Thursday, November 21, 2013

God's Will and free will

I'm struggling right now to figure out how my faith relates to... things that happen.

I believe this statement: "God has a plan."

I do not believe this statement:  "Whatever happens is God's will."

I believe this statement:  "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."

I do not believe this statement:  "God will protect you/him/her/them."

And there are two simple words to explain why I believe this:  Free.  Will.

Don't get me wrong.  I believe that God eventually sees His will done for those who truly wish to see His will done, despite the fact that things happen that are OUT of His will.  But not everything that happens in the world is His will, and not everything that happens in our lives is His will.

And I believe that God is always with His children, but that doesn't mean He prevents anything "bad" or negative from happening to them.

Because He created man with a free will.  So even IF we as Christians were perfect (really, we're not!), we are still surrounded by people who are not Christians.  So even though we as Christians (I hope) truly desire to see God's will done and His children protected, we are still surrounded by people who, not knowing Him, have no such desire.

Humans, Christian or not, are selfish and self-centered.  We want what WE want, and our choices and actions, more often than not, reflect that.

And because none of us is an island nor lives in a bubble, our actions affect those around us.  And since God created man with a free will, He does not put up His big hand and "block" the decisions that we as selfish, self-centered humans make; and as a result, a LOT of things happen that aren't in God's perfect will.

Therefore, the more of these kinds of people you are surrounded by - whether by choice or not - the more likely you are to have things happen in your life that are not God's will, and that you ultimately have absolutely no control over.

So somehow, you - and by "you" I mean "I" - have to figure out how to trust God when you know that there is a very strong possibility that His will may not be done.

And then there's prayer.  Do you pray that His will WILL be done?  Does praying for His will change things?  Make a difference?  Somehow prevent those who would seek after selfishness regardless of the people it hurts, from actually making those decisions with such vast-reaching harmfulness?

I don't know.  I don't have answers.

I do have God, and I have prayers for trust and peace, and I have a strong faith in Him that I need to hold on to, even - no especially - when it seems like the hardest thing to do.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Stuff and Things

SO much has happened since my last post.  (I know, I know - you're tired of hearing that EVERY time I write.)

We had an AWESOME start to the school year.  We have, for the most part, stuck with a good routine and daily schedule, switching it up here and there when necessary.  These last week and a half have been a bit too relaxed for my liking, but next week is our Fall 9-week Break, which is sorely needed; and I fully expect us to start strong again after that. 

Part of the reason we've had a relaxed couple of weeks is because I made and canned 18 quarts of apple sauce and about 2 dozen quarts of apple cider.  Then my dad "surprised" me with two HUGE boxes of grapes from his buddy's vineyard; so last week, with the kids' help, I got about half of them done and canned into grape juice.  I have 6 dozen quarts so far, which means there are another 6-8 dozen quarts' worth of grapes left to can.  Oh, and I'm down to a dozen jars, AFTER buying another 2 dozen last week.  So this should be interesting.

K3's TPR was FINALLY filed with the court, and the initial appearance hearing was Monday.  It was adjourned.  It will likely be adjourned again.  If you remember from Liam's case, this is the norm.  But I'm more frustrated about this case than I was with his, because she shouldn't even have to be worrying about permanence.  This should have been over and done a long time ago.  I continue to pray for a miracle, but it's hard not to be discouraged some days.

Liam turned TWO a couple of weeks ago!  It's pretty ridiculous; I still can't really believe he's 2 already.  It still seems like it was just yesterday that we brought him home from the hospital.  Soon my K4 will also be 2; not sure how I feel about having two 2 year olds!  

Speaking of K4, we have, after much discussion and mind-changing and negotiating, come up with her new name.  :-D

Friday is November 1st, which means the beginning of National Novel Writing Month.  For the past three years, Hunter has joined me in the novel-writing adventure.  This year, Kaleigh will also participate!  For those who are not familiar with the Young Writer's Program branch of NaNoWriMo, the coolest part about it is that participants choose their own word count.  The kids and I discussed and agreed upon their word counts for this year; but I can't tell you what they are juuuuuuust yet.  Don't worry; you'll find out soon enough ;-).

Randy and I took the kids out to the county park for their annual "school" pics this past Sunday afternoon.  I SO wish I could share them here, but I can't.  Well, I can actually share pictures of three of them, but since I can't share them all, I don't really want to share any.  It doesn't feel right.

I guess those are the highlights.  

The day-to-day feels like a grind many days.  Liam and K4 take turns (or sometimes not) being whiny and clingy.  K2 and K3 take turns being deliberately disobedient.  Hunter can't quite figure out how to get to the maturity level of a 13 year old.  But Liam and K4 also take turns wanting kisses and hugs.  K2 and K3 are doing amazingly better at getting along with each other than they were several months ago.  Hunter is learning, even though slowly, and sometimes I am somewhat taken aback by his thoughtfulness and kind-heartedness.  So just as many days are fun and exciting and enjoyable.

Time to go think about dinner for tonight.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Nothing Exciting...

I wish I had something fun and exciting to post, but I really don't.

Unless you think chasing two sometimes-crabby toddlers around the house/yard/store all day is fun and exciting.

I did make the Pinterest Flubber with the three bigger kids yesterday.  They LOVED it.

I've been mentally preparing for the start of the school year, but now it's time to start more than just mental preparation.  As we always start on the Tuesday after Labor Day, we have just over two weeks until the first day of school.  Each year since moving here, I have been presented with at least one additional challenge: this year brings several.  Hunter will be in eighth grade and Kaleigh in second (which I think is the harder of the two for me to wrap my head around!)  K3 will be doing more Pre-K work this year; we will have a little more focus than last year, but I still plan to give her more play than anything.  Last year, in addition to my three students, I had a (mostly) infant.  This year I have two toddlers.  It will be an adventure for sure!

I've maintained a pretty decent summer routine, but I'm sure it would bore the reader, so I won't detail it out here.  But I think having that daily routine will help the transition back into the school year go a little more smoothly.

I have a few more things to get - I'd like a large bookshelf for the school room, and the kids still need notebooks - and I have a few little school room projects to do.  I need to make die cuts for the calendar, hang the white boards, and do a little rearranging to make the area more study-conducive.  Other than that, I'm feeling pretty ready.

I didn't get nearly as much done as far as house projects as I wanted to this summer.  I'm hoping to cram a lot into these last two weeks, but we'll see.

Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

and sometimes...

...the wheels of justice turn as they ought to.

Our little K4 was TPR'd yesterday.

There are, as usual, still 30 days to appeal; but they have no legal grounds, so it's not very likely.

It is almost unbelievable, after all we've been through with every other child, to have a case end this quickly.  (**Sidenote: Please don't ANYONE use the word "deserve" in a comment; I absolutely despise the word.)  It hasn't even really hit me yet.  In fact, because this happened so fast, we have to wait longer than we've ever had to to finalize adoption.  She has to live with us for 6 months before we can adopt; so an adoption is schedule for..........drum roll please..........February!  This means all of our adoptions so far will be in the same month.

If you pray, please pray - or continue to pray - for our K3.  The wheels continue to turn very slowly in her case.  Please pray that her TPR will be finalized by December, the main reason being that I don't think I can bear for her to have to watch another child adopted before her.  She has been with us a year and a half, and she has been in care for 3 years - almost 75% of her life.  Of course there are a multitude of other reasons we are praying for her TPR to be finalized by December, but I really really really want to finalize her adoption at the same time as K4.

Her TPR was referred last week (still annoyed about that, since it could have been done in April and filed by the DA in May), so I'm just hoping the ball will get rolling again quickly.  Everyone who is involved from a legal standpoint has been involved since the beginning of her first TPR, which is fairly uncommon, but a really good thing in this case.  We are praying and hoping that the judge will want to get this going and overwith, knowing how long she has been in limbo.

More to come.  Thanks in advance for all the thoughts and prayers!

Faith

Faith is what it's all about.

It's not about the outcome.

It's not about whether God "actually" had my family's best interests in mind (He did, btw).

It's about whether I had faith.

Did He take care of me?  Did He take care of my family?  Did He provide for us?

Of course He did.  He promised He would.  That was, therefore, a given.

What matters is.... 
Did I have faith that He would?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Wheels of Justice...

...don't always turn slowly.

Because sometimes they don't turn at all.  And is it VERY frustrating, to say the least. 

If I could tattoo a verse to the inside of my eyelids, so that my human brain would not so stubbornly forget that it is there, it would be II Corinthians 12:9, for a MILLION reasons (not the least of which is the context from which it comes, which is an entirely different blog post altogether!)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Today was not one of my finer days as a cog in this process.  Today was a day I allowed myself to become overwhelmed with frustration over a screaming toddler, a sassy teenager, and a system that at times does the exact opposite of what it claims to do.  Today was a day I was more thankful than usual for God's grace, because it was a day I needed it more than any other day.

Too bad I still forgot at times throughout the day to accept it.

At the end of this very long Jonah day, when I keep mentally coming back to chiding myself for not remembering the free gift of grace that was available to me all day long, the only positive thing I can take away with me is that it will still be there tomorrow.  I'm so thankful that God doesn't say, "Well, you screwed up.  And too bad that was your last chance.  Sucks to be you."

Even Paul had to continually ask God for forgiveness - I know because he was human too.  And how else would he have finally learned to boast in his weaknesses, plural?  That certainly isn't something that we as humans could possibly learn overnight; we HATE our weaknesses and instinctively want to hide them, not boast in them.

So I will ask God for His forgiveness for my failures today, and for forgetting I do not have to let frustration overwhelm me, and I will ask Him to help me remember His grace tomorrow. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Free Will

Why is it that when things are going really bad, and we are feeling at our worst, and life seems like it just can't get any worse, and we're miserable beyond belief to the point we just want to tear our clothes and put ashes on our heads... Why is that when so many of us say, "I really need to straighten my life out and get right with God."  We cry out for Him, beg Him to remove our affliction, promise we will turn 180 degrees and go where He's called us to go.

And then when the particular storm has ended, and the boat seems righted again, we are soooo quick to place the credit anywhere but on Him. "Good thing I learned those relaxation exercises or I'd never have gotten through that."  "Glad I worked so hard putting in overtime at work so I could get that extra money to solve that problem." "Thanks God, but I guess I've got this after all, so nevermind."  We might as well thumb our nose at Him and say, "HA! Joke's on you if you REALLY thought I was gonna do that!"

I know some people that have made me wonder why God doesn't keep them in distress, keep their lives in a constant state of turmoil (and I guess I don't know for sure that He doesn't, since turmoil in the heart cannot be seen with the eyes).

And then I realized that if He did that, it would be the equivalent of placing a spell on someone to make them love you - if you have to do that, it's not true love, so what's the point?  In other words, taking away our free will, which He does not do. And if that's the absolute only way a person is going to walk with God - if he's in turmoil - then what's the point?

When I was a kid, I used to lie in bed at night and beg God to take away my free will.  "Please God," I'd pray, "I know You give us a free will, but please take mine away so it's not such a battle to do what's right all the time."  I just wanted to be perfect, for Him. And every time I screwed up and did something wrong, I would lie there at night wondering why God let me do that.

It's still a dichotomy to me, this desire to do right battling the sin nature, while also knowing we will not be perfect this side of heaven. I'm thankful Paul wrote of it, if for no other reason than to know I am not the only one to be confused by it. "For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do." (Romans 7:19, KJV) or " For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing." (ESV)

But back to my original musing.  If God brings or allows turmoil in your life, and you realize you need to turn your life back over to Him, don't change your tune once the difficulties go away. If you're willing to follow Him when things are rough, why wouldn't you want to follow Him the rest of the time too?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Waiting

I think when you're a foster parent, you do a whole lot.  Some of it is just regular parenting "stuff":  you give baths, play on the floor, read stories, teach life skills and lessons, discipline.  Some of it exceeds the bounds of parenting birth children.  (Some of the "regular" parenting requirements also exceed the usual limits.)  The list is exhaustive, and varies greatly from one foster family to another.

But I think one thing all foster parents would agree on is that there is one thing we do more than anything else: waiting.

And that's what we're doing right now.  In so many ways.

For starters, we are waiting to see if a letter gets signed by a judge by Tuesday.  If it does, then the snag is resolved and our K4, who arrived again on Friday, is here to stay.  If it doesn't, she has to return to the previous foster parents on Tuesday and then come back on Tuesday.  This constant back and forth has been hard on her and made it very difficult to get her into a routine and help her start to understand the boundaries.  So we pray this letter makes it to a judge to be signed by Tuesday, so that this time, the progress she has made will not be undone.

Secondly, we are waiting for K2's new TPR paperwork to be filed.  It could have been filed in May based on the legal timeline, but the CW is not on the ball, and doesn't seem to care that this child has been in the system for over 2 years now.  I realize CWs are overloaded and extremely busy, but I would think that a child who has spent so much time in limbo and who KNOWS it, would be at the top of the priority list.  As of Thursday, the paperwork had not yet been sent to the DA's office, so now two additional months have passed in the life of this little girl who regularly asks me, "Are we gonna adopt me?

Thankfully, we know that everything is in God's hands.  It's hard to believe there's Someone who loves my babies more than I do, but there is, and I have to trust that He is going to take care of them, while praying that He sees fit to place them in the earthly care of the family that they truly belong to.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Snag

We've hit a bit of a setback.  

I can't disclose the details, but keep us and the Ladybug in your thoughts and prayers.  The most important thing right now is her best interest.

Thanks in advance!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Little Miss Thang

Well we have just concluded our final "visit" with the Little Miss.

Let's just say there's going to be a very definite transition period.

It's pretty obvious that she's spoiled.  She's used to being picked up and carried around.  She's used to her demands being met - immediately.  She's used to being parked in front of the TV.  She's used to getting what she wants when she wants it.  

She's used to falling asleep in front of the TV whenever she darn well pleases and then being put to bed.

If you know us even the slightest, you know that none of that flies here!

Right now, she is about the unhappiest child I have ever met, unless she is being directly entertained in the manner in which she has demanded to be entertained.  She walks around the house whining and crying and moaning.  Attempts to redirect her and engage her in playing with toys are currently unsuccessful, so I've taken to ignoring the mopey-ness for the most part.  When she does smile or laugh engage positively in something, I praise her and hug her and try to make sure attention is put on the positive behavior while being withheld from the negative behavior.  

I'm pretty sure that her general unhappiness is a combination of not getting what she wants all day long, and feeling uprooted and displaced right now without any way to express those feelings.  I can't even imagine what it's like as a toddler to suddenly start spending long periods of time (several days is an eternity when you're tiny!) in a home you've never seen before, with strangers you don't know, and routines you aren't used to.  And we have made some alterations for her, such as rocking her to sleep; while at the same time trying to teach some basic behavior modification, such as not allowing her to scream when she doesn't get her way.  (And boy does she scream.)

I have to say that although the process is frustrating (and the screaming is grating), I think that progress has been made even over the course of two visits.  When she is placed on time out for screaming and told that I will come get her when she is done screaming, she doesn't scream for quite as long as she did a week and a half ago.  (Screaming at nap time is another story, however.)

She does sleep through the night, which I have to say is no small mercy, since Liam is still struggling in that area many nights.

We have two nights, and then K4 (don't pretend you're surprised) will be home on Thursday, Lord-willing to stay <3>

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Family Vacation 2013 Part 3 - From Maine to Wisconsin!

I'm sitting here feeding Liam his breakfast (he eats almost everything by himself, but oatmeal notsomuch), and decided it's a good time to put out the third and final installment of our family vacation adventures.

We got most of our packing done Thursday evening - it was so nice to put clean, folded clothes into the suitcases instead of trying to separate what was left clean from the mass of dirty laundry!  Wednesday morning, we finished up the last few things and headed out, leaving my parents to a day of peace and quiet.

From the moment we hit the east coast and I remember Tim Horton's, I wanted to make sure we stopped there once while we were out there.  So Wednesday morning breakfast it was!

The coffee was good but I was disappointed in their selection.  (I miss Caribou *sniff sniff*.)  The food was pretty good but a tad overpriced for having to feed a family of six.  Still, it's something I've wanted to try literally for at least 10 years, so I got that out of my system.

And then we were off to Boston!

We started off by driving all over the city, looking for a specific parking garage near the USS Constitution, because I knew that would be one main thing Randy would want to see while  we were there.  We finally found the parking garage, after a fascinating driving tour of modern and historical Boston.  We spent a good amount of time looking at the Constitution and the other sights in the harbor, including the museum gift shop, where I got each of the kids the Freedom Trail book that lists and discusses all the sights along the Freedom Trail.

Two views of the USS Constitution:




The cityscape from the harbor:




Cannons from WWII:


The kiddos:




Upon leaving the harbor, we decided to take the pedicabs across the bridge.  That was quite the experience.








Once we disembarked from the pedicabs, we decided to take the alternate trail, since the main trail was packed with tourists.  Some of the highlights were the Old North Church, the Copp's Hill Burial Ground, and a lot of old buildings.  We walked what WAS the shoreline in 1775, which is now several main streets and even juts up into the city farther down.  



It was very cool for the kids to see some things they have studied this semester in US History, particularly the Revolution, which is what we focused on during the last couple of months of school.  

Compared to everything there, I felt like we saw very little, though we were in the city for several hours.  It's definitely a trip we will have to take again!




Wednesday night, we stayed in a hotel in Swansea, MA, 20 minutes from the Providence airport.  The kids enjoyed having the hotel pool to themselves all evening, and everyone slept well and rose early to head to the airport.


We had an almost 3 hour layover in Cleveland, and once we hit Milwaukee, we had to take a shuttle out to where we had left our car.  Then we had a 30 minute drive home.  By the time we pulled into our garage, it had been a very long day of travel.  I, for one, was very glad to be home in my own bed with my own pillow :-).

Friday, June 21, 2013

A "Little" Surprise

I still have one vacation post to write, but it's time to pause and make a little announcement.

A couple of you already know, and a couple more of you may have guessed.  For the rest of you, here it is:

Liam is about to become a twin!


As Paul Harvey would say, here is the rest of the story:

In early April, Randy and I received information from Liam's previous caseworker about a little girl on her caseload who was going to need to be moved soon, as she was about to be referred for TPR and was with a foster family who would not be planning to adopt.  I had mentioned to her in the past that I hoped we would be able to add one more child in the future, and she wanted to know if we were still considering that, so she could have us looked into as a potential resource for Baby Girl.

There's a process that has to be followed when looking to place a child in general, and especially when placing a child with an adoptive resource.  As we waited (somewhat) patiently for the process to occur, I checked in regularly with the CW to see how things were coming along. 

Eventually she was referred.  To another family.  I never received "official" word that she was being placed with the other family, and I didn't pester the CW for it, because in all honesty, I didn't want the official rejection.  I had a nagging feeling in the back of my mind, but I knew that God was watching out for her, and I decided to simply pray for her, her safe-keeping, and her future.

When I didn't hear anything more, I assumed she was being moved to the other foster family.  I moved on mentally, simply saying a little prayer for her whenever she came to mind.

Last week, we got a phone call from the CW.  Baby Girl's placement fell through.  She had a couple of visits with them, and on the visit that was supposed to continue into official placement, they decided they couldn't do it, for personal reasons.  CW went to pick her up and asked Placement what she should do; they asked her to see if we were still interested.

So we'll be starting visits with her next weekend.  She is two months younger than Liam; so I will have the boy-girl twins I've always wanted :-). 

More to come as we continue on this wonderfully crazy journey :-).

Family Vacation 2013 Part 2 - Fun Times in Maine!

**Wedding pictures will be coming to FB only. 


Once we got through the wedding, we had a family vacation to focus on!  I had been doing some research for a couple of months prior to vacation, and came up with several fun activities for us to do while on the trip.

For our Sunday adventure, we headed down to Cape Elizabeth with my parents to visit some lighthouses and a lobster shack. The kids all ate their first lobster!

Here is the first lighthouse we saw.  The kids enjoyed skipping rocks into the inlet of the Atlantic Ocean:








Here are the second and third lighthouses we saw, as well as a couple of other interesting items:













I also got some really cute pictures of the girls with my mom, but I don't get to post those here.



Our Maine adventure for Monday was something Randy has been wanting to do for a long time, and was the ONE thing he wanted to make sure we did while in Maine.  We went on a whale-watching cruise in the Atlantic.

Here are some pictures from our beautiful two-hour drive up the coast of Maine to Bar Harbor:














Here we are having our snack in the park before getting on the boast for the cruise:









Here are some pictures from the ship we were on for the whale-watching cruise:

Acadia National Park:






The mountains on the coast:





Unfortunately, I don't have any other pictures from the cruise, because Liam and I then got seasick and spent the rest of the trip sleeping (Liam) and trying unsuccessfully not to throw up (me).  Before falling asleep, though, Liam threw up all over me and a little bit a second time on Randy.  It's going to be a long time (like forever) before he or I go on a boat again.

Randy and the big kids had a blast and ended up seeing 6 or 8 whales, some seals, and some puffins.

By the time we got a couple of things from the gift ship (including a new shirt!), stopped at a McDonalds to clean up a little better and change shirts, got the kids some supper for the car ride back, and settled in for our two-hour return trip, I was just glad the day was over.

My parents had picked up some live lobster while we were gone, and made us a yummy lobster dinner, after Liam and I had a shower and all the kids were in bed, of course.



I was very thankful that we had planned for Tuesday to be a day to relax.  Mom and I found a laundromat and did some laundry.  On the way back, we picked up Moody's whoopie pies for the kids (little and big).  It was just a generally laid-back day.

All in all, our time in Maine was very enjoyable, and no one could deny that it was an adventure!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Family Vacation 2013 Part 1 - The Wedding!

The Maine event.
The Big Bash.
THE WEDDING.

My baby brother got married!!!

My sweet little brother, whom I still sometimes see as ten or twelve years old, is now a married man - of nearly a week! 

AND I have a fabulous new little sister, Hallie, whom I adore.  

Yes, yes: on with it.

Our first couple of days in Maine were spent on the wedding.  After spending our ENTIRE Thursday traveling, we arrived at Moody's Diner in Waldoboro, Maine, late Thursday night.  We stayed in a rented house with my parents for a week, which went really well and was enjoyable for all (yep, you read that right!). 

Friday started off with a trip to the grocery store to pick up a few things to keep at the house, and proceeded with lunch with my aunt and uncle, and rehearsal preparations.  The girls and I were in the wedding party, and I tried to do as much as I could to help with rehearsal and wedding prep.  So prior to the actual rehearsal, I met up with my new sis and the other bridesmaids, and gave everyone amateur French manicures.  Then we all headed to the sweet little church where the rehearsal was held.

Rehearsal went smoothly, and was followed by a tasty rehearsal dinner at a nearby restaurant.  That, in turn, was followed by a good night's sleep by all!  (*snort*)


*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


Saturday morning began almost as Friday night ended, for several of us at least.  I know the Bride and Groom kept some late AND early hours; and though I thankfully got some good sleep during the night, Liam had us out of bed much earlier than we intended to be.  

Pre-wedding prep had the girls and me at the church at 10 a.m. along with Hallie and the rest of the bridesmaids for hair and makeup. 

Before heading upstairs to the sanctuary, I made sure I had several Kleenex in my hand along with my flowers!

The ceremony was absolutely beautiful, and I was grateful I had plenty of tissue, since I used it all - especially when the Bride and Groom read each other the vows they had written themselves.

The ceremony was followed by pictures, which I can't wait to see!  The reception was awesome and tons of fun.  My brother sang his new bride a song he had written himself, which of course made me cry even more.  Hunter made a new friend in Hallie's youngest brother, and my girls had a BLAST rocking it out on the dance floor.  I got some good pictures and a super cute video.  (Sorry - you won't get to see it all here.)

The groomsmen decorated Kevin's car, and a sendoff ended the big day.  

It was a beautiful day, and I am so honored that I got to be a part of it.  I wish my brother and new sister all the best, and know they will have a very sweet life together.  Looking forward to watching them grow together as a married couple in Christ!


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Breakfast Green Smoothie

I had a very yummy green smoothie for breakfast this morning!

1 cup frozen mango
Handful of fresh raspberries
3/4 cup raw broccoli
1 whole leaf of kale (no stem)
Protein powder (I used 2 Tbsp hemp protein powder)
Sweetener (I used 2 Tbsp Stevia in the Raw)
Coconut or Almond milk to desired consistency (I used both this time because I ran out of almond milk!)

Place ingredients in blender in the order listed and blend until smooth!  

If you would like to see the nutritional information, you can go here: Mango Broccoli Green Smoothie


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Healthy DIET and an Avocado-Sweet Potato Smoothie

So Randy and I started the Fast Metabolism Diet (FMD) by nutritionist Haylie Pomroy 5 weeks ago.  It's a minimum-4 week diet that detoxes and repairs your metabolism.  She starts the book by saying she's going to change the meaning of the word "diet" to stand for "Did I Eat Today."  Reading the book was very enlightening, and the diet has gone very well for us so far.  When we finished week 4, we decided to continue until our vacation, and then after vacation to continue a modified version, repeating the actual diet one week every month or two, just to keep our metabolism in shape.  This isn't necessarily a recommendation for the diet, but we are doing well on it.

During the last couple of weeks of the diet, I began looking into smoothies.  I've found a ton of recipes, a few of which I have tried, and I've made a few of my own.

The FMD is a phase diet - 2 days/2days/3 days/repeat.  So I've been trying to make smoothies that fit in with whichever phase we're in.  That's where today's smoothie comes in.

It's not a very sweet smoothie, so maybe it's not the best first smoothie to post, but it's where I'm at today!  The sweet potato and Stevia add just the right amount of sweetness for a yummy "meal" smoothie packed with greens and vitamins and minerals!

1/2 medium ripe avocado
1/2 c. cooked sweet potato
several leaves of kale
several leaves of spinach
protein powder (I use 2 tbsp. raw hemp protein powder)
Stevia to taste (I use about 2 tbsp. of Stevia in the Raw)
Water to the desired consistency

Blend together in your blender.  I blend the greens with some water first to get them very fine, then add the avocado, then the remaining ingredients.

For the way I made it, the nutritional information can be found here:  Avocado Sweet Potato Smoothie Nutrition

Monday, April 29, 2013

Just. As. I. Am.

We sang this song in church yesterday, and every time we do, I'm struck with emotion.  It's one of those songs that just really gets into my soul.  All the songs we sing in our church are meaningful and important, but there are some that for whatever reason just really "click."


Just as I am, without one plea,
but that Thy blood was shed for me,
and that Thou bidst me come to Thee: 
O Lamb of God, I come.  I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not
to rid my soul of one dark blot.
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come.  I come.

I come broken to be mended;
I come wounded to be healed.
I come desperate to be rescued;
I come empty to be filled.
I come guilty to be pardoned
by the blood of Christ the Lamb.
And I'm welcomed, with open arms, 
praise God, just as I am.

Just as I am, I would be lost,
but mercy and grace my freedom bought.
And now to glory in Your cross,
O Lamb of God, I come.  I come.

I come broken to be mended;
I come wounded to be healed.
I come desperate to be rescued;
I come empty to be filled.
I come guilty to be pardoned
by the blood of Christ the Lamb.
And I'm welcomed, with open arms,
praise God, just as I am.


I come to God with nothing positive to offer.  "Just as I am" is broken and wounded and empty and guilty and desperate.  I am need of mending, healing, rescuing, pardoned.  I need to be filled by the Holy Spirit in order to be worth anything.  I am nothing worthy.  I have no redeeming qualities of my own; in fact, my qualities all reflect my need for deep, extensive repair.  That is what I am.  And when I come to Him with all of these immense needs, God not only has His arms open wide, but He welcomes me into Him.  Just as I am.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Adoption!!!

I know, I know; I've owed you all a post for over a week now.  The truth is, this week was a come-down-from-the-stress-of-the-previous-two-weeks week, for lack of a better description.

I got so keyed up doing paperwork, cleaning the house, making plans, shopping for party things and gifts, and cleaning the house some more, that I needed more of a relaxation period than I expected.  And then those last couple of days before (and the morning of) the adoption, there is that, "Oh my gosh, something is going to happen to get in the way of this!" feeling.  It's probably stronger when you've been through enough ridiculous situations that you know from experience that IT IS NOT FINAL UNTIL THE JUDGE SIGNS THE PAPER.  That feeling on top of the other stress results in very little sleep at a time when it is needed more than any ordinary week.  BUT, I am convinced that college was prep for parenthood.  I got through it, and with the help of my wonderful husband and kids, the house was nearly spotless for the party on Saturday.

The adoption was bright and early Friday morning.  We were so blessed to have a very nice group of family and close friends present for the adoption.  It was really cool to have some of the people who have been close to us throughout our entire "Liam journey" with us while he became a legal permanent member of our family.  Among them were my mom and brother; my cousin, who also happens to be one of my closest friends, and my two little "nieces;" one of my very best friends, who has been beside us on this journey since holding teensy Liam on his first Sunday at church; and Liam's awesome caseworker (who, yes, was required to be there, but who I would have asked to be there anyway - without her, this would not have happened so quickly or so smoothly). Our children were, of course, there; and Randy's older daughter was even able to be there, though she lives out of state.

I'm so so so thankful that God has led us to adoption, and brought our sweet, beautiful, wonderful children into our lives.  No, parenting them is not always easy; often it is more difficult than parenting bio children, because of all the "extras" they bring with them.  But I could not love them more if they had been born to me, I truly know that.  Adopting is such a wonderful, awesome thing that you can't even imagine unless you experience it - and it is such a great reminder every day of how God has adopted us and made us His children.

Thank you to all who have followed us through Liam's foster journey, and for all of your support and kind words.  The journey has not ended; it has only changed in definition and destination, for which we are eternally grateful, and which responsibility we will strive to uphold and live up to, and which privilege we will strive to be worthy of, to the best of our human ability.