Climbing into the van yesterday, with the kids:

Isaac, (3) as I'm buckling him into his seatbelt, and clutching a few Cheerios:
"Mommy, can I eat these?"

Me: "Oh. Where'd you get those?"

Isaac: "I found them."

Me: "Where'd you find them?"

Isaac: "I found them in the box of Cheerios on the table."

Aha! At least he's honest.


On another note, our caseworkers will be here in a couple of hours to do our individual home study interviews, Mark first, me second (covering our family backgrounds, etc).

We have a very full next couple of days, and are finishing the week with yet another home study visit on Friday, *and* the weather is beautiful, so I won't be posting again this week!

Have a wonderful rest-of-your-week and weekend!


I've been tagged by a few different people on this one: most recently my friends Kimmie and Mrs. M, so I'll play. 8 random things about myself:

1. I often rearrange the furniture in our home. Usually it's the living room, but every other room gets it as well. I'll just get an urge for it to be different and go for it. Mark is quite used to coming home from work to a whole new room. (And it's a very frugal way to "redecorate", too!)

2. I graduated from college with a degree in Graphic Design. I've never used it. (Unless you can count the notes I write to my husband or the signs/notes posted around our house!)

3. Within the past year, I have changed my favorite candy bar. For my entire life, I have favored Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. Now, though, it is most emphatically a Snickers bar. Hands down.

4. I hate Disney/Dreamworks/any and all animated movies (*cringing* at the backlash I'll probably get from that comment) I'm sorry, I just don't like them. The last time I remember any enjoyment whatsoever from such a movie was the movie Aladdin, but then maybe that was more about my age or Robin Williams? Since then, I have tried. I bought the Toy Story hype and actually saw it in the theater. Big mistake. I thought it was entirely stupid, except for the one scene introducing the army guys, in which I was amused at the way they walked. There was such a rave about Shrek, I even rented that. And spent the entire movie saying, "I can't believe people like this movie. What is there to like? This is so dumb. Seriously." I'm sure I am probably the only person in the world who does not like these movies, but I really can't muster up an appreciation for them. Now, that said: there are a few classic exceptions, most notably The Jungle Book.

5. I don't have a cell phone.

6. I drink iced lattes year-round (even in the winter). I just don't like hot coffee. *Except* during those blissful weeks when eggnog is out. Then I drink up on the eggnog lattes.

7. I am very expressive. I talk with my hands, you can read my body language like a book, and I speak louder when I'm excited about something.

8. I was fifteen, (maybe sixteen?) when my mom last tried to give me a spanking. I say "tried" because she didn't end up going through with it. She asked me to lie on the floor of our bathroom while she went for The Spoon. I think she gave up the idea when she had trouble opening the door because I was so tall I was taking up nearly the entire bathroom. It was amusing to say the least. My sister, mom and I were all laughing by the end of it. I was grounded instead.

Oh-so important

I was reminded yesterday of an oh-so important task of mothering little ones:

Get down on the floor. And I don't mean on your knees in prayer (although we should also do that). What I mean is this: walk into the room your children are in, and get down on the floor.

Try lying down in the middle of the room. They will not leave you alone for long. Pretty soon each child will be on you, wrestling, tickling, or wanting a ride on your back. Or-- if you have a daughter: trying to turn the event into a game of house. "Let's say I'm your mommy and you're my baby and you're taking a nap..." [Always a nice game to play, I think.]

Or this: get down on your hands and knees and pretend to be a lion or a bear, replete with growls (as ferocious as you dare), and hunt them down. My children all run squealing into a corner. Then when I meet up with them, I burrow my head in their tummies and tickle them. (When my youngest is afraid of the growling, I ask him to join me. He can be a lion, too! And we'll get them together!) Or go with the sleeping theme-- pretend you're some animal, sleeping on the floor. And they'll gather up the courage to creep up to you, with whispers and many urgent, "You go. You go first"'s and then just when they get to you, surprise them with tickles.

Yesterday I sat on the floor and we ended up in a pillow fight. I laughed harder than I have in weeks. I loved it. And they did, too.

I tend to be a pretty task-oriented person, dutifully making and checking off my lists throughout the day. And some days I am so on TASK that I have forgotten to just BE with my children. Yesterday was a great reminder to me. It was so good to laugh with pure delight at their antics. To tune out the waiting dishes, meal preparation and straightening up and just enjoy them.

For all I know, everyone else has this same kind of crazy fun in their house, too. But if perchance you don't, I encourage you to begin!

Our home study visit

Yesterday was the first of our home study visits, and it went great. It was very low-key. We sat in the living room with the two caseworkers, munching on snickerdoodles and chatting about adoption (our motivation to adopt, what our preferences are for age/race/gender, how open we are to special needs/drug-affected babies, etc). And then we wrapped it all up with a tour of our home, Ella and Isaac leading the way, showing the ladies all of the things they wanted to highlight (and most especially, their bunk beds and the chickens!)

Our caseworker also scheduled our next appointments, and they are all for NEXT WEEK! On Wednesday they will do our individual interviews to cover family history(first with Mark and then with me), and on Friday they are coming back to do the *final* visit. It sounds like they will write up our home study within the next 2-3 weeks. WOO HOO!!!

What's next? We need to work on a cultural plan, as we are open to a transracial adoption. After the home study is complete, we will begin the process of getting licensed for foster care, which is a process that will take 1-3 months (or so they say).

And in addition to all of that, we continue to pray! We're praying for this child or sibling group that God has prepared for our family, for the birth family, for the caseworkers involved, and for discernment on our part when they begin calling us with possible placements.

Join us...

... if you'd like, as the dialogue continues regarding having our children sit with us in church. If you click on the link above and scroll down to the comments, you'll find it.

I realize there are a lot of passionate thoughts surrounding this topic (mine included), so if you choose to comment please do so in a spirit of humility and graciousness.



For those of you who have prayed with us for some forward movement on our current adoption, a HUGE thank you! God hears and has answered.

We received a call yesterday from our caseworker, who wanted to schedule our first homestudy visit (finally!) She said, "I know this is probably a long shot, but I will be up in your area tomorrow, so...." I of course said, "Tell me what time and we'll make it work!" So... our first homestudy visit will occur today at 1pm.

Thanking you again for your prayers...

Sunday mornings

We are the family who files into church a couple of minutes early, greeting those around us with smiles and hugs. We make our way to some seats, usually in the center section, close to the middle but a bit further back. Our arms are laden with children and bags. Bags that have been carefully packed at home, filled with children's Bibles, notebooks, and a few crayons. My purse contains the snacks and drinks that we'll pull out later, after worship. Daddy ushers in the oldest two, I carry our youngest. Little coats or sweaters are removed and tucked near the bags that have been placed under the chairs in front of us. We purposefully situate the seating: child, daddy, child, mama with child on lap.

During worship we stand, daddy holding one boy, mama holding the other. Our daughter stands on her chair. Voices and hands are raised in praise. Ah, yes. My favorite part, these songs of worship.

The sermon begins and the bag is unpacked. Here, son, here's your Bible. And here's yours, honey. Color crayons? Yes, here. And here's your notebook. Shh. Please whisper, okay? Don't kick the chair in front of you. Please sit still. Turn around and sit on your bum, honey. Legs forward. Sweetheart, don't forget to keep your dress down, okay? Remember to be modest. Shh, shh... quiet. No, no snacks yet. Just wait a bit for those.

Daddy holds a child and some crayons, aiming to keep noise and distraction to a minimum. He motions for drinks. Okay. Here. Please be quiet, buddy. A few moments of peace while drinks are downed. Boys are gazing up at the ceiling vents and lighting, sitting fairly still. Cups are passed, now empty, to mama, who is trying, in vain, to take notes. Yes, I see that. Good coloring, sweetheart. Our youngest points out the animals in his picture Bible and begins offering up their sounds for my approval. Yes, honey. But please remember to whisper. Crayons are dropped, falling into the row behind us, out of reach. They're passed back over a moment later, a grateful whispered thank you from my lips.

I lean over to Mark. Maybe see if this one needs to the bathroom? A little shuffling ensues as daddy gets up and quietly slips out with our second-born. Bibles are set down, mama reaches over to catch them from falling, too, as children wriggle about. Shhh. No, honey. You can't go with. Sit here with mommy. They will be right back.

Back from the bathroom come daddy and son. Time for snacks. I wonder for the millionth time exactly what snack I could bring that would be noiseless. Little fingers are greedily reaching for more. Handfuls now taken, and the snack is spilling onto laps and the floor. Mama bends to still a hand and whisper a reminder: Only take a couple at a time, okay? At this reprimand a pout forms on one child's reddening face. Mama freezes. Please, no. Shh, buddy. But it's too late. Someone does not like to be told no, and he belts out a loud, angry cry. He is whisked up into my arms and hurried down the aisle. I am vaguely aware of the pastors voice and a blur of faces, but VERY aware of this wailing child and my own flushed face. Shh, shh. Quiet, please. I am embarrassed, rushing out. And then, safely out of the sanctuary, through the foyer, and into the bathroom. Child is set down. Mama takes a deep breath. Trying not to discipline in anger. I kneel down, speaking firmly but quietly. Others are in the bathroom, too. My boy? He cries in anticipation of what is coming. It does come, and then it's a sorry and a hug, and a reminder to go back in quietly with mama.

And in again we go, walking quietly, (Lord, may it be invisibly?) back to our seats. Tucked back into the row, near daddy and the other children. Sighing with relief that no one is crying at the moment. My face is surely still flushed. The snacks have disappeared, the pastor is wrapping up. I pick up my journal, glancing at it. The date at the top of the page stares back at me. No notes today.

I might feel better if we weren't so alone in this. To my knowledge no one else in our entire large church has their children sit with them throughout the service. (Why would they, after all? There's a perfectly good children's program right downstairs!) It would be easier to send them there. Our children could be as noisy as they wanted. I might get to hear an entire sermon; to take a full page of notes. Mark and I could sit beside each other and listen without interruption. And we could altogether avoid the stares. And the embarrassment. We could avoid the comments, too: "Children need to run around and get their wiggles out." Or, "This is too long for children to have to sit so still." Then there are those who don't say a word at all but whose thoughts are written upon their frowns. Or those whose faces or voices tell me nothing at all but I wonder, "Just what are they thinking?"

I need to be reminded that it matters not what people think. Our intention; our desire, our responsibility, is to teach our children:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

My prayer is that as we sit on Sunday mornings with our children gathered around us, we are indeed teaching them.

We are teaching them how to express their love for God as we reveal how we express our love for God. Sometimes with eyes closed or hands raised. Sometimes with heads bowed in silent prayer, sometimes with voices raised in joyful song.

When there is time given for people to stand who need prayer, I move out of our row to go pray for someone. As I lay a hand upon them, I feel a little hand clasp my own, and I see that my daughter has come, too, to pray.

When there are testimonies shared and baptisms watched and celebrated, we pull our children onto our laps and teach: "Do you remember, honey, what baptism means?" And I tearfully lean over in a whisper to Mark, "Can you imagine them missing this?"

When the offering bag comes by, my children let go of their tightly clenched quarters and drop them in, and they are taught to tithe. Sometimes my daughter also drops in a card she has made especially for Jesus. My eyes well up with tears at the gift, and the certain joy of the recipient.

When communion is given, we bend our heads and whisper: "Do you remember why we take this? This is to remind us of Christ's body, and this, of his blood. Jesus loves you so much, sweetheart, he died for your sins."

When a missionary comes to speak and shares story upon story, I am glad our children are beside us to hear and learn and be moved by these stories of far-off places and of devoted believers giving their lives to share the gospel.

Lest you think they are the only ones being taught, let me assure you: I am being taught, too.

I am given a good lesson in humility as I head to the back with a flushed face and a screaming child.

There are times I sit with tears in my eyes as my daughter raises her hands in praise, singing slightly off key but as loudly as you've ever heard; and I am taught of unabashed love, and I wonder at my own distraction and sometimes cold heart.

And I learn anew as I watch all of these lessons find their way into the hearts of my children.

Like I said, it would be easier to send them downstairs. But then I would miss these things. And they would, too. Where else, if not here, would they get the opportunity to witness these things?

I'll take a screaming child out any day.

Big truths

For our family devotions, we are reading through Big Truths for Little Kids, by Susan & Richie Hunt. (Susan Hunt authored another of my favorite family devotionals for preschoolers: ABC Bible Verses.) We have loved these books!

Last night's story told of a little girl, Cassie, who was going to bring one of her worn, well-loved teddy bears to a tea party. She was afraid her friends might make fun of her bear and didn't want her bear's feelings to be hurt. Cassie's mama took the opportunity to tell her that her teddy bear didn't have feelings. God created people to have spirits within them, not animals and toys.

After reading the story to our little listeners, we reviewed by using the questions the book provides at the end of each story. I happened to be reading that night, as daddy was still eating, so I asked them, "How are we different from animals?" They were quiet and thoughtful, so I thought I'd help out a bit: "Like how are you different than Missy [one of our chickens]?"

Ella said promptly: "Oh! They peep and I talk."

Mark and I, smiling: "Right! But what is it that God put inside of you that Missy doesn't have?"

Ella then said, "Missy doesn't have a spirit."

Right. A few minutes later, she closed our devotion time with this prayer:

Dear Jesus,
I thank you that, um... we talked about Bible verses. I thank You that You made us different than animals. They don't have spirits and they have fur and they peep. And I don't want to be like them, I want to be like You.


There are seasons with each of my children that have been difficult. I'm not talking about the potty-training stage or the two-naps a day stage when you really can't go anywhere at all or even the stage where the formerly napping child doesn't need that nap anymore. I'm referring to those seasons when a particular child is a challenge-- whether it be their attitude (or my attitude in combination with theirs!), disobedience that never seems to let up, excessive whining, pushing the boundaries, or continual emotional melt-downs.

I talked with my friend this morning on the phone and she said there were times when her children were younger and one of them would just really push the boundaries for a week or two, as if to challenge, "Did you really mean this?" My response to her was, "Oh. Well, this child has been pushing the boundaries every day, every minute, for more than a year." (At least that's what it feels like, but then again I have been known to exaggerate.)

So. Needless to say, I'm in the throes of one of those seasons with one of my children. Hence the post on weariness yesterday.

When Mark comes home from work, he'll ask, "How was your day with _____________?" And I do not disappoint: I have kept a running list in my head throughout the day. "Well, this happened and then this, and then I said this but our child did this instead and, and, and..." I just sort of dump all of it out. It is not a happy list.

On Saturday, then, when I was in tears and Mark and I prayed together, God reminded me of this. I whispered to Mark as we crawled into bed, "Honey. Do you see what I've been doing? I've been tallying up every negative thing, when what I really need to be doing is tallying up each praiseworthy thing."

And then on Sunday morning, that word of exhortation from a dear elderly woman: "live out your mothering in thankfulness and praise."

I asked God to soften my heart; to help me see the praiseworthy things in my child. Because, truly-- there are days it has been difficult for me to come up with one. And do you know what? God has been so faithful in answering that prayer!

The past two days have been so much better. When I have had the opportunity to steal a moment, I've grabbed my journal and scrawled a list of things I was thankful for about this child. Throughout the day I find myself taking mental notes or snapshots of what is happening that is good. Or cute. Or even just normal, and not naughty. I actually say to myself: ______ is being so cute right there, putting on those boots. Or, that was a very sweet smile our child just gave to daddy. Or, Wow! This one has been playing so quietly in here for the past few minutes!

I am being purposeful about setting my mind on the things that are right. Excellent. Praiseworthy. Lovely. They are there. And they've been there all along, it's just that I haven't been looking for them. Now I am.

Ah... God's Word is so GOOD! And helpful. And such a wonderfully gentle kick in the behind when I need it.


Yesterday at our Mother's Day service one of the older saints in our church, a beloved woman of nearly 80, prayed over the mothers and women. She said that when hers were still "littles", God led her again and again to this verse, in Galatians:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

And then she exhorted us to live out our mothering "in thankfulness and praise".

Words I needed to hear.

The previous evening I had sat on the couch, in tears, talking with Mark. I was so weary. Burdened. Struggling with my attitude toward my children. Trying to find some fruits from my diligence with them. Tired of the whining and grumbling and disobedience. We discussed, prayed, and went to sleep.

And then God spoke- through Shirley- "Do not become weary in doing good, Stacy. At the proper time you will reap a harvest if you do not give up." It's not as if I was ready to give up (although I did tell Mark I felt like running away from home for a few days) but I sure needed that encouragement.

So if you, like me, are a weary mama? Hear this and take heart: Don't become weary in doing good. At the proper time you will reap a harvest if you don't give up.

Do tell

Recently I noticed that all of a sudden the dirty laundry at our house has practically doubled, and I can't keep up with it on my two designated laundry days. Today I figured out why.

It's Spring! The kids are outside a LOT more than they were even a couple of weeks ago, and their clothes are filthy when they come indoors. The past couple of days I cringe when they want to go out in the mornings because my practical mind immediately goes here: "That means a whole new outfit for each child when they come in, and I know they're going to want to go back outside at least once again later today." And I can hardly tell them to stay out of the dirt.

I've been mulling this over, and I've wondered how some of you other mothers handle this? I've contemplated having a set of okay-to-get-dirty clothes by the back door and then whenever they go out, they can put those on, but that seems like an awful lot of work, too. But... are there other options? What do you do?

Stretch marks

I scar very easily. My skin is a bit olive in its tone, so if I cut myself shaving or get a scratch, I cringe a bit because I know that that particular mark is there to stay.

When I got pregnant, new marks appeared on my skin. Stretch marks. As I carried Ella, the skin over my hips stretched and expanded and I ended up with two large purplish marks on each hip.

And then Isaac came along and stretched my skin in every other place. I now have maybe a dozen on my tummy, splayed upwards like little rivers. I have them on my inner thighs and on my outer thighs. One day as my delivery date neared, I stretched out my legs and was absolutely horrified to spot tiny stretch marks forming on my calves. Yes, I did say calves. I ask you, who on earth gets stretch marks on their calves?! That would be me.

I was insecure about those marks on my body after I had Ella, but after the birth of Isaac? Oh, how I hated those stretch marks. I felt so ugly with those wavy scars all over my body.

I have the most affirming husband in the world and he could truly care less if I have stretch marks. I've always wished I could be so carefree about them. What I have done is come to a sort of begrudging acceptance of them.

This morning in the shower, I took note of them again. For the first time ever I actually looked at them with tender affection. These marks are reminders to me that this body of mine carried babies. They remind me that God answered years of prayers and saw our tears of anguish and allowed me the gift of carrying not one, but two children in my womb. The growth and expanding of my body to make room for my children left these marks, and I stood in thankfulness for them. I may never be pregnant again. And if not, I know that for the rest of my years, I can see the marks on my hips and remember that the weight of my baby girl pulled those marks into place. I can look at this tummy and see these marks splayed out and remember that my chubby boy was growing behind those marks.

And as I stood in the shower and whispered a prayer of gratitude for these visible reminders, I thought of this, too: in my relationship with God, as I grow and expand in love for Him, I hope and pray that "stretch marks" will be formed in me. They won't resemble the ones that are impressed into my skin, but as I read and study His word, as my faith deepens, as I rest in His gift of grace, as I am challenged by sometimes difficult lessons, and as I love more deeply; may all of this stretching leave a visible mark in me.

On the table...

...for Ella's day to cook:

Grilled Cheese-Tomato Soup

Pizza Snacks

Pretty Posy Cookies

(Not pictured: sliced bananas, pineapple, and strawberries)

Ella invited Grandpa and Grandma to join us for the meal, so that was a highlight. We were scrambling a bit at the end to have it all ready by the time they came, so I only ended up with a couple of photos.

Those cookies were a bit of work...

...but were very pretty and Ella's favorite thing to make

Lesson mommy learned: Only let Ella choose one or two recipes each time, not three!

Lesson Ella learned: When you're the cook, you don't get to drop everything and go outside to play.


It has been a busy week around here. We've had a lot of evening commitments-- which is unusual for us; we are generally home in the evenings. Mark's day off was on Wednesday of this week, which throws our routine a bit, too. We spent that day working outside on the chicken's yard. It is now netted and chicken-wired and supposedly safe from predators. Now if they would just go out. Yesterday was a sunny day so I opened up their door in the morning and they all just stood around looking bewildered. Not once yesterday did they meander outside. ???

The bigger news at our house this week: (but a little history, first)...
A couple weeks ago we were at the bank and the teller handed the kids some coloring pages for a coloring contest. They had no idea what one was; but happily colored their pages and turned them in. Ella received a call from the bank Monday morning telling her that she had won; could she come and pick up her prize? I asked Ella that day, "What do you think the prize might be?" She figured it was lollipops or stickers (which is what we usually get at the bank when we go). We swung by the bank that afternoon, and Mark took Ella in to pick up her prize while I waited in the van with the boys. They were inside for so long I was getting worried, wondering if they'd made a mistake and called the wrong child.

I needn't have feared.

I saw Ella first, running towards the van as fast as her legs could carry her, clutching her winning coloring page and smiling widely. Then I saw Mark, carrying the prize. Upon sight of the prize I burst out laughing.

Here they are, waiting for daddy to open it.

(Oh, I KNOW it's a pinata, and we're supposed to give the kids bats or sticks and let them beat it open. We've done that before (Amy, remember?) and it ended up that the daddies had to work to get it open in the end, anyway. And since our children are young enough to not remember what a pinata is, we took advantage of that and just cut it open.)

They had no idea what was inside, but were pleasantly surprised.

Well, except for Isaias. He didn't appreciate the glasses so much.

Four things to ponder

Psalm 78 is one of my favorite Psalms. The margin of my Bible next to this Psalm is filled with a big star and a prayer. Here is a portion of this passage:

O my people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter hidden things, things from of old--
what we have heard and known,
what our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our forefathers
to teach their children,
so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.
(verses 1-7)

These verses say we are to teach our children the following things:
1. The praiseworthy deeds of the Lord
2. The power of God
3. The wonders He has done
4. The statutes and law of God

As I look at the above list, I am challenged to be more purposeful in my interactions with my children. Am I daily telling them of God's praiseworthy deeds? Am I telling them what God has done in my life? Am I teaching them of His power? Am I sharing the wonders He has done throughout history? Am I teaching them His law?

The privilege of having my children home with me all day gives me many opportunities for teaching these things. I am encouraged to speak aloud the things I am praising God for in my own life; the prayers He's answered, the deeds He has done. And to point out to them the deeds He has done in their lives. I am encouraged to speak of His might and power. My children love to talk about how strong and mighty God is; that He is more powerful than anything or anyone else. I am challenged to speak of and read about His wonders, over and over and over again. And of His law; how God wants us to live.

This is so my heart. And my fervant prayer? "then they will put their trust in God and will not forget his deeds but will keep his commands."