Last Home Study Meeting

We had our last meeting for our home study this past weekend! All the paperwork is turn in.  We began this process three months ago, overwhelmed and excited.  Now, we are relieved and excited.  I did a little jump for joy when I closed the door after our social worker left.  We are taking a breath and enjoying the fact that we do not have to get a form signed, or filled out, or turned in.  We cannot begin the next step (the dossier) until our home study is completed.  

We are officially adopting from China as well. We learned from our social worker that our agency has just signed an agreement with a new orphanage in China.  In the next couple of months, more children will be available to be adopted.  It means our wait-time for being matched with a child could be significantly shorter!  The children from this orphanage are children with a variety of special needs (from minor to severe).

We see God's hand in this process throughout every detail! We have never felt so sure of something in our lives as we have felt about this adoption.  God's providence in leading us to China and His provision with finances has increased our faith.  Joy fills our hearts as we are reminded of His care and love for us. 

Please pray that
1. There will be no hiccups while our social worker writes the home study.
2. We can continue to have patience (that is harder when you don't have anything to do).
3. We will continue to see God's hand throughout this entire process.

Thank you so much for your prayers!

Prayer: It Changes Me

You do a search and find hundreds and thousands of books on prayer. Books like these:

How to Pray for Your [husband, wife, children, neighbor, pastor, friend, etc]
Praying God's Word
Seven Prayers to Change Your Life
Prayer, Does it Make a Difference?

I am not saying anything against these books. I have several prayer help-books myself. I'm doing a Bible study written by Beth Moore called Whispers of Hope: A Seventy-Day Prayer Guide. Prayer is topic that you can read, talk, and write about your entire life and still not exhaust the subject.

Dedicating most days to writing out my prayers and reading devotionals focused on prayer, has changed the way I think about prayer.

Prayer lasts for eternity.

Luke 10:38-42 is not necessarily concerned with prayer, but we can apply it here.
"Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

 We won't fault Martha - we have all been her. Serving is not bad. However, we see that Jesus called Mary's choice "the good choice." Mary's choice was not the better (because service is important), but the good choice. The choice Mary made, to sit at the feet of Jesus, was the choice that lasted for eternity. "And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Prayer is that choice that will last eternity.  Most of the time we do not have to chose whether to serve or to pray - we can do both!  The type of prayer that I have been committed to these past few weeks have been more than just "God, help _______."  My prayers have taken time and effort on my part.  I sit down.  I chose not to do something else and I chose to pray.  When we choose that type of prayer, we know that we are choosing the better choice.

Prayer strengthens our spiritual life.

Hebrews 5:12-14 says
"For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.  For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.  But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."

God always teaches us through Scripture.  Prayer is a tool that God uses to teach us about Himself and what His will is for our lives.  I have grown so much through this dedicated time of prayer.  I cannot pin-point all the life lessons I have learned.  I cannot name all of the attributes of God that were magnified.  I can tell you that I am weaning off the milk (according to Hebrews) and learning to eat more meat. 

Prayer is a way to see God working.

God is sovereign.  We know that all things are under His control.  He will answer prayers as He sees fit. When we are spending time in prayer, we are invited to a front-row seat to see God work. We are able to see God's glory on display!  He will accomplish His will, whether we pray or not. During this study, my husband lost his job.  God provided another job.  If I had not prayed about it, God still would have provided another job.  Because I prayed for it, I was able to see God working throughout the entire process! (see this post)
When we pray, we see God's glory and provide Him with glory, just as John 14:13 says: "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son."  God takes pleasure and receives glory from answered prayer.  So, PRAY!

Also see the post:
Prayer: No More Excuses


Prayer: No More Excuses

Prayer is something that all Christians do. 
Prayer is something that all Christians want to do better. 
Prayer is something that Christians struggle with the most.

It seems so easy as a child:
"Close your eyes and bow your head."
"Just talk to God."

I used to make excuses as to why I did not devote the time I should to prayer:

1. I have nothing to offer. - I feel unworthy.  The sin of yesterday and of today sometimes way on my heart.  Of course we are unworthy - that is why confession is such an important part of prayer. We come to God to ask Him to cleanse us from our sins - DAILY. Keeping a short sin account is so vital to having a healthy relationship with God.  That does not mean I have to be perfect, but I realize all the grace that is available to me.  I strive to abide in that grace daily.

2. There are just too many people to pray for. - I have decided to stop focusing on ALL the people I could pray for. I am sure your lists is a mile high as well.  Instead, I allow the Lord to bring to mind who He wants me to pray for.  I have found myself praying for people I wouldn't have thought of otherwise.

3. I do not have the time. - One of the sections in Beth's book that you pray every day is "Acknowledgement" - which is basically giving to God your heart, mind, and your life for that day. I have started giving God my "To-Do Lists." I make plans, but God directs my steps. I have stopped worrying how I will "get it all done." I get done what God wants me to get done when I have given over to Him my plans for the day.

4. I do not have any quiet time. - As a mother of little ones I find it very hard sometimes to find a quiet moment. Most of my moments are interrupted quiet moments. No longer is that my excuse. I get the children busy doing something, and I retreat up to my room. I may be interrupted two or three times in the twenty or thirty minutes it takes me to read and pray - but I press on. I do not let those interruptions let me lose my goal: spending time with God. My life will always have interruptions.  That can no longer be an excuse.

Those are my excuses.  You may not have the same hindrances to prayer as I do. What are your prayer excuses?  Time? Energy? Sin? Lack of knowledge? Lack of desire?

Stop making excuses and start praying.  Some tips that I have found helpful are:

1. Make it a priority. You make time for the things you care about.
2. Get a prayer journal.  There is something concrete and intimate about writing out your prayers.
3. Get a guide. Beth's guide I've included below, or find one you like better.
4. Do not make your prayers long.
5. Just start.
6. Strive to daily set that time apart for prayer.

Beth Moore's Guide: P.R.A.I.S.E
Praise - Give God glory.
Repentance - Confess your sin.
Acknowledgement - Submit yourself to His authority
Intercession - Pray for others.
Supplication - Pour out your heart to God.
Equipping - Ask for God's help for your own life.

Taken from: Whispers of Hope: A Seventy-Day Prayer Guide.


Crock Pot Caesar Chicken

I love easy.  I love quick.  I love all of these things when they are especially related to dinner.  The concept of this recipe came from an idea on Pinterest. 

Crock Pot Caesar Chicken

2-3 chicken breast

½ bottle of Brianna's Caesar Salad Dressing

¼  cup of parmesan cheese

Place all three ingredients in the crock pot.  Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours.


 After cooked, chicken will be falling apart.  Shred the chicken.  It may be a little oily from the dressing, and you can pour some oil off.  Serve on a hamburger bun…..


….or a tortilla.

You can also add romaine lettuce and extra cheese if you would like!


Another No and Another Yes

We (finally) received word back from our agency regarding this little waiting child. 

See Here and Here.

Our prayer was that she would be fine.  We wanted her original diagnosis to be better.  We wanted her to be developing normally and everything be fine. 

The answer was no. 

She is much worse than she was six months ago (at the time of the last report). She is no longer trying to walk or even move her legs.  Her growth has slowed.  Her condition is must worse than what was first reported.  The good news is that she is currently getting the much-needed surgery to fix her problem. 

Praise be to our God who cares for the fatherless! 
Praise be to our God who loves all orphans and has a special place in His heart for them!

We are so thankful that she is getting the medical treatment she needs, but unfortunately, she will need a lot of care throughout her entire life.  So much care, in fact, that we cannot say yes to continuing with her adoption. 

It has been a very difficult decision.  Jason and I have prayed, prayed, prayed, and prayed some more.  We discussed her condition with our doctor, parents, and friends.  All three have major hesitation.  Because of our family size, and our original criteria, we do not think this is God's will for our family.  We are saddened that we cannot move forward with her adoption. 

So we are praising God in this answer to prayer! 

We also praise God for these answered prays as well:
1. Patience. We learned a LOT about patience.
2. Protecting our hearts. We were able to guard our hearts and not get too attached. (Although it was very difficult for me!)  We will continue to pray for her.  Her little face is etched in my mind right now.  I pray that God will give her just the right family - possibly a smaller family unit or a family that is more familiar with her medical condition.  I pray that she will grow up and find God.  I pray that she will one day meet the Person who loves her more than anyone.
3. Wisdom.  We are so thankful that God gave us wisdom (and wise people surrounding us) to help us make this hard decision.

As we move forward, with another no - God has given another yes.

God's yes is in the form of the faceless little girl that will be our daughter.  He knows just who she is.  He will lead and guide us to her.  I am so thankful for answered prayer!

Our next step is finishing our home study.  This Saturday (March 29) is our final meeting with our social worker.  Please pray for that!  Two weeks from that meeting she is required to have our home study completed.  Each step is a step closer!

Thank you for caring.  Thank you for sharing in this journey with us.


Little Pearls

When you begin a new journey (birth of a child, job, death, divorce, etc), you tend to look at your life as a big picture. You began to look back and see where you have come. You look forward to see where you might be going. You might have smaller goals, but really you have one big goal: to make something BIG of your life.  I'm convinced not even the lazy people want to “get by” in life.  Everyone wants to be special - or famous - or important. They want their life to mean something.

These goals and dreams are formed in your childhood. Teenagers and college-aged kids dream of doing something fantastic with their life. They want their life to resemble a beautiful diamond.  They want to create a life that shines, glistens, and radiates importance! The diamond is measured by how much good you did. The diamond is measured by how much you have or how famous you have become.

Jason and I were discussing this briefly the other night. When we talk about the future, we do not know what it holds.  With so many changes lately, we ask ourselves where we want to be, realizing God will direct.  Jason described having feelings of wanting to do something BIG….but realizing maybe that isn’t how life works.

Up until recently, I wanted that too. I wanted my life to be a great big beautiful diamond! I wanted to make a difference in the lives of a lot of people. I wanted to win souls for Christ! I wanted to move away and serve on a foreign field!  I want to mean something.  Sometimes I think "It isn't too late, I could still do that!"

Reality is not that simple.

My life at thirty is not what I pictured when I was twenty. It is so much more. Instead of a bright, big, beautiful diamond, shining in the sunlight, my life resembles more of tiny little pearls strung along a chain. Each time I wipe a tear, a pearl is strung. Each time I whisper, "I love you," a pearl is strung. Each of these seemingly insignificant acts of faith, love, and hope I bestow on those around me are tiny pearls all strung together.

Many of us have moments of disillusionment. Many of us doubt we make a difference in the lives of those around us. Many of us wish we could do "more." Many of us had bigger dreams and goals for our lives.  Mothers are the worst.  We thought we would give up everything to stay at home with our little ones.  Now that we are home, we question it all. We question whether we are making a difference or that our life matters.

Think of all the little pearls you have yet to string….

Every time you fold the laundry.
Every time you pull dinner from the oven.
Every time you rock a fussy baby.
Every time you drive to work.
Every time you send a card.
Every time you say a prayer for a friend.
Every time you visit a sick neighbor.
Every time you share a meal.
Every time you give a smile.

Think of all the pearls you have already strung...

(Some) of my Pearls:
My marriage
All those times I've said "My love you!"
All the laundry I've folded.
Every time I got out the vacuum.
Sending that card.
Writing that email.
Adopting a child.
Praying with a friend.
Praying for a friend.

At the end of my life, I am not going to have one big diamond to present to the Lord (or to those around me). I am not going to be able to say "See, this one thing I did? Isn't it grand?" Instead, I am going to have (hopefully) a long string of tiny pearls.

"See, all these little things I did? They are for You, O God."


As Sure as the Sun

I have fallen in love with this song by Ellie Holcomb. Sometimes we doubt the goodness of God.  Sometimes we doubt His work.  Yet, God's Word is that truth that never changes. It is good news. It is still truth, no matter what we do. 

You know that. 

Sometimes we all need a little reminder. 

As sure as the sun rises each morning, these promises are true. No one is surprised in the morning when the sun rises. 

No one wakes up thinking, "Oh, wow! Thank goodness the dark is gone.  I wasn't so sure it was going to happen..." 

Be assured His promies will be even more sure as the sun.

You are loved.
You are forgiven.
His mercy is new every morning.
He is light.
You are His beloved.
You are protected.
You have His peace.
You have His joy.
The dark flees at His light.
Hope is found in Him.
He is good.
He is Savior.
God is in control.
You are loved.

As Sure as the Sun
 There is good news

There is good truth
That you could never change, no matter what you do
You are loved more than you know
More than you could hope for, after everything you’ve done

As sure as the sun will rise and chase away the night
His mercy will not end, His mercy will not end

There is good news, there’s a promise!
 That no matter where you go, you will never be alone
 In the dark, in the doubting
When you can’t feel anything, oh his love remains the same

As sure as the sun will rise and chase away the night
His mercy will not end

Even through the night, oh
Silver stars will shine, oh
Hope of glory’s light that will wake us once again

As sure as the sun will rise and chase away the night
His mercy will not end
Words and Music by Ellie Holcomb and Rusty Varenkamp
© Ellie Holcomb, Full Heart Music (ASCAP)

Rusty Varenkamp, Universal Music - Brentwood Benson (BMI)/Racebuzz Music (ASCAP)
Take a listen HERE
buy her album HERE