As for me, I know of nothing else but miracles. - Walt Whitman

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Attitude Adjustment

Yesterday was just one of those days. Nothing was going right and everything just seemed to be falling apart. I was grumpy and grouchy, and rather liked being that way. Didn't really feel good, decided I was tired of waiting for news on our adoption, tired of nobody really understanding what we're going through (with the exception of those who have adopted before), was worried about finances, had cranky, uncooperative kids, felt stressed about projects I'm working on and decisions that need to be made that will affect our future, decided that my wonderful husband has been working way too many hours lately, etc, etc, etc. Basically I acted like a martyr all.day.long. And was a terrible mother. And a horrible example. And a despicable servant of God. Sad to say, but I had a big, long pity party for myself. AND ENJOYED IT. (Yeah, basically I needed a good, sound spanking.)

Then, last night in church, we heard about sacrificial suffering. And I was soon put back in my place. Look at what Jesus endured. FOR ME. Look at the millions of people across the face of the earth today that suffer. ALL DAY. EVERY DAY. I am so completely spoiled, and have absolutely NOTHING to complain about. And when I do have a bad day, I need to remember that God's strength is made perfect in my weakness. It brings about humility. And I need to count it all joy. After all, God has promised, "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." And my favorite part, "I gave...Ethiopia...for thee...Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth. (Isaiah 43:2-6). So, even though I stress out about the whole adoption process, God has already promised me that he has a child for me. Obviously, the timing is not right yet. I need to be patient and wait on God; He knows best. He was there when our child was conceived, and He has known from the beginning that the child would be for us. He created the child with us in mind. And He can see all things, while we can only see what is directly in front of our faces. So I just need to learn to trust Him more. Not just for our adoption, but for everything else I worried about yesterday, too. He is in control, and I'm so glad. If it were left up to me, I'm sure I'd have many more days just like yesterday. I would be worrying instead of trusting. Grouching when I should be praising. Yelling when I should be helping. Complaining when I should be thanking.

So, now that my attitude has been adjusted (at least a little bit anyway), I'm ready for a new day. Anxious to see what God has in store for me. And willing to try a little harder to be the mother, wife and servant that I should be. By God's grace.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Loving Shepherd Ministries


Loving Shepherd Ministries is a non-profit organization that specializes in orphan care. Late last year, Chris and I knew that God was calling us to adopt, but we had no idea of how or where to begin. We contacted Loving Shepherd, who did all of our background research for us. We told them that we were interested in adopting internationally, and they told us which countries would accept us, what each country's restrictions were, which reputable agencies worked in those countries, and information about each agency. And they did all of this for no charge! If you or anyone you know is interested in adoption, please contact Loving-Shepherd Ministries. They are truly an invaluable resource. You can find their website here. Below is another of their videos (I've posted this before, and it is in my sidebar over there, but it's always a good reminder for me to watch it again. It really puts 143,000,000 in perspective.)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cute Candy Corn Cookies

Here is a great, fun Fall recipe for those of you in the crisp-and-cooler-weather baking mode. You can stir up a batch to eat now, or throw some in the freezer to serve at parties later on in the season. My family all loves the buttery taste of them, and they have quickly become a Fall favorite at our house. Get a head start by shaping and chilling the homemade dough ahead of time. When you're ready, just slice and bake!

Candy Corn Cookies
 1-1/2 cups butter (no substitutes), softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
yellow and orange food coloring

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Divide dough in half. Tint one portion yellow. Divide remaining dough into two-third and one-third portions. Color the larger portion orange; leave smaller portion white.
Shape each portion of dough into two 8-inch logs. Flatten top and push sides in at a slight angle. Place orange logs on yellow logs; push the sides in at a slight angle. Top with white logs; form a rounded top. Wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 4 hours or until firm.
Unwrap and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until set. Cool. Yield: about 4 dozen.


Enjoy!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Fall! (And Other Random Ramblings)

The first day of Fall is here! I told Malia this when she woke up this morning, and she excitedly said, "I'm going to go out and play in the leaves today!" We built our home less than ten years ago on bare ground. Needless to say, the trees that we have planted in the past few years do not yet produce an abundant supply of leaves. I asked her where she was going to find leaves to play in, and she looked at me with a 'Duh, Mom' expression and replied, "Well, I'll play in the leaves that fall off the trees today!" I guess the beginning of Fall means that there will automatically be an abundant smattering of leaves on the ground, at least in her mind. Some of the signs of Fall around our house include:
harvest

brilliant blue skies and puffy white clouds

lots of colorful mums

And of course, various and sundry decorations:




I love the colors of Fall, and also all of the foods that I associate with the season: pumpkin bars and pies, apples with caramel, hot spiced apple cider, apple dumplings, candy corn, comforting homemade soups... (Ok, I'd better stop there because I'm getting hungry!) I enjoy wearing cozy sweatshirts and sitting by the fire, too. (Although I don't think I'll need a sweatshirt today, as the temperature is supposed to reach 92 degrees!) 

On the adoption front, Fall is an exciting time as well. Fall means that the rainy season will be nearing an end over in Ethiopia, so the court system will open back up again soon. This means more families traveling to meet their children, and hopefully means an increase in the number of referrals, too. There have been several referrals given out in the past week or so, which was extremely encouraging. Things have been too quiet for too long, and sometimes the waiting gets pretty intense. So congratulations to all of the families and children that God has recently brought together, and blessings to the families still waiting to hear news.

So.......happy Fall to y'all!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cuteness and Coffee......

Who says that kids are too little to drink coffee? Malia can drink it with the best of 'em, as long as she can add a little cream to it. She stole what was left of mine this morning, and is forever asking us if she can have some buna (which is Amharic for coffee). Here she is, in all of her messy sleep-haired and pajamaed glory: (not sure that haired and pajamaed are actually words, but oh well! Maybe I didn't get enough of my coffee this morning and am not fully awake yet.)

And speaking of coffee, Gobena Coffee (gobena.org) offers awesome fresh-roasted gourmet fair-trade Ethiopian coffee, (buna!) and 100% of the profits are reinvested in the lives of orphans. Check them out - you won't be disappointed.

Have a great Monday, everyone!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Fun Little Trip, New Numbers, and Some Interesting Statistics

Malia and I spent the last couple of days with my sister, Larisa, and her little Ethiopian prince, Yikealo. He is such an adorable child!
Yikealo at the furniture store where Larisa works as an interior designer

Showing off his new bike-riding skills



Slip-n-slide fun 

We also visited the fair while we were there:

view from the top of the ferris wheel


We had a great visit with my big sis and sweet little nephew! And being around him definitely makes me a little more anxious for our Ethiopian cutie!

And now for our new September waitlist numbers. If you take my age plus Chris's age minus Shana's age, you'll get our number for girls. And if you take Shana's age plus Adrian's age plus Ashton's age plus Malia's age plus the number of years that Chris and I have been married, you'll get our number for boys. And if you take my age plus Adrian's age minus Ashton's age, you'll get our number for siblings. Now you know! Ok, moving on to other business......

What? You don't want to try to figure all of that out? Ok, ok, I guess I'll help you out a little. I am 33, Chris is 33, Shana is 9, Adrian is 8, Ashton is 6, Malia is 4, and Chris and I have been married for 10 years.

 Does that help? Ok, I guess I'll just go ahead and tell you. We are:

# 57 for girls

#37 for boys

#35 for siblings

And here are some interesting statistics, brought to you by Friends of the Third World. Did you know that the average American eats 5 pounds of food per day? And that each day the average person throws away enough leftovers to feed a family of 6 in India? 1 and 1/2 billion people in the world today (and 1/2 of those are children) have a daily diet that consists of 2-3 oz. of beans per day. And some people don't have access to beans, or any type of food, and so they eat nothing but sun-baked mud pies. Day after day after day. 2 oz. versus 5 lbs. Hmmmm. How many times do we say, "I'm starving!" when our tummies growl a little? 2 oz. versus 5 lbs. How many times do we waste food or throw it away because we have too much? 2 oz. versus 5 lbs. Just a little something to think about.

Have a great Wednesday, everyone!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Simple Things......

The other day, Malia came running excitedly to me, her sparkling eyes desperately pleading, and asked, "Mommy, can I please go out and play in the rain?" Now, mind you, this happened in the middle of a torrential downpour. And I do mean TORRENTIAL. But, you see, she had just received a brand new umbrella. A princess umbrella, nonetheless. And it was very important for her to try it out and make sure that it worked properly. What can one little storm do if one is equipped with a pink, frilly umbrella, after all? But I informed her that she would get absolutely soaked if she went out just then. So a little while later, when it was lightly sprinkling, she went outside and tried it out. And it worked great! She was in the height of her glory.

The next morning, it was raining lightly when the other kids left for school. Malia sweetly told Shana, "Hey, Shanie. Since it's raining, you can take my new umbrella to school today so you don't get all wet." Shana, however, politely refused. A nine-year-old can't be seen with a princess umbrella, after all!

Then, Malia insisted that we take our morning walk while it was sprinkling. By the time we went outside, however, the sun was shining. She insisted on carrying her umbrella, though, JUST IN CASE it started raining again.

She certainly is excited about her new umbrella! Sometimes I need that little reminder. I need to remember to take time to enjoy and get excited about the simple things in life. Even something as simple as a new umbrella ;-) And even if it's raining, I need to go out there and play in the rain. When the day seems stormy, to face it with a smile anyway and be thankful for what I have. The sun will shine again. And what can one little storm do when we have the right equipment, after all? A good attitude and a firm belief in Jesus Christ can help us weather any old storm that life throws our way. It's that simple.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

We Went To Africa This Past Weekend!


But alas! It was only at the zoo. (And don't worry - I don't typically use words like 'alas'.) But I did learn a few interesting facts about Africa. Did you know that Argentina, the United States, China and all of Europe could fit within the borders of Africa?



We also saw some other interesting things, like:

a really scary-looking cheetah (or is that a leopard? hmm......)

an Ashton-eating fish

a cute little puppy dog

a silverback contemplating life

a stodgy old rhino

a great photo spot for Adrian (Bump was one of his nicknames when he was little - it's a long story)

two sweet little leopard girls

a curious meerkat

a Pepsi bug

a great little brook to play in

and a new friend!

Have a happy Tuesday, everyone!

Friday, September 3, 2010

An Opportunity.......

Wiphan Care Ministries is an organization that helps widows and orphans in Zambia, Africa. They have started a project called Operation Silent Night to raise funds in order to provide their students with a safe and peaceful night's sleep. For only $45.00, you can provide a family with a lock and chain for their door, a mosquito net (malaria mosquitos bite at night), a foam mattress pad with sheeting, and a reed mat that will help to keep the mattress clean from the dirt floor underneath. You can join the operation here-and then click on shop Wiphan - Operation Silent Night. Please watch this video for more information:

Operation Silent Night - Wiphan Care Ministries from Wiphan Care Ministries on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Yum!!!!!

Today I was over at my mom's, and she gave me this awesome recipe for fresh salsa. It was so good, I ran right out to buy the ingredients I needed, and I just finished throwing together a double batch of the stuff. It is a great end-of-summer recipe, especially for those of you who have an abundance of tomatoes in your garden.


Fresh Tomato Salsa
4 medium-sized fresh tomatoes, diced
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeƱo pepper (stems and seeds removed), finely diced
1 Serrano chili pepper (stems and seeds removed), finely diced
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 cloves garlic, pressed
salt and pepper to taste

1. Prepare the chilies. Avoid touching them if possible (I wore gloves). Wash hands thoroughly after handling the peppers, and avoid touching your eyes for at least an hour afterward. Set aside some of the seeds from the peppers. If the salsa isn't spicy enough, you can add a few back in for heat.

2.Combine all of the above ingredients in a bowl. Taste. If the chilies make the salsa too hot, add some more chopped tomatoes. If not hot enough, add a few more chili seeds.

Let sit for an hour to let the flavors combine.

Makes about 3-4 cups.

Serve with chips, tortillas, quesadillas, burritos, or over grilled chicken breasts.

Enjoy!