Wednesday, March 30, 2011

You Want Me to Pay for What??

I need a little help understanding this place. Do you have a 1/2 of 1/2 store near you? They have all name brand clothes and tons of them. As long as you don't mind a hole in your sweater, or a zipper in your baby's pajamas that doesn't work, or a pair of Crocs with the strap missing, or a big stain on your shirt, or or or. I could go on.
So as long as you don't actually want to wear the clothes, you can get them at great prices. Seems to me they should be paying me to take the clothes off their hands, or better yet donating them to people who don't have any clothes.
I don't get it.

What do you not get? I'm listening.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Book Review: Bad Girls of the Bible

After reading the description of this book, I looked forward to learning more about the women of the Bible and learning from the bad choices they made. Anytime I can, I prefer to learn from the sins and mistakes of others, rather than making those mistakes myself. ;)
Even though all the women in the book were sinners (we're all sinners), some of them had a track record for evil choices, and some of them just committed one really big, really bad sin. Some of them were saved and others never repented.
Each chapter covers one woman and begins with a modern day retelling of her story. I enjoyed these as they made me realize how timeless their stories were. Sin doesn't change from one century to another. But these chapters are not Bible studies. They are more like fictional retelling of the Bible stories. I'm not convinced that's a good thing. There seems to be an awful lot of speculation.
For instance, in the chapter about Potiphar's Wife, the author says: "Adultery was a major no-no in ancient days. . ." Um, actually it's still a major no-no. As a matter of fact, the 7th commandment is God saying so. The author goes on to say, "For Joseph, it went deeper than that. He saw it as a sin against his God." Again, are we reading the same Bible? Adultery is a sin against God. I really didn't understand the author's choice of words here.
If you're looking for a fiction book about the Bible, this is a good choice. If you're looking for a devotional, you'll find this sorely lacking in depth.
I received this book from WaterBrook Press for my honest review.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Trusting the Lord with Your Family



You know what I love about this? The Word of God was preached. In the end it won't matter what the Carpenters say about their convictions, but the Lord promises that his Word will not return void.

"My Word will not return void, but will accomplish that which I purpose. It will succeed in the thing for which I sent it."
Isaiah 55:11

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Story of the Judge Who Said No

Please feel free to share the following on your blogs. It is a summary of our adoption journey so far. Please help us spread the word. We are hoping somehow someone will be able to help us.

Two years ago Greg and I began praying for God to do whatever he wanted with our lives. We handed him a “blank check” so to speak, and told him to cash it. He opened our eyes to children with disabilities wasting away across the ocean in Eastern Europe. We joined God and started our adoption journey.

Our family is more than equipped to handle a child with special needs. I have a degree in Early Childhood Education. I am a member of the Board of Directors of Best Buddies of Alabama. I have volunteered for RISE and Eagles’ Wings. All of these organizations serve individuals with special needs. My husband I have close friends and family who have special needs and we are a big part of each other’s lives. Our wedding party included some of these special people. Our involvement with individuals with special needs led us to adopt a child with special needs; specifically, we chose Down Syndrome.

As we prayed over the faces of thousands of orphaned children with Down Syndrome, we ultimately chose a little boy named Sergey from Russia. Eight months later, as we neared the finish line of our adoption, one of Sergey’s family members in Russia stepped forward to adopt him. We were heartbroken for our loss, but God showed us that we were following him, and his ways are perfect. We knew we still wanted to adopt, so the way we saw it, two children would find homes because of our journey…Sergey went to his family and now we would choose another child to come into our family. We took great comfort in knowing that God could see this when we first committed to Sergey! We were honored to be a part of his plan.

Shortly after losing Sergey, we received a new referral with a grainy photo of a four-year-old blond-haired boy wearing pink glasses named Kirill. We were instantly in love with him. We had to re-file a lot of our paperwork because of the change in referrals and regions of Russia, but we were fast and we thought we were looking at three more months at the most until we would have Kirill home.

That was well over a year ago.

Since then so many things have happened. A tragic story of an adoptive mother sending her child back to his country alone on a plane with a note pinned to his shirt rocked our world…he was from Russia. Adoptions in Russia came to a screeching halt. Kirill’s region stopped processing adoptions for eight long months. The judge refused to accept any Amercian adoption cases until an official treaty was signed between the United States and Russia.

Even though we wouldn’t be able to finalize the adoption in court until the treaty was signed, we were allowed to go visit Kirill and sign our official petition to adopt him in August 2010. We fell more deeply in love with him. This was our son.

During that time, we found out that Kirill is the first child from his region EVER to be adopted with Down Syndrome. A birth mother keeping her child with Down Syndrome is unheard of in this area of the world. Adoptions of children with Down Syndrome just don’t happen there, these children are literally hidden away from society in orphanages and mental institutions. As our process continued, it became apparent that Kirill would be a pioneer. If our adoption was approved, it would pave the way for other children with special needs to be adopted from this region.

Then, a miracle happened around Christmas and the judge in this region suddenly changed her mind and began processing American adoptions again. We were elated. Could this be the light at the end of a very long tunnel? I was somewhat nervous about Kirill being the first child adopted with Down Syndrome from his region, but our agency was very confident that if we got a court date, our adoption would be approved. In seventeen years, they had never had a case rejected IF the family was issued a court date. We were told not to worry, so I didn’t. After meeting the judge’s requests for several supporting court documents, we were finally granted a court date-March 17, 2011. St. Patrick’s Day…I was thrilled. This would be our new favorite holiday! Our son was coming home!

Our other son, Clayton, who had just turned three when we started this adoption process, has prayed fervently for his brother. He is now almost five. When we told him Kirill was coming home, oh my…we had an excited big brother on our hands! At one point he even went to his room, dumped out his toy cars and divided them into two stacks…one for him and one for Kirill.

Last week, as we sat in the courtroom and suffered through five agonizing hours of difficult questioning, we were not prepared for anything but an approval of our case. Two doctors, two social workers, and the Minister of Children’s Services all made very strong statements on our behalf. They fought for us. Hard.

But when the ruling was read, the judge said, “Your application to adopt is rejected.” The basis given was that Kirill was “not socially adaptable” due to his “medical condition” and he was better off in an institution than in a home with a family. As the judge read her ruling, she stated several times that we were a good family, that we met all the criteria to adopt a child, but that she would not approve our adoption because Kirill has Down Syndrome. She told us that we could adopt another child, because legally our application had no problems according to Russian adoption law. She said she would approve our adoption for a “typical” child, but not this child. Why? The only reason? Because he has Down Syndrome. Even though we were approved by our home study and by the USCIS to adopt a child with special needs. It makes no sense whatsoever. Denying a child a family because he has Down Syndrome is a violation of human rights at its most basic level!

It was like a terrible dream. We were so unprepared for this outcome. As we left the courthouse in a mental fog, the doctors and social workers that had testified came to us and said, “If you appeal, we will fight for you. Appeal. Fight this decision.” Of course we were going to appeal…I could no more walk away from our biological son, Clayton, at this point. Kirill is just as much my son.

So here we are, asking God to move the mountain that is standing between Kirill and us as we appeal to the Supreme Court in Moscow. There are also three other families who are in various stages of adopting children with Down Syndrome from Kirill’s region; one of the families has a court hearing set for next week.

We are hoping that someone will hear our outcry and help us bring our son and these other waiting children home. His adoption will set the precedent for many other children in his region. There are 98 children in his orphanage with special needs alone. It is one of many orphanages in this region that houses children with special needs. This is about more than just one child, the lives of hundreds of children with special need are at stake. Please help us.

(This story taken from "Our Eyes Opened")

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Parenting in the Pew


I'm reading a book by that title, about worshiping as a family. I haven't read it all, so don't take this as a recommendation, but I found this to be excellent insight:

The Meaning of Worship

Worship is not a refueling to get us through another week. Worship is not a time to unwind, relax, tune out or take a mental vacation. Worship is not an hour of Christian entertainment.
Worship is the surrender of our souls to a God who is jealous of our attention, time, and love. Worship is a challenge.

The way we define worship has everything to do with how we respond to worship as a family.

If worship is all about us, then we need to have someone else parent our children (or entertain them, as the case may be) while we worship. If worship is all about us, the music has to be a style we like and enjoy, hymns or contemporary praise & worship, dependent on our preferences. If worship is about us, we need to find a pastor who's style we enjoy.

BUT

If worship is about God, and not about us at all, then the style of music doesn't matter. It's worship, not a concert. If worship is about God, then we're happy to wipe our children's noses while singing praises to the God who blessed us with those precious children. If worship is about God, it doesn't matter if we like the pastor's preaching style. It only matters if the teaching is biblical.



Monday, March 21, 2011

There's Still Time!


This is the little one my sister is adopting. Isn't he precious?! They are planning their first trip to see him NEXT MONTH! I can't wait! New pictures! New videos! Oh my goodness, my heart may explode.
Today and tomorrow are the last chance you'll have to support their adoption AND get a cool new bag. I'm just sayin' is all.

Go here. Don't forget the deal: spend $31 and get a purse 1/2 price!


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Praying and Weeping

This morning - in a courtroom across the ocean - with a family pleading with every ounce of their being to adopt the child they've prayed for for over a year - a judge said no.

She said No.

She thinks that a child with Down Syndrome is better off in an institute instead of with a family.

She said No.

Against the advice of every single person in the courtroom.

She said No.

No to this little boy whose family has done everything imaginable to go get him.

I am heartbroken for this family and more importantly for this precious child.

This was the first Down Syndrome adoption to go before this judge.

She said No.

There are other families waiting in the wings.

Please pray for them!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

You Are the Expert


I had coffee the other night with a friend and we were practically the only ones in the shop. A little later, two couples came in and while the men ordered drinks, the women sat down. Right next to my friend and I. Remember the whole shop is empty except for us. The men got a big kick out of their wives' choice of tables and were joking with us about it. One man asked if we were teachers. Strange question. My friend says: "Well, yes. " The guy explains that both of their wives are teachers and that must be what drew them to us.
My friend says: Well, we teach our own children. We're homeschool moms.
The guy laughed and said: You're not real teachers then.
It was all in good humor (I think) and we just laughed back. But as I sat there, I was suddenly overcome with pity for these women as I realized their situation for what it is.

They send their children off to be taught by someone else's mom, while they go and teach other people's children.

I was so sad thinking about it. They'd been lied to by the world just like I had been once upon a time. I thought I needed an expert to educate my children. If you are literate, you can teach your children. The experts rely on books and answer keys. Are you not capable of doing the same?
Don't let society lie to you and take precious time away from your family. My children are growing up so fast, my heart hurts. And I'm not even missing any of it! I can't imagine all that mommies miss when their kids are with "experts" all day. :(

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Thankful

I am so thankful.

Thankful that I'm able and willing to stay at home with my children all day every day.
Thankful that I've gained some wisdom and perspective on how short these days are.
Thankful that I'm no longer leaving my sweet blessings every day to go earn a few bucks.
Thankful that I have the freedom to homeschool.
Thankful that God overruled our plans for our family.
Thankful for adoption. It has changed my life.
Thankful for motherhood. It has changed my heart.
Thankful that God is molding me more into His image through the sweet children He gave me.

So very very thankful.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Powerful Lesson in Forgiveness


May God use us all to be truth tellers and to call all people everywhere to repent and believe the Gospel of the free grace of God in Christ Jesus.

Monday, March 7, 2011

How to Become an Athiest

Just read this in the Living Waters newsletter. It's so funny, I just had to share:

There are two main hard and fast rules for anyone who would like to become an “atheist.” If you are tempted, beware. It’s not an easy thing to do.

The first rule is to ignore design in nature. You will see it everywhere—from the planets, to the atoms, to the seasons, to the design of the human body, to the design of the birds and the bees, flowers, fruit, feet, and even fungus. And, of course, the amazing human eye. Everywhere you look and everywhere you can’t look, you will see design.

Now here’s the hard part: ignore your God-given common sense. Admit that everything man made is manmade, but be uncompromisingly adamant that everything in nature came from nothing, with no Designer. Once you have set aside your acumen to do this, crown yourself as being intelligent. Very. Then find other atheists who will confirm that you are indeed intelligent.

The second rule is to “believe.” This is very important, because if you let doubt in, it will let in fear, and that can be a scary thing when the issue at stake is a place called “Hell.”

Believe that you are right in your beliefs. Believe that evolution is indeed true. Believe that it’s scientific. Believe that there are no missing links, and believe that Richard Dawkins knows what he is talking about.

Believe that you are related to an ape, and therefore you are not morally responsible because apes have no moral absolutes. Believe that your conscience was given to you by your parents and society, and not by God (always use a small “g” for God, if possible).

To grow as an atheist, you will need to learn believers’ language—phrases like, “There is no creation,” “Evolution is a proven fact,” and the powerful “Flying Spaghetti Monster” argument. Learn the fine art of cutting and pasting quotes, and responding to evidence with “Straw man!” That means you won’t have to respond to anything challenging.

All this will give a perception of intelligence. Never question evolution, and don’t think for yourself.

Do these things, and you will be able to call yourself an atheist, or even a “new” atheist. How cool is that! Well, I should say, as much of one as you can be called one. No one can be a true atheist because you need “absolute knowledge” to say that there is no God. So until you are omniscient (like God), you will just have to do with pretending to be one.

The original article is here.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Purses for Adoption

Have you been introduced to Thirty-One yet? Maya and I have been fawning over the catalog for days! Oh my gravy! Adorable. Every bit of it.
And guess what? I'm going to offer you a way to support my sister's adoption of Wilson and get yourself a cute bag in the process! Here's the big deal:

100% of the profits go straight to Wilson's adoption fund!

Yeehaw!!


Go find yourself a sweet deal here.



Oh! oh! Speaking of sweet deals, you can get any purse 1/2 price with a $31 purchase!

(There's no limit to this deal. Spend $62, get 2 purses half price; spend $93, get 3 purses half price, etc.)

Go nuts! You're raising the ransom to bring my nephew home!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Book Review: God Gave Us So Much

I just received this treasury of the God Gave Us series and I was so excited to read it with my kids, who just loved the God Gave Us the World book. It, along with two others: God Gave Us Love, and God Gave Us Heaven were included in this hardback treasury (complete with ribbon bookmark I might add.)
We enjoyed God Gave Us Love and were again delighted with the adorable illustrations of the bear family as they learn how to love as God loved. Unfortunately, I was really disappointed in the last book God Gave Us Heaven. It starts with the parents explaining to their children what heaven is and how wonderful God made it and it's all fun and cupcakes and parties. I would have no problem with this if the children were believers, but it is made clear that this is a reward they have to look forward to when they one day become Christians. This is no way to share the gospel. Who wouldn't want salvation when heaven is described in such a way? Children need to first understand their sin and God's law. Salvation is meaningless otherwise. Sin, as it turns out, is never mentioned. Instead, the author says that "our bad choices might keep us from him forever". Might? The bible isn't so ambiguous. And nowhere in the bible are our sins referred to as bad choices. Making a right turn in a left lane is a bad choice. Nobody earns hell for that. Lying is a sin, not a bad choice. Cheating is a sin, not a bad choice. This one book, God Gave Us Heaven, ruined the treasury for me. The theology is so bad; it's the one bad apple that ruined the whole bunch.