Sunday, March 30, 2008

Saved by Grace

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:8-9
With a grateful and joyful heart, Brad and I now are able to call Isabella Grace not only our precious daughter, but a sister in Christ!! She is 3 months shy of her 6th birthday and is very young but is truly able to beautifully articulate a solid understanding of the saving grace of Jesus! From a very early age, she has always been extremely sensitive to the things of the Lord as well as asking very probing questions. She began sitting with us in church when she was four years old and became very intrigued when the Lord's Supper was passed. She asked many questions and continued to tell us she wanted to "become a Christian too" but we wanted to continue our conversations with her to make sure she truly understood the gospel (as only a child is able) and not just wanting to "eat the cracker and drink the juice" (or as Elijah told us a couple a weeks ago while the Lord's Supper was being passed, "Mommy, I need that because I am so hungry and thirsty!") We continued to talk to her and explain our need for Christ's salvation but she never asked or seemed ready to talk to Jesus about it.

So, tonight she began asking questions about baptism and as we talked about the gift of salvation, she was adamant that she talk to Jesus "right now!" She began to walk out of our bedroom towards her room and when I asked her where she was going, she said, "I am going to my room to ask Jesus into my heart, and tell Him I am sorry for all my sins and that I want to obey Him all the time because I love Him very much!" I was shocked she had such determination but quickly Brad and I asked her if we could come too and she gladly said yes! We knelt at her bedside and listened to the most precious prayer of a child who beautifully demonstrated to us what it means to have a "childlike faith"! Then, with grateful and humble hearts, we prayed over her and cried tears of pure joy that the Lord has chosen her as one of His children!

"But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth."
2 Thessalonians 2:13

We pray she will have an obedient heart that loves, desires and follows her Lord and Savior for His glory alone! Soli Deo Gloria!!

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." III John 1:4

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Garage/Bake Sale!

Our subdivision is only allowed 2 garage sales during the year; one in the fall and one in the spring. The garage sale we had last fall was huge and we made a huge profit!! However, despite all of our "Spring cleaning" efforts these past several weeks, we didn't have much "junk" to sell. So, we decided to have a Bake Sale as well and see if it was profitable. Since I was sick with a virus this past week, we didn't start baking until yesterday (Friday)! We baked:
  • 4 Buttermilk pies
  • 8 mini loaves and 1 large loaf (for individual slices) of Banana Nut Bread
  • 2 mini loaves and 1 large loaf (for individual slices) of Pumpkin Bread
  • 2 dozen Oatmeal cookies
  • 2 dozen Chocolate Chip cookies
  • 2 dozen Sugar cookies
  • 8 dozen Reese's Peanut Butter cookies
  • 4 dozen Peach Muffins
  • 1 dozen Triple Berry muffins
  • 2 Strawberry Cakes with Cream Cheese Icing
  • 5 pans of Brownies (1 pan for individual servings)
  • 1 pan of Lemon Bars
  • Dark Chocolate Toffee candy
  • Milk Chocolate Toffee candy
  • about 5 dozen Rice Krispy treats

Needless to say, Brittany and I baked all day and night until 4:30 am on Saturday, and then woke up at 6:30 am to set up for the Garage/Bake Sale! We were exhausted and we will definitely get started much earlier next time, plus try to get some of the baked goods donated to save time!! We were so surprised to have most of the ingredients on hand with the exception of needing more eggs and flour!

Brad set up a Lemonade stand with the kids and made signs for the Bake Sale and Lemonade Stand! The kids were so excited about the Lemonade stand and Isabella would yell, "Lemonaaaaaaaaaaaaaade!" everytime someone would walk up! Elijah kept pouring lemonade in several cups on the table and then would drink a few sips out of all of them saying, "Mmmmm! That's yummy lemonade!" Good thing we caught that before he handed them out to people!!

Even though we didn't make as much as last time, we still made a great profit and most of that profit came from the baked goods! So at least that was worth our time and efforts! We had a great time and are thankful for the Lord's provision once again!

Friday, March 28, 2008

22 Weeks

I must admit that I was dreading today knowing that it would mark 22 weeks of waiting and thus, putting us a week outside of the 3-5 month waiting "window". It was like we were starting all over in our wait but this time, the wait time would totally be unknown. I felt very sad and defeated wondering if this adoption would ever come to fruition. So, last night, with a weary heart and a defeatist attitude, I decided to go to bed. My little "pity party" was in full swing and I definitely did not have a desire to read my evening devotional because I knew that absolutely nothing would make me feel better except receiving our referral call! As I laid in bed, I felt a strong "nudge" to be obedient and spend some time with the Lord and "cast my cares (or even a full-out selfish little pity party) before Him". I opened my devotional Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon for that evening and this is what it said:

"I called him but he did not answer." Song of Songs 5:6

Prayer sometimes lingers, like a petitioner at the gate, until the King comes forth to fill her bosom with the blessings which she seeks. The Lord, when He has given great faith, has been known to test it by lengthy delays. He has allowed His servants’ voices to echo in their ears as from a brazen sky. They have knocked at the golden gate, but it has remained immovable, as though it were rusted upon its hinges. Like Jeremiah, they have cried, “You have covered Yourself with a cloud, so that no prayer can get through.” Thus have true saints continued to wait patiently at length without reply, not because their prayers were not vehement, nor because they were unaccepted, but because it so pleased Him who is a Sovereign, and gives according to His own pleasure. If it pleases Him to bid our patience exercise itself, shall He not do as He wills with His own! Beggars must not be choosers either as to time, place, or form. But we must be careful not to take delays in prayer for denials: God’s past-due bills will be punctually honored; we must not allow Satan to shake our confidence in the God of truth by pointing to our unanswered prayers. Unanswered petitions are not unheard. God keeps a file for our prayers – they are not blown away by the wind, they are treasured in the King’s archives. This is a registry in the court of heaven wherein every prayer is recorded. Tested believer, your Lord has a tear bottle in which costly drops of sacred grief are put away, and a book in which your holy groanings are numbered. Before long, your suit shall prevail. Can’t you be content to wait a little while? Won’t your Lord’s time be better than yours? Before long He will comfortably appear, to your soul’s joy, and make you put away the sackcloth and ashes of lengthy waiting, and put on the scarlet and fine linen of full fruition.

I was reminded (and totally humbled) that the Lord gives according to His pleasure not ours. I have always known the Lord's timing is perfect but my heart has been convicted now by being reminded why His timing is perfect.....for His own glory. Even though we desire something now and we think we cannot wait any longer, He knows when He will receive the most glory for the blessings He bestows on our lives! Wow! I am glad I was obedient to that little "nudge" or I would have missed out on such honest, direct and comforting words.

**Funny little note: I have been very sick with a virus for the past several days and unaware really what the date was last night as I was flipping through my devotional book. I made an "educated guess" (I thought!!) on what the date was, so I read the evening of March 29th.....which is great, except last night was March 27th! The great thing is that when I discovered that this afternoon, I flipped back to March 27th to see what it said and although it was a great point, I really do not feel like it would have humbled me, convicted me or comforted me last night. The Lord met me where I was and gave me exactly what I needed in spite of me not knowing something as simple as the date! I love that!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

This Easter was a little different for us. We didn't dye eggs, set out our bunny prints, or make our Resurrection cookies. Since Brad has been overseas this past week and didn't fly home until late last night, the kids wanted to "wait" until Daddy got home to do all these fun things. Even though I told them he would be home too late for some of our traditions, they still didn't want to do them without Daddy. I thought it was really precious that they didn't want Brad to "miss all the fun" with them! We still did a few this morning before church and the kids were satisfied; however, I was feeling kind of bad that we didn't do some of our meaningful traditions especially since we always center these traditions around the death and resurrection of Jesus. Then, as we were getting ready for church, I overheard the kids talking about why and how He died on the cross and why and how He was raised from the dead! I quickly realized that with or without these well-meaning traditions, the story of Christ's death and life is alive and well within the hearts of our little precious children! There are so many lessons I have learned through the eyes of my children and I am so grateful for their child-like faith!
A long-awaited hug from Daddy on Easter morning!
Little Miss Isabella Cottontail!

"This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." Luke 24:46-47

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

Friday, March 21, 2008

21 weeks

So, we have come to the end of our 3-5 month wait time for a referral and still no referral. We are sad. Brad is out of town which makes me even more sad. The kids (as well as myself) have lost interest in making our numbers each week. This "21" is a poor attempt at creativity but like I said, we are losing steam here! I never thought we would be waiting this many weeks. Today is a somber day but hoping for Easter to renew our joy! I emailed Natalie asking about the wait time for our children and she said the 3-5 month wait time is for those families requesting one child or families requesting older sibling pairs. Since younger sibling pairs are less prevalent, the wait time is unknown. So, we continue to wait (rather unpatiently!!) We know the Lord is sovereign and has perfect timing for our little ones to come home, but we are anxious. So I am reminded:
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Phillipians 4:7
However, some good news is that there has been a rash of referrals for Gladney this week! Congratulations Anil and Angie, Just Another Day at the Farm and the Winter family!!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

This is not a holiday that we traditionally celebrated growing up; however, it is one of those fun holidays that really doesn'a have any meaning for our family except that we get to be silly and wear green! The kids wear their silly green "costumes" and dig in their drawers to find something green to wear so to escape a pinch!

Last year, I thought it would be fun to introduce the Leprechaun myth and told the kids we should put some gold coins (chocolate, of course!) out for our little Leprechaun friend and he would come in while we were sleeping and search for the coins! Great idea, very poor execution!! For many weeks after that, the kids were terrified to sleep in their own rooms and had nightmares of this little Leprechaun! They always made sure the doors were locked before they went to bed so that the Leprechaun couldn't come into our house! Basically, my plan to start a fun little tradition backfired in a major way!! So, now we just dress in silly green costumes and make sure that all of the food we eat on this day is green!

The kids love green milk, eating on green plates, green eggs, etc. We had manicotti tonight (in conjunction with learning all about Italy since Daddy is there!) and we even dyed the manicotti noodles green! Then, we had green cupcakes for dessert!

It's not easy being green!

Friday, March 14, 2008

20 Weeks

Well, who knew we would make it to 20 weeks?!? But, here we are very confident in the Lord's timing and knowing He is providing for not only all our needs, but the needs of our future children. There is definite comfort in His provision and we are grateful! The kids used state puzzle pieces from their United States puzzle map to make the number "20" this week! As you can see, we are running out of ideas for our numbers....we need that referral!!!

Brad left early this morning to travel to Europe with some of the Juniors and Seniors (and some of their parents!) that he teaches at NCA. They will be traveling to Italy and Greece this week and since he has traveled all over Europe many years ago, he will be teaching the Biblical history of these places. They will return very late on Saturday evening and then he will preach the next morning for Easter! I am sure he will be extremely exhausted after Sunday and ready for some sleep! While he is away this week, I am hoping to get some projects out of the way before he returns as well as some reading for the adoption!

Next week will mark the end of our 5 months waiting time and hopefully, we will have a referral! We shall see!

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

Friday, March 7, 2008

19 Weeks and a little spare change!

I never really thought we would still be waiting this long and I definitely did not think that the month of March would find us without a referral still. There was a burst of referrals a couple weeks ago and that seemed to boost everyone's spirits but since then, it has been pretty quiet in regards to the referrals. Our agency is maintaining a wait time of 3-5 months, so I am hoping we do not pass through that time table. It only leaves us with two more weeks of waiting within that time frame but it is still so difficult wondering if our wait will get longer.

At least we have been given a little more time than we had originally thought we had to save up for the cost of the adoption (which is a postive thing, I think!) We have been saving up for the adoption in many ways these past two years, but our "Blessings Jar" is by far the kids' favorite!
We began collecting our spare change in our "Blessings Jar" and have filled it up 4 times already! The kids seem to find coins everywhere including checking other people's couches when we visit (which is not embarrassing or anything!!)
While we were counting all the coins from the jar, I asked the kids if they could make a "19" with all the coins. It took quite a while as they kept running to wash the coins because they said that "money stinks"! You can see how shiny most of the coins are! It was a great exercise for the kids as we had a little mathematics lesson on money and coin denominations! Homeschooling at it's best! I was so surprised at how much they seemed to be learning and retaining until (after we had counted them all) I asked Elijah, "How many pennies are there altogether?" and he responded, "A GAZILLION!!!" So, for now, it seems understanding money is far away from mastery!! However, after we rolled all the coins, they totaled $147!! A great little chunk of change!

Monday, March 3, 2008

USCIS letter

Today, unexpectedly, we received our renewed I-171H with a new fingerprint expiration date. We went to get our fingerprints renewed a little over a week ago so, we were a little surprised how quickly it came. The I-171H approval has two expiration dates: a fingerprint expiration and an expiration of the actual I-171H. Our fingerprints expired 3 months before the I-171H, so I am now in the process of sending a request to update our I-171H approval before it expires in May. I knew that the Houston USCIS office was quick, but I didn't think they would issue a new form until the whole I-171H was renewed. I am now resting easier knowing that we won't have to worry about it expiring! Plus, you are allowed one FREE renewal! Hooray!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Happy Birthday.... me! My birthday was actually last Wednesday (2/27) and I turned 32!! However, we have been so busy this week, we decided to celebrate today instead! So we all went out for a little birthday meal! Actually, we have kind of celebrated all week which is always fine with me! Tickets to the African Children's Choir performance were supposed to be my gift but Brad also surprised me with these beautiful flowers!

Then, the kids gave me these precious little figurines from the Emma Jane's Babies collection and I just love them!
The little girl's caption is "Baby Lexie wore her first 'Sunday Go A Meetin' dress" and the little boy's caption is "Baby Silas loves to take a bath in the Old Porcelain Washtub". I was given my first Emma Jane's Babies figurine from a friend of ours at Christmas and I fell in love with them!