Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are enjoying a wonderful visit with our extended family.  Today was filled with the blessings of an overabundance of delicious food, special time with relatives, games of dominoes, checkers, Uno and Hiss, more food and plenty of laughter.

Happy Thanksgiving

There are still some family events on our schedule, including a second Thanksgiving gathering, so lots more food to eat and visiting to do.  We are blessed to be able to see both sides of our family in one weekend :)

On this last Thankful Thursday of the month, I'm thankful for the blessing of our family.  Not just the amazing blessing of our family of 3, but also our parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces, nephews, aunts, and uncles.  Our extended family supports, encourages, prays for us and walks alongside us on this journey of life.  We are also thankful for all those friends who are a close as family.  We are so immensely blessed to be surrounded by so many people who love us!

Praying that you and your family have enjoyed a time of giving thanks today on Thanksgiving and a wonderful weekend ahead. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Just some reading...

Here's few things that have been encouraging to me, posts I've enjoyed, or other things that might be worth a look.

Adoption Related
I think one of my favorite things about National Adoption Month has been all the amazing posts, articles and adoption stories.  I read so many and wish I could share them all, but here's a few.

~ The Beautiful Mess - a touching look at adoption and our spiritual adoption

~ Julie Gumm put together a series of adoption posts for November that I enjoyed.  "30 Things I Know About Adoption".  I especially liked the one titled "There is no 'best' type of adoption".

~ A post by a birthmother, "It Wasn't Easy but It Was Right"

~ We now have a Facebook page for our Adoption Journey.  If you like to keep in touch that way, please go and "Like" our page :)

The Holidays are Coming...

~ From Abigail at Hope and Stay, a reminder to give thanks In All Circumstances, a thankfulness with grit.

~ A post for Mamas of Littles during the Holidays, a good reminder that its better to be present than to attempt to make it all picture perfect.  "You can apologize for showing up with the grocery store cupcakes if you want, but you don’t have to say you’re sorry for choosing your kids and your sanity over perfectly piped buttercream icing. You know what? The lady at the bakery can pipe buttercream beautifully, too, but she can’t read Thomas the Train with the proper voices like you can. "

~ A Tired Mother's Holiday Creed from Lisa Jo Baker.

~ We'll be getting our Advent Calendar out this weekend as Advent starts on Sunday.  I'm glad I had the time to put it together last year and only have to rearrange the activity portion of the daily cards.  What are some of your favorite December activities with family?

As the holiday season gets into full swing, I will likely be posting less.  At the very least there will be more fun holiday pictures than posts with much real writing.  And that's OK with me. 

May your family be blessed this holiday season and may you find ways to keep Christ in the forefront of your celebrations.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Chicken Drama

I feel like I've had a string of more serious posts on the blog lately... thankfulness, book reviews, or heart sharing posts.  I decided I needed something to work on that was less serious.  Maybe even a bit silly.

As you know, we have chickens.  Four chickens, three hens and a rooster to be exact.  I find myself telling stories about them a lot.  Maybe because I find them a bit ridiculous.  Maybe because going into this chicken adventure I knew nothing about them so its all new in its oddness.  I don't know.  But here is some semi-recent chicken ponderings and drama.

Chicken Sayings 
Some of the classic chicken sayings are very true.  Others I'm not so sure.

Are they "chicken"?  For the most part yes. 

But this hen is apparently not "chicken" when it comes to heights.  We had to offer her bread to get her down off the roof.
Chicken not afraid of heights

Most chickens are "chicken" when it comes to dark places.  Our chickens won't go into a dark coop so the coop has a red light stays on all night.  One evening this fall they didn't make it back to the coop before the sun set, so they just stayed under a bush until my husband found them (when he went to close their gate) and carried them to the coop one by one.

"Pecking order" really does exist and yes they peck each other to establish it.  There also appear to be rules about the favorite roost.  The least popular hen is often pushed off.

Our chickens have crossed the road.  No we don't know why they wanted to get to the other side.

Random Tidbits
Chickens are NOT vegetarians.  I knew this in advance, but only because I'd read the chicken book my husband bought.  Still it surprised me to see a hen catch a frog to eat.  My son did not approve.

Chickens enjoy taking dust or dirt baths.  My son does approve of this!

The rooster doesn't just crow at dawn but All Day Long.

The chickens do fly (often over the 4 ft garden fence and obviously onto the roof) but mostly they walk... or run.  Running chickens look so incredibly silly, the rooster especially.  Maybe its the running waddle.  I don't know.  But when I see them running from my kitchen window, I can't help but laugh.

Hen Hospital
We have had only one bad bit of chicken drama.  Mid October, after having the chickens out in the yard all spring and summer, the neighbor's dog decided to catch one.  I guess they wandered too close to her yard and she couldn't resist.  Our neighbors got there first, hen in their dog's teeth.  Thankfully our son didn't see it happen.

She appeared to be injured so badly that my husband didn't think the hen would make it through the night.  He set up a small pen for the hen in the shed.  We checked on her multiple times a day but there wasn't much we could do.  Two days later she flew out of the pen (it didn't have a cover b/c it seemed unlikely she could fly).  For about 2 weeks we kept her in the "hen hospital" as we called it, hoping to reduce the risk of infection.

It was interesting to watch her re-join the others... there was some re-establishing of the pecking order.  Now she is happily laying eggs again.  Big sigh of relief.

My husband has been busy getting the chicken coop ready for winter.  Its sad that they will have so much less space when the snow starts piling up (they'll be in the run of the coop and the fenced garden space).  We certainly enjoyed watching the chickens this summer and we're extra thankful for all the delicious eggs.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Beautiful Mess: Pondering Beautiful

I was standing in a room full of mothers, letting the worship music pour over me, fill me to overflowing.  "He makes beautiful things..." the chorus told.  Its something I've always known with my head but sometimes denied with my heart.  It was part of the message the speakers were sharing.  And I realized in that moment its something I should share about, a story that needed to be told.

Its easier for me to ponder the messy side of the Beautiful Mess theme of MOPS this year.  Admitting I have a mess, especially if the discussion stays at the surface level of my messy house. Yep, its a mess, no need to try to hide that.  A bit harder to talk about life messes, character flaws, pain I've caused others, etc.

Yet what is harder still is to talk about beauty.  Of course I'm quick to admit I see the beauty of creation all around me.  I see beauty in the precious face of my son.  I see beauty in the life God has given me.  But do I see beauty in me?  That's where it gets tough. 

I grew up in a Christian home, with amazing parents, was very involved in church, youth group, bible studies, personal quiet time, mission trips, you name it.  I heard all the right Truth in my growing up years (God looking at our heart, not judging by outward appearance, God making all things new/beautiful, God loving all of me, and more), but some how Truths about beauty were twisted into lies.  Somewhere along the way I picked up the idea that God only made me beautiful on the inside.  I told myself I was thankful He gave smarts instead of outward beauty.  I decided I was OK with never being beautiful.  End of story.

Or so I thought.

Then an amazing thing happen.  I started dating a young man (who is now my husband) my senior year in high school (the idea that someone would ever want to date me was amazing to me in the first place).  One evening early in our relationship we were driving somewhere in his car.  I was dressed up.  He looked over and said "You look beautiful tonight". 

I had never heard that from someone who wasn't family (I considered family biased when it came to such statements).  I sort of lost it. 

OK maybe a lot.  Maybe that one compliment caused our first fight.  Seriously.

It took a long time, but he convinced me that he truly did see me as beautiful on the inside AND the outside.  God used him to slowly undo the damage those lies about beauty had done.  God used the young man who would be my husband to speak Truth to me that I hadn't let soak in before.

To be honest though its still something I struggle with.  I am thankful for who and how God made me.  He makes beautiful.  That includes me.  It includes you.  And to be honest its still good to hear out loud.  My heart just melts when my son tells me that he thinks I'm beautiful.

I try to remember when I look in the mirror, remind myself to let my smile shine beautiful and my love show beautiful, even if it means my emotions are at the surface more than I'd like.  The beautiful that God made me is meant to be shared, to bring glory to Him.

So look yourself in the mirror friends and remind yourself too.

(and in case you need to be reminded by song, here you go)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thankful Thursday (11/21)

Another week of joining Autumn at Pretty & Mine for Thankful Thursdays :)  Its been a long week with my husband out of town for the second week in a row but I did manage to write something down about each day.  Here you go:

Thursday: Thankful for a candlelight dinner, with my kiddo.  He requested it.  So I went with it.  Candlelight and breakfast pizza :)  Makes my heart smile.

Friday:  Thankful for open gym at the preschool and the friends we meet there.  Also was reminded to be thankful for safety for all those running and playing kiddos as one little friend took a big fall (she ended up ok thankfully but had quite a headache).

Saturday: I was blessed with some much needed girl time, as a friend and I did a little shopping together in the afternoon.  Just being able to visit and enjoy a coffee without interruption was huge.  Also thankful an evening of great family time together at home after my husband's week away for work.

Sunday: Thankful for a breakfast date with my husband while the kiddo was in Sunday school.  Also thankful we got to drop off our Operation Christmas Child boxes, plus some from MOPS friends as well.  Loved seeing the big stack of boxes collected at church.

Monday: I was thankful to not get my to-do list done... seriously.  I was supposed to clean house. Instead there were apples in the dehydrator for apple chips, apples in the crockpot for applesauce, and granola in the oven, making the house smell amazing. There was a hideout/fort in the living room, a matchbox car parade in the family room, a pile of books we read still sitting out and lots of folded laundry to be put away. 

Tuesday: Thankful for playdates and friends.  We connected with 3 of my friends and kids through different parts of the day.  It filled the day with laughter and great conversation.  What a blessing!

Wednesday: Thankful that my son and I could help at Food for Kidz (packing meals for undernourished kids).  It is such a great reminder to be thankful for the plentiful food we enjoy... the fact that the fridge, freezer and cupboards have plenty and stopping at the grocery store is not a hardship.

Pausing to say Thanks on Thankful Thursdays
Besides just pausing to say thanks, as I was typing up my list I realized I don't always do a great job of telling people I'm thankful for them (not for what they do but for who they are).  My challenge for myself before Thanksgiving (next week) to send a few thank you notes to do just that. 
Have you given thought of how to put action to your thankfulness?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Book Review: But the Greatest of These is Love by Debbie Barrow Michael

But the Greatest of These is Love by Debbie Barrow Michael
I had the honor to review But the Greatest of These Is Love by Debbie Barrow Michael in advance of its upcoming "free dates" in honor of National Adoption Month (see the details at the bottom).

On the surface this book appears as a memoir written by an adoptive mom about an international adoption journey to Russia, but it is so much more than that.  At its root is the story of a woman who follows God's leading one small step at a time (sometimes reluctantly) on a heart journey, rearranging her "just perfect" life to include a new job, volunteering, reaching out to others, and eventually international adoption.  It's about hearing God's small whisper, acknowledging it, and obeying (even when it seems it will turn life upside down).  The story is filled with love and heart, giving wonderful glimpses of God's love for us.

Because the book includes so much more than adoption, it can encourage those who are feeling God's nudge to step off in a new direction, reach out to a new ministry or do something outside of their comfort zone.  The story the author shares is a testament to the fact that God chooses to use ordinary people to do His work, calling them gently but persistently, and even when the command seems "crazy" He's ready to guide them each step of the way.

I found this book hard to put down.  Debbie's writing drew me in and welcomed me into her life, her heart, and her struggles with refreshing honesty.  As a waiting adoptive mom, I love to read adoption stories and I thoroughly enjoyed this one.   It warmed my heart to see how all the pieces of the story had been woven together to bring a special boy in Russia into the author's family.  Thanks Debbie for sharing your story with us!

** This book is also part of the list of free adoption books to celebrate National Adoption Month 2013.  This book will be free this weekend (22-24) so don't miss out!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thankful Thursday (11/14)

Its Thursday so I'm joining in again on Thankful Thursdays at Pretty & Mine.  I appreciate the reminder to slow down each week and ponder what I've been thankful for since the last post.  Plus since I know I'll be writing a post, I've been better at jotting down my gratitude in my journal during the week (isn't accountability a wonderful thing).

* Family time at home this weekend.  It so nice to sit and watch a movie together, play some games, and work on a project.  Its the simple time together I treasure.

* For my husband's job and his ability to do it well.  I sometimes can complain about his travel schedule and his time away from us, but its his job that allows me to stay home and let us move to the great community we live in now.  I appreciate the flexibility it gives him.  Plus this week we were blessed with an extra evening together (he was supposed to leave for a long week away on Sunday afternoon but he was able to stay home until Monday morning).

* For the local MOPS group.  The fellowship and community in our MOPS group was huge to me when we moved to our new community.  I treasure each meeting and I love being a small group leader to have little chances to bless and pray for these ladies who bless me.  So many of my friendships here started at MOPS.

* For evening playdates with a wonderful friend who invites us over for supper when my husband is away.  We make supper together, eat, listen to them play together, and have extra time to visit.  It blesses my week.

* Warmer weather after a frigid start to our week.  Being able to be outside in the sunshine yesterday was so wonderful.

* Having a chance to volunteer in my son's preschool class.  Its only half an hour or so... usually reading books or helping with a project, but I love seeing my son interact with his school friends and get to know them a little bit. 

Counting blessings, being thankful, is an intentional choice.  It helps me remember how much I've been given.  It makes my complaints or stresses seem smaller.  It helps keep my attitude positive. 

If I want to teach it to my son, I need to start with myself. 

Today I am grateful

What are you thankful for this week?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Boy and a Costume Box

If you've been reading the blog for a while or follow me on Facebook, you know costumes are part of imaginary play at our house... a lot. 

For my son's third birthday, my parents gave him a container full of costumes (some store bought but most homemade), everything from knight to construction worker to boy scout to super hero to dragon.  We added a few crazy hats and other items we already had.  Since then the collection has continued to grow.

Between the arrival of cold weather and some new items from Halloween clearance (his new favs are a cowboy vest, light saber, spider man mask, and a new-to-him firefighter hat from Grandma), we've had lots of costumes out recently.  He was so excited about his full sheriff/cowboy getup that he wore it to the gym last Friday and rode the trike around the gym chasing bad guys.

Here's a just few favorite shots from the last week:
boy in cowboy costume

And while you don't need to have the costume to play make-believe, I love to see what he comes up with.  Knight, cowboy, pirate, and firefighter are regulars here but there's also some amazing super-hero type ensembles, soldier, royalty and bad guys as well.  Better yet though is to hear the imaginative play and stories he tells while in costume, complete with the voices and the drama. 

I think I need to start recording some of these silly sessions as I know they won't last forever.  I'm always thankful when I at least join in on the fun.

Just the other day, he was talking about his costumes and sharing them "someday when he's a big brother".  Then he paused.  "But Mom, what if a little sister comes to our family.  She might want to pretend to be a princess and I don't have any costume for that!" 

The box of costumes is definitely one the favorites at our home on the gravelly road.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Another Letter to Baby

After the heartwarming response to my last letter to our future baby, I thought I'd share another one, this time from October.  I hope it shows my heart and some of our journey.  ~Krista

Dear Precious One -

Your big brother asked about you yesterday.  He wanted to know if someday the two of you could share a room and a bunk bed.  If so, he wants to have the top bunk :)

We talk about you a lot.  You're part of our everyday conversations, prayers, daydreams, and very important "what if" of our future plans.  Almost everyday, your big brother will ask me something that starts "Someday when I have a little brother or sister..."  We can't wait to meet you and for you to be a present part of our normal family days.  But I want you to know you are already part of our hearts.

Yesterday a mom making an adoption plan looked at our profile book, trying to find just the right family for her baby boy.  Its hard for me each time our book is shown, hoping this might be it, that you'll be joining our family soon.  I ache to hold you in my arms, kiss the top of your head, and count your fingers and toes. 

This time it wasn't us.  Not Yet.  But its always exciting whenever another waiting family gets to meet their newest family member, when a precious baby meets their forever family.  So Amazing.

Soon, precious one, soon.  In God's perfect timing,
Your praying and hopeful Mommy

Of course, feel free to continue to share our profile or website to help spread the word that we are hoping to adopt... you never know if a friend of a friend might be considering adoption. 

Blessings Friends!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thankful Thursday & Family Traditions

One of my friends, Autumn from Pretty & Mine, challenged bloggers to join her to celebrate Thankful Thursdays in November.  I'm more than happy to join in.

I used to regularly write down praises/thankful items in my prayer journal but there are more skipped weeks thank I'd like to admit.  So I'm trying to be more consistent this month.  Since last Thursday, here are some of things I've written down:  warm home on blustery days, a community of worship, fun in the leaves, a little boy is learning so much each day, safe travels for my husband on snowy roads, the joy of the first snowfall, and answered prayers.

Family Traditions
In addition, I wanted to write about some family traditions that encourage thankfulness, that I'm also quite thankful for.  My mom has always preached the importance of traditions, how they help "glue" families together.

One of my favorite traditions that my parents started when I was little is the Thanksgiving Tree.
celebrating thankfulness with a thanksgiving tree
Every year, each family member writes what they are thankful for on a few construction paper leaves.  Most years, we just did two leaves per person but other years I think my sister and I created quite a few leaves, expertly decorated of course (I have memories of gluing felt to the leaves).  All the leaves were saved from one year to the next... I think they date back to the late 80's.  A Legacy of Thankfulness to be sure

At our house, we've started a Thankful Paper Chain to encourage thankfulness all month long...  A simple paper chain we add to each day with items we are each thankful for.  
celebrating thankfulness with a thankful paper chain
The best part is our kiddo is excited about it.  Each day he's written several different links to the chain.  He does a great job reminding us and even informed Dad extra entries should be done since he was out of town :)  I love hearing what he's come up with: cousins, his best buddy, our dog, chickens, toys, candy, SNOW, food, trains, checkers, playset, and Grandma's pool.

Hope you have a Thankful Thursday!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fun in the Leaves

child playing in beautiful fall leaves
As I look out at the first snow covering the ground outside,
I'm so glad we took time to play in the leaves on Monday. 

enjoying first snowfall

Monday, November 4, 2013

Book Review: The Eye of Adoption by Jody Cantrell Dyer

When author Jody Dyer contacted me through my blog and offered to send a free copy of her book "The Eye of Adoption: The True Story of My Turbulent Wait for a Baby" , I of course said yes.  The book is her memoir of her journey that led to becoming the mother of two precious boys, one by birth and one by adoption.  It covers topics from anticipating motherhood, struggles with infertility, a long domestic adoption journey, and navigating an open adoption.

The book is an engaging and heartfelt read, especially since I could find so much that resonated with me in her story.  No, our wait hasn't been nearly as long as theirs... but we are waiting to adopt domestically while raising our son and we happen to be using the same adoption agency.  One of my favorite parts is that throughout the book, she includes excerpts from her journal of letters to her future baby, sharing a window into her heart during her journey.  I appreciated the detail she shared of her emotions and struggles during the wait (I could so relate), how they navigated the unknowns and stresses at the hospital after their son was born, how they involved their older son in the adoption process (and when they chose not to share information with him right away) and the evolution of their open adoption relationships.

While every adoption story is unique, it was reassuring to see so many common threads, so many places where I could identify with her story, and daydream a little about the future of our story.

Thank you Jody for sharing your story with candor, humor, and inviting us into the "eye of the storm" of your journey.

** Because November is National Adoption Month, there are a number of books related to adoption that will be free this month (on specific days).  Jody's book is in the list and will be available for free downloads November 15-17.  Mark your calendar... even if you are not planning to adopt, chances are you know someone who has struggled with infertility, is hoping to adopt (like us) or already has adopted and books like Jody's can give you a glimpse into their journey. **
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