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Friday, December 21, 2007

Our Company Christmas Party

We enjoyed hosting our annual Christmas party for our employees last night. We went to Macayos and had a room all to ourselves. This year we had 22 guests including some dates our employees brought. As Dustin looked around the room he told me he was emotional to see all that God had done for our small business since we began out of our house, only the two of us, Oct. of '04. We are blessed beyond words to be able to serve our employees and we thank the Lord continually for each employee He has made a part of our team.

This year has been a tough year in our industry. Many businesses have folded or cut their labor forces dramatically. There was a point when we were wondering if that would be our fate also. We are blessed to have made it through without layoffs. Many of our general contractors weren't paying on time. Some even closed their doors without ever paying what they owed us. This year there have been nights when we were on our knees crying and begging the Lord to bring much needed funds so we could make payroll for our employees and pay our bills. Every time we had a need the LORD supplied. He is so faithful! We have gone without a few paychecks lately but you'd never know it because the Lord has met every need we've had.

This year we have been blessed to be in a position where we have been in need. I know that is a strange thing to say, but it's so true. I have learned so much more this year about giving and faith than I could have ever learned any other way. When everything is said and done we are still the most blessed people on earth and rich in so many more way than merely monetary. This year we don't have much to get the girls gifts (but never fear our faithful Lord had that in His plans too. That's what grandparents are for!!) but we know that our family is in the midst being blessed with so many precious gifts. How could we be anything other than thankful!?

Thank you Lord for being You!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Here's What I've Got

3 letters of reference notarized properly

1 Certified Birth Certificate.

Now I have to have to wait until the new year for those physicians letters but it's exciting to know that, ONCE AGAIN, we are just waiting on a few pieces of paper and then (I say this with fear and trembling) we will be done. Hopefully FOR REAL this time!

Oh my, that's a lotta


..... and paper. I should own stock in Hallmark! We are running out of room for all our Christmas cards.

Thanks so much to everyone who loving sent us cards and pictures. I love walking by them and thinking of you!

I plan on making everyone who comes over jealous by showing them how popular we are!! I think I'll say something like, " so did you notice how many Christmas cards we've got? I bet you don't have that many do you? No, you don't..... That's because we've got the best and most organized friends ever!"

I'll say that AND, "......I've got more friends than you do, I've got more friends than you do!" HEHEHEHE. OK that's not very nice, so I'll just think it instead.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Red Letters Campaign- Catching The Bug

God works in wonderful ways.

This week our good friends announced that they too will be adopting from Ethiopia. They are with a different agency and are adopting an older sibling set. I had so much fun with my friend Julie during the beginning stages of their process. Talking about books she's read. Discussing our thoughts, the risks, etc of international adoption. But, the most fun I had was watching the way God flipped the switch in their hearts, just as he had done in our own hearts.

By "flip the switch" I mean that nearly inexpressible event which happens in the heart and mind that can best be described as being like a heat seeking missile. You just can't stop until you hit the target. Once God set the idea of adoption in our hearts it was on! From that moment the commitment turned into a consuming passion. The intensity which the decision to adopt brings about is almost always surprising to those who are first experiencing it. Literally, it's like a switch has been flipped. One day you were not adopting and the next you are...... and now everything has changed, for the better!

Dustin and I are thrilled for Julie and Mark and their kids! Of course, we have many self interested motives for being thrilled with their choice of Ethiopia!! It's nice to have such a wonderful family in our church adopting from the same country we are. Our kids will have each other nearby to relate to and share the common thread of ancestry. How cool is that!? Maybe now I can even convince Julie to try to learn some Amharic with me since her kids will be older and fluent...she'll need all the help she can get! hehehehe.

So being the dear friends that you are, would you please head over to Julie's Blog and send her your congratulations Then keep updated as they progress. She will be starting an adoption blog soon. I'll keep you posted!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Red Letters Campaign- Dossier Update

Hi there friends. Are you totally losing your minds yet with all the to-do's to finish up before Christmas is here? I know I am! I still have to figure out what the heck to put in all the cute containers I purchased for my neighbors (which were supposed to be filled with my baked goods).

Here's the news on our paperwork:

1) Dustin made an appearance at the court today in Mesa. Seems they are a bit confused by our need to have two individual letters, one for each of us. They had printed up two of the same letter which had our names combined on it. Dustin spelled out the details for them and they promised to have the letters to us by Friday. That means we will definitely NOT be getting our dossier in to AWAA before the New Year (The deadline for shipping them in is Dec 21st). I am not sad, though, because I truly feel blessed to be as "ahead" of schedule as we are. Originally I had hoped we would have our dossier to ET be the end of Jan (this was back in July) and so now it looks like God sees fit to make it happen that way.

2) Our dear references are hustling like crazy to get us new letters. We appreciate them doing this as it must be one of the LAST things, I'm sure, that any of them would want to be doing this time of year!

3) My Birth Cert. flew Next Day Air on Fri and should be on the SOS's desk today. The website says processing takes anywhere from 5-7 days. We'll see.

4) Still working on our doctors letters. This should be a HUGE pain in the butt since the last time we had to deal with them it was a total nightmare. No one over there is super excited to help us out. SO GLAD we don't use them as our docs anymore!!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Merry Christmas?

In our family we have a saying. You might find it vulgar but we, being the wackos that we are, find it pretty funny. Here's why. My sister and I have MANY a childhood memory of Christmas but some of the most vivid childhood memories we share are of events that adults would porbably prefer to forget.

For instance, the best and most hilarious memory wasn't funny at all at the time. Only with our acquired adult perspective has this memory come to be, truly, the most hilarious of Christmas memories. You see one particular year Dad took me and Valerie to pick out a fresh cut Christmas tree (as was traditionally done) and Valerie spotted what was to her the most spectacular and magnificent Christmas tree EVER! Of course she had to have it. There was no arguing with her. Dad purchased the special tree.

When we got home he had to lug the tree up three flights of stairs (he lived in a condo at the time) and from the grumbling he made I'd guess it was a bit heavy for him to carry by himself.
Soon after the tree stood glowing, decorated with love and care. Valerie and I were thrilled, dad was glad to be done with it.

So, the first time the tree came crashing down it fell over the coffee table and broke a few items on the table. Most of the ornaments were spared. Dad was annoyed. We heard a few choice words from under his breath. He stood the tree back up, primped it and all was well.

The second time the tree fell it fell on me and Valerie. We were crying and upset. Dad was now visibly furious and most of the ornaments were broken. After getting out a saw and a spare stand the tree was erected once more. It was a bit less magical, yet still festive.

The third time the tree fell dad flew in to a fit of cuss words that any programmer on any TV network would have a field day bleeping! After heading out to the store to purchase a completely new stand of industrial strength the tree was finally secure. Dad was no longer in the holiday spirit of cheer. Valerie and I felt that maybe it would be a good idea for us to retreat to our bedroom and let dad have some quiet time.

Somehow, over the years we have dubbed that Christmas the Merry Bleeping Christmas. We find it funny how dad has NEVER purchased a fresh cut tree again. Since then, whenever a holiday faux pas happens we say, "well Merry bleeping Christmas." It's just a thing we do. Probably, if anyone ever heard us saying that without knowing the back story they'd think we were the most vulgar people on the planet.... but to us it's funny.

The expression took on a whole new meaning when Dustin and I had our own official "merry bleeping Christmas" a short time after we were married. When our own tree fell several times I was tempted to reenact my father's bleeps.

This leads to today's post:

This is the best of what I came up with after my sister, mom, aunt, cousins and I (plus 7 kids) had a baking day.... pretty sad.

We had a great time together, but the baking day was a bust! I had visions of bountiful baked goods in mind, each wonderfully made and delicious. Instead, everything I had planned to give to our neighbors as gifts this Christmas didn't turn out well. My sister had her own baking troubles with her desired cookies and so the only thing we made which is presentable as gifts are some chocolate covered pretzels and the few cookies you see above.

The kids really enjoyed decorating their sugar cookies with every known sprinkle and gel available to man. Those things we piled so high with frosting, etc. that they were inedible (but very pretty!) They also overdosed on sugar and so they were a blast to try to contain all day! wink, wink.

My mom and sister agreed that we felt a tiny bit discouraged to have purchased so many ingredients, and with such hopes, only to have little to show for our efforts. Mostly we HAD overly decorated, slobber contaminated, kiddie sugar cookies that no adult on this planet would touch, even with a ten foot pole (the kids, however, WERE thrilled with them) I use the past tense in reference to the sugar cookies because my dear sister called this a.m. to tell me her dog had polished off every last one of them off the counter and so now she had only the pretzels left! HOW QUAINT!!

Guess what I said to Valerie next through the phone, "Merry bleeping Christmas!"

Ah, what a tradition!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Red Letters Campaign- Another Hiccup

It's the name of the game folks.... DELAYS. I just remembered in the midst of our mounds of paperwork that we have been waiting since November for the court to rewrite the Police Clearance letters for Dustin and myself separately (as opposed to the single letter the have written for us so far). So far our HS Coordinator has been unsuccessful at trying to get them for us. I guess the courts don't want anything to do with us once they've pushed us through. (Hmmm I wonder if that's how the Lord compelled them to finish our case so quickly. Maybe he put a bad taste in their mouths for our family and so they want nothing more to do with us? Just kidding!)

So to recap, here's what we need:

1) Jen's Birth Cert. Certified by the SOS (out of state)
2) Separate Police Clearance letters from the AZ courts
3) Original letters from our physician following up our physical exams.

Dustin seems to think that he can head down to the courts tomorrow and just ask them to write the letters. I love his enthusiasm but I tend to be a pessimist and I'm thinking they might say, "and WHO are you?" You never know, though, Dustin can be pretty convincing and tenacious when he needs to be. He may just get what he wants tomorrow.

Just in case, I have an email into our HS Corrd to she what progress she's made, though I assume it's none otherwise I would have heard from her.

Yup, that Dec 21st deadline for dossiers to be in at AWAA seems SUPER unattainable right about now. No worries. We are still ahead of schedule the way I see it.

Red Letters Campaign- Gonna Have To Wait After All

We ran into some roadblocks today. I forgot to have my Birth Certificate authenticated as I was born in another state. Went online to see if the website had info about where to mail the goods and couldn't find it. Bummer!

All three of our letters of reference were invalid due to the fact that the notaries failed to include the appropriate verbiage...and we should have known better. SO those have to be rewritten! TRIPLE Bummer!!

Lastly, I mailed off the originals (BY COMPLETE ACCIDENT) of our doctors letters following up on our Physical Exam forms. I have a call into our HS Corrd. to see if she has them on file or if we'll have to have the doctor rewrite them for us. UGH, I dread this last one! I am terrified! I do not want to have to deal with the office staff again.

No Dossier to ET until after the holidays for us!

If the day didn't stink already, we got such sad news about our friends the Carpenter family. The had another unsuccessful court appearance and this one was difficult to bear. Say some prayers for them please!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Red Letters campaign- Shows How Much I Know!

Well, we are back from an evening filled with racing around town running errands. After the shock of receiving the I-171h form I about collapsed. Then, I immediately went into freak out mode!

I am not usually one who procrastinates so this caught me completely off guard. I had resolved to try not to obsess over our adoption paperwork this Christmas season and spend the time enjoying my family and our traditions. I wanted to focus my mind on the Lord as much as possible and so I resolved that my objectives would be best met if I took a breather from the paper chasing.

When Dustin walked in with a huge pile of mail holding a piece of paper I barely glanced at him ( I was checking our YG.. oh it's an obsession!) while he calmly asked me, "So what happens when they send us our I-171h form?"

"We'll be done" I replied with a tone meant to imply that we had gone over this WAY too many times for him to not know this.

"Well, we're done then." he chirped back in a 'I-bet-you-didn't see-that-one-comin' sorta way.

"WHHHHHAAAAAATTTT!?" so loud that the neighbors heard me. "Are you kidding me?" I asked as I yanked the papers rudely from his hands just to get a glimpse. Next came my thundering "WHHHHAAAAAH-HHHOOOOOO!"

By this time all the girls had gathered around to see the spectacle. They instinctively knew a celebration was happening because they joined in with me by hopping. (You must know that they are super bouncy little things. They truly remind me of Tigger and so whenever I see them bounce this way I mentally say, "Boing, boing, boing..... It's absolutely the funnest sight ever!)

We did manage to calm me down and successfully have our passport photos made. When we got home I edited the photo pages which will be included with our dossier (as upon looking at them in this more official feeling mood I seemed to like them less. Can I just say less is more and I needed to get that point! I was able to delete some BUT our family is HUGE and it seems so weird to have some of them pictured and not others. Oh well, these are the types of things that adoptive families can get nutty over during the paper chase. I am so glad that soon I will be free to freak out over new and different things.....) We organized our paperwork for the umteenth time, "just to be sure!"

Tomorrow Dustin will be taking our paperwork to the Secretary of State. Hopefully things will go well there.

I am humbled once more to see the unmerited favor and blessing of the LORD poured out over our family. I definitely feel like a blessed child of God!

I have so many friends who I am reminded tonight. I am thinking of dear friends who are experiencing many difficulties and trials. Some are waiting like watchmen on the wall for the Lord to return an answer to the prayers thay have earnestly been praying for some time now. I am still praying for you friends. I haven't forgotten you.

With so much love,

Red Letters Campaign- So Close

We got our I171h today!!! I am SOOO excited!!!

Have no time to type more... off to do things like get our passport photos taken. And we were taking is easy this Christmas season because we thought it would take them forever to get it to us. Boy were we wrong!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Court Delays

I am sad for our friends who are waiting once more for a successful court date. You see, five of the families who received referrals on Oct 3rd are STILL waiting for word that their kids are officially theirs. I can only imagine how difficult and near heart breaking this wait is on them.

My friend Penelope wrote this update for our YG:

Susan came in today (on her day off) to let us know that the MOWA did not have the letters needed for our court date today, so our courtdate is delayed yet again. The MOWA has promised the letters by Thursday and the judge has graciously rescheduled our court appointments for that day (12/13) in the afternoon.

Just a glimpse into the working of the ET courts and what we can expect when it's our turn. I am praying for all the families who are waiting anxiously for their good news, and the opportunity to finally sigh a breath of relief. Then we will be able to see the photos of their kids!

Monday, December 10, 2007

More Fundraising

We were accepted into the Eternal Family Adoption Assistance Program. Family and friends are now able to make tax deductible donations toward our adoption expenses.

We have been approved to receive up to $5000.00 in funds which will go a LONG way in assisting us bring our boy home. You can check the progress of our fundraising goal by looking at the thermometer to the right in the sidebar.

If you would like to make a donation please copy and paste the following voucher and include it with your donation.

Thanks so much!
Jen for the Slonigers

Eternal Family Adoption Assistance Program

Name of Adopting Family you are requesting to support:
Dustin and Jennifer Sloniger


Please record your name, or organization’s name, full address, phone number, and the
amount of your contribution in the box below. Be sure to include this form with your
check. Checks can be made payable to America World.
America World is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization; therefore, all donations
are considered tax-deductible contributions in the year they are given. The funds
donated are not refundable to the donor or to the family. The maximum amount of
donation money for a family’s adoption expense is determined by household income
(with a cap of $10,000). Any amount above this will be used to fund other families or
America World projects. In order to fully comply with the law, America World retains
discretion and control over the use of all donated funds. Contributions become part of
a fund used to assist families with their adoption expenses. While we cannot guarantee
that all funds donated by you will be made available to your designated family,
America World does work to honor the wishes of donors.

Name: ______________________________________________________
Address: _______________________________________________________
City, State, and Zip Code:________________________
Phone Number: ________________________________
Please indicate the Amount of Contribution:

○$ 10
○$20 ○$50 ○$100 ○$200
○$300 ○$400 ○$500 ○$750

○other $_______

Friday, December 7, 2007

Summing Up What I Learned in LBY

I got a phone call from a dear friend Kim, who headed up our women's Bible study. It was so great to hear from her. We chatted about some of the things God has done over the course of the Living Beyond Yourself study in the lives of us women who joined together on Thursday nights. I was reminded that this post is a long time coming.

Some of the highlights of what the Lord impressed upon my heart over the course of this study:

1) I knew very little at all about the Holy Spirit and especially the fruit (Gal 5: 22 -23 ). Now that I have learned more I cannot imagine my life without having the knowledge this study brought. It is one of my all time recommended studies!!

2) I have heard from the Lord that I am to invest myself in praying for others. Not just part time, but much more regularly and much more fervently. More like daily. I feel Him asking me to be much less concerned with my personal circumstances and concentrate on what He is doing and desires to do in the lives of others. For me, I believe what He is after is more an act of faith to let go of my tendency to worry about situations and instead spend time praying for others. I will really need to learn to be led by His Spirit if I want to accomplish this. I know that it is worth the effort. Pouring out myself in prayer for others has it's benefits, especially, after experiencing His blessing after living out Isaiah 58: 6-11 for just a day!

3) In 2007 the Lord has seen fit to completely turn our world upside down and with that change has come a sense of vulnerability and real needs have arisen. We are learning daily about God's provision and to place our whole trust in Him and rely on Him to work even in seemingly the most impossible of situations. Sometimes we do this faithfully and filled with His Spirit and other times we are very weak. His faithfulness, however, has never failed and we have been blessed to be in His care this year! I have a sense that 2008 will bring some more strengthening of such a faith. I also expect to see some answers to some prayers that we have waiting a long time to receive. So, stay tuned because I am excited to see how God will tie all these things together.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Good Reminder

I really liked this article. It was a quick and easy read but it was the perfect reminder for the Christmas season. I especially asked myself how often our church does something without self promotion. I think it can be very challenging to truly gift a "free" gift. Give it a read and let me know what you think.

I am brainstorming about ways to personally "get out of the building" so to speak and really serve this Christmas.

We'll see what the Lord leads me to!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


After the heavy rains we enjoyed on Friday and Saturday our yard is full of worms. Yesterday I enjoyed watching the girls hunt for their "friends" most of the afternoon.

Aurora, for some reason unknown to us, really, really likes worms. It is strange to me because she is our most girly of girls. She's the dress up and dancing queen. She flutters and bounces everywhere she goes. She loves all things pretty, so worms just weren't on our radar as one of her favorite things.

She had mentioned a while ago that she wanted a book about worms. We went to the library but alas, all the worm books were out (shocking, really. How could we have known they'd be in high demand?) But that was the last she mentioned of them. Until....

She collected 13 worms yesterday and taunted her sisters with them, chasing them around the yard. She finally convinced Allyse that worms really weren't gross and that they don't bite. Ally grabbed one and decided she enjoyed their squishy texture. When Rory decided to give her worm a kiss that was more than Rienne could handle! She ran inside completely disgusted and locked the sliding glass doors leaving Rory and her beloved worms out in the cold. Rienne takes after me where creppy crawlies are concerned.

Before bed that night Rory put her worms to 'sleep' in one of my plastic containers. This morning, when she awoke, she ran straight to the patio to check on their status. I had never seen a dried up spherical mass of dead worms before, but now that I have I can assure you that it's a pretty disgusting sight. My dear Aurora, in all her positivity, pronounced that her precious worms were merely "sleeping in" and that they would be fine later on, while simultaneously pitching them from their 'slumber' into the yard as if to discard them. Hmmm, Wonder what that was all about? Perhaps she felt conflicted by the idea that the bed she lovingly made was the cause of their demise?

I guess I ought to toughen up and get used to the idea that bugs and kids go together! When our son comes home I wonder if he'll be like most boys and love to hunt down and collect various insects, etc. He will at least have one sister to join him in the hunt.

A friend asked a while ago if I thought our girls would like an ant farm as a Christmas gift. Visions of broken glass and an ant infestation flooded my mind as I blurted out "NOPE! Don't think they'd be interested in that AT ALL!!"

I distinctly remember her eyes piercing through me. Her sarcastic eyes assured me that she was on to me. My friend Brooke knows my girls all to well, and their mother for that matter. She is the mother of three young ones, the oldest of which just turned 3 (barely old enough to begin using him against his mother in torture as she has so loving done with my kids!). I haven't yet had the opportunity to pay her back for some of her "gifts" but I can assure you (are you reading this Brooke) that if she indeed ever decided to purchase an ant farm for my kids she could most definitely expect to receive an Anaconda or Boa Constrictor with a bow around it the soonest holiday or birthday thereafter!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Finally They Are Here!

So I mentioned briefly a LONG time ago that we had professional pics taken in July. After months of negotiating with the photog my in-laws bought the copyright to the photos. Without further delay, here they are! I love these!!

The pics were taken from the beach house that we stayed at. It was a great view! The fourth of July fireworks were a blast. I hear that area was hit during the fires. I wonder how the beach homes fared? My guess is they are fine.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My Thanks

I have so much to be thankful for. I am making a small list in honor of the season and the One who has blessed us so much this Thanksgiving.

1) I am thankful for the gift of hearing,
2) that I can recognize the voices of loved ones,
3) that I grew up listening to my father sing and play the guitar
4) That I can hear my own voice lifted up in praise to our God
5) that the Lord has given me spiritual ears to recognize His voice
6) I am thankful for my vision.
7) That I can look upon creation and enjoy the majesty of
8) Sunsets, sunrises, stars, ocean waves, rain, thunder, lightening.... to name a few
9) I am thankful for my past.
10) that's right, every painful piece of it, for now I see that none of it will go to waste
11) I am SO THANKFUL that in Christ nothing is a waste
12) That we can actually pray and ask God to restore the years the locust ate
13) and that he actually DOES restore them!
14) I am thankful that He has never given up on me even when I wanted little to do with Him
15) I am thankful that God lifts us up in due time
16) I am thankful that the LORD has revealed to me and Dustin that He may not have necessarily called us to a comfortable life on this earth
17) I am thankful that Christ is teaching me and D to be comfortable with relying on HIM alone
18) I can't believe how much I love the life I have been given,
19) The God I serve,
20) The people He has given me to love
21) The excitement associated with pouring myself out before Him the rest of my life
22) and the ability to experience Him accomplishing in and through me more than I could have ever asked or imagined.
23) I love and am so thankful for Dustin my BELOVED Husband
24) and our children
25) and our parents
26) and our extended family
27) and our many friends
28) and Palm Valley Church
29) and The church Universal
30) and all people, for that matter.
31) I am thankful that I can ask God to give me a heart like His
32) and pray he'll make me able to love people more
33) and that I can KNOW that He will give me the desires of my heart!
34) I am thankful for the sword of the Spirit which is the WORD of God!!
35) I am thankful for the Holy Spirit which is the mind of Christ
36) and that the Spirit dwells in those who believe on Christ
37) and that God can be known
38) that He isn't cruel and aloof
39) that He reached down from on high to touch my pathetic sinful self
40) and made me a new creation.
41) That I can be filled with His Spirit just by the asking
42) I am thankful for our health
43) for our home
44) for our business
45) for each and every employee God has blessed us to be able to work with.
46) I thank God for the customers who pay the bills.
47) I am thankful for every mentor who has invested in my life and Dustin's life
48) I am full of thanks for every dear soul who attended Genesis Church
49) I love the way God build His body
50) and that I still have such love for people I may not see again in this life
51) I am thankful for Chaplain West and his precious wife and girls
52) for their service to our nation and their sacrifices
53) and for all the other Service men and women they represent
54) I am thankful for every martyr who stood firm in the faith and showed the rest of the body what it means to follow Christ in total surrender.
55) I am thankful that I live in a nation where I can write freely about my faith.
56) I am thankful that there are brothers and sisters all over the world who will confess Christ knowing they will suffer for it
57) I am thankful I was born wealthy
58) that as an American I live in the top 3% of the world's wealthiest people
59) I humbly thank God that He has begun to speak to us about what we should do with such wealth.
60) I am so thankful God shared His vision and heart for adoption with our family
61) and that He caused us to follow through in obedience
62) I am thankful that in 2008 we look forward to bringing our son HOME!
63) I give thanks that 2007 will be over soon
64) for it was a VERY difficult year
65) but a very blessed and fruit-filled year
66) and because it was so blessed and difficult I am thankful that I can say I wouldn't change anything.
67) I am thankful I have retained a bit of what was taught me this year.
68) I am thankful God is a God of second chances (to quote Veggie Tales!)
69) I am thankful for yummy food
70) and for Jan's mom's special stuffing recipe!!
71) I am thankful that there are people giving up their holiday festivities to serve others in food kitchens all over our nation
72) I am thankful for the abundance of food our nation enjoys
73) I am thankful for stair stepping machines
74) and the ability to peer out my sliding glass door at the one I own
75) You know, the one that collects dust and NEVER gets used!
76) Which will be available for my use after I reconfirm my commitment to my New Year's resolution
77) I am thankful for Chocolate!
78) Which is one of the worst causes of the need for the stair stepper!
79) I am thankful for the children who D and I are blessed to serve weekly at PV
80) I give thanks that God has used them to teach me SO much about HIS love
81) I adore the team of folks who serve in the Playhouse at PV... THEY ARE AWESOME!
82) I am thankful for..... ( You know i have to mention HER) Beth Moore
83) I see a woman who obeyed God in the little things
84) Did the HARD stuff
85) And was used by God for the benefit of others, like me, to teach me life transforming truth!
86) I am thankful that God taught me that obedience is the key to experiencing Him
87) and that every day I have the opportunity to obey.
88) I am thankful that in 2006 God flipped a switch in me
89) I feel like a new woman!
90) I am so very thankful for the loving network of people who keep us going
91) Who pray for us
92) Who hang out with us and make life so much fun to live.
93) I am thankful for pray warriors we have never met
94) Who get down on their knees with us across our nation
95) Who are in the same boat as us as we wait patiently on the Lord to bring our kids home
96) The Internet is a beautiful thing and I give thanks for the connections we've made via our Yahoo Group with AWAA
97) Our agency is expanding programs into more countries and that thrills my heart!
98) Now there are even more opportunities for children to find families who will love them
99) I am thankful that as 2008 nears we still have yet to discover answers to many prayers
100) I am thankful for Jer 29:11 and the excitement every day brings for those waiting for God to unveil His plans for all those He loves.

I pray this Thanksgiving finds you overflowing with joy, peace and especially THANKSGIVING. I pray you would be filled with the presence and love of Christ!

With so much love,

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Red Letters Campaign- Our Miracle Paper

Well, here it is. Our miracle paper. Ya know, I thought it would be a bit more spectacular in it's appearance. It's pretty boring and humble looking considering the weight this single paper carries with it. Notice the little check mark in the box stating the we are APPROVED!! Thank You Lord!

You can't see it in this picture but it is dated Nov. 2, 2007. Folks, I need for you to know that Nov 2nd was the day I fasted and prayed for our AWAA yahoo group. I also need you to know that I wrote to a woman who was having a hard time just as I was. On that day (Nov 2nd) I wrote:

Oh my goodness I was hurting SO much yesterday and then I went to bible study (Living Beyond Yourself.. by Beth Moore... CAN'T RECOMMEND IT ENOUGH!!!) She gave a lesson about Goodness (as expresed through the fruit of> the Spirit) and how doing good is associated with just that, the active, energized action of DOING good. She referenced Isa 58:6-11. The conditional promises related to "pouring yourself out" so today, the best healing for my heart has been to pour myself out in prayer on behalf of others doing what little good I know I can do.. which is; praying continually on all occasions for all believers. IT has strengthened my frame today!!

Now is your jaw on the floor like mine is right now!? As i was praying a judge in Phoenix was signing our cert. to adopt form an amazing 2 1/2 months ahead of schedule!! WOW!

I am NOT writing this to suggest that anything I did had anything to do with God working a miracle for us! Nope I simply took Him at His word, trusting that He is TRUTH and waited. Oh my, did He ever display His believability in an awesome way for our family!
1 Kings 8:23
and said:
"O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I'll Become Even More Undignified Than This

Today is a day for such a song. If you've never hear the song UNDIGNIFIED by Matt Redman may I suggest that you buy it and crank it up REAL LOUD. Today I will be playing it in honor of my God and His lavish blessings which He pours out on me, His child. A child He chooses to love according to HIS FAITHFULNESS, not according to my faithfulness. Praise!

Here are some of the lyrics:
I will dance, I will seem, to be mad for my King.
Nothing, Lord, is hindering the passion in my soul
And I 'll become even more undignified than this,
Some will say it's foolishness,
But I'll become even more undignified than this.......

Folks hold on to your seat I am getting ready to report a bona fide MIRACLE today! Can you believe the Lord has seen fit to move our Home Study through the Arizona courts at lightening speed. After just over two weeks we have received approval when it was expected to take 3 MONTHS! Wahhhh-hooooooo! Rejoice!!

I was in the middle of an intercessory prayer meeting with a DEAR friend from church (all the other ladies had to cancel so it was just the two of us) and I got an annoying phone call which I didn't pick up....the answering machine revealed an untimely (or well planned distraction) call from a telemarketer. Ick! I hung up and the phone rang again. the Lord must have compelled me to answer the phone, because I had no intentions of stopping our prayer momentum when our social worker said hello and then my heart STOPPED! She informed me of the news and I was trying as hard as I could to cry silently while I was on my knees raising my hands to the ceiling in the 'woot-whoot' motion.

I am so, so, so humbled! Who are we that the Lord of all heaven should stoop so low to intervene on our behalf!? Oh but He does! He is so loving and faithful!!

I will be here all day. Dancing and singing praises. Making a fool out of myself in thanks to Jesus!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Who's Your Baby?

On the big Ethiopian Adoption Yahoo Group board (not the same as the AWAA board) some people were sharing the referral photos of their kids (our agency doesn't allow us to post pics until our kids are officially ours in ET for privacy reasons). It was strange to catch what could be a glimpse of how our referral photos might look. They weren't posed pictures. They were candid snap shots with other kids playing in the background. Poor lighting, bad angles, etc. NOT any parent's dream idea of the first image of their child they'll have to cling to, rest assured!

Now I may be a bit of a diva about this issue, but if I could have it my way I'd like a high resolution, quality pic. One with excellent lighting as well. I'll take a photo straight on please, and another with his head turned slightly (both left and right). Next, I'd like both side profiles (mug shot style please). Oh, and don't forget one smiling, one frowning, one laughing, .... and the back of the head too, for good measure. Finally, a full length shot would be important. An action shot would be appreciated, too, if you could swing it. For heaven's sake THIS is my son and I WANT to know what he looks like. All of him!

I have read the accounts of many AP (adoptive parent) who couldn't recognize their child's face when it came time to pick them up at the orphanage even though they studied every detail of their faces from the moment they got those first precious, albeit less than ideal quality, pictures in their hands. Of course I whisper to myself, "That will not happen to me." But, secretly I fear it a bit. It just seems plain weird that I wouldn't KNOW the face of my child. This child who I already have LOVED in my heart for so long now, but never the less a child whom I still don't know. I can imagine a guilty kind a betrayal feeling creeping over me if it were to happen for me the same as it did for those other dear AP's. Someone from our agency even blogged about entering the room on the first day at the orphanage and being asked by the care takers to pick their infant from among the bunch of children. Their's was a son, so naturally they never imagined that he would be dressed like a girl! It wasn't that the care takers were trying to be cruel, I imagine, but that for lack of clothes maybe they used girls clothes, or maybe they don't have the same ideas about colors which are traditionally girl colors in the US. They tend to put tights on all the infants to keep them warm from what I have read (they like to bundle infants up pretty warm in ET, much more than what we'd tend to be comfortable with in the US) Needless to say, they couldn't recognize their boy and so the care takers had to point him out for them. When I read that I nearly crumbled inside for that poor mother! I pray that it never affected her the way it would have if it would have been me. I pray that NEVER happens to us or any one else for that matter.

I am anxious to hear about the kind and type of photos those families who are with our agency have gotten with their referrals. I am sure they are all so giddy just gaze at an actual photo of their kids that they are not going to nit pick a thing!

this is all just a curiosity which was aroused in me today. I have nothing much to do lately but wait, so I expect that lots of weird curiosities such as this will occupy my mind for a while.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

"Minor" Head Injury

Miss Allyse fell off the couch last night and conked her noggin pretty good. She managed to knock the wind out of herself and bang her head smack on the floor. Talk about my heart stopping. Ick! The sound of the thud will haunt me for a long time to come.

We took her to the ER to make sure everything was okay. Thankfully she has a good strong skull. No concussion.

Whenever one of my kids gets hurt it cuts me to the core! In a moment my world turns upside down and I think of mothers who have lost their children. (I can't even imagine!) There is a family that is dealing with the loss of their 19 year old son, nephew, brother, etc... and my heart was so heavy for them I just sat down and cried my eyes out. I couldn't say enough words in prayer or ask God enough to fill them will His comfort and peace. For as bad as anything may seem there just is no other option than the Lord. The only One Who can make a difference. I pray He makes a very powerful mark in that family's life during this difficult loss!

Thursday, November 1, 2007


We dressed up this kids for the first time this year and went door to door for candy. We have mixed feelings about this year's experience. Usually we bake cookies as a family and pass out candy but this year our oldest two girls really, really wanted to dress up. We talked with them about how scary some people choose to dress up and how some houses think it's fun to scare kids and that we were only going to go around to a few of the neighbours on our block (ones we knew had kids and wouldn't be scary). Then my SIL invited us to her church's Trunk or Treat event. So, we decided to go there figuring that it would be a safe choice. WRONG!

WOW, were we surprised by the costume choices of the church vol's who were passing out candy. Some were Gory, others just inappropriate for a family affair (like patients with their large fake plastic butts hanging out the back of their hospital gowns) witches and other weird things. Just NOT what I expected. I am NOT talking about members of the community who arrived at the event. I am talking about church families who volunteered to park their cars and pass out candy! Now, I know I may be more sensitive than the average American when it comes to my Halloween sensibilities but really I don't think I am overly sensitive.

I hate to feel that it's is better to shun the social aspects of the day and the great opportunity to meet neighbours and develop connections within our community opening the door to share Christ in our 'hoods but I struggle with a certain discomfort. I struggle with the question of where to draw the line. Let's face it most kids have lots of fun dressing up and getting candy and our kids have no clue about the darker undercurrents of Halloween so to them it's just a fun filled night w/ a few people participating who like to dress scary. (let's not get into all the history... I know it all and am not intimidated by it) If every Christian were to abandon the day then, truly, where would the light be!?

I am all for Churches taking the day and making a mark for the better. The question is how to do it? Can we enjoy Halloween without compromising? If a church decides to get involved in the festivities does it have a responsibility to be different or is it okay to conform to the culture? How should Christians make a mark on the holiday? Or can that even be done? Should they even try? Chime in if you have any thoughts!

We left the event with a sadness best expressed by my hubby, "How in the world are non-believers served by this event? What have they gained by coming to this church on Halloween?"

Definitely something I will be chewing on.

In the meanwhile feast on the adorable cuteness of our girls enjoying, in sweet innocence, their dress up day!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My Nephew

He's here! He's finally here! Ethan Goerge my beloved nephew was born yesterday. I am so thankful that both he and his mommy are doing well!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Plenty of Praises

I have so much to be thankful for. Here's a very incomplete list:

1) Our HS was submitted to the courts yesterday. Our Hs Coord said she would contact the courts if she hasn't heard from them in 60 days... so we have a while before we hear any news on that front.

2) My dearest and only sister Valerie is scheduled to be induced this Monday if she doesn't go into labor this weekend which means my newest beloved nephew will be here SOON! Yeah! (he's still unnamed as of yet... Valerie and Erik better make a decision this weekend!)

3) We are on our 2 week break form home school this week and next. We are living it up over here! Sleeping in and staying up late, playing all day together and enjoying cooler weather out of doors. (although yesterday was hot to me)

4) I am enjoying and learning SO MUCH in our Living Beyond Yourself bible study by Beth Moore. I have gained so much from this study that I can't recommend it enough. If you'd like to learn about the study click this link. It is available in an online format if you are busy and don't have time to join a group study but, if you could find the time to gather a group of ladies and study together I suggest you do! The benefits are tremendous!!

5) DH and I have witnessed the Lord providing for our business in amazing ways lately. So much so that the list would be too long if I were even to attempt to remember some of them. Just know that we have been blessed beyond words with His provision during a time when we are witnessing many other businesses close their doors. Like manna from heaven our Heavenly Father has provided for our daily needs. Nothing more, nothing less. We have witnessed His perfect timing as He has come through for us in what would seem like the last minute... but, of course, we know it was just the right time for us to witness His glory and know without a doubt that He is the One at work on our behalf.

6) I have a joy in my heart for all the families with AWAA who have received referrals that dances up in me every once in a while causing a smile to creep across my face. Their joy is contagious. I am patiently awaiting news of court dates and the time when these families will be able to post pictures of their children. These winter months will bring much excitement for our family as we get to live vicariously through our fellow AWAA families. Hopefully they will be diligent about blogging their travel adventures for us! Some of them expect to have their children home before Christmas! Joy!

7) The preschool children's ministry at Palm Valley is growing and it has been a blessing to see. Changes are happening everywhere. Our curriculum is really speaking to the children and they are retaining so much more. I praise God that He is so faithful to plant those seeds of His Word in those little and precious hearts trusting Him when He tells us that His word never returns to Him void!

8) Palm Valley Church is in the middle of a teaching series on marriage and during this time I am reminded of just how far Dustin and I have come! I am crazy about my husband and can't imagine loving him more.... except that every year I manage to fall deeper in love with him!

9) The holidays are coming and I can't wait! I am SUPER excited for them this year because My Aunt Claire and my cousins Sarah and Beth are moving to Arizona in the middle of Nov! I am thrilled that they will be with us to celebrate family and love this Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Well those are a few of the MANY things I am thankful for today.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Ciao Bella Chili

It's fall. Well, for most of us. It's still pretty warm here in Phx. I have been dreaming of cold weather and the need to bundle up and have a cozy bowl this, my favorite "chili." I am making it for dinner tonight. It's not really chili in the traditional sense but trust me it's awesome! Every year my husband takes our employees on a paint balling / fishing / camping trip and I make a huge batch for them to eat the first night they arrive. They've all given rave reviews of this one so I am hoping you'll like it too. I got this recipe from my dad's lovely wife Jan (Nanna Janna as the kids call her)but I am not sure where she got it from. It's a crock pot recipe which adds to the ease!

1- 1/2 lbs Italian sausage ( Mild/Sweet or Hot- I use Mild 'cause our kids are wimps!)
1- 28 oz + 1- 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2- 14.5 oz can of Garbanzo Beans (or Chick Peas depending on where you come from)
1 Tbs minced garlic
1- bay leaf ( I LOVE bay so I use 2)
1/2 tsp Crushed red pepper flakes
2- cups low sodium chicken broth

1) Pierce sausage w/ a knife and place in a Med stock pot. Cover with H2O and bring to a boil over Med-high heat approx. 10 min.

2) While sausage is boiling add all other ingredients to your crock pot.

3)Remove sausage from H2O allow to cool. slice each link in half lengthwise and then cut into bite size half moon shapes. Add to slow cooker.

4) Cover and cook on low for 8 hrs. Remove bay leaf before serving. Makes six servings.

I have found that the chili tastes even better if it's chilled over night. Then you can skim off any grease before reheating.

Friday, October 19, 2007


The Lord has not left us without anything to be thankful for! I have beautiful news from our agency regarding other blessed families who have received the much anticipated news they have been dreaming of:

America World is happy to announce that we received referrals for six children this week; three of the children were males, and three of the children were females. The ages of the children ranged from approximately 2 months to 14 months old. There are five families currently reviewing the referrals for these children. We look forward to receiving acceptances from families within the next week

This is absolutely amazing as referrals weren't expected to come so quickly after the last batch of referrals were accepted by FIVE families as announced in last week's "Weekly Update" which said:

All five of the families whom received referrals for children last week have chosen to accept their referral! The courts in Addis Ababa re-opened this week, and over the next month, our in-country staff representative will arrange court appointments for these families. As a reminder, there is typically an 8 to 10 week lag time between referral and travel.

That's 10 families the Lord has joined together this month since the courts have reopened. What an amazing God we serve!

I am thrilled for the Treat,
Steiger, Treadwell, and McIlrath families on the occasion of their referrals! there is one more family who received a referral but hasn't informed our yahoo Group (YG) as of yet, but we'll find a way to stalk them down and priase the Lord along with them! WhooHoo. It is a GOOD day!!

Down, Up, Down, Up

It's a work out folks! An exercise of obedience and faith. I've been complaining a whole bunch lately. My muscles are weak, underdeveloped and tired. I'd really like to sit down on the bench and rest for a while but this is LIFE and there is no dress rehearsal. I have developed a little saying for myself in these moments when I feel "weary of doing good." That is I tell myself,
"You'll rest in heaven."

Today I have been encouraged and so I am feeling up. But I am warning you, my flesh is resisting big time and from one moment to the next I may find myself battling hard to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor 10:5) I told a friend jokingly that at times I feel spiritually bi-polar, and that is just not a place a follower of Christ should be.

To everyone who commented on my last post thanks for your solidarity. I appreciate your encouragements.

Last night the Lord really spoke to my heart about His authority. I am doing the Beth Moore study Living Beyond Yourself ( I HIGHLY recommend it. It is a study of the fruit of the Spirit and it has been amazing) Beth noted that many times when scripture talks about peace or the peace of Christ it is associated with the rule of Christ.

That struck a cord with me. I have obviously been struggling with those things that are beyond my control. I have been struggling with things that are in the "hands" of other people to do on our behalf. I haven't had peace about those situations because I have been so busy complaining about it instead of focusing on the LORD and relinquishing it under His authority. The fact is He is Lord over everything even SW and HS Corrds. If I find myself experiencing a rub and not feeling peace I think I ought to search for the peace of God which transcends all understanding and transcends all frustrations with Home Studies! (Phil 4:6-7) The thing is, I have had some days where I have been successful at this and some days where I haven't been. The key for me is the CONTINUAL turning over and my personal resolve to believe God to be Who He says He is...for example, Isa 9:6.

I do well when I only focus on Him. As soon as I start looking around and trying to analyze matters of which I know nothing about I fall apart. To all those unknowns in our life right now I have no answer. In this moment across the board in the life DH and I share God is doing a work which I/we both do not fully understand. We have come under some of the most PERSISTENT difficult circumstances of our lives (not just pertaining to the adoption.) All this, I honestly believe, is for our benefit. Intended to grow our character, develop our PERSISTENCE in faith, prayer and hope. It is an exercise designed for learning about Christ's authority and our willingness to yield to it.

Many people in our beloved YG have been praying as the persistent widow did in Luke 18 and I encourage them to continue for I am sure that the Holy Spirit is leading them that way. I know the Lord wants me to persist in trusting Him to be a just God in the circumstances of my life, because He's told me Luke 18 and the widow is about justice and receiving justice. He;s also told me a whopper of a truth! I am already receiving justice right where I am, without any change in my current circumstances. You see, my God is actively being a justice loving /justice providing
God over me at this moment and at every moment of my life. He's leading me. I have been a bit of a resistant bugger but overall, and generally day to day, I am choosing to be led. He is justly choosing to allow me to see His provision... on HIS TIMELINE. He's even blessing me by putting me in a position where He must be my Advocate, Counselor, and He must be my Defender. How blessed a woman am I? And to think I have been such a complainer! Pitiful I tell you!

So today my head is back on straight. The Lord has done a work in my heart (Thank You Jesus!) and I am ready to go once again. Ready to consider it pure joy.... (James 1:2-8)

Blessings and PEACE to you all! With love, Jen

Thursday, October 11, 2007

On the Bright Side

well I heard some better news from our Family Coordinator. It looks like once the Dossier is submitted there are only two papers which can expire. the I-171 form and the Homestudy both of which are valid for approx a year and a half. It wouldn't matter if we submitted our dossier to ET within a month of the other paperwork expiring. Once these items are in, they're "good" and don't expire.

That was good to hear. I would have dreaded having to redo our physicals, etc. Our Family Corrd. assured us we wouldn't be waiting long enough for our HS and I-171 forms to expire. So we're good on that front.

The bad news is that it looks like the wait time is pretty accurate. The only hope we have is that somehow since we've begun the process with USCIS by filing our I600-A form early and already been fingerprinted our approval may come in approx. 6 weeks instead of 12. Still not so hot considering the AZ courts are fully expected to take the full 3 months.

I really do trust God's timing. I will wait for our child however long the Lord has ordained. It's so hard for our girls to understand this waiting. Just the other day Rienne told me that it must have been her fault we had to wait so long because, "this whole adoption thing was my idea."

That is one fine example of age appropriate magical thinking for ya! I reminded her that, "Rienne, mom and dad made the decision to adopt before we ever told you and your sisters. God told us that it was his plan for our family, so mom and dad obeyed. That's why we are waiting today. It's all a part of God's plan. Remember?"

"Oh, yea." she said as she jumped off to join her sisters in play.

My response to Rienne had me thinking, though. It seems sometimes even we adults fall prey to magical thinking. Somehow I've come to think that this whole thing rests on my shoulders. That I MUST get this done or that done in "time" or things will be horribly delayed. That my poor child will have to wait even longer for rescue mommy to show up on the scene and save the day in the nick of time. It's seems I have had a bit of amnesia lately. That I've forgotten Who really has our adoption timeline in His hands.

So I am resolving to go ahead and let God be God and just trust that He's got it all under control. I choose to trust that our son is in the care of his Heavenly Father and that when it's time he'll be in our care too. Until then we all find ourselves pacing back and forth past that empty room dreaming of the child who will occupy it one day.

One day son, not TOO long from now........

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Lump in My Throat

I am discouraged today. I just received an email from our Home Study Coordinator which stated the following:

"The Home Study will take an average of 90 days to be approved with the Court and then I will be sending you the Home Studies and Court Certification form to process for your Dossier and USCIS."

"USCIS has been taking at least three months to process I-171H forms in our state."

Now I am no math genius but that looks like SIX MONTHS to me!! That is a very bad thing for our paperwork. Some of which was notarized in August. Dossier paperwork is only good for 1 year from the date of notarization.

I put an email in to our Family Coordinator asking her for clarification as to what could possibly happen if our paperwork takes that long to complete. I haven't heard back yet.

Honestly, I am so discouraged to think it could take that long. I am praying that somehow, someway we zip through faster than expected. I know God's timing is always perfect but 6 months doesn't feel so hot to me right about now!!!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Sticking Out

A friend of ours came over for a visit with her beautiful children. One being the daughter she and her hubby travelled to pick up some 8 weeks ago. Seeing her Ethiopian princess was a joy and hearing of their travels in Ethiopia was fascinating. Dustin and I drank in every detail she was willing to share.

She mentioned that while in country she and her husband, "stuck out like sore thumbs, of course."

Of course.

"But don't you think that is a great experience for us to gain?" I asked.

That got me thinking. I want to soak up what it will feel like to be the (extreme) minority while in ET. I can't wait for the opportunity to swim in a sea of blackness. I think that it will cause me to "feel" some of our son's loss as he leaves his birth country. The land of being able to be swept up in the current of humanity to which he bears so much a resemblance. The land of his inconspicuous anonymity.

For, he will live together with us as a conspicuous family. Noticeably different. (no apologies there, but true none the less) In the land where the reflections of his skin color will be seen far less frequently.

We'll have our own thinking and feeling to do about becoming a minority family. When we de-board the plane back in the US with our new son we ourselves will be stepping out the majority. We are taking the girls with us too. Just as unknowing as our adopted child they will be plunged into a whole new experience as well. What will all this mean for our daily life?That's why I am anxious to experience Ethiopia. It will be a taste of what our new life will be like back home for our son and ourselves. I welcome the opportunity. For my son's sake I hope I learn a lot. I pray I gain a sensitivity that I otherwise might not have had.

In the end I know that there is a fine line to all of this. The line between sensitivity and hyper-sensitivity to the issues. It's hard to predict how all this will affect our family. I am definitely NOT afraid. I welcome the opportunity to rely on the Lord. Our whole family stands to be blessed as we step into the Lord's provision and out of the "majority".

Family Fun Points

We went to the mountains today because the weather was nice and cool and we just couldn't stand being indoors any longer! We enjoyed a lovely picnic and hike. Then we went to the little playground within the park limits and let the girls play a bit. It was a beautiful day.

(I was goign to upload some pics of our day but after trying 3 times, and failing, I give up for now. Maybe tomorrow I will try again!)

I must say that upon hearing that 3 families at our agency have received referrals since the ET courts have reopened this October after their annual closures I have been having dreams at night of the time when it will be our turn. The excitement I feel for others has me turning my thoughts to the day our referral will arrive and what it will feel like when we are finally the ones with a referral. I am anticipating the day when we will have a face to gaze upon while we wait some more for our travel date. I just can't wait! Of course with adoption the things you have to do the most is WAIT!

Thankfully, in the mean while, I can read everyone else's blog and pick up some travel tips, etc for use when we have our go round. Not to mention I will get to revel with them in the joy of their blessed journey to their beloved children. It is such a joy to witness the varied and magnificent ways God brings families together!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Praising God!

I have never met this family in person yet I adore them! Just go read their BLOG and see what God's been up to in their lives lately!

Congrats on your referrals to the carpenter family!!! We are so happy for you!!! Oh and I LOVE the new ticker! Waiting for the court date!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Do you want to.....

The mantra of a Love and Logic parent. I am a new convert, but not TOTALLY sold. I am still trying out the concepts taught in my newest read Parenting with Love and Logic. I really like the idea of giving our kids more choices and control of their daily decision making (I confess I have gotten into the groove with three girls close in age of doing more for them than I should because of the ease and quickness that comes along with doing it myself) Well, no more sister!

I am no longer going to stifle their learning opportunities! The premise of Love and Logic is that kids need to make decisions and even mistakes in order to learn from their successes/mistakes and gain responsibility, develop confidence in their own decision making skills, and build a strong self-image. The idea is that many parents prevent their kids from learning these lessons either by taking away any opportunity for their children to make their own decisions OR by stepping in and fixing their problems before their kids have a chance to learn how to fix problems for themselves. Sometimes parents even do both. The idea is that kids can learn from their mistakes at a relatively low cost to themselves at a young age when the stakes are low as opposed to tying their hand at decision making as teenagers when the decisions they make are more significant and the risks are higher. Makes total sense to me.

There is a balance with the book that I am trying to strike though. They never suggest explaining things to your kids, or talking about the consequences before hand. "Just let the consequences do the teaching," they say. Your kids will figure out after they have had to suffer the negative consequences that it isn't desirable and change their behaviors so that next time the outcome will be a positive one. Sounds good... at first.

I have a hard time with this concept only because the Lord doesn't do that with us! He delineates so much in the Bible about what we ought to and ought not to do. He clearly explains what pleases Him and what He expects. He even tells us what to expect if we don't obey His commands!! (Hello, think the Israelites.... repeatedly!!)I don't know about you, but I love that about Him.

Another issue: I know MANY people who commit the same sins over and over expecting a different outcome each time (that's insanity, I know, but we've all done it in some area of our life) Such self destructive behavior happens. I haven't seen them address this in the book so far. It seems to me that their strategy is based upon the idea that your will child refuse to accept negative consequences in their life. The sad fact is that some kids do accept negative consequences. So, I will be on the look out for answers to my concerns as I finish up the book.

It seems that the way they would attempt to let the consequences do the teaching in a situation like the one I described above would be to eliminate the option for the self destructive behavior and then let them choose their way through the defective thinking which got them into the situation, but honestly I can't see how that would work quite yet or how to implement that, especially with a teen.

Anyway, it's a totally new perspective on parenting for me and I still don't quite understand it all. If anything I tend to be more in the side of the drill Sergeant parent (from the book) who issues commands and expects compliance. I can see how that parenting style would squash their opportunity to make good decisions for themselves and reap benefits for themselves, if all they are ever working towards is to please mom. That's no fun!

I'd be interested to hear if any of you have read the book, and your thoughts on it.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Red Letters Campaign- Home study Visit

That was great! It went so much better than I could have ever imagined. Apparently Dustin got all the major questions. She wrote pages and pages about his history. She asked him all about the structure of our family, etc. So many details that she never asked me.

I was amazed that it went so smoothly for me. Just a simple cut and dry history with dates, etc. Nothing real deep. I guess I was expecting more of a psycho analysis or something. I am so weird!!

Dustin wondered why she didn't get as specific with me as she did with him. I could only offer my speculations that a) He's the head of our family so she wanted o know where he stood on all the issues, b) She wanted an awareness of his involvement in child rearing since I am a SAHM, c) She gleaned so much info from interviewing him that by the time she interviewed me she had a sense of our family.

So many prayers were answered with this meeting. I have a renewed sense of confidence and I feel like a load is off my shoulders!

Tomorrow she's back to interview the two older girls and inspect our home. Then we are finished (providing we can get that darn pool letter). She informed me it would take 8-9 days to type our report and then she'd submit it to our agency. then we'd only have to wait for the courts and U.S.C.I.S to get our forms back before we can send the Dossier to the SOS (Secretary of State) once we do that it's off to DC for our Dossier!!!

We are making progress!! Slowly we are making progress. Thank you Lord!!!

Red Letters Campaign- Right this minute...

Dustin is in the other room with our social worker! I am sitting in the TV room the girls. I feel as though I could get on the phone and call a billion people right now to keep my mind occupied and from racing about what he's saying and what I will say, etc. Calling would have been far too conspicuous so here I am being a total bloggin' nerd and writing to you all!!

Can you just believe Dustin came in here and couldn't remember the name if his niece?! He's THAT nervous! He forgets things like that when he gets nervous! Once when Ally had to go to the ER he forgot her b-day and gave them Rory's middle name. I was in shock that he could do that... but I feel for him! Poor guy. I guess I need to be sitting here praying instead of typing!

Who knows what stupid stuff I am going to say? I am really prone to sticking my foot in my mouth.. if only Dustin was into blogging too, then he could come tell on me when it was my turn!

I'll update you after she leaves!! Love you all!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Red Letters Campaign- HS Insanity

Everyone chuckles about it after the fact. I'm just not there yet!

Until you've lived through it I guess you just can't grasp what it feels like to prepare your home for a Home Study visit. The intense labor of love whereby an adoptive family attempts to prepare their home for inspection while entering into the insane world of obsessive compulsion, hoping to somehow make the grade as great parents just because your base boards are sparkling clean. Well, I know I am not the first perspective adoptive mother to get down on all fours and scrub my grout with a tooth brush for the sake of a a bit more confidence when our SW walks through the front door!!

This week has been one of the most insane weeks of my life and it's only Thursday! Our whole family was sick beginning last week and is still battling a viral infection this week. We thought it was strep but the tests came back negative. I was the only one who survived without getting the funk. Who-hoo! Thank goodness for small miracles, because that left me able to get all the work done I needed to finish up for the visit.

My beloved mom came over yesterday to help me finish up the finer points of cleaning I really wanted to accomplish but just couldn't seem to get around to it this week. What with our A/C unit blowing up! Yes, the irony of the A/C Contractor not being able to get his own unit fixed was not lost on my hubby who has been fighting to get our much needed parts from Tennessee (they were lost in transit and now have to be resent! Ugh!)

All this to say that I have obsessed about as much as I can take. I leave it to our SW and the Lord to work out the details. At least I know that every inch of this house is as clean as it will ever get and that I have organized and "nested" 'till my heart's content - just as I have done in preparation for all of my children.

I'll fill you all in on how our visit goes tomorrow night! Pray for us!!!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

red Letters Campaign- Second Home Study Meeting

Saturday we met with our social worker (SW) for our second meeting. It was relatively short and sweet. She warned us that the next one would me much more intense.

Last night I found myself thanking the Lord for her. She is definitely on our team and I can tell she wants us to succeed. That's all a person can ask for right!?

I keep thinking about this Home Study Report. How would our SW, or any person for that matter, be able to sum up all that Dustin are in one short report. How can I express to her with accuracy in the short time we have together who I feel I am as a wife, mother and a woman? Will she "get" us?

I keep wondering if the HS Report will truly reflect our hearts. I had to turn it over to the Lord last night and just trust that He will have in that report just what He wants and just what is needed. I did ask Him to bless the heck out of that report once it's finished!! That somehow whoever picks that thing up in ET will know who we are and somehow miraculously sense our hearts through the black and whiteness of a crisp sheet of paper.

Too weird!! The thought of it. Really, that someone across the world will read our life story in a report and somehow "choose" our child for us. Of course I know the Lord will direct that person, whoever they are. It's just surreal. The whole adoption process can be pretty surreal at times. Wonderful...... and surreal.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Learning Through Play

I stumbled upon the girls paying an interesting game today. The had arranged their little table in front of the entry to their bedroom. Ally was sitting behind the table with a three drawer plastic toy box on casters behind her. As I walked down the hall I could hear Ally hawking her wares. Babies! Babies! Get your babies! Babies anyone?

The older two girls came walking out of another bedroom behind me. Rory had a doll stuffed up her shirt and Rienne walked hurriedly to Ally's desk. I cut in line and said, "I'll have one of your babies."

Out of the drawer Ally pulled a baby doll and said, "Here is brother. You can have him."

Riennne immediately placed an order for a girl.

"Oh, yes. We have those." Ally replied. Then out of the drawer came a red headed Little Mermaid doll. Rienne was well pleased.

I looked at Rory and she informed me that she wasn't going to order her baby because she had one in her tummy like Auntie does.

I'll let them go on playing their game since they are having such fun, but tonight will be another good opportunity to explain a bit more about the adoption process. Seems they are doing some processing on their own. Wouldn't you think?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Red Letters Campaign- Dreams and Imaginings

It's been a current theme for those bloggers who belong to our adoption agency to write about the dreams they've had about their child/ren. I have only had two so far. I thought I would share mine with you all.

The first dream I had wasn't only about our child per se. He was definitely the star of the show but he wasn't the leading character in my dream. I don't really know who that role would go to. Let me explain the dream and you decide.........

Dustin and I arrived at the orphanage where our son was and a rush of children came to greet us. My heart began to break for them all and I distinctly remember I wanted for all of them to be going home with parents on this day too, not just our son. Our son was off in the distance and couldn't approach us because of all the kids trying to get a good look at us. My heart was yearning for him, to hold him close.

Racing through my mind the whole time was the question of what to say. How do you introduce yourself to your child -who is, as of yet, a stranger- the love of your life? I wondered how could this child understand and know all that the LORD has placed in my heart for him when I myself don't fully comprehend it? How could I express all this to him in a moment? Should I express all this to him in this moment? Would I overwhelm him? Would I smother him? Should I allow myself to get emotional or would that not be best for my son? What does he need from me the most? Calming stability or a lavish display of affection and emotion? Is it possible to do both at the same time? What would that look like? (as you can see my mind is just as jumbled and crazy in my dreams as it is in real life. I don't know if that should concerned about that or what!)

Apparently my mind couldn't come up with a satisfactory scenario that fit my liking because my dream immediately then skipped ahead in time. (I guess I really still have no clue how "the moment" will happen or how I will react when we first meet our child.) Our son was in our arms and Dustin held on to him while I hugged them both. The Orphanage Director walked forward and instantly I felt we needed to pray over him. He was a featureless man who just was. I can't remember anything physical about his appearance just his being and his presence. Much like the featureless son in our arms only I was more familiar with our son in my dream than with the Director. He felt like a stranger in my dream but our son felt like our son (if that makes any sense at all.) We prayed and prayed and blessed him and his work. I woke up praying feverently for some unknown orphanage and the director and all the children there. I prayed for them as if they actually existed and i knew them all individually yet not personally.

It was surreal. I don't know if it is actually the orphanage our son is at with an actual man or if the dream symbolizes more than the specifics of our situation. Perhaps the Lord used those pictures to call me to prayer for all his faithful serving His children. Whatever His purpose, it was an amazing dream.

My other dream is hard to share. I was sort of half awake and half asleep. I don't remember much other than our son's birth parents were suffering. I was crying and begging the Lord to end the suffering, to keep them alive and let them parent their child. I felt almost like I was stealing our son away, but I knew that they were dying. I was so angry that it had to be this way. It is good for us to adopt, I thought, but even better for the need for adoption to be eradicated all together. I was pleading with the Lord that if there be any other way for them to survive and not lose their child that it be done. It dawned on me just what it would feel like if the tables were turned and I was dying and I knew that my child would be going to a loving mom and dad. I still would not find it as desirable as living and providing for them as their mother. I woke up hysterical. I was praying through many, many, MANY tears for the birth parents and family of our son. I still haven't gotten over the sick feeling I feel at the loss that surrounds adoption for our child and his birth family. I don't know the specifics of our son's circumstances. No matter what our son will experience loss. In some ways I think I was processing how in many ways his loss is our gain. It makes me feel uncomfortable.

I guess I haven't had many dreams about the daily life of parenting of our son because I feel confident in that arena. I know what being a mommy feels like and what the practicality of the job description entails. I think that's why I haven't been dreaming of what to do with him once we get him. I have that pretty much planned. I secretly plan to smother the heck out of him by wearing him or carrying him on me constantly and probably giving him more physical contact via hugs and snuggles than he'll be able to bear. I also know that there are 4 other family members who secretly hope to be able to do the same. Hopefully he will indulge us all. If not I/we will back off.

But I hope I won't have to!! (wink, wink)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Books on Parenting

If there is one thing I can say for sure it is that I have really enjoyed the reading process in preparation for bringing our son home. All of the wonderful books on adoption and attachment have, I think, not only served to prepare us for the task of adoptive parenting, but have actually made us more well rounded parents to our bio kids. But, it's not just the books on adoption. I have been reading many different parenting books lately. As with everything I eat the meat and spit out the bones. I figure it never hurts to expand my parenting database.

As I was talking with my dear friend Brooke who has adopted one child and is fostering two more ( we're just waiting for the day that they will be adopted) she highly recommended two more books to add to my growing collection. I will be reading those soon and including my thoughts on them afterwards. For now I will be adding to this post books I have finished or am currently reading and my thoughts on them.

Parenting is definitely a journey with many twists and turns. I am glad to have resources such as books, and friends and family!

Raising Adopted Children by Lois Ruskai Melina: a general purpose book. Easy read. Not clinical but worth a read.

Attaching in Adoption by Deborah D. Gray: Includes checklists for each stage of emotional development and suggestions for promoting attachment. I highly recommend this book!

The Handbook of International Adoption Medicine by Laurie C. Miller: Comprehensive and accessible for non medical professionals (like me) I wouldn't want to be without this book!

Romancing Your Child's Heart by Monte Swan: Largely about the authors' childhood including examples of how his parents got it right. Not intended to be a guidebook but more of a conversation starter and to spark the imagination.

The First Three Years of Life by Burton L White: Confession time, I never read a book like this w/our three other kids. Now that we were bringing a child home that could possibly be delayed we really felt we would need to have a solid understanding of the age appropriate stages and development to check and monitor our son's progress against. I have only just begun to read this one so I will reserve my opinion until later.