2 Corinthians 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Celebration!

Christmas Eve Appetizers

We had a wonderful Christmas time, visiting with family for several days.  We went to church Christmas Eve afternoon and when we arrived back home, it was time to start eating!  I am a BIG fan of appetizers, so this time of year is my favorite....appetizers for Christmas Eve, for New Year's Eve and every Sunday while watching football!

Delicious Christmas Dinner!

Christmas morning, we opened gifts, cleaned up and took a brisk walk in the cold weather.  Then it was time to eat again!  Ham, Green Bean Casserole, Twice Baked Potato Casserole and Homemade Rolls was on the dinner menu.  For dessert, my sister made the traditional dessert we have on Christmas- Red Velvet Cake with Buttercream Frosting!  Oh my goodness, it's SO GOOD!  She also made a Rum Cake, which was also excellent.  I think we'll have to talk her into making BOTH each Christmas from now on!

Hiking off all that food!

Besides eating a LOT of GREAT food, we also played some games, watched some movies (Dolphin Tale is a sweet movie!), went shopping and took a hike through the woods.

I think the best part of the weekend was that my husband finally got his wedding band re-sized!  He had lost about 40 lbs 4 years ago and his ring didn't fit without a ring guard, which was highly annoying for him to wear.  The jeweler did such a great job that you can hardly tell where they made the cut in the ring!

But now we're back to real life..... The house was a mess, there was laundry to be done, work to go back to.  We picked up Zana today from the family she spent Christmas with, did a little shopping at the mall and a few other stores and took her to Kanki for lunch.  Then back home and back out again for groceries.  My husband had just enough time to shovel down some soup before heading to work.  By the time he got to bed this morning, he had been awake for almost 24 hours.  Plus, he started the shift with a dead battery in his car..... I'm hoping that was all the excitement for his night but I have a feeling it wasn't!

I'm looking forward to my next post, about my goals for the New Year!  But I have a few more days of this year to enjoy first!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!

The BIG day is almost here.....Christmas!

Once again, the month has flown by way too quickly, as I'm sure it has for many of you.  Once again, we may have let the fun times with friends and family and the buying, wrapping and opening presents overshadow the TRUE reason we celebrate Christmas.

Luke 2:10-11 "Then the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."

Ok, so a baby was born over 2,000 years ago.... He wasn't just any baby, he was the Savior of the world!  So as we reflect on Jesus this Christmas season, let's also include the following verses to bring the full meaning of His existence to light...

John 3:16-17 "For God SO LOVED the world that He GAVE His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."

 The BEST gift this Christmas season can't be wrapped and placed under the tree.  It doesn't cost you any money.  You don't deserve it but it has been given to you for free.  All you have to do is admit you are a sinner who needs a Savior, believe that Jesus is God's Son who died for your sins and rose again and this free gift of salvation is yours for all eternity!

Enjoy this Christmas season with your family.  Open your presents Christmas morning.  Eat all that good food and spend lots of time with your loved ones.  But don't EVER forget the TRUE meaning of Christmas.

I'll be taking some time off from blogging to do the same.  I'll be enjoying my family and remembering why we are celebrating.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

We're Having Fun!

WOW!  What a 10 days it's been!

I feel like we've been going non-stop, but we've been having fun!

Zana arrived from Latvia on Sunday December 11th.  She's a chaperone with New Horizons for Children and we decided to host her for the month that she's in America.  

The kids did their best to get their schoolwork finished during the last week of school before Christmas Break started.  Adding a new person into our home takes some adjusting, even when the person is a wonderful as Zana.  The kids have done very well and I can see they are also being prepared for the addition of their new sibling(s) hopefully this coming year.

We've done a lot of fun things in the 10 days since Zana has been with us: Playing Dutch Blitz, making S'mores in our firepit, going to an Elf Party (she loved it!), seeing half of the Nutcracker Ballet (free!), going to see a movie at the $1.50 theater, making Christmas cookies, watching football, going to church and a special Christmas program, opening Christmas presents, playing soccer several days, making homemade ice cream and helping Zana make dinner one night!  And that's just some of the things we've done!

I find myself getting (almost) everything done while adding in these others things and sleeping very well at night from being tired.  My days are not normally this full, so it's nice (although I think I need a day to do nothing soon!) to have so much to do.  I can imagine this will be close to what it's like in adding a child to our family, although the house will be louder and there will be a bit more stress when that happens, I think.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Adoption Update

(Technically, this IS an adoption update, but bear with me as I go through several other topics to get there....)

Wow, life has been busy this week!

We went to the airport 3 hours away on Sunday to pick up the Latvian woman staying with us for the coming month.  We arrived home around 12:30am and I got to sleep around 2am.  I remember telling my husband somewhere around midnight that I don't know how he functions on his first night of night shift with so little sleep!  I could hardly keep my eyes open after waking up at 8:30am, which is just about when he wakes up for that first night of work.  Crazy....

I was home a total of 1 hour the first day Zana was with us....Not very hospitable of me, but I had plans already and thankfully my parents came over to visit, the kids were home and Rich was able to arrange his work schedule to be home at dinnertime.

Tuesday, we spent the day at home, sleeping in and getting settled.  My husband was working 2 "nights" of 3pm-3am, which is just crazy.  Wednesday, we had appointments, lunch out and errands.  So, we saw my husband Tuesday when he left for work around 3pm and we saw him again when he woke up around lunchtime on Thursday.  Thankfully, this is not his normal schedule.  If it was, I would not be a happy camper!

OK, here is the adoption update!  I think it was Tuesday when I started thinking that I should email our social worker to see our status and then also find some time to give her a list of kids we're interested in learning more about.  So I was happy to see a letter in the mail that day saying we had been approved for adoption!  Of course, our foster care licensure is still being processed, but there is no chance of having kids placed with us in the next few months so we will patiently wait for our foster care license.

Now I need to find the time to send an email to our social worker with the list of kids.  In the meantime, our information is on a website, waiting to be matched with children.  Also, there are social workers throughout the state that can and will contact our social worker with information on children to see if she has a family that would match well.  So, we'll see how we progress!

I'm sure things will move slowly.  That's ok, because we have such a busy first half of the year coming up.  3 BIG birthdays within the first 6 weeks, several trips, and just life in general.  Then before I know it, it will be time to start planning for the next school year.

I'll continue to update on the progress of the adoption as well as on anything exciting (or maybe even boring!) going on around here......


Tuesday, December 13, 2011


I can feel it.....  God's preparing me for whatever might come this next year.

Who knows what it's for....Adoption, maybe?  Could be.... But I've learned in the past year that MY plans may not be HIS plans, or just not in His timing.

We've had to stretch ourselves this past week, as well as this coming week.  Stressful days at work for my husband, working 16+ hours one of his shifts..... Extra kids in the house one night...... Hosting friends for dessert, along with a friend of my son..... Hosting a woman from Latvia whom we've never met before.....Christmas, New Year's, crazy work schedule.....Lots to do, lots of noise, lots of change!

I normally don't do well with change.  I like to know my schedule, my plans.  And even as I think of all that has gone on and all that will happen in the next month, my stomach is in knots.  But instead of letting that take over, I find myself remembering that God is preparing me....for more noise, more kids, more change, and in turn more of HIM!  Because without more of HIM in my life, I can't handle more noise, more kids and more change!

There is so much we want to do next year.  A foreign mission trip for my husband and son, maybe even a family mission trip as well.  We have trips "planned", special birthdays to celebrate and in the middle of it all we will be in the matching process for adoption.  We've heard that can take a while, and we're prepared to wait.  But I think we're also ready for an addition to our family and all the noise, change, challenge and fun it will bring into our lives!

The "good" things of adoption and mission trips, homeschool and vacation may be what are my plans for next year, but unless God wants us to do these things, we are planning in vain.  In order for me to know if these things are in God's plan, I need to make time to be still and know what He wants us to do.  I need to listen and read.

As these days, weeks, and months come and the noise, change, stress and challenge comes with it, I will remind myself of this:

Philippians 4:6-7  “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Friday, December 9, 2011

24 hours of Tragedy

Psalm 34:17-18 "The righteous cry out and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.  The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart and saves such as have a contrite spirit."

What a day it was yesterday.  It started off normally, I'd say.  Then the news started pouring in.....

An officer shot at Virginia Tech..... A deputy shot in Moore County, NC.... It took hours to get details, and when they were given they weren't good.  Both of those men had been murdered.

The deputy was a retired police chief, with a wife, a son and 2 grandchildren.  The VT officer was an Army veteran, husband and father of 5.  Wow.... my brain couldn't really grasp it all.

Then another news report that evening of a Virginia State Trooper shot and injured.  I don't know any more of the extent of his injuries.  Then other reports overnight of 3 officers shot and injured in the Oklahoma City area.

WOW....  Now, I'm not a worrier, but I can say that this increased violence does concern me.  But I'd never tell that to my husband.  I don't want him distracted at work with being concerned about me, I want him focused on his job and getting home each night.  

There have been 147 in the line of duty deaths in the US so far this year.  Far more have been shot and injured and many others have been in car accidents.

I know that it is dangerous driving on the highway each day.  Everyone is at risk of leaving for work, school or errands and not making it back home.  To top that inherent risk off, my husband straps on a bullet proof vest and 20 lbs of gear each day to deal with people who don't regard his life very highly.  Some, as happened in NC and VA yesterday, would not think twice about killing an officer before killing themselves.  

I've never seen a reaction like my husband had last night when he heard on the news that the shooter in the NC case had previously told a neighbor that he'd rather die than go to jail.  My husband said "Then why didn't he just kill himself and be done with it?  Why did he have to murder the deputy?!"  And then he went to sleep.... He's exhausted from a long week of early mornings and working late.

It doesn't always make sense.....Life in general doesn't make sense sometimes.  Thankfully, I know that my God is in control in the middle of the chaos, He is not taken by surprise when tragedy happens, and He has a plan that is better than any I could have!  And it's in these times that don't make sense that we can cling to those promises. 

John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you WILL have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Exciting News!

We got exciting news!  It has nothing to do with adoption, though......

Many of you know of our experience with hosting 2 Ukrainian orphans last Christmas as well as our hosting a Ukrainian chaperone for 2 weeks this summer.

Well, we're doing it again!  This time, we're hosting a 33 year old chaperone from Latvia named Zane.  I have no idea how her name is pronounced, so we'll figure that out when we meet her. 

We had hoped to host a chaperone but didn't think it would work out.  Then we got the message on Monday about the possibility of hosting Zane.  There were a few details to work out and thanks to some friends (and their friends) we were able to finalize the commitment Tuesday night.

We had to laugh when we looked at our calendar last night.  The next month is already SO busy!  The good thing about that is we should have a lot of things to keep Zane busy, as well as a few down days with little to do.  She'll get a quick introduction to my husband's weird work schedule as the week she arrives is as weird as they get around here..... We had already planned having visitors here a few different days so she'll get to meet some of our friends and relatives during her stay.  And if we have good weather, maybe we'll go on a hike or take a day trip to the beach.  We're also going to go to the history and sciences museums nearby.  And of course we'll be watching lots of Christmas movies!

All we know about Zane is that she speaks a little English but can understand more and is looking forward to learning more English and eating new foods.  She also likes to cook so I'm looking forward to another helper in the kitchen and maybe we can convince her to cook us an authentic Latvian dinner one night!

I'm still hoping to keep up with blogging while my schedule gets busier over the next month, but I can imagine I will be posting less often.

We are excited to meet our visitor this weekend!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Starting to Shred

My arms are shaky even as a type this.....

I just did Day 1 of The 30 Day Shred.  

I'm a big fan of The Biggest Loser.  We look forward to Tuesday nights where we watch people work out for hours while we sit on the couch eating snacks.  And I plan in my head when I'm going to start exercising again.  Usually I never follow through.

I blogged a few weeks ago about wanting to train for an October 5K and not being able to do that.  I think I may have even mentioned about planning to train for a spring 5K.  Then "it" started again....the ankle aches!

18 years ago, I had reconstructive surgery on my ankle.  I had sprained it severely my sophomore year in college and completely tore all the ligaments.  I had surgery the following summer.  I've had little to no problems ever since.  Until last winter, when it started aching for no reason.  I mentioned it to my doctor and she thought there could be some osteoarthritis going on due to the original injury.  I thought maybe it was stress from all we had going on last December and January.

Then the colder weather of this November arrived and the ache started again.  My doctor had suggested not running because that is harsh on my joints, but I don't have much else I can do for free......  Except that I already own The Shred.....

So, I made a schedule.  For those who know me, they are not at all surprised.  I do find that when I have a detailed schedule, I am more likely to follow through.  So, even though it's the "30 day" Shred, I should be finished with it (7 days at each of the 3 levels) by January 6th!  Just over 30 days is pretty good for me!  If I can actually accomplish this, maybe I'll be more likely to continue with some form of exercise a few days a week in 2012.

Now that it's out there and people can hold me accountable, maybe I'll actually do it.  So, feel free to check on me a few times this coming month to see if I'm keeping up with it and if I am truthfully crossing it off my schedule!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Decorations in Pictures

Here is our decorating experience in pictures.....

The stuff for the living room tree and the outdoor wreathes....

Time to move the bookshelf to make room for the tree....

My daughter asked for some slice and bake tree cookies to eat while we decorated the tree....

The failure tree.... Only 1/3 of the lights worked and since it was a pre-lit, it needed to be thrown out and a new tree purchased.  Fun.... 

The new tree looks a lot like the old tree, except the lights DO work!  ;)

The first ornament to be placed on the tree!

Our "Places" tree- with ornaments from the places we've been.... Disney, Williamsburg, Charleston, The White House, Mt Vernon, Jamestown, Cape Cod, just to name a few!

Our stockings, along with some nativities on the mantle....

A "Police" tree for my husband!  Blue lights and police ornaments....and the only Sheriff decoration we've ever seen, given to us by a friend!

A few more nativities on the piano....

I had a small tree and a place for it, so it's in my kitchen!

All decorated and lit!

The tree in my daughter's room....

The tree in my son's room....

I have to have one Poinsettia in my house for Christmas!

There you have it... 6 lit trees, a bunch of nativities (and believe it or not, less than in years past- I only bring out the ones I really like), lots of lit garland (inside and out!) and we're done decorating for Christmas!  Now to put on some Christmas music (I've got some great Christmas playlists on Spotify- Third Day, Michael W Smith, Mandisa and Toby Mac!) and enjoy the house!