Monday, November 26, 2012

Giveaway: Weekend To Remember

AND THE WINNER IS: Angie! (My mom sent me your address; will mail the certificate in the next day or two). CONGRATULATIONS!

Blake & I have been gifted with a 'ministry partner certificate' to attend Family Life's Weekend to Remember Conference. The certificate entitles a couple to attend a Weekend To Remember of their choice for $39/person (regular rate $129/person). It expires August 31, 2014. Since we cannot use this certificate because our marriage is perfect/flawless (ha! ha! gasp! gasp!), we'd like to give it to a couple who can.

To be eligible to win you must be (a) either engaged or married and (b) make a committment to redeem the certificate prior to its expiration date OR re-gift it to friends who will be able to attend the conference. Check HERE for details regarding locations & dates for upcoming events.

The Weekend to Remember can help a struggling marriage find hope OR make a good marriage even better. Either way, it's a WIN-WIN.

Please post a comment by 8AM on Friday, December 7th to enter the giveaway. OPTIONAL: Share a favorite holiday gift from your spouse in your entry comment, good ideas always appreciated!  

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving Celebration

We spent Thursday celebrating Thanksgiving with the S-Family. It was good to be together! I did not get many pictures of the meal (which was oh-so-delicious) or even the activities (which included an Uncle Shannon/Bear chase in the almost 60-degree sunshine & a homemade play-doh party) but here are couple of images with the cousins (Jared, Jonah & Lavell).


Oh, yeah...are you wondering what is up with this LAST one? Grandpa built the kids an Native American tepee in the backyard. How cool is that! This image captures the X-man performing a "pow-wow dance" around the teepee (while Gpa is inside looking just a wee-bit frightened). Yep! Learned that in prescool last week. Oh, this boy makes me smile :)

First Come the Lights

This was the first year that Alexander actually participated in decorating the Christmas tree. He has definitely been present the past three years but...yeah, not much help. Year #1 = too scared of the lights. Year #2 = touching, drooling on, dropping everything in sight. Year #3 = almost toppling the tree b/c of wanting desperately to be RIGHT where daddy was. But this year, Year #4 = a crash course in untangling lights.

And proof that the effort paid off...

A Nativity Story

I am kind of over-protective of the Demdaco nativity set which I have been gifted with thru the past 10+years. But, as we unpacked our Christmas bins last evening, I knew that arranging the navity scene would "make" the X-man's day. And, I must confess I was a little intrigued as to what my storyteller 4Yr old would come up when arranging the display. I retreated to a safe distance -- well, about 1.2 centimeters from the location of Xander's little hands as he placed each piece into position, and listened. 

These guys came first. "Mom. Sheep were very important. And, see the sack behind the sheep. They need to be close to that YOU know what's in there? (not pausing for an answer...) "It is corn. With really big soybeans mixed in."

The buffet, on which our Nativity is displayed during the Christmas season is approximately 5-feet long. Nope, too much space. He arranged all the pieces in roughly a 6-inch diameter with the following explanation. "Mom. Everyone wants to see baby Jesus. And he's really small. It was kind of crowded..."

In the coming weeks,I hope to take time to see the season thru my son's eyes. I wonder what all I will learn.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Journey Continues...

For those following along, last week I started my 12th...yes! 12th...trimester being pregnant. In the adoption world, its called paper-pregnant. Mathmatically speaking, its 3 years. Emotionally speaking, it is a REALLY long time.

When inquiring via a phone conversation with CHSFS about the potential for receiving a referral before the end of the year, our caseworker kindly reminded me that THIS wait, waiting to see our child's face/history revealed, is potentially the easiest time of waiting and it only gets harder once we've met our child, while waiting for court dates & embassy approvals. Gee, thanks, for that! :)

Perhaps its simply the time of the year & recalling past significance dates -- we became Alexander's official parents on November 11th and arrived back in the States as a forever family (gotcha day!) on December 12th, 2008. Maybe its the questions from X-man asking about the brother/sister in Africa who is going to be with us FOREVER, an important distinction for him as he processes our ministry with Safe Families for Children versus having a 'real' sibling. Maybe its the holidays, the anticipation of gathering together with family and feeling within as if 'someone' is missing.  

That's where I am tonight. Waiting. Waiting on the Lord. Waiting to hear the phone ring. Waiting to see a picture, the image of a child who sleeps & plays in a orphanage half a world away. Waiting on His timing. Not my favorite activity. I would rather be DOING. But for now, I wait with great anticipation of the time when HIS plans for our family will be revealed.  

Morning Conversation with X-Man

Our conversation on the way to preschool yesterday. Love how their little minds work, although a mystery what will come out next :)

X: Mom, I am afraid of God.
ME: Really. Why are you afraid of God?
X: Well, because I have never MET God. That's why I am afraid.
ME: God is love. You don't need to be afraid of love or of God.
X: Well, maybe after I am in heaven a few years and get to know God, then we'll be friends and I won't be afriad anymore.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Review: Unending Devotion

I was recently provided the book, Unending Devotion, written by Jody Hedlund to review by Bethany House.

This book was okay, in my opinion. Why only okay? Probably mostly because I could not personally relate to Lily Young, the main character of the book. Her impulsiveness seemed a little TOO much, crossing over into carelessness & foolishness, at times. She loved her sister, a commendable attribute, but she acted in ways that put others in harm’s way, without thinking thru the consequences. That said, I really liked Oren’s character, who brought humor to the story with his protectiveness & feisty-ness.
I did like the author’s ability to transport readers back to another era, to the lumber mills/camps of the 1880s. And, I especially appreciated Hedlund’s use of a real town, a real villain and real problem for the storyline, illustrating the possibility for reform, both in the 1880s and still today.

The realness of prostitution & sex-trafficking, while never completely graphic within the pages of the book were presented with authenticity and for this reason, I would not recommend to young readers.  

Book Review: Against the Tide

I was recently provided the book, Against the Tide, written by Elizabeth Camden for review from Bethany House.
I liked the book. The writing was really, really good. I liked the character development of both Lydia and Bane, especially the relationship which developed between the two. Both individuals found redemption from their past – a tragedy in Lydia’s and choices which were forced upon Bane. While they loved one another deeply, their love was not the all-consuming aspect of the book but presented as more of a catalyst for them to save/serve others.   

I enjoyed, too, the camaraderie of Lydia’s co-workers at the Naval Office – Karl, Willis and Jacob. How their idiosyncrasies annoyed each other on a daily basis & yet, they cared for/protected each other, too, even amidst their individual responsibilities and life circumstances.

The Professor’s character was dark, VERY dark as the villain of the story. For this reason, I would not recommend for young readers. But the insight into the opium trade and those who fought to end the terrible effects on innocent children was a topic which I have not encountered in other books of this genre and enjoyed learning about.

A good historical romance with just the right amount of suspense, facts & fiction.