christmas and the spirit of giving

I have noticed in the past few years that I start getting excited for Christmas very early--like September!  When the pools start closing and the wind starts to pick up I start thinking of Christmas.  What I get excited for most is giving special gift to those I love and hoping they love the gift as much as I loved picking it out for them.  Now, being a family with "just enough" money to go around, these gifts are not big or numerous, but somehow they always seem to be perfect. 

The last 2 years I have secretly wanted to spend most if not all of our Christmas gift budget on giving to those who really need it.  Last year I looked into a few homeless shelters in the area to give to.  I didn't follow through, time caught up with me and the money was spent on presents...excuses, I know.  I just didn't do it.  This year I really feel like I have to give in some way. 

It's funny how the Lord can impress things on your heart.  Here are few ways that He has flooded my mind with the desire to give:
  • Two weeks ago I got a gift catalog from Samaritan's Purse, an organization that help the poor and give them the care and hope to help rebuild their lives.  They provide emergency medical care, build schools and churches, provide food and the means to sustain their own gardens and live stock.  They give hope to families all over the world who need help. 
Here is irony for you:  I was looking through this catalog while I was eating my dinner.  I looked at my husband and said, I can't even finish my dinner.  I was so moved emotionally that I couldn't swallow for the lump in my throat.  I mean, how many times do we see the pictures on our TV of little African children with bloated tummies and just change the channel or even ignore the ad.  These little children weren't on my TV but on my kitchen table.  In the midst of our abundance their inadequacy jumped off the page.
  • The next thing that had me thinking was a news report from abc's 20/20.  It was about Native American children living at Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.  It showed these families living in mobile homes with patched floors, ceilings that could crash in at any moment and more than 2 or 3 to a bed.  One woman had 19 people living in her home.  80-90% of the adults living on this reservation are addicted to alcohol and reports were showing that the children were experimenting with alcohol as early as 5 years old.  The documentary showed several little children crying over their parents being drunk.  The school explained how many of these children come to school on Monday's not having eaten anything over the weekend. 
How can I look at these beautiful vibrant children and not feel compassion for them.  These kids aren't roaming around an African plain or in the jungles of South America--they are in our backyards!!!  Our own country is hungry and poor and destitute.  It breaks my heart to think that those children may have the same fate as the other adults in their community--alcohol addicted. My family has indian roots, so I guess this just hit home for me. 
  • The last and most recent thing that I came across was a book study my Life Group started by Max Lucado called, "Out Live Your Life".  This was taken right from his website:  "1.75 billion people are desperately poor, natural disasters are gouging entire nations, and economic uncertainty still reigns across the globe. But you and I have been given an opportunity to make a big difference."  Go to the link and check out the video--it's so moving.
As you can imagine my heart was nearly flooded over with emotion after watching the first video of this series after all that God had laid on my heart earlier.  Can I deny that the world is broken and in need of help, even in my own country/state/city?  Can I turn my back to the hurting again?  How can I ignore this passion that He has ignited in my soul for those in need?  I can't. 

As much as I write this to inspire others to look beyond their own family and into those hurting around them, I also write this as a declaration to myself.  I will no longer sit by the side with my eyes closed to the truth.  I will get out there and give what I can and help where I am able.

James 1:27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

Proverbs 22:2 The rich and poor have this in common: The LORD made them both.

Please take a moment to visit the links I've included.  If you have the ability to give to one of these organizations, I encourage you to do it.  Samaritan's Purse is a great place to start as they have several less costly ways to give.  You've got to start somewhere, right?!  God bless you as you leave this blog.  I pray that you will be compassionate to this cause and that you will find away to give or spread the word.  Choose to not turn your back on them anymore.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Summertime wrap up

This summer has gone by so fast. Here we are, already wearing hoodies and jeans. I do love autumn, but I'd like to share a few things we did this summer.

We did not go on a family vacation this summer, since my husband doesn't get his 1st week vacation until December. We actually didn't go to the beach either.  We did start the summer off with a little weekend trip with friends. We went to their mountain cabin in PA.  It was so beautiful.  The cabin was set at the base of a mountain.  They had their own access trail up the mountain with four wheeling trails all over the place.  Even though we went in June, it was still cool up in the mountains.  We had campfires every night.  In all there were 4 couples that went our all of our kids too.  In total we had 13 people there and we had so much fun!!  Here are some pictures of our trip.

All the girls decided to take a group ride together.  From left to right: Me, Tina, my sil Lauren and our host Christy with her 2 boys-in front is Henry and behind is Ellis.

My husband, Lonnie, and my son, Vaden, were getting ready for a little trail riding.

My son was having so much fun pretending to drive the four wheelers. 

This was the view from the road in front of the cabin. 

Later, we took a ride out some of the back road around the mountain.  Locals call this the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.

This is my lovely little family.  <3


I decided after we got home from this little weekend trip that I was going to tackle potty training! :p  Vaden is tall and solid, and I'm short and weak.  He was getting too big for me to pick up for the changing table and frankly I was tired of buying, changing and throwing away diapers.  He took to it like a champ!  The first few times we went out during the day, I brought his potty and put in the back of the car.  I was so afraid that he would wet himself.  (By the way, he hasn't had an accident in the car or anywhere else for that matter--strange, but awesome)  Check out this blackmail pic!
LOL!!!  Hey, it worked!

Just to clarify, I no longer bring a potty in the car with us ~ but it's a great tool if your in a pinch ~ even if you look silly in the back of the store parking lot, watching your kids sit on the potty in the back of your car.

After he was potty trained through the day we took down his crib and got him a big boy bed.  Nothing like changing everything for my poor kid all in one summer! 

We spent a lot of time playing outside and swimming at my parents home in their cheap blow up pool.  Honestly, when it's 100 + degrees in the summer I don't care how big the pool is, as long as it's wet!  It could've been a tea up with coolish water and I would jump in!!  My son learned to swim last year, but of course he had on several layers of flotation devices.  This year he did really well with just swimmies!  I am so proud of him.  For a 2 year old, I think he swims well.  It's really a shame that I didn't get any pictures of him swimming later in the season with only swimmies on.  I tried to upload a short video that I had taken of Vaden jumping into the pool and swimming, but it didn't work so well.  So I guess you'll have to use your imagination.  :(

My Dad got us tickets to an Orioles game.  I hadn't been to a game in YEARS--probably since Lonnie and I were dating.  We really had fun taking Vaden to his first game.  He enjoyed--but I think the best thing for him was using the urinals in the men's bathroom.  That boy went at least once an inning.  That's what I get for potty training! :)

My parents have a garden every summer and I of course go over and steal their produce.  This year they had so many tomatoes that they were selling them at the end of their driveway.  I picked so many tomatoes this summer that my hands actually got blistery spots on them from the acid!  I canned several batches of marinara sauce and roasted tomato/vegetable puree and also just plain tomatoes.  I ran out of jars and started freezing them.  They were coming out of my ears!  But this fall when I make pasta and we have that fresh tomato sauce, all of those hours on my aching feet hunched over the sink peeling tomatoes will have been worth it.

These are several of the ingredients that I roast in the oven for my roasted veggie puree. 
I use the puree for pasta, soup starters and for liquid in a pot roast done in the crock pot.

Well to round out the summer we had a visitor--IRENE.  Hurricane Irene.  My parents had a "if you're afraid to be home during the hurricane, come stay at our house" party. =)  So my husband and I packed up our little family and went to my parents house to wait out the storm.  It was nice because they had a generator in case the power went off, which it didn't.  Our house was without power for 2 days.  It was kind of strange being back in my old bedroom with my HUSBAND and SON.  It made me think back to all of those times I would dream about who I would marry and how many kids I would have...  I'm just saying it was a little weird--but nice too.  We weren't the only ones hold up at their house.  My brother and his wife and 3 kids were there and my grandmother came too.  I'm telling you, we had a party.  We waited all day for this storm to come and the sky was barely cloudy for the longest time.  The kids had been couped up in the house all day.  So when it was only drizzling a little bit, we let them go out and play in the rain.  Vaden wouldn't go out in the rain without shoes and a rain coat.  The other kids hit the door running-no shoes-no jackets.  Kids are funny.  Here are a few shots of the puddle jumpers.

I had them racing in the rain to burn off some of that energy!

Sophie was digging up mud with her toes--you should have seen her legs when she was done.  GROSS!

There was one big puddle that the kids kept jumping in.  Vaden finally got it all to himself.

They deserved a bubble bath after all of that running around in the rain.  Cutie patooties!

Isn't this a lively bunch?!  LOL--after the bigger kids were in bed everyone
else settled in for a movie-and a little QUIET ~ sort of, after all, it was a hurricane.

Well, I think that about wraps it up. I'm hoping to keep you all posted more often. I hope you enjoyed seeing the things we did this summer. I'd love to hear your comments. God bless each of you and your families too.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Are you having a Brady Bunch, Leave it to Beaver day?

I never really watched the Brady Bunch or Leave it to Beaver, but their story lines have been talked about so much that the romance in these shows is not lost on me.  Ever since I was a little girl I dreamt of being a wife and mother.  I would dream of how my husband would be very handsome and I would have perfect children and my home would always be clean.  I would wear an apron all day long to keep my 50's style, waist hugging,  knee length dress clean for my hardworking husband to see when he came home.  I would make it seem effortless to keep house, raise a respectful brood and have home cooked ~ from scratch~ meals ready for my husband as soon as he came home. 
Some days, in my real life, I feel like my little family could be the Cleaver’s or Brady’s.  Sometimes I feel like I’ve got my life under control.  To me, that means:  I’ve made time to spend with the Lord, my house is clean-or at least picked up, I’ve made a nutritious dinner, I’ve had plenty of time to enjoy my son-playing with him and showing him new things, I’ve got a plate of food in the oven waiting for my husband to eat once he gets home, my projects are caught up on and my laundry is mostly clean and put away.   I love it when I can sit down at the end of the day and put my feet up knowing that when my husband walks in the door, he’ll be impressed with what I’ve done.
I remember when my grandmother had her last stroke (she had several!).  It affected her ability to swallow and talk.  She loved to do both, so this was a HUGE struggle for her.  She lived in Florida and I was/am living in Maryland.  Hearing of her hospitalization, some of my family and I drove straight through the night to get down there to see her.  It was so sad to see her and not be able to talk to her.  She had a notepad on her table that she would write in to communicate with us.  Not long after we got there, she decided that she didn’t want to have a feeding tube put in.  So, she chose to “go home”.  The hospital arranged for hospice to come and set up camp at her home.  All of the family that traveled down to see her had been sleeping wherever we could find a spot at her house.  When my grandmother found out that we were staying at her house, she immediately located her note pad and penned a little not to my grandfather.  It said, “Is my house clean?”.  I knew what she meant.  She meant, I can’t stand a messy house.   How can I possibly go home and be relaxed if my house is a mess?  Honestly, if I were in her shoes, I wouldn’t be able to go home to die knowing that my house was dirty…it’s just something in me.
That was an awfully sad story to tell, just to make the point that I come by this craziness genetically.  I struggle with this a lot.  Perfection is just an illusion.
Today, though, my house was a mess and I didn’t make a home cooked meal-I nuked leftovers, and to top it all off, I had a Cleaver/Brady day!  How could this be?  I think it has something to do with the look that my son gives me when I ask him if he wants to go outside and ride his bike.  I love the way his hair gets matted to his sweaty forehead because he’s playing hard.  I love the little mischievous smile he gets when he climbs UP the slide, knowing he’s not supposed to.  I absolutely tear up when we’re outside blowing bubbles in the wind and I hear him giggle with the joy of figuring out how to blow just right to get the maximum amount of ‘bubblage’.   My heart soars when he runs ahead of me and turns back to say, “Chase Mommy”, clearly egging me on to chase him down.   Smelling the outdoors on his soft skin and in his hair as he lays his head on my chest for a hug makes me so happy.  It makes me realize that there are something’s more important in life than home cooked meals and clean floors.
Today, it didn’t matter if my world wasn’t under control; if it wasn’t viewed with the perfection lens.  The only thing that mattered was the happiness and joy of my little boy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Will you trust Him with your treasure?

A talented writer at my church, Kim Weidner, wrote this essay.  I thought it was beautifully written, so of course I had to ask if I could share it on my blog.  With the Pure Freedom Tour coming to our church in just a few weeks, my heart has been examining itself and focusing on my own purity.  I read her essay on Sunday and realized time doesn't erase what has been done, God does.  I guess I always thought that once I was married that my "mishaps" would go away, but true sexual healing doesn't come with a ring, it comes from our forgiving Heavenly Father.  I'm sure this essay will challenge you to self-examine as well.  Enjoy this special essay from my dear friend.

A few words from Kim Weidner:
At a Baltimore art museum last week I examined (with my eyes only!) the delicate creations of Cartier, Lalique and Faberge (including two of the famous eggs).  These bejeweled treasures of almost inconceivable fragility have survived for a century, moved with the most extreme care from collection to collection, gallery to gallery, continuing to bring pleasure and amazement to their viewers.
Also last week I examined with the eyes of an open heart Dannah Gresh’s book What are you waiting for?, which explores very candidly the precious treasure of our sexuality, a gift created by God to be enjoyed within the context of marriage.  This treasure was designed to reveal to us the glorious harmony of the godhead and the union of Christ to his bride, the Church.  Gresh traces a very surprising Hebrew word through Scripture to show God’s intention for us to be known intimately and respected through marital sex.  Desiring to reach girls age 12-18 with her message about purity, true beauty and modesty, Gresh has created the Pure Freedom Tour, which GBC is excited to host on May 14.  Moving beyond the themes of her tour, and targeting a somewhat older age group, Gresh’s book does not pull any punches when it comes to addressing a variety of “uncomfortable” sex topics.  I believe any parent of preteens/teens would benefit from reading it, as well as those who minister to our youth.  It is an honest, straightforward appeal to girls about to make crucial sexual choices, as well as to those who have already made sexual choices with painful results.  To the former, Gresh shows God’s point of view compellingly; she urges the latter to seek with assurance the healing God will bring through honest confession and prayer.

We live in a culture whose messages about sexuality are in no way trustworthy.  These messages need to be actively addressed and challenged in the home, as I believe they are in many of our GBC families.  God’s view of sexuality, the “big picture,” not just the list of “dont’s,” should also be taught in both the home and church settings.  I have taught middle school aged girls at GBC for many years, and find it interesting how squirmy and giggly they become when I mention god’s ultimate intention for our sexuality in connection with some “spiritual topic” like the Trinity or communion or heaven.  As if sex cropped up while god wasn’t looking!  Generation after generation treats this precious and beautiful gift of God as something indecent!  So much is at stake when we fail to educate our children about the biblical picture of sacred sex.  Remember, parents, we are helping to move our fragile, bejeweled treasures to sexually whole adulthood, toward fulfilling, Christ-centered marriages or vibrant, unencumbered singleness. 
I wonder how many people reading this could honestly state that their lives are free from sexual brokenness.  Yes?  Praise God! Or have you, like me, been hurt by sexual experiences that fell short of God’s beautiful and sacred purposes?  I believe that the pursuit of healing sexual brokenness through confession and prayer is a necessary, if difficult, step toward strengthening and restoring marriages and becoming effective, Godly guides for our teen children.  It is Jesus’ redemption, not merely time, that heals all wounds.  I am compelled to testify, with a deeply grateful heart, that the healing touch of our loving, forgiving Savior is more than just well-concealed superglue on the broken treasure of our sexuality; it brings true restoration and renewal.  Will you trust Him with your treasure?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

3 things I've learned...

So, normally I write about things that God is doing in my life, however recently the things that have been going on in my world aren't things that I could share on a public blog.  God has, however, been at work, and I wanted to share a little bit. 

The last few weeks have been brutal for me and my family.  We have endured several hardships  heartbreaks and have come through to the other side.  I haven't written about them because they are quite private and honestly, they really aren't our stories to tell.  But that aside, I have learned a few things through the whole ordeal that I believe are true for each of us when we are going through a tough time.

1.  God is always faithful.  He is consistently there.  He listens to me cry out to him when I am broken hearted and when I finish spilling my emotions He reaches down and puts salve on my heart, he binds up my wound and refreshes my spirit.  He is faithful.

Psalm 36:5  Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.
Lamentations 3: 22,23 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!His mercies never cease.  Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.
2.  God cares that I'm hurting.  I am a child of the King.  He is my Abba Father--my heavenly Daddy.  What parent doesn't care about their child when they are hurting?  I feel sad when my son skins his knees, even if he isn't fazed by them, so how much more does our Father care about us when we have bruised hearts and spirits?!  He cares when we are sad and hurt.

1 Peter 5:7  Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
Nahum 1:7 The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in him...

3.  God loves to show off his glory.  At the end of a particularly trying time, I like to look back over the situation with a fresh perspective and just look at how the hand of God has moved.  Sometimes really bad things happen in our lives.  Someone close to us dies, or there is an accident, maybe a divorce or separation happens or an unexpected fight that leaves friendships happens to each of us.  What makes it all worth going through is seeing God glorified through the circumstance.   A death of someone close may make a friend of the deceased look at their own spirituality and send them searching for God's grace and love.  An accident could leave the victim in the hospital with nothing else to do but "look up"---sometimes that all God really wants from us--look up and see his Glory.

Romans 9:22-24  In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction.
He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom
 he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory. And we are among those
 whom he selected, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles.
Ezekiel 43:2 Suddenly, the glory of the God of Israel appeared from the east.
The sound of his coming was like the roar of rushing waters,
and the whole landscape shone with his glory.

My hope is that you see the humanity in our God--that he isn't as stoic and cold as some may believe he is.  He is warm, loving, kind and gentle.  He isn't always those things, but then, neither are we.  I have appreciated his comfort the last few weeks.  I have reveled in his warm embrace and was able to relax when things got really tough, knowing that He was in control of it all and would see us through again.  To God be the glory, forever and ever.  Amen.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Shades of gray

I know it's been awhile since I've written.  Honestly, several times since my last post I have thought about my life and what God was doing, and I realized that there wasn't any 'inspiration' per say but some conviction happening.  I didn't realize just how much conviction I had been feeling until this passed weekend while I was at the annual GBC Ladies Retreat. 

Our speaker was Tammy from Calling Levi.  One day she spoke on gray areas in our life and how God's word and His truth are black and white with no room for gray.  I seriously started feeling the Holy Spirit convicting me of the gray areas I had in my life.  One of the bigger things, I have realized is, contributing to these gray areas is the media I allow myself to take in especially TV.   

***Now-my purpose of writing this is not to condemn other people's behavior, or to tell you not watch television.  This is just what God is doing in my life-and the back story that needs told to understand how I got to that place of needing conviction.***

Anyway...  I started thinking about some areas in my life where I have gray areas.  One of them was my need to justify homosexuality.  One of my favorite shows is Glee, and I was really excited for Kurt to finally get his first real kiss...but then in my mind I'm thinking, the Lord tells me that homosexuality is a sin
(1 Corinthians 6 :9-11, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, 1 Timothy 1:8-11).  Please understand that, like any sin, it is only wrong if the sin hasn't been confessed and repented of.  

So I've written all of this to say, that it truly is a slow fade from black and white to gray.  You don't normally wake up one day and decide to change the way you believe.  No.  It happens over months and years.  It gets introduced into our lives slowly then we start to become familiar with it, then before you know it, you've embraced it and then the sin takes root in your life. 

Interestingly enough the point that Tammy was trying to make, during her talk at the Ladies Retreat, was that Satan doesn't take a break from his work.  He is continuously trying to throw us off of the path of truth.  He works day and night to try to sway us from it.  Satan is really good at his job--he's had hundreds of year of practice. There is only one truth, and that truth is Jesus Christ! 

 1 Peter 5:8 & 9 says, "Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are."

So I'm planning on limiting my access to TV and I will be making better choices when I do get to watch it.  I'm also challenging myself to read more than just fictional books.  So if you think about me, be praying that God would show me the hole that I have in my life that I am filling with mindless TV shows.  There must be something that I get from them that I should be getting from God.  Watch out for your gray areas! =D