Friday, December 31, 2010

Our 2011 Ten Day Prayer Kickoff!

I found a short article in a magazine that listed ten different prayer "postures" found in the Bible and we (my 11 year old daughter and I) are going to use it to kick off the new year in prayer!

January 1, 2011 Kneeling 1 Kings 8:54
January 2, 2011 Standing Jeremiah 18:20
January 3, 2011 Sitting 2 Samuel 7:18
January 4, 2011 In Bed Psalm 63:6
January 5, 2011 In Private Matthew 6:6
January 6, 2011 With Others Psalm 35:18
January 7, 2011 Hands Lifted 1 Timothy 2:8
January 8, 2011 Silently 1 Samuel 1:13
January 9, 2011 Aloud Acts 16:25
January 10, 2011 At All Times Luke 18:1

The more we learn about prayer, the more we will think about prayer, the more we will think about our Savior and talk with Him and the better we will know Him and love Him. I want to begin the year pointed at Him in prayer!

We will be recording this in our prayer journals so we can discuss what we are learning. Here is the format (just to give my daughter something to follow):
  • Date
  • Scripture written out
  • Two things I prayed about
  • My thoughts (3+ sentences)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Puppies and Toddlers

Maybe you've never noticed how much puppies and toddlers have in common? I think of it often as I parent my 4th toddler. Let's look at some of the similarities...

1. Both respond to simple, clear commands along with tone and facial expression.
When an owner speaks to his pet his language is simple and straightforward. He doesn't speak in long, monotonous speeches because he knows the limitations of the one he speaks to. He is short and to the point - "sit", "come", "lay down". The owner doesn't spend time explaining why or apologizing for asking because he views himself as "in charge" and expects obedience from his pet. The pet is able to "read" the owners mood by his tone and facial expression. He knows if it is play time or time to relax. The same is true of toddlers. They respond best to simple language like "no touch", "come to Mommy", "sit down", "kiss", and they are able to read our mood too. The Bible says

James 5:12 But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your "yes" be yes and your "no" be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

This is an important principle and one I am reminded of almost daily as I parent. We must say what we mean and mean what we say. Remember the KISS idea? Keep It Simple Stupid. What a great parenting mantra! There's really no need to do a full explanation of why I said "no" when you touched the ornaments on the Christmas tree, your just not allowed to touch them-period-cause I'm the Mom. :) I observe a lot of parents doing a lot of "discussing/explaining/lecturing" with toddlers and find it amusing when a simple "no" will work so much better.

2. Both require clear, consistent boundaries.
When you bring home a new puppy many of the training books will warn you not to let the puppy chew on household items like old socks. The reason is because they do not know the difference between "old socks" and your brand new socks! Then your mad because Fido has eaten every sock in the house! We have found the same principle to be true when training toddlers. All remote controls are off limits, all cell phones are "no-no", no papers, newspapers or books are allowed to be torn or crumpled because we know that little sweet-pea doesn't know the difference between a magazine we've already read and don't care about and the one that is important for Daddy's work. We know that although we may not mind if Jr. tears up our remote, that we may come over to your house and you won't ever invite us back when he tears up yours! The great thing about toddlers and puppies is that these things can be taught in just a few days with clear, consistent boundaries!

3. Both respond to positive feedback.
Puppies and toddlers both really enjoy pleasing their Mom and Dad! Again, they read our tone and facial expression and they know when we are happy and excited. We are teaching Evan to blow kisses right now and every time he does we all erupt in clapping, cheers and laughter! He knows that this is for him, that he did the right thing and he joins in the celebration. It won't take too many training sessions like that to teach him to blow kisses!

4. Both are smart and capable.
Our friends have laughed at us for a long time because each of our children have been trained to stay on the large area rug we have in our family room. From the time they become mobile we have said "stay on the rug" and picked them up and put them back on the rug until they learned that this was their play area. This is great for safety. I know what is within their reach while they are on the rug. There are no small pieces or parts, and they can't fall up or down stairs as long as they remain on the rug. We don't have to search the house to find them if we walk in to answer the phone. I know where they are and that they are safe. When my son began to walk recently many people have commented "I bet your chasing him all over!", I just smile and say "no, it's not that bad." Another benefit to this training is when we are away from home. My in-laws also have an area rug in their family room and our son stays right there in the room with us without wandering off into other parts of the house (into the dogs dishes...etc.). Many people are shocked when they discover this "skill" in our 15 month old which makes me laugh--do we really believe that we can train our dogs and not our children?? Our children are much smarter and more capable than our pets!!

5. Both desire security and leadership.
Toddlers and puppies are happier and more secure when they have discipline, boundaries, and strong leadership. They want to know that we know what we are doing and are confident in our decisions. When we are sure, they feel sure. When we wishy-wash around with a hundred words in an un-clear tone they don't know what to do. When we yell about something today and ignore it tomorrow they are confused and insecure. When we live by a flexible schedule and the rules stay the same, when our moods are predictable and stable, they are relaxed and happy. I had a boss once who said the number one quality he looked for in an employee was stability. He didn't want to deal with any Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde types where your not sure who your going to get today. Predictability was key to him. I think he had a good point.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I Understand Deception

I know a young woman with small children in the midst of a divorce right now. She is leaving her faithful, hard-working, honest, good-looking, kind, wonderful father, husband for another man after having a long-term affair with him. Her children are hurt and confused, her husband is destroyed, her parents are devastated, his parents are crushed, and their friends are shocked. This is a woman raised in a Christian home with happily married parents. She met her new boyfriend in the church choir.
Deceive = to cause to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid, to give a false impression.
When I heard about the situation my first thought was "so this is deception". How else can you explain a woman who is happy in her marriage one day and out "dating" another man the next? This is deception as plain as the serpent in the garden. In the same way the enemy caused Eve to believe she would be "happier" and MORE fulfilled if she ate the ONE fruit she couldn't eat, he caused this young woman to believe that somehow the grass would be greener in this other mans' arms. Eve never considered the consequences of her actions in her own life, or those generations to follow and I'm sure this woman hasn't either. That is one of the enemies specialties...to focus all our attention on the object of desire and leave no time or thought to it's ramifications. Let us never forget that the devils' intention is to STEAL, KILL, and DESTROY. What is more destructive in this world than divorce?
Deceive = to lead astray, imposing a false idea or belief that causes ignorance, bewilderment, or helplessness
Watching this situation progress to divorce has been painful for all involved. Many friends and family have tried to talk with this woman and reveal the consequences of her actions but to no avail. Too many times these situations remain hidden until the deception is so thick that it is nearly impossible to recover the victim. Too many times we, as onlookers, make excuses, rationalize the situation, or ignore it saying "that's none of my business" (which is another deception!). This is as dangerous as a burning building and we must be willing to rescue!
Deceive = to obscure the truth
If you are a follower of Christ and you know the TRUTH, don't keep it to yourself! I think we need to learn the art of "speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15). The Bible says the TRUTH will set us free. Sometimes that TRUTH is a good, happy message, like the gospel. But other times that TRUTH is hard, painful, and awkward to deliver, and yet it is still the key to freedom.
I have a friend who started a new job and has found herself in the middle of a potential adulteress situation between her boss and a new-hire (both married). There is quite a bit of flirting going on and it is uncomfortable for all the employees. I advised my friend to talk with the female from a point of view of concern. We have all been "blinded" in a situation in our lives where those on the "outside" could see things much more clearly than we could. Right now is the time to "nip this thing in the bud" but who can do that? My friend says "I don't have that kind of relationship with her!" Yes but the only people who DO have that kind of relationship with her will not know about this situation until it is much too late!! God placed YOU there at this time to speak the truth to her in love. She may not respond well to it. She may continue in the relationship. At least the truth has been spoken to her, an attempt to snap her out of the deceptive "trance".
Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you."
This story and others like it should serve as a warning to all of us that deception is real, effective, and we all are at risk. What kind of safeguards do you have in place to guard against this in your marriage? What boundaries will you implement today? Do you have an accountability partner who can ask you about these? Remember, the first deception is when we think "that would never happen to me".
James 1:22
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
One of the ways we guard against deception is by filling up on TRUTH daily in God's Word. Knowing the TRUTH is the greatest defense against the devils' schemes. Not just "knowing" Bible facts as though we want to win a prize on a quiz show, but KNOWING the ONE who is the Way and the TRUTH and the LIFE and doing what He says in obedience and out of love for Him.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Miserable in Paradise

I sat with a friend who is in horrible pain recently. She and her husband have been trying to conceive for a year now and have suffered the loss of miscarriage as well. She loves the Lord and is seeking to follow Him. She is happily married, lives in a beautiful home, and they have a healthy, happy daughter and wish to grow their family. Basically all is well in her life except this situation. It all seems so simple. Why wouldn't God want to give them another child? In her eyes, and in mine, it seems perfectly logical and even beneficial to all involved. Yet God is not following her plan or mine. In the mean time, my friend is miserable. Everywhere she turns she finds pregnant women. Worse yet, pregnant women who complain about being pregnant! Day after day there are continuous reminders that she is not pregnant and month after month the days drag on until there is a new opportunity. It is all-consuming and heart-breaking.

After my meeting with her I began to reflect in prayer on her situation with the Lord and He reminded me of a similar situation from Scripture. The first book of the Bible tells us about another young woman who "had it all" and yet there was one thing she couldn't get her mind off of.

Genesis 2:16-17 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

Adam and Eve were living in paradise and had freedom to eat from any tree in the garden except one. What did Satan do? He caused Eve to focus on the one thing she didn't have and it ended in her destruction!

How can you be miserable when you live in paradise?
Listen to the voice of the deceiver, the father of lies, the accuser, that's how!

How much of your thought time is spent on "the one tree you can't eat from"? How does it impact your mood, your effectiveness, your perspective?

The enemy wants our focus to be on ourselves and our plan because he knows that we are weak and fallen and will always come up short resulting in disappointment, depression, even hopelessness. Here is a "thought recipe for disaster"...
  • Thoughts focused on what I want, need and desire rather than on what God wants, what He thinks and what He desires. Do we really believe our way is better?
  • Thoughts that compare me to someone else. Either I come out ahead and puff up with pride, or I come out inferior and feel like a loser. No good can come from comparisons.
  • Obsessive thoughts that include mental ultimatums like "when _____ happens, then I can be happy/content/useful...etc."
The enemy wants you and I to believe that our happiness is dependent on a circumstance, an event, or an outcome. If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ you have reason to be JOY-FILLED every day! God's plan is for you and I to choose to focus on HIM today, what He has done, what He is doing, and who He is. When we purposefully shift our focus off ourselves and onto God and others we will have a different outlook and outcome! How can we do that? I always say "what does that look like in real life?" Here are some practical examples of things to do to get your mind off YOU...

  • Get your prayer list from Sunday school and pray for those needs.
  • Call to check on a friend and pray with them over the phone.
  • Bake cookies and take them to someone.
  • Do something special for your spouse. What would thrill him? Clean out the closet, wash the car, pay the bills?
  • Praise God for who He is. Go through the ABC's thinking of an attribute of God for each one (awesome, bold, complete...etc.)
  • Make a blessing list of all the things you are thankful for.
  • Use your gifts to serve someone. Are you gifted in organization? Call your friend who isn't and offer to come by and work for an hour. Are you a great cook? Invite some newlywed gals over for a cooking class!
All of these suggestions are replacements. The Bible talks about "taking off" certain behaviors and "putting on" others. So when you find yourself thinking about that one area of your life that is less than "ideal" you replace that line of thinking with one of these ideas. When you are tempted to call a friend to complain that your situation hasn't improved, instead pray with them about a concern of theirs. It is never enough to vow to STOP something, we must always be ready to START a new way of doing things to replace the old.

I love my "Comforts of the Cross" devotional by Elyse Fitzpatrick. In it she challenges me to focus more on God's love for me rather than my love for Him, more on His obedience than mine, more on His faithfulness than mine, more on His strengths than mine. "I must focus on how I've been loved, irrevocably, eternally, freely, without merit, and rest in the awareness of my perfect acceptance before Him."

As long as we are looking at ourselves we will remain disappointed. We are imperfect and the proof is obvious and plentiful. But thoughts of Jesus will never leave us disappointed, only grateful and amazed. It's up to you.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

We've Never Prayed For Our Breakfast


Phillipians 4:19
And my God will meet all your needs
according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

I read a book to the kids recently called "Granny Han's Breakfast". It was the story of a missionary lady in Taiwan who literally had no food in her cupboards for breakfast one morning. The young girl who helped her around the house asked her what she was going to do. Granny Han said she would pray and ask God to meet her need. This girl was not a believer and thought she was foolish for considering this a reasonable plan of action. Over the next hour she saw God meet Granny Han's need as friends and neighbors stopped by "out of the blue" with fruit, coffee, and other treats. Granny Han rejoiced as her young friend watched in disbelief.

Have you ever prayed for your breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? Neither have I. The girls and I discussed how Granny's faith must have been enriched by this experience. How she must have felt so loved and cared for by her Father God. How seeing this must have impacted her house guest. It's almost sad that we haven't had such an experience.

What kinds of needs do we have and how do we meet them? This morning my skin felt dry, I went to the bathroom cabinet and got my lotion and took care of it. If I hadn't had any lotion in the cabinet I would have hopped in the van and driven to CVS and bought some. When I am hungry I get in my pantry, or stop by the grocery, or even go to a restaurant...I don't even have to go in!! I can drive-thru a window and pick something up! If I am in pain, I call the Doctor and he will write me a prescription. If someone is looking for love, they can get on an internet dating sight or go to a club. If we need spiritual advice, we can call a pastor, or attend one of a thousand churches on every corner of this city! We barely look to God even in spiritual matters any more!! We, as a society, have done (and continue to do) our best to meet every single need we have on our own. We have squeezed God out of our lives. Only in desperate circumstances (those we don't think we can control on our own) do we call on Him anymore. Jesus said He would never leave us and never forsake us--but have we left and forsaken Him?

What do we miss in living this way? The opportunity to see His love and personal care for us. The chance for our faith to be built and strengthened. The occasion to bring glory to His Name and His Kingdom. The truth is that most of us spend an awful lot of time daydreaming (or complaining) about how our lives should/could be easier when the reality is that they are already TOO EASY and that is a big chunk of our problem!

God brought this to my attention back in July when our family went on vacation. We stayed in a wonderful place on the beach with a pool and room service and had a great time. Guess what? I hardly opened my Bible and spent almost zippo time in prayer. Why? Good question since the excuse I would use at home would be "time" or lack of. I had nothing but time on vacation; and even some time alone when I would go upstairs for Evan to take his nap. But all was well. Everything was running smooth. Everyone was healthy and happy and all our needs were met. This was an eye-opening experience for me.

I love the song "In Christ Alone" that says:
In Christ alone I place my trust
and find my glory in the power of the cross
in every victory let it be said of me
my source of strength, my source of hope
is Christ alone.
Let us also never forget that our greatest need in this life is to be rescued from the judgment we deserve for our rebellion against the One, True, Living God. And that need can only be met by one, our Savior Jesus Christ. So no matter how self-sufficient we may feel, it is only an illusion when we get to the core of what really matters which is "where will you spend eternity?".

Saturday, September 4, 2010

My Workplace

So I'm reading Charlotte's Web to the girls as part of Paige's first grade curriculum, and it is really good! I had forgotten, since I was probably her age the last time I read it and I haven't seen the updated movie.

In Chapter 9 Charlotte (the wise spider) is explaining to Wilbur (the young, naive pig) why he can't spin a web like she does. She tells him this is a talent unique to spiders and that even men cannot build a web, though they will try. Charlotte tells him about a bridge that men have built that is similar to a spiders web.
Wilbur: "What do people catch in the Queensborough Bridge--bugs?"
Charlotte: "No, they don't catch anything. They just keep trotting back and forth across the bridge thinking there is something better on the other side. If they'd hang head-down at the top of the thing and wait quietly, maybe something good would come along. But no--with men it's rush, rush, rush, every minute. I'm glad I'm a sedentary spider."
Wilbur: "What does sedentary mean?"
Charlotte: "Means I sit still a good part of the time and don't go wandering all over creation. I know a good thing when I see it, and my web is a good thing. I stay put and wait for what comes. Gives me a chance to think."
I know my girls think I am nuts when, in the middle of the story, I have to run to find a highlighter, a bookmark, a post-it--something to mark this AWESOME epiphany moment!! But this conversation between Charlotte and Wilbur fit so beautifully with the previous blog about "My Job"!

These statements are so simple and yet so accurate in todays society.
  • We DO trot back and forth always thinking there is something better that we are missing out on!
  • We rarely "hang" and wait quietly to see what the Lord would say or bring our way.
  • We are rushing constantly which causes us to be short-tempered and stressed out!
  • We DO wander all over creation seeking fulfillment, praise, significance.
  • We DON'T know a good thing when we see it!
Charlotte's web is her home and she sees it as a "good thing" and she "stays put". My home is my workplace and God has called me to make it a haven for my family. A place where we can relax, learn, have fun, eat together, and show hospitality to others. I need not go elsewhere to find meaning, there is meaning at home where I love my family, teach, train, correct, cook, clean, raise my children to know Jesus, love my husband, and visit with friends.

I think I'm going to adopts Charlotte's philosophy on life--"never hurry and never worry!" If you are not "catching anything" then maybe you should take some time to be sedentary like Psalm 46:10.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Job

I know a lady who works at Macy's. She hates it when customers take a load of clothes into the dressing room and then leave all of them in there in a heap when they leave the store. She then has to spend a large portion of her day in the dressing room hanging and re-stocking the clothes. My thought is "that's your job!". I mean, isn't that what they pay you for? I understand people are inconsiderate and should be more responsible for cleaning up after themselves, but...this is why they pay her, to hang up and put away the clothes! So when she goes to work-who cares what she does-just stay busy, work hard at whatever needs to be done, and collect your paycheck without complaint.

This is what God brought to my mind this morning as I was complaining in prayer to Him about all the interruptions and corrections I have been dealing with from the kids. We homeschool and as I am trying to teach one child, the other comes over and needs help with something else or needs to be corrected for disobedience...etc. It can be very frustrating to manage the needs and misbehaviors of all 4. I find myself agitated at the "inconvenience" of stopping one lesson/conversation to deal with another. So as I talked to the Lord about my irritation and asked for His help, he brought this lady to mind and made the obvious correlation..."Cristie--that is your JOB!" "You are the Mom and it is your job to help them, to teach them, to correct them and to train them-all day, every day!"

Why am I so surprised that they have to be told something over and over again when I continue to make many of the same mistakes over and over again in spite of the correction God has given me? Why am I acting like I have "other things to do" when being a Mom is my JOB, my #1 priority, my PRIVILEGE! Sometimes I need a change in perspective to get back on track. Just the reminder that this is MY JOB will change the way I view the daily "irritations". I can choose to see them as "training opportunities" instead and be thankful that I am around to witness them and equipped by God to deal with them. After all, what could be more important?

To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The things that stick.

When we sat down to dinner tonight Rusty began to tell about a famous coach, John Wooden, who died on Friday at the age of 99. He told the girls "I hope you have a marriage like the one I heard about today". John Wooden was married to his sweetheart Nell for 53 years. She was the only girl he ever kissed. She died 24 years ago on the 21st of March. Since then, every month on the 21st he has written her a love letter. Rusty told the girls that Wooden said he never considered marrying again because he could never love anyone the way he loved Nell.http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=5249532
We talked about faithfulness--what does it mean to be faithful? Why does God want us to be faithful? We explained how the Lord Jesus is faithful, that once we ask Him to be our Lord and Savior that He remains faithful to us to the end. He doesn't change His mind. He doesn't fall in and out of love with us like the old game "He loves me, He loves me not" based on our behavior or performance. He makes a commitment to us, adopts us into His family, and remains committed for all eternity. God wants us to be faithful because He is faithful and He wants us to be like Him.
With tears in his eyes my husband shared with the girls Wooden's final wish was that someone would shave him so he would look nice when he saw Nell. I truly believe this is one of those family moments that will stick in my daughters minds for all time. I believe as they consider a spouse they will recall the conversation their dad had with them on June 8, 2010 and attempt to discern if this man is one who will be faithful to the end.

"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are," John Wooden

"Clean your room!" and other misunderstood instructions

Recently a mother was visiting our house when I asked my 3 daughters to go upstairs and fold a load of laundry. After they left the room she commented "I wish my kids would help out around the house!" She went on to say that when she told her son to "clean his room" she would find him 20 minutes later in his room playing. The best outcome she could expect was for him to pick up the floor and stuff all the items under the bed, in the closet, or in drawers with no order whatsoever.

Here's what I have learned about this dilemma:

1. Kids do not understand broad concepts like "clean your room" (especially kids under 7). They do understand specific instructions like "put the Barbies in the blue bin". Another broad instruction mothers love to give their kids is "be good". Really? What does that look like? We must be more specific with our expectations when we have small children. Speak real directions that are meaningful in their kid-mind.

2. Flowing from #1...do their things have a "home" where they belong? If you tell your child to "put away the Barbies" do they know where the Barbies are supposed to go? If not, you are making "clean up" very difficult for your child. When their toys have "homes" they are much more likely to be willing and able to put them away. This doesn't have to be some HGTV play room makeover where each bin is labeled and embroidered, it just has to be a system known to the child and taught (and followed) by Mom and Dad.

3. Which brings us to #3...work as a team, especially in the beginning. Everyone likes to be part of a team, to laugh and have fun makes the work go by faster! Rather than sending each family member to a separate room to clean/straighten up, why not move as a team from room to room? This also gives each member an opportunity to "serve" the others! Turn on some music and have fun! Working together gives Mom and Dad the chance to show how the work should be done, to offer tips and guidance, and just build relationship too! Too many times we just bark out orders when it would be much more effective and efficient to say "let's go clean up your room" or "let's get this kitchen cleaned up together--why don't we set the timer for 15 minutes and see if we can beat the clock!!" I believe that kids want to spend time with their parents, especially one on one, so take advantage of that and be productive too!

Taking a break from radio

This Sunday, June 13, will be the final episode of the Contagious radio program on WJMM fm. After much consideration I have decided to stop recording for this "season" of life. I know I have to have an outlet, a way to express myself, so I will be writing more on the blog, as time allows, to share what God is teaching me. The three and a half years of radio programs will continue to be available for download on the website www.contagiousonline.com

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Carley's Kiss
May 2010
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Airplane photos! We flew on Emirates Airlines and were very happy with them. We flew Cincinnati to JFK in New York then on to Dubai where we stayed overnight in a hotel (which would have been nice if I could have slept!!). My schedule went off kilter starting on Wednesday night before we left on Thursday. I guess I was a little anxious about traveling around the world and meeting my new son for the first time--imagine that! Mostly I was apprehensive about the thought of a 14 hour flight! What does one do for 14 hours in the air?? The Emirates planes have tv's on the back of each seat so you can watch tv, movies, or play video games which is a great feature! Unfortunately I got sick on the big flight, I think it was just motion sickness but sick nonetheless. Don't feel bad for me, feel bad for the elderly Indian woman who sat on the aisle (she spoke no English) and I climbed over her every 30 minutes throughout the majority of the flight! I made friends with all the flight attendants and had the privilege of sitting in the jump seat for large chunks of time as I waited for the restroom to open up. Other than the nausea and vomiting, it was a smooth trip. :)

Packing for a trip around the world--

Rus and I ready to leave on Thursday, March 18, 2010
We flew out of Cincinnati, OH at 4pm

Our bathroom was the packing depot!
This packing started about a month and a half before we actually left!

Momma must have her snacks!! :)
I wanted to be sure I had some sweets and comfort food just in case
I wasn't as adventurous in the dining room as I was hoping for!
(I wasn't) Let's just say the Fruit Loops were gone!

The girls were a big help in packing...especially when it came to Evan's clothes!
We had to sort sizes and then try to decide which size would work best..?
So I took a full week of 3-6 mos. and a full week of 6-9 mos.
Baby clothes don't take up that much room!!!

Baby stuff!!

The girls on the day of our departure. I guess I was so caught up in packing, preparation and anticipation that I nearly forgot I'd have to leave my girls for a week. I started crying when we got one street away and Rusty was surprised. Wow, this could be tough!

Sorry for the silence...

So sorry for the silence.
So many of you have been so faithful in prayer for our family throughout this process that I hate to keep you waiting! If your not my Facebook friend you are probably waiting to see Evan's beautiful face??!! So here is his referral photo that we received on January 5, 2010. He was 3 and 1/2 months old here. We got 6 photos with his referral but this is the one that looks most like who we met on March 21, 2010. Funny, because this one was my husband's favorite!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mini-Cerniglia Update! From #2

Hello everybody! This is Angie or as Cristie calls me #2! I wanted to give those of you who aren't on facebook a little update on the Cerniglia's (or half of them!)
They arrived safely on Saturday and got to hold their precious son on Sunday!
I got to see them via Skype today and trust me, Evan is absolutely adorable!!!! And very content!! They have molded together already!

Their US Embassy appointment was on Monday and went well, and neither of them have been sick with any stomach bug either!
Cristie was even able to see our little boy (in fact he was the first child they saw when they arrived at Hannah's hope! The director was holding him!)
Other than Jet-lag, I think they are doing great! Cristie has nothing but good things to say!

They are due back Friday and I personally can't wait!!
She will much more to blog about then!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Packed! We leave the day after tomorrow!

It is 12:30 am and I just finished writing letters for the girls to read each day while we are gone. I sealed them in individual dated envelopes so each one would be a surprise and something to look forward to (not as fun as Cris P. who did bags with goodies in them :) but I'm doing the best I can!! I tried to give them a few assignments each day so they won't wear Rusty's folks out completely too! Also let them know what our day would look like and told them how they could pray for us.

I got Evan and I 95% packed today. Rusty is on his own :) (I say lovingly). It was hard work, but with Morgan's help, we got it done today! What a weight lifted off my back. Now I can go to BSF in the morning and enjoy the study and "fill up" on God's awesome word before we leave!! I can't wait until we're actually on the road and in the air and I can actually bask in the awesomeness that we are on our way to Evan! With all this preparation I really haven't had time to reflect much on how cool this part is!

Shout out of thanks to my support system today: Angie/#2 who passed court today!!! Praise the Lord, Cris P. who recently traveled and is an awesome resource on travel questions, Susan P. who I am looking forward to meeting face to face on Thursday night late in the JFK airport as we share in this awesome experience together! My in-laws who arrived today, 2 days early, to help out. Our treasured friends the Hunters who came to wish us well tonight, and my dear neighbor Marissa who gave me a paper bag to make my apple pie in and is always available in my food/entertaining emergencies!! I love you all!!! :) Hugs and smiles!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Counting down the days...and adding up the lists!

It is Monday night. I made another $200 trip to Wal-Mart tonight and I didn't buy any clothes for Evan! It was all just STUFF that everyone says we need for this humongous journey around the world! I am checking so many different packing lists I can't keep one straight from the other. I am determined to have EVERYTHING we maybe, might possibly need, along with a little extra just in case one of the other families in our group didn't bring "it". It can get a little overwhelming! The countdown continues. The girls are down to 12 days until they meet their baby brother! Morgan continues to monitor closely the number of days until Mom and Dad leave, while her sisters focus more on our return! The in-laws will arrive tomorrow which will really make it seem more real that we are leaving at last!!! It is all such a whirlwind! I know we will finally exhale when we get in the truck and drive away toward the airport. Then we will know we have done all we can and we are truly on our way to EVAN. I already couldn't sleep last night, so many thoughts running, racing through my head. I have to sleep with pen and paper by the bed to write the things down as they come. Pen and paper by my makeup mirror, in the kitchen and in the office too! Always a new list and an addition to the old one. Will I remember it all? No, but Angie will---I'll make sure of that!!! :)
Goodnight.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bracelet, Necklace, Tiara

This awesome necklace was a gift from my sweet Angelia. I have debated on whether to post it or not because I know everyone will love it and run out to buy one and I wanted to be the only one with this great "Momlace" :) But I suppose none of the rest of you will get one with "Morgan, Paige, Carley, and Evan" on it will you? It even has "Rusty 5-7-94" on the back!
She knew I was having trouble with my "Momacelet", which when I added the 4th strand started breaking constantly so she found this! Rusty nearly smacked me when I asked how we could add another disc to this one! Oh well, I suppose if we have a 5th child I will just buy a personalized tiara. You can reasonably wear a tiara if you have 5 kids right? LOL

Darling Baby Boy Bibs!!

Check out these baby boy bibs my mom made for Evan!
The Formal Affair
The Clown
The Farmer
and
The Suit and Tie
If you want to order one you can Facebook her at
Mary Anne Lawley Logan

Monday, March 8, 2010

13 more days to hold Evan...

I am working to max out every day between now and the 18th when we leave. It seems there is so much to do. Every day I mark 4 or 5 items off my to do list, and then add 6 or 7 back on! Each person I talk to alerts me to another "possibility" of something to pack or bring. I really want to be prepared. Tomorrow I get my hair colored and cut, the last thing I want is for Evan to think he's stuck with some dark-rooted, sloppy hair-wearin' Kentucky Momma!! :)

We still don't have news on Angie and Matt's court date today. All they needed was one paper so surely they have been approved-right? Angie has done her homework and she found a friend of ours who passed court and traveled 10 days later, and so we hold out hope that they will be with us when we leave on the 18th!

We found out our new friends in NY will be traveling with us and even be on our flight from JFK to Dubai and then on to Ethiopia so that should be fun! I warned her that I am a "professional" when it comes to talking and she promised I'd met my match! Do you think we can talk non-stop for 14 hours and 45 minutes from NY to Dubai? Piece of cake. :) They will be meeting their 3 month old son!

Rusty's parents are confirmed to arrive on Tuesday to keep the kids while we're gone. What a relief not to have to pack them to go somewhere as well! They will stay for a few days after we return as well so we can rest a little. Thank you Lord for great in-laws!!

I ordered us more shirts off www.cafepress.com tonight. It is an awesome website with every kind of adoption t-shirt you can imagine. I want to wear them on the plane both ways so that we can easily connect with other adoptive families. Though I guess on the way home we'll be pretty obvious! I made the girls and I Africa shirts this week that they will wear to the airport to meet us. So cute. My mom is going to do the stitching around the Africa outline and put hearts where Ethiopia is.

I must say I would have NEVER imagined all this would be happening. As I look back over this adoption journey I can't believe we've made it to this point. What a LONG road it has been. What a roller coaster ride with such highs and lows. I know this is the highest of highs that we are about to experience. A trip to Africa is HUGE all by itself, let alone meeting our new son and bringing him home for the first time!!! It is just SO big! If you had told me that we would adopt a son from around the world 10 years ago I would have thought you were nuts! But now it brings to mind the song "look what the Lord has done, He healed my body, He touched my mind..He saved me just in time oh I'm gonna praise His name, cause each day He's just the same, come on and praise Him..look what the Lord has done!!!!!" That is the only way to explain this. He started it and He will finish it and I am in awe that He has allowed us to be a part of it! What a privilege and a blessing. And all this before we even meet him! I know the blessing is only beginning!

Right now I am praying for God's grace as we travel. God is reminding me of my tendency toward spoiled self-centeredness. You know, as in "what if I don't get a hot shower?" or "what if I don't like the food, Lord, you know how car sick I get when my tummy isn't full!" There are a lot of "what if's" in this travel, that's for sure. I am told that the electricity goes off for hours at a time in the city. In and of myself, this will be a very difficult trip for me, but I am trusting God to fill me with patience, and love, and peace that passes all understanding. He is able, I am not. My desire is to completely enjoy every aspect of this trip in spite of the way it may challenge my "comforts". My comforts need to be challenged! Will you pray with me?

Thank you Evan for changing our lives. You've already started and I know there is more to come. People say you are blessed to join our family, I know we are blessed to have you.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

My dear friend Karen and her family came over last night to share all the details of their recent trip to Ethiopia to bring home sweet baby William (8 months old). I remember when I first met Karen (2 years ago) and she shared that they were starting their paperwork to adopt a child from Ethiopia and I thought "how nice for them" never dreaming that we would soon be in the same situation!! Isn't the Lord hilarious? We have walked this road together and held one another up in prayer. We were blessed to be at the airport when they got home two weeks ago. I told her I would give her a few days to rest but then I needed DETAILS!!! She shared their experience and had even taken notes on things she did not want me to forget to pack! What a blessing to hear their story and to hold William. He has the softest skin EVER! It made me feel closer to Evan just holding this baby who shares a story and a homeland with our son.

Just a thought:
I have never met an adoptive family who doesn't desire to go back and do it again. Interesting.

A fun step stool project

I bought this unfinished wood step stool at Michaels for next to nothing and had fun painting it and Modge-Podging a verse on it by cutting the letters out of a magazine. The girls had fun cutting out letters too! You can buy Modge-Podge at WalMart or Michaels and paint it on with a sponge brush. I did some plates like this at Christmas time that came out cute too. I cut out letters to spell "Tis the Season" in the center of the plate and then all sorts of words for around the rim like "Fun", "Family", "love", "cooking and sharing", "parties", ...etc.

1 Timothy 4:12 (New International Version)

12Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young

Countdown to Evan

We made this poster to count down the days until the girls will meet their baby brother for the first time. We made it so that they can cut a day off the end each morning and visually see the time get shorter and shorter. We started with 23 days from Thursday-the day our travel was confirmed. I wrote the date under each number and made a note for each day we will be in Ethiopia telling what is happening that day (Sunday the 21- Gotcha Day, Monday the 22nd- Embassy appointment, Tuesday the 23rd- shopping, Wednesday the 24th- Cultural dinner, Thursday the 25th-Travel, Friday the 26th-Forever Family reunion!) Seeing this every time I go up and down the stairs is a real JOY-PRODUCER!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Which is harder...before or after the referral?

As we waited on the waiting list I did OK until we hit the #3. For some reason that really made it all come alive in me. At last it felt like this was really going to happen and I began to panic. "We're not ready!!" was my cry! And so we prepared in the hopes that any day we would get the referral call and behaved as though we could travel any day. This was October 26, 2009. Well it didn't take long to prepare his room and then I hit my low point. We found out we were #2 on 11/6 and #1 on 11/12. We didn't get our referral until January 5, 2010. These were the hardest weeks for me (just go back and read the posts if you don't believe me!). I worried that the waiting might be harder after we saw his photo but I have to say it hasn't been. Maybe if my 3-2-1-referral countdown had gone faster this time would be more difficult to wait through, but we were so happy to "know" him finally and have things in motion!
The great thing about the time between referral and travel is that you always have motion. Things are happening most all the time and that keeps your mind occupied. Now, here we are waiting for THE day and it feels so good to finally have the END in sight (or the beginning, depending on how you look at it!). Just to know we will see him in 15 days is enough to keep a smile on my face 24/7!! Our friends came over last night with their new 8 month old son from Ethiopia and just to hold him made me feel closer to sweet Evan-boy.
What a blessing to be involved in this whole process as difficult as it has been at times, it has forced me to lean into God and to actually "walk" what I say I believe. And for that, I am thankful.
Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"

Friday, March 5, 2010

Confirmed Travel Dates for March 22

This is me with a confirmed travel date!

I don't know how it can get any better than this! We got the call yesterday, only one day after receiving the call for tentative travel, that our dates are confirmed and we will participate in the March 22nd Embassy date! We had just heard back from the travel agent with an itinerary that matched what we wanted and Julie called to give us the "go ahead"! We sent the itinerary to her and she approved it within minutes and we were back on the phone with the travel agent to book it! We are beyond excited, far above thrilled, and way past delighted at the thought of meeting Evan on the 21st!
The girls and I made a "Countdown to Evan" poster yesterday (I'll post a photo of it soon)! We wrote the numbers on it 1-23 and will cut off a number each day to show how many are left until they get to meet their baby brother! I start to cry just typing that sentence! It seems too good to be true after all this time! How many exclamation marks can I use in one post???
At this point it doesn't look good for Angie and Matt (#2) to travel with us, but we know God can do far above anything we ask or imagine, so we won't give up hope!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tentative Travel Dates!

Our Case Worker called today to give us tentative travel dates for an Embassy Appointment in Ethiopia for March 22!! We will leave two weeks from tomorrow! Unbelievable! Our first court date was February 4 and we did not pass. If we had passed we would have hoped to travel on March 8. Turns out, the March 8 Embassy Appointment for our agency was cancelled. So...we are travelling ASAP anyway! Thank you Lord!

We are supposed to have finalized dates (which just means we can go ahead and buy our tickets because it is set in stone) by Monday which is two weeks from the Embassy Appointment. But Julie says the only way we won't travel on the 22nd now is if the Embassy cancels the date which is highly unlikely.

Rusty is talking to travel agents and calling our cell phone provider to find out about international calls and I am shopping like a crazy person! My friend who just returned home from Ethiopia with her 8 month old son told me she changed his clothes SIX times during the 24 hour trip home! That reminded me of a reality of infants that I had forgotten about--the messy, spit-up, poop-out, endless laundry reality of an infant!!! So I'm wondering how many outfits do we need for 7 days away from home with limited (if any) laundry access? Also, we have had two sets of updated measurements for Evan lately and evidently he is shrinking! :) So it's hard to rely too much on the information we are getting from the transition home as far as what size to buy. So last week I bought 6-9 month and this week I bought 3-6 month! The plan is to keep tags on and return whatever we didn't need or didn't work. So tricky to pack! I have a pile in my closet that I add to daily of things we may need (mainly food-ha ha). I am determined not to waste away on this trip! :)

It's hard to believe that we will have a new baby in this house by the end of the month! What an awesome birthday present for Mommy! Thank you Lord for bringing him home for my birthday. You know the desires of my heart!

May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Shower for #2!

Angie's nieces were there
wearing their cute Africa t-shirts she made them!

On February 28 we had a shower for Angie (#2) and for Micah! It was lots of fun and she got loads of cutie boy stuff! What fun to celebrate with her! She is God's special gift to me. Who would have thought that I would find another mom adopting a son at the same time (back to back on the waiting list), with the same agency (in Oregon no less), who lives less than a mile from my house? Only a sovereign, all-knowing God can do that! I am always encouraged by her as she turns to the Word in every situation we've encountered along this long road.
She is bright and beautiful,
sweet and cheerful, compassionate and transparent.
I love my BFF Angie!
2 Thessalonians 1:3
We ought always to thank God for you,
brothers, and rightly so,
because your faith is growing more and more,
and the love every one of you has for each other
is increasing.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Welcome Home William!

We had the privilege to welcome home our friends as they brought home their 8 month old son William from Ethiopia on Monday, 2/22/10! Their flight was scheduled to come in at 5:15pm but was delayed a few times and they finally arrived at 9pm. Rusty kept asking me "do you think we should just go home, it's late, put the kids to bed?"...etc. But I was bound and determined we were going to be there! What an opportunity for the girls to see exactly what it will be like when it is Mom and Dad and Evan getting off that plane! Besides, the crowd was thinning with each delay, in my opinion, which increased my chances of actually getting to HOLD this precious one!!! :) Ulterior motives for sure!
The girls made this darling poster which we taped to dowel rods (is that the right word?) so they could hold it like a banner and afterwards we rolled it up and stuck it in their bag when they weren't looking so they could see it later and keep it for him (if they choose).
Yes, Paige is wearing a sticker on her forehead (smile). She is my comedian. She likes this "look" for some reason??? With my first I never would have allowed it, especially in public, but now I just say "sure" and get a little chuckle when people look at her funny. I think it is nice of me to offer the public some comedy relief, and character building for her to be made fun of. :)
OK, anyway, the homecoming was glorious! William was smiling and cooing at his fans. He had all the energy since he was able to sleep 14 out of 18 hours, unlike Mom and Dad who were "exhausted beyond all physical endurance" as Karen put it. Praise the Lord for His wonderful work in bringing this family together again!
Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

We passed court!!

February 18, 2010
Evan is officially our son! We have court approval!
We had our second chance at court on Wednesday the 17th. We waited and waited to hear from AGCI and finally at about 2pm we got an email from our CW saying she didn't have any info. We didn't know what to think. Finally at 2pm on Thursday she called and I swear it was my referral call repeated!! I saw the # on caller i.d. and almost didn't want to answer it for fear it would be bad news. But it wasn't...we passed! Evan is OURS after all this time! I completely fell apart in total relief. Thankfully she understood where I was and just said "go celebrate and call me later when your ready to write down info". :)

We are super excited and hope to travel either 3/22 or 4/5. There is light at the end of this long, long tunnel.

Thanks so much for your support and prayers! God is very good.

Why Wouldn't I?