The crazy journey of our family living this beautiful life for our awesome God!
"...Whatsoever you do, do ALL to the glory of GOD." 1 Cor. 10:31

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Super Woman Syndrome Part 2

Get outta bed, rush to get breakfast on the table, put together this week's Sunday School lesson, throw some toys at the kids while they take a bath, check e-mail, bake cookies for the neighbors, pack everyone up and rush out the door to a mommy and me meeting, drop kids off with various sitters, run a few errands, pick kids up, run home, put the kids down for a nap, pick up a bit and try to get dinner started, get the kids up to head to a sports game or practice, run back home, practice music for Sunday, throw dinner on the table and head back out the door to go to some friends for games...oh and don't forget the dinner you are bringing to the family at church...get home, get everyone in bed, collapse and get ready to do it all again the next day.  I don't know about you but that definitely doesn't sound like the kind of day I want to be having on a regular basis.  But for a lot of women, especially the superwoman type, that is how a majority of days go.  Sure, the activities might be different, but the rhythm of the day is a constant go-go-go and do-do-do.  Why do we let our days get like this?  It is a choice, you know.  No one forces us to do these things or controls our days, we choose to let our days be filled like this.  So why do we choose to do this?

Well, one characteristic of a superwoman is that of a "do-er."  For some reason, a lot of us get satisfaction in doing...and doing lots.  It's almost like we feel accomplished if our to-do list is bigger than those around us and if we are checking more off of our list than other people.  It's like it has become this competition of "Oh, you're doing a gym class, teaching Sunday school, working part time, going to mommy and me classes and volunteering at the church to clean?  Well, I'm doing sports lessons for my kids, leading a Bible Study, participating in choir, serving in the church nursery, making homemade gifts and baking cookies for my neighbors.  I've got at least one more thing on my list so I'm definitely out-doing you.  I'm  a bit higher on the superwoman totem pole than you."  Of course we would never say this, but don't we think this sometimes when we compare how much we are doing with others or try to keep up with others in the amount we do and commit to?  Or maybe it's the opposite, we don't feel better about ourselves because we are doing a bit more than the person next door but we feel worse about ourselves because we aren't keeping up with their list of "do's" so we feel the pressure to add one more thing to our list just to keep up.

Also, I think a lot of us feel like we aren't accomplishing anything if we don't have a big list of to-dos or if we aren't over-committed to one activity after another.  It's as if we aren't worth anything if we aren't committing to every opportunity that is presented to us and we aren't keeping our days at a crazy insane pace.  If we were to slow down and say no more and commit to less it would be lazy or we wouldn't look as good or we wouldn't be doing enough.  It's almost as if we wear a "badge of honor" for doing the most and being the busiest.  Don't we often sit down and compare our schedules with each other and wear the badge of pride because of how much we have "booked" for our family's schedule that week or month?  I know we would never admit that we do this, but if we're being honest with ourselves I think it happens more than you might think.

I think it's possible too that for some of us, it isn't necessarily a competition of how busy we are or a sense of satisfaction for doing more but it's just that we have allowed our lives to be this way and we haven't thought twice about it.  We haven't thought about whether we should be making different choices, saying no more, slowing down....we just keep doing and saying yes and functioning at a crazy pace because it feels normal and it's just how we do things.  That doesn't make it ok, but it just means we have made this our "normal" and we don't know how to function any differently.  A lot of times we aren't taking the time to really evaluate the things that we choose to do and commit to before we say yes.  We aren't considering how it might affect our overall schedule, how it might affect our children, our spouses or other people around us.  We just do it and don't think twice.

I think one more reason that some of us like staying busy and doing lots is because it helps us to hide something we don't want to confront.  Whether it's loneliness, discontentment, pain, heartache, not liking who we are, or anything else....if we stay busy then we don't think about the pain and we don't have to worry about dealing with it.  Really that's just a lie we feed ourselves because it does us more harm to mask our problems and attempt to bury them than it does to just deal with them and move on.

But who decides how much is enough?  Who sets this bar of doing, doing, doing and being constantly busy?  We set it ourselves when we don't choose to order our lives differently.  And why does it matter?  Is there something wrong with being busy and constantly "doing"?  Well, there definitely can be.  I'm sure we are all familiar with the story of Martha in the Bible.  She is the stereotypical "do-er" superwoman. :)  I've always liked her story because I've always related so much with Martha.  Doing lots, making sure I'm checking off the to-do list, keeping everyone happy, cleaning, cooking, taking care of the chores....that's right up my alley.  But the reason I love her story so much is because the Lord himself tells her to stop.  Not someone else with their own agenda trying to make her life like theirs, but the Lord himself tells her to slow down and re-align her priorities.  I love it because it makes me feel like the Lord is speaking to me in those verses to stop, slow down, think about the choices I'm making and set my priorities straight, being intentional about the things I commit to and do and the choices I make.  Just like with Martha, oftentimes the things we are doing and keeping busy with aren't necessarily bad things.  All the things I listed in the "crazy" day at the beginning of this post aren't bad things in and of themselves.  But we can't and shouldn't be doing them all, especially when it is taking away from what our priorities should be.  I know a lot of us would try to prove that wrong and we set out to show the world that we can do it all and we can be all.  But why?  Is there really that much joy and satisfaction in being the best superwoman?  I contend that there isn't, even though we may think there is.  Also, when we are so busy doing so much and trying to do everything then something will always suffer.  Your marriage may suffer, your children may suffer, you may not be doing the best job possible at any of your ministries because you are over-committed and too busy, your relationship with the Lord may suffer, your health may actually suffer.  Something will give, it's just a matter of what and when.

So how do we evaluate our list of to-dos and determine whether we need to make some changes...and then how do we make those changes? Well, first of all is to take it to the Lord.  I believe we should be praying about the decisions we make, especially when it comes to committing to something that requires a lot of time, like a ministry or a job or regular meetings of some sort.  There are plenty of good things out there for us to be doing but that doesn't mean the Lord wants us doing them all.  So go before the Lord honestly and be willing to let him tell you no if that is the case.  Allow the Lord to create your to-do list, not yourself.  Also, I think it is important to evaluate your role in life.  If you are a wife and mom then your primary role and ministry is taking care of your husband and children.  Other ministries in the church or activities outside of the church should not be taking away from those roles.  And if they are it might be time to say no.  If you are a young wife, without children, or an older wife with an empty nest, then your primary role is as a wife.  You should first be looking at how you can best be helpmeet to your spouse and if you are too busy with commitments or work to be available for your spouse to support and help him then perhaps it's time to re-evaluate your schedule.  If you are a single lady then you need to determine what you main ministry is.  Your job is going to take a lot of time and commitment and so you should be putting your best efforts in there.  But the Lord has also given you more time since you aren't caring for a husband or children so you have more to pour into various ministries.  But that doesn't mean you should be doing it all and have your fingers in every available opportunity.  You won't be effective if that is the case.  Your heart needs to be committed to the ministry the Lord has for you and that is where He will use you and you will be most effective.  Finally, it is going to require learning how to say the word "no."  I think for a lot of superwomen the word No is like a cardinal sin.  You never say no, you always accept whatever task is offered to you, you always commit to whatever is asked of you and you never consider otherwise.  But like I've already mentioned, that is not how we should be setting our schedules or making decisions to commit to things.  Just because you are asked to do something does not always mean that you are supposed to do it.  I think a lot of times people become the person to ask because they become the "yes-man/woman."  Others know that you will never say no so you are the first person to ask.  So it's not that you are the right person for the job, it's just easiest to ask you because you'll say yes.  And it's good to be someone who people know is willing to help and be generous, it shows love.  But, that shouldn't be our main motivation in whether or not we say yes or no....what should motivate us and help us make our decision is whether not it is something the Lord wants us to do and whether or not it helps or takes away from our primary role.

I know it is hard to slow down and be intentional about the way we fill our days.  I'm writing a lot of this to myself because I'm still learning to cut back and evaluate the way I fill my time.  It is easy to just let our days fill up without thinking twice about it and it's oftentimes fun to be involved in everything.  But a lot of times we have the wrong motivation behind our to-do list or we aren't being wise about the choices we make to fill our time.  Life isn't about having the biggest to-do list and the busiest schedule and showing everyone you can do it all.  It's not about how crazy our days can get and how we can still maintain some form of sanity.  It is about glorifying God to the utmost and enjoying Him.  It's about being exactly where He wants you to be and doing exactly what He wants you to do, which may mean a lot less than you are currently doing because He wants you to invest more in your primary role.  But there is a peace and joy that comes with slowing down and being intentional about the way we fill our time and making sure our days line up with our priorities and purpose in life.  Choose to let God fill your to-do list today, instead of yourself or others.

It's a crazy blizzard outside so I'm gonna go grab a cup of tea and a sweater and enjoy the scenery while I work on some more adoption boards. (Keep the orders coming, I still haven't gotten info from some of you)  Have a beautiful day!

Superwoman Syndrome Part 1
Superwoman Syndrome Part 3
Superwoman Syndrome part 4

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Adoption Update

I realized it has been a while since I've given you all an update on where we are with the adoption so I thought I'd write really quick here and let you know what's up.  The reason it's been a while is because there really hasn't been anything to "update" about.  Our home study is taking a really long time, longer than normal because of some agency circumstances with our home study agency and so we've just been waiting.  We finished all 3 visits, and really the last 2 weren't much to speak of.  We met for a little while with the caseworker, but most everything was covered in our first visit.  And since then we've just been waiting for the agency to write up the report and make sure it meets all of the requirements and have it approved by our placing agency, Adoption Associates.  (I'm not sure if I mentioned this but we had to use a different agency than our placing agency for our home study because our placing agency doesn't have an office in Idaho.  There are actually only a couple of adoption agencies in Idaho and only one of them is hague accredited so we didn't really have a choice as to who would do our home study...the choice was basically made for us because of limited options.)  Anyways, Luke finally called our agency last week to see what was taking so long and they were close to being finished..they said we would have it by yesterday or today actually.  However, I spoke with our placing agency and she said there were some things she felt needed changed/added to the report in order for it to pass the US Customs requirements and have us approved to adopt by the US government.  So, I'm pretty sure that is going to mean some more delays because it has to be re-written, re-notarized and re-approved before they can send the final copy to us.

I know this is just one of the many times that we will have to wait and experience set backs and delays throughout this process but it is definitely hard and sometimes frustrating when your hands are tied and you are just waiting on someone else.  I know this is part of God's timing as well and we'll just keep waiting patiently for things to be done right.  But would you mind praying that we could get this part of the process wrapped up and done correctly so that we can move on?  I've got everything ready to go to submit our USCIS application once I get the home study, I just have to have the home study in order to submit it.  I still think about and pray about our baby everyday and I just can't wait to have him/her home!  We appreciate your prayers that our home study will be done right and soon so we can get one step closer to bringing our son/daughter home.  I'll let you know as soon as we get the completed home study in our hands!

Have an awesome day!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

I'm Back! And a new series.....Super Woman Syndrome

I'm back!!  We made it home from our most recent trip and I am finally able to sit down and take a's been a busy few days of unpacking, getting the house back in order, having a couple of birthday parties, and getting work back on track...all in 2 1/2 days! Whew!  But I'm looking forward to life getting back to normal this week and having things slow down.  The sports season is over for my siblings, so no more ball games to go to every night, which I will miss, but I will also be oh so glad to not be wrestling my little animal at every game for several hours each night!  Let's just say he's not really a fan of sitting still on your lap for more than about 30 seconds. :)

So I know I said I was going to do a series on Joy Stealers....which I still am, but not yet. ;)  I have lots to write about that, but something else has been on my heart recently and I just feel like I need to get it out first, so we'll come back to the Joy Stealers, I promise.  :)  Anyways...this other "series" has been on my mind for quite some time now, it's really something that has evolved over the last year and then I came across a GREAT resource that echoed what I had been thinking and feeling so I wanted to put it in writing and share it with you all.  A little something about SuperWoman.....

(Photo Credit: Queen Bee and Company)

(DISCLAIMER:  I know that I could write plenty of things in such a way that would make me look pretty good on the internet world.  I have the ability to control what I put on here and I can filter anything "ugly" out that I want to. my opinion, you are going to get a lot more from what I have to share if I am honest  and true about who I am...whether it's ugly or beautiful.  So I have no qualms telling you about my failures and my problems.  In fact, it's almost easier for me to write it on here because I'm a much better writer than I am talker (at least I think so ;) ).  I think we benefit and grow from each other's experiences so much more if we are willing to share the painful and the not-so-pretty.  That's what people relate to anyways, isn't it?  I know when I read other people's articles I find myself tuning in much more when I know they are real and human and they make mistakes like I do.  So, if you haven't already noticed, in every post that I write, I'm putting it all out'll get the bad with the good, the ugly with the beautiful and I hope there's something you can take away from it. )

I've always been the type of person who took pride in my self-sufficiency....wait, did I just admit that?  Ok, yeah, I did....I wouldn't have always been the first to admit that, but I've learned a lot about myself in the last couple of years and one thing the Lord has taught me is that I was putting misplaced trust in myself and having wrongful pride about how much I could do and accomplish.  I'm a type A, go-getter, task-oriented kind of person so give me a job, hey, give me 100 jobs, and I'll go at them all and attempt to be super woman and get them all done perfectly.  This is how I've functioned for a lot of my life.  There's a job to be done, and someone's gotta do it, and by-golly, I'll always be that "someone."  I'm a born people-pleaser, to the core.  But the Lord has shown me so much truth over the last couple of years and I'm so thankful that He has shown me the error of my ways and I'm learning to change.  If you are a super-woman type of gal, then this might just be for you.  Even if you're not, there might be some good truths you can learn.  And even if you don't think you are but you really are that kind of girl, well....hopefully the Lord will open your eyes and heart to how He might want you to change as well. :)  I've learned so much about my need for the Lord and how I need to go to Him daily to ask for His help to get through the day (motherhood will bring you to your knees if nothing else will! ha! ) and how I need to abide in Him and find my sufficiency in Him, not in myself.  I have learned that it is in my weakness, in my lack of self-sufficiency, that the Lord will use me most and be most glorified.  (I wrote about that a while back, you can read about it by clicking here.)  How can I make Him look good if I'm always focused on making myself look good and being everything to everyone?

This last year Luke and I have intentionally made a choice to slow down, re-focus our lives, our goals and our priorities and be more intentional about the way we are living and the choices we are making.  This has meant saying no lots more, even when it makes me worry about what other people are going to think or if they are going to think I'm good enough or not.  It has also meant making new habits the align with our purpose here on earth and it has meant gradually changing our motivation for why we do what we do.  I say gradually because I am a HUGE work in progress....I'm so thankful the Lord is gracious and patient and continues to work in my heart 'cause there are a LOT of cobwebs in there to be cleaned out!  As we've gone on this journey I have really started to notice a plague that is infecting so many women, particularly women of God.  It is something that has plagued me and something I see in so many women and it's really been bothering me.  I don't know if it comes from our culture or the peer pressure we often feel to "keep up with the Jones'" but it is crippling our hearts and warping our motivation into something other than what it should be.  It's the super-woman syndrome.  Now would be the time for me to say, "Hi, my name is Callie and I'm a recovering super-woman."  :) I've been down this road and the Lord is bringing me out of it and I've learned a lot in the process.  Through His awesome providence I came across a wonderful little resource while I was learning to change that outlines the difference between a super woman and an abiding woman.  I'm sure many of you have already seen it before, but I will share some of it with you as I write this series and hopefully it will be a blessing to you the way it was and is to me.

Well, my pastor would be proud of that incredibly large background/intro I just gave! ha!  (If you don't go to my church, the backgrounds/intros in his sermons are often VERY long! Always good stuff though!)  So...I'm going to leave you hanging and hopefully you'll come back and find out what this superwoman stuff is all about!  I couldn't possibly start the first characteristic without making this into one very incredibly long post, so I'll spare you and save it for next time. :)

I hope you all had an awesome week last week.  I'm looking forward to a new week....bring on Monday! (we'll see if I still feel that way tomorrow when Monday actually hits! ;) )

(Click Here for Super Woman Syndrome Part 2)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thankful Thursday...and some pics

Hope this Thursday finds you all as thankful as we should be.  I mentioned last week that I've been reading One Thousand Gifts and I'm planning on taking the challenge that she talks about in her book, which is to name a thousand gifts, 1000 blessings, 1000 things to be thankful for.  She lists some of the things that she wrote on her journey and they range from the big, to the hard to the simple.  It's challenged me a lot more to find grace in the small things that we often take for granted....a smile on the ones you love, a bright blue sky, a gentle breeze...simple things that we become blind to and fail to see the blessing and the gift in.  I would definitely encourage you to read her book if you haven't already.  It will help give you a new perspective, a new set of eyes for the grace that God bestows on us everyday.
Here's my list for this week.....

1.  Holding a sleeping baby....even if it is the wee hours of the morning, there isn't a whole lot that is more peaceful and more precious than holding a baby fast asleep in your arms.  Feeling their chest rise and fall with deep breaths, watching their relaxed eyelids in pure's a beautiful thing.

2.  Watching a toddler learn new things....the world is full of wonder when you look at it through the eyes of a toddler.  They have so much excitement over the little things...the dog, their blankie, learning to say "hi", figuring out how to work a new toy.  I love watching their amazement and joy as they discover this awesome world.

3.  The expanse of a beautiful blue sky with big white clouds in it....looking up at the sky and how big it is puts me more in awe of the Creator of all things.  This world is huge and full of wonder in the details of how God put it together and I love watching the sky, knowing that it spans the whole globe and my Heavenly Father sees it all.

4.  Dress shopping with my sister....I got to help her pick out her formal this week for her high school homecoming and it was so much fun picking out dresses and watching her play "dress-up." :)  We made sure to throw in lots of "interesting" choices just for a good laugh and we had such a good time laughing and watching her try things on.  Plus, she found a beautiful dress by the time we were done and she's going to be stunning. :)

5.  Watching my husband when he gets a kick out of himself.....I don't know if you have someone in your life like this, but Luke can have a fit laughing at himself because he gets so tickled by how funny he "thinks" he is. ;)  He won't even say anything or tell us what he was about to say before he starts crying with laughter and his whole face contorts in sheer humor and it's contagious and you can't help but start to laugh and cry too.  By the time he finally tells us what he was thinking it's nowhere near as funny as watching him in his laughing fit.

6.  Watching little ones sing praises to God....we have some sweet kids in church who sing specials every now and then and I LOVE watching them sing songs about our savior.  It warms my heart and puts a huge smile on my face to hear them sing such awesome truths.  Plus, they usually mess up a little bit and it's always super cute to watch them giggle and recover.  Precious stuff.

7.  Seeing my son sign and say "dad"....Grahm LOVES his dad, he's absolutely crazy about him so it's only fitting that one of his first signs was dad, as well as one of his first words.  Every morning we pass by Luke's office on the way to the kitchen and Grahm always peers in to see if dad is here that morning and when he's not working at home that day he gets so bummed and just signs dad and says it over and over again.  Cute kid. :)

We took some "1 year" pics of Grahm last week (even though he's now 14 mo...we're a bit behind) and here's a sneak peek of the stinkin' cutest kid in the world. ;)

Remember that mischievous face I mentioned before...yeah, this is it..he's contemplating eating rocks. :)

Exploring the world

Always running...everywhere. :)

I may have one more post this week, if I have time to get to it, but I wanted to start a new series on "Joy-Stealers" and I don't want to get into it and then have to stop, so we'll see.  We are leaving town on Sunday for several days so I've got lots of  packing and cleaning to do between now and then and I won't be on while we are gone.  So if you don't hear from me for a while...I'm still alive. :)  Have a great weekend! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New Boards

Hey all!  I've made some new boards recently and I wanted to share them with you all.  Plus, I've added a page on my blog specifically for the boards so that they are all in one place and easy to find.  I have a few more I'm currently working on, and some of you have asked for a board but I haven't gotten all of your info yet, so please make sure you send me a message with that info.  Thanks!

Here is the link for the page on my blog, Art Boards, and it is on my top tool bar, so you can access it there anytime.

Here are the new boards:

16x20 Quote board done for a teen girl's bedroom

ABC's of Life Board, done for a kid's playroom

Detail on the ABC's of life

More detail on the ABC's of life

Keep sending your orders my way....I appreciate it so much.  Remember, 100% of the proceeds go to help give an orphan a forever family!  Your purchase is making a difference in a child's life.  

Sunday, February 12, 2012

When What You Do Doesn't Get Noticed

Have you ever been discouraged before because you worked really hard on something and were given no credit for it?  Like when you were in school and you had to do a group project and you put all of the effort into it and the other members in your group slacked off but they got credit for it?  I think if we are all honest with ourselves we've all had times when we've felt this way.  Sure, we weren't necessarily doing whatever it is with a main motive of getting attention or praise from others, but it still stings sometimes when you work really hard and it seems to go unnoticed.  I know I've been discouraged this way sometimes.  In fact, I don't feel like I need to be a "fake" blog person where you only see a pretty, perfect picture of me because I get to choose what I write, so I'll be honest to say I just recently felt that way and was struggling with discouragement about it.  I knew that wasn't how I should feel so it got me thinking about how to deal with it and what the Bible says about it.  Hopefully this is somewhat of an encouragement to those of you reading this as well.

It can be hard sometimes to be the person who works behind the scenes.  There can only be so many "front men" and so there are always people who are hard at work behind the scenes.  Whether it is on a work project, school project or a ministry in church, there are usually always people who go completely unnoticed but are hard at work making things possible or making things run smoothly.  They sacrifice so much of their time and their lives to whatever it is they are serving in but they don't receive a whole lot of earthly credit because they aren't the "face" of whatever it is they are doing/helping with.  It is our nature to enjoy receiving praise for who we are or something we've done so sometimes it is hard to watch someone else in a position that receives that praise and credit even if we've worked just as hard or done just as much.  When you see someone receive praise and credit because of the position they are in it can make you feel like what you are doing is worthless.  For example, when you see a person in a position of leadership, like a teacher or a coach or a leader of a ministry or a boss, it can be easy to become jealous of their position because they often receive credit and praise because their work is obvious to people and they are the "face" of whatever they are leading and so it is natural for people to credit everything to them.  And our prideful hearts find it easy to fall into envy or jealousy because of the attention they receive.  But, I want to take a minute to remind you of some truths and encourage you if you are one of those people "behind the scenes" or doing the "dirty work" that people don't notice.

I want to take a little "detour" really quickly to encourage a specific group of people, moms.  Not because I am one or want credit for my job as a mom....that's not it at all.....but because I know there are some moms who need some encouragement to press on, even when everything they do seems to go unnoticed.  I think one very often overlooked position is that of the stay at home mom and moms in general.  I'm not saying this because I am one, but because of what I've seen in other moms and learned from other stay at home moms, even my own mom.  Motherhood is a job that doesn't come with much credit or praise.  Much of your job is "dirty work" and there isn't always a whole lot to show for a day spent changing dirty diapers, cleaning up messes, washing laundry and picking up toys.  It isn't very often that someone comes up to a mom and says, "You did an awesome job cooking meals and cleaning up spit up today.  I really appreciate the effort you've put into your job."  Mothers work endless hours and put their heart and soul into their job but there isn't a whole lot of praise involved with the job.  They don't get "bonuses" for a job well done or awards for leading their team to victory or praise and recognition for the time and hard work they put into their position.  It's a very thankless job.  BUT...take heart...just because your position is not a frequently recognized one does not mean it isn't a worthy job.  Wanna know why?  Well, the reason applies to everyone, parent or not, who  does a job that goes unnoticed.

How do you press on or stay faithful in whatever it is you are doing, even when no one else notices the effort you've put in?  You remember that we do whatever it is we do for the Lord and not for people.  Colossians 3:23 says, "And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men."  The passage in Colossians 3 encourages and reminds all of us to fulfill our God given positions in the way that He calls us to.  It speaks to wives, husbands, children, employees, parents...all people.  And then the author reminds us why we do what it is we do and what our motivation is supposed to be:  Do it for God, don't do whatever it is you are doing for the purpose of receiving praise from men.  Furthermore, it is from God that we will receive our stop seeking reward and credit from doesn't even come close to the reward that we will receive from our Heavenly Father.  So when you get discouraged or start to feel like it isn't worth doing whatever it is you are doing, don't lose heart...remember that ultimately we are supposed to be doing everything for God's glory, not our own, and He does see the effort and work we put in so it doesn't matter who notices us because God always does.  That's the true heart of servanthood is doing things with the purpose of seeking credit for yourself, but rather doing them with a love for others and God, all for God's glory.

And on the flip side, maybe we could all take some time this week to find someone who works "behind the scenes" to make things happen.  People who work behind the scenes and go unnoticed are most often NOT looking for praise or doing what they do in order to get credit, but I'm almost certain it would still be encouraging to them to get a "thank you" or a little attention and praise for what they do.  Perhaps it is a small BIG way that God might use you to notice someone and "reward" them.  So try and seek out some people who maybe aren't the "face" of the ministry they work in, or who have to do the "dirty work" to keep things running or who do a lot of the overlooked tasks at work and give them a little praise and credit...try and think outside the box.  Think about the things you enjoy doing or enjoy using and then think about what it might take to make those things happen or keep those places running?  Who makes those things possible? Go thank them.  Make their day. :)  (And rarely remember or think to thank their parents for everything they do and sacrifice for them, so if you haven't done it lately, thank your parents for raising you and loving you. It will most definitely make their day. )

Hope you all had a great weekend....make it a week to remember this week!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Thankful Thursday, Modified

I know I'm a day late on this, I had no time to get on the computer yesterday so you'll have to forgive me.  But I read some great things last night before bed and it really got me thinking in a different way about gratitude, even in the hard stuff.  I wanted to share it with you in hopes that it might encourage you to think differently about the things we all go through, both hard and good.

I've been reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and it's such a thought provoking book, I've really been challenged.  Last night I read a section that really spoke to my heart,
       "...God tries to gently drive the words of Causaade from the knowing of my head to the bleeding of the heart:
                   'You would be very ashamed if you knew what the experiences you call setbacks, upheavals,       pointless disturbances, and tedious annoyances really are.  You would realize that your complaints about them are nothing more nor less than blasphemies-though that never occurs to you.  Nothing happens to you except by the will of God, and yet [God's] beloved children curse it because they do not know it for what it is.'
       A blasphemer.
       ....What compels me to name these [hard, difficult, unwanted] moments upheavals and annoyances instead of grace and gift? ....The starkness of the answer startles....Because you believe in the power of the pit.  Really?.....Do I really smother my own joy because I believe that anger achieves more than love?  That Satan's way is more powerful, more practical, more fulfilling in my daily life than Jesus' way?  Why else get angry?  Isn't it because I think complaining, exasperation, resentment will pound me up into the full life I really want?  When I choose--and it is a choice--to crush joy with bitterness, am I not purposefully choosing to take the way of the Prince of Darkness?  Choosing the angry way of Lucifer because I think it is more effective--more expedient--than giving thanks?
         .....Can I be so audacious? To expect to see God in these faces [these moments that are hard, these people who are difficult] when I am the blasphemer who complains, who doesn't acknowledge this moment for Who it is?
        ......The practice of giving thanks...this is the way we practice the presence of God, stay present to His presence, and it is always a practice of the eyes.  We don't have to change what we see.  Only the way we see it."

Just typing it out for you hits me hard in the depths of my heart again.  How often do we curse or complain about the hard moments in life, from the simple annoyances of a slow driver or a child who spilled their food to the big heartaches of finances that are slim, family members who are sick, dreams that are dashed and more?

This spoke to my heart so deeply because ever since Luke and I went through our battle with infertility I learned through that to see every...EVERY...thing...big, small, hard, good, as something that has come into my life with God's knowledge.  I learned that nothing comes into my life without first being filtered through the fingers of God.  So I must seek for how He wants to use any and every circumstance to mold me and grow me.

But it is so easy to choose, remember, it's a choice, to complain or lose faith when the hard things happen, even the annoying things.  Because we think it is easier and "feels" better and accomplishes more to complain or get angry.  When really that is just a means of robbing joy from our lives.  If we can see every circumstance as something from God's hands, then we can find joy in all things because we know {we know because His Word promises and we choose to trust and believe His Word} that God is almighty, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving and just and He has the best plans for my life, plans that will bring me the most joy when I bring Him the most glory.  Joy isn't a matter of having our circumstances changed, it's a matter of having a different perspective.

So what does that have to do with Thankful Thursday? Well, it just compelled me to look for ways to give thanks even in the hard, annoying, painful moments of life because it's through those moments that God will bring joy into my life if I allow Him to work.

I just want to think on that and "chew" on that for a while this week before I write my next Thankful Thursday post.  And I hope that it will touch all of your hearts and you will find ways to thank God in everything, good and bad, this week.

Happy Friday (supposed to be Thursday :) )!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Why Ethiopia

So you all have a better picture now of why we are adopting but I've gotten quite a few questions lately regarding why we have chosen Ethiopia to adopt from.  So I thought I'd write a bit about that choice on here to give you a better picture of how God led us to Ethiopia....

A lot of people are curious about our decision to adopt from Ethiopia because it will obviously make our family multi-racial.  And often times when people think about bringing another child into their home they want them to look just like them and not create a situation that would lead to people asking questions about whose child it is, where they came from, were they adopted, what's the story, etc etc etc.  In addition, the thought of having to travel around the world to bring your child home is a bit intimidating..the cultural barriers, the language barriers, the travel and expense... all seems like a bit much for some people.  So the natural choice seems to be a domestic adoption.  And domestic adoption is a great choice.  There are plenty of children in the states who need a loving home and family.  Domestic adoption may be something we pursue one day, but for now the Lord has led us in a different direction.  He has broken the barrier of all of the questions and concerns related with international adoption and He has showed us that this is His plan for our family.

Well, the short and simple answer to "Why Ethiopia?" is, "Because that's what God has placed on our hearts."  If you remember, I mentioned in my other posts about why adoption that God did a lot of working placing a burden in our hearts for Africa.  That's where He led us to serve and eventually He placed a specific burden on our hearts to adopt from Africa.  We originally wanted to make an adoption from Congo work.  In fact, when we took up our research again this last summer we prayed about whether we should choose Congo or Ethiopia.  There are even a couple of agencies now that work with Congo so it is an option we could pursue.  But as we prayed about it and researched it we just felt the Lord placing our hearts in Ethiopia.  There aren't too many other countries in Africa that allow international adoption right now, so the options for Africa are limited to begin with.  And the countries besides Ethiopia that have programs are newer programs and don't have as much history in the field of international adoption.  The program in Congo doesn't have a whole lot of experience behind it and the possibility of adopting a very young baby is not very high.  We knew we wanted to adopt an infant younger than 12 months so that mostly left only Ethiopia as an option.  In addition, the program in Ethiopia is very well established.  There have been some changes recently, but they don't seem to be affecting things too negatively and they just have a really good track record.  This is important when you are dealing with international countries because there can be a lot of fraud involved and it is good to know that a country has good programs working within it and has a good history of successful adoptions.

As we looked further into an adoption from Ethiopia the Lord just grew our hearts in a big way for that country.  There is such a big need in Ethiopia and we knew we could help give at least one child hope.  Here are just a few of the reasons we chose Ethiopia....

There are more than 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia

720,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS alone

44% of the population is under 15 years old

One in ten children die before their first birthday

One in six children die before their fifth birthday

60% of Ethiopia's children are stunted because of malnutrition

As we learned these things, the better question for us became, "Why not?"  There is an obvious need and it breaks my heart to know that so many kids are hurting and in need of a family and a hope.  So all of those things, combined with the fact that this is where God led us are the reasons why we chose Ethiopia.  Really, we didn't "choose" Ethiopia, God chose it for us because He knows that is where our child is so it was just up to us to trust Him and obey.  

Does it make me nervous or apprehensive about the fact that our family is going to be multi-racial and we're going to stick out BIG TIME..especially in a small, rural, mostly white community?  Not really, but yes, occasionally I do think about that.  But for me it's not really a question because I know that this is God's plan for our family and so I'm excited about what He has in store for us.  I know that the safest, best, most joy-filled place to be is smack dab in the middle of God's will.  So even if that means doing something that is going to make us stick out and get LOTS of tough, unusual questions, then that's where I want to be and I look forward to it.  I'm sure we'll have to deal with lots of difficult, ungracious questions and comments, but it's something we'll work through as a family.  Not following God's plan just to avoid those tough situations is so not worth it for us.  Plus, I love the fact that our kids are going to grow up with an open heart for all kinds of people and minds that are stretched because of the experiences they have growing up in a multi-racial family.  That's just a bonus!

I hope that gives you a better picture of why we are adopting from Ethiopia.  That's where our child we've gotta go get him/her!  Plain and simple. :)  

Happy Wednesday peeps!

Monday, February 6, 2012

DIY, Ruffle Lamps

It's been a while since I've put a DIY post on here so I thought I'd share one I just did for our bedroom.  It is one of my favorite things I've done for our house...I absolutely LOVE how they turned out.  My husband isn't a huge fan...I definitely got the eyebrow raise when I showed them to him. ;)  He said, "Those are for OUR bedroom?  They're so......ruffly" in a very disgusted voice.  I convinced him that we share the bedroom so I could have at least one ruffly thing in there and he acquiesced. :)  Although, just yesterday he was being so sweet and said to me, "I really like everything you've done for the house so far, it all looks really cool." I'm thinking, wow, sweet, thanks honey!  And then he added, "Except for the lamps...I could do without those." Too bad hubs...they're here to stay!   :)

This is a super easy project!  So easy that I did it while I was watching our friend's son for a few days...I had 2 toddler boys running around and I still managed to get it done.  Not too bad.

So here's the pics and how-to.....

I just used some old lamps I had that I wasn't using....that's the best kind, they're free and you aren't taking up more space!
Then I bought some ruffle trim from the fabric store and went crazy with my hot glue gun.  I love that thing. :) 

I just wrapped the trim around the shade and glued as I went, making sure it was secure and that I was overlapping the layers enough.

This is the finished lamp before I added a fun fabric flower.

And here's the lamp in our bedroom....again, I LOVE it sooo much!
(For the flower I just used some scrap fabric I had and a hot glue gun and attached it to the layers....I love the detail that it adds.)

I made two of them, one for each of our nightstands and they look awesome in our room!  Even the hubs says they make the room look better, but he still doesn't like the "ruffli-ness" :)  

Hope your week is starting out well!  Make it a good one!  Happy Monday!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Why Adoption, Part 4

December came and brought with it the incredible joy of the birth of our first son.  After everything we had been through it was unbelievable to actually be holding our son in our arms.  He was absolutely perfect and our hearts were overflowing.  I've never felt such joy in my life.  But what about our adoption plans?  Well, we were still more than ready to adopt.  We knew it would be the next step God had for us in growing our family, it was just a matter of time.  God had clearly led us down a path towards adoption...but why adopt, really?  If I had to make a case for adoption and why were are adopting, this is what I would say.....

Millions of children around the world are experiencing the pain of having no family to call their own, no place to call home, no one to call mom or dad, no one to wrap their arms around them and assure them that they are loved and accepted.  Their lives are left with a gaping hole that becomes filled with loneliness, bitterness, pain and tears.  The specific reasons why these children are left with no one to care for them vary widely, from the death of their parents, to being abandoned to being rejected as "evil and full of unlcean spirits."  The reasons why really don't matter, what matters is what is being done about it.  Should a child have to go through this life without the love of a parent?  Without the guidance and protection of someone who cares for them more than life itself?  I don't think so....and it grieves me to think about the fact that millions of children are growing up without a family, without a sense of belonging.

God has painted a beautiful picture of adoption for us through the death of His son.  Before we accept Him as Lord and Savior, we are orphans in this isn't our home, we have no spiritual life, we are dead in our sins.  But God made a way for us to be adopted into a family, His Family.  He sent His only Son to take on orphan status for us.  Russell D Moore says, "Though {Christ} was a Son, he took on the humiliation of a slave and the horror of death (Phil 2:6-8).  Jesus walked to that far country with us, {our orphan home called earth}, even to the depths of the hog pen that we'd made our home, and hung on a tree abandoned by His Father in our place. "  God made it possible for us to be adopted as sons and daughters.  Romans 8:15-16 says, "15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God."  And John 1:12 says, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name."  God has taken us in, made us a part of His family and we are no longer called orphans but we are called Sons and Daughters of our holy God and He is our Father.  What better example of the beauty of adoption than the one that we as Christians experience in the family of God.  

Also, the Bible states in NUMEROUS places that we are to care for orphans and widows.  As Luke and I got back into our adoption research this past summer the Lord brought to light many of these verses and we sat here wondering how we could have missed this all along.  We had heard these verses before, but they were never made personal for us, no one ever preached it to us as a command and we hadn't seen it that way before.  But it was so obvious now that we read these verses again, it is a command in His word to care for orphans and widows, but it has been bypassed and ignored as something only a few people are to take heed to.  This doesn't mean every family is called to adopt, but it does mean we are to help care for the less fortunate in whatever way we can.  I'll let the verses speak for themselves, my words could never be as powerful as God's word...
       James 1:17, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."

         Isaiah 1:17, "Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.

         Psalm 68:5, "Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation."

         Psalm 146:9, "The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin."

         Psalm 10:18, "To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more."

Time and time again the Bible shows that God places a priority on caring for the fatherless.  These are just a few of the verses that mention that care.  It's obvious that this is a priority to God.  

All of these truths and the examples in God's word make it clear to us that we are following God's will by choosing adoption.  Adoption is not just a substitute way for us to have children, it isn't just some second best option for Luke and I to have a family.  We aren't travelling this path because it's the only way we will have kids.  It's true that God has chosen infertility for us, but it's also true that He has chosen adoption for us and it is a command we would follow whether or not we could have biological children.  I'm thankful for the path God has led us down and for where He has brought us.  I'm so excited for what He has in store and I'm so grateful that this is His will for us.  His ways are perfect and He truly does know best and as we've learned, sometimes it takes a lot of pain, a lot of faith and a heart full of trust in God's ways to experience the awesome blessings that He has in store for those He loves.  

I hope all of these posts give you a clearer picture of why we have chosen adoption for our family.  It is just a peek into our hearts and the way God has worked in our lives.  And hopefully, my prayer, is that the Lord will use it to speak to some of your hearts to consider what He might have for you as well.

Have an awesome weekend!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thankful Thursday

It's the month of Love!  Can you believe January is already gone?!  I know everyone always says it, but it's true that time does fly...the days may drag on sometimes but the years fly by.  I really think that one of the best ways to "slow" down time is to stop and enjoy the moments you're given and one of the most effective ways to do that is to be thankful and find joy in everyday life.  So take some time this week to slow down and be thankful for the simple, find joy in the ordinary and be grateful for the everyday things.

Here's my list for this week....

1. Having somewhere to call home....what a blessing to have a place to come back to everyday, to find comfort, familiarity, acceptance and belonging.  Knowing you have a place to call your own, a safe place to rest and hide whenever you's one of those things that is easy to take for granted.

2.  A home cooked meal that you put effort into that actually turns out yummy :)....I love it when I have the time to put a little "extra" into dinner and make a nicer meal and it's extra rewarding when it actually turns out yummy.  ;)

3.  My little guy's voracious I thought that teen boys were supposed to be expensive to feed, not toddler boys! Grahm can eat more than both Luke and's crazy to watch him put down the food but I love watching him when he's fully enthralled with his meal and going to town.  It just makes me laugh watching him "double fist" it like the food is going to run away if he doesn't eat it fast enough.  It is a sight to behold. ;)

4.  Hanging out at my parents''s not even the house I grew up in but I just love being in the company of my parents and there is something so comfortable and safe about being at my parents' house.

5.  My bedroom....I finally got some work done on our bedroom this week and I LOVE how it's turning out.  I'll have to share pictures sometime so you can see.  It just makes me happy to have our own little retreat and create a place of beauty and rest.  Makes me smile. :)

6.  Friends who require no know the kind of friends that you can hang out with and it's so easy and doesn't require any work and it's like you don't even have guests over, like you're just hanging out with your own family.  And you don't have to worry about "keeping up" or if you did or didn't do the right's just easy and effortless and they take you as you are and you take them as they are.  It's awesome having friends like that.

7.  The way my husband completes a project....he always makes sure he does it right and he doesn't do things lazily or half-heartedly.  He's kinda perfectionistic about it and I love that he does a good job on whatever he does and he's careful to do it right and well.  He's such a hard worker and it makes me all the more attracted to him!

Find joy in the ordinary, enjoy your Thursday!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Help make Adoption Affordable

Evening!  So I had plans to finish my last installment in "Why Adoption" today but I only got it half you'll have to wait. :)  But, I have something I want to share with you all and I'm hoping you'll jump on board and help out!  I've mentioned before and explained that adoption is very pricey.  And one of the biggest reasons a lot of families don't adopt is because of the cost.  There are a lot of ways to make it affordable and I would never want cost to hold back a family from giving an orphan a family.  One of those things is the government's adoption tax credit.  The government is getting ready to vote to change the way the credit works so that it is decreased and so that it is no longer refundable.  BUT, there is a petition out to keep the adoption tax credit the same.  I would appreciate it sooooo much if you would all go to the website I'm going to share and sign the petition.  If you click on the link below it will explain the credit and why the petition is important.  Please share this with everyone you know...adoptive families everywhere thank you!

Here's the link...Adoption Tax Credit Petition.

Check it out and please sign!

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