Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Yes – Our Homestudy is Complete!

I can’t believe it!  Our homestudy was okay’d and we are on to the next step!  This last month has dragged for so long, I think a part of me thought every step would feel like that. 

So glad it doesn’t!

Now, we are moving on…

Homestudy Complete???

I haven’t posted an update on the adoption in a while because it has been at a standstill while we waited for our letter from Panama. 

We waited one month! 

The letter finally came in and our social worker said she has everything ready.  Now we wait to see if our agency is happy with it.  I’m a little nervous because our “letter” from Panama was more like an incomplete form – they filled in his name only and stamped and signed the bottom that his criminal record was clear.  I would feel much better if it looked more like our letter from Texas – written on state letterhead and stamped with the state seal.  It was very pretty.  I think I covered all of our bases though because while we were waiting for the “letter”, I also requested a letter from the Freedom of Information Act and the National Archives – both stating they have searched the records from Panama and Tony is not a criminal.  I had some time on my hands. 

Now we just wait.


Fortunately, I have lots of catching up to do after the Christmas festivities and lots of New Year’s resolutions to make – and break.  That should keep my mind off the waiting. 

It really hasn’t been that bad.  On one hand, it seems like we started this process a long time ago; but, on the other, I haven’t been thinking about it too much.  I think it’s been good.  So far.  I’m sure it will be much harder once we see our little boy’s face and we want to bring him home.  Okay – thinking about bringing him home makes me want to squeal!  That’s a pretty good sign it’s going to be much harder to be patient!

On those same lines – Tate was asking us questions the other night about what else we need to do before we can bring our little man home.  When he started talking about getting to meet him for the first time, he got teary eyed!  As his mom, I was very touched to see him so moved at just the thought of meeting his little brother.  Sweet!

Hopefully, it will not be long before I have another update about more progress.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Celebrating Victory

I am not a public speaker.  When I even think about saying something outloud to a group, my heart beats so hard you can feel it on my chest.  Then, I start to feel sick.  I can’t form a rational thought and I start sweating.  Good times.

This is exactly what I imagine myself doing -



No amount of imagining the audience in their underwear is going to save a person from that!  I’m  not making fun of this girl – it’s just the perfect example of why I get nervous in front of an audience.

That being said – my husband sent me an email last week.  He apparently forgot to tell me that the church had asked us to share our testimony about Moses in both services.  I’m still wondering if he just waited so I would have less time to chicken out.  He didn’t have to worry about the time though because I quickly responded to his email with a “No.”

Then, immediately the entire testimony flooded my mind and I wrote it all out.  I couldn’t keep it in and knew God wanted it to be told.  I can’t say I love God with all my heart, my soul, and my mind and I will do anything He wants me to - as long as I don’t have to step out of my comfort zone. 

The pastor was speaking on celebrating what our church had accomplished over the past year and giving God the glory for leading us and enabling us to do these things.  We can see growth with each step of faith and we can see God taking us places we never imagined ourselves being last year.  One of the stories was our church walking through a leukemia diagnosis and treatment for a young mom.  This time last year, she didn’t know she was sick – and now she is in remission!  Our church family pulled together in prayer, with meals, and loving on this family.  Then, we were able to celebrate with them.

We saw the impact small groups and church family can have on people when they are going through some hard times and need some support.  One family shared how much their small group helped them out while their baby was in the NICU for a time. 

The pastor wanted Tony and me to speak about what kind of impact Moses had on our family.  This time last year we had no idea we would be in the process of adopting a child from Ethiopia.  If you would have told us that was our future, we would not have believed you.  If anything, I would have thought I might be pregnant, but not adopting.

There is no telling where and how God is going to work in our lives from one day to the next.  And, it really is amazing to see where God has taken our church family in one year.

As we were celebrating as a church, I was also able to celebrate individually.  God gave me a peace about speaking in front of the church.  He kept reminding me that I am only a vessel and I am not there to impress anyone.  As I focused on letting him work in me, I was not concerned with how I was going to look.  What a relief!  I was able to share what God has laid on my heart without stammering, fainting, or throwing up.  Success!

This time last year, I don’t think I would have been able to stand up and speak in front of the church.  I wouldn’t even have thought I had anything of value to share.  God had different plans that I couldn’t even imagine.

Now we get to see where God wants to take us next year.  There really is no telling where we will be.  We don’t know if it will be sad times or happy times.  We only know one thing for certain –

With God, it will be a victory and we will be able to celebrate where He has taken us!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

It's official!

We had our first "Brad and Angelina" comment this past weekend.

I did not get offended or give a sarcastic response. I was really pretty shocked that someone would even think of that. It's just funny that anyone would look at a family that is adopting from Africa and think of it as following a trend. And then actually say it!

When I think of following a trend, I think more along the lines of Chuck Taylor shoes, Twilight books, and... I can't even think of anything else because I really don't pay that much attention.

One thing I don't think of is adopting a child. Following a trend is something that takes no commitment. Even the fashion experts advise us not to spend too much money on trendy accessories because they are not going to last.

Adopting a child is permanent. Our hearts are committed to a child we have not met. This decision was covered in prayer. It affects every member of our family - plus this little guy. We would all be crushed if something happened and it did not work out.

I don't need to defend myself against this comment. I was just surprised anyone would say that. Hopefully, it was just a bad joke. This person does not know us very well, but I would not like to be thought of as someone who would adopt a child so our family can look cool.

Remember - I'm already Hipp

Monday, November 24, 2008

We're Getting There

Just wanted to give a quick update on where we are in our paperwork for the adoption.

We have the best social worker in the whole world. She rocks! She is ready to complete our entire homestudy after we get one last report for her. Unfortunately, that has been tough. They want a background check from every state/country we lived in since we were 18 years old. This was something that was added after we started the homestudy. (I think we should be grandfathered in to the old rules, personally, but they didn't ask me.)

The tough part was that Tony graduated high school in Panama. Not Florida! That would be easy. So we are trying to get a criminal report from the former Panamanian government. Notice the minor detail - former. Yeah - so we are trying to track down records - not really records, more like non-records since his criminal record is clear - from a non-existent government.

Non-records from a non-existent government.

No problem!

The homestudy agency said that if the records do not exist, they just need a letter stating that. So, we are in the process of finding out if the records exist, how to get the report run if they do exist, or how to get a letter stating they do not exist.

The good news is that once we have that easy, schmeezy report/letter, our homestudy will be complete and ready to send off with our dossier!

I think.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Do You Netflix?

We are doing our part to be green around here. If you Netflix, you can,too.

Go to here to see how to make these cool things with the flap you tear off your Netflix envelope.

Our latest pets - a swan, a crab, and a frog.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cruisin' With The Chick

People keep asking me if we still have our chickens. I keep correcting them that it is chicken. Singular. And, yes, we have not killed her. Yet.

But, I think she is protesting being our singular, pet chicken. She still won't lay eggs for us. It is very likely we are doing something wrong, but I'm convinced she is just being stubborn.

I can't see why she wouldn't adore us and want to supply us with all of our huevos. (I've been dealing with the Panamanian government this morning - but that's way off topic.)

Look how spoiled she is -

A day in the life of Fluff and Bear.

I'm Awake

If I shared how much I knew about what was going on in politics, we couldn't even finish a cup of coffee during the conversation. I know that's wrong, and I am trying to change that. I have kept up a little with the abortion issue - probably because that one gets a lot of attention and I don't have to look far to find information.

Baby steps, right?

There was some debate during the election about whether Christians should stick to voting pro-life, or if they should just give up the fight (since it's already over in their eyes) and vote based on other issues.

Tony did an awesome job addressing this on his blog. Just go here to read it.

I'm saddened that Obama is not even in office yet and I am already trying to speak up against something he plans on doing.

That can't be a good sign.

If you want to speak up against the Freedom of Choice Act that he is planning on signing first thing when he gets into office, you can go here. There, you can learn about the FOCA, sign a petition against it, and get on their mailing list to receive updates about what is going on with it.

God has told us to pray for our leaders, but he didn't tell us to sit back and let them do whatever they want. We can pray for them, but still let our voices be heard. Sometimes, the abortion issue seems like a lost cause, but that's how we see it in our own eyes and by our own power. I have faith that God can turn this around, no matter how bleak it looks to us.

Sadly, I haven't spent much time in my life looking to learn what is going on outside my world. I had an attitude that if everything in my world is okay, then it must be okay in everyone else's world. I haven't paid attention to issues (even important ones) until something happens to get my attention.

Well, Obama, you have my attention.

Friday, November 14, 2008

It's Outta Hand

Last year I remember saying, "I hate Christmas - I just want to get it over with as soon as possible!"

That was the first sign our family needed to do something different.

Funny thing is... I think we were pretty tame comparatively speaking. We talked a little about Santa and a lot about Jesus, limited how many gifts we gave the kids (which always looks crazy when multiplied by four), we got up every Christmas morning and sang and visited with the nursing home residents while they ate breakfast. Not too bad, really.

I think the part of Christmas I don't enjoy has more to do with the atmosphere in general. The stores drive me crazy. They are salivating over our money. And, I can just feel the tension in the air as the shoppers around me are trying to find the perfect gift and stressing about how much money they are spending. They decide to just not think about it until January - but that doesn't really work.

I can't blame it all on others though. Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ. I have bought into the idea of using this time to show how much we care about our loved ones with a great gift. There was some kind of explanation about Jesus being a gift and we show our love by giving gifts to others. It was something like that - I don't remember. All I remember is that I bought it.

I do agree we need to express how much we care about our loved ones.

Every single day of the year.

We have chosen to put more thought into our gifts. Tony and I are working on some projects with the kids to give this year. I have to admit - it would be a lot easier to go buy something in the store. But, even though it is taking more thought, more time, (and maybe even more money by the time we get all of the supplies), I am less stressed out and am enjoying the the time we are spending working together on this.

The kids are having fun, too. Bonus!

They are excited about using some of our Christmas budget this year to put toward drilling a well for those who don't have access to clean water. I was amazed at this video when it compared how much money we spend at Christmas to how much it would take to offer clean water to everyone.

It reminds me of when Moses threw me off guard in this post. I still don't thank God for my water. Well, I did just now because I was just thinking about it. But, not on a daily (or weekly) basis.

I think I will be watching this video regularly throughout the Christmas season just to keep myself in the right mindset. I hope I don't cave and run to Walmart December 23rd and get into a fight over the last Tickle Me Elmo! (am I dating myself?)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Turn, Turn, Turn

There are so many emotions involved in going through the adoption process. Sometimes even conflicting emotions at the same time. Fortunately, I can cling to God and His Word to give me the strength to not only cope during this time, but to soar through and triumph. His Word is so full of wisdom and encouragement!

As I was reading today, I almost skimmed over the first 8 verses in Ecclesiastes 3. I have read through this section many times. I know generally what it says. Incidentally, I cannot read this section without getting this song stuck in my head -

Is it just me?

Fortunately, I thought I should probably skip the Byrd's interpretation and read what God actually said. I'm so glad I did this because He really did point something out to me that will help me get through one of the struggles I am having in this process.

I am finding my emotions swinging back and forth between not having any connection with the child God has planned for our family, and getting frustrated that I don't know anything about this child and wanting to just go get him so I can take care of him.

This verse struck me -

Ecclesiastes 3:5b

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing

I think this is my time to refrain from embracing. I can pray for our child and know that he is in God's hands. He is right where God wants him for now. God will allow me to hold him and take care of him at the perfect time.

My time would be now - but my time is not God's perfect time.

That has been one of the big lessons during this process - learning to give up what I think would be best and to trust that God's way is best.

Wanting this on God's terms will make it so much sweeter when He decides it is my time to embrace.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Football Season

I love football season! Not really the football part, but I love all the things that mean Fall is here. And, football season is one of those things.

My favorite team has to be - hmm... the Texans? (no)... the Aggies (I do like them)... oh yes! the YMCA!

But only when my boys are playing!

This is the first year both Tate and Car are playing flag football.

Tony is coaching Car's team of 6-7 year olds. I think God is sanctifying him through the process.

I'm not sure if Car's mouthpiece fits inside his mouth. It looks like he has a big black moustache. He does act like Groucho Marx, so I guess it works for him.

Tate is doing good on his team. I really like his coach. His main objective is to teach these boys good character. What's not to like about that? Oh, and he's got some pretty good plays up his sleeves, so they have won all of their games. Bonus.

Yes - he caught the ball.

Go, Tate, Go!

Monday, October 27, 2008

How Can I Help?

I have been sharing my heart for helping the extreme poor for a little while now, and I would like to share a very tangible way everyone can help. I will let Angel explain this exciting new opportunity for us all. Just click on the link below:

Children's Hopechest/RLC Ethiopia

So many of us feel we are all alone when we want to help, and just don't know how or where to start. Fortunately, with modern technology we can have groups like Red Letters Campaign that can help us find a place (or several places) we can step up and be a part of serving the poor. I am so thankful for that.

Fall is Here

Fall is not officially here for our family until we take a trip to the Oil Ranch. That place is so much fun! They have pony rides, train rides, putt putt golf, indian swings, hay rides... I could go on and on. We went with our homeschool friends. There were over 60 of us! And, only 5 moms because we all have so many kids - kidding! There were at least 8 moms.

My favorite feature is that it is wide open fields. The kids can run all around and I don't have to keep them right by my side the entire time, fearing I will lose one.

One of my least favorite features is the petting zoo. The idea of willingly offering my children's hands up for farm animals to slobber on is pretty gross. But - they love it. That's why we own stock in Purell. (Actually - Tony is the Purell addict, but that would be another post.)

This goat was posing nicely with Car, but then noticed the food on the ground behind him. After I took the picture, Car said - Hey, you just took a picture of me with the goat's rear!

Now, the milking station just makes me sad. I do like teaching my kids about animals, and I think hands on is great. But, that poor cow! She gets trapped in the stall and has multitudes of random, untrained hands grabbing her to squeeze out the milk. The untrained hands part has to be the worst. She seemed to be pretty content with her hay, though.

This picture of Car pretty much sums up our day. Look how dirty he is! And, how tired his eyes look.

That also explains this picture:

Everyone was so tired, this was the closest I got to a pumpkin patch photo of the kids. And, I was so tired I didn't even care to keep trying.

The BEST part of the whole day was...

Our Kickapoo Indian lady officially made it educational - so it was a FIELD TRIP!

Friday, October 24, 2008


I have mentioned before that after reading other families' adoption blogs, I am not looking forward to the paperwork that is coming. I keep asking myself how hard can it be to gather some papers? hmm...

So we were waiting for our paperwork from AGCI to tell us what all we need to do to get our dossier ready to send off to Ethiopia. When it arrives, I see this:

Wait - Remember I am already nervous about how hard it is going to be to get this paperwork together.

Okay - now. Here's what I see:

Ummm.... Tony did you order a book, or three? No, I guess it does say it's from AGCI, doesn't it?

I put it on my bookcase and didn't even look at it until the next day.

Fortunately, this is what I found:

That's not so bad. It's really a bunch of information and educational materials. The binder is what took up so much room. Maybe it won't be so bad afterall.


On a side note: I started refinishing my kitchen chairs back in March. The before and afters are here. If you look closely at the picture of our box, you will notice one black chair and one brown.

Yes, I am still not finished with that project!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Party of Seven!

It's official! We are moving forward on adopting a baby (toddler?) boy from Ethiopia. Our application was approved by All God's Children last Friday.

The kids are so excited - they are already asking if we can adopt another baby after this one. I'm thinking we need to get through this first. It's crazy how nervous I am about gathering all of the paperwork that is involved in this. It's going to be at least a year before we can bring our son home, but so far I'm not too anxious about the wait.

I'm just amazed to see where God has taken us to get here.

About three years ago, I picked up a book called Shaoey and Dot by Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman. I like them and thought it looked like a cute book. I brought it home and started reading it to my kids. I couldn't finish it. I started crying. Not crying, like I got a little choked up and a few tears rolled from the corner of my eye - it was the ugly, I can't talk, I have to go curl up on the couch and let it all out cry. My kids were wondering what was wrong with me. I tried to compose myself for their sake.

Then, I noticed it came with a DVD at the back of the book. Of course, I have to know what is on that. This time I was prepared. I sat on the couch with the kids and we all watched it. Again - ugly crying.

My heart was broken for the orphans that I had never thought about before. I had seen the pictures of the rows of cribs and neglected babies and accepted it as something sad that I could not do anything about. I had never cared about these kids.

What's funny is that the book is a story of a little girl (Shaoey) that was found abandoned, taken care of in an orphanage, and then adopted into a forever family. There was nothing in the book or on the DVD that tried to break people's hearts with really sad stories of how awful these kids have it. It simply told us that these kids would like a family to love them.

I went to Tony with news of my newly broken heart. His response in short was, "uhhh - no." Through the wisdom of a good friend, I knew I couldn't make him want this and would continue to pray. He did soften and eventually said he would be willing to look into it.

Then, I went through a time of wanting to be able to have another biological baby. Tony had surgery to prevent that after our fourth child, but we both felt convicted that we should not have taken that decision away from God. Through much prayer, Tony reversed the surgery. Though at that point, we both knew we would not try to get pregnant. (I know the doctor, and all of our friends, probably thought we were crazy!) Even though we wouldn't try to get pregnant, I was sure that one day I would. Why else would God have us go through all of that if I were not going to have another baby? *this question is important*

At that point, I am sure we are through with having to think about it. Done. Period. The End.

Suddenly, our church starts talking about an orphan from Liberia named Moses. We start praying for Moses, our kids are talking about Moses, we see pictures all over church and flyers coming home with us about Moses. Moses comes to America and becomes a big part of our lives.

Tony asked me to pray about adopting.

I go back to that important question above and wonder why God is doing this to me. As I was praying one day, I asked God why He would lay it on our hearts to adopt, then have the reversal, then back to adoption? He told me -

Because it's not about having a baby.

My heart is broken again for the orphans. I was able to push it away before, but this time I don't want to. This time it's not about having a baby. It's about giving one orphan a family, but not stopping there. We want to get involved in ways to help many orphans and the poor. As we are going through this process, God has opened our eyes to His love for the orphans and poor. And, our role is not voluntary. We are called to help them.

I am looking forward to this journey. It won't end when we fly home from Ethiopia with our son. Now, this is a lifelong change for us personally and I hope it can challenge others to serve our Lord by serving those He loves so much - the poor, the orphan, and the widow.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Killin' Time

I saw this project for a cute shopping bag in a couple of places (one was here). Since we were looking for ways to pass the time while Tony was away, we decided to try it.

Look how cute (and EASY!) -

This is how you do it -

Turn the kids' t-shirts inside out and sew straight across the bottom. Turn it right side out (or, "inside outside it", as Bear would say) and cut the sleeves and neck off.


Yes, that's it! And, you're being green to boot and recycling your kid's (or your) favorite shirts.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Saying Goodbye

Our family will be saying goodbye to Moses this week.

I can't even type that without tearing up.

How am I going to help him pack his bags? How am I going to get through our last dinner together? How am I going to look him in the eyes and say goodbye as he leaves for Liberia?

I want to be strong for him and express confidence to him that I trust our Father has him in His hands and everything is going to be alright.

I don't know if me being a sobbing mess with red eyes and a running nose will convey that message of confidence to him.

I absolutely know that Moses is in God's hand and He will take care of him.

But, goodbyes are still hard.

I'm not envious of Tony anymore. I get to say goodbye and then cower at home and cry in the privacy of my own home. Tony has to say goodbye in front of an entire orphanage full of kids just like Moses. And, he gets to leave them all behind.

How is he going to do that?

But - despite the tears, I do have confidence that God is working big and mighty things through all of this. God has made it clear to Tony and me that we are to get off our rears and do something for Him. We don't know exactly what that is yet, but we are waiting expectantly. I have a feeling when God reveals what He wants us to do, we are going to fly off our seats. We are so ready!

I would love to get a God's eye view of Moses' trip to America. I know how He used Moses to change Tony's and my hearts. I would love to see all the ways God has used this trip to work in everyone's lives that Moses touched. I have to say - that boy got around. I have had friends tell me that they had a friend that met Moses while they were at a cousin's boyfriend's sister's neighbor's house. It was crazy! Talk about six degrees of separation.

And, every one of those friends had the same little smile on their face when they talked about meeting him.

No one can convince me that God did not work through Moses while he was in America.

I am praying for that work to continue.

I can't sit around and just watch as our world falls into self-centerness. I don't want that for my children. I want them to see the needs in our world and know that they can do something to help. Not fix the world's problems, just do something to help.

If we don't give of ourselves, we just get absorbed in ourselves.

God says where people are heading in 2 Timothy 3:2-5:

"For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people."

It looks to me that our world is already there. God says that's the way it is. I can't stop it. But, I can resist that for myself and guide my children to avoid that kind of lifestyle.

I think the most effective way to do that is to allow God to work through me as I focus on loving others and reaching out beyond myself. There are so many ways to do that. My heart is specifically burdened for those living in poverty. One friend of mine is burdened for the planned parenthood building that is being constructed here in Houston. Another friend shared her burden for the girls who are being sold as sex slaves. All of these issues need to be addressed. God will lay on your heart where He wants you to reach out. And, we can pray for all of them.

God will turn your whole world upside down, if you let Him. It will fill your heart with a joy that cannot be replaced by anything in this world.

I have to warn you, though.

It will involve lots of tears.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Housekeeping Personality Quiz

I would like to say my house is always clean and orderly. If I had it my way, it would be.

Apparently, I only get it my way at Burger King.

And, they don't clean houses.

With four young kids, homeschooling, and activities I just get as much done as I can and try not to stress about the rest. The "rest" is the stuff above and beyond the vacuuming and dusting - oh, and scrubbing toilets! The rest usually happens when there is an accident.

Accidents like -

The garbage can gets scrubbed out when one of the bags gets a hole and leaks.

My bathroom cabinets get cleaned out when I leave my sink running while I hop in the shower and it floods my entire bathroom, leaking into the drawers and cabinets on the way to the floor.

And, my refrigerator gets cleaned out when a major hurricane comes and knocks out our power for 2 1/2 days.

Is that bad that I only get to the "rest" when I have to pull something out to clean a leak?

I have to say - there seem to be plenty of events around here that cause me to get to the rest. Fortunately, these events are not all hurricane related. Somehow, they do seem to all come at inopportune times - like as we are expecting company, or just walking out the door. How does that happen? Kind of like how the smoke detector batteries always decide to chirp at 3 am. Always!

Here's another Ike related to-do -

I've been meaning to chop 3,000 cords of wood (even though we have gas logs in our fireplace)and just haven't gotten around to it. Now I have to if I want to get out of my garage.

Thanks, Ike!

{What's your housekeeping personality?}

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hunkerin' Down

I'm not sure I have heard the word "hunkering" before Ike started our way, but I guess that describes what we are doing.

Our family just got back from our camping trip and immediately had to start preparing for Ike. It's not too bad since we are already in camping mode.

Who needs electricity and running water?

Wait a minute! I DO!

Hopefully, the effects of Ike won't last too long.

We are praying for all of the people in the path. Especially, the people who are not taking this storm seriously and heeding warnings to leave.

The rain and winds have not started here yet, but are expected in the next hour or so. I think we are as ready as we can be.

We love all of our sweet family and friends that have been calling to check on us. Mimi is staying with us tonight since her house has several trees hanging over it. I'm confident we will lose electricity at some point and am not sure when we will get our electricity back.

I'll give an update when I can.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What Road Will I Take?

Am I going to walk down this road?

I keep asking God this question.

God has told Tony and me that we are going to one day walk down this road. But, I have questions. My number one questions is


I know - it's a pretty deep question.

The road in the picture is the road that leads from a hotel in Ethiopia to an orphanage called Hannah's Hope.

Really? Is that what you are calling us to do?

I keep questioning this because I have been positive in the past that God is telling me to do one thing, only to lead me in a different direction than I thought. Of course, it has always turned out better and I can see in hindsight what He was doing when I thought I was heading in the first direction. I am fully confident that if this is not what God has planned for us, He will use this to lead us where He really wants us to go. Until then I still ask -


You have a child that will not have any parents to take care of him and you want to place him in our family?

I don't feel worthy of God allowing our family to participate in this awesome plan. But - Yes, Lord. Please use our family and be glorified through the entire process.

I'm pretty sure there will be some people who question what we are doing. We already have four kids, there are lots of kids in America that needs homes, our family is white and Ethopian babies are black...

Somehow, I think I can handle the critical comments better than the complimentary. What I don't want is to be glorified for what our family has done for this child. This is what God laid on our hearts. He is clear in Scripture that we are to take care of the poor, and He put this adoption on my heart and Tony's heart at the same time. On our whole family's hearts. The kids started asking for a baby right when God started opening our eyes to this.

They are so excited.

But, I am having a hard time getting excited over this. I just keep waiting for God to tell me this was just step one, but He actually wants us to do something else. I want to be excited about adoption. I want to get frustrated with how long the paperwork takes because I just can't wait any longer.

I will trust that God has a sovereign plan and this step is part of it. I can know that if He is going to lead us in another direction before we go through the entire adoption process, then all of this is just part of where He needed to take us first.

It will be okay because God is in control.

Not me.

Until then, I think I'm ready to get excited about starting this adoption process. I'm getting excited about praying for a child that may not even be conceived right now, and praying for his parents, and for our family that will see that the orphans and the poor are real people that we need to love and take care of. I'm getting excited because I know this child will be a way bigger blessing to our family than we will be to him.

And, I'm getting excited about walking down that road to meet a child that God knew long before now and planned to place in our family.

This journey will take us down new roads. I'm ready to see where God leads us.


What a Day!

I can't believe it!!! We went from this:

To this:

What are the odds?

Pretty good when we add a couple of experienced (lucky) guys!

First, my dad came over. All the way from next door. He brought his very humane animal trap (the one that doesn't work on armadillos) and we headed out to the woods. What luck! We found Bella right away, hopping happily out in the open. Until she saw us. We did a little climbing through the briars, but she eventually evaded us.

Then, Mom noticed Dot lounging in the stump of a tree. I walked by that stump all day. I'm sure she was in there watching me every time I passed by. stinker!

The stump was hiding in the middle of a bunch of brush (of course). I climbed in and tried to be sneaky and grab her. It's hard to be sneaky while breaking through a bunch of dead tree limbs and leaves. So, she ran deeper into the brush. Fortunately, Dad and I had a plan. It went something like this:

Dad: I'll chase her out and you catch her on the other side. Ouch! Ow! Oh! Ouch! Okay! Here she comes!

Me: Oh! She got away! She's coming back your way!

Dad (just climbing back out of the brush): Okay - I'll chase her out and you catch her on the other side. Ouch! Ow! Oh! Ouch! Here she comes!

Me: I see her! Wait! She's coming back your way!

Repeat about 1,142 times.

Finally, on the 1,143rd try, she ran all the way to our house and found her cage. Mom, Dad, Tate, and I were able to surround her as she hid under her cage and I grabbed her.

1/2 Success!!!

Kids are thrilled! And, that was the purpose of their grandparents and mom climbing through snake infested thorns all afternoon. That would be major points for us. But, we don't keep score. I have to say my parents are the best! There was no way they were leaving without two, fluffy bunnies safely nestled in their cage for the night. No way!

So - on to finding Bella.

We looked and couldn't find her anywhere. I decided for the gazzillionth time to just give up, convinced we had her completely terrified after she just witnessed what went on with Dot. (I know she was watching us the entire time).

At this point, Tony comes home from work. He changes clothes and asks me to show him where we saw Bella last. I showed him and walked to the house. Two minutes later, I see him and Dad walking back to the house also. I'm thinking he gave up pretty darn fast.


What's in his arms?

It's brown and furry!

How did he do that?!

His story is quite compelling.

Are you ready?

He saw her and picked her up with his hat.

I told you - compelling!

Why didn't I think of that?

Bella, Bella

What am I going to do with that rabbit?

Not the one in the picture, that's one of the many other rabbits that live around here. Bella and Dot will have lots of company in their new home in the woods.

The good news is we found Bella hopping through the woods.

The bad news is she is hopping through the woods.

She's a rabbit.

I'm a human. A slow human at that.

That means I have spent the past 14 hours (that's what it felt like, anyway) sweating and climbing through the woods trying to catch Bella to no avail.

Here is a picture of the woods I've been crawling through:

Yes, Bella is in there. She hasn't been staying on that nice, open, path part either. Apparently, rabbits feel more secure in between all the brush. She's right in the part of the woods that is solid thorns and branches.

Coincidentally, rabbits like the same part of the woods that the copperheads and coral snakes like. How funny is that? I'm cracking up right now!

Long story short – Bella is a stinker. I know what she is thinking - she thinks she's Bugs Bunny and I'm Elmer Fudd. She may be right – I have called her a wascally wabbit multiple times now. And, I have turned to the kids with my fingers to my lips telling them, "Shhhhh". I'm certainly acting like Elmer Fudd. As long as I don't start looking like him, it's all good.

My kids got their hopes up, but Bella got away.

I have my limits, so I have to stop now.

We will set a trap for her later.

A humane trap. We want her in one piece if we can catch her.

I’m going to do a tick check now and take a shower.

I wonder where Dot is?

Lost - Pet Rabbit

Make that TWO pet rabbits.

Apparently, taking care of animals is not our family's forte. Neither is growing gardens.


We haven't found our forte (I hope I'm using that word correctly), yet. But, we will keep looking.

This morning we had two, beautiful pet rabbits. They were living happily in their cage in the backyard and were quite spoiled when they were brought in to get out of the heat.

We came home from running errands later this morning and found the bottom of the cage had been knocked out. If it was our dog, I know it was an accident because she just wants to lick them. And, she's kind of oafey like that, so I could totally see her messing it up. I'm not sure what knocked it out, but the bunnies were gone.

Yes, this is when I was trying to get a late start on our school day.

There was no starting school right then.

That's the benefit of sending kids to school. If this happened when they were in school, I could have had some time to either replace them with their bunny doubles, or at least make up a really good story about where they were.

That's not how it happens for homeschoolers. The kids are the ones that always find the dead pets. It just comes with the territory.

On top of all of this, Bear and I are both feeling sick.

God has given us 24 hours each day. Some days I feel like I need a little more time, but on days like this it's comforting there will be an end and I can just go to bed.

Where are those bunnies???

Friday, August 22, 2008

A is for Apple

Apple Pie, that is.

I thought it would be fun to do an alphabet book for Bear as she started Kindergarten this week. She knows her alphabet already, but I have not really spent the time with her doing the fun activities the other kids did. The fourth child can really get ripped off if we're not careful. I am going to try to be purposeful in not skipping activities with her just because I have already done it with three other kids, or I am just plain tired.

The other kids are excited about these fun activities, too. This week, we have written our letters in shaving cream, learned about Adam and Eve and Abraham in our Pray and Play Bible, read stories about ants (Magic School Bus ROCKS!), and today we made an apple pie from scratch. Fun times!!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Hard at Work

It's been a great first day of school. The kids all had positive attitudes and we finished everything on our list.

What more could I ask?

I'll share a few pictures of the kids working diligently. We did not have any experiments or exciting assignments today. It takes a while for all of us to get back on a schedule. It's been pretty free around here for a while now, but we are all welcoming the routine. I think it's just natural to like boundaries and knowing what is coming next. I can definitely see that in my kids.

Tate and Ellie do really well with seatwork -

Car tends to do better in any position that is not at his desk. I'm not sure why I even put a desk in here for him. How would he do in a traditional school setting? I'm sure it would depend on how understanding his teacher would be.

And - a girl can only handle so much excitement in one day.

(Notice she was studying her Presidents - kidding!)

Overall, I give this day two thumbs up!

I am looking forward to sharing some of the fun stuff we will be doing this year. I love homeschooling my kids - even though it is a lot of work - pfew!

First Day of School 2008-2009

We are ready to tackle another school year at home. The kids have been begging me to get started. I love the enthusiasm that comes at the beginning of the year.

Can we bottle some of it up and save for April?

Tate's starting his 5th grade year. I guess it's always hardest watching your first born get bigger. But, it's also exciting watching him grow and do new things. I am very proud of the young man he is becoming. No more elementary school for him!

Ellie is growing up fast, too. She's ready for 3rd grade. She is a huge help around the house and with the others. I am very impressed with how responsible she is and how well organized she likes to be.

Car is heading into 2nd grade. One of the benefits of homeschooling for Car is that he can wear his favorite jersey on the first day of school, even when it has a mark from a sticker that got washed on it. (Free tip of the day: remove all stickers from clothing before washing.)

Judging from this picture of Bear - I think she is excited about the idea of starting her first day of Kindergarten. She did calm down and worked very hard today. One thing we have to work on is her telling me what she already knows how to do and why she doesn't want to do what I give her.

Where did she get that?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Just Makes Me Smile

This just makes me smile everytime I walk through my kitchen.

My dream would be to have a garden where I could go through and put this together from my yard. That will be a while, considering my brown thumb.

I tried to grow sunflowers along our shed wall this year, but the rabbits enjoyed them when they sprouted. (As our dog slept soundly on our back porch, I'm sure!) Again, I thought sunflowers were something kids could grow.

But - I will persevere!

Until then, I will enjoy these beauties.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Homeschool Room - Again

It's coming along. We have furniture in the room, and I don't feel like passing out from the fumes everytime I go in here.

What do you think?

I think I need a new rug. And, curtains. Oh, and a white board.

But, like I said - it's coming along.

I have stopped decorating so I can plan the actual schoolwork for this year.

That might be important. :)

So far, Bear is quite content playing with the pencils on her desk.

That's fine with me. We'll work on Trigonometry later.

The kids all picked out their reading pillows (on the floor, there behind my desk). They have good taste - soft, feather pillows. Ahh... hopefully, they won't fall asleep during our reading time.

I'll post the Grand Finale when I get something on the walls.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Homeschool Room Update #2

To be more accurate - it's not the homeschool room.

Just the closet.

It's amazing to see all of our stuff all lined up.

And, I know where everything is!

Take a look around the corner -

I know.

I will have to take another picture after school starts to see how long this lasts.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Homeschool Room Update

The homeschool room is coming along nicely. I finished painting it and I luuuuuvv the color!

As much as I try to avoid all things Martha, I have to admit ...

the woman knows her colors!

I was looking for something both cheerful, yet peaceful. Nothing too bright, but I couldn't have the kids falling asleep in school.

I think it is beautiful. This room just makes me happy - and that's a good thing (pun intended :)) when I am schooling 4 precious little ones.

We are still working on the layout of the room, so I am only posting the color of the wall. I included a few cute kids because I didn't want to just post a picture of my wall.

I will post again soon with more updates!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Finally - Proof I've Gone Insane

The start of school is nearing. Time to plan a year's worth of studies for 4 children. What does that mean?

Paint the school room and completely re-arrange everything!

Yes, we had all summer to tackle projects like this, but - that's just how I work.

Fortunately, I was smart and hired some helpers.


I think the paint fumes are affecting my brain.

Those aren't hired help.

They're my kids!!!

By the way - that's not the paint color. It's the super-primer I needed to try and cover the Aggie maroon.

Friday, July 25, 2008

I Can't Go Back

I was just sharing with a friend recently that I have realized that my focus has been very narrow as I have been working on growing as a Christian. I have spent my energy on trusting God and giving Him control of my life. I thought a strong Christian was someone who could rest in God's peace through hard times, even when they could see they were not going to get their way. I thought if I can have that kind of faith, then I'll be a strong Christian. That kind of faith is important. It's hard to give up my own will. To die to self. I will never stop growing in this area, because I will never have it down perfectly.

Trusting God with my life is vital. But, if that is all I work on as a Christian then I am only working on me.

God talks a whole lot about others.

I can't see others when I am only concerned about me.

God has shown me the world with new eyes. A part of me wants to go back. I think of the expression - Ignorance is Bliss. But, that's not where God wants me. He doesn't want me living in my bubble, pretending I can write a check here and there and play like there is not suffering in the world.

There's no going back, now.

I have been a fan of Sara Groves' music for a long time. I always thought she could express through music exactly how I felt in many of her songs. Well, now she's taken it a step further.

Sara Groves expresses her need to learn more about those suffering in our world beautifully here. An excerpt from

“I believe God invites us to add to the beauty of his plan, letting us participate in his redemptive work. But I found myself asking, ‘How have I applied this idea?' I had groomed and groomed and groomed my personal faith, but to what end?”

I think she took the words right out of my mouth.

I love that I can't go back. I love that my heart is broken. I love that God wants to include me in His plan.

And, I love this song:


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Where is My Treasure?

I've always heard, "One man's trash is another man's treasure". I would usually think of it in reference to garage sales. I've never really thought of it when thinking about the poor. Those who don't have anything.

That thought came today.

We have a room devoted to our school and we have an important rule - No Playing in the Schoolroom!

For some reason - like me letting it happen - that rule goes out the window on Christmas and Summer break. The room becomes the kids' craft haven. Paint and little scraps of paper cover the floor and since I'm on break too, I just let it go.

Then, I have a big clean out day when it's time to get back on track.

That was today.

So, back to the trash.

Like - several bags of trash.

I had visions of orderly bookshelves and school supplies all in their labeled containers in my head. I didn't notice that Moses had come up with everyone to see what was going on. As I put something in the trash, he would inspect it, sometimes removing it and taking it to his desk. He finally mentioned that I was throwing good stuff away.

I was throwing good stuff away.

Little notebooks with a few pages marked, crayons, little toys, stickers.

Some of it was trash, like dried out markers, but a lot of it was perfectly usable. My problem was that we had tons of it and I was tired of finding places for it all. The stuff was still good, but used just enough that I wouldn't want to give it away. In America, nobody would want it.

Moses took several things and said he wanted it, or he would take it for the small children. I wanted to send everything in the room with him.

Through Moses, God is teaching me to open my eyes. He is gently showing me the areas that I am taking for granted. I think one reason I don't think too much about this stuff, is that the stuff is not my treasure. But, I think I would miss it if all of it were gone. Maybe just the excess stuff is not my treasure. hmmm...

I remember to thank God for my family and our good health. But, I probably take most of my life for granted. I assume it's all going to be here tomorrow and I even complain that it's too much to keep track of.

I am thankful for this new perspective. We don't need to bring so much stuff into our house. We need to turn our focus outward to others' needs. Others that have true needs - like food and clean water needs.

God has really laid it on our family's hearts to look after the orphans and the widows. It's pretty plain and clear right there in His Word. These people are so important to Him; and if they are important to Him, I want to make them important to me. I can't believe it took me so long to see this.

James 1:27 - "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Something's Not Quite Right

When I opened this page up, I found the colors are in the wrong places and it's missing some of it's pieces. It may be fixed by the time you see it.

When I noticed it, I thought to myself, "hmmm, sometimes that's how I feel, too."

It's true.

Sometimes, I feel like my color is a little off, something is just not right, or I'm missing some pieces.

I am kind of in that mode right now. My schedule is off. Each day, it seems like I wake up and try to think of what I need to get done. There is no plan, so there is no rhyme or reason to what I decide is getting done. Then, I feel behind when I realize there were some other things I probably should have prioritized above what I did. Does that make sense???

I do really well when I have our schedules planned and I'm working on a well thought out to-do list. Our days run little more smoothly when I'm in that mode. Notice I did not say everything runs smoothly. That would be impossible. But, that's where I really like to be.

Now, I just need to get myself there. It takes a plan. And, it takes time.

Since it's summer, our schedule is pretty loose, so I have the time. Somehow, I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around getting it all sorted out, so the plan is where I am getting caught up.

It seems like it should be so easy. I have folders full of cleaning schedules and meal plans that I know have worked for our family in the past. We have used them successfully. Why can't I just start using them again and move on?

I have known I have to get back on track for a while now.

I'll start today.

And, to think it all started with some messed up blog colors. Who said blogging is a waste of time? It looks like blogging is getting my rear in gear!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I'm Jealous.

Tony announced yesterday that he talked to our pastor and is planning on going to Africa when they take Moses home.

I want to go.

But - I don't want to leave our kids here while both of their parents take off to Africa. Remember the Mad About You episode where Paul and Jaime were trying to fly to a wedding, but they had to take separate planes? That way, one of them would still be there for their daughter if one of the planes crashed.

Yes - I think like that, too.

I know it's silly.

But, that's not why I am not going. They have a great group of guys all going over there to see the orphanage and school. Moses is sooooo excited that Tony is going to go with him. He was giddy at dinner last night and told Tony all the kids were going to jump on him when he got there. It was really great to see Moses that happy.

Moses has started telling us that he does not want to go back to Africa. It breaks my heart. I am praying that if God wants a family to adopt him, they will be obedient to that call. Tony and I have been praying, and God has really been showing us it is not our family.

I keep reading about how it can be really hard for the first-born (Tate) when a family adopts an older child. I can see that. It would be hard getting demoted as the oldest.

Also, Bear is doing much better and has started talking to him and playing with him, but she's really having to work at it. If she feels uncomfortable with him, how can we bring him in permanently? She would probably get used to it over time, but that is a lot to ask of a little girl.

All of the kids have started asking Tony and me to have another baby, though. Tony asked them if they would like us to adopt, and they were just as thrilled with that possibility. I think the key is that the new sibling would be younger than Bear.

So, we are doing our research. And, saving our pennies. (There's a big reason I am not going to Africa). It looks like Liberia's government has shut down their adoptions for now as they make some changes to the laws. They say it should open up soon, but we'll see.

We have to do something.

I always knew something about Africa having starving children, but for some reason I did not realize I could help. These kids are desperate for help. These parents are desperate for help. When I used to think of Africa, I thought of people living lives just like us, only with less stuff. And, sometimes needing to go to a food center to get help with food.

Now that I have started paying attention, I see that there is horrific stuff going on over there. Things we don't even worry about. That makes sense. Crime and poverty seem to go hand in hand. These people have to worry that someone will break into their homes and kill them at any time. Not to mention lack of medical care, an 80% unemployment rate, and many other things we take for granted. What a horrible way to have to live!

I read the
Story of the Starfish in Tom Davis' book, Fields of the Fatherless, and it gave me a new perspective about what I can do to help. I can't do everything, but I can do something.

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”~ Helen Keller

Tony gave a review of the Fields of the Fatherless book on
his site, if you want to check it out. It really is a good reminder of our need to be compassionate.

We'll see where this adoption process is going. I am amazed at how God works, and He is always full of surprises!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

I'm Ready!

Bear has the uncanny ability to put everything on backwards. Her shoes are definitely always on the wrong feet. She will even put a skort on with the skirt side at the back.

Does she really think the skirt looks better from behind???

You would think she would get it right maybe fifty percent of the time.

No, it's wrong every time.

Now this was the final straw.

I think she does it just to tease me.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Fruit Man

I think it's great when the kids all start working together on something (usually something silly). I totally encourage it, even if it means my fruit will be drawn on and glued together. We're going to peel these fruits anyway.

What makes them think to start putting this stuff together?

How do you like the close up? I, for one, was a little concerned about it at first. Then, I realized they were calling it Fruit Man - and it was wearing a bow tie! Whew!

I never know what I am going to find on my counter when I walk in the room.

Happy Fourth of July!

We hope you all have a safe and fun 4th of July! We'll be having lots of fun swimming and going to see fireworks, but I will also be making sure the kids remember why we are celebrating our independence. This is a fun site to go to for some Independence Day games and information.