With great joy...

{Corrected March 1, 2013: I discovered photos of strange people I do.not.know in this old post.  I've fixed it, now.  }

{Adelia just dropped her sign}

{Whoops! Wrong side, Addie! (And yikes... Ella is about ready to drop Adelia!)}


This little one within my womb has been longed for and prayed for for years; and we feel immeasurably blessed.

We had an ultrasound this morning and were able to see our tiny miracle. All is well. My due date is somewhere around February 19th (which would be one day before Addie's first birthday!)

You make me glad by your deeds, O Lord;
I sing for joy at the works of your hands.
How great are your works, O Lord!
~Ps. 92:4-5a

On my mind

"The question will never be whether you should care for orphans. The question is how you will care for them... "
-Jason Kovacs

[You can read the article in it's entirety here].

My sister and her husband got their foster care license this past week. On the day they received word that they were officially licensed, they received three calls: will you take this child? this baby? this sibling set?

In their home for the next few days, a little girl (4) and a little boy (2). Pulled from their home due to abuse/neglect. Stayed the first night with one family, and then arrived at my sisters' house. They came at night, around bedtime, with nothing. No jammies, no blankets, no little stuffed animals from their own beds, nothing of their own. They have bruises all over their little bodies.

Oh, my heart aches for the orphans. Ella's, too. When I told them over breakfast about these two little ones staying with their cousins, Ella spent the next half-hour trying to figure out room schematics in our house so that we could be able to take in some more foster children. She concluded: "There are too many rules!" (Because of my responses: "No, honey- they can't sleep in your bed. Or on the couch, or even on the floor.")

Our church has been studying the book of Acts, and the series is entitled, "The Church Has Left the Building." (Ie: are we taking the gospel outside the doors of the church? In our workplaces, in our extended families, in the community and world at large?)

Increasingly I am certain that this is one area where the church needs to "get out of the building", and step up to meet the needs in our communities. How great would it be if we rose up as a Church and took in all of these orphans? I have this little fantasy in my mind where social workers all over the country are circled up in the state offices, chatting at the coffee maker, talking about all of the foster families from that Assemblies of God church, over there, and the Presbyterian church down the street, and the Reformed church across town. And how they can rest a little easier, now, what with these wonderful families responding to the need.

Maybe someday.

In the meantime, we pray here at our house for the orphans. Specifically for this one, this baby girl we got to love for one short month of her life.

How we hope to be able to foster again, someday!

I am so, so proud of you, Stef (if you're reading this), and Dan-- for doing this. And for those of you others who are also fostering or in the process of getting licensed. And those of you who have adopted or are in the process of adopting. I love your hearts. And I commend you for obeying God's word.

Open house: Wednesday, July 23

Listening to...
Mark, reading a story to the kids before bed. And Adelia, crying herself to sleep at the moment.

Thankful for...
My wonderful husband, Michelle's phone call today, a tall glass of water with ice cubes, Talia's phone call today, how excited my kids are about taking swimming lessons next week, and numerous other things.

In the kitchen...
Not much. Pizza tonight for dinner. And not the homemade variety, either.

Nothing. But I'm looking forward to making one of these Gratitude wraps someday soon...
*And* I just got some CUTE new fabric (some for my birthday- from Amy, as well as some in the mail today- from the new Farmer's Market line.) So I have lots of fabric just waiting for a project.

Leif Enger's second novel, So Brave, Young, and Handsome. I haven't decided yet if I like it. I really enjoyed his first book, Peace Like a River, and I do like his writing, but the story and characters in this one? Not so much my favorite.

In the yard/garden...
MY BASIL is GROWING! Just very sloooowly. But it's leafier this week than it was last week, so there is still hope!

Looking forward to...
a new bike! My parents are buying bikes for Mark and I for their anniversary gift to us. It's been literally years since I've owned a bike, so much so that when we went bike shopping, I asked the sales lady why every single bike looked like a boys' bike- "Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but aren't the girl bikes supposed to have that bar that swoops down?" Apparently not. I guess most of them look like boys' bikes now. Whatever. I think Mark was just thankful I didn't ask my "Where is the kickstand?" question out loud. I guess they don't make bikes with those anymore, either. (Though I don't know why not. I think kickstands are rather handy.)

Praying for...
Beka. Thank you, readers, for those of you who have also been praying! I love this blogging community for that reason~ so many perfect strangers reaching out in love and support and prayer for one another. It's a beautiful thing.
Also... praying for my friend Camee, and our neighbors.

Excited that...
My best friend in the whole wide world (well, other than Mark, I mean) is blogging! Well, Amy would argue that she is not actually blogging, but she has in fact been posting on her husband Mike's blog while he travels. So there you go. Head on over there and take a peek at my favorite family!

In the CD player today...
Sara Groves [Tell Me What You Know]

Will you join me, dear readers...

in praying for Beka?

[click on her name, above, and follow the link to her latest post.]

The voice of God

[Mark just told me about a conversation he had with Isaac tonight and I thought it was so funny I told him he had to post it. So here it is, in Mark's words:]


It seems Isaac has been particularly fond of seeing his daddy lately. As a matter of fact, he is getting up early -- really early -- just to see me before I go to work. Since tomorrow is Sunday and I will not be going to work and we hope to sleep in a little bit (past the 6 a.m. wakeup he gave us this morning), I decided to have a little talk with him before bed tonight.

Daddy: "You've been waking up early to see daddy, haven't you buddy?"

Isaac: "Yes."

Daddy: "Okay, well since tomorrow is Sunday, I'll be home all day, so I'll be here no matter how late you get up. So if you wake up and are still feeling sleepy, you can just go back to sleep."

Isaac: "But what if I see a little bit of sunshine in the window?"

Daddy: "Well, it does get light really early, so if you see the sun and you're still sleepy, just go back to sleep."

Isaac: "But what if I hear the voice of God, and He's telling me to get out of bed?"

Daddy: "Well, if you hear God's voice, you better do what He says."

Isaac: "But what if I hear a big scary voice telling me to get back in bed?"

Daddy: "That will be your daddy."

July 2008 Adoption Update


We found out this morning that Adelia is now legally free- meaning that the court has terminated her birth parents' rights, and she is now officially available for adoption!

Praise God! In my mind and heart it's been 99.9% official this entire time, and I really would have been shocked if it did not go this way.

And yet, upon hearing the news this morning, I burst into tears. It was so good for my heart to know that this precious girl of ours really gets to be ours.

A side note: I think this is the first time in both of our kids' adoptions that something has happened BEFORE they told us it would happen. This has been a super quick process so far. Everyone says so. Sometimes this process (with very similar birth-parent scenarios) can take years. Adelia has been with us for 4 months. Just another testimony to God's hand in every detail of this. I am so grateful.

So now we move forward on the adoption process, which will probably take about three months.

[The above photo was taken by Amy on Tuesday of this week.]


13 lbs of strawberries


22 jars of jam!

[12 jars of Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam and 10 jars of plain (but delicious!) Strawberry Jam.]


3 trays worth of frozen whole strawberries for smoothies.

I began the day with a plan to make freezer jam. But I needed some more lids for my jars so we went to the store to get some. And as I stood there looking at all the canning jars and lids, I had an urge to go home, pull out the canner and go for it.

I'm so glad I did.

I'd forgotten how much I love canning.

...the preparation of the fruit, the lids, the jars....
...carefully pouring the hot jam into the jars...
...the careful wiping of the rim of the jars, just like my mom taught me...
...pulling the jars out of the canner...
...the happy rows of jars on the counter...
...the delightful popping noise that signals the jars have sealed...

Ah, so satisfying.

Ella was my helper for the first batch. She was a good little strawberry-washer, jam-stirrer, jam-pourer, and lid placer. And she squealed right along with me as each jar sealed!

Strawberry picking

I wasn't super motivated to go strawberry picking this year. It's just been so hot. Plus, Mark is usually at work during strawberry picking hours and the thought of me hauling the four kids out to the berry farm isn't too enticing. Especially since Addie would have to be carried by me-- would I really be able to pick?

I did want to make some Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam this year, though. So today Mark said he'd try to finish up a bit early so that we could all go out.

The first farm we drove into we saw them chopping down the strawberry plants. Arghh. Maybe I'd missed the season altogether. When I stopped and asked, she said, "Our last day of strawberries was yesterday." Ugh.

Onto the next farm. The sign still read Strawberries: U Pick, so I was hopeful. When we asked, she sort of shrugged and said, "There's a few left out there. Kinda like a treasure hunt. Feel free to pick wherever. Good luck."


I thought "Treasure Hunt" would really get the kids fired up, though, so I whooped about how much fun this was going to be and into the fields we went. It was very slim picking. We found one berry every 5 feet or something. [Note to self: Next year do not wait until the third week of July to pick strawberries.]

But we persevered and found 13 lbs worth of berries~ enough for a bit of jam~ and some pictures to boot.

Funny story about the berry farm we were at today. But a little history, first. This farm- that my mom has gone to for years, because they're the cheapest and that's what matters to her- has raspberries and blueberries in addition to strawberries.

This is the very same farm where I was swarmed by a mob of angry bees two years ago.

And a couple of years prior to the bee incident, it was at this farm that my sister, while picking blueberries, saw a green hose wrapped around the bush. But no- then the hose moved, and she quickly ascertained that it was actually a green SNAKE. ~shudder~
I did not happen to be there, near the snake, at that time, but just the knowledge of it was enough for me to change berry farms.

A couple of years ago (before the bees but after the snake), my mom and I went out to said berry farm [mom was driving; she picked the farm] to pick some strawberries. It was a bad year. The berries were small and we were disappointed. When we went up to pay for the berries, we made some comment to the teenaged girl behind the stand: "Not a great year for the strawberries, huh?" She was quick to agree: "No. It's been a terrible year, actually. Our fields were infested with weasels this year."

My mom and I simultaneously had an alarming image of a bunch of these fellows roaming through the strawberry fields we'd just been in.


No. Surely not.

We clarified, incredulously: "Really? Weasels? They eat strawberries?"

"Yes," she said, quite seriously. "It's been terrible for our fields."


Thankfully we hadn't seen any.

When we'd stepped away from the stand my mom and I looked at each other and said aloud, at the same time: "Weasels?!" (Like-- is she for reals?)

And then it dawned on us: what she'd surely meant was that their fields had been infested with weevils, not weasels, as she'd said.

On the way home we laughed so hard the tears were streaming down our faces. Every year since we revisit the weasel story and laugh about it until our sides ache.

Because the image of one of us bending down for a berry and seeing one of these guys peering at us through the bushes? Or- heaven forbid- scampering across our feet as we walked through the fields?

More than we can bear.

I wonder how many other U-pickers she told about the weasels before she realized- oops! - it was actually weevils. Hilarious!

He's done it again

Remember The Castle?

Exit Castle, enter Viking Ship.

{Ella, hoisting the sail}

{When Isaac first entered his room and saw the ship}

Mark? You're the best daddy there ever was.

Books: why we're so choosy

We are very selective when it comes to choosing books for our children to read. When we go to the library, the kids know that if they find a book on the shelf that they like, they come and give it to me (or Mark, if he's there) to "see if this is a good one".

There is plenty that is not good. The things we try to avoid, off the top of my head, are:

-blatant disrespect (a child that says NO when a parent asks said child to do something). Often books will make a game of this, or the parent will compromise and the child will end up not having to do what the parent originally asked.

-sassy behavior (a child that talks back or speaks disrespectfully in the course of the book)

-unkind behavior towards a sibling. I avoid these books like the plague. An example of this is the books that discuss a new baby coming into the house, and the older sibling has an attitude problem about it (jealousy, complaints, acting out, annoyance), as if that's the natural course of events when a new baby comes into the family.

-unwholesome talk. So we avoid books with words like "stupid", "jerk", and the like.

-w*tches, gho*ts, and all other forms of evil in that realm.

I'm sure I'm missing a few things, but those are the basics.

The reason for this is simple: our children need no encouragement whatsoever to sin. They do just fine by themselves, thankyouverymuch. And the behaviors and attitudes found in many books today are not attitudes we want our children learning.

On the contrary, we have a responsibility as parents to guide them in truth.

Philippians 4:8 says, Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

It is our aim to provide our children with books that will keep their minds to the above list.

I must say, this has gotten just a bit more challenging now that Ella is such a voracious reader.

First of all, while I am trying to read (or at least properly skim) everything before she reads it, she is now reading long chapter books and it's getting difficult for me to keep up. [I would love to hear how the rest of you do this!]

Secondly, if in the past we came home with a library book that was questionable, I just edited it as I read. (I've been known to tag on whole sentences, like, "...And because the little boy was so disrespectful to his mommy, she disciplined him." :) But now that Ella reads, she reads along with me and catches any of my edits!

Last night, we came home from a used bookstore with a stack of new-to-us books. Three of them were American Girl books. We currently own a total of two of these books, both given to us, and Ella has enjoyed them both. So I found them, last night, and- not having the time to read them, I passed them to Ella and said she could get them. She was thrilled to have three new books to devour, and held them tightly in her hands for the rest of our outing.

When we got home, it was bedtime, and as Mark was putting the kids to bed, I picked up Ella's books to read them. It took me just a couple of minutes to rule out two of the three books we'd brought home. Here's an excerpt from one:

[When Samantha's grandmother told her she was unable to go to a friends' party because they had an out-of-town guest named Cornelia coming to visit]:

Stupid Cornelia is ruining Christmas
, Samantha thought. She's ruining it for everybody, but mostly she's ruining it for me. I'm not allowed to decorate my house and I can't make a gingerbread house, either. Now I can't go to Ida's party, so I won't be able to play charades or see magic tricks or wear my beautiful new dress!

"I hate Cornelia!" Samantha said when she was sure Grandmary wouldn't hear her.

The selfishness exhibited in this particular excerpt will not assist Ella in becoming a godly young woman. And "hate"? That's a pretty strong word, one that Ella has never used before when speaking of anyone (or anything) else and I'm certainly not going to be the one to introduce it to her, through a book.

This morning when Ella got up I told her that I'd read the books we'd gotten and that daddy and I had decided she could not read them, after all. I explained why; that one of the girls in the book spoke unkindly and had a naughty attitude and that we didn't want her reading that. My sweet girl was perfectly fine with it. She asked which book she could read, and I showed her two others, one of the American Girl books that was okay, and another book we got about Helen Keller. She promptly went and got those and asked no further questions.

This reminds me, just yesterday I read an excellent post about our responsibility to guard our childrens' hearts. I encourage you to go read it! There is such wisdom in Rebecca's words.

Blessings to each and every one of you as you are diligent to lead your children today!

Remember when...

...I used to write on this blog?

Yeah, that was fun.

For the life of me, I cannot think of anything worth sharing a whole post about.

Hence, the quiet.

Surely there's something I can say if I just start typing, right?

What have we been up to? Playing outside! It's been SUNNY, readers! Warm and sunny! (Rare things for the Pacific Northwest.) I think we've even had three days of sun in a row without the interruption of rain. So we've had lots of outside time and that's been nice.

Were you to visit us, you'd find Ella on our swing set or riding her bike, Isaias playing with water or dirt (or both!) and Isaac riding his bike, playing in the dirt, singing or telling stories or explaining something loudly. Either that or you'd find him out of the sun altogether and inside the house, playing legos. Or all of them playing in the little kiddie pool.

You'd find Addie inside taking a nap or hanging out in my arms. When I'm outside I'm putting laundry on the line, watering the flowers/garden, or weeding --if I'm really inspired--

which as you can see I am not, very often.

At the very least I'd be taking a walk around our yard to peek at everything growing (or not, as the case may be with my basil. And that's all I'm going to say about that because I really really wanted that pesto this year. Ugh.)

I had a request for more news/photos about Addie, so I'm happy to oblige. [Except for I haven't been taking many photos lately, so I'll have to work on that.] Addie is a happy, sweet four-month old now. She's 14 lbs (which is tiny in our family!) She is a sweetheart: rarely fussy, content wherever she's at (okay, except for on her tummy). She babbles (when she can get a word in edgewise around here), laughs, and blows bubbles. This week she's started reaching her hands up to touch my face when I talk to her. It's very cute.

Adelia and I have always been in a good rhythm when it comes to her needing to go to sleep. She's a great sleeper for naps and nighttime, and I can lay her down awake or asleep and she will sleep great. But I noticed when Mark was trying to put her down on Sundays, she wasn't so happy about it for him. And when Mark and I went away and my mom put her down she wasn't too warm to the idea, either. So we've been working on a little sleep training. I've been making sure she's going down awake and letting her cry it out a bit. (Something that is so very much easier for me now that I've done this a few times. I distinctly remember bawling in the living room as Ella cried in the next room. Now, with Addie, I'm like, "Ah, she's fine.")

Many (all?) of you know that we're in the process of adopting her, and that's still in the works. Her caseworker has told us that she should be legally free (available for us to adopt) by the end of the summer, and then we would start the adoption process at that point, which will take another 3 months. Everything is going well for that to happen.

Let's see... in other news, I just finished reading God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew. I had never read it, I'm now ashamed to say, because it was so good. I made a note to read it aloud together as a family when the kids are a little older. Right now I'm reading Carolyn Mahaney's Feminine Appeal, and it has been encouraging (and challenging, too) to me in my roles as wife and mother.

That's all the catching up I have time for. Addie is awake. Ella is entertaining her in their room for me while I finish this up.

I hope you are all well!

::Congratulations to Jodi who is HAVING HER BABY AS I TYPE THIS.

::Rejoicing with the Fletcher family now that Joe is home! Praise God!

It's Stacy's Birthday!

(This is Mark, Stacy's husband. I've decided to take over her blog for the day.)

Happy Birthday, my sweet Stacy. I'd write how old you are, but I'm not sure that's public knowledge. So I'll just say Stacy's old enough to be one of the wisest people I know and yet young enough to be full of youthful vigor.

As I sit down to write this, I ponder many things to write about, but I am mostly just overcome with gratitude.

I'm so thankful that you, the most wonderful person and most beautiful girl, have chosen to be with me. You give yourself so completely and joyfully to our marriage and our family. Thank you.

Thank you also for:
Being an tremendous encourager.
Daily seeking to walk with Jesus.
Continually improving your homemaking skills.
Making extraordinary, delicious meals.
Taking care of our delightful children every day.
Training these children in love, obedience and righteousness.
Being a fun mommy.
Making me laugh.
Being my fiercest board-game competitor.
Praying for me, our family, our church and others so consistently.
Being a faithful, pursuing friend to me and others.
Growing in grace; forgiving me.
Pretty much everything you are and do.

I've just been joined by another boy here on the couch, and your budders wants to write: "I love you, Mommy. I hope you have a good party. I like Mommy because she's really nice to me and she's cute. I love you, goodbye."

I know this post isn't nearly as organized or eloquent as what your readers normally encounter here. You are an outstanding writer and I enjoy reading your posts. I'm thankful for the way your writing encourages others, as evidenced by the comments you receive here.

So, again, Happy Birthday, my love. I cherish you.

Quiet time at our house today. And a birthday!

We were all out late last night at a friends' house. So I knew this one would sleep today:

And I hoped this sweet thing would also sleep:

(Because when she sleeps, I can usually sneak in a nap, too.)

This little man was a surprise, though, climbing into bed with Addie and I about halfway through our nap. After lots of wiggles and his too-long nails scratching my back (~ouch!~), a few kisses tossed in for good measure, and a few whispered reminders from me to the tune of "Isaac, please stop wiggling!", he finally slept.

Shirtless, he sleeps. Like his daddy. Which I find so cute.

This girl? Never sleeps. She holds down the fort with a pile of books.

Ah, quiet time. LOVE it.

::In other news, it's my dear friend Amy's birthday today. (Amy, being my best friend in the whole world second only to Mark. That Amy. We've shared so much of life together- since we were middle schoolers!- and I love her so much. Happy Birthday, Ame! And here you have the only two pictures we have of the two of us over the last decade (well, just about).

Here we are, on a rainy walk (and that would be Addie bundled up in my coat):

And here, out for coffee at Starbucks together one night. (Kendra and Lisa? This night was your treat. Thank you again!)