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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.