Monday, October 31, 2011

Counting Down the Days...and Packing...

Feeling so blessed.  I went to a birthday party yesterday with Y, MJ, and A.  The party was for the most precious little sweetie from our church who was turning 3 years old.  Her parents asked the guests to skip the b-day presents, and instead asked everyone to bring...donations for our trip.  It almost took my breath away when her mom told me about it.  All of the children had a great time at the party, and we came home with a big box of donated school supplies; crayons, markers, glue, scissors, name it.  We also brought home the rest of the items which had been donated by folks from our church, combined it with donated items we already had at home, and today I set out to pack it up.  It looked like so much, and the boxes were so heavy, I really was afraid we wouldn't be able to fit it all.  Here's the picture of the donations before I packed them:

R and I can each bring two bags, weighing no more than 50 pounds each, plus one carry-on.  We've already committed one of our four bags to blankets (the team is aiming to take a blanket for each of the 300 plus children we'll be serving; it's cold at night in Ethiopia, and many of the children don't have a blanket of their own).  We also need to take supplies to do a Bible story and craft with about 400 children.  Then we'll need to take our own personal things (we're trying to limit that as much as possible).  

I was able to fit all of the donated school supplies into one bag, and it weighed almost exactly 50 pounds!  Amazing.  The blankets fill one bag.  The craft supplies only filled about half of a bag, and only weighed about 20 pounds, so I'm excited that we actually have room for a lot more donations.  We can fit at least 25 pounds of donations into the bag with the craft supplies, plus whatever space we have in the bag with our personal stuff (I haven't tried to pack that yet).  If anyone wants to pick up any more school supplies to send along, we have 10 more days to go!  Below are the three bags I've packed so far; the blue one has the craft supplies, and has lots more room to be filled.  The children at the Carepoints DO NOT HAVE access to crayons, markers, glue sticks...etc., etc.  They don't have money. There is no Walmart.  I was really struck, as I looked at the wealth of donations I was packing, at how much I take for granted.  I do feel privileged to be given the opportunity to deliver this wealth of gifts to the children at Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory.  I don't want to have an extra square inch of space, or free ounce of weight, available in those bags when we leave.  Our family will take one last trip to Walmart next weekend to fill any remaining space.  I know that I will be coming home with my heart full...and my bags empty.  Thanks to all who are helping with this.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thank you, Daddy.

Jim gets up before anyone else is awake, as he leaves for work quite early.  Usually when I get up later he's in the living room with his coffee and his bible, the house still quite and still.  This morning when I came down, he was sitting in his usual spot, but there was loud music coming from the kitchen.  The kitchen door was closed, and I assumed that E was up doing schoolwork in the kitchen (he gets an early start some days).  But no one else was up.  Jim said that he got up this morning feeling a bit discouraged.  But as he came downstairs, he heard his favorite Third Day song blaring from the dark kitchen.  He went in to find the music coming from my laptop.  Which was closed.  I was using it before going to bed last night, and hadn't shut it down.  But there hadn't been any music playing.  And I had closed it.  Don't know about you, but my laptop doesn't generally start playing music on it's own...after it's been closed, and in the middle of the night.  Jim opened it up and saw that the music was from a playlist on a site with which he wasn't familiar (it was a blog I read sometimes).  He said that when he saw what was going on, he just decided to "go with it," and he worshiped.  He just raised his hands and worshiped.    

Do you think God works that way?  I do.  James 1:17 says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."  

Do you suppose that the "Father of Heavenly Lights" can play music on a laptop? (Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us...).  

Do you imagine that He knows your favorite song? (You perceive my thoughts from afar...You are familiar with all my ways...).

Do you believe that He wants to encourage you?  (Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.)

I am so often inclined to miss His hand upon me.  To evaluate all that happens through the lens of human reason.  How much do we miss when we do that?  When we simply fail to look up?  To remember that every good and perfect gift is from above, and to just bask in His love and goodness?  To say thank you?

When I was in college, just coming to know my Father, I knew a young man who was in love with Him.  When this young man prayed, he called God "Daddy."  It was foreign to me at the time, and even uncomfortable...relating to God that way.  Imagining Him loving me that way.  But now, with so many years to look back on, so many memories of experiencing His loving hand upon me...I get it.  It's no stretch at all for me to imagine my husband turning on some music to encourage one of our sons or daughters.  Knowing that they were needing encouragement, and knowing them well enough to offer it in a way that would bless them.

So thank you, Daddy.  Thanks for the encouragement for Jim, and for me.  And for all of the children, who heard their earthly daddy share this story with them this morning, with tears in his eyes. 

Oh, and by the way, here's the link to the blog with the music: A Place Called Simplicity.  It's a favorite of mine, and well worth reading, but seriously...the play list is fabulous.   :) 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

On My Heart...

Generally when I blog about adoption, I'm telling stories about our family's experiences.  But adoption is on my mind and my heart a lot.  Not just it's impact on our family, but God's heart for adoption, and how that should play out for us as Christians.  When we were in the process of adopting Y and MJ, we connected with a sweet family who were adopting their two girls from the same "care center" (orphanage) where Y and MJ were living at the time.  We were very concerned about Y, and working hard to get help for him due to his extreme malnutrition.  This sweet mom was in Ethiopia while we were waiting to go get Y and MJ, and she took the time to check on our children, love on them, and give us some peace of mind while we waited.  She has since adopted again, and has become an advocate for orphans (through Children's Hope Chest).  She wrote a post today on her blog, Steadfast Minds, about her heart for adoption.  She also included a video I love; the video for the Third Day song Children of God.  Thanks, Jessica.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

It's October...

October is upon us.  Do you know what this means?

Pumpkins.  We love them.  Eating them, that is...pies, cakes, pancakes, soup, cookies, roasted pumpkin seeds, etc., etc., etc.  My favorite is pumpkin pie for breakfast (Pumpkin pie is FULL of vegetables and milk.  I even steamed the pumpkin myself, rather than just opening a can.  I think pumpkin pie fits into the category of "super food" right along with chia seeds. Breakfast of champions. Just sayin'.)  Oh, and NG ate FIVE bowls of pumpkin soup at dinner tonight.  Onions and all.
R's birthday.  THIRTEEN!  Coming up in just two days.  Could it be...I'm a mom of a "teenager"?  I'm finding out just how sweet being mom to a "teen-aged" girl can be.  What a precious gift God gives us in having the privilege to not only watch our children grow, but to see His grace growing in them.

Jim's birthday is in October, too.  I won't announce his age, but I love celebrating him.

Fall camping!  Next weekend!  (Oh, how I hope it doesn't rain.  Or dip below 40 degrees at night.)

Apples!  (See pics below).  God is so good.  Okay, you might think I'm a bit overboard here with all of this reveling in the fall stuff, but God is just so can you miss seeing His goodness in apples and pumpkins, and the fall leaves, and in celebrating birthdays, and...well, I digress from the apples. Delight in it! Delight yourself in Him!  DELIGHT!

I can't believe that we're only a few weeks away from going to Ethiopia.  So much to do, so much to process, so much prayer.  Pray with me, please. God is blessing my socks off with His perfect provision and preparation for this trip.  If you're interested in seeing the whole team, plus reading a bit more about the trip, check out this post on the blog Family From Afar.  Karen is the coordinator of this trip, and a huge advocate for the children we'll be serving.

I know I'm horrible about writing here.  I love to write, I love to share what God is doing.  Just working on finding the time.  More soon!