Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Traditions, Part 7 & 8

This year we started a new tradition in our family. We always attend the Christmas Eve service at FBC, and usually we drive to Louisville right afterwards. This year, however, we decided to do things a little differently. We went to Waffle House to eat dinner and spread some Christmas cheer. We were blessed to be able to take a gift to our server that night, and we sincerely hope that she felt the love of God in our small gesture. Barbara, we pray your Christmas was full on the love and peace of Jesus.

Christmas morning we got up and drove to mom and dad's. This is a long tradition. Chris, Shelly and Kristin beat us there, and when we arrived we got right to the gift opening! I love to watch Bryan and Kristin opening their gifts. They love it and are always excited. I love that they still have that much fun with it!
I have to say that the most special time for me was opening the gifts that they gave to Ellie. Chris, Shelly and Kristin got a CD with songs full of her name.. such a thoughtful gift! And Mom and Dad gave her a stuffed animal (Horton!) and lots of books. It was so exciting to me to imagine what it will be like when she is finally here with us! I was almost crying just thinking about that!

One of our other traditions of Christmas Day, after laughing through the prayer and having dinner, is the annual Poker tournament. Congrats to the winners...which was certainly not ME! Here is Dad getting his chips ready...
We had a wonderful time together, just laughing, playing, and hanging out. I love you all so much! Thanks for the great Christmas.

I leave you with just one more picture especially for my Dad and Chris. You know I love you both....

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Traditions, Part 6

The Presents...

I love to give gifts. In fact, it is one of my favorite parts of Christmas. I know that Christmas isn't all about the presents, and Jeff & I don't even exchange them at all. But still, as a mom, I love to see the look on Bryan's face when he opens a present. In fact, one of the things I love most about Bryan is his excitement about getting a gift. We don't go overboard on the presents here, but we do usually give one gift that is the "big" thing. This year was extra special.

Bryan has been saving his money for several months for a new drum set. In November, he had saved enough to put one on lay-away at our local music store, Curriers. He was so excited, knowing that in all likelihood, he would get enough money from grandparents to pay it off completely. Little did he know that we were planning to do that for him. We had it all worked out to surprise him on Christmas Eve, but when Jeff's family was here last weekend, he got enough money from Grammy to pay it off. We ran out of excuses not to go, so we went ahead and let him have them early, letting the surprise be that the drums were already paid for.

I can't tell you how much fun it was to watch him in that music store as he handed over his money to the owner, only to hear her say that it was "paid in full". He was literally shaking! We simply looked at him and said "Merry Christmas", and it still took a few minutes to register. (He did spend that money though, since they gave him a sweet deal on a cymbal package! )

Tonight, we let him go ahead and open the rest of his gifts.. mostly some clothes that he needed anyway, and a really cool IPod dock. The best part of the night was truly just watching him smile and be a kid. I love watching him be a kid. I don't ever want him to lose that excitement and innocence. It melts my heart to see it!

Here are some pics of Bryan enjoying his gifts. Enjoy!

According to Bryan, this is a "Beast" of a set!

The Africa Shirt.. in honor of Ellie

Is it jeans??

You know, something struck me as Bryan was getting his drumset yesterday. When the store owner said that his debt was "paid in full", he realized that he had received a great gift. God gave us a gift, wrapped in swaddling clothes instead of ribbons and bows. His name is Jesus, Immanuel, God with us. Our debt (from sin) is "paid in full" by the sacrifice of Jesus, God's only son, freeing us from fear, worry, envy, hatred, and breaking the bonds of sin forever. His gift of Jesus is the ultimate gift.. the only one we ever really need at all. I am so thankful for that reminder in that music store yesterday.

I pray that you know your debt is "paid in full" too. Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Prosser Christmas Dance

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Christmas Traditions, Part 5

A few years ago, we started a new tradition of having Jeff's family at our house the weekend before Christmas. This was really two-fold. First, we loving having family at our house. Secondly, this would allow us to stay in one place on Christmas Day, something we weren't getting the chance to do since we were traveling in between families. So, we asked if they would be willing to come to us the weekend before, share a meal, open gifts, and just enjoy being a family. It's turned out to be one of my most favorite parts of the Christmas season.

Last night, everyone arrived and we had a dinner together. Next came presents (the kids couldn't wait much longer!) and then the traditional "Sanctioned Rummy Game". The Rummy Game has been going on for YEARS in this family. We play at every get-together, and we compete for the trophy- the coveted MOUSE! This year got a little crazy, to say the least. See for yourself.

Here are a few pics of our time together last night....

Cupcakes made especially for Breanna... NO NUTS OR PEANUT BUTTER!

The "fellas"...showing off their gifts

Jeff showing off his princess dress (oops... I mean Breanna's dress!)

Love this girl...

Did I mention we get a little goofy with the Rummy game?

Grammy and her crew getting in on the fun!

Scary Mary...

Grammy wins the mouse! Grammy wins the mouse!

I feel so blessed to be a part of this family. They are a gift from God to me, and I love being with them. Merry Christmas ya'll. I can't wait until Ellie gets to meet you too!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Traditions, Part 4, and a birthday blast

Today, I celebrated my 36th birthday. Geez, can I really be this old already? I don't feel 36...
Anyway, I had a great day. Here's the recap...

It snowed! Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE snow, so that was a fantastic way to start my day. I loved driving to work in it... seriously! I love the fresh snow first thing in the mornings when the traffic hasn't messed it all up yet. beautiful...

Jeff, Bryan and I have a birthday tradition of going to dinner at the restaurant of your choice. I chose well. We ate WAY TOO MUCH at PF Changs tonight... yum. Holy cow.

Afterwards, we went to the KY Horse Park to the Southern Lights. It's actually a yearly Christmas Tradition for us, and one that I always look forward to. We had a blast! The lights were great, but I have to admit that they are not my favorite part of the night. I LOVE the petting zoo and the indoor exhibits. Here are some pics for you to enjoy.

Jeff and Bryan at PF Chang's

Six Geese a Laying...

Jeff choking a llama

I think the llama was kissing Bryan. He looks embarrassed, doesn't he?

If you enlarge this and look closely, you can find the spotted elephant from Rudolph, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and the Abominable Snowman too... along with tons of other Christmas characters. This is my absolute favorite exhibit. We played "I Spy" with this for a long time!

How was I to resist a "man" in uniform?

Oh no you didn't look up Mrs. Claus's dress!

Thanks Jeff and Bryan for the wonderful night out! I had a blast. You guys make every day special, and I love ya'll. And thanks to Mom, Dad and Joann for going in with Jeff to get me tickets to see Wicked!! I am psyched about that! You can be sure I will have plenty to post about when that comes around in January. I have wanted to go for so long now. You couldn't have gotten me anything better! thanks, and I love you all.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Traditions, Part 3

The Christmas Prayer

When I was a kid, we had a tradition for several years of going to see a movie on Christmas Eve. Afterward, we would come home and gather around the Christmas tree to open gifts. However, before we opened them, Dad would read the story of Jesus' birth from the Bible and we would pray together as a family.

I really don't know exactly when it started to go wrong. I suppose it was because of the excitement of finally getting to open those presents we'd been shaking and staring at for so long. We were kids, after all! Whatever it was, though, it went like this. The Christmas story was read, Dad began to pray, and Chris & I busted out laughing. I mean the kind of laughing that has tears rolling down your face! We couldn't stop. The first year it happened, I do remember Dad stopping mid-prayer, looking at us, and asking what in the world was going on. We quieted down, but as soon as he started again, so did the laughter. Every year, it was the same thing. Seriously.

Every year.

Fast forward to now... The same thing still happens. I remember in 1991, and Chris and Shelly were sharing their first Christmas as a married couple. Jeff and I were engaged, and I guess I thought that since we were "grown up" now, we would be able to make it through a prayer. But, no. We couldn't do it. Shelly and Jeff must have thought we were insane. I tried to explain it, but I was laughing too hard. Mom just smiled and rolled her eyes, no doubt thinking "What have I done wrong?"

These days the only thing that is different is that we don't get together on Christmas Eve. Instead we gather and Mom and Dad's on Christmas Day, and yes, we still laugh as soon as Dad starts to pray. Even Dad laughs now. Our kids, on the other hand... they think we are weird!

I love that I have a family I can laugh with. I love the joy of the Christmas season. What makes you smile at Christmas?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Traditions, Part 2

The Prosser/Osborne Cooking Baking Extravaganza

This is a favorite tradition that started in 1995, when I was still pregnant with Bryan. Jeff and I got together with our friends Doug and Michelle to bake some sugar cookies. It seemed so simple and fun. Now, 13 years later, it's a full day of baking, gifts, and lots of laughter!

We've gone from one batch of dough to a quadruple batch this year! We've added Bryan and Bella to the mix throughout the years. We've exchanged a lot of gifts. We've laughed til we cried, drank way too much Mt. Dew, ate a lot of Chinese takeout, and made memories to last a lifetime.

Here are some pics from this year's fun..

I am pretty sure Bryan's mouth is full of cookie dough in this picture!

Michelle and Bella sharing some dough....

Doug makes a masterpiece...

Bryan and Bella ready for presents. Bryan got a little taste of what it might be like to have a little girl in the house!! He's gonna be an AWESOME big brother!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Traditions

We have a lot of Christmas traditions around here. The one that kicks off everything, though, is the decorating of the tree and home. Now, let me tell you... I LOVE to decorate the tree and the house. We have Christmas stuff everywhere. I love the snowmen, santas, nativity, bells, wreaths. You name it, it's in this house. I wouldn't have it any other way. Just walking through the house makes me smile.

Since the basement is complete, and we spend a great deal of time down here, we decided that the tree should go down here too. That way, we can enjoy it more. I have to admit that I was leery of not having the tree in front of the big window in the great room upstairs. That's where it always sits! But, it's perfect down here. I love coming down the steps and seeing it all lit up. But my favorite part of the tree has to be the ornaments.

We have all kinds of ornaments (see Jeff's blog about another special ornament here), but I want to show you just two of them here.
The first is my all time favorite. Bryan made this when he was in the first grade I think. All of the kids were making smiley faces out of their thumbprints, but not Bryan. A smiley face was not good enough. He made his a viking, complete with sword, shield and hat! How cute is that?? This is mine and Jeff's favorite, for obvious reasons.

The second is an ornament that was made for me by my Granny England.
She was not my "real" Granny, but in my heart, I will always consider her that! I miss her so much, and having this ornament that she made with her own hands is so special to me.

And finally, I will share with you a favorite decoration of mine. This is a Santa that I made when I was a little girl. I actually have two, one of which my brother made. I thought about giving his to him, but they have always sat together at Christmas (they always sat on the piano when we were growing up), so I couldn't separate them now! Sorry Chris. It's made of a toilet paper roll and felt! How cute is that?? Here is mine...

I pray that you are enjoying the sights of Christmas too! Stay tuned here as I share more of our Christmas traditions throughout the week and month!

Blessings on you all.....

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I find myself feeling a bit out of sorts lately. I am getting antsy for Ellie to be home. We've waited a long time. I am tired of waiting. I trust God's timing, don't get me wrong. I just want her here with us.

Thanksgiving Day was hard for me. I filled my plate and sat down, only to find that my appetite was not there anymore. All I could think of was "Does Ellie have enough to eat today?" I couldn't get that thought out of my mind, and I found that my thoughts of Ellie being so far away really took hold of me. I enjoyed time with our family, no doubt, but it felt awkward.

It felt incomplete.

It was incomplete.

I know that God is taking care of her, but I want that privilege for myself. No, it's not that I think I can do a better job. And I don't want to cheat Ellie's birth mother out of any time with her little girl. But my heart longs for her to be with me at the same time.

I have prayed all year that we would know who Ellie is by Christmas. Maybe that will still happen, but I find myself more and more telling myself to not get my hopes up. I don't want to be disappointed. And I don't want these thoughts to keep me from enjoying every minute of this season with Jeff and Bryan.

Please keep us in your prayers as we wait. Waiting stinks.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Blessings and prayers

Our adoption process has been one of the greatest journeys of my life.

I can remember when I was pregnant with Bryan, how I literally spent hours praying for his life. When he moved inside of me, I prayed for his health, for his future, for his salvation. The first moment I saw his face, I remember feeling as if I were meeting an old friend. I already knew him; he had been with me for so long that it just felt right to hold him and care for him. He was mine.

Obviously, I don't have the opportunity to feel Ellie inside of me like I did with Bryan. Another woman had that privilege, and I would not take that from her for anything in the world. I am honored that she carried the child that I will call my own and even more honored that she is entrusting that precious girl to me. But, you know, even without a pregnancy, Ellie is growing within me. She is growing in my heart.

With every new step in the process, I feel her more and more. I believe that when we meet, it will be natural. I believe that God has intended for us to be together since she was being knit in her mother's womb. And I am humbled by that. Like I said, this has been an amazing journey. God has reminded me of His unfailing love for me, how he adopted me into His family too! Wow...

I have had a front row seat to watch God work throughout this past year, as He puts everything together to bring Ellie home to us. He has answered so many prayers. He healed our hearts when we lost everything with Vietnam. He gave us new hope in Ethiopia. He even answered the seemingly simple requests I have made (like the hair questions!). He has been faithful to let us know that He is in control of everything, including the timing of bringing our girl home (think t-shirt that I posted about not long ago). And He continues to blow our minds with how He is providing the finances for this process.

Make no mistake: Adoption is very expensive. We make a good living, but we don't have that kind of money laying around here, for sure. In the beginning, we vowed to God and to each other that we would do this adoption debt free. We have been blessed by parents who have been so gracious to help us financially (thanks mom, dad and Joann!). But I have to tell you about something that I consider extraordinary!

A few weeks ago, I mentioned (as I always do) our adoption as a prayer request in my Sunday school class. I mentioned specifically that we will be coming to some very expensive parts of this process soon (we hope!). After class, a lady that I have never met before came to me, introduced herself and said "My husband and I would like to give you some money". I won't go into all of the details (not sure if she would want me to), but suffice it to say that she blessed our socks off! I was literally blown away by the generosity of these two people who did not even know us! It was yet more proof that God's desire is to unite us with our Ellie.

To the couple who gave so lovingly, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. God has used you mightily, and our daughter will know that you loved her unconditionally before you even knew who she was. Thank you for being disciples of Christ that gave willingly and lovingly. We can't wait for you to meet our girl!

To our parents... what is there to say? I Know you have given because you want Ellie home about as much as we do. Yet, you didn't have to do that for us. Your love has been incredible and encouraging throughout this entire process. Thank you for being so excited about your granddaughter! Thank you for celebrating with us along the way. We can't wait for you to meet Ellie (soon, we hope!)

And most of all, thanks be to God, who has faithfully blessed us, answered us, directed us and loved us always. May we be true disciples of you always.

Please continue to pray as we continue to gather the finances we need to bring our Ellie home.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Special Delivery

This week has been hard for me. Maybe it's the holidays coming upon us so quickly. Maybe it's the cooler weather. Maybe it's just me. I don't know the "why" but I know that I have been missing Ellie this week. It's strange to miss someone you have never met. But, you see, I already love her. She is already a part of our family, in our hearts. We already refer to her as ours. We just need to know who she is and bring her home!

I had hoped and prayed that we would have her here with us by Christmas this year. Obviously, that is not going to happen. And that's okay. Our prayers have been for God to bring her to us in His timing, which we trust is perfect. But still... how I wish she were here.

I've done some Christmas shopping, wishing that she were here to see the lights and hear the music. I've wished that she were here to take to visit Santa. I've wished she were here to see all of the families at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I've wished she were here to tell the Christmas story to so that she will hear of the miracle of Christmas.

As I have had these wishes, I have prayed so much for her. I've prayed protection over her from illness, from poverty and not enough food to eat. I've prayed for her heart that may be breaking as her mother chooses an adoption plan in the ultimate sacrifice to save her precious girl's life. I've prayed for that mother, whose heart must be breaking to make such a decision. I pray that I am worthy of her trust.

I'll admit that I have questioned whether God has heard my prayers. There have been no new girls listed on our agency site, and that is disheartening. My humanness has led me to question at times "Will this fall apart again like Vietnam?". And once again, God has answered my prayers perfectly.

Yesterday, Jeff went out to get the mail. In the box, he found a small package that held a child's t-shirt. On that shirt were the words "Special Delivery from Ethiopia". It was as if God Himself were saying to us "She is on the way. I am bringing Ellie to you. Just be patient. Trust my plan".

I do trust His plan.

Ellie, we can't wait to meet you. We can't wait for that moment when we get to see your sweet face and know that you were chosen for us. We can't wait to hold you, kiss you, and bring you to your forever home. We're coming, baby girl. Just be patient, and trust His plan.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Make A Difference

Today in the mail, I received one of my favorite things. It wasn't a magazine or a sales add. It wasn't anything to do with our adoption (although I got our correct birth certificates today too!). Today, I received a letter. And not just any letter. This letter was from Susan, the child that we sponsor through Compassion International.

We began sponsoring Susan through the youth group at FBC when Jeff was Youth Minister. However, after his position changed, we decided to take on the sponsorship ourselves. You see, we are connected to Susan. In many ways, I feel like she is a part of our family. Heck, she is a part of our family!

A few years ago, we were blessed to travel to Uganda for a mission trip. While there, we were able to meet Susan. She traveled more than 10 hours from her village to meet us at the Entebbe airport. I will never forget her face as she held that little sign with her name on it, standing there on the sidewalk waiting for us. We spent an afternoon at the zoo, holding hands and looking at the animals and flowers. We couldn't speak the same language, but we connected. I left that zoo changed forever, all because of the smile of a little girl.

You see, Susan smiles despite the circumstances of her life. Susan smiles even though both of her parents have died from AIDS. Susan smiles despite poverty. Susan smiles because she knows a loving Father in Heaven who holds her. Because of Compassion, Susan gets to know of the love of Jesus. Because of Compassion, Susan gets to eat, to study, to thrive. She aspires to be a lawyer, and she would love to come to America one day to visit and "see the airports".

When we first started to support Susan, I thought that I was helping her. What I know now, is that she has helped me far more than I ever dreamed. She has helped me to see beyond my selfishness. She has helped me to aspire to be more than I am today. She has helped me to find joy in all circumstances. She helped to ignite a passion in me to adopt, and I believe it is no coincidence that we are adopting from Africa.

Would you commit to sponsor a child too? For $32 a month (Note: we pay $40 due to Susan being in a HIV zone), you can help save the life of a child. And you just might find that that child saves you too....

Thursday, October 30, 2008

ever feel like this?

We do.

Tonight, we completed all of the final paperwork for our dossier. Let me just say that Ethiopia requires MANY more documents than Vietnam did. We have typed, printed, retyped, reprinted, taken pictures, organized, etc etc all evening. Not that I'm complaining; it's all worth it!

Tomorrow, I will call my friend Sherri, who has been gracious to notarize everything for us throughout this entire adoption journey (thanks Sherri!). Once all of that is finished, we are ready to send it on. Well, once Frankfort sends me the correct birth certificates, we will be ready. But that's another story altogether!!

Please continue to pray for this adoption. I have felt such peace and affirmation from God these past several days. I can't wait to be able to share more about that, but I don't have all the details just yet. Just suffice it to say that God is working mightily to bring Ellie to us.

I am overwhelmingly humbled and in awe that I would be chosen for this journey. Oh, how I look forward to seeing my little girl's face for the first time. For now, we are one step closer....

Monday, October 13, 2008

Proof that God hears me...

Do you ever have those moments when you are praying and you just sort of freak out? Does anyone here know what I mean? This morning was one of those times. I was praying, as I always do, for my family. As I got to my prayers for Ellie, I really just freaked out. I was telling God that I was nervous. What do I know about raising a little girl? What do I know about playing dolls and barbies? What do I know about dresses and frills? I've only had a boy all these years? How will I ever fix her hair? Especially black hair? What do I know about black hair? Seriously, I was getting really scared, people! So, I stopped praying, and I just listened. And I really felt that God was saying to me "Holly, calm down. It's going to be okay. I will give Ellie to you, and I will equip you to take care of her".

Work was busy, so I honestly didn't spend much time thinking about any of that. As I got home, though, there was a HUGE box on the front step from our adoption agency. I had no idea what it was; I wasn't expecting anything from them, certainly nothing that big! As I opened it, I saw that it was our education toolbox, filled with books and info on international adoption. On top was a stuffed monkey, and just below that was this....

yes... It's all Good Hair: the Guide to Styling and Grooming Black Children's Hair
Now someone try to tell me that God didn't hear my prayer!! How cool is that?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Destination Ellie: Update

Good news! This week we received our amended 171H form (immigration approval). This was such a huge blessing. Honestly, this one piece of paper is one of the most expensive things in the adoption dossier process. We were concerned that we would have to pay for it all over again when the doors in Vietnam closed on us.

We should have known better.

God has worked out so many things for us, and it is truly amazing to see Him at work in bringing Ellie home to us. With the 171H form in hand, we are now hurrying to gather the rest of our documents for our Ethiopian dossier. We can get a "match" (referral) any time now, and we are eagerly searching our agency's website daily as new girls are added often. Our director is actually in Ethiopia at this time meeting the children. We are praying for our little girl to be found very soon.

Meanwhile, I have bought pink paint for Ellie's room! How fun is that? And I also got a great bedding set... pink, green, yellow, flowers, butterflies...can you say "girlie"? I am lovin' this!

Please continue to pray for Ellie. Pray specifically for her safety, that she has plenty to eat, shelter, and necessary medical care. Pray for her birth parents as they make this incredibly difficult decision to make an adoption plan for their precious little girl. Pray that we are patient in waiting for her to come to us.

I promise to keep you posted!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Guess who I met?

I was at Woodland Park with Bryan and his friend. They were skateboarding, and I was reading on my blanket. It really was the perfect evening to lay out there and enjoy the gorgeous weather. I was perfectly content all by myself on my blanket when he walked up.

He smelled. Really bad.

He was a little drunk, I am quite sure.

He was strange, talking to himself at times, but friendly.

He was looking for conversation.

He told me his name as Dean Martin, then James Dean, then Charlie Brown. When he asked my name, I said "Farrah Fawcett", to which he responded "touche'".

We talked about the weather, where he was from (Michigan) and how he got to KY. He asked me to watch his "house" (backpack) while he went to "show those kids how to throw a frisbee the right way". He schooled them, for sure! He told me that his parents had died when he was a child, and his grandparents raised him. He ran away "as soon as possible so I didn't have to follow their rules". He had spoken to them a few weeks before, and they told him he could come home, but he said he didn't think he would. He said that his Grandma made him go to church if he lived with her, and I argued that maybe that was not a bad deal for three meals a day and a good warm bed to sleep in. He just shrugged his shoulders and laughed. Then he said "Life's tough, but faith gets ya through, you know?"

Yeah, I do know.

I asked him what or who he put his faith in, and he said "well, not Jesus, that's for sure", and he went on to ask if I was going to "get my preach on". I assured him I would not be preaching, but that he had mentioned faith, so I wondered what he had faith in. He asked me where I placed my faith, and I told him in Jesus Christ.

His response made me weep.

He said "I don't care for Jesus or Christians. You never get second chances from them. They judge you at every turn". He went on to tell me that he had been given more help from the "drunks, winos, prostitutes and homeless" than anyone who had ever professed to know Jesus. I apologized on behalf of all of us believers who have looked down on him because he was less fortunate. I told him I had done it too, and I was sorry. After all, the first thing I noticed was his smell, his sandals held together by duct tape, the smell of liquor on him, the dirty hands, face and feet. I hadn't looked at the person, but the outward appearance.

I was able to give him some money for a meal, since he had not eaten for several days (except for some peanut butter out of someone's trash). He asked me how I knew he wouldn't go get drunk with the money, and I told him I didn't; that was entirely up to him. But I was going to try to make him see that some who claim the name of Christ really do care, really do want to see the needs of the man he is, not just his circumstance.

I am not sure what God is doing with me these days.. leading me to homeless around me and giving me the chance to know them. But I am changed for the better because of it. Oh, that I never go back to being the person I was before I met Dean Martin/James Dean/Charlie Brown.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

God is Alive and Well, Folks

Today has been one of those days when God's power is just shoved in my face, down my throat and everywhere else. AND I LOVE IT.

For those of you who think that miracles are a thing of the past, just for the "bible times", you are wrong. Very wrong.

For those of you who think that God only speaks to a certain few, you are wrong. Very wrong.

For those of you who think that God doesn't have a perfect plan for everyone of us, you are wrong. Very wrong.

For those of you who think you are too far gone, too bad to ever be forgiven by God, you are wrong. Very wrong.

God is STILL in the business of miracles, of forgiveness, of healing, of speaking, and of bringing about His perfect plans. And this morning, in Bible study, I saw proof of it all over the room. God is moving. I can't wait to see what happens next!

How about you? Are you seeing Him move too? I promise He is...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Perspective is Everything

This morning started just like every other day. I took a shower and washed my hair just like I always do. But then the hairdryer blew up and my hair was still really wet. Really wet. I put my makeup on, got dressed, drove to the store and bought a new hairdryer, then went to work to fix my hair. Gotta love starting the day like that.

The first client in the building was WILD. He ran all over the office, threw toys, stole food, hit his mom, etc etc. When I tried to redirect him, he spit on me. I almost puked. Spit is gross people.

I forgot my lunch at home, so I went out to get something. As I walked out the front door, the heavens opened up and it poured the rain. Lucky for me, I had a hairdryer at work.

When I got back to work, I slipped and fell in front of many clients as I came in the front door.

My son was frustrated that he had to do his chores, and he told me he didn't want to live here anymore.

I burnt my finger cooking dinner.

Jeff is late getting home because he got held up at work.

I came downstairs to pray because it's quiet down here. I was just telling God that I really had a bad day. And then it hit me...

These people are the ones having a bad day. These people and so many more are mourning the loss of a parent or child today. These people lost loved ones on September 11, 2001 because terrorists chose to kill the innocent.

My husband may be later than usual, but he is coming home. My son may have been angry, but he is still here (and he did the chores, then he apologized). My finger may be burnt, but I am alive, healthy and well. I was inconvenienced a little this morning, but big deal...I was safe all day long.

I have no idea what a bad day is like. It's all about perspective. May God's peace surround all of the families who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks today and every day.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Have you seen this woman?

I will answer for you. No, you haven't seen this lady. The simple sad truth is that most of us have never even seen anyone like her. This is Lucy Burns. I know that the media is calling John McCain "the maverick", but let me tell you... Lucy Burns was a REAL maverick.

Lucy was one of the key people responsible for the eventual passage of the right for women to vote in this country. You see, it wasn't until 1920 that we ladies were given that freedom. Before that, women like Lucy fought hard and courageously to gain that right.

On November 15, 1917, Lucy (and numerous other women) were jailed after picketing at the White House, holding signs asking for the right to vote. They were innocent (freedom of speech was already in effect), and they were defenseless, yet they were imprisoned anyway. By the end of the night, they were also barely alive. Forty prison officials went on a rampage, beating Lucy and the approximately 30 other ladies for "obstructing sidewalk traffic".

Lucy was beaten then chained by her hands to the cell bars above her head, and left bleeding and gasping for breath. Additional affidavits describe ladies being beaten, choked, kicked, twisted and pinched. This night is historically referred to as "the Night of Terror", and it marked the beginning of weeks of torture for Lucy and the other women.

On November 4, 2008 some ladies will choose not to vote because we are too tired, too busy, too whatever. We will make excuses on why we will not vote because we don't like our choices in the election. We will complain that our one little vote won't make a difference anyway.

I say... tell that to Lucy Burns! She fought hard so that we have this right. How dare I not act upon this privilege?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Out of Africa...

Tonight we completed our application for adoption. Again.

This time, we are going with Ethiopia. There are a lot of reasons for this choice. For one, it's known to be a very smooth process, and after the mess of Vietnam, we are ready for "smooth". But there are more important reasons than this. Here are a few to start with...

~ One in ten children die before their first birthday
~ One in six children die before their fifth birthday
~ 44% of the population of Ethiopia is under 15 years old
~ 60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition
~ The median age in Ethiopia is 17.8 years
~ 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world)
~ 720,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS alone, and there are 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia

I really believed that we would find Ellie in Vietnam, and for a while I was ready to quit the whole process because that country fell through. But Jeff and I believe that God has called us to adopt. Period. And we love Ellie, wherever she is out there. So, we will look in Ethiopia. And I do believe that she is out there.

Please pray with us that God unites us with her. I trust that He has chosen the perfect little girl for our family, a girl whose personality and spirit matches our own. A girl who will know that we are her mommy, daddy and brother.

So... she will look a bit differently than we originally thought. But who cares? She will be ours, and well, that's enough for me!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Books.. the good and not-so-good

Here's the latest in my book reading..

Jim and Casper Go to Church: Frank Conversations about Faith, Churches, and Well-Meaning Christians by Jim Henderson and Matt Casper.

I read this book at the urging of Jeff, and I was not disappointed. Well, maybe I was a little disappointed, but certainly not in the book itself. Let me explain. This book is a candid look at how we Christians "do church" and what non-believers think about it. It is a journey to some of America's most well-known churches with Jim, a former pastor, and Casper, an atheist. Together, they take a good hard look at today's church services, worship styles, outreach, missions, and lots of other stuff. I say it's disappointing only because I found myself disappointed in myself and how I do church. I found myself sometimes angry that an atheist would dare say such mean things about church..what does he know anyway? Then, I found myself praying for forgiveness for those same thoughts because, after all, is church really for me? Aren't we supposed to be reaching those who don't know and haven't heard?

If you are a Christian, read this book. If you want to look at how those outside the walls of the church view you, read this book. If you just want sunshine and fluff blown in your face, don't even bother. This isn't the book for you.

I feel I have to tell you about this book because that was the plan here.. to let you know what I have been reading. However, let me say that this was one of the biggest disappointments in a book I have read in a LNG LONG time!

Riven, by Jerry B. Jenkins really intrigued me. I was excited to read this book. After all, the author himself called this "the book I've always wanted to write". Reviews about Riven raved that it was masterful, insightful, gripping. I will admit that initially I was drawn in by the characters, really feeling as if I knew them somehow. But as the story developed, I found myself thinking "Haven't I read this before?". I found the book repetitive. To put it bluntly, I was bored. Now, that is not to say that I didn't finish it. I will admit that there was a "twist" that I didn't quite expect, but I found it strange and completely unbelievable really, not like the rest of the book. However, I did want to see how it ended nonetheless.

If the book were 200 pages shorter, I might recommend it. But at well over 500 pages, I just can't. Sorry Jerry. If you have read this and feel differently, I would love to hear your point of view!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Fairy Tale Friday

there was a girl named Holly. And the girl loved her family. And her family loved the girl.

The girl loved to serve her family. It was an honor really. However, the girl really did not like piles of laundry in the laundry room. Day after day after day, the laundry was there. stinky. smelly. dirty. laundry.

One day, the girl said that she was no longer going to do laundry. She was quitting the laundry business.

And so, the laundry sat. And the girl waited. And the laundry sat some more. And the girl waited some more. And still the laundry sat some more. (you get the picture, right?)

Then one day, the girl noticed that her son was wearing pants that did not fit just right. When she asked about it, he said that they were "the only thing he had clean". That same day, the girl noticed her husband looking for socks. She knew that there were socks in the basket of clothes waiting to be put away (for 9 days). And yet, she remained silent. He wore sandals.

That afternoon, after an entire week of watching the laundry sit there waiting for someone to wash it, the girl gave up. She knew that there was no one else that was going to do it. And so, she gave in and took the job of laundry girl once again. She couldn't stand to see it there one minute longer.

The girl wasn't mad. Not at all. She was a little frustrated, but not mad. And she decided that the next time it piled up without anyone offering to help with it again, she would simply take it outside and have a bonfire with it.

And the girl lived happily ever after.

The End

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sorry... this is a long one

Our recent adoption news (see previous post if you don't know what I am talking about) has really taken its toll on me. I would be lying if I said that I didn't take the news hard. We all did really. And since I am being honest here, I will tell you that I am still struggling with it all. I hadn't realized how much I already love Ellie, even though I have never seen her or even know where she is in the world! Last week was especially hard on me, and I found myself withdrawing from people. I didn't talk on the phone as much (sorry mom), and I even backed out on a planned trip to Chattanooga to see friends (sorry again, guys!).

Jeff & Bryan already had plans to be at Kings Island on Saturday with the college students at church, so when I decided not to go to Chattanooga, that meant that I would be home alone. Now, let me tell you that sometimes that is dangerous for me when I am feeling down. I tend to get lonely, cry a lot and basically just feel sorry for myself. I really didn't want this day to be like that, so I decided to keep myself occupied. I had some movies to watch and a good book, so I was good to go.

I woke up earlier than I had planned (bummer), and I didn't want to watch all of my movies before noon, so I decided to go to Lexington and do some shopping. I drove across the ferry on the way there and back because it's beautiful and I have some great conversations with God on those country roads. I truly felt at peace on the way there. In fact, I felt "okay" with our adoption situation for the first time all week, knowing that God was still in control. But it also felt like there was something that He was trying to get me to understand that I was running from. To be honest, I didn't want to hear anything other than words from God that He was going to bring my little girl home to me. Nothing else. It was sort of an attitude of "God, you do what I want, and then I will listen to more. For now, this is all I want to hear".

I don't think God liked that attitude.

On the way home, I drove by a lady holding a sign that looked like this:

Something about her drew me in. I had to stop. I didn't have any cash on me to give to her, but there was a Lil' Ceasar's across the street, so I went over and got a "hot 'n ready" pizza and drove back to where she was standing. I was so nervous! I got out of the van and walked across the parking lot to her and asked if I could give her some food. She said yes, and so I asked if I could sit with her.

We spent the next hour sitting on a piece of cardboard in the parking lot of a Liquor Barn, eating pizza (i am assuming God will forgive that it wasn't on my diet since I was doing something He asked!) Her name is Lisa, and she is beautiful. I mean that. Beneath the dirt and the obvious initial distrust of my true intentions, was a lady who was stunning.

Lisa immediately asked if I was a "God person" there only to "preach" to her. Lisa has had enough of that, let me tell you. She shared with me about how she was in a church when her husband died, but the church seemed "happy to not have to deal with him anymore". It was someone in her church who called Social Services when she lost her temper and slapped her child. As Lisa said "They never stopped to ask why I was so stressed out. I was working 3 jobs and trying to keep food on the table. I hadn't slept in days when that happened, but it didn't matter". When Social Services came, she tested positive for drugs (she claims that she was taking pills to stay awake for her 3 jobs, and really, it didn't matter to me. Who am I to judge her?). They took her kids away. In a nutshell, Lisa feels like the church was quick to accuse her, but no one ever wanted to help redeem her. She actually used the word redeem. Instead, Lisa has been living on the streets for a little more than a year with no contact at all with her children. She said "I might not have hope, but at least I have pizza, right?".

I got back in the van after our lunch, drove back to the ferry, parked and cried. And I heard God whisper to me again "I needed you to hear me remind you that it's not all about you".

I'm sorry, God.

I have acted like it's all about me. I have been so focused on what I want that I have failed to see the needs of others. And Lisa reminded me that there are people out there with no hope at all. And more importantly, that I can share that hope by something as simple as a pizza.

Matthew 25:31-40 says: “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.'Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

1 Peter 3:15 says "If someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it".
Are you living like you have Hope?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

What do you do when you come to a dead end? Do you turn around and go back the way you came? Or do you try to make your own path? Or do you just lay down and quit, ready to stay in that same spot forever? These are the questions I find myself asking these days. You see, we have come to what appears to be a dead end in our adoption journey. On Friday we received "the call" from our agency that told us we would not be bringing Ellie home. Period.

To say that we are heartbroken doesn't even come close to describing the pain we feel right now. We are sad. We are questioning. We are confused. We are angry. We are tired.

But we still believe in God's power.

Today, I wanted to be anywhere at all except in church. Honestly, it wasn't because I am angry with God. I am not. I am just hurting, and it seems that I always cry the most in church (why is that, by the way?). I just wanted to stay home and cry by myself. Yet, my brothers and sisters in Christ strengthened me. As Jeff and I knelt at the altar, friends gathered around us to pray for us, and I felt strengthened. That's powerful, folks!

We have been given the option of stopping now, waiting until Vietnam opens again for referrals (could be years from now in all honesty), or switching to another country. And we don't know what to do. We never had a "Plan B". We trusted that God led us in this direction, and we put all of our eggs in one basket.

Today, I spent a lot of time in prayer about all of this... what we should do, where to go, how I feel, where is God in all of this.. all of that stuff. And He repeatedly brought to mind verses about standing still. I told Him that I felt like we were at a dead end, and God brought to mind the story of Moses when he led the Israelites out of Egypt. They were finally freed from slavery, and then they came to what was seemingly a dead end... the Red Sea. The Israelites, freshly freed from captivity, whined and said "Didn't we tell you to leave us alone while we were still in Egypt? Our slavery was far better than dying out here in the wilderness". (Seriously??)

Scripture goes on to say
"But Moses told the people, 'Don't be afraid. Just stand where you are and watch the Lord rescue you. The Egyptians that you see today will never be seen again. The Lord Himself will fight for you'".

As God brought that story back to my mind today, I knew that He was telling us to "stand still" and let Him fight for us. That's not easy. I am human; I prefer to know exactly how things are going to work out. But scripture also says that God's ways are not our ways, and if I really trust Him, I will let go of the need to work things out myself.

I want my little girl home. I believe that Ellie is waiting for us to come get her from wherever she may be. I believe that God brought us this far, and I believe that He is faithful to finish what He started. Please pray for us. We need some strength and encouragement right about now.

Thanks so much... we love ya'll.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

15 years and counting...

Dear Jeff,
15 years ago today, we stood before a sanctuary full of family and friends, vowing that we would be together for the rest of our lives. I knew that I loved you, but I had no idea how much that love would grow. I can't even put it into words; it's just there in my heart, and it completes me. Really it does. I'm not just borrowing a line from Jerry Maguire.

I have to tell you that I am so thankful that you wanted to marry me. I am far from good enough for you. You deserve so much more than I can ever hope to give you, but I am grateful for how you inspire me to be better, to be more, to be beautiful. You have loved me in a way that has allowed me to blossom, and I can never thank you enough for that.

I hear it said all the time that opposites attract. It's really not that way with us, is it? The longer I love you, the more I am becoming like you, and that's a good thing. I happen to think you are the best. There are lots of mushy things I could say here, but I will save that for a private moment. However, I had to share some things that I love about you with those who will read this blog. Why? Well, because I love ya, and I want the world to know it!

So... in honor of our 15 blessed years, I give you my "Top 15 things I love about Jeff" ...

15. the way you mis-pronounce words like "accountant", "Colorado" and "birthday" on purpose now just to make me smile.
14. the way you sing "Close to You" to me at home and over the phone just like the guy from The Parenthood movie.
13. the way we love "the Heart" (inside joke that I will NOT tell others).
12. the way you laugh at me when I get excited about getting a new book to read.
11. how we finish each other's sentences sometimes or think the same thoughts. (scary, huh?) call me beautiful no matter what I really look like! (even with no make up and messy hair)
9. the way you look in that peach shirt and tie. or out of it... whichever.
8. the way you always kiss me first when you come home from work.
7. how you call me at work in the middle of the day just to tell me that you love me..again.
6. Saturday morning breakfast dates.
5. after 15 years, you still bring me the little spoon, and I think it's funny. sad, but funny.
4. you look for the good in everyone all the time.
3. your excitement at the thought of having a little girl & the visions of you with her that go through my head
2. Dad 'n Lad dates... I love how you make Bryan a priority. He always knows you love him wholly!
1. You are a Godly man, Godly husband, Godly dad. And you still give me butterflies in my stomach after all these years!

I love you Jeff... forever.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Like a Rhinestone Cowgirl...

I am really not a rhinestone kind of girl, but you wouldn't know that by the looks of me these days. Right this moment I have 20 rhinestones glued to my fingernails and toenails. And it's all for Jesus. Let me explain.

For Mother's Day, this past May, Jeff and Bryan gave me a gift certificate to have my nails done. I was pretty excited because this is something I really love to do, but often feel guilty spending the money for it. Anyway, after the certificate was used up, I was in need of a "fill in" (you ladies will know what I mean), so I went to a nail salon that was closer to the house just because. yeah, right. This was a divine appointment.

The girl who worked on my nails that day started a conversation about my family. I shared about Jeff and Bryan, and I told her we were in the process of trying to adopt from Vietnam. She is from Vietnam. Coincidence? I think not. This started a huge discussion about the whole adoption process which finally led to the question "Why would you go to Vietnam to get a baby?". I answered her honestly, "Because we really feel like that's where God wanted us to go. I don't know any other way to explain it". She was stunned, telling me that it was unbelievable that God would tell anyone to go to Vietnam. She then pointed out that she was wearing a buddha necklace. She told me that she and the other ladyd working there worshipped buddha, and she asked me if I believed in him. I said no; she asked why. So, I told her that my God was the One True living God,and that was something she could not say about buddha. She changed the subject, and it was time to go.

For my next visit, I prayed so hard before going in, for God to give me the opportunity to start a new conversation. I was put with another girl named Kelly. To be honest, I was disappointed, but I walked to her station. Much to my surprise, she said "I was hoping you would come back. Tell me more about your God". We had a wonderful conversation about how God loves everyone, no matter what our backgrounds are or even if we love Him back. She asked me about how I talked to Him, and we talked about prayer. Finally, she said "So pray for me", and I told her I would. She said, "Do it now".

So we prayed right there. It was beautiful.

And all the while, I kept telling her to do more things so I could stay longer. I got the pedicure too. Then I agreed to let her paint a flower on my toes. I didn't care. I just wanted more time to talk to her.

For my last visit, she added a design to my fingernails too. All the while we prayed together and talked about what it meant to follow God. She asked me so many questions. She was shocked when I said that God wanted me to be her friend even if she didn't believe in Him. We talked about God's commands to love our enemies, and she asked if I loved her. When I said yes, she asked if I was gay. Seriously.

Today I had another appointment. I was nervous when I went in, wanting the chance to talk some more. She started some small talk, often telling me that "nothing in life is free". When I didn't respond the way she had wanted, she finally said "You are supposed to say that your God is free. I want to talk about His free gift!". She asked what it meant when I had told her that God's love for us is a free gift if we will just take it. She asked how I could "know" someone I couldn't see. She asked me if going to church meant knowing God, and I explained that it was part of it, but not everything. We talked about how you can know about God but not really know Him personally. I explained it like us getting to know our husbands and spending lots of time with them. The more we know, the more we love. And after all these years, we still are learning new things. I even told her that the Bible tells us that our relationship with Christ is like a marriage. She didn't like that one, asking me if I was polygamous :) She was open, honest, reflective and searching for Truth.

As we talked, she got excited, and she told me "Today I will give you something special for your nails". I briefly envisioned tiny buddhas on my hands and feet. But, she gave me flowers made of tiny rhinestones glued together. Yeah, baby. I am blinging. 4 flowers made of 5 rhinestones each = 20 rhinestones.

I feel sort of odd walking around with this much glitter on me. But every time I look at these little flowers, I think of Kelly, and I pray for her. She is searching for Truth. I know the Truth, and it has set me free. I told her today about my salvation experience, and I asked her if she was interested in knowing more. She said yes, but then she also said that her husband would be very angry if she learned more about God, and so would the rest of her family. We stopped talking then. She's my friend, and she was getting scared. I don't want to force her into anything. I want her to know I genuinely care for her.

I can't wait to see what she'll put on me next time! I guess I will be blinging all summer long.