Sunday, January 30, 2011

An Adoption Story

Many of our friends and family have adopted or are in the process of adopting. It is really wonderful to be able to support them and follow their journey. I wanted to share one of their stories with you.These are our dear friends Mark and Datha. We've been blessed to have known them for almost seven years now. We have been friends and neighbors. We were living in a duplex, when they moved into a new house in town and found out the house next door to them was up for rent. They called and told us about it, and before the month was up they were helping us move.

Datha and I met while teaching, before I had children, and we became friends almost immediately. She is one of the most nurturing caregivers I have ever known. I call her the baby whisperer. I have seriously seen her take a crying baby into her arms, whom she did not know, and had him completely calm within seconds. I am not exaggerating. It's as if she emits some nurturing motherly pheromone and children are drawn to her. It still amazes me. We have had the opportunity to work together, and we've learned so much from each other over the years, not just in terms of teaching, but just life in general. We seek each others advice on everything from motherhood to ministry.

Mark and Datha are both educators and they both work in full time ministry. They also have three beautiful children. They were talking about having a fourth baby, when Mark shared with Datha that the Lord had impressed upon him that they were going to add to their family through foster care. Specifically that they were going to adopt through foster care. So, they prayed about it and started the necessary classes. Within the first six months they opened their home and hearts to three different children, all of whom would eventually leave and be reunited with their own families. It was wonderful and heartbreaking all at the same time. That's just from my perspective, because I cried with Datha each time she had to send a little one home. Aside from the hopes that this child may be the one, it's hard to send a little one you love back into what may be a precarious situation. You just don't know. You may never know. You may never see them again, and that's hard. Datha said she takes heart in knowing that no matter where they go they will always have two people who will pray for them for the rest of their lives. Maybe that in itself is the reason why God has brought them into their lives. There is something so simple and yet so profound in that statement that it makes me emotional just sharing it here with you. To think that the Lord would take them so far down this road, and allow them to feel so deeply, so they might never forget to pray. Would our great and mighty God orchestrate all that so that these little ones would never be forgotten? Absolutely! That is what is so beautiful about their story. But, it's not over yet.....

Our Lord is faithful. He never forgets His promises. After six months the opportunity came for them to adopt a beautiful little twelve month old boy. His parents had relinquished all rights and he had been passed over by two other couples because he is a special needs child. The agency knew the fact he was special needs would not matter to Mark and Datha. They invited them to come and meet him and to see if they would like to take him into their family. It was an answer to every one's prayers. To God be the glory.

We had the chance to meet him when they came to stay with us during the Christmas holidays. He is precious. I got to spoil him just a bit with a new toy and blankie from his Tiffy. I did not include pictures of him, because it is part of procedure until his adoption is finalized, at the end of May. I just feel so blessed to be a witness to all of this and to help them celebrate and welcome him home.

Adoption is so important. There is such a need and I admire anyone willing to consider opening their hearts and homes. Hugh and I don't feel that the Lord is calling us to adopt, but there is no reason why we can not support and encourage others in their journey to adopt. The Lord asks us to care for orphans and widows, and to give fair judgment to the poor, the afflicted, the fatherless, and the destitute. He also says that whatever you do for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do for me. We are all called in some capacity to help. As long as we are willing, He will use us, even if in some small way. Please pray for this special family. -Thank you.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mom to Mom: Share Your Best Tips

This is my first time to join in this link up, but, this looked like fun and I love gathering good tips from other moms. Missy is our gracious hostess over at It's Almost Naptime. This week she shared about how she developed chore charts for her family. She gave wonderful examples of how she tailored each child's chores according to their developmental ability.

I was inspired by an idea I got from a couple raising four children; a seventeen year old son, a fourteen year old son, a twelve year old daughter and a son who was around the age of four or five. The couple shared about how they don't give their children allowances. They believe that each member of the family is responsible for doing their part to help the household run to the best of it's ability. Instead they helped each child pick something they could do to make money of their own and then taught them how to manage that money through saving, investing and a checking account. Their oldest son learned to detail cars, and he was so good at it he was getting more business than he could handle on his own, so he hired some of his friends to work with him. Within a year or so he owned his own small business and employed five of his friends. Their fourteen year old son made and managed his money through mowing lawns. Their twelve year old daughter started baking with her mother and turned that into their own little side business right out of their home. Their youngest son started collecting and recycling aluminum cans in order to make money. I decided to try the last idea with my own children.

My parents always taught me to leave things better than the way you found them. While I am not a full on, go green, all natural kind of mom, I respect and admire those who are, and I try to learn as much as I can from them. My children (who are three and four) and I started collecting cans back in Ohio to help out a neighbor. Now, we collect them and split the money between their piggy banks. This has given me an opportunity to teach them about reusing and recycling things that we normally might just throw away. It has also given me a chance to start talking to them about tithing and giving money to those in need. These are challenging concepts for a three and four year old, but, it's a start.

I hope this little project is something we can build on in years to come, something I can hand over to them to take care of on their own. I want them to learn to be resourceful, and to leave things better than the way they found them.

Here are a few pictures I have taken over the last couple months. Three full bags of cans off to the recycling center.
Another trip another day with two bags.
This is where we drop off our bags to be weighed and added to the truck.
We have also started recycling boxes.
Such good helpers!
This is a picture of the junk yard, where we drop off our cans to be recycled. The kids think it's fascinating to watch the diggers and cranes and all the men at work. And I think it's great for them to see the people who work in our community and make it a better place.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Featuring: children's author Sara Anderson and her work.

I happened upon these lovelies as I was browsing through Jr. Square Books today after our story hour. The first two are beginner board books that are great for very young children up through early childhood or early elementary first time readers. The rhyme and rhythm Anderson uses gives such a great flow to each of these. "Huckleberry-strawberry-watermelon-plum
apricot-mango Let's have some!"

As you can see, she also uses vibrant colors in her illustrations as well. Interestingly, Anderson was a well known artists for years before becoming a children's author. Her work has even been featured in The Museum of Modern Art in New York and other places across the globe. Her technique has always featured a dynamic colored-paper cutout feel of collage (—Review from the Seattle Weekly December 14, 2005.)

The last selection, Farmers Market would be a great selection for preschoolers and early elementary readers. The text is in rhyming quatrains, but, the illustrations are still what drives the book. It is just beautiful to look at. I love this because we visit our local farmers market every week, sometimes twice a week and know the people there by name. This is a wonderful set of books to introduce your children to colors, fruits and vegetables, and the people in your community who grow and raise them. You can also use them to support healthy habits and foster a budding awareness of our small business owners and community workers. Maybe it will lead you to start your own family garden. I love to follow up books with field trips or projects that give my children a chance to learn kinesthetically, as well as, audio and visually. It all builds on top of each other.

This is a little late since it is now Thursday, but, I will have this up for a couple days. Thank you to our gracious hostess, Sarah Denley. I am so glad she is hosting this weekly feature, because I'm a little obsessed with literature, especially children's literature. I hope some of you will join in this weekly feature as well. I love getting new ideas from other moms and teachers out there. ~Blessings!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Please pray for Joanne

My dear bloggy friends I have a prayer request for Joanne Heim. Joanne suffered a major stroke on January 11. She was taken to the hospital to undergo surgery to relieve swelling in her brain. She is currently in a deep medical coma, as they wait for her swelling to subside and in order that her body may rest and heal. Her family has been through an emotional roller coaster this week. I am asking you to lift up her and her sweet family at this time.

I happened upon Joanne through my friend Janna at Mustard Seeds, whom I've been reading for several years now. I have been blessed by Janna's friendship and when I read that one of her dear friends Joanne was in need of prayer I felt the need to join her in prayer as well. I was not familiar with Joanne's blog or that of her sister Kristen's before now, but, I kept feeling the Lord impress upon me to pray for Joanne and her family. I even asked the Lord to show me how to pray for them more specifically, and as I kept checking in at Janna's blog, she provided updates, a post written by Toben, Joanne's husband, and a link to Kristen's blog for more information. God is so good. I've never considered myself a prayer warrior, but, if you ask the Lord to lead you out of your comfort zone and give you direction, He most certainly will. So, I'm asking you to step out with me and help in lifting up Joanne in prayer. I am asking you not to read this and just keep going, because you don't know her personally. I don't either, but, I know she is my sister in Christ.

Janna so thoughtfully provided a list of Joanne's family members, so we could pray for each of the, by name. I am passing that along here as well.

Toben - Joanne's husband

Audrey - Joanne's 12 year old daughter

Emma - Joanne's 9 year old daughter

Kay - Joanne's Mother

Chuck - Joanne's Father

Kristen - Joanne's sister

Psalm 46 is the scripture that the Heims are claiming over Joanne.

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the LORD has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields[d] with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 57:1 is a passage of scripture I am praying over Joanne's family.

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.

I feel that not only is there power in prayer, but power in praying the scriptures over someone as we pray for them. Please pray, and feel free to visit any of the links above to read more about Joanne and her family and how things are progressing. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My friend Heidi is celebrating the re-launching and re-opening of her business QT Pie Products. She is now offering her line of children's boutique accessories on line at Etsy. You're sure to find something for you and your QT Pie. She is currently featuring a line of hair accessories, as well as, cutie pa-tootie tutus. I am featuring a few of her products over on my side bar. I hope you will click on the available link and check out her business.

Here is a picture of her beautiful daughter Keira, modeling a QT Pie hair accessory.
And here is her link....

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Look Back At Christmas 2010 -Part 2

Our friends stayed with us the 20th-21st. On the 23rd, we went to Tupelo for Christmas with our extended family. Aunt Jean and Uncle Demming hosted everyone, prepared the food and even had Santa visit for the kids. It was our first time in a couple years to be able to come. That's one of the best parts about being home now:) Hugh had to work, but the kids and I went.All of our little ones!It's so nice for the kids to be able to be around all their cousins. Julie and little Maddy!
Jessica, Brenden, and their son Brody.

Hugh also had to work the night of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I held the children off from opening gifts by taking them to play out in the snow. Wasn't that such a treat to wake up to a white Christmas here in Mississippi of all places. That never happens. I felt like God was smiling down on us and gave us a special gift. Making snow angels
Trey wanted to have a snowball fight. :)
Trey got me with a snowball, and hit the camera in the process. That is why this picture is all fuzzy at the bottom. (hee-hee)
Daddy is home! Merry Christmas!

When Hugh got home he cooked us all breakfast and we opened presents together. The kids were so excited to show him the gifts that Santa had left them and that he had eaten our cookies. We give our children three small gifts in honor of the three wise men who gave gifts to Jesus, and they get one big gift from Santa. Of course, they also get gifts from their grandparents and other family members, as well as, friends.
On Sunday the 26th, our friends Mark and Datha Semrau and their family stopped by on their way back up to Ohio to stay a couple nights with us. They were visiting family down in Louisiana, so it worked out perfect for them to come and stay with us. We have missed them so much, the kids especially.
Datha and moi. Not my best picture, but, I don't care. I'm so glad I got to spend time with her Mark and Datha. We took them out to lunch in Oxford.
Forever Friends!

Hugh had to go back to work, but, he had New Years Eve off and that is when we got to spend Christmas with his dad, Ms. Nancy, both of his sisters and their families. This was a perfect ending to our holiday celebrating, because we got to "go home." Hugh's dad has lived out in the country all his life, as did his dad before him. They own a lot of land and built houses next to one another, with a great big pasture in between where they use to keep cows, but, now have horses. It is beautiful and peaceful there. We always enjoy going out to Paw-Paw and Nana's. It doesn't hurt that Nana is one of the best cooks e-vah either. She totally out did herself cooking up a storm this year. Most of my pictures came out fuzzy. :( But, here is one good one of all of the kids with Paw-Paw riding four wheelers.
. Well, our Christmas has come to an end. It was filled with lots of fun, family and friends, and lots of happiness. I hope yours was as well.

A Look Back At Christmas 2010 -Part 1

What a Christmas we had this year. It was so nice to be back home with family and friends. We had so many wonderful guests come to stay with us. I thought I'd share a few high lights of our holidays. Hugh had an odd schedule this month, but, we found a way to work around it. He worked most weekends,but, he was off the 18th so that is when we had our first Christmas celebration with his mom and Loyd, and sister Demetria and family (Kevin, Kaden and Russ.) It was my first time to host a dinner in our new home, and I was so excited that I'm sorry to say I didn't take many pictures, and Hugh was behind the video camera. Around the house at Christmas time. Here is my coffee station set up with goodies. I snapped a quick picture as I was setting out hors d'oeuvres and snacks on our new buffet. I picked up the platters and decor at my first visit to Mistletoe Market this year and combined it with a few McCarty pieces I already have. I'll have to show a better picture of our new dinning room later. We tidied up the house a bit on Sunday in order to prepare for our annual get together with "The Family," a group of some of our very dearest friends in the world. We lived together back in college (guys with guys-girls with girls of course.) We have been through everything together, and I do mean everything; graduation, first jobs, marriage, children, career changes, moves across the state and nation, illnesses, infertility, adoption, loss and death within our families, and yes I could go on and on. We will always be there for one another Proverbs 18:24. . . there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. We all have children now, so our yearly celebration is very family oriented, and we've started a few traditions. We open in prayer and enjoy a great meal together. The parents continue to eat and visit as the children play, but, then we gather everyone together to read the Christmas story, as we bring out the nativity for the children to touch and play with. We sing Christmas carols and we have a birthday party for Jesus. This year my friend Suzanne made a special cake for our celebration. Thank you so much Suzanne. She is so talented. Here is a link to her business blog (really cute cakes!) Our beautiful children. We tried to get them all together for a picture, but, we seem to be missing a few. Hey, they're kids -we just did the best we could. (hee-hee)Our Precious Girls! -Playing in the floor with the plush nativity set, while John read the Christmas story.
It looks like this is going to be longer than I thought so I'm going to split it up into two parts. I'll be posting part 2 soon. ~Blessings!

Monday, January 3, 2011

What's Your Word?

It's a new year. The landscape, unending, stretches out before us filled with possibilities. Where will it take you? What will you do with this new opportunity. Every new beginning is a new opportunity.

I mentioned last year that as each new year approaches I try to look and listen to where the Lord is leading me. What does He have for me in this new year? Am I growing? Am I ministering to the needs of others? Am I a vessel of praise? Each year it something different.

Last year my word was obedience. This year my word is deliver. I know my word isn't exciting, or even warm and fuzzy, like compassion, or faithfulness, or something along those lines. It may not even make sense to anyone else but me, but, already the Lord has shown me in small ways where He is leading me.

Every year He pushes a little bit harder, and has me dig a bit deeper to accomplish what He has for me. It always draws us into a closer communion with one other, but it also serves to strip away and prune me. I can tell you that there will be alot of digging deep this year and alot of hard work, because the Lord wants to deliver me from some strong holds in my life. -I didn't even realize I had strong holds. Funny how the Lord will reveal things to you when He knows you are ready. Well, I can't say that I'm completely ready, but, I know that He's ready and He is ready for me to be ready. So, here goes nothing.

It's very hard to explain, but, hopefully it's something I can share as time goes on and things unfold. I don't like to share negative thoughts or feelings here (or any social network for that matter.) I don't feel it serves a purpose but, to vent or complain, and honestly I can't stand constant negativity. If I'm struggling with something I have a few close confidants I go to whom are grounded in the word and will pray with me and counsel me in a godly manner. Sometimes I need to work it out just me and the Lord. I tend to share here once I've come out the other side of a difficult place and I can see what the Lord wants me to learn or take from it. Maybe that makes me seem less "real" or relateable than other people or blogs out there, but, I'm really OK with that. I think there is something to be said for a little discretion. Back in September, I had the opportunity to attend a Beth Moore simulcast event and she said something that really struck me. She said that while she enjoys social networking, such as, face book, twitter, and blogging, there is a down side. Technology being what it is today, there are suddenly hundreds of thousands of writers out there. However, they lack one important thing, an editor. We need to think before we push publish. This is especially true within the Christian community. She challenged us that if it doesn't edify one another or glorify our Lord, then what purpose does it serve? Think before you push publish. I guess I have felt that way for a while, she just put it into words.

That being said, I don't think everything needs to be shiny and happy all the time. I enjoy blogs that are transparent and vulnerable, and give you a new perspective on things. I'm talking about the train wreck you can't turn away from. Sometimes we are so attracted to the train wreck and all the negativity. The more we surround ourselves with it, the more we allow it to trickle into our lives and soon it is out pouring from us as well. Have you ever noticed that if you find yourself surrounded by a group of people complaining, and you don't remove yourself from it, you either find yourself so uncomfortable you are about to suffocate, or you end up joining in the banter. Yeah, been there. I'm not proud of it either. So, moving on.

Sometimes the Lord has to hold up a mirror to us to get our attention, and once we're over the initial shock, He lets us know in no uncertain terms that we've been here long enough. It's time to move forward, and that's where I am. So, off we go..... into the new year. :)