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
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


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.