Friday, October 31, 2008


Several months ago, Luke and I sat in a dingy federal government office, in a part of the city that we have never been before, waiting to be fingerprinted. We were in line with many other people in who were in various stages if the immigration process. We waited alongside them, documents in hand. In that room on that day, there were many different nationalities represented. We were clearly in the minority, and for good reason- we were already US citizens. We were proving who we were and going through the process, although our citizenship in this country was already secure. You see, we were there on behalf of someone else. We were there for our child.

We were there taking steps to secure citizenship for our precious son waiting on another continent, who had yet to even hear about us. We left our comfortable suburb to go to a place where we would not have normally gone, where I (admittedly) felt a little out of place, where I had to allow myself to be fingerprinted, have my background checked and my documents scrutinized as if I were the one becoming a citizen. I did all of that willingly, and would do it again, motivated by my love for my child. I stood there on that day so that he will never have to. I remember thinking, "I'm doing this for you, Minte." Oh, how my heart swelled with love for him at the thought!

Today, Minte stood before a judge and was declared a citizen of the United States of America. He never had to stand in line at the immigration office... that was done for him. He never has to doubt his citizenship here... that has been secured for him. He will now have all the rights and privileges that belong to a US citizen, a standing that is sought-after by so many.

What a picture of the gospel! Jesus' citizenship, His rightful place, is in Heaven. His position and citizenship there is established, but mine wasn't. In fact, I had no place there, no way to even enter. He left His rightful position for a time and came here, where He was "out of place." He didn't have to, but He did it on my behalf, to secure my citizenship in Heaven, that where He is I may also be. He did this before I even knew Him, while I was yet a sinner. He went where I will never have to go, so that I can someday live in a place better than I could ever imagine. Because of Jesus, my eternal citizenship is secure.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved."
Eph. 1:3-6

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!"
Romans 8:15

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Works For Me: Establishing a Routine

I haven't done a "Works For Me Wednesday" in awhile, but now that we've been home from Ethiopia with our new son for a little over a month I've decided to post some WFMW's about what has been working for us so far during his transition.

If you are visiting my blog for the first time, welcome! In the way of background, I will share that he is 10 years old. For more background you can click on the "Our Adoption" link in my sidebar.

One of the things I took away from much of my reading on adopting older children was that it is valuable to establish a routine. It really helps the child feel secure to know what's coming, what to expect. In recent years during the school year I developed a schedule for our days, which really helped all of us stay on track and make the most of our days. We are not quite to the schedule stage (it takes me weeks to get over traveling and get back to normal) but keeping a routine is the next best thing! Adopted children have, understandably, been through many changes in their lives. Depending on the circumstances which led to them being in an orphanage/ foster home, some of those events have been devastating and have happened in rapid succession. Once they get used to one situation, everything changes again. Keeping things "the same" can be important, especially at first. Even when things can't be the same, knowing what to expect can help them feel "in control."

Since Minte has come to be with us, he has watched the same show every morning when he wakes up. (DVR'd episodes of "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody"... Disney Channel is helpful because there are no commercials for "stuff." And he LOVES that show.) Then, he eats the same thing for breakfast every morning. Eggs (either boiled or scrambled) and dabo (bread), either toasted or plain. Some mornings he asks for a waffle. During breakfast, he checks the weekly calendar that I have posted and we talk about what we are doing that day. Here is a picture of it a couple of weeks ago (you can click on it to make it bigger.) I color-code my kids for school, so when I circle an event in colors it indicates who it's for. This particular week, my husband had a business dinner, so I indicated that Daddy would be "out for dinner." It seemed to really effect him that Daddy wasn't coming home to eat with us, so it was good that he knew that ahead of time. When I can, I draw a little picture beside it so he can more easily understand what it means.
I have had this weekly dry-erase board calendar by our back door for a couple of years, and I write our week on it for the kids to see. It has helped all of us to know what's coming each day. So, I continued this when Minte came home. The only thing I added was writing the word "today" on one of the magnets so he would know which day it is. I cannot tell you how helpful this has been for him. I had no idea this would be something he would love so much! He not only refers to it in the morning, he looks at it throughout each day... to remind himself of what's coming, to ask about something, to learn the days of the week, to talk about something fun we did yesterday that he doesn't remember the word for, etc. Yesterday he pointed to our current calendar which shows that we are going to a wedding on Saturday (I had drawn a bride and groom) and we discussed what a wedding is, who the family is, etc. Very helpful! Now he knows that it is coming and has seen it represented visually, so now he can ask questions and feel secure about it days before it occurs.

Another benefit has been that the things on the calendar that he has seen posted, which we have discussed, and for which we have prepared him, have actually happened. It said "karate class" and we went to karate class. It said "High School Musical 3" and we went to the movie. Not only are these positive experiences for him, he has seen that when I say we're going to do something, we do it, which builds trust.

I've learned that as an adoptive family, much of what we do looks routine and is nothing earth shattering (after all, many families write out their weekly calendars... so what's the big deal?) but for a child who's world has literally changed in recent years, and for a family who has been newly formed, these "little things" aren't so little.

To read more WFMW's and get some fabulous ideas from other bloggers, or to share something that works for you, visit Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer.

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday's Menu and Some Food for Thought

Happy Monday! And happy fall! I don't know about where you live, but here the temps are getting a bit cooler and there is a hint of "crisp" in the air in the mornings. I just love it!

Here is a picture of Luke and Minte on one of the rides this weekend at our church's Fall Festival. We had a great time! It wasn't Minte's first time to see rides like that, since we went to our state fair a few weeks ago, but we discovered that we have a roller-coaster/ ride-lover on our hands! In between chatting with friends and snapping pictures, we enjoyed BBQ, corny dogs and funnel cakes. Yummo!

This is one of those weeks where we have something almost every night of the week. I really try for our schedule not to be that way, and most weeks it's not... but sometimes it's unavoidable. So, this week it's simple dinners I can quickly throw together so we can at least sit down before we blast off to our destinations. Somehow if we at least pause around the table, even if it's to eat a sandwich, our day doesn't seem so hectic.

So, here's what we've got cookin':

Monday: Kashi pizzas (love those!), caesar salad
Tuesday: chicken spaghetti, green beans, bread
Wednesday: leftovers or YOYO (you're on your own)
Thursday: Crock Pot stew and cornbread
Friday: cook out at our Family Bible Fellowship harvest party

For more menus, or to share yours, stop on by Thanks, Laura, for hosting us each week! I get so many ideas from reading other menus!


And now that I've share what we're eating around here this week, I'll share what I pondered in the past few days as I did my weekend chores. These are links that friends sent me or that I came across and I found thought-provoking... A little "food for thought" to add to my Monday Menu. Maybe you'll find them interesting, too!
  • Raising Pharisees This was on Pulpit Magazine's site about a year ago and it really made me think. I came across the hard copy that I had printed recently, and I read it again because I think it's something we should guard against, as Christian parents.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Few Fun Pictures

Here's a little bit of what we've been up to the past few weeks. We've had a fun fall around here so far!

October 2 was Minte's birthday. At our house, when you wake up on your birthday morning your doorway is covered in streamers and there is a decorated table downstairs with some presents. He had seen that the week before when Bethany had her birthday, so he was excited when it was his turn!

Luke was able to take that day off and we spent a fun day at the State Fair.

One of our first stops was to take our annual photo in front of Big Tex.
But not until after we stopped at the stock show. The youth show was that day, so we watched it for awhile.
The kids had fun at all of the fun houses and rides. He LOVES roller coasters! I couldn't get a good picture while he was on one, so this was the closest thing. He smiled like this all day!
It was a very warm afternoon. We stopped by a fountain, and all of a sudden, before I knew what he was doing, he had dunked his whole head into the fountain to cool off! I mean, why else would a fountain be there? I was so dumbfounded (and obviously didn't scold him, even though I'd never let the kids put extremities, much less their heads, into the fountain.) Since I seemed to be okay with it...
Kyle took the opportunity to plunge his head in as well! Allllrighty then!

During one of our many stops for some of the great food. We ate our way through the midway!
We had a wonderful day at the fair, and he had a birthday he'll always remember!
Here are the boys at karate class. Kyle has been in karate for awhile, and when Minte got here he jumped right in. He loves it, and is doing really well!

He caught his first fish (first American fish, anyway!) recently. He received a new fishing pole for his birthday and has put it to good use already!

Soccer buddies! His friends have been so quick to welcome him at karate and soccer, and everywhere else he sees them. He already had a built in group of friends when he got here. He loves his friends very much.

Another thing he loves very much is stickers. The pictures we received from him before we met him showed the side of his bunk bed literally covered in stickers. So, it didn't surprise me one day when I found this:

Yes, this is the dog crate lovingly decorated with "Camp Rock" stickers. Zac-the-weenie-dog loves his "extreme home makeover." (The ribbons are on there from when Minte tied balloons to it as well. Too cute!)

So, recently Minte and I created a board for his room that he can put as many stickers on as he wants! He's been adding to it, little by little.

Last week we enjoyed a field trip to the symphony center. We were blessed to have my mom come with us.

The boys enjoyed the symphony very much. They DSO played some wonderful pieces and went through the history of the percussion section. We all loved it!
Grandpa just got a new boat, and the cousins were all too happy to help him take it out for a spin. They had a great day at the lake a couple of weekends ago!
Minte was so excited to tell me that Grandpa let him help drive the boat. He loved being on the water!

While they were doing that, my fun sisters-in-law, mother-in-law and nieces came over to help make Bethany a homecoming mum.

Our awesome mum committee!

I added to it a bit last week, and finally had to make myself stop. Here is the finished product. (There are some smaller charms and things on it if you want to click on the photo to make it larger.)

And this past weekend was the homecoming dance! An area homeschool association sponsored one. Here she is at her friend's house before she left with the sweet group of kids she went with.

She's so grown up! I can't believe that's our little girl!

Monday's Menu

"...and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness."
Acts 14:17

Happy Monday! Thanks so much for stopping by! I didn't take the time to post my menu last week, but I've enjoyed settling back into a routine now that we've been back from Ethiopia a month. I know! It's hard to believe it's been a month! Our sweet new son is truly thriving and it feels like he's always been here with us. Last time I posted a "Menu Plan Monday" I wrote that he eats everything... and at that point, that was true. However, in the past couple of weeks he has begun showing definite preferences. He is quick to let me know if he doesn't like something. Actually, I am very happy with this development because it shows that he feels comfortable enough with me to tell me that. It shows that he's not just trying to please me, and that he feels secure. It's kind of funny the way he tells me. He'll say, "Mommy, whaht eez zees?" (What is this? - pointing to a particular food item.) Then he'll raise his pointer finger like a "tsk-tsk" sign and simply say, "No." Sometimes it's simply, "Zees?" (pointing) "No." It's been hard to predict what he'll like. I just knew he would LOVE Pizza Pancakes, as it is sort of like dipping injera (Ethiopian bread) into pizza sauce (both of which he loves) and has Italian seasoning in it (because he's all about anything Italian.) But, those got a "Zees, no." So did Bar-b-cups. And Hawaiian Meatballs. But, he "big-big-loves" (his words) loves all things "doro" (chicken) so Ritzy Chicken was a hit, as well as Chicken Pesto Paninis. He loves all things pasta, too, and I finally figured out how to make his favorite thing: fried pasta with fried egg. He was so happy! He also likes Baked Potato soup, which is easy. One thing he particularly liked last week was pumpkin bread, except that he confuses it with the word "popcorn." I never realized how similar those words are!

So, on with our menu this week. I know we've been back for several weeks, but honestly, I still feel scattered. (I told you, it takes me awhile!) I knew I would feel this way, so when I planned for October I planned things that I could cook with my eyes closed. I'm spending the next few weeks focusing on more healthful recipes, but for now I'm just trying to get dinner on the table and stay sane. :)

Monday: Quick Cheeseburger Bake
Tuesday: pasta, roasted carrots, green beans, spinach salad, bread
Wednesday: Crock Pot Ham and Scalloped Potatoes, green peas, salad
Thursday: Southwestern Pumpkin Soup, crusty bread, salad
Friday: out-- between "High School Musical 3" and our church's Fall Festival... fun!

To see more menus or to share yours, visit Laura at

Have a yummy week!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ways to Make Yourself Miserable

Today's Elisabeth Elliot Devotional offers a few suggestions for making yourself miserable. I thought it was very helpful!

  1. Count your troubles, name them one by one--at the breakfast table, if anybody will listen, or as soon as possible thereafter.
  2. Worry every day about something. Don't let yourself get out of practice. It won't add a cubit to your stature but it might burn a few calories.
  3. Pity yourself. If you do enough of this, nobody else will have to do it for you.
  4. Devise clever but decent ways to serve God and mammon. After all, a man's gotta live.
  5. Make it your business to find out what the Joneses are buying this year and where they're going. Try to do them at least one better even if you have to take out another loan to do it.
  6. Stay away from absolutes. It's what's right for you that matters. Be your own person and don't allow yourself to get hung up on what others expect of you.
  7. Make sure you get your rights. Never mind other people's. You have your life to live, they have theirs.
  8. Don't fall into any compassion traps--the sort of situation where people can walk all over you. If you get too involved in other people's troubles, you may neglect your own.
  9. Don't let Bible reading and prayer get in the way of what's really relevant--things like TV and newspapers. Invisible things are eternal. You want to stick with the visible ones--they're where it's at now.
Aren't these great suggestions? I know I've tried a few over the years and found them to be quite effective at making me miserable. After reading this list, I came up with a few more:

10. Spend lots of time focusing on your appearance. Obsess over your hair, skin and clothing and assume others are looking at you as well. For an added benefit, do the same with your home.

11. After your time of confession during prayer (in case you missed #9) be sure you pick your sin back up and carry it with you the rest of the day.

12. Be sure to realize how much you have to do and how little time you have to do it. Don't delegate anything or say no, and always remember-- it's ALL up to you! No one can do it as well as you can!

13. Spend as much time as possible shopping. This will help lower your contentment factor considerably. Take your kids with you so they can learn this as well. (It's best to start young.)

14. Read all of the circulating emails and articles about possible illnesses, accidents and crimes. After all, it could happen to you. Don't forget to pass them along to every woman you know so she can worry, too. You're just doing your part.

15. Always be mindful of how you feel physically. Keep track of all of those little aches and pains. It could be something serious, you know. If necessary, research all of your symptoms online so you can worry effectively about the "worst case scenario" until you are properly diagnosed.

16. Think of someone you disagree with and rehearse past and future arguments in your head. Get just the right "comebacks" ready. After all, you want to be prepared!

17. Compare yourself with others. (Blogs are especially helpful for this. Women can now compare themselves with others on a global scale.) Be sure to contrast their shared "best" with your known worst. Tell yourself, "I don't cook/eat as healthily as she does," "I haven't run as many miles as she has," "I haven't scrapbooked as many pages as she has," "I haven't read as many books as she has," "I don't homeschool as well as she does," etc. This kind of negative self-talk always helps promote (and prolong) varying degrees of misery.

These are just a few ways to stay miserable, though this is in no way an exhaustive list. I'd love to hear your suggestions! :)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy, Happy, Happy!

We are rejoicing today! One of Minte's friends will soon be joining her family in Texas. We are so excited that sweet Ella (Yanet, as he knows her) passed court today and will be joining her awesome parents, D and A not far from us-- under an hour away. So fun!

Words simply fail to describe how BEAUTIFUL she is. You simply must go see her pictures, some of which were taken by Bethany when we were there a few weeks ago. Ella is a precious, expressive, loving little girl and she is getting two of the best parents in the world! We look forward to her arrival in Texas SOON!!!!

We love you, D, A and Ella!!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Monday Menu and Miscellany

Happy Monday! We are enjoying a rainy, sleepy, lazier-than-usual Monday morning around here. It is a school day, but we are getting a later start so I thought I'd take a few minutes to participate in Menu Plan Monday (which I haven't done in awhile) and post a few fun pictures.

First of all, regarding our menu. I was worried that once Minte joined us I would need to alter our menu or make something different just for him... but no. He. Eats. Everything. Not only that... He. Loves. Everything! He basically just loves food, LOL. So, meal planning since we have gotten back has been great and he has enjoyed roast, chicken pot pie, tacos, anywhere we have taken him to eat, etc. I love it! He doesn't particularly love vegetables (so I may have to break out my Deceptively Delicious cookbook soon) but he always eats some because he knows he's supposed to eat at least a few. In fact, big sister Bethany taught him that the first week we got home. :)

So, here's our menu for the week. I'm still on "auto pilot" (it takes me a few weeks after I get home from traveling to feel "all here") so it's easy, quick, cheap, things I've made a million times, and food I know they'll eat...

B- Toaster Strudels, fruit
L- Lean Pockets, carrot sticks
D- Chicken Paninis, pasta salad, fruit

B- cereal, fruit
L- taquitos, black beans
D- fish, rice, stir-fry

B- waffles, fruit
L- Pizza Pancakes, green beans
D- Hawaiian Meatballs, Asian Sesame Pasta

B- eggs, toast, jelly
L- spaghetti, green beans
D- Baked Potato Soup, crusty wheat bread, salad

B- YOYO (You're on you're own)
L- ditto (There's plenty of leftovers to choose from!)
D- Out for Ethiopian food with some dear friends (We're praying it's a celebration of a successful court date!)

For more menus, or to share what's going on in your kitchen this week, visit Laura at


Our first couple of weeks back have been filled with activity! Beginning with Minte's birthday party just after we arrived home. I had sent out the invitations for a Sept. 23rd party, thinking that his birthday was on the 22nd. At the embassy appointment we found out his birthday was actually Oct. 2, so he's had two celebrations. Nothing wrong with that!

The birthday boy at his "bouncy house" party. I had it at a bouncy house place because it would be colorful, fun, and you can jump and laugh in any language!

Some friends he remembered from the airport, new cousins he met for the first time, and some of his soccer and Awana friends.

I was inspired by the Ethiopian cupcake flag my creative friends made for the shower, so we had it again... this time he got to enjoy it!

He loved ALL of his gifts so much, and always looked into the "crowd" to see who had given it to him so he could thank them personally.

First soccer practice. Looks like a pro already!

Then, the next day, another birthday! My little girl is 15!

By the way, she's also China's Next Top Model. Click on the picture to see her featured in a Chinese table tennis/ tennis wear catalog! She did a "modeling gig" when she was there in May and we received the catalog on her birthday. Fun!

She enjoyed a birthday serenade from her brothers!

Lots of fun and celebration going on around here lately!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

"It's Time To Take A Stand"

This is the incredible story of Gianna Jessen. She's not supposed to be here. But she is. I encourage you to take the next 15 minutes and think about her testimony, and our great God. All I can say is, "Wow."

She boldly asks the question, "What side are you on?"

We should all ask ourselves that.