Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fall Pics

There is an elementary school that I drive by every day that has amazing maple trees.  
Every year I tell the kids that we should go take pictures there. 
 After living here for fifteen years I finally did it this week.

Stand-Up Dad gave me an amazing DSLR camera for Christmas last year.
I have been learning how to use it and even took a class this past summer.

These pictures are not retouched yet.  I am hoping to give Photoshop a try very soon.
I am sure you will agree that the trees are beautiful!
The kids are quite precious as well!

Happy Fall!  I love this time of year!

Sweet Momma

Saturday, September 29, 2012


Have you ever been in a place where you were anticipating something?  A new job?  The birth of a baby?  Referral for adoption?  A special vacation?  That thing that you are waiting for can take up much of your thought life.  As you prepare for it you plan and think through what it will be like.  Depending on what it is, you might even spend money to purchase things for it.  It can be very exciting to be in that place of anticipation.

Last month Stand-Up Dad and I sent our kids on a scavenger hunt around our house.  They searched for clues and figured out Daddy's silly rhymes.  The end result was the very happy news that our family would be traveling to "The Happiest Place on Earth" in a few weeks.

The mood in our house changed that day.  There was excitement in the air!  Our talk was filled with Mickey Mouse and the new "Cars Land" at California Adventure and all the planning that goes with a trip such as this.  The girls wanted to make matching outfits.  The littlest were trying to understand where they were going to sleep all of those nights.  Each day as we prepared, the excitement grew.

When the days before the trip dwindled down to just a few, I didn't know if I could survive the enthusiasm that was soaring through my house like sunlight.  I have always believed that the experience of anticipating an event is part of the enjoyment of it.  

This whole experience of anticipation of our trip to Disneyland caused me to pause and look at other things in my life that I anticipate.  I might anticipate my first cup of coffee in the morning, a change of season, date night with Stand-Up Dad, coffee with a friend (yes, more coffee!:) or the next big event of the week.

All of these things are fine.  But do they last?  Once I have had my coffee, that anticipation is over.  I might have received a new energy for my day, but it is temporary.

Even our amazing trip to "The Happiest Place on Earth" was temporary.  We will have the memories of that trip for our lifetime and that is all.

What if I anticipated my time with Jesus every morning with the same excitement?  What if I spent my thought life preparing for our time together?  What if I looked forward to my home in heaven like our trip to Disneyland?  
 I love spending time with Jesus in prayer and study.  But I want to anticipate my time with him.  I want to seek him with my whole heart and carry the truths that he shares throughout the day like the warmth and joy that sunshine brings.  Time spent with Jesus  only grows my relationship with him.  Nothing is wasted.  There is only the opportunity to be more like him.  It is not temporary, but eternal.

Matthew 6:33
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

We had a wonderful time together at Disneyland.  But "The Happiest Place on Earth" can't compare to the joy that comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ.

As the season changes to Fall and I anticipate the colors it will bring, I am FULL of anticipation for the things that God will show me as I seek Him.

Sweet Momma

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Another Birthday for Sunshine and Little Buddy!

Birthdays at our house are full of tradition.  We make the birthday child's favorite breakfast, lunch and dinner.  There will surely be balloons and streamers and crazy "Happy Birthday" messages on the bathroom mirror.  We even blow up balloons, one for each year, and put them in their room while they are sleeping so they wake up to balloons that number their new age.

I love birthdays!  I love to celebrate this wonderful milestone with fun themed birthday parties and homemade cakes with princess bodies sticking out the top or a big Lego cake.

Birthdays for kids from hard places are not easy.  We all enjoy being celebrated.  But for these little ones, the ideas and expectations of the celebration are often too much to handle.  Our two littles have their birthdays one day apart.  Sunshine is first and the next day is Little Buddy.

Their first year home we tried for simple celebrations with family. We tried to keep it low key.  It went ok.  Their expectation was bigger than life.  So they were both disappointed with what actually happened.

Last year we tried again.  I planned a low key day.  I learned to discuss what was going to happen on their day with the child.  That way they would know what to expect and what not to expect.

For each child I scheduled a special date in the middle of the day with mom.  We had family over for dessert and shot silly string at the cousins.  It was fun, but their hearts were so torn on each others special day.  When it was Sunshine's day, Little Buddy was mad that it wasn't his day and the next day on his day, Sunshine was mad that it wasn't her day.

It was difficult to handle these emotions while still celebrating the birthday child. 

As their birthdays approached this year, I began to feel anxious.  I wanted to celebrate them without the chance of the emotions and expectations getting in the way.  I also wanted to throw a party that was a bit bigger with friends and family.  I knew they both wanted to have a "friend" party.

So here is what I did and it was GREAT!  I threw a surprise party for both of them the week before their birthdays.  They each have a rest time in the afternoon.  That gave us some time to put up the streamers and balloons and such.

When I brought them downstairs and told them the news they were so excited!  They put on special clothes and waited by the door to see who was coming!  It was so much fun!

 Stand-Up Dad with Little Buddy and Sunshine. 
 I love Little Buddy's green teeth!  Good frosting!:)

The party was simple and just perfect for them.  We ate dinner with family and friends and competed in an obstacle course (a family favorite.)  We had a pinata full of candy and water balloon fights.
 After cake and ice cream they opened presents and played with their friends.  They laughed and giggled and got celebrated for the wonderful kids that they are!  Everyone deserves that!
Little Buddy is growing so fast!  He is six years old and super smart!  He loves to play with his big brother.  He is becoming a master lego builder and is super fast on his scooter!  He has SO much love in his wee little heart that he shares daily.  He brings so much joy to our home!
My little Sunshine is eight!  This has been a big year of growth for her.  Not only in her body, but in her ability to trust us!  She is so beautiful!  Her greatest desire is to be a mommy some day with one hundred babies.  I can't wait to hug and kiss them all!:)
Sunshine is happiest when she is helping or playing with Sweet Pea.  I am beyond grateful to God that He chose to bring these precious children into our home.  I told them the other day that I couldn't imagine my life without them in it.  I really can't.

The lesson I have learned over the last three years of birthdays is... traditions are wonderful, but to celebrate children from hard places you might have to think out of the box.  The day might look different than the tradition and that is ok.  Actually it can turn out perfectly!

Sweet Momma:)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Greatest Treasure

Today I spent a good chunk of time listening to my oldest daughter quote the entire book of Hebrews and 1st and 2nd Peter from memory.  Word for word!

She is a Bible Quizzer and is trying out for the team that will go to the Bible Quizzing International Competition this summer.  She is required to quote all of the material tomorrow evening to be qualified as a potential team member.  She has spent hours memorizing this material and I am in awe!

She doesn't really understand what a treasure she has.  I mean, I think she knows how important it is to memorize and she gets that God's word is a powerful tool, but in her fifteen years she doesn't yet understand how this treasure will rescue her in the future.  She is mature beyond her years, but hasn't experienced too much life yet, thankfully.

I sat there listening to her rattle off this truth like she was breathing and I wanted to cry.  It overwhelmed me.  The truth she was speaking about was speaking to me and meeting my need for today.  The truths that she has placed to memory in her heart were a precious balm to my weary heart.

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

This piece of scripture has been sustaining me for awhile.  There are many days that I feel like something strange is happening to me.  I don't understand some of the things that are going on in my house and I don't know what to do except to fall on my knees in prayer.

It is as if I have no reference point for some of these situations.  They are completely beyond me.  Obviously they are not beyond God.  Praise His Name!!!

So I kneel and pray for God's glory to be revealed.  I kneel and thank Him in advance for what He is going to do in the hearts and minds of my children and I beg for wisdom and patience to take me through the process.  I look forward to the day will I will be overjoyed as His glory is revealed in my home!

Then I hear this truth from my daughter's mouth and I am reminded...

1 Peter 5:6-7
 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

What a gift God offers to me.  As I humble myself and ask for His help he promises to take His big mighty hand and lift me out of this difficulty. 

And... he cares for me.

That's so good.  

I am so thankful for the Bible and the truths that it holds.  And I am beyond proud and thankful that of all the things that my daughter could spend her time doing, she has chosen to hide this precious treasure in her heart!

Sweet Momma

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Best of Friends!

One of the greatest gifts in life is a true friend.  

I spent last weekend with two of the best.  There are really not words to describe what these two ladies mean to me, but I will try.

 When I met them, over 12 years ago, we only had three children between us.  Two of them were mine.
Over these past twelve years we have each added children to our families.  Between us there is now 17 children!  Eight have come home through adoption and the other nine, the old fashioned way.

I met Alice before God had started to fill her nest.  I thought she already had a whole brood.  She just oozed maternal instincts.  The truth is her first born was born a world away in China.  I had the privilege of praying for this precious one and watching her parenting begin with an adorable little girl who she met at 10 months old.

I truly believe that the seed of adoption was planted in my heart as I watched their family grow through adoption.

Sandra also began her family through adoption.  Her first daughter came from Korea.  She quickly added a son from Korea as well.

These two ladies are amazing mothers.  They are close to Christ and follow His lead in all that they do. They have been such encouragers to me on the hard days of life.  We have laughed through so many struggles with toddlers and potty training.  We have prayed for one another and cried when God gave and then took away.

It is so wonderful to have someone there in your season of life that knows you and will speak truth into your life, even if you don't want to hear it.:)

Our children have grown up together.  Many of our best childhood memories involve the kiddos from these two families.  I adore each one of them as if they were my own.

These two ladies have definitely filled the role of support system and adoption therapists since we brought our two home from Ethiopia.  I am so thankful for their wisdom, support and encouragement through the first months.  There are so many issues that occur within adoption that are very different from parenting a birth child.  It is so wonderful to be able to pick up the phone and talk to someone who "gets it."  There is no way to explain what their support has meant to me.

For the past ten years Alice has lived five minutes from my house.

Four months ago a job change took her to a new town four hours away.  I miss her!
Yes, she is still a phone call away, but it is not the same.

She and her family recently moved into a new house.  Sandra and I decided to take a weekend to go and visit Alice and her family.  We each took two of our children to surprise her kids for the weekend.

We had a wonderful time catching up and talking until late, like we always do.

I thank God for these ladies and their families.  They are such a gift to me.  I feel blessed beyond measure!!
Here are 10 of our 17 kids!
I hope they stay friends till they are old and turning gray like me!:)

Sweet Momma

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Another Birthday for Our Cate!

On the 16th of this month we celebrated 14 years with our Cate!  

I am so thankful for Cate!  Of all of our children, she is the most like me.  At times this has caused some frustration on both of our parts.=)  But what I am finding, as she is growing up, is that I understand where she is coming from and usually know how to help if it is needed.

Cate should be called Joy, because that is what she brings to our lives.  She fills up the room with warmth when she enters it.  She is always up to try something new and can find "fun" in any situation.

She has always loved color and has taken on an affinity for anything that sparkles.  The more glitter, the better!  It's no surprise to me that she loves things that sparkle.  She is bright and bold and sparkles from the inside out!

It has been a blessing to watch her mature over this past year.  She is growing into a woman who loves God and deeply cares about others.

Her greatest challenge is Algebra.  Maybe if I put some glitter on the pages of her book it will become more appealing.=)  Algebra is teaching her that a lot of things in life are HARD and well worth working for.

My favorite memories this year with Cate are the times that she and I sit down and work through our Bible study together.  It is a quiet time where we each are able to share our hearts.

Happy Birthday Cate!  Know that you are loved and cherished by all who know you!

Sweet Momma

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Happy Birthday Sweet Pea!

Sweet Pea at 9 months

Eleven years ago today, Sweet Pea came into our lives. 

At breakfast today, we went around the table and shared all the ways that we are blessed by Sweet Pea and how much we love her.  The comments that were mentioned most were:  kind, loving, thoughtful, easy going, quick to forgive, generous, silly and a wonderful friend.

She is all that and so much more.  Her heart is soft and open to God's instructions for her life.  She loves animals.  She has a desire for everyone on this earth to know the love and forgiveness of Jesus.

When our children are born we wonder what their personality will be and who they will become.  They are all so different.  Being born after two older sisters, she surprised us with another completely unique personality that tends to keep us on our toes.  She is not predictable, but in a good way.

She loves to play by herself and has resisted the idea of growing up.  And yet she is very mature and grounded in who she is and who she hopes to become.  She is kind and thoughtful, always writing encouraging notes to me, just when I need them most.  She gave the greatest gift under the tree to her Dad this Christmas.  It was a handmade book titled "The 16 Reasons that I Love My Dad."  Stand-Up Dad got rather misty reading that precious book.

Happy Birthday to our precious Sweet Pea!  Whether you want to or not, you are growing into an absolutely beautiful young lady on the inside and out!
Your Daddy and I adore you and thank God for your life and what you bring to our family!

Sweet Momma