Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas 2010

Christmas this year did not happen the way we thought it would.  Just a couple of months ago, we thought we'd be spending Christmas in Ethiopia, meeting our daughter for the first time.  I have to say that it was hard for me to feel like celebrating.  After all the time we had put into this adoption, it seemed that we were finally near the finish line.  Now the finish line has fallen off the horizon, totally out of view.  If we had known two years ago that this path to adoption would lead us to the heartbreak that we have been through, I don't know if I would have wanted to do it.  I certainly would not have approached it with the hopeful optimism that I approached it with back then. 

I've thought a lot lately about the story in Genesis where Jacob wrestles with God.  God tells Jacob that he has struggled both with man and with God and that he (Jacob) has overcome.  I feel like I've been doing a lot of wrestling and struggling lately, but I don't feel like I have gotten much resolution.  We had the chance to see the Christmas program at the church James grew up in while we were there for Christmas.  One of the songs the choir sang was "Take my Life and let it Be."

Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love;
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee,
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only, for my King;
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee,
Filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold;
Not a mite would I withhold;
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose,
Every power as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it Thine;
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart; it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne,
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee,
Ever, only, all for Thee.

I will confess, that song brought hot tears of anger to my eyes.  While I know that God has a purpose for all things, it has been hard for me not to be angry with Him.  We both feel that the call to adopt was from that Lord, and we both would willingly go anywhere on this earth that He sent us to.  We both believe that the church is called to be the hands and feet of Christ, and serving as a part of His body is our delightful duty.  We poured ourselves into this adoption.  We answered the call to adopt.  We gave of our time, our money, and our hearts, and all we have to show for it so far is broken hearts.  Just because you are willing to be obedient to God, it doesn't mean that your life here on this earth will be full of happy endings.  It is certainly painful to wait on the goodness of God. 

During the season of Advent this year, I wondered what it was like for Mary to obey God when it very well could have cost her life.  Getting pregnant before you were married was quite a scandal in her community.  Was she scared?  Did she doubt God?  I don't know, but we do know how the story ended.  She was faithful, Joseph stayed with her and she saw her Son bring redemption.

Have you cursed at the wind
Have you cried to the heavens
Have you fought with this mercy you don't understand?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Closure

We got some sad news from Ethiopia.  Baby D passed away.  We do not know when it happened or what her cause of death was.  She was dealing with several medical problems, so it could have any of those issues or perhaps something else that we were unaware of.  While we are sad about this, we knew that this would be a likely outcome.  While we were trying to make the decision as to whether or not we should continue with our adoption of Baby D, we had wondered if she would even live to the end of December - when our court date was.  We do not know for sure if our agency will continue to work with the orphanage where Baby D was, or if there will be any consequences for any of the staff their that may have played a role in Baby D's demise.  We are confident that our agency did what they could to advocate for Baby D, but since the staff at the orphanage were not their employees, our agency could not control what may or may not have happened there.  We are so thankful to have closure in this situation.

 This has been a difficult road.   At times we felt so helpless, knowing that there was little that we could do for Baby D so far away. . .except pray.  I have been through a myriad of emotions -  anger, sadness, impatience.  We had been praying since September, when we got our referral for Baby D, for God to be the father to the fatherless and the Great Physician that His word says He is.  At first, I was angry with Him.  Because He didn't heal her in the way we wanted her to be healed.  It was through death that He chose to heal her.  May she be found safe in the arms of Christ.  Thank you so much to all of you who have prayed for us during this difficult time.

Peppermint Bark

After the success with the thumbprint cookies, I decided to try a new recipe.  I love a recipe for candy that doesn't require the use of a candy thermometer!  This is a recipe that I found at Owlhaven that I modified slightly.


 Preparation time: 10 minutes
    * 2 cups mints
    * 28 ounces of vanilla bark (AKA almond bark)

Melt the vanilla bark in a double boiler, or in a metal bowl over a pot containing a few inches of boiling water.  While bark is melting, put peppermints into a ziplock, then put that bag into another ziplock.  Pound mints with a meat mallet until most of the mints are broken.  Pour broken mints into a colander that you’ve set over a bowl.   Let the powdered candy sift down through the colander into the bowl.

When vanilla bark is melted, mix candy dust and half of the larger mint pieces into the bark.  Set aside the rest of the pieces.  Put wax paper on one cookie sheet, and butter the wax paper.  Pour the melted bark/candy combination onto the cookie sheet.

Spread with a rubber spatula so that the bottom of the cookie sheet is fairly evenly covered.  Don’t spread it too thin–the melted bark should be around 1/4 to 1/2  inch deep, though obviously the chunks of candy will prevent you from making it super even.

Pretty candy!  Once it is spread fairly well, sprinkle the remaining candy over the top of the bark, pressing candy gently into the surface of the soft bark.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, until bark has cooled and hardened.  Break into chunks and enjoy!

I recommend storing the candy in the fridge when it is not being served.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Nursery in progress

 Despite being back on the waiting list for a child, we have continued to work on the nursery.  I really didn't want to be in this place, with a room full of furniture and no child to go with it yet.  I was ready to get my house back in order though.  We had bought some of the furniture this summer.  It had been downstairs in pieces in the dinning room and office.  James put it together a few weeks ago before Thanksgiving.

Finally put together!

James' aunt gave us this pretty daybed.  We have set it up in the nursery too.  I still need to get a dust ruffle for it.  It is a trundle bed. 


James' paternal grandmother gave us this little quilt.  It has letters and little teddy bears on it.  I think it matches the bedding nicely.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cookie Success

I can cook.  I can even bake.  Except for cookies.  Last December, I hosted a cookie exchange at my house.  Four of my friends came, and I served  them a lovely lunch of Shrimp Bisque and coffee punch that was just as good as anything you can get at Starbucks - if I do say so myself.  But, I had no homemade cookies to offer them.  The only cookies I knew how to make were sugar cookies - and that's just because my mother-in-law gave me a lesson on how to make them.  I've helped my mom make Snicker-doodles, but I had never tried to make them on my own.  Well, one of the other girls wanted to make sugar cookies.  I didn't complain.  I thought, "Surely, I can make something else."  I decided to try to make gingerbread cookies.  What.A.Mess.  The dough turned out to be super sticky and I came out with only one good cookie.  The girls were coming over in one hour.  I had flour all over myself.  I still needed a shower - and five dozen cookies.  There is a bakery up the street from our house.  I ran up there, flour and all, and asked them for five dozen cookies.  They had to scramble, but they got them together.  I told the baker about my unfortunate incident with the gingerbread cookies, and he was kind enough to give me his recipe. . .a year later I still haven't gotten up the nerve to attempt it though.

I had to give cookies another try. . .I mean, what kind of mom can't make cookies?  I found this recipe at the Food Network, and I made it last week.

Butter and Jam Thumbprints (From Food Network Kitchens)

Prep Time: 20 min.      Inactive Prep Time:  30 min
Cook Time: 18 min

Serves:  about 24 to 30 cookies

Ingredients:

    * 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    * 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    * 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
    * 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
    * 2/3 cup sugar, plus more for rolling
    * 1 large egg
    * 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    * 1/3 cup raspberry, cherry or strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.

In another bowl, whip the butter and the sugar with a hand-held mixer until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla until just combined. Slowly beat in the dry ingredients in 2 additions, mixing just until incorporated.

Scoop the dough into 1-inch balls with a cookie or ice cream scoop and roll in sugar. Place about 2-inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Press a thumbprint into the center of each ball, about 1/2-inch deep. Fill each indentation with about 3/4 teaspoon jam.

Bake cookies until the edges are golden, about 15 minutes. (For even color, rotate the pans from top to bottom about halfway through baking.) Cool cookies on the baking sheets. Serve.

Store cookies in a tightly sealed container for up to 5 days.

They came out great!

Friday, December 10, 2010

What to do about Santa?

James and I have talked about what we are going to tell our kids about Santa a number of times.  We're in agreement, we just don't know how the best way to handle our plan will be.  See, we are fed up with how consumeristic Christmas is.  We don't want to turn our kids into little consumeristic monsters, any more than they will inevitable become since they will be Americans.  We want Christmas to be about the Christ child.  The God-Man.  Deity mingling with fallen man to do a job that should have been ours, but we were inadequate for the task.

We both believed in Santa as young children, but I had the whole thing figured out by the time I was in kindergarten.  I have a few memories of writing letters to Santa and wondering if I would catch him in our living room on Christmas Eve, but not many.  We aren't at all upset over our experiences, but the whole thing about telling your kids lies about Santa, the Easter bunny, and the Tooth Fairy just doesn't sit right with me.  It seems to be a way to manipulate your child into behaving properly.  Attributes that belong only to God get handed to Santa. . ."he knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you're awake.  He knows when you've been bad or good . . ."  Santa is not God, God is not Santa, and only God is omniscient.  If you lie to your kids about Santa, the Easter bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, what else are you going to lie to them about?  We want our kids to trust us to provide them with honest answers to our questions.  We are going to tell them the history and folklore behind the story of Saint Nicholas and they can have their photo taken with Santa if they want to, but that's about it.  There will no gifts from "Santa" under our tree.  No cookies for Santa left out on Christmas Eve - the dog would eat them anyway!  Instead of those cookies, we're going to have a birthday cake for Jesus.

Before you start leaving me nasty comments,  I'm not trying to criticize anyone for how they have chosen to celebrate Christmas with their children.  This is just how we are thinking about doing things.

Since this will hopefully be our last Christmas with no kids in the house, we decided to try something new this year.  You know, give it a "dry run" before we had a kid in the mix.  I made these little advent boxes.

This is just a few of them.  There is one for every day of advent.  Advent is the four Sundays before Christmas, so this year the first day of Advent was November 28th.  Inside each box is something to read.  Some days it is the words to an old Christmas hymn that I was unfamiliar with.  Other days it is scripture.  I also included some of John Piper's Advent poems. These poems can be found at Desiring God.  We have been opening the box for the day at dinnertime, and reading what was inside.  It has been good for us, and it has opened up conversation.  I hope this will become a yearly tradition at our house.  I got the supplies for the boxes at Michael's.  Everything except for the ribbon came from the bridal department.  The boxes are little metal tins that they sell for wedding favors.

Here is a good article about how to address the "Santa issue": What we tell our Kids about Santa

Monday, November 22, 2010

Roasted Chicken

I made this for dinner (or supper, for the southerners out there)  today, and I thought I'd better document it before I forgot the recipe.

1 whole chicken (4-5 lbs)
1 bundle of celery
4 carrots
1 onion
7 cloves of garlic
1 lemon
lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning
salt
pepper
garlic powder

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

I don't have a roasting pan, so I used a 9 x 13 pan.   Place 4 or 5 whole celery stalks in the pan.  Cut three of the carrots in large pieces and place in between the celery stalks.  Cut 1/2 of the onion into large pieces, and scatter that on top of the celery and carrots.  Place chicken on top of vegetables.  Pour enough lemon juice into the pan to cover the vegetables.  Cut lemon into 8 pieces.  Squeeze a little lemon juice on the chicken.

Slice the remaining carrot.  Chop the rest of the onion.  Place this inside the chicken along with 3 cloves of garlic.  Loosen the skin on the chicken, and place the other 4 cloves of garlic in various areas under the skin.  Sprinkle a generous amount of Tony's, pepper, garlic powder and salt on the outside of the chicken.

Do not cover.  Place in the oven for 90 minutes.  Remove, cover with foil and let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before trying to serve it.  This came out really well.  It was far more tender than my previous attempts at roasted chicken.

I made cranberry sauce to serve with this.  Yummy!  I would have used some fresh rosemary in this, but we were out.   It took me about 30 minutes to get the chicken prepped and into the oven.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving

This year has been a difficult one for James and me.  In January, we made the gut wrenching decision to start looking for another church.  Two of our dear sisters in Christ went home to heaven this year, one in late winter and the other in October.  These women had known James since he was a child, and I had known them for over a decade.  I learned so much from both of them.  I went to Haiti in April.  While that was a good trip, it was emotionally exhausting.  Then there was the BP oil spill, and our hearts were saddened for our beloved Louisiana as we watched her coastline succomb to the disaster.  I broke my leg while vacationing at Yellowstone in June, and I had to have surgery in Montana.  The fourteen hour drive back home with a broken leg was not pleasant.  James' grandfather has been ill.  We thought we had found our daughter, only to have her slip away from us.

We're thankful for God's steadfastness through all of the saddeness this year.  It hasn't always felt like He was with us, but we knew He was.  He lead us to a new church.  We know that the women we had to say goodbye to are healed of the suffering they had faced in this life.  God will make all things new.  There will be a day when there are no earthquakes.  No cholera outbreaks.  No environmental disasters.  No illness.  My leg has healed, and things have pretty much gotten back to normal for me.  He will lead us to our daughter one day.

I'm also thankful for what God has done this year in my marriage.  James and I are closer than we've ever been.  God shows us a lot about himself through marriage.  Husbands are called to serve and love their wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it.  I've seen James step up when I was down for the count.  He drove all the way home from Denver in one day, because I couldn't drive.  He took off work to take me to doctor's appointments and physical therapy.  He took over the household responsibilities this summer while I was recouperating.  He did all the cooking, all the grocery shopping, and all the cleaning.  I've marveled at his ability to do the hard stuff like that.  He's not sick much, and I've never had to help him recover from a serious injury.  The few times that he has been under the weather for more than a day or two, I don't handle things well.  I feel a heavy pressure that all the work lies upon me and I don't have anyone to help.  I get overwhelmed.  If he's ever felt like that, he's not shown it at all.  Watching him love me and serve me when things were not easy has taught me about God's steadfastness.  If this dear redeemed sinner that I'm married to is able to love me through thick and thin, oh how much more God loves us with a perfect, sinless, holy, unending love.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The ups and downs of waiting to adopt

When we first started seriously looking into adoption nearly two years ago, we had no idea what we were in for.  This has been an emotional roller coaster.  We've learned a lot, and we've made new friends along the way, but it has not been easy.  Here are some tips for anyone who is thinking about adopting:

1.  The whole process is very invasive.  Forget about your privacy.  You have to disclose your financial records in fine detail.  How much do you owe on your home?  On your cars?  How much do you make each year?  How much money do your spend each month?  What is the current balance on your credit card?  Do you pay it off each month?  How much is invested in your retirement accounts?  How much is in your savings account?  You have to provide copies of your tax returns for the last three years and letters from your employeer stating your job description and salary. . .like the IRS is not evidence enough that you can afford to pay your bills.

You also have to disclose your medical history.  Previous surgeries?  Do you have any medical conditions?  What medications do you regularly take?  How much do you weigh?  How tall are you?  Has anyone in your family had heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholestrol, glaucoma, COPD, cancer, etc?

I know there are very good reasons that you have to provide all that information.  The agencies do not want to place a child in a home where there will not be enough money to feed them or where there will not be a healthly parent to raise them.  It just seems excessive though.  It also feels like you are being judged thoughout all of this too.  Not wealthy enough?  Not the picture of perfect health?  Next please.  . .at least that's what it feels like.

2.  Adoption will never ever go as fast as you would like.  There will be delays.  You will wait for state and federal agencies to do things like background checks before you can move forward.  We waited over a month for my home state to turn in our background checks.  That should not have taken no more than two weeks.  You will stalk the postman, wondering if he last lost your oh-so-much-needed letter from US immigration.  I cried when ours finally came.  It was the last thing that we needed before our dossier could be sent to Ethiopia.  Things will not go like you had dreamed.  You will have days when you are checking your email every 15 minutes because you are desperate to hear something from your social worker.  Once you get matched with a child, you still have a lot of waiting to go through.  The waiting is even worse after you have a face and a story.  You will loose sleep over things that you have no control over.

3.  No one cares more about your adoption more than you do.  You are not the first thing that your social worker thinks about when she gets up each morning.  Your adoption is not the cause of lost sleep for your agency's staff.  Yes, they care about their jobs.  They care about the families that they help create.  However, their lives are not invested in this process like your life is.  If your paperwork gets put aside, and kind of forgetten about, it won't cause them the distress that it will cause you.  This happened to us.  We sent our dossier off to our agency's home office in January.  It sat there for a month untouched because the person who handled them was in Ethiopia.  It got sent to Ethiopia a month later than it should have.  If you have questions that need answering, pick up the phone and call your social worker.  They squeakey wheel gets the grease. 

4.  Use the time that you have while you are waiting for a child to join your family to boost your relationship with your spouse.  James and I don't have kids yet, and as much as we want kids, we realize that these days of just the two of us are numbered.  This year has been one of our best, despite everything we have been through.   This has been a really terrible year in a lot of ways, but our relationship is better.  Our pastor gave a wonderful series of sermons on marriage this summer, and it gave us a lot to talk about.  You can find the series here.  It is entitled  "You and Yours."

5.  News travels slowly, very slowly from Africa.  It has taken us at least a week to get our questions for the Ethiopia staff answered.  Usually more like two weeks.  Maybe other agencies are able to provide a faster turn around, but it has been slow for us.

We've been through a lot lately.  (Read my last post if you don't know what I'm talking about.)  I'm at a point now where I cannot see the finish line and I wonder if all that we have invested in adopting is worth it.  All the hours of filling out paperwork.  All the money.  All the prayers.  I hope that I will be able to say that it was worth it all one day.  But that day is not on the horizion yet.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Walking through our loss

The past three weeks have been terribly difficult for James and me.  In early September, we received a referral for a six month old girl in Ethiopia.  I'm going to refer to her here as baby D.  We accepted the referral, knowing that she needed some special care, namely that she needed good nutrition and medication to recover from an infection.  We waited for 7 and a half long weeks before we got any more news about how she was doing.  News finally came on 10/27, and it was not good.  Her condition had deteriorated.  We consulted with our pediatrician the next day, and then sent a list of questions regarding baby D's health to our social worker.  Then we waited for more news.  We booked our tickets for our court trip during this time.  Another update came on 11/5.  The news was even worse this time.  We had lots of questions, and we were able to get some answers after talking with our social worker and two other representatives from our agency last week.  Our next step was another consultation with our pediatrician.  It seems that baby D was misdiagnosed.  She was given antibiotics, but it was the wrong medication for the wrong disease.  She became very sick, and even if she does recover she will likely have long term needs that we are not ready for.  There is much more to this story, but I'm not willing to share all of the details publicly.  Our agency is not to blame for baby D's worsening condition.  They have done what they can to advocate for this child, and they have had some success in the past week or so in getting her what she is in need of.  They have even tried to get her admitted to a hospital, but she has been turned away from four different hospitals.  This is a highly unusual situation.  Ethiopian orphanages typically provide very good care for the children.  It is very rare for a child to get sicker while in an orphanage - our pediatrician even confirmed that.

We were left with a terrible decision to make.  Do we continue with baby D or not?

Last Sunday we went to church with heavy hearts.  I wanted to find where God was in all of this.  When we got matched with this little girl in September, we knew that she needed care. So, we have been praying that God would be the Father to the fatherless and her Great Physician.  I felt like those prayers had fallen on deaf ears.  Where was He?  The songs that our worship pastor led us in last Sunday were songs about God's sovereignty and His vast love.  We both found it difficult to sing those songs.  We prayed with two of our pastors after the service.  I had to let James talk.  All I could do was stand there and cry for most of the time.

We've realized that baby D was God's child before she was any one else's.  If He is ready to have her home with Him, than so be it.  The arms of Christ are far better than our arms.  After a whole lot of praying and discussion, we have decided not to continue our adoption of this child.  We have taken this decision very seriously, and we are in full agreement with each other in this decision.  We pray that she will recover, but if we doesn't we hope that she sees just how many people loved her in a country across the sea from her birthplace.  This has been so hard.

What's next for us?  Well, we are back at the top of the waiting list.  We hope to get matched with another child by the end of the year.  We are still going to use the same name that we had chosen.  Baby D is not our Samantha.  We are so thankful for the many people who have prayed us through these difficult days.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A somber trip to the botanical garden

James and I have been faced with some very difficult things lately.  I will write a little next week about what is going on, but I'm not ready to say much about here yet.  I'm thankful that if we had to go through this, it came at a time when our marriage is stronger than ever.  We've been able to comfort each other.  We are thankful for the support we have gotten from the body of Christ, believers who we have been able to cry with, pray with, and express our heartbreak too.

Since I had to work Saturday and Sunday, I have today and tomorrow off.  Last night I decided that I was going to take my camera to the botanical garden and shoot for a few hours.  That is therapeutic for me.  I asked James if he wanted to join me, and he was able to.  He works near the garden, and he was able to leave work for a little while. 

We've been to the garden several times, but this was the first time for us to go in the Fall.  We missed the peak of the season, but it was still pretty.

A sycamore tree.  I love their white bark.  I wonder if we could keep one of these alive in our backyard?
I was standing underneath a large Ginko tree when I tool this.  I had no idea these trees could get this large.  I had always thought of Ginkos as small ornamental trees.
The orchids in the greenhouse were stunning.  I had never seen them with such magnificent blooms before.



 We spent awhile in the rose garden.  Our previous visits to the botanical garden had been in the middle of summer.  I think it gets too hot here in the summer for roses to bloom well.  They seemed quite happy today though with the cooler temperatures.



 We looked around the gift shop for a little while before we left.  We bought a few postcards to send to our compassion child.  I need to get those in the mail to him soon.  He chastised us a little in his last letter for not writing to him as much as he would like.  We try to write to him at least once a month, but mail travels slowly from here to Africa.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Christmas can still save lives




About this time every year, I start to feel the stress of the holiday season begin to make it's ugly head.  When I was a kid, Christmas was fun.  It meant time off from school, baking with Grandma, dressing up as an angel for the church Christmas program, and presents.  Now, I'm lucky if I get one day off work and get a couple of semi-homemade pies made.  We don't live near either of our families, so it always means traveling.

The beauty of Christmas is found in the mundane.  A couple of years ago - it was our first Christmas in St. Louis - we had gone to see the Rockettes' Christmas show at the Fox theater in downtown St. Louis.  The show ended with a lovely live nativity.  After the show was over, we walked outside.  It was cold that night, and we were both wearing our heavy coats.  We heard carolers.  They were from a local church.  When they saw that we knew the Christmas hymn that they were singing, they invited us to join them.  We kindly declined - knowing that I wouldn't last ten minutes outside in that cold weather.  It was still a perfect night.

My point is that Christmas doesn't have to be super busy or expensive in order for it to be meaningful and memorable.  I am sick of the consumeristic nature of the holiday in the US.  Shopping, traffic, crowded malls, dancing mechanical Santas, on and on.  I'm ready to make this holiday more meaningful for us.  This year, if you get a Christmas gift from us it will have most likely benefited someone else.  Some of the Christmas gifts that I've already purchased were bought at a fundraiser for a Haitian hospital.  Other gifts were adoption fundraisers that friends of ours were selling.  We're also asking our families not to spend much on us.  Instead, we are asking that people give us items that we can take to the orphanage that Samantha is at. . .things like diapers, underpants, and money for formula.  We will deliver those items on Christmas morning as a Christmas gift for all of the children there.

May you have a happy Christmas - and may it be one that honors the Saviour who came to serve others.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Court Date!

I had promised myself today that I was going to restrain myself from checking my email every 15 minutes, in hopes of getting something from our social worker.  I managed to wait until about 10 AM.  My heart sank when we still had no news.  Then, I got a surprising phone call from her.  I was finishing up my lunch at work, and my cell phone rang.  I was expecting it to be a carpet installer calling me to set up a date to have our new carpet put down in Samantha's room.  I was happy to hear our social worker's voice.  I wasn't sure what she was calling about.  We had not even heard that our case had been submitted to court, and I didn't think she would call us for that.  She would just email us to tell us that.  I was shocked when she said we had been assigned a court date.  I had been really hoping that we would be able to make our first trip before the end of the year, and God granted us that.  Our court date is December 27th.  We are going to get to meet our baby girl on Christmas Day!  We are still not sure when our case was submitted to court, but our social worker thinks it was around October 8th.  We are going to try to arrange a visit with our Compassion child was well, but that will have to be coordinated with Compassion International and the timing might not work out.  We will see.  We are so thankful that we have received this news!  Thanks to everyone who has been praying for us these past few weeks!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mondays

A quote from another adoptive mom-to-be:
"In the adoption world, Mondays are like Christmas morning . . . and then Friday is when you realize you've opened your last present and didn't get what you wanted. Its a vicious cycle."

On Mondays I wake up with the hope of hearing some news from our social worker. On Fridays at 5 pm, the work week draws to a close with the disappointment of another week passing without hearing a thing. Another week that our daughter has changed, grown, learned new things, and become more accustomed to the orphanage. Without us.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Reflections on Waiting

These past few days I have certainly felt the prayers of others.  I feel like I have a little more of my sanity back and I'm able to focus on what I'm doing without checking my email every three minutes hoping to find some news from our social worker.  Thank you so much to those of you who have been praying for us.

One thing that I thought about this week is that as a parent there are so many times throughout your child's life that you will not be able to be with them, holding their hand, helping them make the tough decisions, protecting them.  When you have your kids the old fashioned way, I think those days when you are not able to be there come a little later in your child's life.  We are living through those days right now.  When you give birth to a new baby, you might make the decision to keep that baby under your own watchful care for months and months before you leave them with a baby sitter for the first time.  As the child gets older there is probably more of a sense of trusting in the Lord to watch over them while they are at school or at a friend's house.  Well, we are walking through that same kind of trusting right now.  We cannot be with Samantha right now.  I will not be by her side when she sits in kindergarten for the first time or goes on her first date or when she takes her first spin behind the wheel by herself or when she agrees to be someone's bride, but Someone else will be there with her through all of that.  From the moment of her conception, she has been in Better Hands than ours. . .God's hands.  He already has her life story written, and He has chosen me and James to walk with her through it.  She will be in HIs same hands after she is grown and James and I are no longer living.  God gives us children for a season.  They are not things to be gotten.  They are gifts that He gives us for a time.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"

even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well
Ps. 139:7-14 (NIV)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Adoption Update

I'd rather call this a "downdate" instead of an update because this isn't the happiest news.  Not awful.  Just disappointing.  We had really been hoping to be able to travel to Ethiopia in November for our court date.  That is not going to happen.  There are families with our agency who got their referrals back in July who just got assigned Dec. 3rd court dates.  We are still hoping that we will get to make our first trip to Ethiopia before the end of the year, but we do not know if that will be possible.  Our social worker had told us several weeks ago that it was reasonable to expect that our first trip would be in November and our second trip would be in January.  With the long lead time that these families were given about when they would need to travel, we are not going to buy tickets beforehand like our social worker had suggested.  We should have no trouble getting tickets.  It is just so hard not knowing what is going to happen.

I've tried to not be fixated on this.  I want to hear something from Ethiopia.  We're still waiting to hear that our case has been submitted to court and we are hoping to get an update on Samantha from the orphanage.
We at least know that we will be able to spend Thanksgiving with our family in Louisiana this year.  I wouldn't mind spending Christmas in Ethiopia though. :-)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Waiting. . .is the hardest part


That song by Tom Petty has been playing in my head the past few days.  It has been over a month since we received our referral for Samantha and got to see her face for the first time.  I'm really hoping that we hear some kind of news soon.  Here's what we have left in the process:
Find out that our case has been submitted to the Ethiopian courts
|
Court date scheduled (we have no say so in this). 
|
Travel to Ethiopia for court and meet Samantha for the first time
|
Come back hame and wait some more
|
Receive invitation to travel for our Embassy date where will be get Samantha's visa and bring her home.
|
postplacement

Much of my time has been taken up with preparing to make our first trip.  We are waiting to get airline tickets until we hear that our case has been submitted to court.  We will get our tickets before we know exactly when we need to be there.  Sometimes families only get 10 days notice before their court date, and it is very expensive to get tickets for a trip across the world in such a short amount of time.  It is cheaper to guess about when you will need to travel and pay the fee to change your tickets.

I have not had too hard of time waiting until lately.  Part of the reason is knowing that I might need to go to Africa next month and we don't have tickets yet.  I just want to hear something.  An update from the orphanage would be great!  We are getting our house ready for her.  Some friends of ours came over yesterday and helped us move our office furniture downstairs.  This was a huge help to us.  There is no way James and me could have moved our desk downstairs.  Her nursery will be where the office was.

I bought this new luggage at Macy's on Friday.  My luggage was given to me when I graduated from high school, and it is tearing up.  The zipper on the suitcase is shot, so I was very happy to find these for 50% off.

I'm trying to soak these last few days of having James to myself and the freedom that we have since it is just the two of us.  We've had over nine years of this freedom, and I think it will be a hard thing for me to give up.  If we want to go to a movie at midnight, we go to a movie at midnight.  We certainly want to have Samantha home soon, though.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The things people ask . . .

I got one of those nosey questions about adoption today.  I have a membership at Curves, and today was my first day back after breaking my leg in June.  I was wearing a shirt that said "Mercy Justice Compassion."  Someone asked about the shirt, and I told her that I bought it from one of the worship pastors at our church.  He was selling the shirts to raise money for their own Ethiopian adoption.  This lady was unaware of our pending adoption.  She said that she didn't understand why people go overseas to adopt when "there are so many kids here who need a home."  Well, I'd like to know where all these kids are.  People who have never darkened the doors of a social worker's office seem to know a lot about all these American children who are available for adoption.  And since they know so much about these needy children, why in the world have they not adopted three or four of them themselves?

There are literally MILLIONS of children in around the world who have been orphaned who are available for adoption.  Wanna know how many kids there are in foster care in the states that are available for adoption?  Less then 200,000.  Wanna know something else?  Those American kids in foster care will not die of things like malaria, malnourishment, or tuberculosis.  Kids in developing countries will.

I would be absolutely shocked if any one who has this mind set of "why not adopt from the US?"  has ever set foot into a developing country.  They have never seen Mexican children become awestruck over the gift of paper, crayons, and yarn.  They have never seen Haitian children playing in the road with practically no clothing on.  After you do see those things, how can you not want to do something for those kids?

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'  Matthew 25: 35-40 (NIV)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Travel Shots

James and I went to the health department to get some of our vaccinations that we will need to travel to Ethiopia.  Some of the vaccines that we needed were available at our doctor's office, so we got what we could there because they were able to bill our insurance for the shots.  I called a travel clinic to see what it would cost for us to both get vaccines for yellow fever and a polio booster.  Those four shots would have been about $500 there.  The prices at the health department were about half that, and we're going to see if we can submit a claim to our insurance ourselves to cover the cost.
It did not take very long.  I think we were there for about 30 minutes, maybe less.  The health department was clean and the staff was very friendly.  It feels good to cross one more thing off our to-do list.

Here's a list of the vaccinations that we have gotten, for other readers who are going to be bringing their babies home from Ethiopia.

hepatitis A and B
typhoid fever
meningitis 
yellow fever
polio
James is going to get a tetanus shot too.  Mine was up to date.  We got prescriptions for an anti-malaria medication too.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Baby things

We've begun to register for things that we will need for Samantha. I set up a registry at Amazon, which is so easy. I did it on the laptop from the comfort of my couch. I'm hoping to find some time later this week to register for her at Target. While it is fun to be pick out stuff for her, it is overwhelming. There is so much to choose from, and I want to pick out things that really are practical that we will actually use. Since Samantha will probably 10 or 11 months old when we bring her home, I'm trying to pick out things that she will need at that age. I've gotten some really helpful advice from some experienced moms, and I've picked out some of the first things that we will need for her, like a backpack style baby carrier that we will use in the airports bringing her home. It is still a little overwhelming. It is incredible that so many things are "needed" for such as small person. I'm having visions of my house turning into this:

I don't want to see our rather traditional home turn into a labyrinth of big bright chunky plastic baby toys. Of course, I had toys as a child. But I'm sure I only remember a few of the things that I had. I remember my Rainbow Bright and Strawberry Shortcake dolls. I remember a little scooter that I had. One of my favorite "toys" wasn't a toy at all. It was a purple blanket that belonged to my grandmother. I'd get it out when I went to her house and play with it. I've seen kids find amusement out of simple things. I just don't think I'd feel right if our house did become excessively filled with toys. There are so many kids who are in need that have never had a toy.

Sometimes James and I have differing opinions about what looks nice. He's an electrical engineer, and I think he looks at a piece of electronic equipment and sees a piece of art. He understands the intricacies of things like speakers. I just see a black box. He came into the living room a few days ago looking for a free outlet where he could plug in the battery charger for a new cordless vacuum cleaner. I said, "Oh, I think I see an ugly piece of electronic equipment." He laughed and asked me where he could plug it in. I suggested the garage or the storage room in the basement. He put it in the basement. I think that if women hadn't been kept out of working in engineering for so long, that things like speakers and battery chargers would look more like a piece of art instead of a chunky black box.

So here's what I can't figure out. Why are so many baby toys so ugly? Why haven't women infiltrated Fisher Price and started making toys that are still fun for kids, but are also nicer for the adults to look at?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What makes you cheer?

Ever since this spring, I have felt my interest in professional and college sports wane.  I think my trip to Haiti had a lot to do with it.  After visiting with people who were living off of $2 a day, and seeing how content they were with their worldly possessions, I began to think more about what is important in life.  If you are a Christian, the gospel of Christ should be the most important thing in your life.  SO many days it doesn't feel like that is what is driving me - but I want to feel that way.

We live in the best baseball city on the planet.  I love going to the games, even if I'm not a Cardinals fan.  Well, I used to love going to the games. . .now I find myself trying to find a cheaper date night alternative for me and James.  I used to watch entire games on TV, but I haven't watched a whole game all season long.  I used to get disappointed in the fall if we couldn't go to a Razorbacks game. . .now I'd rather not spend the money.

I still keep up with the teams that I'm interested in, but I don't follow them closely.  I know you can use sporting events as a time to fellowship and there are ways to minister through them.  That was never our practice though.  While I do like to see the Saints win, you will never, ever hear me saying "I bleed black and gold."  I will never, ever wear a T-shirt that says "The Razorbacks (or any other sports team) are Everything."  What would happen if Christians got as passionate about Christ as they did SEC football?  What would happen if Christians could recite Scripture from memory just as easily as they recite sports statistics?  What would happen if Christians spent as much money supporting missionaries as they do on football? 

This post at Babe of my Heart sums up what I'm talking about:  What Life is REALLY All About

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Crib is Up!

 James was able to put Samantha's crib together today.  I helped him a little, but he did most of the work.  He did a good job.  And with no instructions at that!  Since we bought the crib off of Craigslist, instead of buying it new, it did not come with a manual.  The doggies were very curious about what James was doing.  He explained to them that the crib is where Samantha is going to sleep.

We are planning on leaving the walls blue even though we are going to be bringing home a girl.  I've never been much of a girly girl, and I'm just not into pink and frills.  We had the room painted right after we bought our house, and I picked this color out with a nursery in mind.  We have a framed Dr. Seuss print that we bought at an art gallery in Sedona, Arizona in 2007.  I matched the paint to the blue that is in the print.  The room will have some feminine touches, just no pink.

The crib fits perfectly in this little nook in the room!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Adoption Fundraising Spotlight

Do you have a heart for orphans?  Maybe you do, but you don't feel the pull on your heart to adopt.  Maybe you just aren't at a place in your life where you can parent a child.  Maybe your parenting days are behind you.  Yet you still feel like there is something you could do to help a child join his or her forever family.  Here's an opportunity for you.  This family at Our Gifts from God is selling T-shirts to raise money for their adoption.  I have ordered two shirts for us.  I just love them.  They say "Live simply so others can simply live."  We have so much here in the States.  I am guilty of spending money each month on things that are not necessary, and I have tried to think more about what I buy.  Do I really need it?  Is this an impulsive purchase.  .  .am I still going to want this item next week?  Is there an eternal benefit to spending my money on such a thing?  Live simply and give others a chance at life.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27 (NIV)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Homestudy Update

We turned in our acceptance papers for Samantha on Friday last week, and we thought we were pretty much finished with all the paperwork.  Well, that was not the case.  On Monday we got an email from our social worker stating that our homestudy needs to be updated.  She included a list of documents that she needed from us.  I felt overwhelmed.  We were not at home to get started on this, and I had about a dozen questions come to mind.  It was not a good time for us to try to call our social worker either, so those questions would linger until the next day.

Would our paperwork get submitted to the Ethiopian courts before we got this paperwork done?  We had to do all of this stuff last year, but many of the things that you have to submit for your homestudy expire after one year. (So be mentally prepared for that if you are adopting.)  It did not go quickly and smoothly the first time around either.  There were several things that we had to wait over a month for last year.  Was it going to take as long this time??  One thing that we have to re-do is a statement of proof of insurance for an adopted child.  Someone at the HR department where James works has to fill this out, and it took over a month last year.  I told James that I thought he should go find the responsible party (he works in the same building) and sit in a chair right beside her desk until she gets in done!  I think she'd tired of that situation fast.


 We did find out on Tuesday that our paper will be submitted to court before we get this done, which was a big relief.   We've made quite a bit of progress this week.  I picked up a copy of our dogs' vaccination records yesterday - yes, the agency needed that.  We got re-fingerprinted yesterday for our new background checks.  It didn't occur to me to take photos the first time we got fingerprinted, so I asked James to take a few pictures this time.  I got three of the vaccinations that I needed to travel to Ethiopia today at my doctor's office.  I've got an appointment at the health department in a couple of weeks to get the other two that I need.  James was able to complete the financial worksheets today. Our social worker is coming over to our house on Friday to do another walk through.  The house was pristine the first time she came over.  It is not going to be so tidy on Friday.  We are still in the process of moving the office downstairs and setting the nursery up.  We will be spending much of today cleaning though.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

This recipe was published in Southern Living 3 or 4 years ago, and it has become my "go to" recipe when I'm cooking for a friend that has a new baby.  It makes a LOT of food.  I take two 8 x 8 casseroles to the family I'm cooking for and there is still enough for me and James to have for dinner two nights.

Ingredients:
6 lbs. chicken (I used a large package of breast and a large package of thighs & legs)
2 stalks of celery
1 onion quartered
2 (6 oz) packages long grain and wild rice mix (Like Uncle Ben's brand)
1/2 c and 1/4 butter, divided
16 oz fresh sliced mushrooms
1 bunch of green onions, chopped (about 1 cup)
8 oz sour cream
1 (10 & 3/4 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
1 sleeve round buttery crackers, crushed (like Ritz)
6 oz French fried onions, crushed
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Boil chicken with celery and the quartered onion.  Add some salt and pepper to the water as well.  If the chicken has bone, remove them after the chicken has cooked.  Reserve your chicken broth and chop or shred cooked chicken. 

Cook rice according to package directions substituting 4 1/4 cups chicken broth for water and omitting the butter.  (Add water to broth to equal 4 1/2 cups, if necessary.)

Heat 1/2 cup butter in a large stock pot over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and green onions.  Saute 10 minutes or until tender.  Stir in rice, chicken, sour cream, and cream of mushroom soup.  Spoon mixture into a 4 quart casserole dish.

stir together crushed crackers, fried onions,  paprika, garlic powder, and 1/4 cup melted butter.  Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the casserole.  (If you want to freeze this to use later, STOP here.  Cover the casserole securely with foil and freeze it.)

Bake, covered at 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes.  Uncover and bake 5-10 minutes more or until bubbly.

Friday, September 10, 2010

We said yes!

We had two weeks after receiving our referral for Samantha last week to turn in our acceptance papers.  James hand delivered them to our social worker's office this afternoon.  We took pictures while we signed the papers.  These will go in Samantha' scrapbook.  (I have blurred out info in the photos that I couldn't post online.)


The only reason we did not turn these in sooner was that we had asked an international pediatrician to review Samantha's medical records.  We learned about this physician through our agency.  She spoke at a training seminar that we were required to attend.  She called us back last night. We had thought about most of the things that she mentioned to us, and she alleviated some of our concerns.  We are praying that Samantha will grow and become stronger while we are waiting to bring her home.

If you are adopting internationally and are looking for a pediatrician who specializes in treating international adoptees, you can find a list of doctors here.  The doctor that we are working with will work with families that do not live in the area.  We emailed her Samantha's medical records and she called us, so all that can be done without traveling to her office. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Books for Adoptees

When I got home on Friday afternoon there was a package from UPS on our front porch.  It was three books that I had ordered for Samantha.  How fun it was that they came in the day we got to see her pictures for the first time!  One book was a children's bible but the other two were written with adopted children in mind.


A Mother for Choco if about a little bird who can't find a mother who looks like him, but he find a mother that doesn't look anything like him and they become a family.  It is a sweet book, and I hope it will help Samantha as she tries to come to terms with the fact that James and I do not look like her.


I guess this second book, Lifebooks is really more for me than it is for her.  The author is a woman who was adopted at a young age and who works in social work.  She has also adopted a child through the foster care system.  Adoption is such a different process than giving birth.  Instead of ultrasounds and doctor's visits and pictures of mommy with a baby belly there are fingerprinting appointments and meetings with your social worker and lots of training.  I hard a hard time finding a baby book that was written for an adopted child that had room for everything that I wanted to include for Samantha.  So I bought a scrapbook when I caught them on sale at Michael's and I began saving and collecting information for it.  I got this book to help me as I began to write Samantha's story.  It has a lot of good suggestions for pages and topics and it has example pages written in simple language for young child.  I'm going to finally start working on Samantha's scrapbook tomorrow.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

We got a referral!

Yesterday was the day we had waited almost six months for!  I got "the call" from our social worker at 9:41 AM.  I had just arrived at the clinic for my physical therapy appointment.  I wasn't sure if it was our social worker, but I was hoping it was.  I had a dream that night that we had gotten the "the call."  It was certainly her with the news we had been waiting for.  I got a pen and a journal out of my purse.  The journal was the one that I usually take to church with me, and I had intentionally left it in my purse just for this reason. I tried to add James to the call.  He did not pick up.  We had agreed that if I got the call and he could not come to the phone that I was to go ahead and take the information from our social worker.  So I began to take down the information.  James did call back while I was on the phone, but I could not think straight enough to figure out how to merge his call in. I took down the rest of the information, and I managed to keep it together until I got off the phone.  I called James back.  As soon as I heard his voice the tears began to flow.  He wasn't sure if I was calling with good news or bad!  I composed myself enough to talk and gave him the information I had written down.  We made plans for me to meet him at his office after I got finished with therapy.  After I got there we would open the email from our social worker see her pictures for the first time together.

It was tempting to go ahead an open the email on my phone, but I waited.  My therapist is a brother in the Lord and I told him our good news.  He rejoiced with me.  I got finished with my appointment and went home to get our cameras.

We called my parents while I was on the way to James' office.  They were thrilled! We called James' mom, but she was not at home.  We got in touch with both of his parents later.  His mom was at a funeral home with a friend of hers who had lost her mother.  We were able to reach her there.

One of James' coworkers, shot a little video and took some pictures for us.

We are smitten.  She is six months old.  Their are so many details about her short life so far that confirm to us that God has hand picked her for our family.  We cannot post pictures online until she is home with us, so I have blurred them out for now.  We are not allowed to shared much information about her online either at this point.  After calling a few more of our family members, we went out for lunch at this Mexican Restaurant.  The weather yesterday was just perfect and we ate outside.  I called a sweet friend of ours who is also adopting from Ethiopia.  They received their referral last month.  She is a physician and I gave her some of Samantha's information so she could plot out growth charts for us.


After lunch, I came back home and made more phone calls and shared the news with some of our neighbors.  We made some copies of her pictures and I showed one of them to the doggies.  I hope they become good companions for Samantha.
I hung one picture on the fridge.  We don't have frames yet.

We are still on cloud nine.  We are amazed at the number of people that God has put in our lives who already love her and are awaiting her homecoming.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Nursery Furniture

We are beginning to set up Samantha's nursery.  About a month ago I got a Pottery Barn Kid's catalog in the mail.  I found a few things in there I wanted to buy for the nursery, particularly a changing table that has storage towers on both sides.  However, I can hardly stomach paying full price for Pottery Barn furniture.  So I started looking on Craigslist.  I found someone who was selling the very same thing that I had seen in the catalog.  They also had a crib and some nightstands, and the price was right.  We made an appointment for the next day to see it, and we took cash with us.  We got the crib, changing table, and two night stands for less than what the changing table would have been if we had bought it new!  Here's a couple pictures of what we got.  (These are Pottery Barn's stock photo's - our stuff is still sitting downstairs unassembled.)




I have posted these next two photos on Facebook already, so you may have already seen them.  I got two lamps from JCPenny website (not available in stores) and I got the bedding on sale at Pottery Barn.
In this picture is a set of towels and washcloths with "One Fish Two Fish" on them, a Cat in the Hat pillow, a fitted crib sheet, and a set of twin size sheets.  We are going to put a twin size bed in her room so one of us can sleep in there if we need to.  After sleeping in a noisy orphanage some kids have a tough time getting used to sleeping in a quiet room by themselves.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Do you like Coffee? Then please order some of this!

I tried Ethiopian coffee for the first time several months ago, and I love it!  It is not bitter, and it is so smooth.  So here's a chance to try some really good coffee and help an orphan come home to his forever family.  Some friends of ours are selling Ethiopian coffee to help raise money to cover some of their adoption expenses.  They go to our church, and Stephen is one of the worship leaders.  I was thrilled when I found out that they were adopting from Ethiopia too.  Our little girl will have an Ethiopian playmate at church!  So please help them bring their son home.  Here's their website: Coffee and Adoption

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Do you think you are rich?

This is something that has been on my mind since I got back from Haiti.  It has been said that you don't know poverty until you see Haiti.  I agree.  I took a lot of pictures while I was there, but there were some things that I saw that I just couldn't bring myself to photograph.  It felt inhumane.  One of those things was a little child playing in the road with nothing but a small t-shirt on.  No shoes.  No pants.  Not even underwear.

On our trip home, my group and I spent one night in Fort Lauderdale before we made it back to St.  Louis.  It was hard to adjust.  What a difference from Haiti to home.  That night we went to Old Navy and we ate dinner at TGIFriday's.  I felt overwhelmed and guilty about the luxuries that we have as Americans.  I mean, the airport in Florida was fancier than the hospital in Haiti.

I had seen poverty before in Mexico when I was a college student.  But I was a broke student then.  My worldly possessions fit into a small dorm room.  I didn't even have my own car.  Now I have a husband, a house, two cars, two dogs, and a good job.  The average Haitian lives off less than $2 a day.  What we spend on cable TV could feed a Haitian family for at least a month.  I have certainly thought more carefully about what I spend my money on, but we still have cable for now.

My point is if you were born in America, you are wealthy in comparison to much of the rest of the world.  Yes, you may lives in an older house or have a run down car, but I can bet you are not living on dirt floors with no shoes. . .like people in Haiti.  There is a price that we pay for the lifestyles we have here in the states.  It seems that the more we have, the more we want.  A bigger house, a pool, a new car, a bigger TV, another pair of shoes.  On and on.  After visiting a developing country, I think that the less you have, the easier it is to be content and thankful for the things that you do have.

One very easy way you can help people in developing countries is through child sponsorship.  You don't even have to leave your house.  You set up an account online.  You can have the money automatically drafted from your checking account or credit card each month.  Then all you need to do is write to your child from time to time.  As you probably know, we recently signed up to sponsor a young boy in Ethiopia through Compassion International.  We got our first letter from him a few days ago.  He told us that his favorite holiday is Christmas and that he has a cow.  He said he wants to be a doctor when he grows up and he thanked us for sponsoring him.  I was touched.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Daisy's 9th Birthday

Yesterday was Daisy's 9th "birthday."  We got her from the humane society when she was probably about a year old.  We brought her home for the first time on August 18th, 2002.  We all got cupcakes to celebrate.
The doggies had strawberry cupcakes.  If you are wondering what we usually fed the dogs, they rarely ever get to eat anything besides their dog food.


Lily had her own cupcake too, and she was much neater with her treat than Daisy was with hers.  By the time Daisy had finished her cupcake, there was pink icing smeared on the floor and the fireplace.  Lily managed to keep her cupcake on the plate.



Daisy is a great pet.  Her life didn't have a glamorous beginning.  I was with James' grandmother one day and mentioned something about wanting a dog.  She had been volunteering at the humane society in her parish for years, and she said that she had just gotten the sweetest little collie in.  I was hesitant because I knew James didn't want a dog, and I thought a collie might be too big to be happy in the apartment that we were living in at the time.  Knowing her grandson's affection for dogs better then I did, she talked me into taking him to the shelter to have a look at her.  Of course he wanted her after met her, but she needed some veterinary care.  She had mange on her face and one of her hips had been broken.  There wasn't much that could be done about the hip.  It had healed on it's own, and she had a bit of limp.  She has arthritis now, but she is still pretty active.

She was mischievous when she was younger.  She liked to chew things, especially things that we not hers.  She learned how to unzip my backpack and get my phone out.  She chewed the buttons off of one of James' shirts - that he had never worn before.  After we got Lily, that kind of behavior stopped - she just needed a companion.