Thursday, June 28, 2012

Life ain't always beautiful...

"Life ain't always beautiful
Sometimes it's just plain hard
Life can knock you down, it can break your heart

Life ain't always beautiful
You think you're on your way
And it's just a dead end road at the end of the day

But the struggles make you stronger
And the changes make you wise
And happiness has its own way of takin' its sweet time

No, life ain't always beautiful
Tears will fall sometimes
Life ain't always beautiful
But it's a beautiful ride"

This is one of my favorite songs by Gary Allan. There is so much truth in these words. This past week has been hard, with the situation with Sam and the Stokes family. If you aren't aware, the Stokes family committed to Sam after we had to back away, and they left last week to get him. All of Sam's moms, aunts, and everyone who loves him were so excited to know that his family was finally coming for him. (He can't imagine the people who showed such love for him and all came together to help him.) He would get the family he had been wanting, and his new life would begin. But the unthinkable happened, something none of us would have dreamed. He said no. The link above will take you to the Stokes' blog, where you can read exactly what all happened, but basically, he had been fed false information by others for their own selfish purpose. Needless to say, my heart is broken, for Kim and Shane and their family, and especially for Sam. He has no idea what he's given up. A wonderful Christian family, a brother and sisters, a chance for college and endless possibilities in life. 

Of course we're all wondering why. Why he gave up this chance, why so many of us felt led to him, to help him and try to bring him home, only to seemingly have it be all for nothing. Why?? Once we had to back away, I questioned God as to why He brought this to our doorstep, and then take Sam away again. Of course I did. What did this accomplish? And now the Stokes family are having to wonder the same thing. Why did God allow them to go over there, to see Sam face to face, and then make them come home without him? I honestly don't think I could have handled doing that. It was hard enough, going through what we did. Please keep Kim and Shane in your prayers to help them heal from this. 

For anyone who hasn't gone through anything similar, you probably don't understand just how hard this is. Once you commit to a child to adopt them, they are yours. You picture them in everything you do, everywhere you go, in your mind they are right there with you. You make plans and preparations for them. You've already added them to your family. Then when that's taken away, your world comes crashing down. You've lost a family member. You grieve. I grieved for Sam and Duncan, and I'm sure the Stokes are grieving the loss of their son. 

So, you might ask, why put yourself through that? Don't I wish it had never happened? NOT.FOR.A.MINUTE. I wouldn't change what I did, not one bit. These last four months have been the most stressful of my life. I've cried more than I have in the last several years put together. We've spent money we couldn't afford to spend. But I would do it again in a heartbeat. It's been a beautiful ride, and I can say that my life has been changed because of it.

Why do I say that? Because, by doing this, I stepped out in faith, not having a clue what we were doing, I just trusted God. He said, go, and I did. Because that's what we have to do. The Stokes did the same thing. Whatever the outcome, we did what we had to do. When God calls, we need to answer. Yes, it was incredibly hard for everyone involved. I pray this doesn't happen to the other kids from 39. Please keep all the families and children in your prayers, that the kids will know this is the right thing to do, that they don't let lies interfere with their chance for a family. And please keep Sam in your prayers, that things will go well for him and that somehow, this will turn out ok for him.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Cleaning is fun... um sometimes

I've been grannysitting this weekend while my parents are out of town. My grandma is a very unique woman. I could probably keep a full blog going just with her daily comments. It would be a lot more entertaining than anything I could come up with, that's for sure. Last night she was on a kick about Michelle Obama and how she dresses so "tacky". Uhh, what? Because she "doesn't wear little suits and little hats". Would someone else like to tell Grandma that Jackie Kennedy isn't the First Lady anymore? According to her logic, the president's wife should never change her hairstyle and only wear solid color suits. Umm, ok, sure Grandma, whatever you say.

I was trying to figure out a time to host a Norwex party for Erika Rogers. Erika and Mel have adopted two adorable kids from EE, and are going back soon to adopt again! Erika is selling Norwex products, so I wanted to do a party to help her out with adoption costs. I was pretty skeptical that this stuff was all that great. Microfiber cloths, umm, yay? I really wasn't sure what it was, but it was for a good cause, and a great excuse for some good food and company, right? So I decided to do it at my mom's house (added bonus, I didn't have to clean my house!) So here's how it went:

I made food: Lemon Monkey breadhomemade cheez-its, and buffalo chicken dip. If I don't forget by the end of the post, I'll add the recipe for the chicken dip. My monkey bread isn't quite as pretty as the original one from the recipe. Maybe because I cheated and used frozen Rhodes yeast rolls instead of making it from scratch, but it was still REALLY good! 
Once everyone got there, Erika got started. I noticed a Crisco can sitting on the table with her stuff, but I thought maybe she had something stored in the emptied out can. No. It was a full can of Crisco. Next thing I know, she took a glob of it and smeared it on the window!Pay no attention to the child outside the window. They were busy looking for phantom muppets, or something weird like that. So, back to the window. Yeah, see, she rubbed Crisco on the window.

Then she took her dampened microfiber towel, the Envirocloth, and rubbed the window, then used the window cleaning towel and rubbed it again. The window was sparkling clean. I am not joking. No chemicals, no solutions, just water and the towels. Ok, maybe there is something to this stuff. She cleaned the inside of Mom's oven (you're welcome Mom), and then she did this on Mom's kitchen table with a permanent Sharpie!

Ok, that's a lie. She didn't do that. I did. I wanted to see if she was that confident in her stuff. She was, and told me to go ahead. Now that's confidence in your products. Did it work, you ask? Am I going to be banned from my mom's house for a year? Hmm, let's see...

How cool is that? She started cleaning it just with the wet Envirocloth, which got most of it off, then used the paste to finish the last little bit. Ok, I'm sold! I love the idea of being able to clean my house with just using a cloth and water. I can't wait to get my order and try it out! If you've never heard of Norwex, it's worth looking into! Check out their site through Erika's page (listed above) and make your house and family safer!!

Added bonus: we got to visit with Erika and Mel, and their seven adorable children. I just love this family. I can't wait to meet their new children when they get home, and these kids will be so blessed to be a part of the Rogers family. 

Buffalo chicken dip (aren't you proud of me, I didn't forget!)

2 cans of white meat chicken, or 2 cups of cooked, shredded chicken
8 oz cream cheese, softened
8 oz shredded cheese (Pepper Jack, cheddar, whatever you like best)
1 small bottle of blue cheese dressing 
Frank's hot sauce (to taste, I used about 1/2 cup tonight)

Mix everything together in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for about 5 minutes or until hot and bubbly. You could also bake it at 350 for about 15 minutes.

Serve with tortilla chips, Frito Scoops, or Triscuits. Iif you wanted it to be healthier, you could even use celery sticks or other cut veggies. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Chasing squirrels

/blows dust off keyboard/ Hi! Anybody still with me? It's been a busy few weeks, and I'm finally getting a chance to slow down and try to gather my thoughts. The girls have been busy too, and we've been all over the place.

June 8-10th we went with our girl scout troop to the 100th anniversary singalong in Washington DC, along with about 250,000 other Girl Scouts!! It was a great time! Not only getting to meet other girls from around the country, but this was the first time I've been to DC since about the 5th grade. We went to the Marine Memorial. I had no idea how BIG this was. Seeing the iconic photograph brought to life was amazing. (I've cribbed some pics from my friend's FB, shhhh! My camera died about time we got started good, so I have few pics of my own from the weekend)

We also went to Arlington Cemetery, and I got to witness something I've been wanting to see for years, the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The ceremony and respect given to this unknown young man, so many years later, gave me chill bumps. Here I am, wanting to make my mark on the world, wanting to DO something to change the world for the better, and seeing something like this makes me realize that I may never know if or what I've done that made the world a better place. This soldier, who died in France during WWI, is "known but to God", and lies interred here, along with soldiers from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, to symbolize the sacrifice made by so many. We know nothing about any of these men, other than they died in service to their country. So remember, do all you can do, and someone will be better for it. It may not even be in your lifetime.

Also that weekend, our tour bus driver took us out to Reagan International Airport. No, he wasn't trying to ship us off, although after two full days with 40+ girl scouts and their moms, he probably wanted to. There is a  cool little park at the end of one of the runways, right on the river. People were out there grilling, picnicking, playing with their dogs, and enjoying watching the planes take off right over their heads. It was a lot of fun, and a nice break from the crowded streets of DC!

And speaking of Watching Airplanes, last Friday night I finally got to see my favorite favorite singer in the world in concert again, Gary Allan. I first saw him in concert back in 2002, and have enjoyed every album he's put out. After ten years of gently hinting nagging my husband, he surprised me with four tickets. Originally it was supposed to be me, him, and our two youngest kids going. I wasn't too thrilled about taking the 9 year old ("it's hot, I'm hungry, I'm thirsty, I'm tired, can we go, it's loud), so eventually it turned into a birthday celebration for my oldest daughter, Kacey, my best friend K, (whose birthdays are both in June, just a day apart), my middle daughter C, and myself. We stopped on the way for supper at Mama Possum's. I kid you not, see for yourself. Not too bad! We opted for burgers. I'm sure they were beef. Pretty sure.

Then the concert. AWESOME! One of things that makes me such a fan of Gary Allan is the fact that he doesn't try to "put on a show". You've been to concerts where everything is choreographed to death, costume changes, skits, it's all so busy. Gary Allan doesn't do that. He comes out with his band and sings! He's not out there trying to impress by dancing around, acting goofy, anything like that. He just does what he loves, and sounds great doing it. (No, I didn't take this pic, I wish we had been that close!)

So, just kinda chasing squirrels around today, nothing too majorly profound. I guess my thought to leave you with today is just this: Be yourself, do what you do best, and give it all you have. You will make an impact on someone. You don't have to know who or how. It's enough that you did it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I'm an old old lady...

because I now have a daughter who is 21! Happy birthday Kacey!!! My kids will tell you I was old long before today though. It's so hard to imagine that she is the age now that I was when I had her! As much as I can't wait for a grandbaby, the thought of her being a mommy right now just doesn't seem right, she's still a baby. Although I know she will make a great one when the time comes.

It's someone else's birthday today too. A sweet boy in EE, who probably doesn't know that he has a family coming soon for him. We were amazed when we found out that he shares his birthday with K. While he won't be coming here to live, he will always be K's birthday buddy and so special to all of us. How about showing some love for  Duncan and his family by sending a birthday donation to their FSP?

And one more thought today, not birthday related. Please keep Katie John and her family in your prayers. You may remember I had posted about her a few weeks ago, the near tragedy and miraculous recovery of her cardiac arrest. While physically she's doing great now ( praise the Lord for that!), her health history now means that they can't proceed with Jack's adoption. My heart breaks for her. It's hard beyond words to plan for a child and then not be able to proceed. Please keep her family in your prayers as they struggle with this grief, and you can go here to show her some love! (for those wondering, another family has stepped up for Jack. The Johns are grateful that he will not be left stuck in an orphanage.)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A bee in your bonnet

We've all heard that saying, right? Someone will be really grouchy, and we'll say "boy they got a bee in their bonnet today, don't they". Thankfully I've never actually experienced this, but I imagine it would be pretty painful. And before my kids say it, no, I am NOT old enough to have worn bonnets! Well, other than at Easter, I still have an adorable one that was made for me when I was a toddler. But anyway, yeah, that would be enough to get anyone grumpy. But usually when we say that, we are really commenting on how they are making everyone around them just as miserable as they seem to be.

I guess this goes along with my post the other day about how words can hurt. Carelessly spoken words are the stinger of that bee in a bonnet. (Yes, I am still contemplating things over the last couple of weeks, not dwelling or pouting, but contemplating, that sounds better right??) The Bible tells us in Romans 12:18, "as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men". Not easy to do, not for me anyway. I'm trying to do that. When someone has a bee in their bonnet over something, it's not fun to be around them. Usually they are snipping and snapping at someone else (ok say that three times fast!) and what's our first reaction? Snip back at them, right? We can't do that. We have to be the one to live peaceably with them. We have to try our best if we want our light to shine.

Tonight at church we sang the song "Let the Beauty of Jesus be Seen in you". You've probably heard it and sang it too. One line really stood out for me tonight.

When someone has been so unkind to you, some word spoken that pierces you through and through, think how He was beguiled, spat upon and reviled, let the beauty of Jesus be seen in you.

Here are the complete lyrics if you haven't heard it before. It just really hit home for me tonight. If I've got a bee in my bonnet about something, I need to keep it in my bonnet. And when someone's bee stings me, I have an obligation to Jesus to not try and sting back. It's hard. So hard for me to do. But I am going to do my very very  best to let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me from now on. I will need my friends to keep me on track, remind me of this very often and pray for me.

If we can all try to remember this, think of what a better world we would live in:

 Don't let the bee in your bonnet sting everyone around you.