Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Baby Steps

I haven't talked about our adoption journey lately here on my blog, but it is very much a part of my daily thoughts and prayers.  We also pray about it as a family everyday.  We still do not have any foster children in our home, but we are waiting and hoping.  I know that God has a plan for our family and He is showing me that if I will trust Him and take baby steps of obedience, He will lead us.  He knows where we are going, I just have to hold on to His hand and trust His lead. 

I've heard people say over the years, that once you step out in faith, God does the rest.  I have seen this played out in my own life over and over the past few months.  We have never done this before and are walking blindly most of the time.  God continues to lead us ahead little by little.  I hope that the point will come that I can openly share all the crazy ways that God is working and what He's doing in our life, but let it suffice to say He has already begun to work out all the details. 

When we began this process of fostering to adopt, I would tell people that we were not going to bring any child into our home unless God had given us a definite peace and even a sign.  I jokingly said that they would practically have to have JESUS written on their forehead and that I would need to feel such a peace about bringing them into our home that it would be as if I was leaving my own child out in the weather.  An unexplainable love is already growing inside of me for these babies, just as my love for my first two babies started while they were still in my womb and I did not know them yet.  God has showed up in so many ways, and in each instance that I realize He is working, I see the etching of JESUS become darker and darker.  He promised me at the beginning of this process that He would not leave me.  He is keeping that promise. 

I wrestled with God for almost a year as I began to feel His calling toward adoption.  I told Him every reason why it was not a good idea and why it was too risky.  There is one day in particular that stands out in my mind.  I was putting away laundry in Carson's room as my children were playing together in a different room.  I could hear their sweet little voices as they played (they do occasional play together nicely--ha!) and unknown to anyone else a struggle was going on inside of me between me and God.  As I quietly folded and put away laundry, I told Him how much I love my children and that there was no way that I could love a child that I did not birth as much as them.  I concluded that it would be unfair to a child to bring them into our family, because Tori and Carson would always be my favorites.  I remember shutting the dresser drawer, in my mind shutting the doors to that idea.  The problem was that God just kept opening that drawer back up! :)

Awhile back a friend who has also adopted through foster care was sharing with me a little of her story.  She and her husband have three biological sons and then their youngest is adopted.  She told me how the love for her adopted son is so strong that she sometimes feels it is stronger than that of the three that she birthed.  She often wondered how that could be and then someone told her that it was simply because she had been obedient and God had blessed with her an unexplainable love for her new son.

One morning as I was praying I began to be concerned that I would love my new children more than my biological children.  I began asking God to please allow me to keep the strong bond and love that I have with my first two as our family continues to grow.  That's when it hit me-----wow, what a long way God has brought me in one year.  I went from assuring God that I could not love a child as much as my own to pleading with Him to not allow me to forget my existing children as I feel this new love grow.  God has been busy doing some serious changing in my heart!!

I know that even once we bring children into our home I will not be able to share openly about them here, for safety reasons.  I hope though, that someone will be able to take my generalizations and use them for good in their own life.  God may not be calling you to adopt, but whatever He is calling you to do, if you are willing to take the risk and step out on faith, He will catch you.  Once we hand over the reins, God has control of the ride.....and man, it's going to be exciting!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Sunday

We had a good day yesterday as we celebrated the fact that we serve a risen, living Savior!  I love our church and love being there to worship, especially on Easter.  But since we live almost two hours away from our families, there's no way that we can go to our church and then also be with family for lunch and for the rest of the day.  We did have a great day, but I wished that I could wiggle my nose and be in our hometown for a few hours and then wiggle my nose and be back here.
Our whole family

Tori took our picture.....I thought she did a pretty good job!

How cute is that?!  She told her daddy to pose.  :)
After church we ate at one of our favorite restaurants and then came home and hunted Easter eggs.  The kids wanted to keep hiding them over and over.  They even hid them, so that Robert and I could find them.  :)

Silly girl!  Wow, she found one with money!!!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Cookies

Since Tori didn't have to go to school yesterday, we decided it would be fun to make Easter sugar cookies.  We've done it at Christmas time before, but never at Easter.  So, we thought it would be a fun Good Friday project. 

In the morning, we made the sugar cookies.  I was given a great sugar cookie recipe that is very simple, but taste great!  The kids always love helping me measure out ingredients and pour them in the bowl.  We had gotten everything out and had started mixing the ingredients when I realized that I was out of stick butter.  I was afraid that using tub butter would mess up the cookies, since we were rolling and cutting them into shapes.  If we were going to go to all that trouble, I wanted to make sure something stupid like using the wrong type of butter didn't mess them up.  Anyway, so I called my neighbor down the street who is super sweet and asked her if she had any unsalted stick butter.  I promised her some of the finished product if I could have some butter. Ha!  One of her sons rode his bike down to our house and delivered two sticks of butter!  Now that's a great neighbor! :)

After the cookie dough was made, it had to go in the refrigerator for at least an hour to get firm.

Then the rolling and the cutting began!  We made flowers, lilies, bunnies, butterflies, and crosses.  Once we got them all cut out, it was time for baking.  I didn't take a picture of them cooling, but of course, they had to sit on the cooling racks for awhile until they weren't hot anymore.  Then last night, the decorating finally happened!

They turned out really cute!  Making cookies also taught my children patience.  They didn't realize there was so much waiting involved in making cookies!  :)  Here's our finished products:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Disney on Ice

Last night my friend, Devon, and I took our kids to see Disney on Ice.  It was so much fun!  I loved it as much as the kids and I was ready to come home and watch all the Disney movies!  :)  Another friend told me about a deal where I could get my tickets for 50% off.  It was a great deal!  The three of us were able to go for less than $25.00.  You just can't beat that for the entertainment we received!

Can't wait until it comes to town again!! 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Living Proof Live

This past weekend I got to hear Beth Moore teach live!  I have done several of her Bible studies and I feel like I know her personally, because she is so down to earth and she has walked along beside me as I studied God's word through her Bible studies. There is no doubt in my mind that God has anointed her and I would encourage anyone who is interested in growing in their relationship with God to seek out any of the studies that she has written.

God blessed me this weekend by allowing me to be surrounded by some of my dearest friends while we worshipped God together and grew closer to Him.  Can't tell you how much I love these girls and what they mean to me.  God put each of them in my life for a reason.

Since I don't have any sisters of my own, God gave me Brandi.  This is me, her, and her mom.  We don't live in the same town anymore, so we had the best time going out to eat Friday night and catching up.

These are two of my other dear friends who God has blessed me with to "do life" with.  We go to church together, we volunteer in the children's ministry together, our kids are in the same preschool class, our husbands are good friends, it goes on and on.   Only God could orchestrate the amazing connections that He has made for me with these women.  We enjoyed going out to eat on Saturday when the conference was over and sharing what God had showed us.

The second day we got to sit up fairly close.  The pictures that I took of Beth did not turn out very well.  The pictures are dark and she looks a little scary.....she really is a very pretty lady.

It doesn't help that I caught her in mid-word. :)
The icing on the cake was that I got to meet Kelly at Kelly's Korner's best friend, Laurie.  You would have thought I had met the president I was so excited!!  :)  She was probably surprised I didn't go ahead and ask for her autograph!!  LOL!  It's just so much fun to meet some one in person who you have read about for over two years.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fun Friday Favorites

I thought it might be fun on Friday to share a few of my favorite things.

Favorite places to shop for clothes:  Maurices, CATO, Rue 21

Favorite places to browse:  Hobby Lobby, Kirkland's, Garden Ridge, and any Hallmark store

Favorite places to eat:  Most any Mexican Restaurant (as long as they have good salsa), Chili's

Favorite Fast Food:  Zaxby's and Arby's

Favorite Movies:  Fools Rush In, Dance with Me, Selena, The Notebook

Favorite Ingredient to Cook With:  Worshiture sauce (I could put this on everything)

Favorite Drink:  I used to LOVE sweet tea, but I'm trying to reduce the sugar in my diet, so now I drink mostly water with lemon or unsweet tea with lemon.  I LOVE putting fresh lemon or lime juice in whatever I am drinking.

Favorite Snack:  ro-tel cheese dip and chips, hands down!

Favorite People:

Ok, ok, I know that it's Sunday night (not Friday), but this post has been sitting on my computer all weekend and I never sent it.  So, I'm posting it anyway.  Hopefully you enjoyed learning a little about me you didn't know.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Manna Muffins

I wanted to share a great breakfast muffin recipe that I have.  They are very easy to make and they taste great!  Plus my kids love them because they get to dip them in the butter and cinnamon/sugar mixture all by themselves.
Dry ingredients--1 3/4 cup flour
                          1/4 cup sugar
                          2 tsp baking powder
                          1/2 tsp salt

Wet ingredients--1 egg (beaten)
                           3/4 cup milk
                           1/3 cup oil
                           1 tsp vanilla (this is not in the original recipe, but I decided a little vanilla couldn't hurt it)

Preheat oven to 375.  Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  In a smaller bowl, stir together all the wet ingredients and then pour into the larger bowl.  Stir just until moistened.  Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.

In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup sugar with 3 tsp cinnamon (those are the measurements that the origianl recipe gives, but you can't really mess this up.  I never measure exactly).   Also melt 1/2 stick of butter in another small bowl.

Bake muffins for 10-15 minutes.  Once done, let them cool enough to be handled without burning your hand.  Then dip each muffin into the bowl with the butter mixture and then into the bowl with the cinnamon mixture.

The original recipe described them like this:
These muffins are hearty and taste almost like biscuits.  They are not super-sweet desert-style muffins, but once you taste them you'll probably call them a little slice of heaven on earth.

That comment got me to thinking about the manna that God provided the Israelites when they were in the desert (Exodus 16).  It made me wonder what the manna tasted like and I was reminded of the story of God keeping His promise to provide for His poeple. 

Robert and I have been going through a training at our church that is teaching us how to incorporate more faith interactions in our day to day life at home with our children.  This gave me the best idea.........why not name different foods after stories in the Bible so that whenever we cook that food we can tell the story that goes along with it and be reminded of what God was wanting us to learn from each story.

So, I decided that our Cinnamon Muffins would from now on be called Manna Muffins.  The name will be a great conversation starter in the future to talk about the story of the Isrealites with our kids.  Hadn't come up with any more yet.  If anyone has any great ideas, please do share.......I can think of great stories that have to do with lambs, but unfortunately we never cook lamb at our house.  :)

Here's Carson dipping

Here's Carson, well, just being Carson

Here's the finished product....at least what was left.  One batch makes twelve and we were able to make
six of them disappear very quickly.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Carson's First T-Ball Game was Saturday

 I have a confession to make.......I am in love with this little man!!!!!  He just melts his momma's heart.  I know it's just because I'm his mom, but I think he's the cutest t-ball player there ever was!  Plus, he had a good time and played great....except when he started running towards the pitcher's mound instead of first base the first time he hit the ball!!  Oops!  Ha,ha,ha!

This is the whole team with two of their coaches.  We are very blessed to have been put on a team with very patient and loving coaches who love the game of baseball, but keep in perspective that these boys are only four and five years old.  They don't have unrealistic expectations and as a result, I think these boys are going to end up LOVING the game of baseball.

He's ready for the ball!! 

Yeah, Carson!  Way to stop that ball!

Robert wanted him to be #7, because that is Robert's lucky number, but he got #3.
Maybe Carson will start his own tradition and #3 will be his lucky number!

 Did I mention how much I love this little man??!!!!!  Just checking.......   :)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Spring Break Camping Trip

Last weekend we went camping with my family and had the best time!!  Several weeks before Spring Break Tori asked if we could go camping, because she had never been camping before.  I thought that would be a fun Spring Break activity, so I called my brother who is a wildlife biologist and outdoorsmen to see if we could plan a trip.  We tossed around the idea of renting a campsite at a nearby lake, but then settled on just camping on some of our land that Robert and my brothers deer hunt on.  So, the men had all these fun activities that they planned for the kids and the kids had a blast (us adults had a pretty fun time, too)!!!!!
We spent the night at my mom's house the night before we were to go camping.  Before bed that night Tori wrote this on a a little dry-erase board that my mom has.  Tori was so excited she could hardly sleep!!
Here's a picture of our campsite (it was really just an open field in my family's woods) 
Washing and cutting potatoes to cook

My oldest brother chopping wood.  He went to a lot of trouble to make the trip fun for all the kids.

The guys cooking the potatoes over the fire.

I love this picture!!  Carson is showing his little cousin, Natalie, a cricket that he caught.

Nothing like a hamburger cooked over an open fire!

Cousins looking for critters

Roasting some hot dogs
This is a pic of my whole family.  It's rare to get a picture with all four of my sweet family members in it.

After dinner we went on a nature walk down some of the trails in the woods.

This is Carson's older cousin, Wyatt, carrying him on his back.  These two boys are hilarious together!

Here's the crew, looking for cool things in nature.  My oldest brother made a neat experiment where he prepared several patches of dirt for viewing.  Then the next morning the kids went back down the trail and got to see if any wild animals had left any tracks.  They found rabbit, deer, etc.  My kids thought it was so cool!!

Here's a pic of the whole gang.  It's my mom and her three children (I have two older brothers) and then our families.  My oldest niece, Grace, brought a friend along, so she snapped this picture of all of us.

Once it got dark, the coats and blankets came out.  Everyone got on comfy clothes and we talked and laughed around the fire.

Sorry, this picture is out of order.  This was while we were waiting for supper to cook.
Of course, no camping trip is complete without making smores!!

Here's some of the guys enjoying their hot drinks and smores, talking about "manly" things.  ha,ha,ha!

The next morning the guys made pancakes, biscuits in a dutch oven, bacon, and sausage.  It was soooo good and the guys really enjoyed using all their outdoor skills on us!!

Plans have already been made for the next trip!  For this summer, we've booked a campsite at a nearby lake and have decided to make the "Deer Wood's Camp Trip" an annual Spring Break event!  Once we got back to my mom's house and were packing up to come back home, Tori told my oldest brother that it had been the best weekend of her life!!  :)  I would say it was a success!!