Saturday, September 26, 2009

I Can't Sleep

Dearest friends, I cannot sleep tonight. I cannot sleep because I am joyful, yet at the same time I am struggling. There is more going on in this mind than I am able to hold and I decided it might help to release to you...stop holding little things back.

Let's start with the joy, that's the fun part. We received our United States Customs and Immigration Services approval for our adoption today in the mail. That's a huge step and means we are not far off from travel...we could be traveling in four weeks! On top of that, we had an issue with the social worker's license that would be expiring at the end of this month and he hadn't received his new one in the mail yet. I got word tonight that he mailed it to us yesterday...that's another praise to God. By all means, He is working right now.

I have felt very much as though I am in His favor right now. I don't know how else to describe it, but the last few days seem like everything that comes has either been good, and if it hasn't been, then it seems that these things have melted right before my eyes. Faster than my emotions could respond, any issues were gone.

Yet at the same time I cannot forgo sharing the faith issue that I am having. I feel like a walking contradiction. I trust, though I have trouble trusting. I KNOW, yet I lack sufficient faith. Does anyone understand what I mean by that? I feel like it is I am crazy in myself and that this can't be possible because it is opposing, yet I know that things are never "normal" with God and that someone out there MUST know how I feel because...well, because there just has to be.

I KNOW that God provides for His good ideas, even if He doesn't always provide for "our good ideas". I KNOW that this was HIS idea. I stated that I want to follow Him so fully that if He doesn't follow through I am in DEEP trouble. And I do, but then the follow through comes...and that is hard. We are down to the wire. We have very little time left and I am desperately trying to hold on to my faith that He will follow through.

And let me stop myself to PRAISE Him. Because it is no small thing that God has provided the amount of funding that He has thus far. We have raised $8,429.25 in just a few months. That is awesome, wonderful, amazing, GOD. He has been here. He is walking with us. He is holding our hands.

God has opened doors when they needed to be opened. God has made connections where we needed to make connections. He gave us patient and gracious people to work with when the paperwork hassles came and we had to redo things 6 times. God has walked each step.

So...what's wrong with me? Why do I have trouble trusting when He has proven faithful every step thus far? When He has never left me high and dry? I know I'm human...and I have never had to trust Him this much before. It's hard!

Are we getting two kids, or just one? Because if we are getting two, then we have a big jump to make still. If we are getting one...well, we still have a big jump to make. And I don't know how it's going to happen.

Adoption grants and loans are mostly for people with fact, I haven't found any (other than one that we missed the cut off for the quarterly application process for) that don't require an agency. The country we are working with only does independent adoptions. There are things that you can do after you get home...that will give you funding when you are home with your child...well, that won't help us. We have some funding help through Handsome's company (Target- love Target), but we have to figure out how to front that money. Do we have that laying around? Uhhh...nope.

So, I'm sorry to vent to you all. I have tried not to share the hard stuff with you too much because I mostly want you to share in the joys with us. But tonight. Well, tonight I need to ask for prayer. Mega prayer. Prayer for my faith (and Handsome's too), prayer for our child(ren) in another country, prayer for ALL the stinking things I have to get done before we can go that are driving me MAD. Prayer for wisdom on a couple of very big things that we haven't figured out yet. Would you pray? I KNOW and don't have any trouble believing in the power of prayer, I KNOW that will help. I know that is what we need. I know it will ease my mind. I know that my burden will be lifted by the prayers of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I believe that I may have tried to carry my burden alone for too long and that we were given the body of believers for many reasons.

I would say it's about time that I shared my burden with the family that God has given me through His blessed sacrifice. Your prayers are desperately needed right now, and I thank you for each and every one.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mommy is Mean

But sister is a good distraction.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Fair. By Curly.



"Do you wanna go to the fair today?"

"...."(Just kidding, she really wanted to go. A LOT.)

"Did you have fun when you went to the fair?"

"Yeah! It has lots of cows at duh fayer! And ice cream too!"

"Who did you go with?"

"...NOT Daddy..."

"Oh, that's too bad. Daddy had to work, didn't he..."

"But Uncka Nick (Brody) comeded wif us. And Gwama too."

"And I makeded a horse fing. Uncka Nick hewpded me."

"We eated ice cream too. Der was milking a cow near der...milk is from cows tummy fings."

"Smiles didn't wanna go wif da goats doe. I fink he was scareded."

"Ponies are my favorite. But you can't ride dem at the fair! I want to ride dem."

Monday, September 14, 2009

God's Word

Isn't it interesting when you realize how God's Word is truly alive! He speaks through His written word, just as He speaks by the Spirit. It's amazing.

I have to be honest with you. While most of the time I have been blessed with faith to trust in His timing and that He WILL provide as He has said He will, it can be a little difficult. Most of the time I have little thought of the financial status of our adoption (which I PRAISE Him for because I am prone to worry and stress over little things, let alone the big stuff). From time to time though, as we get closer to the end of the wire...things can get a little hairy. Not like freaking out or developing an ulcer, but thoughts of questioning come in. Some of those questioning thoughts are produced by conversations with people who either directly or indirectly question my faith. Usually well meaning, just not as supportive as needed. Just being honest here.

So tonight I was feeling a bit discouraged. I KNOW that God said He would provide for our adoption. I KNOW that He is faithful to follow through. I KNOW that He wants to grow my faith by waiting and forcing me to trust in HIM and nothing/nobody else. I KNOW that if I am faithful to wait upon Him, He WILL provide. And really that's what I want. I want to live the kind of life that requires me to trust Him. A life where if He doesn't come through for me- I am up that creek with no paddle and three holes in my boat. That's what I want. That's what He is giving me.

But, while I want that in my heart, my head is not so easily connected with that. So...sometimes I question myself. I question whether or not I heard Him correctly. I question whether or not He really cares enough about my little life to follow through without forgetting. I question whether my faith is enough.

And guess what? It's okay. Cause it's not about me at all. Following Jesus is NEVER about what I can do. It's always about what HE can do. My life is about bringing Him glory, nothing more. you think it brings Him more glory if I breeze through every challenge I come to? Or does it bring Him more glory if I have some trouble and have to call on Him even for the faith to continue trusting Him? You guessed it. In my weakness HE is strong.

So, because of His compassion my daily reading spoke in big ways to my heart. He always has a way of speaking through the planned reading too. No need for flipping around folks, just keep going with the normal reading. Earlier today I read Matthew 13, so tonight I decided to read a little more and was in Matthew 14. Here is a recap of what was said:

v. 17- The disciples said to Jesus that they only had five loaves of bread and two fish when Jesus asked them to feed 5,000 men and their women and children. He told them to bring the food to him, and there was more than plenty to feed them all.


v. 28 starts the story of Peter walking on the water. Sometimes I feel like we hear the stories so much that they can loose their potency. Peter asks to be called out on the water. Jesus calls Him. Peter walks out. BUT...

"But, when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord, save me!' Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. 'You of little faith,' he said, 'why did you doubt?'"

Peter could have kept walking on the water if He had focused on Jesus and kept his eyes off of the wind and lack of calm. But also notice how Jesus was right there the whole time and the moment Peter lacked the faith necessary, Jesus saved him. Immediately. He also confirms that Peter's doubt is what caused Him to begin to sink. Doubt is a dangerous thing. Thankfully my Jesus is here to lift me up when I fall. He sends me His words when I am starting to doubt and He encourages me when I need it. Sometimes He lets me go until I reach the point of breaking, but I know he is always there to catch me.

Daddy Calls it Torture...But He Looks Like He is Having Fun

Sometimes Curly likes to play with necklaces.

Sometimes Curly likes to play with her brother.

Sometimes she likes to play with both.

Sometimes Smiles thinks its great fun!

(In my humble opinion you HAVE to click on that last picture and really look at that face! How adorable!)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Mom's Laundry Soap

So, I had a busy night last night. We made blackberry jam with the berries we picked yesterday at Nana's house. Then I made zucchini crisp, which I shared the recipe for earlier. And finally, we ended the evening with a batch of homemade laundry soap.

My mom found this recipe on the internet and I have been using it for quite some time. Only...I have been reaping the harvest of her work =). Last night was our first batch made by my own hands. It's quite simple, so lets get to it. I have been very pleased with how well this laundry soap works by the way. Better throw that in there.

Laundry Soap

1 cup washing soda

1 cup Borax

1 bar Fels-Naptha soap (found in the laundry soap aisle...for locals, Fred Meyer carries it)

And 5 gallons of water (not pictured...I think you can figure that part out)

First you want to grate the soap with your cheese grater. You put the grated bar of Fells Naptha soap in a pot with 1/2 gallon of water and melt it on low. (I am not patient and don't like to wait around, so I let it get pretty warm on medium high first and then lowered it to medium low.) You want to melt the soap all the way.

While that is melting, put the remaining water, hot or very warm, into a container big enough to hold 5 gallons of liquid. Put your washing soda and borax in there with the water. You will end up with four and a half gallons in for now. When the soap is melted fully with no chunks in it, add that to the big container with the borax and washing soda. Stir it really well until you feel it is equally mixed together.

Then comes the fun part. You have to bottle it up. I like to use old liquid laundry soap containers that are saved, the ones without the button are best. You want a pour spout. Bottle up the soap in whatever containers you have, or you can leave all of it in a 5 gallon bucket and just use it from there every time. It's just easier to store it all and use it in a few smaller containers.

In actuality, I used what I had. I used two large liquid laundry soap containers (the kind with the push button spout), two empty milk jugs (which I also used to measure out each gallon of water), and 1 pour spout liquid laundry soap container. I figure that I will just refill my 1 good container with the other soap as I use it up.

Why is it better to have a pour spout? Well, after the soap sits and cools (overnight) it can get a little clumpy. You will need to shake it when you use it and the clumps get stuck in the press button style.

Use half a cup per load of laundry. Simple as that. It may sound a bit long written out, but I assure you that the process is not very hard once you do it.

WHAT Crisp?!?

Because of so many of our friends requested the recipe for a certain dessert, I decided to post it for you.

Back before Handsome and I were married (we were dating), I lived with my good friend Brie. One day she came home with a delicious smelling crisp that I was about to be all over....that is, until she told me it was zucchini crisp. Then I was a little skeptical. Crisp is for berries and peaches after all- NOT for vegetables.

But alas, I was wrong. And I tell you that if you like apple crisp, you will surely like zucchini crisp. It's tasty stuff.

I'm not sure it's the exact recipe that Brie brought home, but it's the one that I've used for years now. Here it is for your baking pleasure:

Zucchini Crisp

4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 lb butter (3 cubes)

6-8 cups peeled, seeded, chopped zucchini
2/3 cup lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt for the crust. Cut the butter in until crumbly. (Our family secret for cutting butter in: use a cheese grater to grate the firm butter into the dry mixture, then work it in...I do use my hands. It works really well!)

Press half the dough into the bottom of a 13x9 inch pan and save the other half. Bake 10 minutes at 375 and then let it cool.

In a saucepan, cook the zucchini in the lemon juice until tender (about 10 minutes); add sugar, nutmeg, and 1 tsp of cinnamon. Simmer that for 1 minute and then add 1/2 cup saved pastry mixture. Simmer until it thickens stirring constantly. Let that cool.

Pour zucchini mix over the crust. Add 1/2 tsp cinnamon to the remaining pastry mix and sprinkle over the top.

Bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes or until lightly browned.

And that's your zucchini crisp! Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Glimpse into a Conversation with My LORD

Holy. Holy. Holy. Holy is the LORD God Almighty.

I've heard those words a thousand times. My voice has proclaimed them...knowing that they are true, yet aware that I don't grasp what that means. Yet somehow today they are different. Different than they were last night. Somehow I feel a little smaller in Your wake, yet more aware of the uniqueness of Your love for me.

And how messed up is that?!? It makes no sense that it takes YOU reaching out to me...You opening up my eyes to YOUR takes that to cause me to love You. It's totally mixed around, backwards, cooky. I should be the one trying in vain to get Your attention. And this little speck of dust (yet that's not even small enough in comparison to the difference in our size)...well, you shouldn't even be able to see me without some type of aid for Your eyes. YET, You love me. You know all about me and feel about me as young love caught up in the moments of fresh anticipation of each moment spent together. And that feeling's not temporary, it's forever.

I can't understand that. And it feels WRONG to even write that. But You said to, so I will.

You spoke to me, about me specifically. You told me how special my smile is to You. You said that you made that a special part of who I am. You designed it special for You, to bring YOU joy. You told me that You were proud of the way you created me. And I fully understand what that means. It doesn't mean that I had any part in the things that You are proud of. You look at YOUR work and see the parts untainted, the being that YOU created. And just as my smile had nothing to do with me, the parts of me that have been cleaned up are the work of Your hands. All the good parts of me are the work of Your gentle hands, shaping me into the woman that You would have me be.

I've heard people say that You don't care about the details of what I do everyday. You have a main purpose for me, but the way I decide to do that is of no matter to You. I don't know if I agree. The more control I give to You, the more pleased I am with the results. Maybe I have more work for You to do than others. My once wretched heart that still thinks in the old ways more often than I would like might have been worse off than some. All I know is that I want to give You more. I don't always know how to do that, but You even use the moments where I fail to tell me something. You knew and know where I will not follow through. You speak to me through it and give me millions of chances to try again.

Lord, who is like You? Really. I get that statement! Nobody is like that. You have got to be CRAZY! You are not right in the head or something. But that tells me that I am not right in the head, because I was made to be in Your image and I should be like YOU.

And then, when You show me your love I start to feel so special to You that I have no comprehension of how You could really love all of Your children like that. Seriously. How can one ever hold enough love that strong in their heart? Your heart has to be as big as the heavens themselves. You must just be one huge heart, that's the only way I can even fathom You coming close. Yet I still can't. I guess that's why I get a little jealous from time to time about Your love. It's like I really don't believe that You can love very many people quite this much. My faith is to small for You. And then I get a little jealous because I want to hold on to what You showed me and I fear that it will be split when shared with more people. Yep, I fear that if someone else discovers that You love them THIS MUCH, then it will take away from the depth of Your love for me.

But that's not true at all. That's the opposite of the truth, isn't it. The more I share Your love, the more it multiplies for me. At least, I see more of it then.

Is there someone specific that You wanted to read this Lord? That You wanted me to tell that the way You love my smile and created it to bring YOU joy is the way You love special things about them...and that You want to tell them specifically about what part of them is made special?

I know. Just like You know that I like to finish the questions that You have answered at the moment that I start to speak them. You're just awesome like that God.

...then sings my soul, My SAVIOR GOD to great thou art. HOW GREAT THOU ART!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Few Honest Words

I know I haven't been around a lot, but I wanted to share this post with you today.

This Mom is part of the Ukraine chat group that we have on Monday nights and she shared well some of the feelings that I have. I thought it would be simple to just send you there. I haven't known how I wanted to write it out because it comes out kind of...not pretty when I have tried.

We are nothing special. We are the ones who are blessed by the calling that the Lord has given us. We know there will be difficult times, but the ways we have been and will be blessed are far greater than those times. Do not view us as what we are not. We are not any stronger, braver, loving, or financially prepared than you or anyone else.

He spoke. We said yes.

That's the simple truth.

The quote that she put at the end of her post is one that has also been going through my head often since reading it. I figure it makes a good opportunity to also share with you a link to THIS BLOG. Katie is the kind of crazy that I hope to be. Truly, I hope that one day people look at my life and the first word that comes to mind is crazy. So fully submitted to my Lord that there is no explanation other than abiding in HIM. This young woman (20 I think) has left her life here for one far different than the one she probably imagined. I urge you to take a look at some of her past entries and support this ministry. The decision to do so was an easy one for our family and might be for yours as well. Not because of how special Katie is, but because we know that God is clearly seen there. It's about HIM, and that is visible.

(This post is a good one to give you a run down of the history...)