Wednesday, November 30, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 30

I have SO enjoyed reading other 30 Days of Thanks posts here and on Facebook!
Thank you so much to everyone who played along! I hope you were as blessed by it as I was!

Day 30: I'm thankful for Adoption.

I am a Christ-follower.
I know what the Bible says.
There's more to it than James 1:27.
There's more to it than what you can find in 
every verse in your concordance
that references "orphans".
You won't hear me say that all Christians should adopt.
There are plenty of other ways to "care for widows and orphans in their distress".

A few weeks ago,
we swore before a judge here locally
that we do agree to finalize the adoption of our little three,
that we would consider them as our naturally-born children,
that we would provide for them the same inheritance rights
as our other children, and that in the eyes of the law - 
there would be no distinguishing between the little three and our first four.

Today, it suddenly hit me how closely this parallels our own spiritual adoption.

We were lost,
without a future,
without hope...
and the Father chose us.

Before we could fully understand the significance...
He chose us.

Not making any assumptions about you... 
but I know that
I was the "hard-to-place child".
I was the one with the "difficult past".
I was the "older child".
I was the one "prone to 'acting out'".
I was the one with "attachment disorders".
He chose me anyway.

I was the Special Needs,
the institutionalized,
the one not expected to thrive.
He wanted me anyway.

I was the child born addicted,
the one with a long line of dangerous activities,
the one without much history on paper...
HE chose me anyway.

And you know what??
I'm the Reactive Attachment Disorder child most of the time.

He loves me anyway.

And I also know I'm not God.
Not even a little bit.
Not even close.
Before you see me comparing myself 
because we have adopted children and are adopting children...
it's not a comparison,
it's an example that God set forth 
way before agencies
and country programs 
were ever thought of.

Adoption is hard.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hurt by comments from friends.
I'd be lying if I said I am totally at peace about 
finding the money for the rest of the adoption expenses.

But I DO know that the Lord put 
our previous and our present adoptions on our hearts and
we sought wisdom, and we know we are on the path He laid out for us.

And just like everything else...
I don't always have to understand it completely
to know that He isn't trying to harm me.
He isn't trying to ruin our lives.
He knows I can't live up to His example of adoption.
But, whenever you seek to do something well,
you copy the BEST example you can find.

And that's why I am thankful for Adoption.
MY adoption,
by the Father,
who chose me,
loves me,
and wanted me...
in spite of myself.

"Yet not as I will, but as YOU will." Matthew 26:39

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 29

So thankful for friends who
share life's journeys with us.
Friends who call out of the blue,
ones who make me laugh,
some I've never met who understand what it's like to
wait and wait and wait and wait...
and ones who love you
even when you are having a pity party
(they will even attend just to sit by you and listen).

I've got such great friends!!
Not sure how I deserve this...
but so thankful that they are there for me!

Monday, November 28, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 28

Thankful for the ability 
to wash clothes in a machine,
put things away neatly,
vacuum our nasty carpet 
with a machine,
plug things in that turn on,
and drive to a grocery store
to refill our pantry with plenty of food.

You just can't take these things for granted once
you have seen the way most of the world lives.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 27

Day 27

Still super thankful to have had this day yesterday!!

And SO thankful to be HOME and NOT in the van anymore!!
Now it's time to put stuff away,
clean out the van,
go grocery shopping,
and get back to the routine of our lives
after a fun week away!

Even though the kids did incredibly well on the trip!
They are awesome travelers!!

30 Days of Thanks: Day 26

Day 26:

First time seeing the ocean!!
So thankful to have this fun morning!!

Then later...
we got to visit and have dinner with one of my very best friends and her family!!
She lives in PA still so we don't get to visit often enough.
She's an incredible mom,
absolutely gifted hostess,
one of the only people to ever agree to
closing down the local T@rget with me,
and even though I have not stepped foot inside her house since
May 2008...
felt like I'd never left the moment after we hugged "hello"!
Oh, my sweet friend, I miss having you around!!
Yes, I totally stole this picture from her facebook page...
oh well. That's my sweet friend, Sarah and her family!

30 Days of Thanks: Day 25

Day 25:

Thankful to have the day to relax,
let the kids just be kids,
and play outside,
some hilarious attempts
at getting the 9 of us all looking
decent for a family photo,
and a very fun evening with my 
husband's parents, brothers and sister and spouses
sitting around playing hilarious games until
way too late!

It was such a fun night!

30 Days of Thanks: Day 24

Day 24

So thankful to be surrounded by family,
tons of cousins, 
plenty to eat,
a beautiful day,
and that this time next year...
I get to help my own 12 kiddos fill up their
plates and hold hands while we
thank God for our blessings!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 23

Thankful for a safe trip to visit lots of family, getting to see people we have not had much time with in years, and for kids who travel like  they are professionals!!

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 22

Day 22:
Wow... it's almost Thanksgiving Day!!

Today I am thankful for
variety in life.

Okay, that's vague....

At our grocery store you can get any one (or all) 
of more than 7 or 8 varieties of apples all year long.

Cereal AISLE.
That should explain that one...
but seriously, there are like 30 different types of CEREALS.

 Looking at our children...
they are as different as they can be most of the time!
One loves to read,
one thinks reading is a form of purgatory.
One loves rice in all it's forms,
one other child thinks rice is toxic.
Some are peach, some are brown,
some have brown eyes, one has hazel eyes,
some curly hair, others with straight hair.

It may seem strange to be thankful for variety...
but how boring would it be if we were all the same,
had only one type of apples, 
one type of cereal,
and all believed everything exactly the same??

Monday, November 21, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 21

Day 21:

I woke up at 5am because of the 
massive thunderstorm outside.
Lightening strikes light up the bedroom,
thunder shaking the windows,
rain beating against the side of the house.
It was a big storm!

I thought about how thankful I am
that I have this house to keep us safe.
How thankful I am that we are not living in 
a tent by the river,
or huddled together in a shelter.

We are blessed
with much.

And people say "how will you fit 5 more kids in your house?!?"
So what if several kids share a room?
What's the big deal??
When did it become a right of childhood
to have your own bedroom with your own TV and computer?
When did it become tantamount to child abuse to have your kids in bunkbeds?
Or sharing a bathroom? Oh the horror!!
But, that's for another day.

30 Days of Thanks: Day 20

Thankful for my sweet baby girl,
who helps out around the house
way more than I probably realize.

She's responsible,
funny and so smart!

This morning she took over my job 
while I was taking our oldest son to 
his Ultimate Frisbee tournament.
She got the little girls
applied Babycakes,
got them dressed for church,
and even fixed their hair!

She babysits so Paul and I can go out
to dinner every once in awhile,
and so I can run to the grocery store
without lots of little hands grabbing stuff off of the shelves.

She makes us laugh,
has great taste in friends,
and she's just gorgeous
inside and out.

We love you, sweetheart!!
Thank you for all of your help this weekend!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 19

Day 19:
I'm thankful that my tacos were too spicy
for me to eat last night,
because after only two bites,
I handed my plate to my hubby
to taste (since he loves super spicy food)
and he immediately said 
"those are flour tortillas".

(Insert swirl of emotions here:

And (also thankful that) we were out with 
my Mom and Papa and friend Natalie...
so my mom hands me 6 or 7 of these
pre-biotic capsules
which are AMAZING
and I drank tons of water
and fought off the urge to stab the
server with my fork
when he tried to apologize.

I didn't get super sick.
I was itchy all over, 
got really sleepy,
and felt drugged..
but didn't have to be up all night with 
the toilet.

That's a lot to be thankful for today!!

30 Days of Thanks - Day 18

I see my post didn't go through yesterday..

Day 18,
I am thankful for 
my sweet hubby who
could work from home today!

Even though he's working,
I can still talk to him,
see him around the house,
and we even get to run a few errands together!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 17

Day 17...
I'm tired.
I just spent the past 4 hours going through bags and bags and bags of stuff in the attic,
sorting it by boy/girl,
pulling out the boys smaller-than-2T clothes for a family in need,
and decided...
I could clothe a small elementary school!!"

I'm blessed to not have to go major shopping for 7 (or 12) children at the start of every season.
I'm blessed to have friends and neighbors who give me bags
of stuff their kids outgrew that my kids think is AWESOME!
It's like Christmas day around here when I come home 
with garbage bags full of  "cleaned out my closets"

I wish I was more organized...
I wish The Container Store would show up
with a bull horn
and announce that they are coming to organize my life
into cute polka dot bins
with printed labels
on nice clean stainless steel shelves...

But until then,
I have a "Boys" label, 
a "Girls" label,
and two GIGANTIC piles of mostly sorted
bags of clothes underneath.

And I am thankful to know I don't have to go to a mall 
ANYtime soon.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 16

These two little girls...
who LOVE to dress alike
and LOVE it when people think they are twins!
today at school was "twin day"!
The idea is to dress like someone else...
a teacher, a friend... plan ahead and dress like twins.

I think they are SUPER cute "twins"...
even if it's the "Irish" variety! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 15

I'm thankful for Moby.

Maybe you don't know Moby...

He's our big white van.

How's THAT picture for a little perspective?!?? 

Moby may not be the shiniest giant van on the block...
or the newest...
or the prettiest...
but he fits our WHOLE family,
those home now,
and those who will be coming home hopefully soon!

Moby recently needed to see the doctor...
and he got new tires too!
So hopefully Moby is ready
for a long road trip!!

Thankful that we have paid-for vehicles,
and especially for Moby,
so we can all travel together!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 14

Tonight I took my 8 1/2 year old (#4) 
to the store for new shoes.
He picked out a reasonable pair,
sold me on their virtues,
and the price was good.

So I showed him another pair.
They were on clearance.
For half the price.

He says,
"Yeah, Mom... these would be great instead!
I can still run and play in these... and they look like good shoes!
Thank you for finding them!"

Oh my heart.

This kid.
I tell ya...
he can drive you up a wall batty one moment,
but he has the SWEETEST heart of any child I've ever known.

And so I bought him both pairs.

Because I wanted to bless my child,
and give him a sweet gift.
Not that he deserves it,
but because it makes me happy to 
do something he's not expecting,
that makes him smile.

And he thanked me profusely while we finished our errands.

Oh sweet precious boy,
I'm so thankful for YOU today!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 13

Day 13: Thankful for a great turnout yesterday at the Holiday Market where I had a booth!

We were fundraising for the adoption travel and sold babycakes 
along with jars of homemade Pumpkin Spice Syrup 
(for coffee or tea, or drizzling over whatever you like!) 
and fresh, hot cups of Pumpkin Spice Cafe au Lait that I made, 
with double chocolate chip biscotti... 
AND we had some Advent devotionals for sale too! 

I met some really great people, got to share about our adoption story, 
and sold a TON of stuff!! 
After expenses, I think we have about enough for one of the plane tickets!! 

I got the sweetest card from a wonderful woman who I met a couple of years ago. 
She knew I would be there and she had written the sweetest note 
and gave us a very generous donation towards our adoption! 
I mean, how blessed are we?!?  
So many people look at us like we were crazy, 
but the ones that truly "get it", they just bless my heart so much. 
This wonderful woman REALLY gets it, and so does her family! 
I am so thankful for you all. Thank you for loving our kiddos home! 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 12

I'm thankful for my appliances.
I know, 
that's weird.

But last night I went to bed with my dishwasher cleaning up the
remains of the 6x batch of biscotti I made for the craft fair,
the washing machine cleaning towels,
the dryer getting things all dry and fluffy and smelling pretty.

I didn't have to heat the water for my shower over a fire,
I didn't have to boil it to drink it either.

I can bake cookies at a nice, even 350* without
once wondering if my power is going to stay on,
or if I need to add wood to the fire.

I plugged in the vacuum to get the carpets

I flip a switch and more food goes
down my garbage disposal than
a child living in many places in the world
was able to get to eat today.

I have machines doing my work for me,
making my life easier,
making my life prettier,
and making my life more fun...

and I'm thankful for that!

Friday, November 11, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 11

I'm thankful for my
friends and family
who support my
tell their friends how much they love it,
give babycakes as a gift,
and beg for particular scents to return!
It makes my heart happy when someone
emails me telling me how their
child's skin has healed,
their hair isn't breaking anymore,
or how nothing else has ever helped their
eczema like babycakes has!
I giggle when I get an order for 20 lip butters,
because I have 7 or 8 tubes all over my house too!
I love when a new friend says 
"your new honey butter makes me look like 
I know what I'm doing with my daughter's braids!"

And I love having all 4 burners on my stove filled up with
pots of babycakes products, counters full of waiting jars,
and orders to fill stuck to my fridge!

Thank you, babycakes friends, for blessing me
with your love for my products!!
Order your own babycakes HERE!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 10

Day 10
I'm thankful for my husband's job.

Yeah, he travels quite a bit,
and his crackberry is practically part of his hand,
but we pay our bills (mostly) on time,
we have food in the fridge,
and in the pantry,
and on the counter,
and in the couch cushions for that matter.

The lights are on,
I slept with my electric throw 
keeping me toasty last night,
my kids took showers this morning,
we have a nice home that keeps us safe and dry,
and two paid-for cars to drive around, 
one of which has seats waiting for our newest 5!
With gas in the tanks, too!

We live within our means,
don't need to rely on credit cards 
(which is good since we don't have any!!)
and have many things that we want, not just NEED.

His job has him doing what he loves to do,
working with some really great people,
and they really love him too!

We are thankful that he has this job, 
especially when so many people 
aren't doing what they love
or working in their field.

I love you, honey!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 9

Today I am thankful that 
I do not personally know
or have physical access
to whoever thought
that stupid
Daylight Savings Time
was a good idea.

Fall back??
I have 3 kids that

That imaginary "extra" hour of sleep?
Yeah. Right.
It left our house to go play poker 
with the Easter Bunny and the Loch Ness Monster.

On another note...

I'm thankful that 
at some point in time
my youngest three children
will become teenagers.
They will want to sleep all day.
I will happily wake them up
and laughing and laughing...
and reminding them of the days
that they said things like

"Look! The sun is still sleeping!"

and how excited they were to go outside
at 6am.

Don't worry sweets...
in about 10 years,
on a Saturday,
I'm going to need your help
cleaning out the garage
at 6am.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 8

Day 8: I'm thankful for my "fruity" friends! :)

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, 
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."

I have so many wonderful friends!
Friends who make me laugh,
 who hold me accountable,
who support my family,
who love our kids,
who pray for us daily,
who I can call when I just need to scream!

A true friend is very hard to find.

I am blessed.

One such friend has been an encouragement to me this week!
It's been kind of a challenging day here, but then when I remember how sweet this is...
it makes my heart smile!

If you would like a new calendar for 2012...
this one is really cool and will help us with travel!

Calendars for a Cause!

Monday, November 7, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 7

Thankful for my wonderful siblings!
I have five...
and then five more through marriage!
My sister Melissa takes gorgeous photos
and blogs her life HERE
Isn't she beautiful!?
There are these sisters too:

Okay, so one of them is my only Brother.
He plays Major League Baseball.
Ha!! Love you, Will...
They are all grown up now... but that is still how I picture them. 
I'm the oldest, you know. 
They will probably always be those ages...
until they are married and have their own kids...
then MAYBE.
We will see.

I have another sister who doesn't have pictures online...
but I'm thankful for her too!

It's a funny thing to be the oldest sister.
I have this protective-parent kind of perspective...
watching them grow up,
being proud of their achievements,
proud of their personalities,
proud of their choices.
I think it helped prepare me for being a Mommy.

So, for my little brother and sisters...
I'm SO proud of you all!
Melissa... you are a GREAT wife and mommy! 
I love your gorgeous smile and laugh!
I also love your sense of humor and 
your dedication to making your home a beautiful place to be! 
I wish you would fly here and make my house pretty! :) 
Cass...I see you every day in Sam! :) 
I love your heart! 
You make me laugh when you tell old stories and 
I'm so thankful that you love all of my kiddos!
Will... You've been a great role-model for my boys and a wonderful Uncle, 
even if you did get a really early start!! So proud of your dedication 
and I can't wait to watch you walk out on the field in the MLB!
Gigi... Gorgeous baby sister... you are such a strong person and 
I'm so impressed with you for working hard and 
not letting anything get you down! 
You are brave and tough, 
but I've seen your heart turn to mush and I love that part too! 
Grace...Beautiful are growing up so fast! 
You are so smart and independent and I just know you are going to do great things some day! 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 6

Day 6: Thankful for Coffee. Thank you, Ethiopia.
I think "Cappuccino Maker" is making it onto the Christmas Wish List.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 5

Day 5: So thankful for access to medical care

Nearly 2 years ago I had an abscessed tooth.
If you have ever had one of those,
you are cringing right now in sympathetic pain.

It was without a doubt WAY worse than labor pain.
It did not end, there was no pain killer that would make it go away.
Drugs with narcotics... nope. Still there.
I wanted to take a hammer and whack the tooth out of my mouth.
I didn't...
but I wanted to.
It was (of course...) on a weekend 
when my parents (with the dental office) were out of town. 
Monday arrived, and a friend came and drove my chipmunk-cheeked self 
to the dentist where I have NEVER been so thankful 
for a syringe-wielding dentist in my LIFE.

Also recently, my hubby has had to work through an illness.
It's the typical coughing mess that's going around, 
but for him... it got worse and he needed a prescription and an inhaler 
so he could talk and breathe at the same time. 
It took 5 minutes to get an appointment, 4 minutes to drive to the office,
and 30 minutes later, he had 2 rx's in hand. 
We dropped them off at the pharmacy less than 3 miles away 
and had his medications shortly after that. 

When I consider that one of our sweet baby girls 
has latent malaria and I think about how
she must have suffered...
about how she witnessed the death of family members
who died from (likely) the same disease
that is completely preventable with cheap pills
and treatable with cheap antibiotics...
it makes me so angry and sad.

We are so blessed that we have the ability to complain
about our insurance costs, our treatment options, or the price of our co-pays.

And I, for one, am thankful to have these medical resources at my fingertips!

Friday, November 4, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 4

Day 4:
I'm thankful for these handprints 
of our sweet kiddos who are still waiting!

I know, I can't hardly believe how precious this is either!!

A sweet friend I've met through the process of bringing our newest kiddos home visited them in August
(well, her own kids too... 
they just happen to be at the same place as ours!).
She brought me back photos, 
videos and perhaps one of my most treasured items...
these hand tracings!

My kiddos touched these pages and held their little hands still while
they were traced onto these pages 
for their Mommy and Daddy to have!

I sometimes go put my hands over theirs and just smile...
I think I can almost feel their hands
in mine.

Oh, so thankful today for  Kimberly who is 
currently in ET for court...
and a little jealous too since they are 
breaking land speed records in their adoption process!
Blessings and prayers that you hear 
those magical words at Court..
"They are YOURS!"

*Update: They passed court for their twins! 
Hoping they pass shortly for their older boy too! 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 3

DAY 3: I'm so thankful for all these kiddos, 
and their 3 brothers and 2 sisters still waiting!
How blessed am I that I get to be the Mommy to 12 kids??
Really... I never would have imagined my life turning out this way...
and it's so much better than my plans!

I LOVE these munchkins!!

Here's some pictures:

Outtakes from our family photo self-portrait session...
Paul LICKED me.

Me and the older two girls see a wasp.

The little girls see the wasp...
AND all the girls freak out.

THERE we go! Much better! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

30 Days of Thanks - Day 2

Day 2: So thankful for this guy!
He took this picture just for #6 who LOVES it
when he wears a suit!
She was so excited to see this picture!
OLD picture...
can't find a recent couple-shot!
In uniform ;)

He makes me laugh,
loves me on my worst days,
makes me want to be better,
and COME ON...
what kind of man 
wraps his heart around 12 children?

We've been married 16 1/2 years.
And I love him more today than I did then.
Which, of course, I didn't think was possible.
But it's true!

Thanks for being the best husband for me.
Thanks for working SO hard,
for not giving up on me,
I love you!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 1

Day 1

A lot of years ago, I thought that 
"being a Christian" was about
following rules,
walking down front during the 4th chorus of
"Just As I Am",
saying a prayer,
and not messing up too much.

I don't identify myself as a "Christian"
because of all of the presumptions placed on that word.
I'm a Christ-Follower.

I give praise to the One 
who pulled me out of the darkness
where I thought I was living life
and brought me into His light
where I can thrive,
and grow, 
and really live out the
calling HE placed on my life
with real LOVE
and HOPE
and MERCY.

He thought I was worthy,
and he died for me,
and the very least I can do
is LIVE for HIM!

Day 1: I'm so thankful for Jesus and the honor it is to call myself a Christ-follower!

P.S. If you are playing along, 
leave your blog link 
(or whatever you wrote on facebook, wherever)
in the comments so we can come see your posts!