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Christmas Decor

I love decorating for Christmas... it's so fun every year to get out the Christmas boxes and pull out all of the decorations that I forget I even have! Last year, I put together this little project to display our Christmas cards. This picture is from last year since we haven't started receiving Christmas cards yet this year. You may recognize your family's picture if you look closely! Basically, I took some plywood and corkboard (wrapped in burlap) and attached it to the back of an old window frame from my dad's barn in Michigan.

Here I screwed some little knobs into the wall and then hung some twine to display more Christmas cards. In the spring and summer, I hang vintage postcards of birds to make it more seasonal. I'm hoping one day to hang kids' art projects here!

 And, here's our mantel this year. Cute, huh?

We're looking forward to getting our Christmas tree soon, but we have to wait until we get a little snow, since that's the tradition!


Perseverance in Prayer

And I needed this too...

From Sam Storms:

I want to briefly address the reasons why a good God who can help often seems not to, or at least not to in accordance with our schedules. There are surely reasons other than these, but here are a few suggestions that I hope will encourage you to “continue steadfastly in prayer” (Col. 4:2a).
First, we are a presumptuous people! We just assume that God ought always to do what we ask, when we ask, precisely in the way we ask. By delaying his response, God awakens us to the gracious character of all answered prayer. In other words, that God says or does anything at all in response to our petitions is sheer, undiluted grace. Resolute continuation in prayer, watchful perseverance, is often the best way for us to learn this invaluable lesson.
Second, steadfast endurance in coming again and again to the throne of grace is God’s way of cultivating in us a sense of absolute and utter dependence upon him. We are by nature self-reliant, self-sufficient folk. If God were instantly and at all times to answer our every prayer we would gradually lose our sense of urgency. Truth be told, most of us would soon lose sight of the fact that it is God alone who is the source of all good. By suspending his response, God is saying to each of us: “Just how desperate are you? How conscious are you that I am your only source, your sole and all-sufficient supply?”
Third, persistent praying puts us in that frame of mind and spirit in which we may properly receive what it is that God desires to give. In other words, it isn’t so much that God is reluctant to give, but that we lack preparation to receive. Try to envision what a mess your life would have been had your parents granted you everything you asked for as a child! God often delays his answers because, quite simply, we are in no shape to receive them. Few of us are willing to admit that, but deep down we know it’s true.
Fourth, steadfast, watchful continuation in prayer helps us differentiate between impetuous, ill-conceived, selfish desires, and sincere, deep-seated, Christ-exalting ones. Persistence in prayer thus enables us to weed out improper petitions.
Fifth, endurance at the throne of grace purifies the content of our petitions. By repeating our prayers we are forced to think and re-think what we are saying. We are compelled to evaluate our motivation and aim for asking God for something in particular. It’s a bit like how I read, re-read, and read yet again each of these meditations before I send them out. It helps me identify mistakes, locate typographical errors, and re-phrase something that otherwise might be false or misleading. I can almost envision God saying, in response to my first articulation of a prayer: “Sam, are you sure you want me to answer that one? Think about it. Contemplate the long-term consequences of a Yes. Then come back and ask me again in different terms, with a purified purpose.”
Sixth, perseverance cultivates patience. By withholding an immediate response, we learn how to “wait” on God. Waiting on the Lord is far from a passive posture. It’s an active, expectant, persistent pressing in to the heart and purposes of a loving God. How might we ever learn to do this were it not for steadfastness in prayer?
Seventh, oftentimes God wants to give, but not now. The answer will come in better circumstances, at a more opportune moment. By delaying his response a greater and better and more God-glorifying end is secured than by an immediate answer.
Finally, even if none of the reasons given above makes sense to you, persevere anyway! God isn’t asking you to understand: he’s asking you to be faithful


I needed this today...

Some days are harder than others. Most days, I'm okay with the waiting... most days I'm content, and I trust God's timing and provision.

Today, the waiting felt really hard.

I sent an email to Don saying something along the lines of, "I'm really discouraged today"- there was more to it than that, but I'll spare you the drama!

He sent me this email back:

Don't be discouraged. We're on the twins wait list too, so we might get a referral sooner than we think.
This is a good reminder to have our hope and delight in God, and not in having children. God is the fountain of living waters, and we need to learn to be satisfied in him, and all that he is. And we need to be satisfied in his Son. If we do this, rivers of living waters will flow out of us. This potential delay is a reminder not to put our hope for satisfaction in children.
And God is in complete control. He will do what is good for us. If we have to wait a bit longer than expected, it is from God out of love, for our good. We can rest in him. Plus we get a few more months to enjoy just the two of us!
Don't be discouraged. We have no idea how long or short the wait will be, we just need to rest in God.
I'm thankful for him and thankful for the encouragement because today I really needed it.


Adoption, adoption, and caring for orphans

A great post from Dan Cruver (Together for Adoption):

It has been my experience that many people do not really begin thinking about Adoption theologically until they themselves are involved in adopting (or at least considering adopting) a child. Very often, the consideration to adopt a child precedes the consideration of the truth that God has graciously adopted us to be His children. We usually think adoption before we think Adoption.
So is this a problem? Of course not. It’s natural and right to long for a child, and many people choose adoption for the same reason that couples bear children: in order to be parents. But for all those who are adopting – and have adopted – Together for Adoption desires to enrich your understanding of this act of love by showing how it relates to the theological concept of adoption.
Why, you ask? First, because we are convinced that the more we think about God’s gracious work of adopting us into His family, the more we will see and appreciate His glory, grace, beauty, love, etc. Adoption is first about the glorious God of the universe coming to profoundly needy people in the person of His Son to give us adoption as sons (Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5). When we grow in our understanding of who this God of grace is and what He has done to adopt us through Jesus Christ, we will find our love for and pursuit of Him steadily increasing. So, ultimately, we want to see people grow in their enjoyment of God Himself.

Second, if Christians better understand God’s work of adoption, they will find themselves joyfully compelled to extend this same kind of compassion to orphans, both here and abroad. Christians who love the wonderful doctrine of adoption will become increasingly passionate about “visiting orphans in their affliction” (James 1:27), whether through caring for orphans directly or indirectly, adopting a child, or assisting others in the adoption process. A proper theological grounding of horizontal adoption within vertical adoption has profound implications for our understanding of horizontal adoption and for our practice of orphan care (more on this in another post).


Two Months Down...

Picture of Number Two - Free Pictures - FreeFoto.com

Today marks two months of being on the "official" waitlist... though, truthfully it feels like we've been waiting since the day we sent in our first application, the weekend of Thanksgiving last year.

And truthfully, it feels like we've been waiting much longer since it has been many years that we have been praying and waiting on the Lord for children. But, even in the midst of the waiting, we continue to trust in God's sovereign plan and perfect timing. We believe that He is orchestrating every detail needed to bring us and our child or children together, and we won't be a minute late (or a minute early, though that sounds a little more tempting!).

I mentioned to Don that I wanted to do something special to celebrate our "two-month date", and this is the email he sent me while at work today.

"Special date tonight. Be at my office at 4:30. I already called the Ethiopian restaurant, and they said we don't need reservations."

Wow- I can't think of a better way to celebrate!


No News

The busyness of life really has a way of cutting into my blogging time... so here's a quick summary of what's going on now.
  • There hasn't been any news on the adoption front, but we didn't expect any this soon, so we're still feeling okay (not that we aren't still praying earnestly for an early/quick referral!). Each day we get a little closer, and that's exciting!
  • I'm finishing up the last grad class that I need to get my ELL endorsement... only two weeks left!
  • Don and I are both busy with our jobs, but thankful to have them! And thankful that we both have careers that we really enjoy!
  • I finally finished a project I had wanted to work on for the past year- a picture wall gallery in our living room. I did it while Don was in China.
Here are some before and after pictures... please excuse the fact that there aren't real pictures in most of the frames... it took a year to get the frames up and it will probably take another six months to get the pictures in!

Plain and boring

Plain and boring from this angle, too

Now, a cool focal point

And a place to share special memories...


Orphan Sunday

Today is Orphan Sunday. Hopefully by this time next year, there will be one less orphan in the world...

Orphan Sunday 2009 from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.


Greetings from China

Don spent the last week and a half in China for work... here are some shots from his trip.

This is on a ferry in Hong Kong.

A park in Hong Kong

Eating chicken feet... yes, he really ate them.

Duck skin

Fish... apparently, the cheeks are considered the best part.


A seven story mall in mainland China. Don was chased down the hall by a woman selling purses. She dropped her price from 1200 to 150 (Chinese money).

A man selling puppies for seven dollars. Don thought they were pets but later found out that this guy may have been selling them for dinner.

The Chinese countryside


The highest point in Hong Kong


A temple in Hong Kong

A harbor in Hong Kong


He had a good time but was glad to be home, and I was thankful to have him home!