Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Convicting Post

Below is a post from a blog that I follow. She spent 3 months in Uganda this past spring trying to bring their son home, while her husband and daughter were back here in the states. Happily, they are now all together. I thought it was a very convicting post and the statistics mentioned are appaling. If you want to follow her blog, it is" Sorry that I didn't post a link, I am not sure how to do that yet!

Free Agency, Dying World June 30, 2010
Filed under: Uncategorized — Meghan Matt @ 2:41 pm

News flash! Lebron James is a free agent! He might be leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for an even better “offer” (see: more money, more power, more fame)! So what should we do? We should devote HOURS every single day in our media to talking about it. Where will he go? Who will he choose? Who will pay him the most? Is$25 million enough? $30 million? In all likelihood, he’s about to sign the biggest sports contract in history. (Not to mention the $10-15 million a year he will make in endorsements.) Whoopdy. Freaking. Do.

Don’t get me wrong. I love a good rags-to-riches story. Lebron’s mom was 16 when he was born and his dad was a convict. He grew up with nothing, but someone saw something in him, poured into him, believed in him, and put him in a position to succeed that he would have never had otherwise. Oh, my heart loves a good story like that.

What my heart HATES is the fact that 24,000 children die every DAY due to poverty. Of the estimated 2.2 billion children in the world, 1.1 billion live in poverty. Yes, that’s almost half. An estimated 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, with 3 million deaths in 2004. Every year there are 350–500 million cases of malaria, with 1 million fatalities: Africa accounts for 90 percent of malarial deaths and African children account for over 80 percent of malaria victims worldwide. You know what it takes to fix malaria? A $5 mosquito net. That net means LIFE to millions of kids.

Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation. Some 1.8 million child deaths each year as a result of diarrhea. 1.4 million children die each year from lack of access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation. 2.2 million children die each year because they are not immunized.

For the 1.9 billion children from the developing world, there are: 640 million without adequate shelter (1 in 3), 400 million with no access to safe water (1 in 5), 270 million with no access to health services (1 in 7).

(All these statistics came from here.)

Why as a country as we completely consumed by power and fame and money? Why do we spend hours a day talking about one man who makes enough money to feed, immunize, and provide clean water for MILLIONS of people in the world? Just ONE man? Why don’t we FIGHT harder? Why don’t we sacrifice more? Why don’t we care enough? Why do we value sports figures more than the kid down the street whose mom sells her body to put food on the table?

Why don’t we put our money where our mouth is? Luke 12:34 says “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” We can’t take our stuff with us when we die. BUT we CAN leave an eternal footprint on this world, even by doing just a little. Sponsoring a child’s education and medical needs. Giving to a Bible-based, outreach centered church. Donating to clean water projects. Buying a homeless man a meal. It’s so easy. It costs so little. But it.changes.everything for those who are on the receiving end.

Today I am convicted. Today I want to do more. I want to kick the “American Dream” in the face, because it’s all about self. Why should we “have it all” when others have When children are bathing in the same water they use the bathroom in, day after day. When FOUR year olds are living on the streets, digging through trash cans for food, wearing rags for clothes that are in such bad condition we wouldn’t even clean our house with them? When women are being sold into sex slavery I know God wants us to be blessed, and we are blessed so we can bless others. Without those big donors at church who make the major dollahs, the big projects wouldn’t work. The Christmas giveaways wouldn’t happen. I love those guys, trust me.

It’s hard to find a balance when people make money, buy themselves really nice, expensive, unnecessary things, while at the same time doing amazing things for the Kingdom and donating tons of money to amazing causes. But after seeing what I’ve seen, it’s impossible for me to want to live that way anymore. (I say all this as I type on my nice Apple computer, hooked up to wireless internet, in my 1700 sq. foot house with air conditioner, in my comfy, cushy little life. Trust me, I’m convicted.) Our dream is to one day be able to give away more than we spend. I want to stand before Jesus the day I leave this world and be able to say, “Look, I cared for others more than myself. I gave everything I had- in heart, mind, soul, spirit, time, talent and money. I wasted nothing you entrusted me with.”

That’s a rather lofty goal, and if I died tomorrow, I couldn’t say that. But I am going to try my hardest to make that my reality. I don’t want to be a free agent. I want to have a life-long contract with this dying, hurting world we live in. I want to make it better. Only by the grace of Jesus…

Monday, June 28, 2010


Okay, so a looong time ago, I blogged about how at some point, I was bit by the decorating bug and ever since then, it has reaked havoc on my life. Well, it has happened again. This time it was not the kitchen, (thank goodness, because I don't think walls were meant to have 9 different layers of paint on them!) but our bedroom. I have an aversion to white walls, so naturally, there aren't any in our house. However, I just learned of a new aversion I have- I don't like two rooms to be the same color. Our bedroom matches our kitchen. Now I know this doesn't sound like a good thing, but the color is Fig, and I got leftover paint from a friend of mine, and it looked so good in the bedroom that I painted the kitchen. I LOVE it in the kitchen, and it looks great in our bedroom, but that nasty bug in me just can't handle it that they match. At first I thought of this beautiful light blue, but after taping a bunch of those paint color cards around the room, I determined it was too country. Then I thought perhaps a nice golden color. Nope. Moving on. I finally found two colors that I like a lot, and were very close, so I went to the store and got cheap $2 samples and painted various spots around the room. Hubby came home and saw the bedroom and said in his eloquent way, "Why?" I didn't say a whole lot back because how do you express to one your bizarre pet peeve about having two rooms being the same color is a problem? Anyway, I finally decided which one I liked the best, and drumroll please, it is called (rather unoriginally I might add) "Classic Teal". It is this amazingly, dark, moody, gorgeous color. It fits me to a T. (Okay, after reading that, I probably need to clarify that I am not actually dark and moody, nor particularly gorgeous, but I do love dark, expressive colors and am infinetly more attracted to that spectrum of the rainbow then the sunny side up of pastels, etc.!) Hubby hasn't seen it yet, and I am crossing my fingers he falls in love with it too. Thankfully, he just kind of goes with the flow. I tried to take a picture of it to post here, but since it is getting dark outside, it doesn't show up so great. I will try again later. The contrast in the room is amazing because our comforter is white and so are the curtains. I am thrilled to death! (Course, you probably couldn't tell that by now, could you?!) I am hoping to do the bathroom next, although I have limited options in there because the people who owned the house before us decided to put in an ugly blue bathtub, and a countertop with that fake marble running through it in, guess what color? Blue. Oh well, I can make it work. I am already starting to fret about how I am going to decorate the new babies' room. They will have to share for now, and I cannot figure out how I am going to do a room that will work for both a boy and a little girl. I have thought of a bunch of different ideas, but still nothing is just right. I have fantastic ideas for when they each have their own room, but I've got nothing, nada, zilch for their room together. I tried to ask my kids for help, but it didn't go over great. My son will be giving up his room to the babies since he is on the same floor as us, and will be moving downstairs to share with his sister until we can get the other bedroom finished. His decorating advice was for the babies to sleep on the couch in the living room. Not exactly what I was looking for! I know it will come to me at some point. I have even stood in front of the paint aisle and looked at the 8 million chips, for what seemed like an eternity, for a color to jump out and inspire me. The only problem is, I get too much inspiration, and want to do everything in my house completely over! I am bound and determined to use super hot pink someday in my house. But currently, that would match absolutely nothing else at all, and so it is has to go on the backburner for now. Anyway, I probably should hang it up right now, I have to put the bedroom back in semi-order so it looks totally awesome when Chris comes home, and so he can be amazed at his wife and how she should have been an interior decorator!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Strawberry Jam

Every year, for the past three years, we have gone strawberry picking as a family, and then lug the goods home and make jam. This June has been insanely crazy, and it wasn't until we were on the fishing trip that I remembered we haven't gone yet. But, since our weather has been mostly rain for the whole month, the strawberry season was still on, so we decided to go. Unfortunately, Chris had to go into work for a big project that is due next week, so he couldn't come with. It definitely wasn't the same. We did still have a good time, but when there is only one adult with two kids, not a whole lot gets accomplished. I picked like crazy, and Owen picked white ones for the longest time. I told him to only pick them if they were dark red, so then he would pick one and bring it to me and ask if it was okay to pick. (Not super efficient!) Ava picked for awhile, but then said she had to go to the bathroom. Easier said then done. We were in the middle of a strawberry field- there are no bathrooms. Now, I grew up on a farm, so I know all about peeing outside, but you can't exactly do that in a middle of a strawberry field surrounded by other pickers! I didn't want to hike all the way back to the beginning, because it would take a lot of time and then we would have to go back and finish picking. So, I said that we had to get our strawberries picked first, and if we hurried it wouldn't take that long at all! Fortunately, we were mostly done, it took probably another 10 minutes of the fastest strawberry picking hands anyone has ever seen, and we made it to the outhouse at the entrance just in time. Thank goodness for that hand sanitizer! 30 POUNDS of strawberries later, we were headed home. I did not intentionally set out to get so many strawberries. I just grabbed some random containers when we left and ended up filling them up when we were there. We spent all of saturday making jam. Ava even helped take the stems off the strawberries which was extremely helpful and made it so I didn't have to do all of it on my own. Owen mostly ate strawberries, but that was okay too, because it was less we had to deal with! Ava even skipped a friends birthday party to pick strawberries and make jam, I couldn't believe it, but it is so nice to have a family tradition that everyone likes to do together. At this point, I am pretty much strawberried out. We still have quite a few fresh ones, but I can't almost bear to look at them! Our house even smells like strawberries! When Chris came home and saw all the jam, he said, "wow, did you know that peaches are on sale too?" Um, I may have to hold off on peach jam for another time!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Family Fishing Vacation

Every year we take a family fishing vacation with my hubby's immediate family. There were 9 adults, 8 kids, and two adjoining condos. This was actually a newer step- the two condos. Up until now, we usually cram all of us in ONE unit. I haven't blogged in a long time, because although we had our computer with, and the condo was supposed to have free wi fi, I could not figure out how to make it work, and being busy with fishing and sight seeing, I didn't really get to it. So, now I will give you a huge update on our vacation and what has been going on in our lives! It is a very interesting endeavor to take 4 families and put them together for a week. None of us have identical parenting ways, which can be annoying, I know it sounds so mean, but when you see something not working with a child, you want to say have you tried such and such? So, there was a fair amount of interesting things with kids. Most of the kids in our family are approximately 6 months after each other, so it was great because everyone has someone close to their age to play with. And there was a great mix of boys and girls so that worked out too. One of the favoite things we did for everyone, myself included was go tubing. I bet that I haven't done that in 12-15 years! My daughter went with me the first time, and I was laughing so hard and we were moving about so much I was practically squishing her. She kept telling me "mom, you have to get off me somehow!" This is pretty hard to do when you are in a round tube of rubber and there isn't anywhere else you can go except off and into the lake! My son went with his dad. At first he said he wanted to go all by himself. Um, no. Three year olds do not go tubing by themselves. I tried to explain this to him, but he looked at me and said "I am big, and I am not afraid." But then he saw some of the other kids go before him, and he quickly changed his mind. (Of course, we never would have allowed him to go by himself.) He did love going with his dad though, and told me tubing was his favorite thing on the trip. Which is amazing because every day he begged to go fishing, and the men ususally went out at 5 in the morning, so when he woke up and saw that his dad had gone without him, he would start crying! Us women had a day all to ourselves and were able to go into such places as antique stores, where we would not have to worry about breaking and then paying for that $300 really ugly vase in puke green. It was great! I am very blessed to have not only a mother in law that I really love, but 2 sister in laws as well. It is nice to know that I don't just love them because they are family, but because I genuinely enjoy them, and they are great people. With 17 people on a trip, we all take turns making meals so it isn't so overwhelming. We don't really tell each other what we are bringing and making, it just sort of always works out. Well this year, the theme (which really wasn't a theme, just that everyone apparently thought the same way!) was beans. Seriously. Three days in row, by three different families, beans played a significant role in the meal. Two out of three days involved a bean soup of some sort, and one day had refried beans in tacos. So, now we have 17 people and three days of heavy bean eating. If you put two and two together, I think you can get the idea of what happened! It is a good thing that we spent most of our time outdoors! One of the biggest bummers that happened while we were there, both of my kids got severe swimmers itch. It was 1 in the morning, and I kept hearing this funny noise, I got up to check on the kids who were on the floor in sleeping bags, and both of them were scratching at their legs. They were covered in bumps up and down both of their legs and feet. Ava even had them on her arms. Chris ran to walmart at 2:00 in the morning to get them some medicine. The idea of what swimmers itch is is disgusting- little parasites that burrowed into their skin, but since there life cycle can't continue in a human, they essentially irritate the skin until they die. Gross. And of course, it is almost impossible to keep kids from scratching, even with Benadryl, and so they scratch them open and then some become infected. No one else got the itch, although all of the kids were in the same water, even the same areas. Apparently we are the lucky ones who are susceptible. I think that one of my favorite things on the trip was the time to lay in a chair and read a book while the kids played. I picked Pride and Prejudice for the millionth time, but this time it is official, my book fell apart at the seams and now I will have to get a new one! (What a bummer!) If you haven't read that book, you absolutely must, but then you also need to watch the BBC miniseries starring Colin Firth. You will LOVE it. Seriously. My husband loves it and watches it with me! All in all, it was a great trip. Now of course that we just got home last night, I look into the living room at the massive pile of items that need to be unpacked. I hate unpacking from a trip. You have tons of laundry to do, and all that stuff to clean. And like most families, we need a vacation from our vacation because we were so busy and up late at night, and up early in the morning!

On the adoption front, nothing has really happened. We are still waiting for our referral, and the kids continue to pray for their brother and sister to come home. We have been only waiting a little less than two months, but the last couple of weeks have been hard knowing that we are so close to a referral and yet it hasn't come. We just keep reminding ourselves that God has the perfect children all figured out for our family, and for whatever reason, it isn't time yet for them to come to us. We will continue to wait as patiently as we can.

Monday, June 14, 2010


I sort of re-discovered our crockpot. We were given one for a wedding present, nine years ago, and I can count on both hands how many times I have used it. Well, last week I was feeling crazy and I decided to bust it out and try a recipe. I cooked my meal, which was supposed to have taken 8 hours on low, in 3 hours on low. Um, I don't think low is supposed to do that. Regardless, the meal rocked, and since something was clearly wrong with the cooking setting on my crockpot, I went out and got a new one, along with a crockpot cookbook. If I managed one meal with a crockpot, think what I could do with a whole recipe book! For my next shot, I tried chicken with cabbage and mushrooms, plus tomato sauce. It doesn't sound real classy, I know, but it did taste awesome. Only problem was, half of my family got the farts like crazy from the cabbage, and we were stuck in the van together for 4 hours of driving! Still, my plan is to use it a lot, especially when we get the new additions to our family. I have loved just chucking all the stuff in and letting it do its thing! The cookbook I got is "Fix it and Forget it", and it has a whopping 800 recipes in it. You can do all sorts of crazy things in a crockpot that I never knew were even possible. The only problem is, and I will admit that I haven't looked at the book enough to give it it's fair chance, but a LOT of the recipes call for a can of cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken, insert your cream of soup of choice into the blank, which I am not exactly a huge fan of. (I think it has something to do with the fact that if you live in the Northern part of the United States, cream of _____, will inevitably find its way into your food on a consistent basis, especially at holidays.) So anyway, if anyone out there has a great crockpot cookbook they know of, or a recipe that totally rocks, let me know. I would absolutely love it. I think I have found my new BFF forever in the kitchen. (gotta love the terms you learn from your kids!)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Summer is fun?

Today is officially the first day of summer at our household, for my daughter anyway. She is done with school. And while I am excited at having her home full time, today hasn't been the best day. So far it has gone something like this: woke up to a ton of rain falling, no playing outside. My children were mega upset because we didn't have any milk and they had to have banana bread and eggs for breakfast instead of pre-packaged, fortified, coma inducing, sugar laden cereal. It took me 35 minutes to take those crazy twisty tie things off of some toys that I got at a garage sale, during which they decided to apparently see who could yell the loudest. By 9:30 I was tuckered out. (I know that seems early, but my kids got up at 6:00 and came into my room to see if I was still sleeping.) I told them if they got their rooms cleaned then they could watch a movie. But of course deciding on a movie that they both wanted to watch had a slim chance of succeeding, so I told them they could watch Cheaper by the Dozen 2, and if they didn't like that they could go somewhere else. Why does that move, along with the first one, insight people into thinking that 12 children is a fantastic idea? Even with all the craziness in the movie, whenever I watch it, I think, aw, big families rock. We should have 12 children! (I do actually think that big families rock, but after my morning, 12 is not a number that I am currently aiming for!) They did great at lunch, but then again fell apart after fighting over who could be in eachother's room. We decided to play with Play doh, and of course, with 12 different color options, they both wanted the same color. I finally pulled Mommy rank and ordered my kids to nap at 1. I am fairly confident this will help things for the rest of today- seeing as I allowed them to stay up until 8:30 last night to celebrate the last day of school. But for now, I will enjoy what will hopefully be an hour or so of quiet, relaxing bliss. Okay, not really, I have to pack for my entire family to go out of town to butcher chickens this weekend. Fun.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Doting on my daughter

Yesterday was my daughter's last friday of school. She has to go into next week, but the last friday was a big deal. On the way home she told me that I definitely would not want her going into second grade, which involves switching to the new school with the 3rd and 4th graders. When I asked her why not, she very seriously said "Because the third graders give you wedgies on the playground so hard you bleed." I almost burst out laughing from her response, but she was actually 100% serious, so I took the correct route without laughing and asked where she had heard that from. Apparently, her friend's older brother, who is graduating highschool, told her friend that, who then kindly passed it on to my daughter. I reassured her that I doubted the third graders gave wedgies to kids on the playground, and that they certainly didn't make you bleed, but that if someone ever did try to do that, she should immediately run and tell a teacher. After that, she felt much better. This one is definitely going down on the list of fantastic and amusing things she says.

I also just have to say how proud I am of her for her work in reading this year. When she started first grade, she was having some problems reading, and so they put her in a lower class to take it a little bit slower. Her first grade class had 29 students in it this year, and it is almost impossible to help that many children to read appropriately. She worked very hard through the school year, both in class and at home, and now is ahead of where first graders are at the end of the year. Super proud Mama! She HATED reading up until last December. Didn't want to touch a book or look through the pages if she thought we were going to make her read at all. Now, she wants to read to us and her brother all the time. And when she reads a big book, she says "I did it, Mom! I read the whole thing!" It is so fun to watch her be proud of herself, knowing that she is doing awesome. I love watching my children being confident with who they are and what they can do. She is going to be an amazing woman some day- awesome beyond belief that I can say that about her.

Friday, June 4, 2010

5 hyper kids, 3 moms and IKEA

I have to admit, I love IKEA. So when I found out that a friend of mine hadn't been there yet, we had to go. Three of us packed up the children we have not in school, and headed down. 4 of the 5 children are little boys all under age 4, which should give you a general idea on how things went. The awesome thing about IKEA is that they have a playland where you can drop your kids off, get a beeper in case something happens and do some shopping. So we took advantage of that big time. However, if we had been really smart and thought it through, we would have looked at all of the displays first with our kids (because they only get 1 hour in playland) and then on the shopping floor put them in playland. Oh well, lesson learned. We ended up carting all the kids. Still, it is amazing what kids can do from the inside of a cart. It was mostly fighting with eachother and being excessively loud, but they still managed to grab onto racks. And my son has been known for sneaking things into the cart because "I like it". We still had a ton of fun, and who can beat 50 cent hot dogs for lunch for the kiddos? Okay, maybe not the healthiest lunch, but they loved it, and us moms were able to get in some meaningful conversation, which doesn't always happen at get togethers. The other thing that I thought a lot about as we meandered through IKEA was this, there were 5 kids there. That is one more than what we will have by ourselves after our adoption. It was, I will admit, a "moment" for me. We will have four children! So then I tried to imagine myself going on a lovely shopping trip to IKEA with four children. Then I thought about grocery shopping with four children, clothes shopping, going to the park, almost every imaginable scenario I imagined us with four kids. I have to admit, it will be an adjustment going from 2 kids to 4, but I am soooo excited! Okay, it may not exactly be as easy to do all of the above mentioned items with 4 kids in tow. But it will be double the love and learning, and man, are we pumped. Plus, I have some amazing friends who have 3 or more children, so I will get all of the organizing tips and suggestions from them. We will be blessed beyond belief by our new children. Now, I only have to remain patient until we get them....