Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Who wouldn't be thankful for this?

Mother's Day paintings, made with love.

T-shirt inspector stickers that double as band-aids for "tend" boo-boos.

A husband and daughters that love to do yard work together.

Thank you, God. I am so blessed.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Flashback Friday...on, yeah.

To prepare for an upcoming garage sale (WHICH, by the way, I LOVE!) I decided to pull out my big tote of purses and sort through them. It wasn't hard to decide which ones to sell, and which ones to keep. Some were circa 1994. Wow. Yeah, I should part with those things more often!

I'm not sure what you do, but when I switch purses, I tend to only move over the "necessities" and plan on moving the other junk over at a later time. Yeah, well, that later time never shows up on my clock, so everything just stays in those purses. I started piling up all this stuff, and MAN! Talk about a time capsule! Who needs pictures? I have purses to provide more than enough memories and timelines! I cannot believe I'm going to show you this, but remember this pile developed after emptying about 10 purses! YIKES!

1. Tattoo ointment in a baggie Um, 7-10 years ago--ew!

2. Thank you card for good friend who arranged a bachelor party canoe trip for Tony. Yeah, over 10 years ago! Oh, and we obviously never sent it, but thanks BILL! He had a great time!

3. Floppy disk. Need I say more?

4. Big toothed comb for when I had big curly hair. Yeah. Yikes.

5. Disposable toilet seat covers. Ok, this is the most recent item and it's still close to two years old! We bought these to take to China!

6. Ticket to Ripley's aquarium in Gatlinburg, TN. About five years ago, I'm guessing?

7. One of about 100 tampons I found in each zippered pocket in each and every purse. Could you tell I was determined to be prepared? Just wait until a future post when I explain that it was a total waste of money right there!

8. 35 mm camera film. NO IDEA where my 35 mm camera even is!

There were also miscellaneous pens, lip glosses, lotion, toe rings, doctor reminder cards, receipts, and even our engagement picture! Uugh, and plenty of mushy, damp, gross Trident gum. Yes, my gum of choice (but we love Orbit and Stride too, should one of them want to sponsor this blog!)

Here's the aerial view. The purses in the tub are being sold at the garage sale. The purses on the right will go on Craigslist or Ebay. Anyone interested in a Coach, Prada, Gucci or a floppy disk? No promises on their authenticity! Well, except the floppy disk. Trust me. It's authentic.


Memorial DAY Box Monday

The weekend in review?

Stomach virus? Check.
Shopping? Check.
Thankful for the women and men God calls to serve in the military? Check.

I am so thankful for the women, men, and their families who sacrifice so much (and have sacrificed in the past) to serve our country. Your selflessness does not go unnoticed. We love and pray for you often. Thank you so very very much.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thankful Thursday

This will have to be short and sweet...I'm a woman on a mission.

I HAVE to say this out loud (um, or type it) because I need to be reminded of this...

  • I'm THANKFUL I have a job.
  • I'm THANKFUL that said job wants me to stay up-to-date on skills and teaching strategies.
  • I'm THANKFUL that they require me to take additional classes (that I pay for) to learn said skills and strategies.
  • I'm THANKFUL that said classes have about 35 assignments to be completed in the next three weeks, because it helps me stay focused (in other words, NO BLOG TIME FOR ME). Yes, 35 assignments, and I just started the class this Monday!
  • I'm THANKFUL said class ends June 12--coincidentally, my birthday!
Ok, my friends. God knows my heart, so truth be told, I am truly only thankful for the first, second, and last bullet point. Was it obvious?

YOUR TURN! What are you thankful for? Come on. Let me know. I need an attitude adjustment, and you can help me! Tell me your joys!

Ok, gotta go. More work to do!


Monday, May 18, 2009

Memorial Box Monday-the chapstick

Once upon a time, there was a little girl. This little girl was blessed with a set of parents that were together and in love. She was also blessed with two sisters, and a brother whom she loved so much. This lucky girl also had four amazing grandparents. Unfortunately, the little girl only got the chance to really know two of them. One was her maternal grandfather (Grandpa Schankel) and the other, her paternal grandmother (Grandma Sadler). Both were so special. Her grandpa would always yell, "Anybody?" when coming for a visit. He gave her a harmonica and promised she talked fast enough to become an auctioneer. Her grandma was a gifted seamstress. Her home in Florida and Indiana were both so inviting, and she made delicious yeast rolls! They both loved their family deeply.

When this little girl became a teenager, her grandmother became ill. She went into the hospital for surgery in a town over 60 miles away. This teenager knew she wanted to see her grandmother before her surgery. She felt SO strongly she needed to see her that she argued with her parents when they told her she didn't need to drive all that way. She bickered and bickered with them until they agreed to let her drive as long as she took a friend. This friend was her cousin (and had even less driving experience than she did!) But the two mustered up the courage to drive to the hospital.

While there, the teen and her cousin visited with her grandmother. They ran down to the giftshop to purchase a few items to cheer her up, and a much requested chapstick because the hospital air dried out her lips. While there, the teenage girl had the chance to love on her grandmother and tell her how much she meant to her. She thanked her for making her prom dresses, miscellaneous outfits, her quilt, and special Humpty Dumpty that she loved as an infant and treasured even more now.

The teenager was able to hold her grandmother's hand and caress the aged, tired fingers. After all these years, and after all the hard work, her hands were so smooth and soft. The teen noticed how some of her fingers were identical to her grandmothers. A genetic trait she would pass on.
It was a treasured time.

The next day, the teen's grandmother did not survive surgery. It was a painful time for her entire family, but the joy in the teen's heart was immense. See, the teen knew she'd be reunited with her grandmother one day. She was a believer! And she knew that her visit the day before was the peace that she'd need during this time.

Obviously, that little girl was me. I never truly appreciated my grandparents when I was younger. I'm so thankful for that last time I got to spend with my grandmother. And I'm thankful that I have chapstick in my Memorial Box to remind me to fight for those things that are important. It also reminds me to treasure those around me, for our time here is short.

I'm doing something now that reminds me SO MUCH of my grandma. I am sewing. On Mother's Day I borrowed my mother-in-love's (great term, Linny) sewing machine determined to teach myself how to sew. Since then, I have sewn the girls each a purse and wallet, and each of them a dress. (I'll add pictures later) When the sewing machine gets humming...I see, feel, and smell my grandma. She's a part of my past that I want to incorporate into my future. I'll take a bit from each of my grandparents...and for this I'm thankful. I can't wait to share these stories with my children.

Do you have special memories of your grandparents?


Friday, May 15, 2009

Flashback Friday

I need a laugh today, so I thought I'd do my flashback Friday post and then share two conversations I had with the girls yesterday.

A loooooong time ago, I used to be in love with Michael Jackson. There, I said it. Ok, and by "in love" I mean, obsessed. I had the records (btw, my fifth graders have NO clue what records are), the Pepsi cans with his image, the parachute pants, the buttons...I even had THE GLOVE! When my niece, who is just a couple of years younger than me, and I would play, we would fight over who could pretend to be married to him! We would practice his dance moves, and scream during Thriller. Now, mind you, this was when he had his original nose, hair, and skin color. But one obsessed girl I was! (I relate it to Hannah Montana or High School Musical fanatics now, which, I just don't get!)

I even went so far as to having a Michael Jackson birthday party complete with a MJ head cake. No, not three-dimensional...Charm City Cakes wasn't around back then! Just a flat cake shaped like his head! It was totally rad!! I would rather die than show you the picture, I mean, I couldn't find the picture, so you'll just have to visualize this chubby blonde chick with a wave hairdo and pink framed unicorn glasses, sporting some denim jams and a MJ t-shirt holding up a cake. Ok, that image right there made my whole day a lot funnier!

So, my flashback friends...I give you Micael Jackson this week. Admit many of you were fans? Did you sport the glove and jacket? DISH!

P.S. If he weren't such a weirdo...I'd still be in love!

OK, gotta share these before I forget...
On the way home from the sitter we were talking. It went a little something like this...
Me: Did either of you have time-outs today?
YES! Abby did because she took some of my fings. (translation: things)

Oh, no! Abby, did you do that?

Yes, but Laney had a time-out too! (Notice her James Bond technique of drawing my attention elsewhere?)

You did too, Laney?
Laney: NO!
Well, I member seeing her in time-out last night! (Translation: the other day)

Me: Ahh, so Laney didn't have a time-out today? Because, if not, that doesn't count.
Oh. No time-outs TODAY.

Wherein, Abby's tactic worked. I got sidetracked enough we didn't really talk about why she got in trouble. Stinker.

Ok, second conversation...last night we were all cleaning and picking up the house. For the record, the girls really do a great job at helping. They have to be redirected about 1,000 times, but they still really do help!

Me: Ok, Abby, put that on top of the toy box, please.
Abby walks over to the toy box, where for some reason a stool was sitting.
Laney: ON THE TOYBOX, ABBY! ON THE TOYBOX, ABBY! (Yes, Laney is bossy!)
Abby tosses the item on the stool, on the toy box.

...ON THE TOYBOX, ABBY! *sigh* Or the stool, whatever.

OH MY...she sounds like me!!!


Monday, May 11, 2009

Memorial Box Monday--the girls

Click here to view these pictures larger

**Picture courtesy of A Page in Time Photography/Christy Zettel

I was thinking about how to write my Memorial Box Monday post. I have a billion ways that God has blessed our family, but I couldn't think of a symbol to represent the story for today. Then, I stumbled across this picture. Perfect. (There are other amazing pictures Christy took, but they will be used on our blog later!)

Last week, I talked about Kairos. God's quality of time. Today, in my (pretend) Memorial Box, I'm putting a picture of my daughters. Two. Twins.

Yesterday, on Mother's Day, I went through a whole gamut of emotions. I felt SO thankful and grateful for my daughters. I felt pain for those who long for kiddos and cannot have them (or just can't yet!). I wanted birthmoms to feel joy that they chose a life for their child (and their adoptive parents) if they created an adoption plan. I was just all over the place. And I also reflected on how God bumped up my life resume by giving me the title, "Mama".

Years ago, when Tony and I were first married, we didn't want kids. (Gasp, did I say that aloud?) Then, about five years into our marriage, we noticed the hole in our hearts that were kid-shaped. Then, minus one ovary later, we started our adoption journey. And this is where I want to pick up.

You see, we went from not wanting kids, to being blessed with two incredibly amazing little people that God formed in His image, and meshed into our souls. But the amazing part is, we should have NEVER received twins to begin with!

I tread here carefully. Only once in our journey were we ever attacked over our adoption and I do not want it to happen again. But, I want Abby and Laney to know that our family was not created by some fluke, or government agency...but by the divine hand of God.

Here's how it goes...

  • We didn't request twins. When we first started our journey, it was a big enough leap of faith to say, "Ok God. Our daughter is in China, you say? Ok, then here I am, Lord. Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8) Especially when we didn't even want one child when we first got married! So when our homestudy agency asked if we wanted to be approved for twins, we were like, "Um, no thank you. One will keep us busy enough!" We didn't know we wanted twins, but thankfully, God did! After "The call" from our agency, we scrambled to get an addendum done. We had grown so much and KNEW these girls were meant to be ours!
  • Ch*na has some strict financial guidelines regarding twins. The parents should be pretty financially set in order to care for two children, according to them. *cough, cough* Thank goodness we have some antiques and antique cars that helped us in this department!
  • Ch*na also has a pretty strict policy that one parent should be a stay-at-home parent if twins are brought home. Well, we were not in the financial standing for one of us to stay at home full-time (and still aren't due to my shopping habit!) But somehow, that got overlooked!
  • We were going the special needs route, with our agency. This was after much prayer and consideration. We felt strongly that our child would be on a list that our agency would get from Ch*na. However, our agency had NEVER received twins on their special needs list. (and they're a big agency!)
There are even more reasons we know that we serve a God who can look at a mountain and say, "MOVE!" and it does! The reasons I listed were all pretty big mountains. But our mountains, are God's speed bumps.

In June 2006, when we logged into the waiting line for our child from Ch*na, twin girls were NO WHERE on our radar. However, on August 24, 2007, when we got the call about LuLa and LuMei...nothing ever felt so right.

My heart flutters every time I think about how things could have ended up so differently had one little thing or another been any different. (Like, going to our first adoption meeting the month the girls were born, or switching to the special needs program at the precise time we did, when both girls were healthy and ready for a mommy and daddy to come get them!---KAIROS!) I am humbled to know that our God chose us to parent two of His very own. They were created to be our daughters.

So I'm tucking in this picture of our two girls. Our babies. Who share so many characterisitcs, mannerisims, and personality traits that we are dumfounded they're not biologically ours. They will forever know that we serve a God whose love picks up where our dreams leave off. That's our God. We dreamed a wonderful dream of parenthood. Thank GOD His plans are bigger than our dreams.

So, like Linny's story...although Ch*na said NO! God said YES!


Friday, May 08, 2009

Flashback Friday

On the way to school this morning, a local radio station was doing a "Flashback Friday" song. This got me thinking. How about a Flashback Friday post?

For my initial one, I'll keep it simple. It's just two words...

banana clip

Remember those? In the 80's when I had long blonde hair, I'd sweep it up in some cute, plastic, neon banana clip. Well, dare I say it? That trendy, girly, accessory store in the mall that we all love SELLS THEM NOW! My niece and I (she's just a few years younger than me) nearly DIED when we spotted them!!! Maybe they've been selling them for awhile. Who knows? I haven't been in the market for one since 1987!

How's THAT for a flashback?

Next Friday...Michael Jackson. YIKES!

***photos are from G*ogle Images...not from our family album!


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Today, I need this.

I'm thankful for whiney children. I'm thankful they grump, pout, cry, complain, sneak, and shout. Yes, you read that right. I'm thankful for all of that because that means I have children. Children who aren't afraid to express their opinions. Children who trust us enough to know that they can be their ugly selves and we'll still love them. (Kind of like our relationship with God!)

I have been blessed and challenged to raise two of God's chosen ones.

Thank you, Jesus!


Monday, May 04, 2009

Memorial Box Monday

A good friend of mine, Linny, does Memorial Box Monday posts on her blog A Place Called Simplicity. Here's how she explains it...

"The purpose of each Memorial Box Monday post is to remind myself and others of God's great faithfulness, His powerful provision and His Unexpected Gifts in each of our lives.

It is not a sign of super spirituality to have a Memorial Box. It is something that anyone who has seen God work in their lives can do. There are no rules....just sharing the story of something recent or long ago about how God showed up in your family (or just to you if you are single) to meet a need, rescue, protect, heal, or even give a surprise you didn't expect!"

So this got me thinking that I need to do a Memorial Box Monday post. But I'm overwhelmed. I mean, seriously. God has been so good. Where do I even begin? And besides that, the things I think represent or symbolize God's goodness are HUGE! They'd never fit in a cabinet! Guess I'll have to get creative! (Settle in, it's a long one)

Ok, a little lesson in language:Kairos
This word is one of the most important words to me, ever. According to Wikipedia, ancient Greeks had two words for time...chronos and kairos. Chronos means sequential time, while kairos is, "a time in between, a moment of undetermined period of time in which something special happens."

In the New Testament, kairos means "the appointed time in the purpose of God." Both definitions essentially point to time that cannot be measured. This word came to life when a good friend, and pastor shared about kairos vs. chronos one Sunday morning in church. Probably one of the most powerful sermons ever!

I have two symbols of kairos...a drawing and a watch. Let me explain the watch. Waaaay back when Tony and I got married (10 years ago) I still had to do my student teaching for school. So we were married in March, I did my student teaching that fall, graduated in December, took a teaching assistant position for the remainder of the year and then started my search for my first real teaching job. People would ask me left and right if I had any leads on a job. May luck. luck. luck. And then August. Never once did I freak out. (For those of you who know me, this is amazing!) I just kept telling everyone that it would work out. No worries. Just faith in God. (Tony on the other hand was a nervous wreck, I'm sure because he's the financial guy!) Just a few weeks before school started, I got a call about a position in the district I did my student teaching/teaching assistant positions in. A perfect fit! At a perfect time!

It was also during this time that I stopped wearing my watch. I can't remember what specifically led me to do it. Maybe it was a sermon. Maybe it was a story I read. I just vaguely remember someone referencing the need to look at a watch non-stop and how was that living? Truly living? And I'll admit. I would get hung up on the time surrounding the experience, and not the experience itself. Therefore, my first symbol of time, of God's timing, is a watch. But my watch is a little different. The face of the watch is covered up with black electrical tape. I don't need to focus on MY timing of things. Just God's timing. Kairos.

When Tony and I were exploring options about how to add to our family (biological, adoption, fostering) we looked into international adoption through Ch*na because the timeline looked reasonable and the program looked stable. We were told after we submitted our dossier to expect an eight to nine month wait. There were those timelines again! So we logged in and waited. And waited. And waited. Each month the finish line would be stretched out. (NOT complaining though...the wait is NOW is extreme!)

During the wait, we experienced lots of joys, friendships, trips, excitement, sadness, longing, depression, confusion, etc. God heard the cries of our hearts. He knew we wanted to be parents badly! He knew we had waited years by this point. He knew we were ready!

Well, my friends, as the saying goes...hindsight is 20/20.

During the wait, a good friend of mine, Sarah said she had a surprise for me. She said she had a vision one morning and shared that vision with a friend of ours, Shannon. She said the picture she was given was directly from God. Shannon decided to turn God's picture into a reality. Shannon sketched a beautiful picture of Jesus's hands holding a baby and had it framed. This is the picture you see at the top of the post. It's gorgeous and now hangs in our hallway! They gave that picture to us during one of our lowest lows, and I bawled while accepting it. There was Father...holding my baby. So safe. So loved. Kairos. HIS timeline. Not mine.

Fast forward. I have looked at that picture a thousand times. While we continuted to wait, I would pray for my baby (didn't know about twins at the time) every time I passed it! I would look at it with joy, and thanksgiving, and with longing. Once the girls came home, it continued to hang in our hall. I still looked at it each time I went into our room, or the nursery, but never gave it much thought...until one day. I stopped to look at it again. As I was examining it, I looked at Shannon's signature. Then I looked at the date. I know I gasped outloud when I read it. Shannon had drawn that picture the month our girls were born. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that Shannon had drawn that image the WEEK the girls were born. Did you read that, my friends? The same week. I cried all over again a whole new set of tears. My God loved me enough to send my friends this picture of Him holding my baby.

I know you're wondering, baby? But don't you have twins? Yes, I do. But I believe wholeheartedly that the picture God gave Sarah is of him holding Abby. You see...not long after she was born, she got very very sick. Very sick. Like a "praise Jesus she's with us and not with Him" sick. And little did I know that during that time, God was nestling our baby Abby in His arms.

Kairos. QUALITY of time, not QUANTITY of time. I know it's easy to tell someone, "It's all in God's hands." or "It's His plan." or "In His time." But you know what. It's the truth.


Friday, May 01, 2009


Doing a quick blog walk through some blogs that I follow, I stumbled upon this amazing story!

Read about how God brought a family their daughter from Ch*na (a 13 year old nonetheless), but had more in store for them than they could imagine! Click HERE.

Help them out if you are able!