Saturday, November 10, 2007

This is it!

This is it~ the day we've all been waiting for! I pray that in about 2 hours time I can bring this blog 'live' for all to see. I'm waiting for Hubby to hit U.S. soil & call to tell me they've touched down- safe and sound. It won't be until tonight that they will arrive to our local airport (8 hours left until our union!)- I'll be happy though when he calls and says they've all made it to the good ole' USA. As soon as that phone rings, I'm going to go backwards and post everything I've written about this journey.

Seems we keep getting thrown curve balls- and it doesn't seem to be over yet. Yesterday, about the time hubby was supposed to be leaving Liberia, I got a frantic phone call. Hubby was on the other end telling me the airline couldn't find one of our children's flight reservation. He said they were boarding the plane and were holding it for a short time while they searched for the missing reservation. Hubby was upset, I was upset- "How much more do we have to endure," I thought?

I scrambled to find our credit card, thinking we may have to buy another ticket just for him to make the flight out- Hubby wanted on that flight! The phone he was borrowing (some kind man in the airport loaned him a cellphone to call me) ran out of minutes and we lost each other. I called hubby's parents for a second credit card just in case there was a problem with ours... I was ready for anything.... I tried to call the cell phone number back and couldn't get through...

I tried 4 times and finally the man answered. I said, "Hello, my husband just used your phone at the airport, is he near you that I could speak with him?" The man asked me to wait a moment and I could hear him running. Finally he said, "Here, it's your wife on the line." I heard hubby's voice again and I could hear genuine despair. We waited in silence for minutes as hubby waited at the ticket counter for them to find our child's reservation or issue a new ticket. I prayed. Hubby prayed.

In a moment- I heard hubby say, "Praise God! We're on the jet plane, they found it, we're on the plane!" I told him I loved him, hubby said he loved me & our connection was gone.

I've been sitting here now for almost 24 hours, praying that the flight out of Liberia went well and the connecting flight into the U.S. went well. I haven't heard from him- I'm waiting for the phone to ring...waiting to hear his voice that everything and everyone is ok.

My faith has been pushed to the edge, my nerves have been stretched thin- I discovered this morning that I have lost 10 pounds in the last 2 weeks. I've tried to rest knowing that the real 'show' starts today. I know that hubby will be exhausted and I'll have to 'pick up the ball and run with it' once everyone is home. I had grand ambitions of doing tons of projects during the last two weeks and about half of them are completed. I rested every day- mostly because I was exhausted and didn't have a choice. I've gone to bed early and let my body rest even if I was awake and my mind was racing. I've prayed more in the last two weeks than at any point in my life or during this journey. I've woken up and realized I was praying in my sleep many times throughout the last 2 weeks.

It's lunch time now and I'm going to fix some food for the little ones. My stomach is tied in knots with butterflies flitting all around. I will try to eat a little again tonight before we leave for the airport. I'm counting the hours...this is a milestone, a BIG milestone in our lives. Our wedding day was big, the birth of all 3 children was big & now we are officially mama and daddy to 4 more blessings. What an awesome gift, what a miracle, what an answer to prayer!

I hope to be back tomorrow with a picture or two from the airport union! I can't wait to see hubby, I miss him horribly. He is truly my other half, without him I have been lost. I love you, sweetheart!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Please go backwards

Just to be sure you catch everything, please 'go backwards' in the posts to see what you've missed since we shut down the blog a few months ago. I'm currently going through every post ever written and re-posting them for everyone to see. Some posts are being edited slightly, some sensitive material has been removed...but none the less, I'm bringing back all the important stuff. Please check back now and again as this process will take me a few days-~there's lots of posts to re-read!

Here is a picture of the morning hubby left for Liberia. Dear Son #3 wasn't very happy (as I'm sure you can see in the photo). This was our last moments of being a family of 5~ our lives are now changed forever! I can't wait to come back in a few days and post a picture of ALL of us for you to see- our new family of 9!



Also, this is a picture of Halloween. I took the 3 children to our church where we went on a hayride and went door to door, trick-or-treating. We have two 'farmer girls' and one pirate. What you can't see is that both girls have on pink cowgirl boots. Daddy is gonna laugh when he sees this picture. It's the day after he left for Liberia...

Liberia update

I am so excited to bring this blog back 'live' in only 2 short days! I just heard from Hubby- he has our children's 4 visas in hand at this exact moment! PRAISE GOD!!!

All went well & he has all the documents he needs to bring back here to the states- all passports, visas & airplane reservations. Now hubby and the kids are headed to the street vendors/market to purchase some African clothes for everyone (us included!) and hopefully buy an African drum/djembe.

I'm walking around here like a zombie this morning. I have no idea what to do first. My mind is just racing- jumping from one thing to the next. I can't keep a thought in my head for more than a minute. There are a few things I need to do before everyone gets home on Saturday night- more laundry to finish and put away, clean all the bathrooms again, make 5 more loaves of bread, finish the boys duvet covers for the bunkbeds, etc. I have plenty of time to do this...but for some reason I feel so overwhelmed & can't even think of a starting point. The most important thing is that hubby gets home safely with the kids- the laundry will wait, the duvet covers will wait, the bathrooms can get cleaned again after everyone is home & the bread can be made as we need it instead of ahead of time.

I've been focusing on resting the entire time hubby has been gone. I have been physically exhausted since the day after he left. I'm lucky to make it to 10pm most nights- I'm usually a night owl and can go to midnight/1am with no problems! I've been going to bed early every night and have been taking short naps most days when the baby lays down. I think I've narrowed it down to being emotionally exhausted- and I'm not the one in Liberia! :)

Ok...off to start some of these chores so I can get some stuff done before lunch. My energy starts to dwindle in the afternoon hours. Two more days and counting...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Our 'new' family motto

As I spoke with hubby in Liberia yesterday, he was telling me the events of the day. He said a certain phrase that really stuck out to me. It's a phrase I've said over and over to Dear Son #1~ especially during the past year. Without hubby knowing it, he told the kids this particular phrase during a very tense moment. He instructed them to pray that God would show favor on us & he said:

"I will do everything humanly possible- I WILL NOT GIVE UP ON YOU!"

I think this phrase just became our new family motto: I WILL NOT GIVE UP!

Praise You In This Storm

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The 'WOW' factor

Ok...so this is going to take awhile- so sit back & get comfy...

I told you yesterday that we've come across 'enemy fire' with the paperwork/red-tape in trying to get our kids home. When I finally went to bed last night, it didn't look good (in my eyes). There were so many things against us and it could have been one of the worst nights ever- especially because hubby wasn't here by my side! I played scenario after scenario over in my mind, trying to come up with something to 'do.' I prayed, "God, what is going on? What are you doing?" The song 'Praise You In This Storm' came to mind- so I played it over and over, cried, sang & cried some more. I praised Him in the storm. I told Him I would follow Him wherever He led. I told Him I would go 'there' even if I didn't want to. I told Him I would try to be happy if the outcome went the way I didn't want it to. I asked Him to help my heart be ok with His decision. I gave 'it' over and over to Him until I felt the weight leave me. I finally was able to sleep.

At 4am the phone rang. It was hubby needing help with info. on some of the forms he was filling out. I told him I was really struggling and I was having a hard time coping. Hubby told me it was going to be ok, that he had a good feeling about the day. He said that the meeting was 'going to go well.' He just knew it....

It took me about an hour to fall back to sleep. 30 minutes after falling asleep, the kids woke up (still having trouble with the time change). I watched the clock knowing that any moment hubby would be going into his meeting. This was it. The meeting determined if the kids were coming with him or if hubby was coming home alone.

I got a couple of phone calls during that time. I made polite conversation & quickly got off the phone as I was waiting for hubby to call and tell me how the meeting went. 30 minutes before the office closed in Liberia (where hubby was having his meeting), I got an important phone call. This call was orchestrated by God. God came in at the END of the 11th hour and moved His mighty hand! The person on the other end of the line was able to help us. That 'person' called another 'person' who was able to help hubby. God moved in moments- all the way to the other side of the world! I waited to hear the outcome....

5 minutes before the Liberian office closed, I got a return phone call telling me the outcome. I held my breath. The news was good- all 4 children WILL be coming home with hubby. As sure as I am sitting here, God performed yet another miracle today! I will not by any means tell you this has happened by our own doing, it has happened ONLY by the hand of God. We do and will always give Him 100% of the credit for this miracle.

I hung up the phone and I cried. I wept from the depths of my soul. I thanked God in my heart for what He had just done (I couldn't form words at that point)- when I got to the point of actually breathing again- I was able to voice my thankfulness to Him.

I called a close friend and told her what God had just done. I waited for hubby to call me... When he called about 20 minutes later, I told him I knew what happened already. He said, "How do you know?" I simply said, "God just worked a miracle!" We shared our experiences back and forth about what just happened in the last hour, said we loved each other & hung up the phone before his cell phone battery went dead.

Dear daughter #3 came in the room and asked if I had been crying. She looked nervous so I explained to her that I was 'happy-sad.' That's been a term in our house for many years... 'happy-sad' just means that mommy is crying because I'm happy. I might look like I'm sad because I'm crying, but really they are happy tears. I told her that everything is ok and that I was just happy because everything is ok with daddy and that all her brothers and sisters were coming home together with daddy.

It was lunch time & I was so 'fried' that I couldn't even form thoughts to make lunch. I told the kids that God did another awesome thing today that we were going to celebrate God and go have a 'treat lunch.' In our house, treat lunch means a trip to McDonalds or some fast food restaurant. We try very hard not to eat out much (we are trying to eat healthy) so it's a real treat when we do. On the way to town, dear daughter #3 said, "It's so awesome what God did today, it's kinda like that song." She began to sing:
'He's got the whole world in His hands, he's got the whole wide world in His hands....'

That's right, baby-cakes. God has the whole world in His hands & today He showed us once again just how easy it is for Him to work in this world. It feels big to us but NOTHING is too big for God. Amen to that!

Monday, November 05, 2007

What???

Hubby has been in Liberia for just about a week- today is Nov. 5th. It has been a tough day- I went through about 4-5 hours of turmoil. Digging out paperwork, looking over forms- clarifying things for hubby. We should be used to the bumps along in this journey, why did I think the coast was clear? We've encountered MORE difficulties in Liberia with paperwork. Without giving too many details, I can say however that we've come across 'enemy fire.' Whew-- talk about a battle! The details of the day have taken all the wind out of my sail. I'm holding tight to God's promises to me & I'm just left wondering how this is all going to play out.

So, in light of all the craziness- I'm going to make a list for some of the things I am grateful for to keep my priorities straight:

~God has been in this marathon since the beginning and it isn't over yet!
~Hubby made it to Liberia (3 airplanes later) safely & has been safe in country since arriving.
~The children are all together & have been with hubby 24/7 since he arrived. They have been spending time together every day & have been doing lots of bonding during this time!
~The requirements we must complete are attainable and there is no major hang up regarding the children or the possibility of bringing them home. They will come home, it may just take a bit longer.
~Once they're home, they're home. This part of the journey will be behind us and what we've endured will seem like such a short amount of time. Just a blip on the radar....
~Hubby is coming home, we miss him terribly!
~Surely I can find 'something' to do with this spare time.... after all, I've just been sitting around with nothing to do but wait! Yea right.... hehe

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The BIG day!

Yesterday I drove hubby to the airport for his flight to Liberia. I just got off the phone with him, he arrived there just 2 short hours ago.

This is my first full day alone without him. Last night was quite lonely without him, I sure did miss our 'talk time' after the kids were in bed. I didn't have enough energy to start a project and work into the wee hours of the night. I was alone with myself and my God- praying, praying, praying and feeling every emotion possible. I felt anxiety, fear, excitement and anticipation...I tried for over an hour to fall asleep.

Today was busy, the rest of this week will be filled with things to do during the days. I was so happy to hear he made it safe and sound- it was quite an experience having him leave us and travel half way around the world. It is something wonderful we must do to get our children home, but it was also hard to see him go without me. I'm not the type of person who waits well- this is another chance for me to grow and learn to be patient! :) The outcome, however, is a HUGE blessing.

I just wanted to share a little of what hubby said to me in our phone conversation. He said the moment when he saw the children for the first time in the airport- the girls came running at him like crazy! They both jumped on him and almost knocked him down! What a wonderful sight that must have been. Our little guy (dear son #2) was quite reserved, he said. But now they can begin to enjoy each other and get to know each other. I will post more on what happens every day as hubby is in Liberia.

I have a busy night ahead of me. It's just about time to get costumes together and head out to our church for the Trick-or-Treat Hay Ride. DD #3 & DD#4 are going to be "farmer girls" & DS #3 is going to be a pirate. We've had a good time getting these costumes together- see the picture below! Have a blessed week...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

You'd think it was 20 degrees outside

I had a good laugh this morning! The kids have a daily routine of getting the mail. All 3 of them walk down the driveway together, sometimes all holding hands. Then the 5 year old and the 2 year old stand in the yard about 30 feet from the edge of the road. This is the 'safe zone.' The 7 year old stands at the end of the driveway, looks both ways down the road and then proceeds to the mailbox to get the mail. After returning to the driveway, all 3 children meet up together and proceed to walk back to the house. Every morning, I watch in the window to make sure they stay safe and follow 'procedure.' This daily chore makes them feel important and gives them responsibility (keep the baby away from the road!). **By the way, we don't live on a busy road at all- we're out in the country. I wouldn't let them that close to the road if there was a great possibility for danger...

As I watched and chuckled at them this morning, I noticed their attire. They all had suited up in the garage before going on their daily mission. Each child had mud boots on, warm jackets, hats & mittens. I laughed because it's 45 degrees and rain. We must be acclimated because we would only dress like this (when we lived in Wisconsin) when it was below freezing. Mid-winter, 45 degrees used to be a t-shirt day. That was warm compared to the -10 to -30 degree winter days. Well, here we are in southern Arkansas 'dressed' for the weather. I actually considered building a fire the other night just to get the dampness out of the house.

The fireplace will soon get enough use as we prepare for the heating season. Off to Walmart to buy plastic for the sunroom windows. They leak so badly there's almost a breeze. hehe
I do look forward to autumn and winter. There's just something about a fire in the fireplace and warm, fuzzy clothes. Slippers & blankets and a warm cup of tea or coffee. This weather puts me in the baking spirit- I made 4 pumpkin pies yesterday!

Hubby leaves in 5 days for Liberia. I finished packing one suitcase last night. That particular suitcase holds all 4 children's backpacks with clothes/activities for the trip home as well as gifts to give away to a local orphanage. It was fun picking out their 'coming home outfits' yesterday and packing them up. I have a few last minute things to get for the other suitcase and I can pack that up. I'm trying to be 'ahead of schedule' a few days instead of running behind. The majority of the work was done a month ago when we thought he was leaving. The suitcases have just sat in a corner in our room for the past few weeks, waiting to be re-packed.

Yesterday, I also reflected at the timing of all the children coming home. I was thanking God all day that he is allowing us to be together as a family during this holiday season. Thanksgiving and Christmas are our family favorites. 3 of the Liberian children also have birthdays during this time. We're going to have 2 months of absolute fun- what a better way to bond as a family? 2 months of partying?? I remember my sorrow last year as we prepared for Christmas- half of our family was missing. It was still a wonderful time but when we called Liberia Christmas Day to speak to 'the other half,' my heart was a little sad. This year is a joyous year, we will all be together under one roof. Thank you, God, for your abundant blessings!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Amen!

I wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone?

What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?

What if we flipped through it several time a day?

What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?

What if we used it to receive messages from the text?

What if we treated it like we couldn't live without it?

What if we gave it to kids as gifts?

What if we used it when we traveled?

What if we used it in case of emergency?

This is something to make you go... Hmm... Where is my Bible?

Oh, and one more thing. ...

Unlike our cell phone, we don't have to worry about our Bible being disconnected because Jesus already paid the bill.

Makes you stop and think "where are my priorities?

And no dropped calls!

Mighty to Save

Whew! I just watched this on a fellow 'adoptive mama's' blog & I am totally in awe. This sums it up for me, I couldn't say it any better if I tried... The lyrics are amazing, it is not only how we think about our children, but ultimately how Christ sees & relates to us. True love~ absolutely amazing, true love. Enjoy!!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Getting Ready

I am so excited! The time is near- my hubby leaves in 12 days for Liberia. We've actually been happy to wait this extra month- ds#2 will be coming home with everyone else. Things are just about complete, one more passport to obtain and everything is ready. When hubby gets to Liberia, he will just have to obtain the visas for all 4 children and get their exit medical exams done- then it's homeward bound! As of now, hubby- all 4 children- & 'grandma' will be coming home on November 8th.

When I look back at the past year and a half, I am marveled at miracle after miracle God has blessed our family with. Our faith has grown by leaps and bounds, our marriage has strengthened, & our family has grown even closer together. If we weren't ready before, we are ready now. We can (and do) stand united as the bumps, twists & turns come at us- we've learned to stand strong in the storms that blow upon us. We've learned to trust God with EVERYTHING & know with absolute certainty that He will see us through the tough times. Even when we walk through the valleys, we've learned to not bring more suffering upon ourselves. We've learned to walk with confidence and cast all our burdens upon the Lord. Everything until now seems to have been 'practice' for this journey. We've gone through a lot as a family, and we'll probably continue to struggle in the future. We know, however, that it is not a hopeless struggle. We know it is a momentary feeling and there is always a way up. We now have eternal optimism. What a blessing it is to finally find and accept that!

As a mom, I am 100% ready to accept everything that walks through 'this' door. I am ready for anything and everything all 7 of our children bring. I am ready for the blessings, I am ready for the joy & I am even ready for the tough times. I've felt a certain emptiness after 'baby' was born. Something wonderful changed in my heart the day I held her in my arms. At that point, we had no idea we'd be heading towards Liberia. I just knew there was more to life, more to do, more to enjoy, more children I would mother. As we began the adoption process and the 1 child we asked for turned to 4 children, I knew this was 'it.' I knew this is what God made me to be. I knew this was my destiny as a mother. For the first time in my life, I felt extreme peace. I felt peace that I would no longer search for my 'place or destiny.' I felt so blessed by the 3 miracles God placed within my womb- but now I would be blessed again, only from within my heart. I saw something once that explained adopted & biological children this way:
3 children home-grown & 4 children heart-grown

I thought that was a really interesting way to say it. All children 'came' from within, all children are a gift from God, all the children belong here no matter how they got here. As I've been preparing even more this last month, I've found more and more peace with the life change that is about to occur. I've had more time to love on our 3 'babies', more time to talk to them, more time to teach them about what is about to happen in our family.

As I've been praying and thinking about what to post on, this wonderful song came to me. I've posted in the past about songs & how meaningful they are to me. I wanted to share this one with you because it speaks volumes on what we've learned in the last year and a half. May you be blessed by these lyrics~

Praise you in this Storm- Casting Crowns
I was sure by now,God, that You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away,
stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen
and it's still raining
as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away.

Chorus:
And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to You
and raised me up again
my strength is almost gone how can I carry on
if I can't find You
and as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away

Chorus

I lift my eyes unto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth
I lift my eyes unto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sweet Baby

Our baby (dear daughter #4) just turned 2- along with that mile marker comes two things: potty training & moving to the 'big girl bed.' Last night, she wanted to sleep in her 'big girl bed.' This is the bottom bunk, to which dd#3 sleeps above. As I laid with baby, trying to ease her adjustment into dreamland from a 'foreign' bed- I pretended to sleep. I watched her through peeking eyelids and observed as she looked around the room and tried to settle in.

She ended up going back in the crib after about an hour of laying with her. She just couldn't do it- not just yet. She's trying though... we'll try again when she feels ready. I feel proud that she's going to make this transition soon but very sad that 'the baby' is growing up right before my eyes.

**This section of the post was added to 11/8/07:
Baby fell asleep in her big girl bed last night. She slept there until 4am- she woke up when I entered the room to check DD #3's blood sugar. I tried to lay with her so she could fall back asleep- she wanted back in the crib. She slept there until 8am this morning. I took a picture for daddy cause he missed her first 'half-night' in the big girl bed. Even though her nickname is "Sass-a-Frass" - she sure is cute all passed out and comfy, looking like a big girl!

Monday, October 01, 2007

October 1st

I'm speaking with someone in Liberia just about once a day now. It's either 'grandma,' 'Mother Africa,' or ds#1. I spoke with 'Mother Africa' today and she updated me on all the paperwork info. Her and I are working so closely together to make sure everything is taken care of. She's been working so hard, on our behalf, running just about every day. Our idea of 'running around' is nothing compared to what I hear Africa is like. 'Grandma' tells me that it is about 3 times as difficult to do something in Liberia/Africa as it is here. 'Mother Africa' doesn't own a car (this isn't uncommon) so she either walks or has to pay a taxi/cab everywhere she needs to go.

Many times when I am talking with her, I try to picture where she is and what is going on around her. Sometimes I hear loud talking, cars honking, or rain just pouring down! I can only imagine what she is going through-on our behalf, on our children's behalf! She is truly a woman of God- a woman of strong faith and conviction.

I just received an email from a family who is now in the same position as we were before being connected with 'Mother Africa.' This is a little bit of encouragement I wrote to the mom tonight- this is what I've been 'holding on to' for all these months:

"There was a story I heard one time about a swimmer that was trying to cross a big lake. A thick fog rolled in and he got nervous because he couldn't see the upcoming shoreline anymore. He thought he was just about there, but the more dense the fog got- the more nervous he became about not being able to see the shore. He couldn't take it anymore and turned around. When the fog lifted, he determined that he was just about to the shore when he turned around and went back. That is EXACTLY where we are now. We can't see the hands in front of our faces, but we've GOT to keep walking forward in faith. God is a God of completion, He will finish what He started. We are almost there and can't turn back now!
Take care & keep your faith strong."

'Grandma' is still in Liberia.' It looks like she may be coming home around the time hubby may leave for Liberia (I'm guessing depending on when we purchase the plane ticket and flight availability). I will be happy to hear stories of her trip and stories about our children!

DD #2 (dear daughter #2) wasn't feeling well today. 'Mother Africa' said she gave her some pain reliever and dd#2 seemed to respond well. I pray she will be better soon and it's not too serious. DS#2 (dear son #2) is also trying to take the medication given to him by the MD. 'Mother Africa' reports he is scared of the pills (it's not liquid) and is scared to try and swallow them. I told her to try mashing the pills with the back of a spoon and mixing them in his food. Hopefully that will be better and she can get the meds in him a little easier.

I can't wait until my 'babies' are home safe and sound and I can put some of this nursing education to good use! Atleast a lot of TLC and bedside manner that the Liberian kids aren't used to...

That's it for now, I'll post again soon. I will be so proud when all of you can read these posts-it's hard to write all these things knowing nobody is reading them. I am grateful, however, that I've journaled all these steps thus far. I can't wait to post pictures for you!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

All around great day

Today was one of those days, a mile-marker day! First of all, it is dd#4's birthday (dear daughter #4 turns two years old today). Our baby 'dear' isn't so baby anymore. She's getting more and more independent as the days go on~where has my cuddle bug gone? She still has her moments when she puts her little arms around my neck and gives me nose-rubs, gives me kisses & flashes that big grin. We had dinner at church tonight and everyone sang Happy Birthday to her as she ate her strawberry cupcake with pink frosting! She's a ham and loved every minute of it.

What topped off the night is when we arrived home and saw the light on the answering machine blinking. I have been trying to call Liberia all day with no luck- the calls won't even go through. I've been thinking about ds#2 and what is happening- has he been 'reunited' with the other 3 children- has everything gone smoothly? 'Mother Africa' left us the message and it said this: "God bless you, this is *** calling. I want to tell you that *** (ds#2) is here with us. I will talk with you tomorrow, have a blessed evening."

THANK YOU, JESUS! After all that worrying, praying on my knees, crying on my face at the sheer exhaustion of this journey- all 4 children are together in a safe environment and the paperwork is almost done. Today 'Mother Africa' should have picked up the adoption decrees on the 3 oldest children, as well as their birth certificates- now she can apply for their passports. Because ds#2 was brought in last, she will now begin the process on him. If I guess, in 2 weeks we may be able to purchase hubby's plane ticket. This is about the ONLY time during this process that I don't mind waiting. I know that 'grandma' is there now & all 4 children are together under one roof. I feel almost as good as if I or my hubby were there in person. This day has been long awaited. It's such a great (but surreal) feeling when it's finally our turn- seems like this day would have never come.

We give God all the praise for ALL of our blessings today and every day.

Happy Birthday, baby!
Welcome, ds#2- we've been waiting a long time for you to join the crowd!

A mother's love- based on 1 Corinthians 13

If I speak truths from God's Word and train my children in the Lord, but have not God's love flowing from me to them, the words I teach are as noisy as a barking dog, a broken muffler, or a colicky baby at 2 am.

And if I have all manner of wisdom and knowledge in the latest child-rearing techniques, if I have an understanding of child psychology, and if I have subscriptions to every parenting magazine on the market but don't have God's love flowing from me, I am nothing. If I have all the faith I could ever need, so that I could move mountains, keep the house clean, or potty-train a two year old, but do not do it in love, I am nothing.

Even if I leave behind my own dreams and ambitions to raise my children, and even if I stay up for nights on end with sick children, sleepless babies, and mountains of laundry, but complain and murmur about lack of sleep, God's love is not in me, and I am accomplishing nothing.

A loving mother is patient enough to wait for a child who insists on tying her own shoes and buttoning her own coat.

A loving mother is kind to her children even on 3 hours of sleep and is never rude to them.

A loving mother is not jealous or envious of everyone else's children nor will she boastfully exalt her own children above others.

A loving mother models true Christian behavior even when no other adults are watching.

A mother full of God's love doesn't seek her own rights, but demonstrates the servant hood of Christ as she serves her family. Such a mother doesn't resent cutting corners to live on one income, but is grateful to raise her own children.

A loving mother forgets her children's sins as soon as the discipline is over, and never reminds them of their imperfections but encourages her children in good works.

A loving mother doesn't look at her children's rebelliousness as a cute phase but rejoices in seeing her offspring grow in godliness. Only a mother with God's love can bear the day to day tasks of managing a family with zest and joy. She is able to see the potential hidden deep within each of her children and prays that God will shine through them into a dark world. With such a vision clear in her mind, a mother can endure anything.

A loving mother's influence will never fade away. Oh, the children may forget a spotlessly clean house, or perfectly pressed clothes, or even freshly baked cookies, but her children will always carry with them the legacy of God's perfect love. Though all you may see now are stacks of dirty dishes, diapers to change, noses to wipe, and wild toddlers to tame, the spirit in which you tackle these tasks is laying the foundation for your children that has eternal consequences.

There are three things your children will always remember about you:
~Your faith and zeal in how you serve the Lord.
~Your hope in the promises of God's word and how you waited and watched for His return.
~And the Love of God that flowed through you to others.

It is these three that will remain in their minds forever, and the greatest of these is their mother's love.

*written by "Joyful Momma" www.joyfulmomma.org

Monday, September 24, 2007

3 busy days

To catch everyone up:
September 22nd (Saturday), I drove 'grandma' to the airport- she was on her way to Liberia. After leaving the airport, I made a mad dash to NW Tennessee to visit a friend over night (the kids were home with my hubby).

September 23rd (Sunday)- on the way home from Tennessee I got a phone call from hubby informing me that 'grandma' just arrived in Liberia and everyone was together at the Liberian airport. 'Grandma' was in the airport praying & giving her testimony- ds#1 couldn't talk with my hubby long as he wanted to be part of the fun! I was also informed that ds#1 had located a family member for ds#2. GREAT NEWS!

September 24th (Monday), 4am! The phone rings...it's ds#1 telling me that 'grandma' wants to talk with me. All is well (oops- she forgot the time difference...), she's met and loved on 3 of our children. Ds#2 will be 'evacuated' today- as I write this post, he's probably with 'Mother Africa' & 'Grandma' already. PRAISE GOD! Things are moving now... hopefully hubby can leave for Liberia in about 2 weeks- whenever the paperwork is ready and done for ds#2.

p.s. 'Grandma' informed me that dd#1 (dear daughter #1) doesn't like ham- it's a new taste for her ('grandma' brought some along). Ds#1 likes it though!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Privilege

Today is September 21st- 1 day to travel. There have been new developments in the case of ds#2 - very GOOD developments. This is really an answer to prayer! Because of the information we received just a few days ago, we've decided to postpone my hubby's trip to Liberia. The friend ('grandma') who was to travel with him is still leaving tomorrow, I will be bringing her to the airport in the morning. In her extra suitcase, I've enclosed our children's bags of clothes, shoes & extra toiletries. Even if they have to wait 2-3 weeks for dad to arrive, they can still enjoy some things from us while they visit with 'grandma.'

My worry is about 85% gone & I have a renewed peace. This has been a 'trend' with me during this journey. I go through a tough time & then I find peace again- and so on and so on. So, I am happy that today- and for this week- I have absolute peace. I am praying to keep that peace for the rest of this journey!

It's great to hear my children's voices when I call Liberia. The girls especially make me laugh- because they are always laughing. It sounds to me like they are having a giggle-fest (as teenage girls do) & that alone makes me happy. I find an certain innocence in that. I can't imagine what it must feel like to have your best friend 'suddenly' become your forever sister. These girls have been together for 10 years, I'm sure they had become sisters long ago- but now, it is official by name and by family.

Yesterday was court day- the adoptions were complete. Next week Tuesday or Wednesday, 'Mother Africa' will hold our adoption decrees in her hand. There is a sentence in those decrees that read something like this:
"This child is now your own, as to be of your flesh, as if you had given birth to him/her."

I love that line- I can't wait to hold those documents in my hand & see that sentence with my own eyes. What a privilege we've been given by our most gracious and Heavenly Father!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Worry no more

Today is September 19th- 3 days until hubby's flight to Liberia.

Ok...so not only is God good, but he is very sympathetic! I had myself all worked up yesterday & just when I didn't think I would make it any longer- I received a phone call from Liberia. That phone call put me right in my place! It was our ds#1 (dear son #1). He was calling to tell me some news about ds#2- good news! News I had been praying about and waiting to hear...and he said it in just a way that caught my attention. He said it like, "Why were you even worried mom? Why is this SUCH good news? Yea, it's good~ buy why are you crying? Of course God was going to come through- why are you surprised?"

God just showed me that I need to forfeit all of this turmoil I'm putting MYSELF through! After the phone call ended, I thanked God as I felt about 1,000 pounds lifted from my shoulders. I then asked for forgiveness and have vowed to try and not worry anymore. It is needless and a waste of time. God also showed me Psalm 94: 18-19. "When I said, 'My foot is slipping,' your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul."

Last night I was tempted to fret about the passports not arriving yet with the Liberian visas. I caught myself, prayed and handed it over to God. In today's mail, the passports arrived with the Liberian visas. The final puzzle pieces are moving into place by the mighty hand of our Father. This puzzle is moving towards completion. Thank you, Father!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Working against my wiring

Today is September 18th, Tuesday- 4 days away from my hubby's departure to Liberia. I'm working against my wiring today- working against my type A personality. It seems to me, because of the way I'm wired, I'm spinning myself in circles. I'm over-thinking things that haven't even happened yet, I've torn just about every room apart in my frantic attempt to clean, every bedroom closet has been re-organized (except my own), all 7 sets of embroidered towels have been rewashed and hung to dry, floors have been scrubbed, garages cleaned & re-organized, etc. I'm running on vapors but my mind is still going strong. I'm wondering if staying busy will help me or just make me more tired. I'm excited, anxious, scared and just plain-old worried.

I know that I'm not helping myself, I know I need to calm down and rest- but how does one 'work against their wiring?' It's like going against the grain- twice as hard as going with the grain. Am I shooting myself in the foot? Burning the candle at both ends? Probably. Can I change my behavior? Probably. Am I struggling? YES!!

But, this journey wouldn't be a journey without struggling. This has been a long road and it seems we're in the last few miles of the marathon. Here's an excerpt of an email I sent to a friend this morning:
"I'm trying so hard to be strong but my energy is very low to continue to fight all of this pressure. I will hang on though, it's really a mother's promise to her children...to be united with my husband to do what needs to be done to get them all home & safe. I will take all the 'abuse' if it means their suffering is lessened."

God tells us not to worry. He says, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." *Read Matthew 6: 25-34

I will be trying my best to apply that during the next few days & weeks! I'm going to try and 'marry' type A personality to type B personality. I'm going to give it my best shot- to compromise with myself!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Filling the gap

So what has happened from the time of 'going invisible' until now? Around the time of the August 18th post, I was in the middle of a 40 day no-meat fast. Things with the adoptions seemed to just be going nowhere so I made a sacrifice- a BIG sacrifice. I just prayed to God that He would acknowledge my commitment and have mercy on our Liberian children. I prayed like I have never prayed before in my life- I handed everything over to God, everything I could think of. If I gave it once, I gave it 10 times. I know, once would have been sufficient- did I mention I'm a bit compulsive? I wonder if God laughs at me...He made me this way! He made me with this personality and with this gift mix...did He know I'd be so quirky?

Anyway, the woman I refer to as 'Mother Africa' agreed to take care of our oldest son. In the process of doing so, we set it up for him to attend school & for him to attend church with her. Through our conversations, she offered to go the 'leg work' concerning the adoptions and we discussed the 'avenue' best suited in which to proceed. I prayed, "God, is this it? Is this the way you want us to go? We'll go, God- just lead the way." And away He led. He is still leading, even today. I wonder and sometimes agonize at the final details. My mind knows everything will come out in the end & all the details will fall into place. My heart struggles every day, sometimes by the hour or minute. I'm constantly handing over my worries and my anxiety to God. This is WAY to big for me to handle on my own! I think God may have planned it this way- my walk and my faith has grown leaps and bounds in this last year and a half!

I'm remembering and reminding myself that this is only the beginning. I've been comparing this journey to the planning of a wedding. A lot of our time and effort has been in this planning/waiting stage. Unfortunately, sometimes after the wedding the bride and groom are left standing and looking at each other- asking, "Now what?"

This part of the journey is almost over, then we begin with the 'good stuff.' The important stuff God is calling us to do, parent these children. Teach them, guide them, and LOVE them. The moment after we are introduced, hug & love on each other- real life begins. As we walk out of the airport, hand in hand, we will be The Gustafson family- all 9 of us! A new journey begins.

Sunshine & Rain

Today is September 14, 2007- my hubby leaves in 8 short days for Liberia. Today, I washed sheets & comforters and then made the 4 'big kid' beds, vacuumed corners in the upstairs bedrooms, cleaned & organized the attic & packed the children's suitcase. The children's suitcase holds a backpack for each child w/activities for the plane ride home (as well as a sweatshirt w/an American flag), and 3 sets of clothes for each child. Our friend who is taking care of the children (I'll refer to her as 'Mother Africa') tells me that our oldest son only has a few articles of clothing and the girls just have the clothes they're wearing. So, I've lovingly folded and packed 3 outfits per child, pj's, socks & shoes, under-clothes and toiletries.

I've smelled each article of clothing as I've folded it, labeled each tag with their initials and have handwritten a note to my children to read as they open the suitcase. I've prayed over each child's clothing as well as the suitcase. This is one of the moments I've been waiting for as a mother- for the last year and a half! God is moving... the time is near.

Also included in the children's suitcase is a gift for 'Mother Africa' - a new bible in a leather carrying case. This woman has gone above and beyond a favor. She has become ruthless in this quest- this journey ordained by God. I find myself thanking her during every phone call- she corrects me every time and says, "We thank God." She's right. We thank God- we praise God! God is truly making a way where there was no way... He is arriving right on time... just where He intends to be. What glory He deserves!

Two days ago, ds #1 (dear son #1) called. I called him back so he wouldn't use his minutes...but, I couldn't hear his voice. Instead, I heard rain. I heard the sound of the rain hitting the ground and the drops falling from the roof of the house. After I realized my 'ds' couldn't hear me, I sat for a moment before I hung up the phone to redial. I sat and listened to the African rain. That sound alone was a precious gift to me. Half way around the world, sits 4 children waiting on God to bring them new parents. The prayer they've agonized over for 10 years- the promise they've held on to & have trusted God to follow through with- is just around the corner. The fulfillment is near...

I redialed the phone and spoke with my 'ds #1'. He didn't have any idea that I could hear the rain in the previous phone call & not his voice- he just thought the call didn't go through. I finished my conversation with him & spoke with the other children. Told them I loved them & that daddy would be there very soon. After I hung up the phone, I thanked God for these precious children- these precious gifts- and I thanked Him for the rain.

Today as I drove through town, I glanced up at the sky and as the sun set- I noticed it was behind a cloud with its rays shining through the cloud. Truly a Godly moment for me. What a beautiful sight- I love seeing that. We go through the majority of our days not thinking about the sun, or even seeing its rays for that matter. What beauty we find in a rainbow- the combination of water & sun. As I saw the long, beautiful rays I thought about the pictures I used to draw as a child- pictures of the sun and big, long beautiful rays. Tonight, I thanked God for the beauty all around us and I thanked him for the sun. The sun that gives us light & warmth. The sun that comes up every morning without fail, the sun that peeks in my curtains to welcome me to another day & the sun that helps to grow the food we eat every day.

Thank you, God, for the rain and for the sun.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Psalm 37 & 'friend'

If you know me, you know that I tend to worry. I think about things that are so minimal to the 'average Joe.' I'm very precise and think a lot about details.

This journey has about made smoke come out of my ears- the wheels are always turning... I've prayed and prayed, especially about 'ds #2' as his paperwork isn't complete yet. The things I think about are crazy, what if...what if...what if... We've purchased everyone's plane tickets in complete blind faith- we're moving ahead without complete 'earthly' confirmation. A move that even I think is crazy! But, we're holding tight onto the promise God made and we're 'preparing the field' for God to bring forth the harvest. We trust God and we're stepping WAY out- now if I could keep my mind from wandering.

God brought me these two things during the week of September 2-8, 2007. Maybe I should take the hint and chill out! :)

Psalm 37:3-7
"Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this; He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him"

WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS
What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge; take it to the Lord in prayer. Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer! In his arms he'll take and shield thee; thou wilt find a solace there.

I hear you, God- thanks for the reminder!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Going invisible

To all our faithful blog readers,
There is a lot going on right now with the adoptions and the process involved- so in order to protect our family and all our children Travis and I have decided to shut down this blog. We WILL be back when we feel it is safe to talk openly. Please continue to pray for our family- we thank you for all your comments & heartfelt emails.

We would like to leave you with this blessing:
Our Creator says this about you: You are blessed, you are anointed, you are equipped, you are valuable, you are talented, you were created, you have the favor of God, whatever you touch will prosper and succeed, you are strong in the Lord, and you are able to do what God has called you to do.
May you go out, be blessed & be a blessing to others.
Many blessings to each of you.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Today's mail

Encouragement has just been pouring in- this card came in today's mail:

IF WE LOVE GOD, ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD
Bumps in the road of life- I've had more than my share, BUT I'VE LEARNED TO PRAISE GOD, Though some bumps seem unfair.

Roadblocks, detours, brick walls- I've hit a few- looking back, BUT I'VE LEARNED TO THANK GOD- They've helped me grow, in fact.

I know why God permits, such heartbreaking things- SO I COULD GROW IN CHRIST- So God could give me wings.

Now when I hit brick walls- roadblocks, detours and more- PRAISE GOD FOR WINGS OF FAITH- Some days I rise and soar.

We've faced some of the same bumps in the road. You seem to handle roadblocks, detours and brick walls better than most of us. During these tough times I often think of you and when I do I call your name in prayer.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Here's My Life & Never Alone- Barlowgirl

Here's My Life

Once again I said my goodbyes
To those I love most
My heart feels that familiar pain
As I long for hope
Cause this road is hard
When I feel so far

Chorus:
And God I'm crying out tonight
Cause I've giving you my life
But I'm tired and I'm missing what's behind
So once more here's my life


On the day that you called my name
All that I knew changed
I found when I said yes
That I would never be the same
Though the call is hard
You are worth it all

Chorus:
And God I'm crying out tonight
Cause I've given you my life
But I'm tired and I'm missing what's behind
So once more....

Even when the tears are falling
When I find I fear the calling you
remind me,
words you've spoken over my life
promises I've yet to see
you comfort me.


Never Alone

I waited for you today
But you didn't show
No no no
I needed You today
So where did You go?
You told me to call
Said You'd be there
And though I haven't seen You
Are You still there?

I cried out with no reply
And I can't feel You by my side
So I'll hold tight to what I know
You're here and I"m never alone

And though I cannot see You
And I can't explain why
Such a deep, deep reassurance
You've placed in my life

We cannot separate
'Cause You're part of me
And though You're invisible
I'll trust the unseen

I cried out with no reply
And I can't feel You by my side
So I'll hold tight to what I know
You're here and I"m never alone

We cannot separate
You're part of me
And though You're invisible
I'll trust the unseen

Monday, August 06, 2007

Testing, Testing, 1...2...3...

During this journey our faith, patience, endurance, understanding, emotions, determination & tolerance has been tested. We continue to 'evaluate' these areas as we walk along in this journey. I spent over 3 hours making phone calls this morning, trying my best to aid in making arrangements/plans~ all the while praying for discernment. We are doing the best we can in this so-called chaos...only God knows the purpose for this. Last week was emotionally draining for me, today I have renewed strength. God spoke up loud and clear to me yesterday and assured me that He finishes what He starts... THANK YOU GOD!

There's too much to explain, too much to be said- we're too scared to even move a muscle. This is really where faith comes in. The faith to move forward, the faith to carry on, the faith to trust in Him another day. We put our lives in your hands, dear Father, and trust in you.
Amen, Amen, Amen


*This part was added at 5:45pm...
I think the puzzle pieces just may be beginning to move...PRAISE GOD!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip- he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you- the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm- he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

This morning, a few arrangements are being made for our eldest son. We praise God for the 'divine connections' He has made here in the U.S. so that at this moment, we are able to assist our son through the generosity of others. We continue to lift our eyes to the Lord and count on Him to bring us all through this journey. Thank you again to all of you who offer your support & prayers.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Faith

Noun. Confidence, Belief, Christian religion.
1: unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence
2: unquestioning belief in God
3: a religion or a system of religious beliefs
4: full of faith, esp. religious faith- the faithful- true believers, the loyal adherents or supporters

Today we received good news and bad news. Oh, how I wish I could share the details with all of you... please pray that the Lord directs our steps as we pick up the pieces and move forward once again. Please pray that the goal of getting the kids home isn't too far in sight and that our heavenly Father continues to comfort the Liberian children (and us!) while we endure this wait.

Thank you for all the emails, posts & especially the prayers. We are grateful for all of you!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Invisibly shaken

Not earth shattering- but definitely troublesome news. We continue to trust in the Lord's leading...

"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." 1 Peter 4: 12-13

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

God speaks?

Do any of you think that God speaks just at that moment when you don't expect Him to? Do you think He shows Himself in the little things- maybe just to see if He'll get your attention?

If you haven't noticed by now, I love to explain things in 'story' form. Maybe this comes from my grandpa, who used to tell everything in a story. Sometimes a very long story... Anyway, this is what happened tonight.

I've encountered quite a few people today, who when I tell about where we are with the adoptions, they say, "You know, God has a perfect time." I agree and have told each one of these people today that I realize there is a perfect plan and that we're praying and trying to be patient. Looking back at today, I think I had 4 or 5 encounters with this same phrase.

Here's a confession thrown into this 'story': I always walk through the office, jiggle the mouse & check for new emails. I don't know why- maybe I feel like the computer is my link to the outside world. I'm not expecting anything important so I really don't know what I'm looking for. Hubby laughs at me and gives me a hard time because I will route myself through the office just to do 'the jiggle.'

Tonight, on one of my passes past the computer- the screen saver was on the monitor. I've had this same screen saver for about a year- it has beautiful landscape pictures with scriptures/Christian sayings. Just as I was about to do 'the jiggle,' I saw a phrase that I have never before seen on my screen saver- in the entire year I've had it on my computer! This is what it said:

"NEVER THINK THAT GOD'S DELAYS ARE GOD'S DENIALS."

Hmmmmm, a sign? Maybe. If so, thanks God- I'll remember that. You have a perfect time and you're not denying your promise to us. We're just being delayed a bit until everything falls into place....

That's my story for the night- sleep tight!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Tiny tidbit

I just wanted to post quickly this morning with a few things...
I just got off the phone with Dear Son #1 again & he told me a 'tiny tidbit' of reassuring information regarding himself. Unfortunately, I can't disclose it here but this 'tiny tidbit' really helps Hubby and I breathe easier as we all wait for the adoptions to come to a close. Any positive 'tidbit' at this point, is like a breath of fresh air...

As I called Hubby to tell him about DS#1- we were remembering our home study agency & their response to us when we asked to adopt 3 children- and then went back and asked to also adopt our eldest son. We love these people & have a great 'working' relationship with them. Hubby and I were laughing about how they must talk about us, possibly laugh and shake their heads at "those crazy people from ****, Arkansas." I say all this in light-hearted fun... after all, they are the ones that saw potential in us and gave us the go ahead. Anyway, as I was laughing with Hubby about the home study folks- I was reminded that God is in this & has been from the very beginning.

I can only imagine that it seemed absurd to the home study agency- our request to them. It could have only been God- and the prompting of the Holy Spirit- for such a request to not only be heard, but accepted. So, in the midst of all that's going on I don't want to forget that God is in this race- moment by moment.

Thank you, Father for having the patience with us as we try to control what it is you're trying to do. Please give us the wisdom to step back & continue to trust in you.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

2 down...

Ok... please pray with us! We now have 2 Liberian children who are 'sick.' I really don't know details or how sick- 'sick' really is. What does sickness mean there & in that environment? Anyway, the second child now requires medical attention (she must leave the orphanage and go to a hospital)- so 'sick' must mean-- SICK!

My sense of urgency is working overtime and I feel like a mama tiger on a short chain. However short the chain, it sure is stretched tight! SHEESH!

From a mama's point of view, I would really feel much more comfortable with all the children here where they can be evaluated and I can watch them and care for them. I'm afraid I'm in the middle of learning a valuable lesson in trusting God with my ENTIRE being. Wait & pray are the words of the day...

Here are the lyrics to another song that's speaking to me today:
IF YOU WERE MINE- FERNANDO ORTEGA
When my heart is troubled and I am weighed down,
Then I like to think of how this lonesome world would be
If I could see your face, or hold you in my arms
If you were mine, if you were mine.

If you had a bad dream I would jump inside it,
And I would fight for you with all the strength that I could find.
I would lead you home by your tiny hand
If you were mine, if you were mine.

I would sing of love on the blackest night.
I would sing of God, and how His goodness fills our lives.
I would sing to you, til the morning light
If you were mine, if you were mine.




Monday, July 16, 2007

Much better....


I forgot I had these scroll-candle things...I'm sure there's a much more pretty name for them but my vocabulary escapes me at the moment. **SCONCES** Someone commented on the story of the wall hanging but I'm afraid I don't have much of a story. I'm sure this is a print from some great painting somewhere- but it actually just caught my eye when we were out buying fabric. Dear daughter #3 wanted an African lappa (wrap skirt) for her birthday and wanted her friends and cousin to have matching lappas (for when we went on vacation). I spent the week before we left sewing and packing so I could bring 6 lappas along. Anyway, when we were looking at fabrics I saw this quilt block and thought it would be pretty hanging on our wall. So, here it is...

I also wanted to share the lyrics to a song that are really speaking to me today. I've had it for a long time on my itunes & listen to it every now & again. Have a great day!

I AM YOURS
Father here I am in this place again
I know that You're no stranger to pain
To loneliness

Father here I come, lay my burdens down
Knowing that You'll take me as I am
So I come with freedom as Your child
And I run to Your arms

My heart is aching for my Father
My eyes they long to see my God
This world has nothing I desire
You are what I'm looking for
Hide me underneath Your shelter
Cover me and I will say
I am Yours, surely I am Yours

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Have you lost your song?


I've had many people ask me how we can be so happy all of the time? How can we be so filled with faith during so many trials and how can we keep such a positive attitude towards life when we're thrown curve-balls. I just want to talk a little about that today.

God has put a well of joy inside of each of us. If we can just learn to tap into that joy, we can be happy in spite of what comes against us. Ephesians 5: 18 says to continually be filled with the Spirit. Continually doesn't mean that we should be filled just once, but always. How do we do this? Verses 19 and 20 tell us, "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

The way to stay full is by keeping a song of praise in our heart. This could take on many forms: having a grateful attitude, humming, whistling, singing (out loud or even in the shower!). Under your breath are you giving praise to God? How many times are you thanking the Father in a given day? When you continually give praise to God, He is replenishing your joy, your strength and your peace. He is filling you back up.

God has put a song in everyone of our hearts- it would do us all good to start the day making a melody in our hearts...singing a song of praise. Make a point to get your song back, don't sit and dwell on the negative. If you stop dwelling on the negative things that come against you and thank God for His goodness, you can start to see all the things that are right in your life. Meditate on His promises.

You'll enjoy life more and see things change, in your favor. The Lord wants to bless you! Don't let anything take your song, make a melody unto the Lord and keep a song of praise in your heart. It's a decision you must make, develop a habit of:
#1~ Smile on purpose! Smile by faith or 'fake it until you make it.' Smile and then the joy will come. Smiling sends a message to your body that everything is ok...Your smile is a million dollar asset. God is concerned about your countenance, it is mentioned 53 times in the scriptures. When you smile, it's a good witness to others. Be pleasant to be around.

GET YOUR SONG BACK!

Don't allow your problems, circumstances or other people to steal your joy. Make others want what you have- bless the Lord at all times. While on our vacation, I got news that Dear Son #1 had been diagnosed with Malaria. My immediate reaction was to become overwhelmed and weap in desperation. Instead, I went upstairs and started to sing. I sang over and over again, "I am blessed, I am blessed, I am blessed." I had the baby strapped to me in the baby carrier and before long, she was moving and 'singing' with me. It wasn't long before the spirit of fear, frustration & desperation was completely gone. I had given it over to the Lord and will continue to pray for our son that the meds do their job and he will get better soon.

God wants us to have victory! Romans 8: 37 says, "In all things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." In the middle of adversity, we can enjoy our lives! Bless God in the good times and the bad.

Develop a habit of:
#2~ Check your posture. You are a child of the Most High God, hold your head high & put your shoulders back. Not in arrogance, but in quiet confidence. We are not supposed to go around feeling weak or defeated. The scriptures say we are Ambassadors of Christ. You represent Almighty God, you are to be communicating strength, determination and confidence. Subconsciously, are you proud of who you are? You were made in the image of God and you are the apple of His eye!

So much of communication is non-verbal. Learn to walk tall, we represent the Most High God. Scripture also says our joy should overflow... inspire others! When you're around other people, are you always taking and not giving to the relationship? Have you lost your song? You may have to develop new habits and make a melody in your own heart. Fill yourself up, don't dwell on your problems~ shake it off, dig your heels in and praise God. Know He is still in control. Hebrews 13: 15 says, "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise- the fruit of lips that confess his name."

You can chose what kind of song you are going to have. Talk to yourselves the right way and declare today is going to be a good day! Thank you Lord for your strength, thank you Lord for my health!

GET YOUR SONG BACK!

Vacuuming, doing dishes, driving in traffic, changing a diaper, or mowing the lawn can prove perfect opportunities to offer a prayer of thanks to the Lord. Every time we do that, He is filing us with His joy, His peace, His strength, His victory & His favor. We are being filled. Get your song back if you're missing it & keep that in your heart throughout the day.

Praise the Lord!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Wall hanging


I finally finished the wall hanging, nothing fancy~ just simple & beautiful (in my mind!).

I'm still trying to decide what to do on either side, there's enough room to fit something.... but for my over-analytic mind, it has to be just perfect. I'm trying to keep in mind that I will want to add pics of Liberia (from hubby's trip) after he returns home and new pics of our ENTIRE family. I love doing stuff like this, which makes me so happy I finally painted the living room! It's been like Christmas dragging all of our 'old' decorations out. Fun, fun...

Have a good weekend!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Self-help & SUCCESS!

For those of you who have been waiting patiently- the toy room is done! 5 hours of work, 2 days and 2 headaches later- I'm completely satisfied with the room. Here are the results:


While going through every toy in this room, I was thinking about how & why we allow our lives to be cluttered. I could have doing so many other things in the 5 hours it took me to overhaul this room! That being said, I ran across this info on decluttering and 'the basics of tossing.' Would you all believe that I used to be a pack-rat? I used to keep EVERYTHING and every piece of paper that might be linked to a memory. I am a pack-rat in recovery, 10 years sober! :) Today I am grateful that my headache is gone and one room in our house is in order!

Have a great week!

The Basics of Tossing:

At times, all of us spend money on items that we don't end up using. Most of us spend a lot of money on these things. For some of us, it is exercise equipment; for others it might be clothes, toys, kitchen gadgets or tools. We keep them because we would feel guilty if we got rid of them. "I mean, Do you know how much that is worth?" or "What if I get rid of it only to discover that I need it?"

Why are you punishing yourself by keeping something that is cluttering your life? Stress is one of the biggest problems that Americans face today and disorganization and clutter are among the biggest causes of stress. If you bought something you don't use, face it. You made a mistake. Don't make an even bigger one by keeping it. Get rid of it and move on. Donate it to someone who can use it and relieve you and your family of the stress of living with it. Learn from your mistakes and try to evaluate better whether you actually need something before you spend money.

If you are saying, "...but that might be worth something", why don't you find out. If you are afraid to lose out on a financial windfall, sell it on Ebay or put it out for a garage sale. If you make big bucks, put it in the bank! If that item doesn't get $5.00 on Ebay, you probably overestimated its value. Toss it!

But what if you get rid of it and later find out that you do need it? Most of us save all sorts of things that we might use one day. Very few of us will ever use more than one thing in twenty that we keep "just in case".

Think about this: If you sell the things that will put money in the bank, give the useful things you don't need to other people or a thrift store and toss the rest, you can't really lose. When you find out later that you needed that extra toolbox, take the money you made selling all the other stuff you never ended up needing and buy it! Almost everyone will be way ahead financially doing this because we will never need most of it. Not only that, but doing this will also eliminate the stress and expense of storing and moving it.

Oh and if it's trash but you feel guilty about separating yourself emotionally from it, just put it in the trash. Don't make the thrift store do it. Say a prayer over it if it makes you feel better and let it go.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I'VE HAD IT!

Ok- don't get scared...just put on your 'funny cap!'
I promise this really is adoption related, I'll explain below. I'm about to share something very personal, it's not often I admit something of this magnitude...if you know me and my many quirks- you know that I am: borderline obsessive/compulsive (maybe I'm really over the 'line'), very organized (I actually dream about how to organize things better & make them more functional), and I have great attention to detail. Well, if all this is true- how did our play room get to look like this?


What you can't see here is the two stains on the carpet from chocolate milk & a couple of old sippy cups that were stuck under the recliner. Ok, so I know you are laughing now- I would be. I'm thinking of all my friends, and even my sister, who have commented on this very problem. Kid toys & stuff. Come on ya'll (there's my southern slang!), there's got to be a better way. Why are we letting ourselves be so stressed out by all this stuff?

I've been threatening for years that we would buy one of those old dressers at a yard sale (the kind with 6 big drawers) & let each child have 1 or 2 drawers for ALL their 'stuff.' I've been overwhelmed with toys since our first child was born. Everything seems to be in excess- and the kids don't even play with anything! I know I'm not preaching to the choir here...I hear this kind of problem all the time from moms.

So this is what I've done- I've torn every toy out of every corner and made a HUGE pile in the middle of the floor. I went to Walmart tonight and purchased 9 matching rubbermaid bins. The lovely built in bookshelves we have in the toy room will house all 9 bins and all of our children's books. There will be 7 bins (one for every day of the week) that will hold toys, activities, dress up clothes, etc. for DD#3 & DS #3. They (besides the baby) will be the youngest children and are still young enough to play with toys. Each bin will hold things for DD#3 & DS#3, divided equally. On the corresponding day (ex. Monday), they will only be allowed to open that particular bin and play with it's contents for the ENTIRE day. Technically, by the end of the day only the toys that fit in the bin will need to be picked up. Seems like a good idea doesn't it? The other two bins will be for #1: Baby toys (that DD#4 will have access to every day- but they all have to fit in the ONE bin) & #2: Angelina Ballerina and accessories. Angelina will be accessible to DD#3 every day because DS#3 has his trucks, dumptrucks, etc. available in his bedroom closet.

I am about to head upstairs and sneak into the toy room to do the night-time purging and sorting into the bins. I'll attach pictures of the room when I'm done.

How this relates to the adoptions:
I have been preparing the house for our 4 Liberian children for over a year now. It has come in many stages: painting, rearranging rooms, purchasing furniture, fixing and refinishing donated furniture, planning out the best way to function with 9 people in this house (laundry, eating, school, bathrooms/showers, etc.) I am still tweaking and am not done yet. I've been in this 'nesting phase' for a LONG time now. Just when I think I'm doing ok, I think of another thing to go through and organize. I still have a long way to go, but you have to understand that if I had it my way- every cabinet would be labeled in this entire house! Really, I'm serious!

Among all of this, I'm still trying to repaint the interior of our entire house and decorate (a process that we started 2 years ago when we moved in). Every surface in this house needed attention- ceilings, trim, walls, carpet, etc. With being pregnant when we moved here (and now) having 3 children among all my other responsibilities- it's really been baby steps. But...we are preparing and getting ready for the Liberian children.

Have you ever thought about how you might go about preparing to add 4 children to your life/home? Think about what you need for 1 baby. Think of all the things one receives at a baby shower to 'ready' themselves for the coming of a child. How may areas in one's life need to be thought about when adding 4 children who have interests, desires, personalities, likes/dislikes & teenage (or preteen) emotions/hormones!

Yea, it could get overwhelming- especially for the obsessive/compulsive mind... On that note, wish me luck as I sneak upstairs to the toy room. More pictures to come!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Mother's Legacy

As I was reading in Psalms this morning, I came across this devotional- can any of you relate?

"Often people have asked me what has been my greatest fear as a mother. My answer is too private to share with anyone except God. Yet with all the vigor of my heart, I want to proclaim to the world that God does carry a mother through such a firestorm of agony. He proves himself to be what he promised- a shield, a refuge, a comforter, a restorer of the soul. He defangs the monster of fear.
Moses stands as a monument to his mother's courage against staggering opposition. Jochebed's dilemma seemed impossible, but with God's help, she solved it. Her example encourages me as I keep coming back to the Lord, morning after morning. And he is there, available to me and to any mother who seeks him. He performs what he promises, and that assurance overcomes my fears. Perhaps his words to Joshua best summarize what I've learned over the years: 'Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go' (Joshua 1:9).
*To read about the birth of Moses, look at Exodus 2: 1-10

"He replied, 'You of little faith, why are you so afraid?' Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, 'What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!'" Matthew 8: 26-7

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1: 7

Monday, June 11, 2007

Conveniences

I've been thinking a lot about the conveniences that we have- that our Liberian children don't have. I'm wondering what will be amazing to them- and what will be overwhelming...

Here's the things I have accomplished so far today (by 11am) with running water:
~ran dishwasher
~ ran 3 loads of clothes in the washing machine
~scrubbed kitchen floor
~flushed toilets (many times since 6am)
~watered the chickens/rabbit/dogs/cats *and washed my hands afterwards
~showered & brushed my teeth
~older children brushed their teeth and washed faces
~I cleaned the 1 year old after a breakfast with syrup (you can imagine!!)
~filled my glass with ice & water
~made a pitcher of juice and a pitcher of crystal light
~watered (with the water hose) the wild flowers/herb garden/vegetable garden
~cleaned paint brushes and roller

What have you done today with the convenience of running water? Do you ever think about doing these chores after hauling a bucket of water to your house? What about if you had to walk in 90-100 degree weather for miles to bring that precious water back to your house- would you be so fast to 'waste' water? How many times would you have to re-fill your bucket to accomplish all your chores?

Today I am grateful for:
Running water


You know you're the mom of young children when...

I had to laugh at myself this morning! I made a big breakfast & when the kids were 'contained' I thought to myself, "what can I do?"

I loaded the dishwasher, started a load of clothes to wash & scrubbed the kitchen floor- all while the kids were eating and the baby was strapped in the high chair!

Estimated amount of time to accomplish these tasks: 10 minutes

Now, that's multi-tasking at its finest!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

THANK YOU!

An 'anonymous reader' just sent me the lyrics to the song I was referring to- enjoy!

Father wears his Sunday best
Mothers tired she needs a rest
The kids are playing up downstairs
Sisters sighing in her sleep
Brothers got a date to keep
He cant hang around

Our house, in the middle of our street
Our house, in the middle of our ...

Our house it has a crowd
There's always something happening
And its usually quite loud
Our mum shes so house-proud
Nothing ever slows her down
And a mess is not allowed

Our house, in the middle of our street
Our house, in the middle of our ...

Our house, in the middle of our street
Our house, in the middle of our ...
Something tells you that you've got to get away from it

Father gets up late for work
Mother has to iron his shirt
Then she sends the kids to school
Sees them off with a small kiss
Shes the one they're going to miss
In lots of ways

Our house, in the middle of our street
Our house, in the middle of our ...

I remember way back then when everything was true and when
We would have such a very good time such a fine time
Such a happy time
And I remember how wed play simply waste the day away
Then wed say nothing would come between us two dreamers

Father wears his Sunday best
Mothers tired she needs a rest
The kids are playing up downstairs
Sisters sighing in her sleep
Brothers got a date to keep
He cant hang around

Our house, in the middle of our street
Our house, in the middle of our street

Our house, in the middle of our street
Our house, in the middle of our ...

Our house, was our castle and our keep
Our house, in the middle of our street

Our house, that was where we used to sleep
Our house, in the middle of our street

Our house, in the middle of our street

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Our home

Isn't there a song that talks about "our house?" I would probably embarrass myself if I tried to remember the lyrics- was it an 80's song? Anyway, today I am grateful for our home.

I am grateful that we have a home of our own, in which I can allow my creativity to flow....thus painting the living rooms walls a shade of rust red.

I am grateful for the doors that lock and keep us safe and sound. I'm grateful for my sewing machine and the skills my grandmother taught me that has allowed me to sew lace curtains for those beautiful, strong doors.

I am grateful for more than one bedroom, in which our children have their own beds and a comfortable space to sleep each night.

I am grateful for the animals we have chosen to join our family, who also call this place their home.

I am grateful for the running water and electricity that come into this home- our African children don't know this pleasure, yet.

I am grateful for the way we live our life, because we chose to live this way. There is no one governing the way we speak, the way we worship or the way we raise our children.

I am grateful for a soft pillow and warm blankets to cover me as I dream sweet dreams each night.

All of these things take place in- our home.