Sunday, December 30, 2012

intentional living in the new year: 13 in '13

i am not big on new years resolutions, but since graduating college i often make goals for myself at the start of every year.  i often don't achieve these goals completely (this is hard for me to admit as i am an achiever!) but i do feel like its good to strive for something higher so that i am pushing myself and growing.  overall, setting goals helps me to accomplish things i otherwise wouldn't.

this year i have decided to focus my goals on various life skills.  i have settled on 13 skills (one for each month and an overall goal to do during the year) for 2013.  i assigned each goal to a month of the year and even wrote it all in my calendar (that kind of thing helps me out a lot).  here is the list if you are interested.

january: learn how to bake sourdough bread.  now you may be asking, "didn't you win a writing contest about sourdough bread?".  why yes i did actually.  but almost everything i wrote about in the article related to sourdough in general, and not just bread baking.  i make lots of sourdough baked goods with success: cinnamon rolls, crackers, english muffins and pizza crust to name just a few.  but i have only attempted actual bread a few times, and with little success (meaning, i have baked several loaves of sourdough bricks).  so in january i want to bake and bake and bake until i find a great recipe i am comfortable with, and perfect every aspect of bread baking such as the rise time, kneading, texture, etc.
'Sourdough bread' photo (c) 2012, Jarkko Laine - license:

i think i will start with rye bread or spelt bread, as these are low in gluten and see if esther can tolerate them.

february: cheese making. i already know how to make (and regularly do make) kefir (and kefir cheese), yogurt (and yogurt cheese) and cottage cheese.  but i want to venture into real cheese making.  so, my goal for february is to make homemade cheese.  i plan to start with mozzarella, as i have heard that is one of the easiest to make (i think it can be done in under 30 minutes?).  after that i am thinking about feta and maybe cheddar.  we'll see.

march: self-defense.  i took a self-defense class one quarter during college.  not only do i forget most of it, but it wasn't really that hard-core of a self-defense, only very basic.

the last time we had to take CPR for our foster certification, we took it from a retired fire cheif who did an excellent job of teaching.  he also mentioned that he does a self-defense class, so i'm hoping to take his class.

april: plant a new crop (squash).  i already garden, but i want to branch out to some new crops.  i have heard squash produces like crazy, so i want to try it out.

may: sewing clothes. i enjoy sewing but haven't ever attempted clothes (these sound scary and difficult!).  thus far i have stuck with simple projects with lots of straight lines such as bibs, baby books,  and repairing holes in clothes.

i will start out with making a couple pillowcase dresses for esther, and a skirt for myself  (simple.  straight lines :) ).

june: learn how to start a fire.  hopefully we'll plan a camping trip some time in june to make this happen.  if i'm adventurous enough i want to learn to start a fire with AND without matches.

july: roast coffee beans.  apparently green coffee beans are cheaper and store longer than roasted ones.    i got the inspiration from root simple.

august: research radiation exposure and buy potassium iodide.  we live right outside of los angeles, and not too far from a nuclear plant.  the chance of some kind of attack or disaster happening is probably slim, but i would rather research it and be prepared now than regret it later.

september: learn how to shoot a gun.  i have a friend who is an olympic pistol shooter.  during college, she offered to teach me how to shoot.  i now regret not taking her up on the offer.  maybe she will teach me if i visit her at the olympic training center? (i really think she would, she is sweet like that).  if i don't make it out to CO, i'll have to find someone else.  either way, i want to learn how to shoot.  one day, i will learn to hunt.  but that will be in the future.  first step is learning to shoot :)

october: dehydrate things (or plant broccoli).  if we are able to buy a dehydrator by then, i hope to preserve our harvest by dehydrating it.  i would love to dehydrate everything from tomatoes, apples, bananas, herbs and zucchini to eggs, yogurt and beef (jerkey).

if we don't have a dehydrator by october, i'll plant another new crop: broccoli.

november: research infant survival and write another post for survival blog.  my last post won third (which is what i was hoping for).  this time i plan to write about infant survival, and hope to get second or first (so that i don't get the same prizes).  i'll even take honorable mention as long as i win something :)

december: candy making. it might sound weird to label candy making as a life/survival skill, but its on my list of things to learn for two reasons: first of all, so that i can make healthier candy for my family to eat (though i but a priority on nutrient dense foods, i think treats are also important, and making them homemade makes them at least a bit more nutritious than store bought!).  secondly: in the (unlikely but possible) event of something like a major economic collapse, i think that people will still want to buy candy, but wont be able to get the factory made stuff any more.  i think candy is something people would be willing to pay a premium for, so it would be a good skill to have.
'Candied Walnuts - Making Candied Walnuts - Robert Lew, Holmesglen TAFE' photo (c) 2008, Alpha - license:

bonus: read a book about survival. sometime during the year (or it might take the whole year since i have much less time to read with babies!).  haven't decided which book.  any suggestions?

want to live intentionally this new year?  here is a great list of questions to help you reflect on this past year and think about ways to grow this upcoming year.

Friday, December 28, 2012

update on baby girl

i have been meaning to write an update on what is happening with baby girl for a while, so here goes.
'TOY LUCINAO!' photo (c) 2007, JORGE RAVINES - license:
this isn't a pic of baby girl, but similar to what she looks like so that you have a visual :)

first of all, some may be wondering (and a few have asked) whatever happened to the whole issue with giving her breastmilk. very long story short, we got permission a week or two after i wrote that post, for which i am very thankful.  a couple times it was threatened to rescind the permission but that hasn't happened, so she continues to get the best milk.

things are moving towards reunification with her mom.  though we strongly want to adopt, in this situation we are happy and hopeful for the reunification.  in early december there was a court date in which it was supposed to happen, but the judge didn't rule for it.  the next hearing is in early february.  we'll see what happens then (i would say reunification is likely but nothing surprises me in the foster care system).

she has always been fussy but the past few weeks its has really escalated.  we haven't figured out why (could be personality, could be related to the reasons she is in foster care, could be lots of other random things).  there isn't one thing that helps with fussiness so we go through an endless cycle of trying different things to make her happy.  this has been hard. not only is it really difficult to listen to her crying (especially when you don't know why its happening) but its made it hard to get anything else done while she's awake... hence the endless piles of dishes in our house and eternal mess and clutter that i have been unable to cut through for the past few weeks.

sometimes i wonder if its a waste of time to try to soothe/comfort her fussiness since it sometimes (often?) doesn't even work.  sometimes i am tempted to be bitter about spending hours soothing someone else's baby (especially when the cause of that fussiness might be related to someone else's bad decisions).  one thing that has helped me to be more sacrificial was a sermon i listened to recently.  in it doug wilson mentioned that any gift given in the right way is a gift given to jesus (matthew 25).  it helps to remember that rocking her, patting her bottom, shushing her and other soothing actions are all gifts given to jesus, and not just to baby girl.

as she is about 3.5 months old now, she is starting to have a bit more personality.  when she isn't fussy she has an array of cute noises and coos, and i can even get her to laugh from time to time.  she is starting to reach out for toys and roll over and all those other normal 3 month old things.  its especially fun for me to see her interact a bit with esther (from her end its mostly just looking at esther, esther's end of things ranges from fingers in baby's mouth to patting her on the back when she is crying).

so thats about it.  the day to day is just normal motherhood, until you have to drive to and monitor a
visit or wonder if your plans in february should include one or two babies or talk to yet another social worker... and at those times the best thing i have found is to keep in mind the why behind our sacrifices.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

the joy and discipline of sermon listening

"Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more." luke 12:48

as christians living in the the developed world in the 21st century, there is no denying that we have been given generous resources by God.  as always, we can uses these resources for good or for ill, but either way we will have to give an account one day for how we used it all.  one of the resources we have today is access to a prolific number of sermons, easily obtained through the internet.

listening to sermons throughout the week is one of my favorite spiritual disciplines (which is also a joy).
'Forgiveness Feeding From Afar' photo (c) 2006, Tim Samoff - license:

anyone can incorporate sermon listening into their day: while commuting, while working out or while taking a walk.  but i find that sermon listening is even easier (and arguably more important) for stay at home moms to fit into their day.

the opportunities for a stay at home mom to fit in sermon listening into her day are endless: while doing dishes, while folding laundry, while rocking fussy babies, while nursing babies, while resting when little ones are napping.  SAHM's have many activities that keep the hands busy while the brain is free to think about deeper things.

sermon listening is also important for SAHM's to help stay focused on jesus throughout the day.  the notable dr. martin lloyd-jones once said that mothers of young children are the only ones who have a legitimate reason to not be reading their bible regularly (not even busy medical students have this excuse he said, and he would know since he was a doctor!).  in my experience i have found this to be true. since starting to walk with jesus in college, i have never struggled with daily bible reading except for times we had multiple young children (this wasn't an issue when we only had esther).  however, let me make sure to say that moms should still be sacrificing to make time for the bible even when they have littles, it just might not be as consistent.  right now with a (very fussy) 3 month old and a 14 month old, i still find pockets of time several days each week to devote to bible reading and prayer.  even when we had the four foster kids i was able to wake up early and get a few minutes of bible reading done before the kids woke up some days.

i call sermon listening a discipline and a joy.  it is a discipline, because it would be easier to let your brain rest and not think about deeper things.  it would often be easier for me to listen to NPR, music or just my own musing thoughts instead of a sermon (and indeed there are many times that these things are better than a sermon for what i need at the moment).  but it is a disciple to choose to think in the midst of our culture of endless entertainment opportunities.

but it is undoubtedly also a joy.  my heart has been refreshed by a good sermon more times than i can count.  various sermons have spurred me on towards deeper love for the gospel, biblical womanhood, joy, satisfaction in God and love for adoption among other things.

so, where to start?  there are numerous sites where good sermons can be found.  some sites that i frequent are:

canon wired (doug wilson)

desiring God (john piper)

mars hill church (mark driscoll)

together 4 the gospel (a biennial pastors conference that i enjoy)

the gospel coalition (also a conference with lots of other resources on the site)

if you want a more specific suggestion on where to start, here are some of my all time favorite sermons, most of which i have listened to multiple times:

a theology of christmas gifts by doug wilson (this is good to listen to any time of the year, not just during the christmas season)

an evening of eschatology (a roundtable discussion of the 3 major views of the millennium from a desiring God conference)

under authority like christ (a great teaching on biblical womanhood by mark driscoll)

are you humble enough to be carefree? by john piper (this one is pretty thick, i find it helpful to read the text while listening to the sermon)

prayer as a way of walking in love by francis chan (you will be encouraged and humbled by this account of francis chan's personal prayer life)

what are some of your favorite sermons?  when during the day do you enjoy listening to sermons?

Friday, December 7, 2012

counter-cultural ways to live out your femininity

in a gender-flattening culture such as ours, one of the ways to glorify and testify to the real and living God is to deeply live out our gender in a biblical way.  even when our culture does admit to some distinction between the genders, these definitions are a far cry from the ways that God created our gender to be lived out.

here are some practical ideas of counter-cultural ways to live out your femininity.  it will offend some.  it way be seen as politically incorrect.  but it points to and honors the one who created you to be uniquely female.

not freaking out about baby fat.  i do believe it is important and good to have a nice appearance to honor and show love to your husband. but God created our bodies to be used and not preserved.  if you die at an old age and your body is not worn out and used up, you may not have been using it to pour out service to others.  the normal wear and tear associated with child-bearing (including breast feeding) is a good thing.  so, yes, work out and eat healthfully.  dress nicely when you go out on a date with your husband.  but reject our culture's obsession with looking the same as you did pre-baby.  in fact, don't even talk about it.  its not realistic, and its not honoring to God.

extended breast feeding.  our culture tells women to reject their God-given ability to breast feed in exchange for the "convenience" of formula.  because that way, dad can feed the baby too! (remember what i said about our culture flattening gender differences?).  fortunately, some are starting to recognize the beautiful ways that God created breast milk to be the superior nutritional source for babies.  however, there are definite limits our culture sets on this.  it seen as weird to breast feed past the time baby has teeth, or up to a year old at most.  however, the immune boosting properties of breast milk are actually more important the second year of a child's life than the first (as they are more mobile and exposed to more germs).  and the majority of the world today (and the vast majority of mothers in the history of the world) have breastfed until 2+ years.  again, our culture emphasizes the inconvenience of breast feeding to a mother.  but she cannot frequently escape her child for long periods when she is breast feeding!  better wean as soon as possible!  in extended breast feeding we can embrace the God-given role of motherhood and reject our culture's call to escape baby and have our "own life" apart from baby (and toddler).

be a stay at home mom.  and LOVE doing it.  the #1 response i get when people see me in public (these days with two babies, previously with four kiddos) is "WOW, you must have your hands full!" (often in a critical tone...).  my response is always "yes, full of blessings!" (which is often returned with a blank look or a glare, but i digress...).  our society teaches that you must live a significant life, and their definition of significance involves career and a lot of time away from your own kids (ironically, if your career involves teaching or helping other people's kids, it is seen as a noble career.  but not if it involves your own kids!).

embracing the call to full time motherhood is certainly counter cultural.  but to go against culture even more, LOVE your job and don't complain about it.  moms are expected to complain about motherhood (after all, motherhood and childbearing were certainly touched by the fall.) but we honor God when we enjoy the work he has cut out for us.

manage your household.  do most of the chores, and do them without complaining.  despite our society's attempts to flatten gender roles, studies show that women still do the majority of household chores, even when they work full time (a result of a serious epidemic of the rejection of real manhood).  if you embrace your role as a household manager, you will likely be doing most of the chores (though hopefully not while working full time).  love this. embrace it.  don't use it as an opportunity for bitterness or complaining.  reject the common trend in our society for women to complain about housework.  i can't put it better than this:

"work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.  remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, as the Master you are serving is Christ" colossians 3:23-24

Thursday, December 6, 2012

another story of waiting... and a very specific answer to prayer

speaking of waiting, i want to share another story of God's blessing that involved a bit of waiting on our part.

it all started a few years ago when i was researching high quality water filters.  not only do i want to make sure as much of the chemicals and yuck as possible are out of our drinking water, but i would love to have the peace of mind to know that if there were some disaster in so cal (like a major earthquake... a pretty realistic possibility) that we would have access to safe drinking water.

in comes the berkey water filter:  the seeming answer to my quest. the only problem:  it costs about $300.  (don't you hate how expensive it is to eat healthfully?)  since then i have waited until we had an "extra" $300 around to buy one, which hasn't happened.

and then a few months ago, i started reading a blog. every day they post an article written by a different person, entries for their bi-monthly writing contest.  and reading further i noticed that part of their third prize offering for the writing contest was that exact water filter i have been wanting!  after a little bit of thinking, i realized i have expertise in an area that had been barely written about on the blog thus far: sourdough bread baking.

i got right to writing.  life being what it is with two babies, it took me about a month to write something worth submitting (and a big thanks to my husband alex for editing and helping me with that!).  in early october, i finally submitted it.  and i prayed multiple times specifically that i would win third place (the other prizes were good too, but i was really hoping for third because of the filter).

i was so excited after i sent it in!  my piece was high-quality and i couldn't wait to see it post.  i checked the blog every day.  and every day, i saw somebody else's article.  after about a month of checking, i gave up hope.  alex told me not to feel bad because they probably get lots of entries.  but i have read many of the entries and know that most of them are on redundant topics, poorly written or shorter than the minimum requirement.  and if those get published, why not mine?  i was bummed, but gave up hope and started to think about another topic i might have enough expertise to write about.

a few nights ago, alex and i were spending time together after a long hard week.  i was looking over his shoulder as he was reading some blogs on the computer that he subscribes to.  at the same time, we noticed that someone had written a letter to the aforementioned blog about sourdough bread baking.  "what?!" i said.  "they will post that person's random letter but not my well researched, lengthy article?!" i was incredulous.

but only for a few seconds.  because after looking further down, we realized that the letter was in response to an article posted earlier that week about sourdough bread baking.  written by none other than "sarah in california"!

woo hoo!  we were so excited!  but it didn't stop there... we also realized the writing contest had ended the day after the article was posted.  searching a little further, we found the post with the contest winners.

looking at first and second place i didn't see my article, but two other really good ones.  i was bummed, thinking that sourdough isn't cool enough to quite make the cut for that blog.

but before my eyes found the third prize winner, alex yelled out, "you won! you got third!"

i was really, really excited and happy at that moment.  its hard to describe my feelings.  it was a mixture of excitement to finally get the long coveted water filter, with happiness that my hard work paid off and writing was deemed worthy of a prize, with an over arching sense of gratefulness to God for giving me the ability to write the article as well as answering the prayer so specifically with the exact prize that i was hoping for.

soli deo gloria. (to God *alone* be the glory)

oh, and if you haven't read it yet, i recommend my (prize-winning!) article on sourdough bread baking over at survival blog.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

how we will be celebrating advent this year

each of the past two decembers, alex has preached a sermon about advent.  each of these sermons has been on the topic of waiting (here is the one from two years ago if you want to listen).

i didn't learn this until the past few years, but waiting is one of the major themes of advent.  the hopeful expectation of what is to come, the fulfillment of God's promise.

as americans who can order a meal and have it ready in a few minutes at McDonald's, or look up a vast amount of information at a click of a button on the internet (and these days google doesn't even make you click before pulling up suggestions!), we aren't good at waiting.  but the bible sees it as an important discipline to wait upon the Lord, and even makes good promises for those who wait.  one example of many is "the Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him" (lamentations 3:25).

God has seen it fit that this advent, we will be waiting.

you see, yesterday was a court hearing about baby girl's future.  all signs were pointing to her being reunited with her mother (which is something we support and see as a good thing, by the way).  but because of a technicality, that was not the judge's decision (although if she keeps doing well, that will be the ruling at the next hearing in february).

now, we love baby girl.  i love watching esther play with her (and by play i mean stick her fingers in baby's mouth, set large toys on her head, play drums on her tummy, etc).  we have a good relationship with baby girl's mom and have given her a bible, and had opportunities to speak to her about spiritual things on many occasions.  i am happy to know that we have given baby girl the best start to a healthy life as possible, as she is getting breast milk and not formula.

but baby girl is not our baby girl.  and we want a child who will be adopted into our family.  and the longer baby girl is with us, the longer we wait to see who that child might be.  the longer until we can hold him or her in our arms.

until then, i will be praying for that child.  and hoping.  and most importantly, waiting.  and by God's grace waiting well.

so as we commemorate the hopeful expectation of jesus for all the centuries until he came the first time, and even think about our hopeful expectation of his second return, we will also be expectantly hoping for and waiting for our next child.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Real manhood

this blog is devoted to biblical femininity.  most of my readers (i'm guessing) are women.  so why would i write a post about biblical manhood?  because far too many women don't understand biblical manhood.  biblical womanhood cannot be practiced well without the complementary role of biblical manhood.  furthermore, a misunderstanding of biblical manhood by women leads to unbiblical expectations in marriage and settling for dating and marrying weak men, as well as the desire to take over when men aren't leading in the home or church.

a basic place to start in understanding biblical manhood is with the acronym "R.E.A.L. manhood" and explain how jesus perfectly embodied these things and how men should (by God's grace) live these things out.

a real man...

rejects passivity.  jesus actively pursues his bride, the church.  he is not passive, waiting for others to act.  he initiates salvation, he actively paid the price through his death on the cross so that we can be saved.

passivity was the first sin that the first man committed.  adam sat idly by while he let his wife eat the forbidden fruit.  he did not protect her or try to stop her from sinning.

real men imitate jesus when they reject passivity.  they don't sit around and wait for their wife to discipline the kids, they take the initiative and do it without hesitation.  real men initiate the pursuit of women they are interested in, not waiting to be asked out by her (or even waiting for her to "give signals").

embraces integrity jesus was perfectly holy and committed no sin.  he always chose to do good.

real men choose holiness over sin.  real men never lie to their wives or girlfriends.  real men live a life worthy of being imitated by others.  real men work hard and never put halfway effort into something important.  real men are faithful to their wives.

accepts responsibility  jesus took responsibility for his bride, the church.  he did not cause her to sin, but took responsibility to pay for that sin and rescue her.  he also gladly takes on the burden of leading and empowering the church to do his will.

real men shoulder the burden they are given and don't try to heap those responsibilities onto others.  real men accept the responsibility to provide for their family, serve in the church and grow in their relationship with God. real men joyfully and humbly serve in even the smallest ways at church. real men do not let women take over roles in the church and family they weren't designed to take.  they work hard at this with joy and without complaining.

leads courageously jesus leads his bride the church without fear.  he forages ahead in the face of hardship.  he looked squarely ahead when he faced the cross and didn't look back.  he never lets his bride lead, but leads her perfectly, tenderly and courageously.

real men lead courageously in church and at home.  real men lead out in difficult family decisions, including the wife on the decision process but not leaving her to do it herself.  real men know that they were designed to fulfill leadership roles at church and gladly serve in this way.  real men lead the family in seeking God.

the men in your life will fail in some of these areas, because they are sinful, just as you women reading this will also fail at times in fulfilling your biblical role as a woman (and praise God that there is forgiveness in jesus when we repent of this sin and bring it to him).  my hope in writing this is that women will have a better understanding of biblical manhood so that they can pray for and encourage (and not nag) the men in their lives.  moreover, this is especially applicable to single women, so that you choose to marry a real man and not just someone who goes to church and maybe even reads the bible sometimes.

Friday, November 23, 2012

an older child(ren?) in our future

as i mentioned a few weeks ago, our time with baby girl is coming to an end even though it just started.  it may be a few more weeks, or a few months, we are not sure.  she has been a unique blessing in our lives for this time: not what we expected, but certainly a gift from God in many ways.

a picture of Messther (an apt nickname for her when she
looks like this).  not related to the topic of this post, but
just because...
and so alex and i have talked a bit about what our next placement will be like.

first of all, we are going to probably have to hold out for a child(ren) whose parental rights have been terminated.  this means a child whose parents are no longer in the picture, when we get them we will know they are adoptable (or at least something like a 90% or more chance).  we have put in our time with two emergency placements.  there is a big need to take emergency placements, and sometimes these work out to be adoptable children.  this hasn't been our experience, unfortunately, so i doubt we will be doing another emergency placement (the only exception is if we got a call for a baby whose mother has had 5 or 6 other babies taken away.  we might consider that child since it is unlikely that the birth mother will get her life together for baby #7.  and yes, that does actually happen sometimes, sadly).

second of all, i feel God drawing out hearts to an older child(ren) rather than a baby.  to clarify, by older i mean 3 or 4 years old, which is not very old for foster kids (where the critical need is to adopt teens), but that is as old as we feel like we can do right now.  

there are a number of reasons for this shift.  the main reason is because there is a big need to take in older kids.  everyone wants babies.  there is still a pretty high desire for 3-4 year olds, but less so that the babies.  previously we had limited our range to children younger than esther because we have heard that it is not good to adopt older than the kids you already have since it messes with birth order dynamics, but we are starting to feel like this might be ok for us in this situation.  first of all, esther is so young still that she will be able to flex and fit this new family dynamic (i'm sure there will be some adjustment on her part, but easier for her now than if she was like 2 for example). secondly, esther loves playing with older children and does well with them.  it seems like an older child could be really great for her.  and since there is a need for older, and it seems like we could do it, then we want to be open to it.

another reason is the fact that i have been a mom for two and a half years, but only have one 14 month old child.  i love little ones, but they are a LOT of work.  now make no mistake, i have been the mother of 3 and 4 year olds and know that they are a lot of work in a different way (even more so in the foster care system where there is no guarantee that a 3 or 4 year old is even potty trained, and possibly still tantruming frequently).

another reason for an older child is because i would like to get pregnant again sometime soon (not like soon as in the next few weeks soon, but maybe in the next year soon).  if we got another baby i would likely be breastfeeding him/her, which would make it harder to get pregnant for a while.  also, i don't think i would have the capacity to care for esther and a baby while being pregnant.  i tend to be a bit ambitious, but even i know that that is probably not the best idea.

another reason is that with an older child, there is likely to be more clarity on his/her parental situation.  with babies straight out of the hospital, you never know.  our current baby girl seemed like a good candidate for adoption when we first got the call.  but by the time she was two weeks old, it was pretty clear that she would probably go back to her mom.  the more time that passes, the more that these things become clear.

of course its exciting to think about our next placement.  also a little bit scary, as there are many unknowns.  but i know that jesus knows, and i know that he is tender and gracious.  and i know that he will prepare an equip us for that work.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

the diva awards

we affectionately call our chickens "the divas" for a few reasons:

1. they are all named after famous divas (tina turner, diana ross, etta james, etc)

2. they act like divas.  especially the older ones... always complaining unless they get their way.  super catty and always picking on each other.

i have decided to give them awards based one what i have noticed so far.

most dominant - tina turner!!  she is definitely at the TOP of the pecking order. don't even think about eating some food if she wants it too.  she will definitely peck you if you try.  she is also the lead aggressor against the pullets (younger chickens).

most difficult - minnie riperton.  she literally does the exact opposite of whatever i want her to do.  for this reason she has spent the night outside of the coop many nights when she wont go in like i try to get her to.  she also spends most days in the yard and not in the chicken run.  in the yard she has no access to food and water, but yet she persists to go there instead of where the food is.  lastly, she is constantly getting in the older chickens' way, which has gotten her injured on many occasions and she STILL hasn't learned!

dumbest - jessica simpson.  when i open the coop to let them out, she just stands there and stares.  when i try to help her out she walks the opposite direction.  she is the last one in the coop at night (unless minnie is still rebelliously running around).  she just doesn't get it.  slow to move and slow in the  head.

congratulations to the winners!

Monday, November 12, 2012

he is tender

this past week God had been pointing out my prayerless and rekindling a desire in me to pray about everything.  i am a busy mom of two babies and prayer often goes on the back burner and i tend to "more important" things.

i have been repenting of this lack of faith and praying for more dependance on God and a deeper desire to pray.  today God was very tender and gracious to me and did just that, through another prayer of mine.

you see on saturday our washing machine died.  i sent our landlords a text message about it, not being sure if they would want to try to get it fixed (but its a very old machine... i think its really dead dead) or expect us to get another one or what.

i have been worrying about it since then.  if we have to pay for it, how will we fit it in our budget?  what is a good brand to buy?  should we get new or used?  alex's back is hurt... who will move it?  whose truck will we borrow to get it here?  and on and on, such fruitless worrying thoughts.

but this morning i prayed that God would provide us a new washer with no cost or work on our part.  as i was praying He gave me the faith to stop worrying and just trust him with it.

and a couple hours later i got a text from our land lords saying they will get a new one and have it delivered hopefully some time this week!  not only is this a huge relief, but a reminder to bring all things to my Father, and to not try to handle life (even the mundane things) on my own.

what a tender and gracious God i serve!

"a bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory;"  matthew 12:20

Friday, November 9, 2012

fight for your food rights

prop 37, a measure to require GMO foods in california to be labeled, was defeated but i will keep fighting back.  one day GMO labeling will be mandatory here as it is in 60 other countries, and i will be a part of making that change.

one of the reasons prop 37 failed was because of the $45 million raised by the opposition, nearly entirely  funded by food and pesticide companies.  the pro 37 side only had about $7 million, funded by concerned moms, dads, small farmers and small organic food companies.

today i decided to write letters to many of the large companies that helped fund the opposition to 37 and make my voice heard by them.  and i want to share that info with you so that you can fight back and make your voice heard too.

the following links should take you directly to each company's "contact us" page.  you will see that I only contacted food companies and none of the pesticide companies such as monsanto.  i figured that this is more effective because the only way pesticide companies are going to stop producing GMO seeds is if food companies stop purchasing GMO food crops for ingredients for their food.  pesticide companies won't be affected by my opinion as much as a food company will:


Coca Cola Company

Pepsi Company

General Mills


Kraft Foods

here is the basic letter i used, but i changed it a bit for each company depending on a few different things like how much they donated.  feel free to use this as a model or to copy it if you agree with everything i wrote:

I am writing to let you know that I am extremely disappointed about your financial support against Prop 37 in California this election season.  I also want to inform you that I will no longer be buying any of your products unless you change your stance on genetically engineered ingredients.

I find it curious that you are proud of your products but won't let your consumers know what is inside of them. I hope your company will choose to tell the truth and start labeling what is in your products.

I am not sure if you are aware of what your $1 million+ went to.  It funded the dissemination of  deception and outright lies about the proposition.  The campaign you were a part of falsely claimed that the San Francisco Examiner endorsed no on Prop 37, when in fact they endorsed yes.  They also funded deceptive mailers that claimed the Democratic party endorsed no on 37 when in fact they endorsed yes.  They aired commercials with a scientist falsely identified as being employed by Stanford University when in fact he was not. They claimed that this prop would raise food prices when the only studies that showed this were from biased sources funded by the opposition.

If your company opposes GMO labeling, that is one thing.  But it is shameful of you to fund lying to your consumers in order to get what you want.

If you truly cared about your consumers, you would have used this money to offer your products at a lower price.  Instead it seems that you decided to use the money to protect your own interests, which is why I will no longer be contributing my money to this cause.

most of the food i purchase is bulk from our food co-op or csa and rarely branded processed foods like these companies sell, but i am going to have to be intentional to completely avoid supporting these companies. but you can be sure i will work hard not to buy these products again (like the nestle cocoa powder i just bought last week... dang it!).

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

arm yourself

are you armed right now?
'3 swords' photo (c) 2011, . . - license:

no concealed carry license needed to arm yourself in this way:

"since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh, no longer for human passions but for the will of God" 1 peter 4:1-2

it is important to have a right view of suffering, remembering that it decreases our love for sin and increases our love for God.  

as i was thinking through this verse, i asked myself, "why do people arm themselves with weapons?". i thought of four reasons:

1. to fend off an attack
2. to give themselves confidence 
3. as a preventative measure (if a robber suspects or knows you are armed, they probably wont attack you)
4.  to get themselves in the mindset to be ready to defend themselves as any given moment

after writing these down, i realized how appropriate this imagery is of arming ourselves with right thinking about suffering.  all of these purposes are paralleled.  

1. to fend off an attack - when we have a right view of suffering, we can battle the temptation to be depressed, not trust God, etc when suffering comes.

2. to give yourself confidence - if you have a right view of suffering, you do not need to be worried about the possibility of suffering in the future.

3. as a preventative measure - you will be less likely to slip into depression if you have a right view on suffering as soon as it starts.  also, the Enemy is less likely to attack you, knowing that his flaming darts will be extinguished by your strong shield of faith (ephesians 6:16)

4. to get yourself in the mindset to be ready for suffering - the fact is, you will suffer in your life on this earth because of the sin and brokenness in the world.  so it makes sense to get ready for it.  if you have the right mindset, you wont think, "oh poor me!", but you will think, "yes!  i am ceasing from sin!!"

Monday, October 29, 2012

have you suffered? be thankful.

suffering is one of those things that is much easier to be thankful for in hindsight.  so do just that.... look back and be thankful.  it will also help in your current trials.

one of the main reasons i am thankful is because i don't know any strong christians who haven't suffered deeply.  and i mean real suffering... not first world problems like "starbucks got my order wrong", "my parents wont let me stay out late", "i don't have enough money to send my kids to ballet AND karate" or "i have lots of exams to study for and i might not get all A's this semester".

meditate on this:

"whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God" 1 peter 4:1-2

so as to live... no longer for human passions

the suffering that we endure takes our eyes off of the mist that is this life on earth.  we see how silly and fleeting they are.  suffering has been used in my life to cast off the desire for the appearance of a perfect life.  i am more willing to be honest about the brokenness, the sin, the failures.

i also have less and less desire to run after things that people around me run after.  in the past few years, God has greatly decreased my desire to eat a perfect diet, have the latest, fashionable clothes, have a perfect looking, squeaky clean house or a financially secure future.  these are not bad things in and of themselves.  but i don't want them as the main thing.  i want jesus as the main thing.

so as to live... for the will of God

the parallel to God decreasing my desire for these things is him increasing my desire to know, love and do his will.  i love sanctification more than personal satisfaction, which is why i have been happy to give up many of my personal desires in the process of knowing God better.  for example, we really want to adopt.  but by God grace i am excited about the role he has us playing in the life of our foster baby's mother, even though it means she is likely not adoptable.

alex and i have lots of hopes and dreams for the future (such as adopting lots of children, owning a large piece of land and living overseas).  and because we think it will glorify God, we have confidence that God will grant these things. but if he doesn't we are ok with that.  because we don't desire these things for our sake, but for his.

so... have you suffered deeply?  if not, i think that it may be wise to pray that you would, for the sake of His name.

as AW Tozer wrote, "it is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly before he has hurt him deeply".

Saturday, October 27, 2012

the mental shift from adoption to foster care

well, its happened again.  but this time it was faster.

we have made the mental shift from adoption to foster care.

its hard. some parents put forth a little effort to get their children back after they have been taken into the foster care system.  but few parents do everything exactly right, and follow court orders to a tee.  but this is the second time the mother of foster children in our care have put forth this kind of effort.

(this is not to say that we root against parents getting their lives together.  we just know that it happens frequently, and we would love the opportunity to adopt a child whose parents are unable to care for him/her.)

but i am thankful.  i am thankful because we have a good relationship with littlest miss' mother.  i am thankful that i have gotten to talk about jesus with her, and share how much he has impacted my life.  i am thankful because she has expressed interest in reading the bible, and because we got one for her.  i am thankful that God placed littlest miss with us, and he is in control of her future.

not allowed to post pics of littlest miss.  but picture esther
with a LOT more hair and darker skin.  right now LM is
about the size esther was in this pic.

and i can't help but to think ahead to our next little one.  will s/he be our forever ever child?  i don't know.  but i do know that for now there is an extra pair of cheeks, and an extra forehead in our home that require extra kisses, a little bundle of joy that requires lots of hugs and snuggles.  good thing i have more kisses and hugs than esther can handle.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

three common questions about our foster care experiences

i hear the same questions over and over about our foster care experience.  i thought i would answer some of them here in case you are interested:

wow, you've got your hands full.  how do you handle it all?

yes, our hands are full.  full of blessings.

[thanks to rachel jankovic's book "loving the little years" for finally giving me a good response to the "you've got your hands full" comment i hear whenever i go out"!]

we are a bit ambitious.  its partially because of reading this story of a 21 year old mother of 14 kids the day before our first placement, and partially because jesus has a habit of leading us to do crazy things.  our first foster placement was four young siblings, ages 1, 2, 3 and 4.  currently we have two babies, a 12 month bio baby and a 1 month foster baby.  so, in both of these situations people have (rightly) assumed that my days are busy taking care of little people.

on one level, we can only do it by God's grace: he give the energy and patience to make it all happen.

on another level, it helps that i value efficiency and organization, especially since foster kids require more time/energy/effort than typical kids for a number of reasons (extra doctors appointments, a constant flow of paperwork, driving to and from visits with birth parents).  i think God did create me as a fairly high capacity person (by his grace) which enables me to take on the care of multiple littles.

but don't get the impression that its easy! it does require a lot of sacrifice, especially of my time.  i don't get a lot of "me" time, and i am ok with that.  i'm only on the internet once or twice on a typical day, and i'm not great about returning phone calls.  i love to read, but i read much less now than before kids.

what made you decide to do foster care?

Here is a post about why we want to adopt and here is a post about why we are choosing to do it through the foster care system.

is it hard to see them go?

of course it is.

if you don't get attached to the children in your care, then you are holding back part of your heart and not fully loving them.  this is especially true because we really want to adopt, but the kids that have come into our home have gone back with their biological parents (that seems to be the route that things are headed with our 1 month old baby girl, but that is a subject for another post).

my first foster baby girl will always be my first baby girl in my heart, even though esther is my first baby girl who is really ours ("really ours" isn't synonymous with biological.  if she was adopted she would also be really ours.  it bugs me when people different between your adopted kids and the ones that are "really" yours).  i still think about her a lot.  when esther was first born, i used to call esther the other baby girl's name frequently.

the pastor of our church in columbus made a good point once.  he said that jesus calls us to do things that will get our heart broken.  but he also promises to bind up the brokenhearted (psalm 147:3 and isaiah 61:1).  jesus pours into us so that we can pour out to them.

we can put our heart out there to love these kids and get it broken when they leave because of jesus.  period.  there is no other reason.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

early autumn in our home

for the past 5 years of my life, august/september has marked a significant life change each year.  in september five years ago, i left america and went to germany for almost a year (wow, hard to believe that was almost 5 years ago!).  the following august i got married to the love of my life :) .  the next next august we moved from ohio across the country to california.  the next august we took in four foster kids (well, the first two came in late july and the older two boys came in august) and moved from a two bedroom apartment to a house.  the following september esther was born.  and this year in early september, our new foster baby girl was born and came to us three days later.

things have been a whirlwind again.  we are re-adjusting to waking up in the middle of the night for feedings (without the luxury of sleeping in the next morning!).  laundry is once again a daily affair.  when esther naps, my hands are no longer completely free to do gardening and housework.

in addition to the new baby, we also got 5 new english sussex pullets who should be laying in December some time.  we look forward to having enough chickens to satisfy our need for eggs, and hope that they will even produce extra for us to give away.  right now they require the extra work to keep them separate from our full grown rhode island reds (affectionately called the divas) who like to pick on them.

i am struggling to get it together to put a nutritious dinner on the table each night, which partially due to my lack of planning.  i hope to have a meal plan laid out for next week to make things go more smoothly (i almost always meal plan except for during crazy times of life like when you unexpectedly get a newborn baby.  if i would have known her timing of coming to us, i would have stocked up on freezer meals.)

as long times of bible reading and praying are a struggle right now, i seek to memorize and meditate on scripture for a few minutes here and there throughout the day, especially while feeding babies.  this is more conducive to short periods of time when you are sitting but your hands aren't really free then extended bible reading (and more fruitful than going on the computer, though it requires discipline!)

i am mentally preparing myself that for this season of life, where i will never be caught up with housework or gardening and i will have to be satisfied with "good enough".  being a perfectionist this can be hard for me at times, but it has a positive humbling and sanctifying effect on me.

i have fallen behind on watering my garden (dang so cal weather with no rain! :/ ) and am getting very little produce as a result (although my cantaloupe plant has already given us three good sized cantaloupes, with four more ripening on the vine!  thank you Lord!).  i am trying to start planning for my winter garden, which i probably should have already started by now.  still trying to figure out what grows well here in the winter.  i might attempt some broccoli and leafy greens.  does anyone know if green beans will grow in so cal in the winter?  it sounds more like a spring crop to me, but i never really know with so cal weather.

in things with baby girl, my heart vacillates.  its hard when you don't know what the future will hold.  the saying "take it one day at a time" definitely applies to foster parenting.  it could also be the reason that God lead me to memorize part of psalm 37 recently which instructs us to "trust in the Lord and do good, dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.  delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.  commit your way to the Lord, trust in him and he will act".

Monday, September 24, 2012

formula, the best milk and having faith

sometimes God leads christians to do things that make absolutely no sense.

a great example of this is in the bible.  God promises abraham that he will make a great nation through him, but doesn't give him a son.  not for years and years.  but at the right time (God's time, not abraham's) he does give him a son, isaac.  then some years later, God tells abraham to go sacrifice (ie kill) his only son, who is just a few years from being a man.  this makes absolutely no sense (humanly speaking) but abraham obeys, having faith that God will do something miraculous through it (he thinks that maybe God will end up resurrecting isaac from the dead).  as it turns out, as abraham raises his hand to kill his son, God stays his hand and tells him to sacrifice a provided lamb instead of his son.  this act of faith is not only exemplary to believers of all times, but also provides us with a great foretaste to the gospel, when God sacrifices His only son to save all who believe in him.

[as i write this i am getting tears and goosebumps thinking of the gospel implications of this action]

this week has been a similar experience for me, following God by faith in something that really doesn't make sense.  my trust (and only hope) is that God will make something beautiful of it, as he did with the sacrifice of isaac.

you see, we want to give littlest miss the best milk, because i am fortunate enough to be lactating right now (one of the reasons we wanted to get another little one while esther is still young).  the day that she came to us, i told the social worker (SW) our intentions and she didn't object so we proceeded with the best milk.  but a few days later she changed her mind and told us to give formula.  i tried to object (telling her that if they are truly in this for littlest miss' well-being they wouldn't want her on artificial milk which is associated with higher risk of SIDS, type II diabetes, obesity and cancer among other things), but the case was transferred to a different SW right at that time.  since then we are waiting for permission to give the best milk, and as of right now we have no idea if we will get permission and if we do how long it will take.

six months ago, i probably would have just broken the rules and given her breast milk anyways (its not like they can really know what i am feeding her.)  but recently God has been showing me the importance of submitting to the authority he has placed over me (see romans 13) and constantly reminding me that "the king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD, he turns it wherever he will"  (this is an important verse to remember for foster parents).  submitting to ungodly authority is an act of faith and submission to God himself, since he is the one who places governing authorities in our life.  i have also been reminded that when we think that God isn't acting and we take matters into our own hands, it often has disastrous results (see for example the story of sarah giving hagar to abraham when God didn't seem to be giving them their promised son.  thats a mistake that we are still feeling the consequences of, as ishmael was the father of the arab peoples).

furthermore, i had kind of a revelation the day that we had to switch to formula.  i realized that the same all-powerful God who wants us to submit to this rule can also easily make the formula as nutritious for her body as the best milk.  such a thing is easy for God!  and if i believe that God really loves her more than we do, why wouldn't he do this?  so i have been praying every time i have to give her formula that God will make it the same as breast milk in her body.

waiting for something so important as this is difficult.  maybe this is why God has given me the tangible example through esther of why waiting for a good thing can be a good thing.  some days this week my faith has been strong and other days very weak, but God is unchanging even as i constantly change.

but i am also thankful:
*that she got breast milk for the first week of life (in the hospital she got donated milk and she got it from me for several days before the SW changed her mind)

*that she is not starving.  many, many babies in the world do not have enough to eat whether that is breast milk or formula.  she has more than enough to keep her alive, and has never had to wait more than a few minutes for a meal (and thats only because of the logistical hassle of preparing a bottle!).

*that we are not paying for the formula.  i would be especially frustrated to pay so much money for such a low quality processed "food" for her.  until the best milk is approved, the california government will be wasting $155 per month on formula (in addition to the increased health care costs of a formula-fed baby, which averages about $2,000 more in the first year of life.  i am thankful that we don't pay for that either.)

*that cuddles, hugs and kisses and baby wearing are all allowed.  physical contact with a caregiver is associated with better outcomes for babies.  so even while she is being artificially fed, she is being truly loved in other ways.  at night, co-sleeping is not allowed for foster babies, but she sleeps within a few feet of us, which has been shown to regulate breathing and decrease the chance of SIDS.

Friday, September 21, 2012

from "i don't deserve this" to "actually, i don't deserve this"

the past few days i have been reminded about many of the things that frustrate me about the foster care system.  as a foster parent, you have few of the rights and decision making freedoms of a full parent, which can be difficult.  and in the midst of remembering these things that have frustrated me in the past are being brought up again, my heart has cried out to God "why are we doing this again?  we are good parents, we don't deserve to go through all of this!"

today i opened my favorite puritan prayer book and was totally convicted by the first lines:

"o Lord,
thou knowest my great unfitness for service,
                          my present deadness,
                          my inability to do anything for thy glory
                          my distressing coldness of heart"

and He immediately brought one of my favorite verses to mind:

"therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart" 2 corinthians 4:1

you see, my thought of not deserving the difficulties associated with foster parenting are very self-centered, thinking that i am so great and deserving of great things. actually, God is great, and i am rebellious and he is merciful to let me work with him for his glory, even when it is hard.

littlest one is God's mercy in our lives; we don't deserve her.

and since we have this ministry of foster parenting by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

esther's medicine and the problem of evil

because of her CH, esther has to take medicine every morning on an empty stomach, and she can't eat anything for a half hour after while the medicine absorbs.
she's such a big girl!  driving already.  makes my life easier.
esther, can you run to the store for me please? :)

when she used to wake for an early morning feed (like 3a-4a or so), this wasn't a huge issue, because she wasn't that hungry in the morning.  but a couple months ago, she stopped waking up for that feeding.  now in the morning, you can tell the first thing on her mind is MAMA MILK and not medicine.  this means that the 30 minute period is marked with on and off crying, while i watch the clock and count down the minutes until i can feed her.

its pretty painful to watch her cry (well, i'm not just watching her, but usually cuddling with her or singing to her).  but in the midst of it i have learned a very important lesson.

in esther's mind she wants mama milk NOW, and does not see any reason that i should withhold.  but as her mother, i have a better and higher understanding.  as much as i would like to give her milk to meet her immediate need, i know that her long term need is to have a healthy, growing body and brain, and without her meds, these things wont develop properly, and milk during her body's absorption time will interfere with that.

it has taught me a lesson about the problem of evil, the basic question of "how can God allow evil" (and/or withhold good)?  God is the christian's Heavenly Father.  we sometimes want certain temporal things, but God knows that withholding them is actually better for us in some way.  like esther can't understand the importance of her medicine right now, and just wants mama milk, we just want the things that will make us happy now, while God gives us what will make us happy and healthy in the long term.

furthermore, i am comforted by the fact that i know my heart is pained when esther wants mama milk but can't have it.  it makes me want to cuddle with her a lot and show her that i really care.  but i don't regret withholding it for 30 minutes.  in the same way, God comforts the christian in our time of pain, and sometimes he helps us see why he withholds those seemingly good things (though sometimes, like esther, we are too immature to understand this).

there are a lot of things that i have prayed for recently that God has withheld.  i'm sure when the 30 minutes are up, he will give them to me.  but right now he is concerned for deeper things than i am.  and i am glad that he would lovingly do that for me.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

she is here! she is perfect!

she is here!

she is dark and lovely (i'm still hoping esther will be our lightest skinned baby).

she is also small and squashy (just over 5lb).

she sleeps a lot (i love this stage).

i'm afraid of breaking her! (she's so little!)

she feels like a feather in the baby wrap.  i want to cuddle and hug her all day and night, especially knowing that she went for the past few days without many cuddles and hugs.

we are feeling more comfortable about the possibility of adoption, though things are always changing in the foster care system so we certainly don't know for sure.

what we do know is that we want her to delight in God's grace, and join His eternal family.

and it would be nice if she got to join our family too. :)  like the fa' eva eva kind of joining.

no matter what happens, we are grateful to God for his grace through her and we are honored to care for His precious little one.

PS less importantly, but still good news, MJ continues to perk up more and more and is eating and drinking more :)

one week. two adoptions?

on sunday, we adopted a new hen.  she is a few years old and didn't seem to get the best care in her previous home.  we are excited to have another layer, but are having to give her a lot of extra care right now as she adjusts (hand feeding and watering her, letting her sleep in our laundry room at night, keeping her quarantined for a few weeks from the divas, our nickname for our other 3 chickens).  she looked quite sickly the first day she came here, but is starting to perk up after just a few days with us, which is encouraging to see.

but more exciting than that, we got an unexpected call yesterday.  our foster agency called us about a latina baby.  it was unexpected because we were previously told that esther had to have her first round of vaccines (but we have learned thru our fostering experience thus far that they are often willing to bend rules if they trust you as a foster parent).  the decision had to be made fast but it was hard.  the birth mother seems to have little chance of getting things together to get her baby back, but birth dad is an unknown at this point.  so we are taking a step of faith and said yes.

baby girl is being discharged from the hospital today at noon, after which her social worker will drive her to our house.  will you take a minute to pray for her?  please pray that she will be healthy and strong.  moreover, pray that her heart would be tender toward God from a young age and that she will become a vibrant christian one day.  pray that we will trust God in this process and that if it is His will, that we could adopt her quickly.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

nervous excitement to grow our family

i cant wait to have more babies in our home.  i have way too many kisses in me for just esther's forehead.  i have more room on my lap, more room in my arms.  i have more love to give to those that aren't being loved fully.  esther loves other babies/kids (you should see her face light up when she is around others!), and i am excited for her to have siblings.

sometimes i am excited to grow our family. but sometimes i am nervous.  esther has been such a blessing to us this past year, and selfishly i just want to keep the motherhood area of my life easy and manageable.  selfishly, i don't want to be forced to get vaccines for her (and future babies) that we don't feel comfortable with.  selfishly, i like sleeping at night (esther just started sleeping thru about a month ago!) and i like having free time when she naps.  selfishly, i like only having to do laundry every other day.  and i wonder if i can do it, handle one more (let alone the possibility of two more!) babies.

i think back to how life was a year and a half ago, and i know that taking in more kids will move us closer to that chaos (and fun!).

but i also know that "when christ calls a man, he bids him come and die" (penned by dietrich bonhoeffer).  moreover, i want to do lots of crazy things (like thisor this.) in my life that require complete and utter dependance on the grace of God for it to be possible.

i am nervous. i am excited.  i feel a happy dependence on God who will choose who and when will join our home in the near future, and give us the grace to love on them.

faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. 1 thessalonians 5:24

Friday, August 31, 2012

surviving the heat: summer update from our home

my little butterfly. will we have one or two
more little butterflies to join her soon?

a lot has happened this summer, though many things that i thought would happen did not, and many things that i didn't think would happen did.  overall, i am more godly than i was three months ago (by God's grace), and more thankful (by God's grace).  and did i mention that i am ready for the heat to end and the rain to come?

our veggie garden is exploding with cherry tomatoes.  we are also getting some melons, swiss chard and bell peppers here and there, and many fresh herbs.  but the cherry tomatoes have been the most prolific.  i have been making tomato basil salad (basil also from the garden), salsa and pasta sauce with it.  if there is one home grown veggie i love the most, it is definitely tomatoes and i am very glad for the blessing of thriving tomato plants.  i am also making plans for and getting excited about next gardening season, but also a bit discouraged by our lack of full-sun garden space.  with better planning and execution, i expect next year to go better, even with our lacking full-sun garden space.

when we first moved here, i was fine with no rain. but now i really, really miss the rain.  our grass is parched!  our gardens are getting by (with the help of recycled dish water).  but i really want water to come from the sky, and not our bank account (water is expensive here!).  needless to say, i am not a so cal girl natively or at heart.

we really actually will probably get another foster baby (babies?) in october/november. this whole summer its been a never ending cycle: 1. we are almost re-certified! 2. oh wait not yet, we need to turn in one more piece of paperwork! 3. ok, we turned in the paperwork! (back to step one).  someone said that the paperwork/logistics behind adoption is a hugely sanctifying process and i would have to agree!  fortunately, we trust in a God who is over all, and we know that he is preparing us for the right kid(s) to take into our home, and he knows that right timing.  but we are more impatient.

a couple weeks ago we thought that we were really, truly done with it all.  and then our social worker called.  "i am ready to give your home study to the matching social workers. [the ones that match foster parents with babies].  we just need one more thing... esther's immunization records".  actually, esther doesn't have any records because she hasn't gotten any vaccines so far.  so, looks like we will need to get some vaccines at her next appointment in early october.  part of me is really sad about this, but more than anything i know that it is an act of trust in God, that He will protect her from vaccine damage as we take a step of obedience to follow Him in this.  could you stop and pray for a minute that God will protect esther and our foster babies from vaccine side effects?

so, after she gets vaccines in october, we can get another placement.  right now we are debating whether to take in one or two babies (if it was two they would have to be siblings, so either they would be twins or born really closer together like our last set of four foster kiddo siblings).  most likely we will tell them we'll take 1-2, and see what pans out.

surviving the heat has been a theme of the past few weeks.  we do have one AC unit, but it is very expensive to run.  so i am trying to be creative... swimming at friends' houses, going for looooong trips to the store, etc.  mostly, i am trying to get work done in the mornings and keep the hot, hot afternoons low key (by reading, sewing, etc).  i am gaining a better understanding of the concept of a fiesta as i conk out during the mid-afternoon heat even though i hate taking naps.

one more month(ish?) of heat and then it will be done.  i can't wait!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

God's grace through my daughter

there was a day earlier this month when i was crying about something.  esther was there, sitting at my feet.  i didn't want to cry in front of her but i didn't know what else to do and i wasn't sure how she would react.

her reaction was truly God's grace to me.  she started laughing. and she wouldn't stop.  i think she thought i was playing a game or something because she laughed harder and longer than i have ever heard her laugh before.  each sob brought a new wave of giggles.

you can imagine that its hard to cry when you have a laughing, joyful baby at your feet.

my crying session didn't last long.

Unless the LORD builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one's youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
(Psalm 127 ESV)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

do you want more?

for those who don't know, this blog now has a facebook page.  the theologista facebook page allows me to share more content with you than i can on this blog.  on my facebook page i link to other articles, recipes and videos or post quotes that you may find helpful.  sometimes i link to this kind of stuff from this blog, but increasingly it is just happening from the FB page [including times when i don't really post anything on the blog].  i know i'm biased, but i think i link to some pretty sweet stuff :)

also, if you already follow the theologista page, facebook made some changes (shocking!) which means you might not be getting updates in your news feed.  if you already follow the page, go there again and click on the "like" button and make sure "show in news feed" is checked so that you get the extra goodies that i post there.

join in to get all the extras.  that is all.  thanks friends!

Monday, August 13, 2012

three reasons to pump extra breast milk

i have pumped extra milk almost daily since esther was born.  the main reason for this is because we hope to adopt a baby (though we thought it would have already happened by now) and i wanted to keep my milk supply up so that we can give him/her breast milk, as well as have a stockpile in the freezer of extra milk so that we will have extra cushion to aid with the transition when s/he comes.

to be honest, pumping is a sacrifice, and its not my favorite thing in the world.  that being said, there are many reasons i am really glad that i have done it, completely apart from being able to give our next baby the best milk.

in case of emergency. if you were to have an emergency surgery (such as an appendectomy) or have to be on certain kinds of medicine for a time, you wouldn't be able to give your milk to your baby for a time (what lots of people call "pump and dump".  the thought of dumping liquid gold is heartbreaking... but i digress...).  if you have a stockpile of extra milk in your freezer, you baby wouldn't have to adjust to a different kind of milk during this time (which can really mess with their digestive systems).

this was especially in my mind recently when i had a kidney infection and had to go on really strong antibiotics.  fortunately i was still able to breast feed during this time, but it was easy to imagine having to find an alternate way to feed esther if i had been prescribed a non-BFing friendly med.

to give away.  there are so many babies who could benefit from your extra milk!  i was thankful to get several donations of breast milk for our first foster baby girl. in addition to giving to adopted/fostered babies, you can donate to milk banks, which give the milk to premature babies who's mothers cannot (or choose not to) produce breast milk.  lastly, you can give milk directly to mothers who can't (for whatever reason) produce enough for their own babies.  i have had the honor to give extra milk to three different mamas i know.

since i have also been on the receiving end of breast milk, i can tell you that there is no better gift than to give breast milk to a mama who wants to give her baby "liquid gold".

to keep your milk supply up.  i notice big changes in my milk supply at different times, relating to hormone changes (ovulation, etc), stress, and dietary changes.  thankfully, if my milk supply is low, esther still gets enough to eat, but i just can't pump as much during those times (say, 1-2 oz per day instead of my usual 4-6).  pumping helps me to have extra cushion in my supply, which gives me comfort to know i will always have enough for her.

similarly, if you have a stockpile in the freezer, you can always supplement with this stockpile if your supply is too low to sustain your baby for a time (for example, some women can't produce enough milk while they are on their period and supplement their babies with extra milk pumped at other times of the month).

do you pump extra milk?  what do you do with the extra?