Tuesday, November 30, 2010

the magician's nephew

recently, i have been needing some light reading to help my brain relax (i was trying to get through desiring God, but that just wasn't working after a long day with kiddos).

remembering how much i loved the chronicles of narnia as a kid (even before i was a christian), i decided to pick up the series and read it again.  i am almost done with the magicians nephew after just a few days of reading.

i am loving it!

not only do i love the fantasy/epic genre, but i especially love the spiritual parallels of the book which i was blind to as a child.  here are a few quotes that have really stuck out to me (they are probably more meaningful in the context of the book, but hopefully you will get something out of them as well).

aslan the lion speaking, speaking to the talking beasts after he created narnia: 
"before the new clean world that i gave you is seven hours old, a force of evil has already entered it; waked and brought forth by this son of adam... but do not be cast down... evil will come of that evil, but it is still a long way off, and i will see to it that the worst falls upon myself."

[just like how the gospel is preached even in the first few chapters of genesis.  beautiful!]

after the main character, digory, completed an important task given to him by aslan:
" 'well done' said aslan in a voice that made the earth shake.  then digory knew that all the narnians had heard those words and that the story of them would be handed down from father to son in that new world for hundreds of years and perhaps forever.  but he was in no danger of feeling conceited for he didn't think about it at all now that he was face to face with aslan."

[that makes me think about heaven and what our good works will feel like there as we are commended.  we will be in no danger at all of being proud, standing in front of jesus!]

i cant wait until we have kiddos old enough that we can read these stories to! :D

Friday, November 26, 2010

boost your immunity with thanksgiving leftovers!

today i am over at somaticos, with the last of a four part series on boosting your immunity naturally.

today's post is especially timely as it includes a recipe for your thanksgiving leftovers!

dont miss out!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

my best motherhood practice

inspired by girl talk (a blog by carolyn mahaney and her daughters), proverbs 31 and several older women i respect, i make an effort to rise each morning 1-2 hours before the kids do.  this, by far, has been my single best practice in motherhood.

rising early allows me to pray, read scripture, think through the day for a bit and get a head start on housework before anyone else is awake.  i usually try to have breakfast and lunch made before everyone else gets up, and i usually start laundry and get other various housework done.

i usually try to spend about 15 or 20 minutes praying and reading God's Word (this is much less time than i would prefer, but a reality at this current life stage).  after that, to keep my heart focused on God, I will listen to a sermon as I get things done around the house.  often times, i will go to desiring God and look up a sermon on the passage of the bible that i just read.  if not that, then i usually listen to a mark driscoll sermon.

as a side note: i most definitely do not do this every morning!  i am a realist and i know that its not always possible.  when i am too tired, i sleep in.  i know that God made me to need sleep and I humbly submit to that.  but i pray for His grace to wake me up early, and he often answers that prayer.  I give him the praise and glory for making that possible.

Friday, November 19, 2010

our foster care experience by the numbers

17   ...number of weeks we have had the kiddos so far (wow... it feels like it has been forever.  did i ever not have kids once?)

18  ...number of doctors/dentist appointments since we have had the kids (and 5 more in the next two weeks)

10  ...number of appointments for developmental assessments and psychological counseling

360  ...minutes per week driving the kids to and from parent visits, which is

200  ...miles per week driven to and from parent visits

2  ...average number of hours each week we spend filling out paperwork for matters relating to the kids

assignments we have been given for the kids from our agency and the preschool oldest brother attends (i'm pretty sure that there has never been a day since we got the kids that we have completed all of these things):
30  ...minutes per day reading to oldest brother
15  ...minutes per day doing homework assignments with oldest brother
20  ...minutes per day helping oldest brother learn to cut with scissors
20  ...minutes per day helping middle brother learn how to draw
20  ...minutes per day playing catch with youngest brother

just wanted to share that little slice of our life with you.  seeing this all written down makes me realize why it feels like there aren't enough hours in the day!

boost your immunity with friendly bacteria

did you know that eating bacteria will help protect you from bacteria?

catch me over at somaticos for this week's real food friday where I share about how food with friendly bacteria helps to protects us from unfriendly bacteria and viruses.  and a recipe for a pumpkin parfait!

read it all here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

the mental shift from adoption to foster care

the past few weeks it has become more and more clear that we are most likely in a foster care situation with the kids, and not adoption (ie they are only going to be with us short term, and then be reunited with their mom.)  this could change, but that is how it is looking.

this realization has brought a range of emotions and thoughts.

some days, i wonder why we are putting up with all of the grief from our social workers when this isn't getting us any closer to our "goal" of adoption.

on the other hand, it has instilled a (good) sense of urgency in me to not waste any time with them, especially relating to spiritual matters.  i am trying to incorporate the gospel throughout the day: teaching them about jesus, the bible, sin and salvation.  they are so young and we (probably) don't have much time with them!

sometimes i daydream about life without 4 kids.  if they are reunited with their mom, i think i will sleep for four days straight afterward... that is how behind on sleep i am (despite the fact that i average 8 hours of sleep at night... but 8 hours is nowhere near enough for how much these guys wear me out!).  if we didn't have kiddos, i probably wouldn't be battling my acid reflux so hard... something that i HATE because it is forcing me to be on OTC meds daily.

sometimes i daydream about life with maybe just  two kids.  maybe a girl just like lovely girl and a boy like little man.  i would have plenty of time to spend with them... lots of tickles, lots of hugs, no stress... (i know, this is unrealistic... but i am allowed to daydream).

and then there are times that i just keep thinking over and over about how these guys really fit so many of the hopes that we had about the type of kids that would be placed with us.  and i also think about how much work we have put into training and teaching them, and the big improvements we have seen in their behavior.   and these thoughts make me sad to think that we might not have them with us long term.

but then i think about things i would like to do as a homemaker that i do not have time/energy/mental capacity for ever since being blindsided (in a good way) with four kids. and i think about how i would spend my days differently if our family situation was different.

and i think about the guilt i feel for not spending enough time with them, not having as much direct impact on them as i would like, and then i feel like it would be better for them if they weren't with us (and they would probably agree... they ask for their "number one mommy" every single day, multiple times a day).

there is really no point to this post, just some rambling thoughts.  but ultimately i do have to say, i am so thankful that God has instilled in me a deep belief in and trust in His sovereignty (though its still an area i need growth in).  otherwise, i would be going nuts right now.  He already knows the future of these kids, and already knows what we need in serving them.

thank you Jesus for being the same yesterday, today and forever, in the midst of my ever-changing life.

Friday, November 12, 2010

boost your immunity with raw garlic

catch me today over at somaticos where i am continuing my series on boosting your immunity with real food. 

this week's food: garlic (yum!) with a recipe for guacamole.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

this has been encouraging to me this week

but recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

(Hebrews 10:32-36 ESV)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

how to do a push up

click here to see a really hot guy teach you the right way to do push-ups. :)

[ok, i admit, i am biased]

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

foster care: proof that legalism doesn't work

"for in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but faith working through love"  -galatians 5:6

this has been a trying time.  not only has parenting the four kiddos been especially hard recently, but to top it off is the added pressure of the social workers breathing down our throats daily. 

we have been battling our social workers the past few weeks.  we cant live up to the standards that they have for us... it is basically impossible.  first, we were told that we need to be much more careful with the kids as a result of a series of injuries. (just to clarify: by injury this includes a dot on lovely girl's face the size of the tip if a ball point pen, among other very minor things).  nearly every conversation with our social worker she reminds me that i need to take the kids for another doctor visit (visits which are already scheduled... yet she feels the need to remind me again.)  and the latest was yesterday when the social workers decided that they don't like the fact that we use cloth diapers and are asking us to switch to sposies (the answer, for the record, is no.  i told her that i believe that organic cotton is much better next to babies' skin than chlorine, plastic and other chemicals.  i have yet to hear a response to that one).

when they say these things, i want to scream.  i want to yell and make them see how much we are serving these kids above and beyond the rules, because we care.  i want to tell them about how patient i am with them when they are acting crazy after parent visits.  i want to tell them how we almost exclusively give them homemade meals made with nutrient dense, mostly organic food.  i want to tell them how we have cleared our schedules so that every single night of the week since the kids came to us, we give all four kids a bath, brush three sets of teeth, put them all in clean jammies and read them all several stories before bed.  i want to tell them about how i basically quit my job to stay at home with them and provide the most quality care possible, rather than shipping them out to a daycare. i want to tell them about every time i have given them a hug when they look sad.  i want to tell them about how we pray with them and comfort them when they wake up screaming in the middle of the night.

but these things dont matter to the social workers.  they are all about following rules and regulations.  the problem is that many families do foster care just for the money (though I cant understand this... the money really isn't that great at all), and the social workers believe that if they make you follow all of the rules, that you are caring for the kids.  but that is not true, which is proven by the number of families who do foster care and follow all of the rules, but fail to nurture or love on the kids at all.

in our case, they dont care about all the things we do right.  i could write pages and pages about what we do because we love the kids.  they care about the couple of things that they view are not going so well, and their utmost concern is to fix these minor things rather than be happy that we love the kids.  and our love is getting "results" (even though we are not all about results): i have reported to the social workers the dramatic decrease in tantrums, the big increase in sharing toys, their use of "please" and "thank you", even the fact that their psychologist terminated services after just 4 weeks because (as she put it) she cant do anything to add to or improve upon what we are doing with the kids.

as these things stewed around in my mind today, it dawned on me that this is a great illustration of loving God vs legalistically serving Him.  when we love God, we want to go above and beyond the letter of the law.  the bible helps us understand what God desires from our lives, but it is only a starting point to begin learning how to love and serve Him.  on the other hand, legalism is a set of rules.  if any of these rules is even slightly broken, the result is guilt and fear.  in legalism, love is not the motivation, results are.  but with love, the "results" come naturally as the love flows out. 

seeing up close the vast difference between legalistic care and loving care in the foster care system, God has really taken it deeper into my heart of why he wants our love, not our legalistic service.  Lord, give me true love for you and not a heart of legalistic service!

[as a side note, prayer would be greatly appreciated.  i am having trouble discerning if all of this headache is merely God bringing us through trials and persecution, or if he is gently closing the door on these kids being in our lives.  pray that He would give us wisdom and that we would walk by faith.]

Friday, November 5, 2010

boost your immunity... naturally

Today you can catch me blogging over at Somaticos

This November, my Real Food Friday posts are going to focus on foods that naturally boost your immunity.  I am kicking off the series with coconut oil, and a recipe for No Bake Chocolate Coconut Bars.

Lets just say that when I make these, they dont last long in our house. :)

Happy immune boosting!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

a call for suggestions

It has been great to get such good feedback from people about our new God-centered health and fitness blog Somaticos!

We really want to serve our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, so I want to open it up for you to send us your suggestions on topics relating to health, nutrition and fitness.  What do you want to improve in?  What do you want to know more about?  What kinds of recipes would you like to see me post?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

[if you dont want to post your suggestion as a comment, feel free to email it to me at: sarah(dot)hope(dot)costa(at)gmail.com]

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

two exciting announcements

my first announcement is a new blog that alex and i have started together.  the focus is on God-centered health and wellness, and you can find it here at http://www.somaticos.com/.  we both firmly believe that striving for wellness is a component of a God-honoring life. unfortunately, our society often times idolizes health and fitness.  on the other hand, many people in america (including many christians, sadly) have given away to laziness and gluttony, to the damage of their health.  our hope is to educate people and assist them in a God-centered, healthy lifestyle.

(alex has written about a biblical perspective for being in shape, which you can read here.)

i will be writing a weekly post called "real food friday" in which i will share the joys and health benefits of real food along with a weekly recipe.  I have already written posts on green smoothies and homemade salad dressings which i encourage you to check out.

my second exciting announcement is probably more exciting to me than to you, but i have begun to venture out into the exciting world of sourdough!

sourdough utilizes wild yeasts from the air to bring rise to baked goods.  this is truly a provision from God and people have been using it for thousands of years.  the advantage of sourdough over modern forms of leavening is that it is cheaper and the souring process makes nutrients in the dough much more available than using store-bought yeast or baking soda.  furthermore, the souring process in a sense "pre-digests" the flour, making it easier for the body to digest (some people with gluten intolerance can eat sourdough baked goods with no ill side effects).  in other words, sourdough is traditional, healthy and cheap.  just my kind of thing! :)

a week and a half ago, i began culturing my starter.  it took about a week to get my starter in an active state.  and since it has become usable, i have made sourdough pancakes and crackers.  my boys have already asked numerous times for the crackers, even though i just made them last night!  i look forward to also trying pizza crust, crepes, muffins, pie crust, cookies and eventually (when i feel bold enough) bread!

i am very excited about this because i feel like i finally have a healthy way to serve wheat to my family without feeling a compromise or paying for expensive sprouted-wheat bread.

unfortunately, i am not able to enjoy any of the sourdough right now :/ but that is a topic for another post.