Thursday, December 31, 2009

Adoption Agency Rating

For 8 years now I have been around the ‘adoption world’. Actually before that due to my degree in Social Work. One of the top questions I get (besides how much does it cost to adopt) is how to find a good agency. We have worked with several agencies over the years and I am going to tell you that every single one that we worked with were good.

Were they perfect? No. And, I wouldn’t expect them to be. After all, they are human and humans make mistakes. I know I sure do.

Were there times when I got discouraged or upset? You bet. Adoption is not for the weak at heart. There is a lot of emotion involved in an adoption. As many will tell you- it is an emotional rollercoaster. There are many people involved in the process along the way. There are many steps- each one a hurdle- and often times a road block. Want to be parents often fall in love with a picture- or a ‘dream’ they have and they feel somehow connected or perhaps ownership to that child before the child is ‘legally’ theirs. While I will tell you that I have done that exact thing each time- and I am glad, I also had to be willing and be prepared for a broken heart- which often times happened.

We have lost referrals where the birth mom came back.

We have had children in our home that we loved with our entire hearts- only to have them move on.

We have found out things about the child once they came home that they agency was unaware of.

We have prayed and dreamed about a certain child -to have door after door closed.

I wouldn’t change that for anything. I wouldn’t even change the pain. For each child received our prayers, each child received our love- even if they won’t ever know it- and each child changed who I am today.

However, often times I have seen individual become bitter and down right nasty towards agencies because things didn’t go ’their way’. I am not saying that there are not unethical agencies out there- which is why I always encourage people to do their research and then research some more. And I am not saying that people are not entitled to their feelings of frustration and hurt. However, they also need to exercise forgiveness when those mistakes are made because none of us are perfect.

Want to be adoptive parents need to play an active and responsible role in their adoption process by making copies of everything and ’checking in’ on their agencies. And when I say ‘checking in’ I don't mean constantly emailing and calling or constantly doubting or accusing. We have tried our hardest to be respectful of our agencies time - because after all when they are constantly busy responding to senseless calls and emails then that is less time they have to work on your case or other cases as well. We have had wonderful working relationships with each one of our agencies- and many have turned into lifetime friendships and respect.

I have seen many families display a sense of entitlement towards their agencies- feeling that 'they paid them enough they ought to be doing their job’ the way the individual wants them to. From our first hand experience I know if you treat your agency with respect, thanking them, and supporting them that the relationship you have with your agency will end up being one of the greatest gifts you get through the adoption process. While yes you are paying an agency to do a job- they still deserve your respect and kindness.

The other day I had a friend ask me about an agency they were considering using. I found an agency rating website online and began reading what some people had written about their agencies. Actually 3 of the agencies we have worked with were on there and I was crushed with some of the negative responses they had received. These were people who have worked along side of us to bring our children home. People that I know put their heart and soul into their job- and do not just look at it as a paycheck- but deeply care about the children and the families adopting them. These are people who have cried with me, laughed with me, went above and beyond their job description for my family. People we consider our friends. Some of the comments were downright ugly and vindictive. Individuals listing complaint after complaint- name calling and pretty much tearing apart the agency and individuals working for the agency. Many of the comments I have a feeling were coming from the same person. It broke my heart and I simply do not understand. I do not understand why someone would be so nasty and tear apart someone’s character just because things didn’t go the way they had wanted on their adoption journey. I will tell you that none of our adoptions have gone exactly the way we thought they would either. But through the difficulties and through the good- we have learned things that can now hopefully help others along the way. We have walked away from one agency because we didn’t feel that they were the right agency for us and we were not confident that they were ethical. However, we didn’t feel that it was fair or right to publicly bad mouth them or tear them apart.

So my advice on finding a good agency is to do a lot of research but also be cautious of others opinions and remember you are only getting one side of the story. As with anything in life-we all have our differences in taste and opinions and a agency that might not be a good fit for one person may be a great fit for someone else. Also, some agencies may have an excellent program and good contacts in one country but not necessarily for all of the countries they work with.
Allow room for human error- from your agency and from you. Pray a lot and then let God lead you to your child. The journey may be full of bumps-but worth every single one of them.

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Friday, December 25, 2009

May HIS life- change yours.
Merry Christmas... be blessed.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

There's no place like home for the holidays

Do you ever feel like you are squeezing so much life into one day? That is how I have felt these past few weeks.

Last week we took a little road trip (14 hours) to Illinois and then onto Indiana to see our families and friends. We had some grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and cousins who couldn't wait to meet Mr. Perfect (AKA Carson). We decided to nick name him Mr. Perfect because the child is an absolute dream. He has just adjusted in such an amazing way. It feels like he has been here forever and we are all absolutely crazy about him. His bonding has gone great and is a good, strong, authentic bond. He is such a happy little guy, has the most gentle spirit, is so sweet- and did I mention we are crazy about him? I seriously feel like I have to pinch myself to make sure this is for real. God really allowed me to be the mommyto 8 of the most amazing children I know.

So last Friday we squeezed ourselves and our luggage into the vehicle and made the trip through rain, sleet and snow. We absolutely treasured every single second we had being with family and friends. I got to see my best friends from Indiana, one of whom had adopted 2 precious children from Ethiopia since I had moved and I finally got to meet them.

(Pictured below is Miss Addalyn from Ethiopia with Mya and Aleigha. Next is me with my precious friends Heather (Addalyn's mommy) and Dana).

On my side of the family we had opted for no gifts this year (except for my mom and dad who cheated and gave us a really nice gift.) Instead we decided to just enjoy being with each other and then give to others. We chose to visit the nursing home, sing Christmas carols and hand out cookies to the residents. The kids really enjoyed it. Then we gave gifts to a family who had lost everything they had in a fire just a few days before.

(Pictured below Carson and Kaden walking with Grandpa and the kids handing out cookies at the nursing home.) .

On Todd's side of the family we enjoyed time with family and Santa's visit. The little kids really enjoyed it.
Aleigha also turned a big whopping 6 years old while we were gone. My sister made her a princess cake and it was neat to celebrate her birthday with all of her family around.

The kids also got to play in the snow which was a real treat since we don't get snow very often where we live. So between a little snow ball throwing, road tripping, seeing family and hugging on our new little guy I feel like I haven't had much time for blogging. Hope you all are having a wonderful holiday as well and hopefully soon I will be back into the swing of things.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I did a little photo shoot today with the boys. It was so cute because Carson noticed that in my room I have an individual picture of all of my kids- but his wasn't up on the wall yet. I just hadn't had the time to get his done yet but since he noticed we of course got that done right away! So, today I took some adorable pictures of him to hang on the wall (I cannot wait to show them to you all) and a few of Kaden and him together. They are just too cute for words.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Call it what you want-

Double the dancing...

Double the ride...
Double the trouble...
Double the cuteness...

But no matter how you look at it,
we know we are...


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Saturday, December 12, 2009


Of all the things I have to play, I'd choose my brother any day.

Have I mentioned that Kaden and Carson are inseparable?

Where you find one- you will always find the other.

Did I tell you that they finish each other sentences?

Did I mention that they look out for each other- and if one asks for a cookie- they ask for one for the other too.

Did I mention they are exactly the same size and that everywhere we go people ask if they are twins?

And did I tell you that their beds are right next to each other so at night they can fall asleep holding hands?

And just in case you couldn't tell...

I am crazy in love with them both.


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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I should be mad...

Because after all, we made a deal...

And HE broke his end of the bargain.

You see, we agreed not to spend ANY money on each other or on things that we didn't really, truly need.

But then again...

couldn't one consider chocolate a real need?

Especially when it comes in the form of a chocolate covered strawberry- that happen to be your very favorite treat in the world?

And especially given the fact that it was a 'just because I love you' kind of gift-and not even for a special occasion?

And especially when the giver is as handsome as this?

Well, maybe just this one time I can let it slide...

Thank you honey- I love you more than chocolate covered strawberries. :0)
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Monday, December 7, 2009

A good kind of busy


Thank you all so much for 'delurking'. It has been so fun to ‘meet’ so many of you and peek in on your blogs. I wish I had more time to read and get to know you all even more. I hope too that many of you were able to find each others blogs. I think one of the greatest blessings of adopting (besides the obvious- our awesome children) are the friendships we meet along the way. I just love being a part of this adoption/blogging world. I have to admit though I am pretty blown away by and a little embarrassed because all of your sweet comments. I totally didn’t expect or intend for that to happen. What a blessing to hear such kind words but as I have said many times in the past- if you see anything good here- it is all God.

Life at our house has been busy lately- but a really good kind of busy. Todd and I are enjoying every second of falling in love with Mr. Carson. I could stare into this big brown eyes forever. It’s been so neat to learn more and more about his little personality and see him becoming more comfortable in our home. What an amazing gift adoption is. The kids too are crazy about him- although I am feeling somewhat like a referee trying to make sure everyone gets a chance to sit next to him at the table or in the car. :0) To say he fits perfectly into our family doesn’t even begin to describe it. God is so good.

I will leave you with a sweet picture of Carson checking out the ornaments on our tree. There is nothing more I could ask for this Christmas. We are so very, very blessed.

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Monday, November 30, 2009

It's that time of year again...

And you thought I meant Christmas didn't you?

Nope-it's National Delurking Week again.
Well, in all honest- I'm not even really sure when National Delurking Week is or if there really is one.

So, I took it upon myself to decided that today would mark the beginning of National Delurking Week- on my blog anyway.

So, here we go.

Come on- you can do it.

Click comment and then tell me a little something about yourself. Introduce yourself. Say hello. Tell me why, or how, out of all of the blogs in this entire world you chose to stop by mine.

Can't wait to 'meet' you! :0)

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

We need YOUR help!

Right now many of us are on the hunt for the perfect gift to give. I've got it right here for you- a gift with a purpose.

These Scentsy candles are seriously awesome. Not only are they pretty, but they are safe (no flame needed) and smell great. But the best part is right now 25% of all sales go towards the Pass It Forward Adoption Fund.

I need your help!!

Please, please (I'm begging you, please) consider purchasing one of these candles if you are looking to buy a gift. A child is waiting and to them this is a gift that will make all the difference in their world.

1.Go to
2. Click on "Pay it forward Adoption party" under Jenny and Brian's picture.
3. Go shopping!
(Please don't order any Christmas warmers...a lot are on back order and probably won't be in by Christmas).
If orders are in by Dec. 5th they will be delivered before Dec. 25th.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It isn't what you have in your pocket that makes you thankful,
but what you have in your heart.

-- Author Unknown

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Stop limiting God

I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I have had people say to me “Oh I always wanted to adopt but we can’t because________ and then they fill in the blank. Typically that blank includes them feeling like they do not have enough time or money. Can I just tell you that I understand? I understand fearing the lack of money and lack of time. As I have said in the past- we are not rich and of course with seven- soon to be eight children- are days are full. However, what I have discovered is that while on paper it doesn’t make sense that we can ‘have’ as much as we have and get as much done as we do- the only thing I can say is- it is God’s will and He can and will provide.

Following God’s will for your life is no simple task. It takes effort. It takes time- time with God and time reading His word. We have to make a conscious effort to align our priorities with God’s priorities and examine them often. It takes a willingness to forgo our plans and follow His. It means staying in constant relationship with God- seeking Him for the answers. It means running to God- instead of google.

In the past, as each child entered our family- whether through birth or adoption, inevitably we would always say ‘this one is the last one'.

We laugh at ourselves now.

Laugh that we tried to limit God.

No more.

No more telling God when ‘we’ are done. Now the ball is in His court. Our lives are completely His to do with as He wishes. No more holding back. No more restriction. We threw out the excuses, let go of the fears and the what ifs. We are trying our hardest to live in complete willingness and obedience- always remaining open to what or who He brings our way.

Having said that, I do believe that God wants us to act in a responsible manner. We have to use the good judgment he gave us when it comes to how we spend our time and our resources. We have to continuously examine our lives- again aligning our priorities up with Gods. We have to be responsible- to God. Not responsible to our bank account and our lifestyles that we cling to so tightly.

For us, and I believe for many as well, it comes down to being painfully honest. Most of the time what it really it boils down to is our laziness or unwillingness to make changes. Our unwillingness to let go of a few of life’s luxuries- that we cling to out of selfishness. Not an easy pill to swallow I know, but that is a part of that self examining we need to do. I am not saying this is always the case- but perhaps something that needs to be carefully examined in our lives.

Sometimes, often times, following God’s plans for your life including makes changes, giving up, sacrificing. Perhaps God is asking you to examine your life- how much time are you wasting watching TV or sitting on the computer? I know that each time Todd and I open our homes to a new child we have to sit down and really take a long, hard look at our lives and reevaluate the way we are living. Where are we spending our time and our resources and are those things important to God? Sometimes we have to give things up that we like to do in our spare time- to have more time to spent with our children. Sometimes we have to make sacrifices, like giving up having our nails done, eating out or a game of golf. Because after all, one day we will all stand in front of God and He will ask us what we did with Him- what we did with the cross. God knows that you and I know there are 147 million orphans in this world. And honestly, I’m kind of embarrassed that we often put our comfort before them. We turn our backs and go on with our lives- the lives God gave us- and do nothing. We don’t want to give up our cable TV, the 45+ shirts hanging in our closet (and we still have ‘nothing to wear’) our iphones, our golf game, fishing or hunting equipment, our 2nd automobile, eating out, or anything else really. We want to have it all and then some.We complain we are 'broke' and stressed out. And I wonder if perhaps God is trying to teach us something?

Because one thing I can promise you is that one day when we stand in front of God and He asks us what we did with the cross- He will not be impressed with our iphone or that our nails looked good.

Perhaps it boils down to us needing to let go of our constantly trying to impress or prove ourselves to everyone else. Maybe we need to quit worrying what others will think and just live the life that God created us for. After all, it’s our life-and we get to choose what we are going to do with the cross. The decision is ours and we are the ones who will be held accountable for it. Who are we trying to please? God or man?

Or maybe it’s about fears? Fear that it might cost you something? Fears that the child God gives you won’t be perfect? Can I ask you something? Are you perfect?

Or maybe it’s fear that it might be hard? Honestly though, do any of us have so much control over our lives that nothing but good will ever happen to us? Has life ever been completely easy?

So whatever it is you decide to do with the cross- whether it be go on a mission trip, foster children, volunteer at a homeless shelter, adopt, teach Sunday school or whatever- go ahead and do it for Him. Stop limiting God. Drop your plans. Loose yourself for Him. Because you may just find that when you finally loose yourself -you may truly discover who you really are.

My prayer for each of us this Thanksgiving is that we clearly see each and every one of our blessings. Then as we reflect on those blessings, we thank God for them- and then hand them right back to Him. All of them- especially the ones you are most thankful for. Then, sit back and watch. Sit back and be amazed at how when you are fully and completely offer your life to Him- you will have more to be thankful for than ever before.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Adopting a child of a different race

When we first decided to adopt Kaden-I started doing a lot of research on adopting a child of a different race. (Yes I realize Mya and Aleigha are from a different race as well, but for some reason people kept telling us it would be 'different' with a black child).

So, I went to my favorite and best resource- THE BIBLE.

No further research was needed.

God tells us to love one another. To love our neighbors as ourselves. He doesn’t say to love only the ones that look the way we do.

It is funny how we humans have made ‘race’ into such a big issue- and funny how God does not.

Now I am not denying that there is a ‘difference’ between particular races and or groups of people. Because in reality- we are ALL different and we are all unique.

And that my friends is to be celebrated.

We are special because of the way that God made us. Period. We are always reminding our children how creative God was when he made us all. We celebrate His creativity- we see the beauty in dark skin and in white skin. We see the beauty in blond hair, red hair and brown hair. We see the beauty in blue eyes, brown eyes and green eyes.

We see the beauty in His creation.

Sure there is racism in this world. There probably always will be. Just like there is prejudice and discrimination against people who are short, fat, poor, of different religions, and different sex. I do not understand why people, since the beginning of time, have always felt the need to prove they are better than someone else instead of embracing and celebrating their differences.

And Satan loves that.

But the good thing is- you and I can choose for ourselves not to partake in that. We can choose to love everyone and demonstrate that love through the way we live our lives. We can choose to not follow what the world views as ‘less than’ or 'better than'- and instead look to Jesus who loves us all- red and yellow, black and white- just the same. We are all precious in his sight.

Get it? He see's our differences- He made us different on purpose. Not so we could fight over them but so that we could celebrate Him. Celebrate His creativeness and see those differences as beautiful- the way He does.

Why do we always get it so wrong?

Have we faced racism in our family? Sure we have. But it has given us and our children a better picture of what many people live with their entire lives. And we faced it together, as a family-pulling together and standing up for what we know is right. It has made us stronger and it has made us better. And we have become more understanding because of it.

It is my belief that when we know something is wrong it is not okay to just sit back, remain comfortable- and allow it to continue around us. As a HUMAN RACE we need to do what is right- even when it’s not popular, even when it makes us uncomfortable, and even if it causes us some pain.

Our family is no longer a ‘white’ family. We are a just a family who happens to not look alike- and we celebrate those differences. We do not try to make Kaden ‘white’ and we do not try to pretend we are black. We embrace our differences, celebrate them, and thank God for them daily.

I will tell you that the only difference between Kaden and our other children is that Kaden happens to have the most beautiful dark skin I have ever seen. Just like our other children- he has talents, he has dreams, and he has needs. He is full of life and full of personality. He makes me smile every day and he has brought more joy into our lives than I ever thought possible.Just another thing to celebrate. :0)

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dear Mr. Blog,

I'm sorry I have been ignoring you lately. I don't mean to, it's just that...

I've got it bad.

real bad.

I can't think,

I can't function,

I can't get anything done.

I can't even begin to concentrate on this...

Because all I want to do is stare at this...


I'm a goner.

He now officially owns my heart.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009


Yeah I know that is the name of the new movie that is coming out and I cannot wait to see it because I can so relate. First of all because it’s about adoption and anything about adoption I am so ‘there’. But also because it’s a story of how God blesses you when you least expect it. It’s a story of how God reveals his plans right in front of your eyes and the plans are something you never could have dreamed up yourself- because if you had- they would have never been THAT AMAZING. God is that good- all of the plans you could have come up with yourself could never be as good as what HE has for you.

And that my friends is where we are right now. Blindsided and blessed beyond anything we could have ever imagined.

For the past year and a half there has been a little guy in our lives who also made his way into our hearts- the first time I met him. Which, happened to be the first time I met our son Kaden as well. This little guy lived in the same amazing foster home as Kaden did and they grew up together for over a year there. You know, they shared the same toys, loved the same foster mommy, daddy and foster siblings, shared holidays together, cried together and laughed together. Kaden and this little boy were both in this home because it was a safe haven for them. A place where for the first time in their lives they were taken care of and cherished the way they deserved to be. A place where they could heal and grow and be fully loved. And I will be forever grateful for this home and for this family. I hope they know that the sacrifices they have made for children over the years has made such a difference. Not only in these children, but in their children one day as well. The legacy they are leaving is amazing and I want them to know that we will never, ever take that for granted.

Because of our obvious love for this family we have become close over the past year and a half since we had the privilege of adopting Kaden. Actually, we consider them family now and our relationship with them means the world to us. How awesome is God to give Kaden two families who love him unconditionally and more than life itself? How awesome is God to bless us with this amazing friendship with this family and how awesome is God to now give us another son out of this safe haven in their home?

I’d like to officially introduce the newest member of our family- our incredible, perfect, beautiful, amazing, out of this world, blesses our socks off son Carson. :0) Because we are adopting Carson out of the foster system we will not be allowed to share his picture until the adoption is final. But trust me, he is drop dead gorgeous.

Carson is 2 years old and we are blown away that God allowed us to become his family. As we look back over the last year and a half we know in our heart of hearts this is something God and only God could have orchestrated. We didn’t plan it, we didn’t chase it, we didn’t see it coming. We prayed over this little boy like you wouldn’t believe because we loved him from the second we met him and only wanted a good life for him. But we just never, ever would have guessed that God would choose us to be his family. He and Kaden share this awesome bond that I cannot even describe. It’s like they somehow knew all along something that the rest of us didn’t. It’s precious and it’s priceless. We are humbled, we are thankful beyond words, and we are in awe.

Dear Heavenly Father, the words thank you seem so small. We know Lord that this child is a gift from you- that he belongs to you and only you. We stand in awe that you saw us fit to be his family and we are once again blown away at your goodness. Thank you for this privilege and thank you for the miracle of adoption- for through it we have never felt closer to you. We love you Lord with everything we have and everything we are.

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Need your help

I have a favor to ask of you guys… really, it’s a simple request on your part but means the world to someone else. A friend of mine’s husband is serving in Iraq right now. In other words- he is serving you and me. Daily this man is putting his life on the line for you and I so that we can live in this amazingly blessed country. I think a lot of times I am guilty of taking that for granted- perhaps we all are. On Dec. 8th Tony will turn 36 and be spending his birthday in Iraq away from his family. Probably not any of us would choose to do on our birthday. His awesome wife Holly wanted to somehow make his birthday special for him by sending him a care package- but because of his amazing heart he told her he didn’t need anything and to please just save the money for the adoption that they have been praying about and trying to work towards. Are you seeing a pattern of unselfishness in this guy? He makes nothing about him and all about giving his life to others- is family, our country, and a child that doesn’t even know it yet. What a beautiful picture of a Godly man. You can check out their family here:

So my favor from you is would you please be willing to make a birthday card for him? Don’t spend your money on some expensive card- just make one or if you have children have them draw one. If you are a teacher- have your whole class do it. Let’s just show this guy our appreciation and Christ’s love. If you are interested you can email his wife Holly at She can give you his address and you can send the card with a simple stamp just as if you were sending it within the still takes TIME to get the cards need to be send by Nov. 21st to be safe! If the cards show up early or late it will still be an ongoing blessing so please do not let that stop you. If you are reading this and you are not able to participate would you please just stop and say a prayer for this family? Pray for protection, pray for their children and pray that they will be able to raise the money they need to adopt again.

Thank you so much for making a difference in someone else’s life. It’s the little things that count in the long run I promise. Can’t wait to see how God moves through you!

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Monday, November 9, 2009

The Power of Our Example

Often times Todd and I have to chuckle because our children (both the biological and adopted ones) are miniature versions of us. I have caught them more than once quoting something we have said and I have seen how they believe in the same things we believe in. It makes me smile- but at the same time it is such a huge reminder of how everything I do- the decisions I make, the way I respond to conflict, the way I view the world- they see and they learn and they become. The small things- our actions and our words- that we may see as no big deal- really can affect others greatly. In other words- our lives are not our own. Every day we are given, every experience we have, can be used to positively or negatively affect someone else. And I wonder- do we really live each moment believing this is true?

The other morning Todd was lying in our bed reading his bible- something that makes me fall in love with that amazing man that I married over and over again. But what touched my heart even more was when Kaden saw him too. And not only did he notice what his daddy was reading- he ran into his room, grabbed his bible off the shelf, then ran back into our room to read next to his daddy. Seriously does it get any better than that?

One of my favorite quotes that I have on the right hand side of my blog reads: “Preach the Gospel always and when necessary, use words.” I love this quote because it reminds me that it’s not about being able to quote every line of scripture- but being able to live them is what matters most. More than anything I want my life’s example to scream Jesus. More than anything I want people to see something different in the way I have chosen to live. I have not chosen the most popular path, the most exciting career or been given the highest salary. It’s okay if they see my flaws, see my weaknesses- but I want them to know that because of Jesus- and only because of Jesus- there is good.

So as you live this day you have been given- remember you are being watched even when you don’t know it. Remember you can be a living example of Him- you can be what this world needs to see most. People don’t need another super hero, they don’t need another magazine model, sports star or rich and famous millionaire. What they need is Jesus- and you can lead them there.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

In your church...

Thank you so much to all of you who left me comments about how you keep Jesus at the center of your Christmas. You have no idea what a blessing all of your idea’s and thoughts were to me. You gave me so much to pray about and so many new ideas to incorporate into our families Christmas. Someone asked me what we do at our house. Well, I’m going to admit that many times in the past I have gotten it all wrong- which is probably why I have felt like something wasn’t quite ‘right’. We did only give 3 gifts each to our children- but we put a lot of emphasis on those presents and let the excitement build around them. We did leave them under the tree for several weeks and waited to open them with great anticipation- which I didn’t even realize was keeping our focus on the presents.(I know- duh- but sometimes things just become habit and we don't even realize it). We do volunteer and we do give to the needy- however, I’ll admit it was a ‘comfortable give’- meaning we probably didn’t even notice we went without anything when we gave.

This year at my parents house we all decided there would be no gifts. Instead we are going to really listen to the Lord and try to see where He makes a need known during the month of December. Then we are to meet that need- whether it be sitting down with a longely,elderly neighbor and singing Christmas carols, or hearing about a family in need and helping them out. On Christmas, when we all get together, we are going to share that experience and what God taught us. I’m excited to hear how God has been at work and where He has led each one of us. Good stuff.

At home, we are giving each one of our kids one nice gift and that is it. Other than that- we are just trying to focus on the ‘reason for the season’ and our time together as a family.

And since you guys are so incredibly awesome at helping me in the Christmas area I was wondering if I could ask for your help again. This one has to do with church. Lately I have felt such a huge burden to do more. I have been praying and I am just not sure where to even start though. I know in time that the Lord will show me what that ‘more’ is, but at the same time I know I too am responsible to start preparing myself. Do any of you go to a church that has any amazing outreach/missions/adoption ministries and if so- what are some of the kinds of things they do? I go to a nice size church and I know there are a lot of people who want to do more but I just do not know where to start. More than anything I know that it is such a waste of time to plop into our comfy seats on Sunday morning, hear some great worship music, nod our heads during a good sermon- and then walk out of the service and do nothing. Yet sometimes I think the reason we do nothing is because we don’t know what to do- we don't know where to start. We feel so small in comparison to the need. So, we sit back and hope it will go away. Satan loves that.

So if you have any good advice for me I’d love to hear how the Lord has been working through the Christians in your church. Thank you again- I really mean it when I say I have THE BEST blogger friends in the world!

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Today's devotion...

God Is Not About YOUR Success
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 2, by Os Hillman

"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life" (John 12:24-26).

God is all about your death so that HIS success can be realized through you! This is why the Church is having such little impact - there are too many believers who have not yet died to their old nature so that Christ can live fully through them. When believers come to the end of themselves they will lose their lives to Him and live through the power of the Holy Spirit and begin to see the reality of a living gospel that impacts lives, workplaces, cities and nations.

"Much of modern Christian enterprise is 'Ishmael.' Born not of God, but of an inordinate desire to do God's will in our own way - the one thing our Lord never did," said Oswald Chambers. The psalmist describes what it means to live in our own strength:

"Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat - for he grants sleep to those he loves" (Ps 127:1-2).

How does one die so that Christ can be our all and all? It usually takes a crisis of significant proportions for most people to relinquish the control of their lives. It means we come to the end of ourselves and our striving to control the events in our lives and we finally come to the place where we can say, "Lord, I surrender. Please take full control of my life."

Have you come to this place with God in your life? Let go and let God make you a success His way.

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Finding Christmas

Bah hum bug.

I have a confession to make.

I am a scrooge when it comes to Christmas.

Well you see, it’s not that I don’t like Christmas- it’s just that I don’t like how Christmas seems to somehow always get lost.

Just the other day when I ran into Walmart, everywhere I looked were blow up Santas and reindeer that moved. There were stocking as big as the front door and wrapping paper galore. There were lights and wreaths and stockings in every size and color. There were yard signs, candy canes and dancing elves. Down every isle there were signs that Christmas is almost here- and even in this economy, many of us will fall into the trap of thinking we have to ‘having it all’ to make Christmas good.

It gets lost.

It seems that Christmas is no longer about the babe in a manager- because the nativity gets lost in the cookies, the bows, the packages, the tinsel, and the ribbons. Its gets lost in the gifts that are larger that life- the ones that we didn’t need in the first place. The ones we purchase because they were just too good of a deal to pass ( never mind that we have no idea what to do with them anyway). The ones we buy just so that the kids get ‘even’ amounts. The ones we buy just so that our little dumplings have something to open- and you know, get that excited feeling on Christmas morning. It gets lost in the stress of our credit card bill. It gets lost in the stockings and the decorations.

It gets lost when we rob our children of the joy of truly understanding the greatest gift they have ever been given- Christ.

It gets lost.

Soon many children will begin to sit down with their crayons and markers and compile their lists for Santa that are a mile long. They will eagerly present their requests to a man in a big red suit sitting in the middle of the mall. They will smile for their picture and then and sit back, sucking on a candy cane and dreaming of Christmas morning when these treasures will ‘magically appear’…all the while being trained that happiness is found in 'things'.

Please understand- I do not mean to say that gift giving is a bad thing… but it’s when that giving becomes about putting a smile on your child face through another piece of plastic, when giving becomes a financial burden that sends you swirling in a pit of never ending debt, when that giving robs your child of ever being able to grasp the important of the true meaning of Christmas- that I believe we become lost.

I want more than anything for my children to have the very best- and for them to recognize that the very best was giving to them when Jesus came to earth in human form on Christmas day.

I want them to see how that gift changes everything. How in that gift there is true hope- true happiness. I want them to understand that Jesus is enough- all they will ever really need.

I want them to recognize this gift as the ultimate present of all. I want them to do something with that gift- not just tuck it away in the corner of their hearts as the plastic toys will be tucked away in the corners of their rooms.

And I want them to understand that while it might be fun to receive a new toy, an iPod or a shiny new bike- those things are only temporary in this world but that what Jesus has to offer is eternal.

I want them to hear the Christmas story and when they come to the part about there being no room at the Inn- I want them to understand that still today many people do not make room in their lives for the King of Kings.

And I don’t want to just tell them that- and then confuse them by living my life in a completely different way. It can be confusing even to Christian adults when we fall into the pit of trying to ‘create’ the perfect Christmas by giving the best, looking our best, serving the best and wanting the best.


So can you help me out and prevent me from turning into a complete scrooge? What are some of the things your family does to keep the real meaning of Christmas from getting lost?

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