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.

Monday, August 16, 2010

1 Corinthians 13

James and I are slowly reading through Corinthians.  Our church is doing a series of sermons this summer that is kind of a survey of the New Testament, so we had the sermon on Corinthians fresh on our minds when we came to chapter 13.  That chapter is known by many Christians as "the love chapter" and it is commonly read at weddings.  We probably had part of it read at ours.  I've been thinking about that chapter in a context other than marriage lately.  While Paul does address marriage in the book, it is not his primary topic.  The book was a letter that he wrote to a church - a church that needed help - a church that was in need of guidance.  So if it was written to a church, what does chapter 13 mean to the church?

Here's part of the chapter:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.   It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.   Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.

Christ himself tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Stop thinking about those verses in reference only to your spouse and think about them in light of your neighbor.  Just who is your neighbor?  Obviously your neighbor is the person who lives near you, but your neighbor is also the homeless man that you walk by and ignore on your way to the baseball game downtown.  Your neighbor is the teenage mom who rings you up at the grocery store.  Your neighbor is the HIV positive homosexual man you see getting treatment at the "free clinic".  Your neighbor is the child in foster care that goes to school with your 3rd grader.  Your neighbor is mentally ill woman that you see standing outside of Wal-mart taking to a person who is not there.

How are you being the hands and feet of Christ to those people?  How are you showing them love?  I am writing to myself.  It is hard.  I have worked with the public.  I have come face to face with the homeless man, the poor HIV positive patient, the teenage mom, and the mentally ill woman who talked to the empty air.  These are people who left a lasting imprint on my mind.  I still see their faces.  I still remember struggling to communicate with the woman whose mind was so shrouded with schizophrenia that she probably wasn't even sure if I was actually standing before her or not.  It was not easy.  Love is patient.  I got exasperated.  Love is kind.  I had turned my back in disdain at the homeless man.  Love never fails.  I have looked down at the teenage mom for being irresponsible.  Love is not boastful.

The best professional advice I ever got did not come from a fellow pharmacist or a professor.  It came from a sister in Christ who had served as a missionary in Africa and had learned how to love her neighbor.  I asked how she did it, day after day.  She told me that she tried to remembered that we are all God's creatures - all created by his hand.  But for the grace of God I could be the homeless man or the HIV positve patient or the child stuck in foster care or the mentally ill man.  We are called to protect those who cannot protect themselves and love the unlovely, just as Christ has loved us.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

An unusual dream

This year, James and I spent Memorial Day weekend with his parents in Louisiana.  Sunday morning, May 30th,  I woke after a most unusual dream.

I dreamed that James and I were in a foreign country.  I don't know where we were, but the architecture was similar to what you see in Mexico and parts of the Caribbean.  I was pregnant, and near my due date.  I was in a hospital in labor.  James was not with me, but I knew where he was.  Someone from the hospital went to get him.  In the delivery room with me, there was no doctor, no nurse, no IV, no fetal monitor, not even a stethoscope.  There was one woman with me.  She was a nun, dressed in white garments.  She served as a midwife.  James arrived at the hospital, but he did not want to come inside the delivery room.  (Which is not like him at all.  Anytime I have needed medical care, he has been right beside me.  He even slept in a recliner beside my bed one night at the hospital in Montana so I could hold his hand during the night.)  The baby was delivered.  We had a healthy baby girl, I didn't see much of her before I woke up.

My first thought after I woke us was, "I wonder if our daughter was born today on the other side of the world?"   
Or was she relinquished at an orphanage today?
Was she conceived today?
Is her birthmother sick?

After James woke up, I told him about the dream.  Maybe it didn't mean anything.  Maybe we will never know if May 30th was a significant day in Samantha's life.  One thing that dream did do for me was make Samantha feel real.  It has been so hard for me to pray for her sometimes, because the thought of her has seemed so abstract. . .so far away, like we'd never make it to the end of this adoption journey.  Now that has changed.  It is so much easier to pray for her.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Reflections on our adoption journey

 This is part five of a series of posts about our how we got started on the road to adoption and some things that we've done along the way that I didn't have time to write about at the time because I was swimming in a sea of paperwork.  You can find the other posts  here.

What has the process been like so far?

There have been so many emotions that I have felt at different times throughout this process.  Excitement, anxiety, impatience, worry, bewilderment, happiness.  Soon after we found out that our application had been approved through our agency, we received a very thick packet of material from them in the mail.  It was the paperwork for our home study.  I was overwhelmed, and didn't know where to begin.  I left it sitting on the kitchen table for a few days until I could collect my thoughts.  Once we got started I felt an almost constant need to finish it, but I had to exercise patience.  We both had a long questionnaire to fill out, and I couldn't do James' for him.  The paperwork felt invasive.  We had to disclose a lot of personal information about our finances, marriage, health, and our childhoods.

Once all our paperwork was completed, the waiting game began.  While we were preparing our documents, it felt like we were actively dong something to bring our daughter home.  Once we were finished, what were we to do?  Waiting has not been too bad, but there have been days when I wanted to hear even the most insignificant news from our agency.

There were times when I felt like we'd never get finished with all the paperwork, training, and reading that we had to do.  One good thing about working with a faith based agency is that you know the people that you are working with are praying for you and your child.  I have found that very encouraging.

 Encouragement has come in some unexpected places.  In December, we were invited to a banquet for an evangelical organization called For His Glory.  To be honest, I did not want to go.  It was cold, and am no fan of winter. Christmas was approaching, and we really didn't have much free time.  But I was really glad we went.  We found out that one of the staff members had adopted a daughter from Africa, and we were able to talk with him after the banquet was over.  He was more than happy to answer our questions about interracial adoption, and he told us that God had handpicked our daughter and knew who she was or would be.  Even though he knew there were others waiting to speak with him, he took the time to embrace us and pray with us, right there in the middle of a crowded, noisy reception hall.

Another unexpected source of encouragement has been a few of our friends who were adopted.  We didn't know that they were adopted until after we announced that we were in the adoption process.  It has been good to hear their stories.  It has been good to hear adult adoptees say that they've had a good life, good parents, and no regrets. We have also had the joy of meeting another family that lives near us that has two adopted children from Ethiopia.

James and I have become rather frequent customers at one of the Ethiopian restaurants here. The first time we ate there we told the man who works there that we were adopting from Ethiopia.  He is Ethiopian, by the way.  He was very happy for us, and he gave us his business card.  He said to call him if there was anything that he could help us with.  I found that rather touching. We went back there a couple of weeks ago for dinner one night, and he saw that there was something wrong with my leg & wanted to know what happened.  It is nice to be able to go somewhere in a large city where you are recognized. . .it makes the town feel a little smaller.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The futility of making plans

Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money."  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins. -James 4:13-17 (NIV)

I had a lot of plans for this summer, but those have all been largely postponed until my leg heals.  I had wanted to move our home office downstairs, and start setting up Samantha's nursery in the room that the office had been in.  James' aunt has kindly offered us some furniture for the nursery, and I wanted to get it moved up here from Louisiana.  I wanted to finish decorating our basement - we were almost finished before we left for our trip.  We have started preparing the nursery, but everything is out of place.  The crib is in pieces in the dinning room, along with part of the changing table.  The rest of the nursery funiture that we have so far is in pieces in the family room.

It has been hard for me to just wait.  I do not like to do things at the last minute.  I like to have a plan and at least try to follow through with it.  It is hard for me to adjust when unexpected events force me to change my plans or put them on hold.  I get anxious about completing the task.

When James was driving me to the hopsital in Montana I told him that we take our safety for granted at times.  There are things that I am fearful of - like flying - that I will always pray about beforehand.  I had a healthy respect for horses before the accident.  They are big animals, and you have to be careful.  I never expected to actually get injured on a trail ride.  I'd been on guided tail rides before, and those horses were really docile and slow.  We didn't know that we'd be sharing the trail with animals like bears.  We never saw one, but we knew there was one in the area.  That very well could have been what spooked the horses.

Those verses from James have been on my mind lately.  It is not us who are truly in control of our lives.  God knows the plans that he has for us.  None of us can fortell the future, and nothing is certain about our lives - except that they will end one day.  I think I would have less difficultly adjusting when something unexpected happpens if I could remember that God is in control and he knows what is good for us. 

Friday, August 6, 2010

Free Books!!

We are cleaning our bookcases out and we are giving away a number of  books.  Most are Christian books, but there is a large variety.  These are all in good condition.  Some of them have some underlining, but no major damage.  Look over the list, and leave me a comment if you are interested in any of these.  If you are local I'll deliver the book to you. If you are not local, I just ask that you pay shipping, which should not be more than about $3/book.  Most of these books are small.  Some of these books might b helpful for homeschoolers - like some of the books on money and learning New Testament Greek (foreign language credit) and I have a short book for kids who are learning French.  I have marked through the books that have already been taken.

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
The Books of Rachel by Joel Gross
The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown


Your Money Counts - Howard Dayton
Buying Insurance by Humber
Major Purchases by Larry Burkett
Your Financial Future  by Larry Burkett
The Complete financial Guide for Young Couples by Larry Burkett
Money, a user's manual by Bob Russell

Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
The Message - Eugene Peterson
The Book of Books by H.I. Hester
The DaVinci Deception by Erwin W. Lutzer
Cracking DaVinci's Code by Garlow and Jones
The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson
The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
Daily Readings from the Life of Christ (VOL 1 and 2) by John MacArthur
Truth for Today by John MacArthur
Matthew Henry Commentary - Zondervan NIV edition
The Interlinear NASB-NIV parallel New Testament in Greek and English (Marshall)
The Problem of Pain by CS Lewis
The Four Loves by CS Lewis
The Magician's Nephew by CS Lewis
How they Found Christ, in their own words edited by Bill Freeman
Don't Waste your Life by John Piper
Filling up on the Affictions of Christ by John Piper
This Momentary Marriage by John Piper
Fifty Reasons why Jesus came to Die by John Piper
Shasing Soloman by Scot Thigpen
My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers
The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn
The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel
A Journey in Grace - by Richard Belcher
A Journey in Purity - by Richard Belcher
New Testament Greek for Beginners - Machen
We Still Do - by Dennis and Barbara Rainey (and others)
Night Light, a devotional for couples - by James and Shirley Dobson 
The Five Points of Calvinisn, by Steele and Thomas (We have two of these)
The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, by Loraine Boettner
The Excellent Wife, by Martha Peace

Engineering Books
A student's pocket companion - Fundamentals of Physics 5th Edition by JR Christman
Studying Engineering, a road map to a rewarding career by Raymon Landis

Antigone by Sophocles
Aventure a Paris (This is a storybook in French for children who are learning French)
What Southern Women Know (That Every Woman Should) by Ronda Rich
Wine for Women by Leslie Sbrocco
Inequality and Stratification - Race. Class and Gender 3 rd Edition by RA Rothman
Mississippi Gardener's Guide by Norman Winter
The Orgin of Species by Charles Darwin
Mosby's Medical Dictionary 6th Edition
Frommer's Caribbean Ports of Call 5th Edition
The following Cliffs Notes :  To Kill a Mockingbird, Hamlet, The Awakening (Chopin)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

An interesting article on the Lord's Supper

I enjoy reading Justin Taylor's blog at The Gospel Coalition.  I found this post by a guest writer to be interesting: Of Bibles and Biscuits.  It is a short post, so if you can, take time to head over there and read it.  The rest of my post will make better sense.

So a team of American bible teachers who are visiting with Christians in Zimbabwe, were faced with questions about what they were to use in communion.  Apparently the locals had a difficult time obtaining unleavened bread and any kind of beverage made with grapes.  I don't know what the right answer is, but here are some of my thoughts:
  • Jesus used things that were easily obtainable in the area where he lived.  People had easy access to wine and unleavened bread.  Jews had been using those in the Passover meal for centuries.
  • I will bet that most protestant churches do not use unleavened bread and wine during communion.   Of the eight churches that I have regularly attended during my life, only one of them served wine during communion.  The others used grape juice.  As for the bread, I have had unleavened bread, but I had a lot of other kinds of "bread" during communions.  I've been to churches who used Matza crackers, a loaf of French bread, saltine crackers, oyster crackers, Triscuit crackers, and something else that sure did look like smashed up chips from the local Mexican restaurant.
  • If churches in the US use such a wide variety of items, why should we not expect to see some variation in what is used in churches around the world?
  • I don't know what kinds of crops the church in Zimbabwe has to work with, but I bet they could make unleavened bread.  I've made it before and all it takes is some type of flower, water, and salt.  Maybe there is difficultly in getting clean water?  The national dish of the country is called "Sadza" and it sounds like cornbread minus yeast to me. That sounds like it might meet the requirements for "unleavened bread" -  if it were baked.
  • As for the wine, what about using juice from some of their native fruits?  They can grow Mangoes, lemons, oranges, and apples.  Wine can made from Mangoes and apples.
Like I said, I don't know what the best answer is, these are just my thoughts.  It seems like it would be better for the church to have something to use for communion instead of not having communion at all because they do not have access to wine.