Friday, September 26, 2008

Getting excited for Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountians!

Cade's Cove in Smoky Mountain National Park.
We visited the park last year over Brandon's Spring Break. We enjoyed our time their so much that we decided to head there again this March! This time our dear friends Nick and Renie are joining us. We are so excited to drink in the beauty of God's creation! I remember one day on our trip singing the line to a favorite song, "My Savior, He can move the Mountains..." and looking around at the Great Smokies and being awed by the "Awe"some power of our Great God!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Godmother Shelly

I have several jobs in a given week, but I always treasure my time caring for "2 sweet boys" (2SB) Super E is 2 and Little Love is 1. They keep me BUSY all the time, but their smiles, giggles, and cuddles are worth any "work" they might cause. Their amazing mom recently asked Brandon and I if we would be Godparents for Little Love. What an honor!!! LL is going to be dedicated in a couple of months, and while our church doesn't really do the "Godparent thing" the family decided they wanted to have special people chosen to encourage them as parents, and to spiritually encourage LL all through his life. We are so excited about the special role we will get to play in his life, and are honored to commit to praying for his little soul to soften to Jesus when he is young and to walk with Him even when he is old! While we long to be parents, God has called us to be "Godparents"... this is great! It is amazing how much love we have in our hearts. 2SB is the third family I have been a nanny for. It is always so hard to say good-bye to a family (one time we moved, one time they did) and you never think your heart can open that far again, then... an hour in... you are hooked. At the same time, you have not compromised a pinch of love you have for those you already care about... wow! Thank you God, for being Love, for teaching us to love, and for giving us hearts so ready to love. Amen

Choosing an adoption agency

Yes folks, we are in the adoption agency choosing process. It is a lot like searching for a college to attend. You search the internet totally overwhelmed by the vast array of choices (I found one site that reviewed the top 1500 agencies), knowing there is no way to research each one. Then as you start to request information, lovely packages are sent to your door each day. Many of them are filled with beautiful glossy photos, free DVD's, great reading material, and success stories. So, you might wonder how I chose a college... I had one of those "I just know I am supposed to go here" type of feelings when I toured campus. Sure, they had my major, I liked the city, school, and even dorms, but in the end... I just knew. It was through my college choice that I became adopted, see post from Sept 4th (that's right, I can't figure out how to send you there... does each post have a different URL? I am still new to this world).
So you can see, we have a major choice to make. It is hard not to be tempted by pretty packages. We got one the almost caused me to weep because it was so precious. There was a brief moment (maybe 3 days) when I wanted to say, "The prettiest package agency should totally win, because the people working there must be ethical and lovely just like their materials." Interestly, I had a question for the "pretty package agency" which I asked them about 20 days ago and I have heard no response. Sorry "pretty package agency", you were removed from the list! Actually, of our top 5 agencies, only one sent a package that could be considered pretty, but our top five agencies sent beautiful information and amazing children. So, what is important to us in choosing an agency and what is our criteria for choosing a country? Here is our list, complete with tiny justifications:
1. International (at some point we desire to adopt domestically from the US Foster care system, but we feel called Internationally for this one)
2.Healthy infant (at some point we want to adopt older children and will be open to special needs, but this is our first time around and we have been given lots of godly counsel on this one)
3. One Trip (at this point financially it just makes sense... actually we are strongly considering the escort option so that we can travel to the birth country when our child is old enough to remember the trip)
4. Less than 2 years application-Gotcha Day! (not sure I need to justify this one :))
5. Agency that understands graduate students and our financial postion.
6. Agency that understands pregnancy. (yes, we know we have a 1% chance of getting pregnant, but if God chooses to bless us in that way, we refuse to simply "terminate" the adoption, as we already love our adopted child)
I think that is the list so far. If any of reader friends have agency suggestions I am eager to hear them. As for the countries, we have narrowed it down based on the above criteria, but the truth is that all of the children are so lovely that the country matters much less than trusting God to lead us to our child!
What is the next step? Well, I am reading blogs of families who have adopted from each of the agencies and I am learning a lot. I am also asking lots of questions and taking note of who responds in a timely fashion. I am talking to everyone I know who has adopted and asking about their agency and our parents are doing them same, but above these things we are PRAYING... because friends, I believe God knows each of our children and He will open and close doors according to His good plan! We must... you guessed it... Surrender!!!

God connection stronger than internet connection!

I feel like I have not posted in ages... that is because I have not posted in ages. We were having internet issues, but things are running smoothly now and I am thankful to be posting again. I am amazed at the feeling of loss I had over no internet. In the end, I was thankful to have a few days to fast from this technology I can so easily take for granted. I praise the LORD that my connection withHim is not dependent on cords, wires, passwords etc. Not only can I commune with Him at any moment, but is Holy Spirit lives inside of me! Wow! God is amazing!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Spicy Chicken and Rice Yummy!!!

Well, it has taken me a while to get started, but I thought I would FINALLY make a recipe entry. This is a tasty meal that goes a LONG way with great leftovers.It also freezes well!
Baked Spicy Chicken and Rice
Prep: about 20 minutes Bake: 50-55minutes

~4 to 8 meaty chicken thighs
~1 large onion
~1 large green pepper
~2 cloves of garlic
~Small amount of oil to saute onions, garlic, and pepper
~1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
~1 15.5 oz can of black beans
~1 15.5 oz can of corn
~1.5 cups of uncooked long grain rice
~Chili powder
~Crushed red pepper

1. Skin the chicken and set aside.
2. chop onion, pepper, and garlic.
3. Saute in oil until tender. (use a large cooking pot or wok)
4. Stir in crushed tomatoes, black beans, corn, rice, chili powder, and crushed red pepper. (DO NOT DRAIN anything. The liquid is needed for the rice to cook!) Bring to a boil.
5. Scoop rice mixture into two large casserole containers.
6. Set chicken on top of rice mixture and sprinkle with paprika.
7. Bake, covered, in a 375 degree oven for 50-55minutes
8. Enjoy!

Special instructions on brands etc.
As you know all of my recipes are free of gluten, dairy, sugars, etc so reading labels is important!
~Crushed tomatoes- most brands OK (look out for sugar or flavoring)
~Corn (watch out for sugar)
~Black beans- most are OK (watch for sugar, food starch, or flavoring)
*I usually will not put amounts on my spices and I want you to make them to suit the taste of your family. We like things very spicy, but start out with less and test, you can always add more or season at the table.
*Always, feel free to sub in garlic powder for the cloves (I often do)
*Chicken breasts would work too, but thighs are such a nice serving size
*This meal serves 4-8 depending on the number of chicken pieces, however you will most likely have extra rice. The rice is great even without the chicken and has a good source of protein with the beans, so this meal can easily become vegetarian!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thoughts before sleep

As I unwind for the day, I sit in awe of my eternal Father in Heaven. God truly blessed me today with wonderful conversations about adoption. Adoption is the heart of the Gospel! The more I think about welcoming a child into our family the more I am struck with my heavenly Father's beautiful invitation to me to become his daughter and the wonderful adoption I received into the family of believers. I know the wait will be long, but hopefully not the 18 years the Lord waited for my homecoming! I praise God in the wait tonight! There is much peace and great hope in a MIGHTY God!