Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Day 9

Proverbs 27:9
Oil and perfume rejoice the heart;
so does the sweetness of a friend's counsel
that comes from the heart.



I am coming to an end of my time in South Carolina, and while the trip has been pretty much uneventful ("without drama" is what my friend Susan prayed for me), I am SO ready to go home. Every day it takes all the will power I have not to just quit and go home. There have been repeated conversations with myself trying to talk myself into staying.

Today I saw more statuary, more cabbage and the first signs of spring.





I completed 87 jobs today bringing me to a total of 701.


I received a call tonight from Carla, our friend who is doing the Little Caesar's Pizza Kit fundraiser for us. She was so excited to report that she just started selling on Monday and she had already sold 15 kits!! I'm excited about that too -- wow, only three days! She was giving me updates on who had taken sales brochures and wants to try to get an email list together of those who are selling so we can get an update each week and post it to the blog as motivation. We are required to sell 100 kits, but as Carla said, with us being able to run it through February 24 and her already getting this many orders, there might be more orders than we expect. We are praying for God's blessing on this fundraiser as well as the others that are coming up. Adoption should not cost so much. This is one of my soapbox speeches that I give regularly. While I understand where a lot of the money goes and why, it should not be so expensive. I had a nice conversation with my friend Iris today. God always knows which friend I need to talk to and when. I was updating her on the adoption and we got to talking about the money side of things. I told her that I knew that God would provide, and that He is likely trying to teach me yet another lesson in patience and faith. I told her I was saying to God, "Ok, I've learned my lesson on patience. Can you give it to me now??" *smile* I told her that I have to compare my actions to taking Joshua to a toy store the week before Christmas. While I know what he is getting for Christmas, he does not so he asks and begs for toys that I fully know he is going to get in a few days. I can't tell him that so I simply ask him to wait until Christmas. It doesn't stop his begging or wanting, but the waiting is required. I think waiting in adoption is a lot like that. Iris also reminded me that there are a lot of people who have taken this journey with us and who are very excited about Ellie coming home. It's good, sometimes, to be reminded of that. I think Satan tries, many times, to make us think we are all alone in our battles and journeys. I know it feels that way sometimes with me.


Josh tried out tonight for a part in the spring play at church. This has just amazed me because this child does not like to be in the spotlight for anything. He didn't like being in choir because he had to sing in front of people. I don't know when we will hear back about whether he got the part, but I'm really proud of him for stepping out of his comfort zone and trying something new!!


And to end for tonight (because I am tired!!), here is a photo of some Spanish moss growing in the tree where today I got my mother some. I know the neighbor across the street thought I was just a NUT for pulling some of this off the tree and trotting over to my car, pulling out a Walmart bag and shoving it down in it, but every time I make a trip south, I try to find some Spanish moss for my mom. She loves it. And, ironically, she can make it grow in Tennessee. She puts it in the trees near her fish pond. Of course, as she reminded me, she can grow anything. And that's a good thing, because I can kill anything.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Day 8 - What is an Okra Strut?

2 Timothy 1:3-4
Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.
I long to see you again, for I remember your tears as we parted.
And I will be filled with joy when we are together again.

As I sit here watching American Idol try-outs from Omaha, Nebraska (the corn capital of the world, according to Randy), I'm amazed that Columbia, South Carolina doesn't tout some sort of produce title. And here is why ... Over the past few days I've been noticing the most unusual phenomenon. People use CABBAGE to landscape/decorate their yards. See ...




And, while this is pretty and all, why? And who thought this up? Imagine the thought process as someone is out in their garden and thinking, "Hmmmm... I think this would be pretty to put in a lovely pot and sit on the front porch." I guess I don't think outside the proverbial box.

And then, I get down the road to a small suburb of Columbia, called Irmo (I always want to call it Elmo, but I digress) where I am met with this sign:



Upon returning to the hotel, I "googled" (is that a word you thought you'd be using, say, oh, even five years ago?) "Okra Strut". IMAGINE MY SURPRISE when I found a whole website - http://www.irmookrastrut.com/ -- devoted to this, um, event. Sadly, it was September 28-29 of last year so I missed it. I checked my schedule for that time and found that I did come to South Carolina the week following this event. Anyway, the Okra Strut features events such as a golf tournament, a "Dam Run to Irmo" (Irmo is near a dam), the Okra Strut Parade which is billed as the largest festival parade in South Carolina with more than 100 units participating, including Okra Man, floats, beauty queens and marching bands, a children's okra eating contest (do any children actually EAT okra??) and performances by several band and entertainment acts. Attendance is estimated at 55,000 annually. It was started by the local Lake Murray-Irmo Women's Club as a way to raise funds for a new library. Here is a photo I found of Okra Man.



My life is complete now. I'm sure yours is as well. I'm glad I could share this with you. *smile*

So, today was interesting as I could barely move my arms when I got up because my elbows hurt so badly. Then, my upper back had a burning pain that hurt no matter how I moved. If I turned my head, it hurt. I took two Motrin, nothing. Add to that my contacts were "boogered" and I couldn't see well. I tried and tried to clean them but I still couldn't read the road signs so I quit and went to the local Wallyworld, had an eye exam, got contacts and lost an hour and a half. Surprisingly, though I managed to make up the time and had a record day completing 99 jobs. I would have pressed for 100, but not thinking I'd make it that far, I had not put any more on my schedule and didn't have any more with me. So, I'm at an eight day total of 614. Weather forecast indicates we might have rain tomorrow which could throw a wrench into my plans to knock out another 90 tomorrow. Oh well ... we will see. I am pleased to report that the pain in my elbows and back have subsided. I'm certain I worked it out today moving around. It could have been scared out of me when the dog almost bit me.

I knocked on a door and Mrs. Insured came to the door. After explaining why I was there I gave my usual, "Will it be ok if I go in the back yard? Are there any dogs back there?" She said the dog was in the house and she would leave him inside. As I rounded the back of the house, he was in the screened porch just barking his head off. Mr. Insured was in his shop and came out and I told him who I was, why I was there and that I was taking the back photos. There was a swimming pool so I was walking back to it to take the photo. All of a sudden I hear Mr. Insured yelling, "Chocolate!! Come back here!" Mr. Insured had opened the back screen door and the dog got out. Mr. Insured says to me, "He won't bother you." HA! Chocolate made a FULL circle around the house in about two seconds, rounded the back of the house . I'm moving QUICKLY somewhere -- I'm not even sure where I was going. Chocolate found an open gate in the back of the pool and came running full force at me barking, head down, growling like he is going to eat me alive I remember the thought running through my head that this dog was going to knock me into the pool (which was still full and uncovered) and I was going to be really mad. I shoved my clipboard down in front of me and yelled, "Stop!" still backing up. The owner managed to grab at him but apparently, he got loose again and was starting to make his second round -- the owner, all the while, yelling, "Chocolate! Stop it! Come here!" Fortunately, Mr. Insured managed to corral him back into the house and then had the nerve to say to me, "He's never bitten anyone before. Would my insurance have covered you if he bit you?" *sigh* I simply replied, "The line I use with my dog is that he hasn't bitten anyone yet -- you could be the first. And yes, I think your insurance would have covered me, but I sure don't want to find out." And I left -- immediately -- before Chocolate could get out again. I'm going to tell you, that scared the jeepers out of me.

So, now I'm going to go on out on the "whining" limb that I hate to go out on and say, "Folks, I am TIRED." I am so ready to go home. I miss everything and everyone. Talking on the phone is not the same. I have discovered what the term "bags" under your eyes means. I truly have never seen the things that have puffed up under my eyes. I scared myself this morning when I looked in the mirror. I kept poking at them going, "What in the WORLD is wrong with my eyes?" Then I realized it's probably because I'm just so stinking tired. Ok, I'm stepping off my whining box.

Here's a photo of a rock I saw on some one's porch. I thought it was cute. I'm also include another piece of yard ornamentation I saw and liked. I think I am the only person who has ever served as a photojournalist of yard ornaments of South Carolina.





And, last, but certainly not least, one of the owners of one of the houses I photographed has a cat named Mama Kitty. He said she has her own "Cat House". Here you go -- South Carolina's Cat House:

Monday, January 28, 2008

Day 7 - Columbia, SC (Adoption Update included)

I John 3:18
Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other;
let us really show it by our actions.



Day 7 in the field is over. I had a great day. Thanks again to all who are praying for me while I am here. It is making a difference, I promise you. The weather was great - 60s and sunny - all day. I didn't get lost, dog bit, shot, accused of being a terrorist and didn't drop my camera. All in all, you just can't ask for more. I completed 95 jobs today, which is 20 more than my schedule said I could do. I'm really ready to go home so I guess I had an adrenaline kick today. Tomorrow I won't be able to crawl out of bed. *smile*


No good photos today. I'm just not seeing much here that inspires me. Maybe tomorrow.


I called our agency today to check on some things and asked where exactly we are on the list. I'd never asked, if you can imagine. There are 14 families currently in the program. Five families have referrals and one family is moving to another country so we are number 8 on the list. I asked if my expectation of a referral in May was still along the lines of what he was thinking and he said yes it was. He did add the obligatory comment that this was true "if referrals continue to come in at the rate they currently are." I asked if he suspected a change, and he indicated that he did not, but reminded me that this is a small country and that referrals could change at any time. I told him I understood that and that I knew adoption was always uncertain. However, the law of averages says that we should definitely get a referral in May. YAY! I told my mom today that I really feel like Ellie has been born. I can't put a finger on why, but I do. We will see, when we get her referral if I was right about this.


He did indicate they are working with our homestudy agency to get all the details ironed out. I told him I would be in there next week taking them the documents they needed to begin updating our homestudy.


Joshua has a ballgame tonight. Mee Mee is taking him. I hope he does well and they have a good time. Kevin has his first night of visitation for church. I'll be praying for you (I know you read this!). I miss home! Four more days.

Since I didn't get this posted before Joshua's game due to blogger being down, an update is in order. Joshua scored HIS FIRST goal in basketball tonight. As our luck would have it, neither his mom NOR his dad were there to see it. Mee Mee was, though, so we are happy for that. Hopefully, she got a picture and I'll be able to post it later.

And, I suppose I jinxed myself talking about not being able to get out of the bed, because at 2:00 this morning I awoke with awful pain in both my back and my elbows. I'm still in a LOT of pain in my back so I can't imagine getting in and out of the car 90 +/- times today, but I will. I'm going to dose up with some Advil after I eat something in hopes it will take care of it. I understand the elbow -- I've taken over 1500 photos so far and lifting the camera that many times is bound to cause some discomfort in the elbow. The great news is that I've got around 1000 more photos to take before I'm done. *smile* Motrin here I come!

FreeRice.com

Isaiah 58:10
Feed the hungry,and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.


I was reading the USA Today this week and saw and article for the website FreeRice.com. This site is an online game that was developed by a father, John Breen, to quiz his son for the SAT. The game presents a word and four choices of definition. Pick right, and the cash equivalent of 20 grains of rice is donated by site advertisers to the U.N. World Food Program.

Breen indicates it took him four months to load 10,200 words. It is a sister site to Poverty.com, Breen's hunger awareness site. From October 2007-January 2008, players have donated more than 15 billion grains of rice, enough to feed more than 700,000 people for one day.

Check it out. Help feed the hungry.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Days 5 and 6 in South Carolina

Jeremiah 32:27
"Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh:
is there any thing too hard for me?"


Saturday and Sunday are now "in the books" in South Carolina. I managed to complete 51 inspections on Saturday which was more than I expected since I was working the outlying area where the jobs were farthest out and in the country. I had a laid back day and the weather was nice. I met some wonderful "friends" -- four horses and their owners. One was a Clydesdale and two were Belgium and they were the BIGGEST horses I'd ever seen. Their owners were really nice and let me pet them and offered to let me ride them. I kindly passed on that, but I think if I'd had time I would have let them get out the ladders to hoist me up on Lacy (the Clydesdale). She was so gentle and loved on her owner. I loved her feet too -- all furry. Hmmm... I wonder if I should have called them hooves??? Anyway, here's a photo of Lacy, Henry, Ladybug and the one whose name I forgot.


I thought Lake Murray was really pretty in this shot.


I saw these sweet little Asian children statues at one home I inspected. I think they have great features and look really lifelike.




One of the photos from another day that I forgot to post is the one of the aloe vera plant that was over my head. I think it was close to six feet tall. The stems/leafs (whatever you call them) were wider than my hand.


And, lest anyone think I might not find a Krispy Kreme store on a trip, here is the proof that my car DOES have a tracking device on it that seeks out and finds all Krispy Kreme stores in all cities. And yes, I did get a donut.


Today was such a blessing as I got to sleep late, work on paperwork and see a movie. The sad parts were as I sat in the hotel room thinking of my family and friends in Sunday school, then church, then AWANA this evening. I thought of each of them as I was missing each event.

I also spent an hour on Saturday with my heart at the Center in Springfield missing Joshua's basketball game. Kevin videoed the game and is sending it to me on Monday so I can watch it later in the week. I was so excited that they won but sad that I missed it. I will miss another game on Monday night when my mom is taking Joshua. It's Kevin's first time doing deacon visitation. There is so much guilt when I'm here about all the things I'm missing at home. Everyone tells me, "Well, keep the goal in mind." I think the goal is well worth the trip or I wouldn't be here, but I suspect this might just be my last project. I'm a bit burned out and value the time with my family more and more and just don't want to be away from them this long.

I found a Once Upon a Child store here -- note that this is my FAVORITE store as I am such a bargain shopper that finding a Gymboree outfit for $7.50 just makes me HAPPY. I got several outfits that were super cute and got them at a real bargain. Several of them were even half off the regular price (which is inexpensive to begin with). Here are a couple of outfits that I got for Ellie. This first one will be great for Christmas this year.




I can just see her in this with a little turtleneck, tights and little shoes! Darling!!


Does this just not scream SASSY? The shirts says "Let's go fly a kite".


And my Gymboree nautical style dress and "bloomers" in a navy-gray pinstripe with sweet little smocking.

I am now working on entering the work from this week. I've gotten about 90 of the 420 I've done entered. I want to get as much as I can done so when I return home I can concentrate on getting our dossier together. I need to go in and meet with our home study agency to give them the needed documents to complete our home study, file our I-600A, schedule appointments for medical forms to be completed (this will be our FOURTH set, I'm sure my friend Tamera and Dr. H are getting a bit tired of us), gather the rest of the papers needed for our dossier and work on planning our other fundraisers.

Speaking of fundraisers, our friend Carla has started our Little Caesar's Pizza Kit fundraiser. We are SO FORTUNATE to have friends who are willing to suggest this, take the reins on getting it set up and to manage this while I am out of town. We are very grateful. To "celebrate" it's kickoff, for dinner tonight I got the $5 Little Caesar's Take Out (and will likely be eating it all week - ha!).


To close, I will share a great saying I saw on a church sign here. It says:

Church is God's gift to us. Some assembly required.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Day 4 - Columbia, SC

James 3:17
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure,
then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated,
full of mercy and good fruits,
without partiality, and without hypocrisy.


The sun finally came out today. It was still cold, but there is something refreshing about the sun shining as opposed to a gloomy, overcast day. Temperatures here are in the 40s and 50s during the day so it's not too cold. It is too cold for me because I don't like cold. I completed 90 again today (pretty much my goal and the standard number I can seem to get done). I'm at 360 jobs now.

I want to thank each of you who have been praying for me and for those of you I called yesterday and today and specifically asked you to pray for me. I know you did because my day did get better. Being away from home has been particularly hard for me this time. I've never spent this much time away from home and it's hard. I'm not even half way done yet. I'm particularly tired and I'm not getting enough sleep. I do plan to sleep in on Sunday before I begin the process of entering the work from this week. Working in the cold weather has made me a bit more tired as well as I can't seem to get warm until I get back to my hotel. I've told Kevin that I think this will be my last project. I'm burned out on it, I think.

I took some photos of things that made me smile today. Here they are:



What you don't see in this photo is the mama who has RUN as fast as her short legs would carry her away from these puppies. I think she needed some "me" time. *smile* They were running to try to catch up with her.

This cute little statuary struck my fancy. I thought the cat looked pretty mischievous. It reminds me of my Duke who LOVES to catch birds.

This photo is for my mom who LOVES Spanish Moss. I haven't seen hardly any of it, but this man's yard had a lot in it.


After working today I went to the Babies R Us which is just across the street from my hotel. I thought it would be a good time to check out baby items when I wasn't quite so rushed. Man, have things changed in the time since Josh was a baby. The irony is, as I stood there looking at a spoon "thing" that held baby food in the handle to not need a bowl and you could put a "lid" on the spoon part and keep in the refrigerator, I thought, "Who thought of this -- and why?" And "playpens" are no where near what I had growing up and what Josh even had as a baby. Now, they come replete with a fold down changing table, bassinet, playpen with music/sounds of nature or the womb/lights all built in to one item. The strollers now have an area for you to put your wipes into. That had to be a mom idea! There are baby monitors with television screens, monitors that you can wear on your arm (so as not to be in the way, I suppose) and baby monitors that double as temperature gauges (why??). So, I made a list of items I liked and/or wanted to research more before we purchase. I think, truly, what we still need is a carseat, stroller, baby monitor and high chair. There are a few more "would like to haves" (again, that struggle between need and want rears its ugly head) and we will let those sit a while to see if I still think they are important in a month or so and if Kevin thinks they are important as well.

I heard from a "must remain nameless at this time" friend today that they received a referral for their baby girl. I told her I wouldn't post about her referral in my blog, but I am not mentioning her name or what country she is adopting from or the link to her website until she gives me permission. BUT ... she has the MOST BEAUTIFUL little girl in the world. She told me she was, and now I believe her. Of course, she will only be the most beautiful little girl until Ellie comes along. *smile*

I miss you Kevin and Joshua. I miss the kitties and dogs (but NOT the cat hair *ugh*). I miss dinner with you two every night. I miss watching Nickelodeon with Joshua. I've even contemplated turning it on Hannah Montana or Drake and Josh and watching it myself. I miss crazy mornings (well, a little, anyway) and church. I miss my bed and waking up to the click-click-click of Bear moving from my side of the bed to yours. I DON'T miss Sunshine barking and waking me up. I DO miss Punch meowing for milk all the time and getting to rub fat ole Little Kitty's belly as he sleeps all day. I miss Lucy getting as close to me as she can on the couch and laying down alongside my leg and Duke trying to lay on anything I'm working on. I miss Duchess' peeking around the corner to see if there is another cat that is going to chase her back upstairs and under the bed. I DON'T miss doing dishes but I'd rather do dishes than have to eat out all the time. I miss hugs and "kooshes" and reminding Joshua to brush his teeth. I'm really going to miss going to his ballgame tomorrow. My heart will be there. It is always there with you two.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Day 3 - Columbia and "Political" Ramblings

Psalm 106:43
Many times he delivered them, but they were bent
on rebellion and they wasted away in their sin.
John 6:12
When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples,
"Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted."

Another day in the books for this project, and I managed to complete 90 again today for a three day total of 270 homes trudged around.

Since not much happened in inspection world today I thought I would ponder with you the state of America today. Wow, that's a deep subject for a short blog entry isn't it? I'd like for you to think about the following information -- come to your own conclusion. I won't need to push my opinions about this on you, I don't think. I think each reader of this blog is a smart person and will be able to come to the same conclusion I did when I thought about this.

When our forefathers began this country and the first President was elected, I would be really fascinated to have been there to experience the process. As I was watching the news tonight (this is a real luxury because at home we never get time to watch the news), I caught a story about a candidate who has managed to raise $7 million dollars in the last few weeks for their campaign (based on the notes below, I suspect this is Ron Paul). $7 million dollars???? And this is to run for a position where the salary is what, $400,000 plus benefits. The first thought running through my mind was that I had to get some new friends because I could not contemplate raising that much money. Yes, yes, I know, corporations, PACS, etc. were the contributors, but I'm still stuck on $7 million dollars to run a campaign for President. Why???

Do you think George Washington needed that much (even converted to their standards of living I'm CERTAIN this was not the way things were done back then).

We live in a country indicates it cannot provide any type of affordable, reasonably well thought out health care program for everyone, a country that is in debt, a country that has poor, has homeless, has families who are losing their homes because of the economy and we have one candidate spending $7 million (PLUS, I'm sure) to run for President?

Ok, so how many candidates are there? The Democrats seem to have three major forerunners, but cite a total of eight contenders (Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Richardson, Dodd, Biden, Kucinich, Bayh, Vilsack, LaMangna and Gravel). Bayh, Biden, Dodd, Kucinich, LaMangna and Vilsack have already withdrawn. The Republicans had nine candidates (Rominey, McCain, Huckabee, Thompson, Paul, Guiliani, Hunter, Tancredo and Brownback), but Thompson, Tancredo, Brownback and Hunter have withdrawn. There are currently eight independents/Libertarian/Green party candidates on record.

In the third quarter 2007 (Sept. 30, 2007), Democratic and Republican candidates reported contributions of $124 million dollars during one quarter.

Two interesting factoids here:
  • On November 5, 2007, the Ron Paul campaign raised over $4.3 million. That amount is the largest amount collected on a single day by any Republican candidate, and the record for largest amount of on-line fund raising in a single day ever in U.S. history.
  • Ron Paul then beat his own record on December 16, 2007 by raising over $6.03 million in 24 hours, the most ever raised in one day by any candidate for president in U.S. history.
Wikipedia cites the following information about campaign costs:

The reported cost of campaigning for President has increased significantly in recent years. One source reported that if the costs for both Democratic and Republican campaigns are added together (for the Presidential primary election, general election, and the political conventions) the costs have more than doubled in only eight years ($448.9 million in 1996, $649.5 million in 2000, and $1.01 billion in 2004).

In January 2007, Federal Election Commission Chairman Michael Toner estimated that the 2008 race will be a "$1 billion election," and that to be "taken seriously," a candidate needed to raise at least $100 million by the end of 2007. Although he has said that he will not be running for president, published reports indicate that billionaire and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has been considering a presidential bid with $1 billion of his own fortune to finance it. Should Bloomberg decide to run as an independent, he would not need to campaign in the primary elections or participate in the conventions, greatly reducing both the necessary length and cost of his campaign.

With the increase in money, the public financing system funded by the presidential election campaign fund checkoff has not been used by many candidates. So far, John McCain, Tom Tancredo, John Edwards, Chris Dodd, and Joe Biden have qualified for and elected to take public funds in the primary. Other major candidates have eschewed the low amount of spending permitted and have chosen not to participate.

Hmmmm.... now, let's compare the national debt (source U.S. National Debt Clock):

The Outstanding Public Debt as of 26 Jan 2008 is: $9,197,277,578,595. The estimated population of the United States is 304,182,617 so each citizen's share of this debt is $30,236.04. The National Debt has continued to increase an average of $1.43 billion per day since September 29, 2006.

Can you not understand why other countries do not like the "spoiled" Americans? We are in debt OVER OUR HEADS and yet the potential leaders of the country are spending billions of dollars for ELECTION CAMPAIGNS????

And then, because our economy is recessing, we are going to stimulate the economy by sending out tax checks to everyone so they will spend it and kick start the economy. So, here's how I'm seeing this -- we are going to add more debt to the national debt to give money to all of us that we will in turn spend on things like catching up our mortgage payments and buying groceries (these are the things that was presented by Congress) and this will stimulate the economy to get us out of a recession. *sigh* I think it's much like if our family paid a credit card payment with another credit card. It brings to mind the saying of "Robbing Peter to pay Paul".

Maybe my mind is just too small to understand all of this, but I'm appalled that we, as a country, continue to live like there is no tomorrow, spending money like it truly grows on trees, buying bigger and bigger homes, bigger and bigger cars, throwing away so much garbage that there is no place to put it, eating so much food that we can't even appreciate the blessing of it, buying, buying, buying, feeling "entitled" to these things (after all, we deserve it, don't we?) and continuing to allow people to starve, be homeless, die from lack of insurance, lose their jobs, lose their homes and more -- here in our own country. This doesn't even account for the millions of people in foreign countries who die from diseases that have been eradicated years ago with vaccines but they can't afford the medications, people who do not have food to eat or clean water to drink, people who live on the streets or in, at best, shacks, in filth. And we "deserve it". Why don't they? What did we do to "deserve" to be born here in America, as opposed to there in their country?

Why should it cost so much to run for President? I'm guessing it doesn't have to. But until we, as a country get over our sense of entitlement and open our eyes to what is going on in our world and begin, each of us, to make small sacrifices and changes to our lifestyles, it will continue and it will get worse. Do we need150 channels of television? Do we need designer clothes? Do we need all the things we have in our homes? Or did we just want them? I'm struggling with this same battle. There is a lot of want in me and absolutely no need.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Adoption Update

God continues to move in our adoption process. I see things every day. Today Kevin told me that he got a call from our first agency indicating they have decided to allow us to complete a concurrent adoption. *smile* While we weren't really waiting for their permission as we had decided to move ahead with or without their assistance, it will make the process a bit easier and save the cost of hiring someone else to completely re-do our home study. I will call our social worker tomorrow and get the details on the new rules for this process and what we need to do.

I have had people that I would have never thought were even thinking of me/us tell me that they pray for us and for our adoption. Last night, when I was in such a funk, one of the inspectors whose work I review had a problem and I needed to call him. He floored me by telling me he was praying for us and that he thought what we were doing was so incredible. I really needed his exhortation, but I never expected it would come from him.

We continue to have people who offer to help us with our fundraisers. I got an email from our friend Carla today that she had set up our Little Caesar pizza kit fundraiser, set up the delivery date, ordered the brochures and everything. I am SO appreciative of all she is doing to help us with this.

I think Ellie has been born. I'm not sure why I think this, but I really do. It will be interesting to see when her birth date is and see if I "felt" right. I think we will get her referral in early May. We'll see how close I am on that as well. I'm going to make a prediction - just because it will be fun to see how close I am -- OOH OOH, I'm going to put a poll up on the blog and you can vote too.

My prediction for our date of referral is ... April 15 -- tax day!

Day 2 - South Carolina - Winter Daphnes are in Bloom

Philippians 2:1-5
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ,
if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit,
if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete
by being like-minded, having the same love,
being one in spirit and purpose.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit,
but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Each of you should look not only to your own interests
but also to the interests of others.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.

I've searched HARD for happy photos on this trip but nothing is blooming and I haven't seen but THREE cats all day -- one was afraid of me, one was on a pool cover napping and one was climbing down from the roof and entering the house through a rotten area on the eaves. Now, THAT was a photo I wanted, but I was driving down the road. The few dogs I've seen are all barking at me and don't really want their photos taken. So, hopefully there will be SOMETHING exciting to report from South Carolina before the trip is over. It's cold and everything is in hiding -- either in their homes if they are people or animals or in the ground if they are flowers.

The exception was the sweet lady who went over to one of her blooming bushes and plucked a piece off and said, "Here, you need some of this winter Daphne. It smells so good." What a sweet gesture. I took it and it is in my car. I had never heard of it before and IMAGINE my surprise when I looked it up and this is what the information said:

Winter Daphne is native to China and has been described in that culture's literature and pharmacopoeia for a thousand years. It was also depicted on a Japanese scroll in 1309. the plant was named by Thunberg who first saw it in 18th century Japan and described it in his work, Flora Japonica. The genus contains about 50 species.



China, eh? A little God humor.

Then, a few houses down the road, I came to a really nice home, a 70s style home that had been remodeled. Apparently, the owner had a serious interest in all things Asian as the decks, yard, gardens -- everything -- had an Asian decorated flair. There were concrete pagodas, Buddha statutes, bamboo gardens, the sign below, Asian garden flags and a fish pond. I checked his name thinking I'd find something Asian -- nope, last name Barnes - my mother's maiden name. Hhhh??


I really like what Columbia has done with it's downtown area (near the University of South Carolina's campus). It seems like many of the older warehouses have been converted -- recycled, gone "green", refurbished, whatever the correct political term is these days -- to new "modern" facilities. I was amazed at this Publix. (Yes, I took the photo from the car -- I WAS at a stop light).


Wikipedia indicates this: Publix grocery store in the historic Congaree Vista district downtown, housed in the former Confederate Printing Plant.

It is a full-service grocery store, one of a handful of full service grocery stores in a downtown area.

Then they converted this warehouse into their state museum.




Wikipedia says it is the largest museum in the southeast and I believe it. This photo does NOT do it justice. It is just huge! This is from Wikipedia as well:

Positioned on an old shipping canal on the Congaree River that dates back to pre-Civil War times, the museum is widely recognized as a resource for South Carolina history and lifestyle. The museum is housed in what was once a booming textile mill. On certain levels of the museum, the original flooring has been kept intact, distinguishable by hundreds of textile brads and rings (that carried the threads during the spinning process) that became embedded in the floor while it was still being used as a mill. The museum is notable for its recreation of a great white shark suspended mid-air on the second floor just around a corner, which has scared countless groups of young children.

Much like my trip to Great Falls today I saw several former "mills". South Carolina has a history rich in the textile world. There is a warehouse fire going on in a neighboring town that I've been following on the local news -- it reminds me of the stories I heard while in Great Falls about the fire in one of their warehouses.

Here is a photo of Olympia Mills

The first few years of the 20th century saw Columbia emerge as a regional textile manufacturing center. In 1907, Columbia had six mills in operation: Richland, Granby, Olympia Mills, Capital City, Columbia, and Palmetto. Combined, they employed over 3,400 workers with an annual payroll of $819,000, giving the Midlands an economic boost of over $4.8 million.

One of W.B. Smith Whaley’s four Columbia textile mills, the Olympia Mill, opened in 1899 and with over 100,000 spindles and 2,250 looms, it was the largest cotton mill under one roof in the world. The mill is a monumental four-story rectangular brick building standing to the north of the Olympia mill village. The building stands one hundred fifty-one feet, two inches wide and five hundred fifty-three feet, two inches long. This site has a fascinating paper on the Olympia Mill and Village.

So, does anyone UNDERSTAND this photo? I took it from an angle that would provide you with the necessary information to see my dilemma. When I arrive at a house, the first thing I do is knock on the door to let the homeowner know why I am there (assuming they are home). At this house, I knocked, got no answer and moved on around to the back. On my way back around, I saw this. Hmmm..... why do you think anyone would design a house like this??? Who would want a house like this. I guess it does discourage the door-to-door salesmen. What you have is a "false" door that if you knock on it -- so what? The "real" door is behind it and you can't access it without going through the "fake" door. Odd.

So I completed 97 jobs today -- two day total 187. I've returned some that didn't map and think that I have 646 more to go. There are two days that I know I can only do around 40 each day -- the work is spread out those days. I'm going to do one of those on Saturday. This means on the remainder of days I'll need to complete 95 a day -- or just return a few more. I told a friend today that I think I just get too hard on myself on these trips. It's like I feel like if I don't do 125 a day, I'm slacking -- but I'm not and I need to realize that. I decided today I would get up, start working at 8 and work until 4:30-5:00 in the field and do what I can and not stress about it. It was a much better day.

Two down, nine to go. I'm ready to go home.

Mournful

I am very sad tonight as I got an email from a friend telling me about the death of Rick Burgess' (of Rick and Bubba - the radio show) two year old son by accidental drowning.

Rick spoke at his son's service and I don't think I have EVER heard such faith in such a circumstance. I strive to be where he is in his faith.

PLEASE take the time to go to the website and watch or listen to his message. I hope it will change you and challenge you as much as it did me. I want Joshua to watch this and hear this message.

http://www.rickandbubba.com/

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Why we have to go -- halfway across the world.

1 Timothy 6:18
Command them to do good,
to be rich in good deeds,
and to be generous and willing to share.


Frequently, we are asked if we have considered adopting from the United States, where presumably it will not cost us so much money for travel and adoption fees and where we are told there are a lot of children who need homes. I am certain that all who ask mean well, are curious about our reasons and are trying to offer us options that are helpful. I look it as an opportunity to educate people about the world of international adoption and about the millions of orphans all over the world who need good homes and how God has called our family to do this thing.

Yes, we considered domestic adoption. We tried that back in 2005. We had was is termed a "Failed Placement" -- fancy words for the fact that a birth mother changed her mind after placing her daughter with us and in our home for a week. It broke all three of our hearts. This was only after having her for a week. Imagine the heartbreak and pain of the children who are removed from their adoptive families after a much longer time because of a technicality or because the birth mom was not honest about who the birth father was and he wants his child. We are just not willing to subject ourselves to that again without direct calling from God. And He has not called us there again.

When people ask us why we chose international adoption, I explain to them that there are 143 million orphans in the world -- not counting the US. The US does not have the same type of orphan problem the rest of the world has -- no where near it. Yes, there are thousands of children in the foster care system and I will not cheapen their plight or discount their stories in any way by saying international orphans have it "worse". I think all children have the right to a family to love them.

I have an "online friend" that I met on the Yahoo Kyrgyzstan Adoption group. He and his family are missionaries who are in Kyrgyzstan right now. He works a lot with the orphanages there. Go to this site. Read several of the last entries. Look at the photos -- see the faces. It will move you beyond words. It moved me to tears. I was literally stilled by the photo of the children in the window. The verse from the Bible that says, "What you do for the least of these, you do for Me" immediately came to me.

The stories and photos from this blog will hopefully explain to you why we HAVE to go, why we have to save at least one, why God has called us to go there, why I would bring home more than one if there were a way.

http://actofkindness.blogspot.com/

Several things from this site stood out to me:

1. Children NEVER having seen or eaten a BANANA, an APPLE or a SANDWICH.
2. THREE YEAR OLD street children
3. "The kitchen consisted of a hot plate on the floor." This is an orphanage for goodness sakes!

And finally, this story of a girl from one of the orphanages. Be prepared. I wasn't. I'm certain John will not mind me sharing. It is on his blog.

The first day we arrived at the Orlovka orphanage 3 years ago, we met an incredible young girl. She had faced more in the previous six months then anyone should face in a life time. Three months earlier, she had turned 13. Her alcoholic father decided that she could be his new wife, so he tied her and her 4 siblings to a tree and made them watch as he proceeded to try to cut their mothers head off with an axe. Fortunately the neighbours heard the commotion and were able to save them..... Afraid that the father would just get released , the mother decided to kill the kids then herself...Once again just in the nick of time, plans were foiled. The director of the orphanage arrived and offered to provide a safe place for this family. The kids would have a safe place and the mother could work in the kitchen there. This was great for about 6 weeks then the government came in and tried to evict them all from the abandoned building that was being used as an orphanage.. The building was not fit. There was no heat ,no food, no running water and intermittent hydro. We had only days to bring things up to standard.... As we got busy, Aypery was right there working along side of us. We quickly grew to love her . There is so much more to the relationship that we have developed with her . It was her desire to be a translator that inspired us to have Emma and Bekah give English lessons at the orphanage. I just received this email from Ed.

Hey, I thought you guys should know, to pray, that the girl at Orlovka who you know very well, Aypery, fell off a ladder just before the New Year, landed (tailbone first) on a cement windowsill, and cracked her spine. She's been laying on her back for a couple weeks already and I made a special trip there yesterday to pray with her. She cried while I was praying but I saw that her mood, overall, was fantastic for her situation and she was already getting better. She's an awesome girl and you could see "faith" in her eyes. She was already starting to lay on her side a bit. The doctors told her that she would have to lay in her bed for at least one month.


My heart is there and aches for those and countless other children who suffer the injustices of a sin-filled world. I was listening to the radio today on a Christian broadcast. I'm not sure who the preacher was but he said that God knows when someone's heart is tender and searching for Him and He will send someone to them. He doesn't desire that anyone be lost and He will call, equip and send someone to them. Imagine the joy of being the one God sends!

Day 1 - Columbia, SC


Jeremiah 31:25
I'll refresh tired bodies;
I'll restore tired souls.


The above photo is the only "happy" photo I took today. Needless to say, I didn't ring the bell!
Oh wait, I also took a photo of this poor dog whose owner must have thought he needed a coat on today due to the cold weather. Poor dog. He looked embarrassed.



I was really happy early on as I managed to get two hours ahead of schedule. Then it got dark early as it is supposed to rain here this afternoon/night. I finished 90 of my 858 today. My schedule tomorrow indicates I should be able to do 100. There are days, however, this week/next week, where my schedule says I can only do 60 or so. I'll need to make up the difference while I can. And, I'm way too tired for this to be day one. I'm going to blog quickly and head to bed. I need more sleep, I think. Five hours wasn't enough. Tonight I'm going for 6.5.

Apparently South Carolina is THE state right now for the presidential candidates. I saw on the news tonight that Bill Clinton had a surprise appearance at one of the local restaurants here today. I know that South Carolina is a key state for Democratic hopefuls. Who knows who I might run into while I'm here?

Prayers for my mother tomorrow as she is having a barium test run to help determine why her stomach has been giving her problems for a while. She'll have a colonoscopy in February when I return. I'm glad her friend, Jennie, is going to be with her tomorrow since I can't be there. Sometimes, just having someone there with you to pass the time and have conversation makes things seem not so difficult. Friends are one of God's best creations, I think. Prayers also for my friend who called me today to talk about something very important going on in her life. God knows who she is and what her problem is. If you will just remember "Maria's friend", God will help with the rest.

It has been a hard day emotionally too. Adoption is ironic. You never know when the emotions will hit and what will cause it. There just seems to be so much to get done in such a short amount of time now and I found myself pretty emotional today.

I know that when I get back home there will be "regular" field work to catch up along with entering much of the work I've done here, time to spend with Kevin and Josh, time to get back into our normal routine of being a wife and mom and classes to facilitate at church. And then there are several adoption fundraisers planned by friends and others that are on the calendar for February but still have to be "managed". I know there is Joshua's surgery coming up in March along with Easter activities and then another fundraiser or two in late March early April. Kevin and I agreed we need to start on clearing out Ellie's room and getting it ready. I have to gather together the documents for a dossier and have our home study updated (which will include a home visit, I'm sure!). And, there is the uncertainty of when we might get our referral and have to be ready to travel to Kyrgyzstan. And I'm already tired.

Every time I start to whine like this, I think of my friend Lea who compared it to being an "Israelite in the desert." I'm praying that I will move past my Israelite stage soon! I think a week off would be BLISSFUL. I also really just don't like being away from home. Working in the field for 9 hours and then paperwork for 4-5 hours afterwards is tiring, but being away from my emotional support and my loves is really, really hard.

One down, 11 to go.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Tagged

Oh, how did this happen? *smile*

I have been tagged by my friend Jennifer who, I might add, recently had a blog makeover -- looks lovely.

SO, I'm supposed to answer the following questions and then "tag" some other blog friends. So, here goes:

4 jobs I’ve had:

  1. I worked in the accounting department of a funeral home.
  2. I worked as the director of our local chapter of the Lupus Foundation.
  3. Meeting planner for Walker Management group, now XMi Association Management.
  4. Membership director for The Arc of Tennessee (formerly the association for retarded citizens)

4 movies watched over and over:

  1. Christmas Vacation (just like Jennifer -- we must be kindred souls). Every year at Christmas when I drag it out Kevin starts to groan.
  2. Grease -- it's the original High School Musical
  3. Toy Story (both 1 and 2). We literally wore those out as Joshua was younger. I actually would like to see them again!
  4. Facing the Giants

4 places I’ve lived:

Ok, so this is sad. I don't like change and apparently don't like to move!!

  1. Joelton, TN
  2. Pleasant View, TN
  3. THAT'S IT

4 shows I watch:

  1. American Idol
  2. The Amazing Race
  3. Survivor
  4. Big Brother

Yes, I am a reality show junkie.

4 places I’ve been:

  1. Hawaii
  2. Canada (got lost in the airport, couldn't find Kevin and then got lost in the airport parking garage -- can you IMAGINE my going to Kyrgyzstan??)
  3. Mexico (got off the cruise ship at the wrong port and the boat left -- now THAT'S a story)
  4. Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Iowa, Ohio, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Texas ... oh, a bunch of states.

4 people who e-mail me regularly:

Only four???

  1. "The Girls" - Jennifer, Dianne, Sharon and Dawn
  2. My mom and dad
  3. Betty
  4. Susan

4 favorite things to eat:

  1. Pizza - any time of day, every day, all kinds
  2. Shrimp -- pretty much all seafood, really
  3. Mexican food -- all kinds
  4. Sweet potato fries

4 places I’d rather be:

  1. Considering I'm currently in SC, the number one answer is HOME!
  2. Kyrgyzstan, picking up Ellie
  3. ANY beach, anywhere (especially since they are warm and I'm NOT!)
  4. Disneyland

4 things I look forward to this year:

  1. Travelling to get Ellie
  2. Baseball and football with Joshua this year
  3. Weekend to Remember marriage retreat with Kevin (I hope we'll get to go this year!)
  4. Church -- I really enjoy church!

So, like Jennifer, I'm going to tag a few extras -- just in case the "tagees" (is that how you SPELL that?) don't read and discover they were tagged. I'm tagging:

  1. Tessa
  2. Heather
  3. Jeff and Abby
  4. Michelle
  5. Terri
  6. Anita

Enjoy!!

In South Carolina

Revelation 7:12
Amen! they cried. Blessing and glory and majesty
and splendor and wisdom and thanks and honor and power
and might to our God to the ages and ages! Amen!


I have made it to South Carolina safely and am thankful for that. The drive was about 7 hours so that wasn't too bad. I've unloaded, unpacked and organized my room for work. I've printed out my schedule for tomorrow and am about to go to bed. Since they are an hour ahead I need to sleep earlier to get up earlier. There is a small chance of freezing rain tonight. I'm prayerful that it will not happen. The forecast for tomorrow is a high of 50*. That's very "do-able".

Susan and I stayed at this same hotel during a trip we had last year. It is across from the mall and there is a Wal-mart across the road. I've already had to hit there to get an ink cartridge and some cream for my morning coffee. I don't think I've ever made a trip without a journey to Wal-mart. I'm happy that the room has a chair and ottoman as working from the bed is hard on my back after a long time.

I had a really nice morning with Joshua, although I know he was upset that I was leaving. Change is difficult for him so it makes it hard for me. It was such a sweet time. As we went to lunch, he reached down and would hold my hand. Boys are such a sweet blessing!! I just love him so much. I'm hoping that in a few months we will have raised enough for me not to have to do any more project work. It's hard on all of us.

On the Road Again

Joshua 24:17
It was the LORD our God himself who brought us
and our fathers up out of Egypt,
from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes.
He protected us on our entire journey
and among all the nations through which we traveled.


In the fundraising arena, I am back on the road to South Carolina again today. Since school is out today, Josh and I are going to lunch together and then Kevin will meet up with us and get Joshua. I think they are going over to the train tracks to watch the trains. That is something they have done since Joshua was little and they both really enjoy it.

I have 850 houses in my "queue" this time. They are a bit more spread apart than some of my previous projects so I'm a little concerned about getting them all done in a two week period, but I'm going to try hard! Weather forecasts indicate a fairly dry week this week with weather in the mid 50s for the highs and mid 30s for the lows. I've not done a winter project before nor have I ever stayed for two weeks to complete it all in one trip; this should be interesting. I'm already missing home and Kevin and Joshua, and I'm still here!

There is still much to pack and gather. I was thinking last night that we will be gone for about the same amount of time on our first trip to meet Ellie and I am going to have to learn to pack lighter! Of course, when I'm in the field, most days I get my pants dirty so I can't wear them two days in a row. Hopefully, I won't get quite as dirty in Kyrgyzstan.

I'm hoping I'll be able to pull of one or maybe two more week long trips before we get our referral to add more to the adoption account. Much will depend on timing, I suppose.

So, I'm off to gather and pack as much as I can before Joshua wakes up so I can spend time with him before I leave.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Basketball Boys and Trading Carts


Josh's friend Scott came over after church today. Since I had to get another camera for work (broke the other one on my last trip when I dropped it and broke the battery case and jammed the lens), I wanted to try it out before I leave tomorrow to get to know where all the buttons are. They were willing subjects and were moving a lot so I know if I can take them I'll surely be able to take a picture of a non-moving house. Let me just say that it is STINKING cold at our house today. I'm not sure the temperature, but I'm thinking it's in the 20s. And yes, Scott IS in shorts. Brrr!!








There is just something so "right" about having kids in and at the house playing. There is just so much "life". It reminds me of a thought I had Friday while I was at the grocery store. I had the cart full of food. Since I was going to be gone for two weeks, I wanted to make sure Kevin and Josh had food in the house and wouldn't have to go grocery shopping. An older couple pulled up behind me in line with, oh, maybe ten items. The man was just staring as I kept unloading my cart. I finally said to him, "I think I'd rather trade carts with you." He didn't comment but finally they moved to a shorter line. After I said this I thought, "You know, no, I wouldn't rather trade with him. I'm happy that there is a need for lots of food in our house, that we are blessed with kids to eat our food and for family to cook for. I'm thankful that we can have people over (sometimes!) to eat and that we can cook and take to others." I wouldn't trade "carts" with anyone.


Tailless Squirrel


If you are a "constant reader" (this phrase borrowed from Stephen King), you'll remember my post about the tailless squirrel who lives at our house. I finally captured a picture of him. It's not great, but it's as close as he will let me get. If I get closer, he scampers across the street to the neighbor's house.

Preparing for Puke

John 14:13

Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do,

so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

Isn't that a lovely title? UGH!!

When Joshua was little, and even now, he had a weak stomach. Whenever he got sick, there was going to be throwing up involved. He had LOTS of ear infections and most of them involved him crying, me holding him and him throwing up. One night, I remember distinctly changing my clothes three times within an hour because just as we get him and me all cleaned up, it would happen again.

So, yesterday at his basketball game, I was sitting on the bleachers and a set of grandparents walked up and sat down behind me with their grandson and granddaughter. The little girl was SO cute with this little designer outfit and a large hair bow and all. We had sat there for just minutes when I hear an "OH SO FAMILIAR" noise and felt something hit my back. *sigh* Yes, she had thrown up -- on me. As I moved and turned around, she threw up again. Her grandparents were mortified and cleaned it and her up and I swiped a few wipes and cleaned myself up -- and moved.

As I got to thinking about it, I thought, "Oh, that's liable to be me in a few months." And then I thought of my former co-worker who coined a phrase that has stuck with me for years, "Ask and you get; don't and you won't."

So, in that light, here's a list of all the things I WANT (or don't) in Ellie. Realize, I have been and am a mother. I know this list is IMPOSSIBLE. I know I will love her beyond measure if she IS or ISN'T any of these things. But ... I'm still going to ask. It will be fun to see what we "get" from the list!

  • A child who sleeps through the night from the first night she comes home.
  • A child who is calm and will sit contentedly in my lap through a church service, doctor's appointment, etc.
  • A child who does not throw themselves down in the middle of the store having a tantrum.
  • A child who does not try to flip themselves out of the cart in the grocery store.
  • A child who likes fruits and vegetables.
  • A child who LOVES to be clean.
  • A child who doesn't puke on me.
  • A child who doesn't pull the cats' and dogs' tails.
  • A child who can sleep through noise.
  • A child without colic.

Hmmm.... I think that's it. Would love to have your comments on other "must haves" for the "dream child". I've asked!! But I will love whatever of these things shows up in Ellie -- and all the ones I haven't the foresight to see and know about yet

John 15:7

"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you,

ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you."

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Somewhere ... in Krygyzstan

James 1:17
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
and cometh down from the Father of lights,
with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.


Tonight as I sit here and watch Adoption Stories on television, I watch an open adoption story where I see an adoptive mom rubbing the tummy of the birth mom who is having her daughter.

And I stop, and think.

Somewhere in a country that I couldn't pronounce, spell or find on the map a mere three months ago, there is a woman who has my daughter in her stomach. She is growing the most precious gift that one woman can share with another. She is filling a place in our family while losing a piece of her heart.

When my daughter moves in her stomach, she wonders what her future will hold. While I pray for Ellie and her birth mother, somewhere else, her birth mom is rubbing her stomach and Ellie, calling her a different name in a different language. And God is watching over and orchestrating it all.

While I am anxious with anticipation, with butterflies in my stomach, she has flutters in her stomach and pain in her heart with the decision she will make that will change multiple lives forever.

I hope I can make Ellie understand how very much her birth mother loved her and wanted more for her than she might be able to offer. I hope I can make her understand that it was the hardest decision her birth mom would ever have to make. When I take her from her country, her heritage, her birthright, I hope I can understand how important it is to make sure she understands where she came from and what her heritage and culture is and was. I hope I can help her understand how much two women loved her and that this world is not perfect--that only by the grace of God was I blessed to be her mother and not the woman who had to make a choice to make an adoption plan for her. I hope she will understand it was not about her as a person.

I wish this were a perfect world where adoption did not have to happen. I wish all mothers had the option and lives that allowed them to keep their children. But, that is not the world we live in. I've read so many articles talking about how wrong it is to adopt internationally; how wrong it is for children to have to leave their culture, their birth country. In a perfect world, this would not have to happen. In a perfect world, children would not be abused, aborted or adopted. Our world is not perfect. Our daughter will not be perfect. If any of us were perfect, we would not need a Savior. However, our daughter will be the perfect gift from God to us. I hope we can be worthy of such a gift.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Stepping Up

Psalm 121:1
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.


My new Beth Moore class, Stepping Up, starts tonight. I've had a chance to review the materials and I'm SO excited. I'm always fascinated by Beth Moore's studies and walk away so much stronger in both my faith and my Bible knowledge. Many of you who listen to Christian music might recognize the verse above. It is from the Bible, but is also is a lyric from the song, Praise you in the Storm by Casting Crowns. It has long been one of my favorite songs. The lyrics have comforted me so many times. I've put them below for those of you who might have never heard the song before.

This is a study of the Psalms that were recited by the Jews as they returned to the tabernacles for the feasts that were celebrated by them. It is a study of Psalms 120-134, the Psalms of Ascent. I can't wait to get started on it.

I've spent the last few days trying to get caught up on work that I got behind on while school was out for break. I'm happy that I'm almost caught up so that when I leave Monday for South Carolina for two weeks, I will have everything up to date. When I return, of course, I'll be behind again. Such is the nature of my job. :-) I'm dreading South Carolina a bit because I will be gone from home so long and because there are so many jobs. My motivation, of course, is that it will bring us that much closer to being able to bring Ellie home. My secondary motivation is that the quicker I get it done, the sooner I get to come home! Please remember me and my family in your prayers over the next few weeks. It is harder, I think, for Joshua and Kevin than for me. Life continues to move fast at the Latham house and with one less person around, it's hard for the two who have to pick up the pieces.

We are all becoming very excited about Ellie's coming home soon. We have begun to think about her room and think we will start clearing in out when I return. I'm sad to report that all my crafties (scrapbooking, bow making, cards, etc.) will have to be put in tubs until we can work out something for storage out in "the office" (ie., the half finished garage area), but I know that will come after Ellie is home and we become more settled. I don't have time for crafties right now so I'm sure once she arrives I will not be "crafting" for a while. Hopefully, we will be able to settle down afterwards and I can resume some scrapbooking. We also have to find a place for the shelf of Joshua's toys that are in current residence in that room. There is going to have to be some serious organization going on!! Wish us luck!! It will be exciting to decide if we are going to paint the room (it's a nice shade of lavendar now) and if so, what color; to get the furniture out and pull out Ellie's "pretties" that we have been buying through the past two-three years in anticipation of her arrival and get it all situated. Photos will be provided when we begin.

Praise you in the Storm
Casting Crowns
I was sure by now
That You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
stepped in and saved the day
but once again, I say "Amen," and its 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 that give
And takes away

I'll Praise you in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
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 herd my cry
You raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can't Find you
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 that gives And takes away.
I lift my eyes into the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The maker of Heaven and Earth
I lift my eyes into the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The maker of Heaven and Earth