Saturday, December 31, 2011

Dichotomy of Sons


I snuggle down a bit deeper into the old rocker and breathe deeply. I smell the freshly washed tight curls that cover his head. Strawberry and coconut. Mmmmm. What a blessing this moment is.

Five years.

I hear the words echo in my head as I rock this snuggled in, jammied one who clings to me with his warm, dark fingers.

It's been five years.

I am aware on so many levels the way time passes and yet does not impact the deeper pockets of pain that I carry. I am indented with the wounds that death has inflicted, yet I daily live full of love.

Dichotomy.

I rock this child and hold him tighter, if it's even possible. He says nothing, just cuddles his face into my neck. We love one another. We are together.

It is December 29th. A night of deepest searing pain for me 5 years ago. A day when the sun went black. A third pregnancy ending in horror. And this time, we'd made it to 39 weeks.

But now...we've rolled ahead five years. Now I sit holding a child from Africa in my lap. Freshly bathed and read to, he clings to me as if he knows I need it.

"Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart." Luke 2:19

One son is gone from me, another is snuggled in.

One is from my own body, the other from someone else's...whom I will never know.

One son lives with Jesus, another is here waiting to learn about Him from me.

One son taught me so much by his leaving, another here has taught me much by his arrival.

Believe it or not, I am comforted by the fact that I do not understand the ways of God. Scripture says His ways are higher than ours, His thoughts, higher than our thoughts. I take comfort in this. I do not want to know why.

I simultaneously ache from the pain in my heart from Oskar who left me too quickly and delight in the armful of love I have on my lap who looks at me with deep dark eyes and stutters out, "M-m-m-mommy, I l-l-l-l-ove you."


Thank you, Lord. For all of it.







Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Move over agenda, I'm making room for Jesus

I have resorted to blogging stuff I get forwarded on email.


Sheesh.

But seriously, when something touches you, it matters not where it comes from. Maybe this devotional by Micca Campbell will inspire you too.

Joe and Jesus have their eyes wide open, but I'm praying to be more contemplative like this 1" high Mary.

*****
"And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Luke 2:7 (NASB)


One of the first words that comes to mind when most think about the holiday season is "busy." 

Sad, but true.

I know it's true in my life. I can get so busy decorating the house, baking goodies, shopping for presents, going to parties and sending Christmas cards. Then, just when I think I've got a handle on it, I receive an unexpected card in the mail or a plate of cookies from a neighbor. 

What do I do?

I find time to return the gesture.

It's usually a challenge, but somehow we find time and make room to do all sorts of things during the holidays.

We make room for company to come. We make room for a Christmas tree in front of the picture window. We make room in our crowded schedule for activities we don't have time for.

Let's take time to consider: Have I made room for Jesus in my busy life this month?

In the familiar story of Christ's birth, I've always been bothered that there was no room in the inn for Jesus. I can't help but think didn't they know who He was? What could have been so important that they couldn't stop to make room for Jesus? My best guess is they were thinking only about themselves and their own busy agenda.

Likewise, we can become so busy with our Christmas plans that we run out of room for Jesus, too.

One of my mother's Christmas traditions is to withhold baby Jesus from her nativity set until Christmas morning. One year, when her first grandson was three years old, he asked, "Grandmamma, where is baby Jesus?"
"He's not been born yet," she explained to Patrick. "Jesus comes on Christmas Day. Then, you'll find Him right here," she added while pointing to the manger.
Like years past, Mom and Dad's house was full of excitement as family members arrived with arms full of presents. We expected to exchange gifts and enjoy a time for food, fun and celebration. But Patrick expected something different. He ran into the house shouting, "Is He here, yet? Is He here? Has Jesus come?"
Mom took Patrick over to the nativity and there, cradled in the manger, was baby Jesus. He had come just like He'd promised.

Over 2,000 years ago, God promised us a Savior. In a little town called Bethlehem, God kept His promise and Christ our Lord was born. While most missed what was happening that holy night, Christ's birth didn't escape the attention of heaven, a few shepherds, three wise men and some cattle. They pushed aside their duties and agendas to make room for Jesus. In fact, like Patrick, some of them anticipated His arrival. In doing so, their lives were forever changed.
Every year Jesus still searches for hearts to fill. But He can only fill space where we have left room for Him.

Christ's presence may go unnoticed by the world, but you and I, along with others who have made room in their hearts, can experience all the glorious wonder He brings. Let's cast aside the busyness of our lives this month to make room for Christ as we anticipate His arrival!

Dear Lord, the best I know how, I lay down my busy agenda to make room for You. Jesus, I don't want to miss a thing. Give me fresh eyes to see You this holiday season. I want to experience Your birth like never before so that I never close You out again. Welcome home, Lord. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

*****

What does making room for Jesus during the busy month of December look like for you?


Busy...but taking time to be still.

There is chatter and laughter and little feet pitter pattering. There is also yelling, "Mom! She's being mean to me," and water overflowing in the bathroom sink.

Life.

It's busy, it's full
                           ...and this is my season.

It is my treasure.

I've not blogged much, but I am still indeed living life and treasuring moments. I am grateful for each one, even the ones that challenge me...I am emptied out and in need of filling. And I know WHO fills me up.

And I run to Him.

I just read a blog post and was deeply moved.

This is not the season of my life (at least today) for me to write much, but let me at least point you toward something that will take your breath away. It did mine.

Go here and be amazed.

You'll be glad you did and will be all the more excited to celebrate the birth of our precious Savior.

Merry Christmas. 





Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas cards...simplified.

Simplify.

It's what I keep on thinking. We simply must cut back. Do you feel this crazy sauce feeling too? Christmas has gotten crazy. Life is abundantly full.

Almost over full.

Brian and I have had more than one conversation about how to simplify. How to focus on simply giving the needed attention to the Littles and just STOP doing extra stuff. This year in particular is critical in helping Zeb adjust to our family.

There is no maybe, this year I absolutely cannot be running crazy.

So instead of the hours upon hours preparing and sending our typical Christmas card, we offer you this:





We truly wish you a wonderful Christmas, celebrating Jesus. 

That your New Year would truly be filled with the joy of a fresh slate and that you would delight in goal setting and the glory of fulfilling them.

Please understand that no one is receiving a printed card this year (sorry grandmas!) We love you all and hope to return to "normal" next year!

Blessings!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Your Christmas can benefit Imprisoned Children!!!

I have been chomping at the bit to be able to finally blog about these ideas...it's finally come together and I get to put it out there!

Remember this post? I ended up being a tad bit early with it...but maybe now it will whet your appetite! :)

I am so so so excited to share in the project Sixty Feet has underway!! If you are new reader, Sixty Feet is a group of Jesus-loving, Scripture-doing people who learned about imprisoned children in Uganda and are working alongside the government to encourage, love and bless the inmates.

The exciting matching program was announced on their blog site a few weeks back. I learned about this and wondered "what can we offer in a tangible way so that people would want to give to Sixty Feet for Christmas?" 

That lead me here.

But before I get to the "goods" I want to just remind you of the sweet children we are talking about here. There are 6 remand homes in Uganda. They vary in location, resources, staff, age of children and level of incarceration. Many of the children are refugees from neighboring nations, are orphans, are street kids sent to beg and are picked up by the police or were sent there by their own parents because they simply didn't know what else to do.

Putting a face to the children:
He was the sweetest thing! I got a smile after I showed him his picture on the back of my camera!

These children live in a place that looks like this:

The big announcement that Sixty Feet made can be read here. In a nutshell, they have been given permission to remove some of the youngest, most vulnerable children from M. They have identified some land (right on the shores of Lake Victoria!) and have been saving $30,000 for the purchase. Someone recently offered them a gift of $60,000 if they can have other donors match that amount! Altogether, if the other $60,000 is raised Sixty Feet will have $150,000 to use to buy the land, build a home where these children can receive love, nourishment, counseling and be free. WOW!

Isn't that a noble cause?

I sure think so!

The matching offer is good through December 31, 2011. 

So here is how this is going to work. Christmas is coming. You buy gifts. But you know now about these most precious souls on the continent of Africa who are in desperate need. How can you possibly combine both?

I've got three ideas for you.

1) Give toward the $60,000 in the name of the person you are giving to. Present them with a paper that explains where their gift went and how it will positively impact the children of Uganda. This gift educates too! You can get awesome information from the Sixty Feet website.

2) Donate at least $30 toward the $60,000 and receive a free Sixty Feet t shirt! They are made by the Wild Olive Tees company and are absolutely awesome! Soft and comfy. Another great way to show your support and get into conversations about the children and this project! P.S. Women's shirts are fitted, order UP one size! ;) Click here to get your awesome T shirt for those you love!

3) Order a DIY Christmas gift for $15. 100% of this donation will go toward the land purchase! In return, you will receive a digital file for an 11x14 size print of the "Family Rules" that were blogged on Sixty Feet's director's blog. You can read the original post here. Click here to see the different styles and colors to choose from. After you select your style and color, you will have full printing rights. You can put this on mugs, plates, puzzles, canvas (that's what we did!), t shirts, or just as a photo and frame it. Let your creative juices flow! You can have whatever name you choose for the Rules, so it would make a lovely gift! Click HERE to order yours! :)

Here is how cool it can look in your house! :) (Note: this is in our newly redone mudroom--yay!!)


Once you've read this, please please share this with all your friends!
You can:
*Post a link to this blog post on your Facebook page
*Tweet about it
*Pin the above picture of the family rules on your Pinterest board!
*If you have a website, will you consider adding this box to your site for November and December?



Family Home Rules

<a href="http://www.housefamilyrules.org/" target="_blank"><img src="http://i44.tinypic.com/dpwjv7.jpg" border="0" alt="House Family Rules"></a>


We've got $60,000 to raise!!!!





Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Children...on Thrones??

I have finished another read through of the Bible. When I got to Revelation 20, something NEW stood out to me. (I love that about Scripture--always having God show me new things!)

"Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about Jesus, for proclaiming the Word of God. And I saw the souls of those who had not worshiped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their forehead or their hands. They came to life again and reigned with Christ for a thousand years..." Revelation 20:4

Perhaps it was in combination with something I heard that this verse made it's impact. In a podcast sermon by Tommy Nelson this has been stuck in my head, "This [young] generation will have to know the Word of God like they did in the first century to live a righteous life in today's culture."

Source: worthpoint.com
I suddenly realized that the people sitting on the thrones were there because they had stood up to all the evil in the final days. They were strong. They were in fact beheaded for their testimony about Jesus and their incredible commitment to preach the Truth of God's Word.

Then it hit me:

Those people on those thrones COULD be my very own children.

I don't know the timing of Revelation. Neither do you.

How are those people who end up in the final days learn that passionate, stand-by-my-Jesus faith? For certain they do not just half heartedly choose to be beheaded!! And the second group of souls that John saw...they were ones who had not worshiped the beast or his statue and refused the mark of the beast. That means they too stood up to culture, pressure and the call to survive and counted their faith in Christ as more valuable than life.

Then I wondered, would my very own Jensi, Anneli, Oliver, Zareb and Darrah Kate be ready to stand up to that kind of pressure?   Would they stay faithful in the final days??

I was suddenly feeling very nervous. Very fidgety. A flutter in my heart.

This. is. on. me. ON ME!

I am the one who is with them, raising them, hoping to cultivate hearts that love the Lord and care about others. I am the one who seeks to teach them how to respond to people who attack, curse, challenge and lie about you. I am the one who demonstrates mercy, grace and compassion to the underdog. I am the one who must help them navigate through this culture, loving the people in the world but not being of it. I am the one showing them how to live a life of faith.

Gulp.

I am the one who must answer their questions lovingly and direct them towards God's Word. I am the one who must sort out their troubles and show them to learn from them and how they can handle them better next time.

Suddenly the responsibility of raising godly children in a depraved generation never seemed more challenging. And the call to do so for such a future as we (or our descendants) will have seems all the more weighty.

This morning, I began reading in Isaiah. The first verse inspired me to do a bit of a research: "These visions concerning Judah and Jerusalem came to Isaiah son of Amoz during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah--all kings of Judah." Isaiah 1:1

"Who were these kings?" I wondered. I dug back into 2 Kings and found out. I began to make some notes about each king. Turns out, these are 4 generations written out in a row.  Uzziah (I think of him as famous from the Isaiah 6 verses about "send me!") is Great-granddaddy, Jotham is Granddaddy, Ahaz is Bad Daddy and Hezekiah is the son.

Turns out that 3 out of 4 of these kings were called "good." But something interesting emerged: each had NOT torn down the pagan shrines. Hmmm. I decided to go backward in time and see if THEIR fathers had a similar pattern.

O. my. word.

Here's what I found:

Joash began this whole "incomplete obedience" thing. He got the throne at age 7. (Yikes!) He was trained by a priest. Apparently the priest didn't mention that "other" thing about the shrines, or he just didn't press little Joash to boldly pull them down. (There are to be no other gods before the True God and those pagan shrines were a tad bit of a problem.)

Amaziah is Joash's son. He takes the throne at age 25. He has a father to train him how to be a king. Here's what the Scripture says about him, "Amaziah did what was pleasing in the Lord's sight, but not like his ancestor David. Instead he followed the example of his father, Joash. Amaziah did NOT destroy the pagan shrines, where the people offered sacrifices and burnt incense." (2 Kings 14:3-4) Hmmm.

Well, along comes Uzziah. He's Amaziah's son. He gets the throne at age 16 and guess what? He was good, but didn't destroy those pagan shrines. By now, they were part of the landscape. He probably didn't even notice them as standing out. And this is our "great grand daddy" that I mentioned. Is it any wonder how the rest of this plays out?

Jotham gets the throne at 25 and yep, you guessed it, he is good like his father BUT he doesn't take down those treacherous pagan shrines either.

Does anyone? Look around...guess not. It must just be cultural. It's okay, everybody's doing it. Sound familiar?

Well, guess what? Jotham's son is a man named Ahaz. He is wearing the crown at age 20. And all those years of incomplete obedience apparently have come to a head. This king goes whole hog in the OTHER direction. He not only doesn't destroy those pagan shrines, he sacrifices one of his own children. (In addition to a whole list of other evil things!)

Alarming??? Yes? Scares me too!

Now delightfully, after the rotten king that Ahaz was to Judah, his own son Hezekiah turned completely to the Lord. Was it the total disgust of having a brother burned at the stake to a false god that woke him up? Hezekiah's life was one that pleased the Lord and Scripture says that "there was never another king like him in land of Judah, either before or after his time." Oh the things to study on this king's life!!!

So back to the thrones and thinking about my children. If the legacy of incomplete obedience (which we could go out on a limb here and call DISobedience) began long ago in the lineage of these kings...and the subsequent generations never once looked to see if MAYBE they should destroy those shrines...I just wonder...

What are the pagan shrines today? What are we as parents who desire to raise up a godly generation tolerating as part of the "landscape" that might end up hurting our children, grandchildren or great grandchildren? Or beyond?

Will YOUR children be sitting on those thrones? I surely want to be parenting in such a way that they are READY to be sitting on them.

And *GULP* that means I have a lot of personal examination to do along the way!!!

Oh God, help me raise them righteously!!!




Saturday, November 5, 2011

Creative Love for Orphans


Tomorrow is Orphan Sunday.

What a great idea! Focus the people in the church to care for the millions of children around the world who would desperately love to join a family.

Oh Lord, please answer these sweet children's heartfelt prayers!

What can you do for orphans?

Become their forever family!

You are not ready to foster or adopt, you say.

That's okay.

Start where you are. You'll be surprised there are MANY ways to care for orphans that you never thought about!

You already know you can pray and give to organizations who are working with God's most precious children. And you can always donate directly to families who are adopting. That was a huge blessing in our own story.

But did you know you can do other things too?

Like what?

My dear friend is a foster mom with a heart of gold. She brainstormed this awesome and practical list of how to help a foster child and their family:

Pray: Choosing to foster is a decision that affects every member of the family. There are adjustments fro everyone. Additionally, the children in care have often only known abuse. But Jesus is bigger than any challenges that arise! Pray for healing for the children, for their biological parents to rehabilitate, the Holy Spirit's discernment for foster parents and God's covering over foster families.

Drive: Foster parents do a lot of driving to and from appointments: doctor, dental, and visits with the birth family, etc. Helping with transportation would really be a blessing!

Encourage: Gracious or encouraging words can be LIFE-giving! (Many foster moms are met with admonishing words to "be careful" rather than being lifted up and encouraged!)

Mentor: Take interest in a foster child. People of all ages can teach them a hobby, babysit, bake cookies together, offer to help with homework or teach life skills such as balancing a checkbook.

Serve: Many times accepting a new foster care placement is an emergency situation and families are harried. Offering to help with small tasks such as organizing a pantry, cooking, or laundry can really lighten the load and help the foster family and new child adjust.

Donate: Did you know that many children arrive at a foster home with their belongings thrown into trash bags? You can donate items such as suitcases, school supplies, clothes, shoes or even toys. Be sure that you are donating items in good repair. (If you wouldn't want your own children to wear it, don't send it to foster care agencies or foster families.)

Great ideas, friend!!

Did you know that you can do many of these for adoptive families as well? We were blessed so greatly by the people that brought us meals when we first came home. Coming over and handling laundry or grocery shopping for a family in their adjustment period is a BIG blessing!

Another "classic" way to help orphans is to find a trustworthy organization and sponsor a child. I am thrilled to begin my sponsorship of a 14 year old girl I met and fell in love with while in Uganda! She and I met while I visited one of the prisons that Sixty Feet works with...and she shared her story and I was broken for her. (If only I could have adopted her too!) Please consider SPONSORING A CHILD from the Sixty Feet site or Compassion or World Vision. Make an ongoing difference in the life of a child without leaving your living room!

Did you know you can also SHOP to benefit orphans?! I created a list of people selling online things that will have the proceeds benefit orphans. 

Shopping List to Help Orphans!
Handcrafted, personalized jewelry with all proceeds benefitting Joel and Lisa Bailey’s Ethiopian adoption!
www.munchkinmama.com Now through November 25, 2011.
Glass Christmas ornaments. Benefit a family adopting 2 children who have been stuck in Uganda for 7 months without income.
Tee shirts of many varieties are sold and benefit individual adopting families. Here is a browsing list:
More jewelry! All benefiting the world’s orphans.
Ugandan made paper bead necklaces. Made by children in the prisons Sixty Feet works with...proceeds benefitting a family’s Ugandan adoption.
Bible study bags, adorable coffee sleeves that benefit a family adopting one of Zareb's friends from his orphanage!
Hats, gloves, scarves--FASHION that benefits the world’s orphans along with home items and jewelry!
Tee shirts, jackets, dolls, totes, bracelets that help bring home orphans from China! This is Stephen Curtis Chapman’s organization.
Buy the amazing book Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis and 50% of the proceeds benefit her incredible work with orphans in Uganda. This and so much more at 
http://www.147millionorphans.com (Book sales only during the month of November!)




“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”                              James 1:27 



Friday, November 4, 2011

Guest Blogger--My daughter!

I have loved being a mom...been at it now 11 1/2 years. I don't know about your experience, but the child God has given me has blessed me abundantly. Her heart for others is incredible. She is ONE determined, passionate child. When she had a chance to name her autobiography she chose this title:


"The Determined Life of Jensi Shaw."


She is passionate about horses and owning one herself one day. Soon. Like go check in the garage, is it here yet? But, she also has a growing passion for the poor, the orphaned and the destitute. 

With her permission, I am going to share with you her persuasive speech she wrote this week for her 6th grade assignment:


Pets or People?
Let’s say you have some money you have decided to donate. What would you do with it? Would you spend it at the animal shelter where it could help animals who need a good home? Or would you be writing the check to help impoverished people around the world? If you said the animal shelter, perhaps I can change your mind. I believe that we need to support people before animals.
Everyone wants to make good investment. People live longer than animals, therefore your money goes to something long term. People need to have food, water and shelter. They need it much longer than animals. Wouldn’t you like your gift to have a longer impact for a more important cause? I do.
The need of people is huge. 4,500 children will die today because of water related diseases. I understand that animal shelters are important and I am not against them, but human life is more valuable. Does it anger you that people desert their animals? Doesn’t it anger you that people desert their children? 15 million children under age 5 die each DAY because of hunger. We are the ones deserting the needy, the unloved and the poor. We open the cupboard wanting a snack and complain that there is nothing “good enough” to eat. Ring a bell? We are overlooking the hungry people of our world and crying about the homeless animals.
Source: maximsnews.com
People are most important because we are created by God. And yes, I agree, animals are too! However, only humans are created in God’s own image. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created human beings in His own image.” Because of this, we have the desire and ability to make a difference in our world. How do you do that if you are living in the slum? How are you able to make the right choice if you are only taught to steal in order eat? These people need our help. 1.3 BILLION people live on less than ONE DOLLAR PER DAY. God didn’t make us to sit there and be a couch potato. He wants us to care, because He cares. Proverbs 28:27 says, “Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing but a curse will come upon those who close their eyes to poverty.”  Proverbs 19:17 says “If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord and He will repay you.”  Proverbs 22:9 says, “Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor.” The Bible does not tell us that we will be blessed by saving animals.
[Play video from Tear Fund.org “What is Poverty?”]
Now are your minds changed? Giving to the poor is the right thing to do. Although giving and caring for animals is a good thing too. But I strongly feel we need to make people our first priority and then animals.


She was  pretty stressed working on this and was alarmed that she only had 2 days to get this done. Why? Because she wanted to not just change people's minds, but she hoped that by her giving this speech that kids will go home and ask their parents to donate to organizations that bring clean water or help the poor. She saw it as something greater than just an argument to win or an assignment to get done. I quote, "I want to get an A, and that's great and all, but what I really want to do is make a difference!"

I was also incredibly proud of her research. She did that herself! 

Sorry...
              am I being a boastful mom? 


I'm okay with that! :)




Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Something BIG is coming for Christmas and Uganda!!!


Remember Uganda?


I do.
Sunrise over nearby mosque

Coffee


Visiting with village kids

Remember an organization called Sixty Feet?
This is a play on "Sixty Feet's" name. There are MORE than 30 souls in the prisons!

They work with imprisoned children in Uganda. In facilities like this:

This is PRESENT DAY. I took this picture at "M" in August!


Remember Christmas???




Coming soon...a way to combine it all. Keep watch!





Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Grateful Project

I have an idea.

Being that we JUST talked in our 5th/6th grade Sunday School class about traditions that we do outwardly but do not truly do on the heart level. We talked about celebrating Thanksgiving and how easy it is to be more about the football, playing with cousins and eating pie than on truly being thankful.

So I decided to do a personal grateful challenge.

I am going to post on Facebook each day something I am truly, heart-level grateful for. I may or may not post a picture. (I am not going to hem myself into that...life is simply TOO overwhelming for that!)

But for today, there are pictures.

I am starting off November begin grateful for a tree. It is a particular tree. It is also the ONLY tree left in our entire yard at this moment!! But it is outside my kitchen window so when I prepare food, clean up or make my Shakeology, I see it.


And this year it is exceedingly beautiful! Red-tipped leaves at the ends of some of the branches that have otherwise all turned yellow. Now I'm sure that my scientific husband could give me the reasons it has done that, but I don't care really. I just so deeply delight in its beauty each day!

And then with the sunlight, OH!

The glory of the Lord is being shown all around us!  I am making an intentional effort to be grateful for the abundance of love and goodness God has placed in my life.

And look at these other beautiful sights I took in while I went outside to photograph my tree!


Awesome aren't they?

I have also decided to help my children in being grateful this month. What is this? This is the trunk of THEIR grateful tree! Each night at dinner I am going to have them trace their hands, cut them out (yes, I will of course help the littles!) and write out one thing each day they are thankful for. Imagine this tree in 30 days x 5 hands! It will be ABUNDANT with praise! Awesome!



How will you show you are grateful this month?



Saturday, October 29, 2011

Owliver's Birthday Celebration!

Cousin Henry, in attendance!

October is packed full of happy fun times for our family! Our first son, Oliver was born 6 years ago. (HOW does time fly so fast!?!?!?) We celebrated that marvelous birth with family and a most important cousin Henry! Henry and Oliver have made a pact to attend each other's birthday parties for life! :) This is a bit of a feat since they do not live near each other!

Being in school now, I wanted to send a special birthday treat that he would remember. I still remember my own Kindergarten birthday cupcakes! I got the idea online for these cute owl cupcakes:


It was fun to figure out which candies to use for the eyes and beaks! I used Oreos and Junior Mints for the eyes, Mike and Ikes for the beaks and piped the ears and feathers on with a chocolate buttercream icing.


So then on his actual birthday cake for his party:


What fun it is to celebrate this precious boy!





“Children are a heritage from the Lord,”
                                                                             Psalm 127:3





Thursday, October 27, 2011

Decide to GAIN weight for Christmas?!?!

With P90X creator Tony Horton at the Diamond
Beachbody Coach Gala party in LA
As many people know, I am proud to be a Beachbody Coach. I just LOVE it! However, due to our adoption process and going independently, I've not been able to focus on it intensely.

And I've learned that adopting a child is VERY SIMILAR to having a birth child...life is thrown completely out of whack and regular workouts are a distant memory! I've heard it said that adopting an older child is just like having a newborn except that they don't lay down for a nap every 2-3 hours! RIGHT!!

Granted I didn't gain that dreaded pregnancy weight this time, but I have really struggled to get time to workout as I had so regularly done before.

So... I decided to jump back in with a Fitness Challenge that will stretch across the holidays like a big blanket of snow! I mean really--how many of us actually WANT to gain that  5-10 pounds that are SOOOOO easy to pick up during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years?

Do you know that if you do not decide to lose weight during the holidays you will actually gain it? So if you do nothing, you are in effect deciding to gain weight for Christmas!!!! Hey, please pass the fudge. ;)

Think about what it would be like to hit New Year's Eve and realize, "I AM ALREADY LIVING LIKE I WANT TO," and your only resolution to be "keep it up?"

Not possible? Hmmmm. I think you can do it!

So, that's where this challenge is going to come in!! :)

I am offering to coach FIVE people over the holidays and into the New Year (to Grandmother's house we go!). We will develop a community of encouragement and accountability all striving to improve our health TOGETHER. This is a beta test group so there are going to be some requirements so we can get good results.

What are the requirements?

*You must be committed for 90 days. That stretch will look like mid-November through mid-February.

*You need to drink Shakeology daily. And we are hoping for that awesome new TROPICAL vegan flavor to come out in the first quarter of 2012!!!

*You must commit to a Beachbody program. Nearly all programs are 6 days a week of exercise. Some are 5. The daily time commitment is usually 45 - 60 minutes.

*You must be on Facebook. The reason for this requirement is that I want to have all of us in a private group together where we can build relationships, encourage and stay accountable.

*I will recommend that people log their nutrition into an online fitness app like MyFitnessPal. We can all "friend" each other there and stay accountable that way too!

Now for some good news!

On November 1, 2011 Beachbody will release the "Challenge Packs" which include:
* a home direct order of Shakeology,
*a fitness program of your choice,
* 1 free month of the Beachbody Club (The Club includes an awesome meal planner and other great weight loss/fitness related tools).

There are three packs to choose from but since they have not been officially released, I cannot post which fitness programs are in which pack. However, the prices are in the neighborhood of $160 for the beginning programs up to $205 for the more advanced programs. Each pack will come with free shipping and will also save on the whole cost from $25-$45 (than if you ordered Shakeology and the fitness program separately). :)

If this sounds like something  you are ready to COMMIT to...then add a comment to this post and let me know. I will not publish your comments. Supply me with an email and if we aren't already Facebook friends, then request me or give me your page in the comment and I'll look you up.

I'm excited to see who God brings together for this challenge and I'm ready to kick myself back into gear after our adoption!

Holiday weight gain? Not me!! Not YOU! ;)




Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Let's PARTY...small style!

Party time!!!

(Although our original plans to have a huge celebration in our home town with family and friends had to be cancelled due to illness, we delighted in having the seven of us together for a little soiree of our own!)

For whom you may ask???

For...
This child we have loved on for 6 weeks in our home.

This child who a year ago had a much much bleaker outlook on life.

This child who went dazed and confused into an orphanage with 49 other lost children...relearning life and wondering what would be next.

This child whom God matched to our family.

This child for whom we did a heroic paper chase and YOU joined in the effort to help us bring him home.

This child whom we've fallen head over heels for.
(and you will too when you meet him!)

The monkey cake (he is always telling me he is my little monkey!) and the pizza, the ice cream and the laughter around the table were priceless.
These boys are just loving their BROTHERHOOD!!!
All the party-goers had a great time! (If you know Zora, you note the location of her red ball!) ;)

The singing...
The candle blowing...
The cheering!!!

The cake cutting... (I LOVE that he requested the monkey's smile...right in the MIDDLE! :))

The dancing!
The presents... (Wait, what are presents??? LEARNING QUICKLY that presents are FUN!!!!!)







                                                   The happy hugs...


And the one final question....


When can we do this again????




Friday, October 14, 2011

Life as a swirl cake

I never even think to buy marble cake mix. But there is some little munchkin who did because when I got home from the store last week and unloaded groceries, there it sat on my counter.

"Hmmm. I never put that in my cart! But...

                                            I could use that for Zebby's birthday cake," I thought.

Funny how things like that happen.

So fast forward to today...see here for why life is so crazy...and I'm preparing his cake for the oven.

But as I mixed the marble cake up...I realized what a demonstration this is about adoption.

We are the pan of yellow cake mix, he is the chocolate mix being added in.

(Did I say please forgive the silliness of this analogy yet? Please do. We are more than yellow and chocolate cake flavors, I know.)

As I plopped down the chocolate on top of the yellow, I realized that this is what life still feels like...nearly 6 weeks in.

But as I took the knife and swirled it together a beautiful pattern emerged.

The cake didn't blend into one solid murky color, each maintained their individual colors and flavors.

And it was beautiful.


That is what our goal as a family is: to blend together into a beautiful, multicultural, harmonious unit. Not color blind, but celebrating each person's uniqueness and contribution to the whole.



We'll get there. 


                       Some day.





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