Sunday, January 31, 2010

Wonderful Snow!


























video

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sasha, Our January Baby, Update!

First of all, thank you for all the great comments on yesterday's post. One of the comments was from a gal asking about Sasha's status. I am happy to announce Sasha's family has sent in their paperwork to Reece's Rainbow; and Sasha should show up on the "New Commitments" page any day (so keep looking).

Yipee for Sasha!!! Your family is coming to get you soon, baby boy!!!

For all of you who have waited until the last minute to make your financial pledge for Sasha, don't delay. His new family is still trusting the Lord to provide the money for them----that might mean the Lord will be speaking to your heart very soon to give a little. Even if you can only spare $25.00, it is worth it! If 100 people will log on to http://www.reecesrainbow.org/ and give $25.00 tomorrow (PayPal) toward the adoption fund for Sasha (orphanage 2), the little guy would have $2500.00 to help expedite his adoption. We have more than 400 readers a day, so that is a totally reachable goal!!!

Consider it!

If you want more information about how to make sure your tax-deductible donation $$ gets directed to Sasha, you can contact Andrea Roberts (founder of Reece's Rainbow) directly at: bamaroberts@comcast.net She will be most anxious to help answer any questions you might have.

"A generous man will himself be blessed". Proverbs 22:9

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thought For The Day

I want to share some fabulous news! Today I learned some very good friends of ours are fostering a 17 year old girl......an amazing 17 year old girl. She has no family and has been stuck in the system for 7 years. She is a straight A student and has never had a behavior issue at all. She has been patiently waiting on her forever family, and my friends want to become her family! They already have younger "birth" children of their own, so this new gal has taken the coveted "oldest child" spot in their home. The best part of the story is all of the "birth" children are nuts about her!!! I wonder how many other teenage boys and girls like her are out there waiting??? A big congratulations to this family!!!

I also heard some disturbing news today that I want to share. A family adopted a young boy from Africa. He is struggling from the trauma of being uprooted from Africa and placed into a new (foreign) home. As a result, he is wetting his pants and crying alot. His new mom is not bonding with him at all and has stated she wishes she had not adopted him. Her frustration with him is causing more stress for the child which is causing him to wet his pants more frequently.....needless to say, the relationship is negatively escalating.

Two stories in one day. The first story is about a family with no expectations---just opening their home to a teenage girl in need. The second story is about an adoptive parent with big expectations which has resulted in big disappointment.

From my experience, the solution is simple: Don't ever take a child in need for what that child might possibly be able to do for you; and always expect nothing in return. When you take in a needy child, you are always the GIVER, and should not expect to receive anything; afterall, the needy child is the one in need of something.

When we adopted Natalie from Russia, she was a mess for a very long time. I remember expecting the adjustment period to last for 6 months to a year.....it continued, to my surprise, for three years. Apparantly, three years in an orphanage took a great toll on her, and it took a full three years before she began to allow herself to become a real part of our family. She acted out constantly in an effort to anger me. In hindsight, I think she was seeing how far she could push me.....testing to make sure I wouldn't send her away.

Just some examples of Natalie's first few years with us (used with Natalie's permission and many laughs at the memories):
1. She ate cat litter
2. She pulled the wallpaper off the walls in the upstairs bathroom
3. She pulled carpet and made bare spots all over the carpeted floors
4. She tore Caleb's nerf balls and stuffed the pieces down the vents on a regular basis
5. She chased Lydia with any weapon she could find daily
6. She terrorized our cat
7. She would repeatedly say "no" when asked to do something
8. She moved out to the backporch with her blankie and refused to move back in for several hours on a few occasions
9. She packed a suitcase (with stuffed animals) and threatened to find a new family
10. She painted my bathroom (top to bottom) with lotion
11. She lied more than she told the truth
12. She bit her fingernails until her fingers bled
13. She would go to sleep in her bed every night but we would find her sleeping under her bed most mornings.
.....and the list goes on.....

Needless to say, it wasn't easy. And, if we had adopted Natalie for what she could bring to us, we would've sent her back to Russia pretty quickly. As adults, however, we knew she would come around in time, and we also knew our family was the very best for her (much better than a beaten-in old orphanage down a lonely dirt road in Russia). It took three years for Natalie to realize it, because she HATED our rules (being parented), but she finally embraced our family. I remember the day it happened:

Natalie was having a typical meltdown and had decided (for the umpteenth time) she was moving out. Instead of begging her to stay, I helped her gather her blanket and stuffed toys and took her to "live" in our garage. That satisfied her need to control her life as she had always done in the orphanage. When Chappy came home from work that day, he told me this was going to have to stop and said we had to come up with a plan to help Natalie see that she needed us. As soon as he finished his sentence, a crazy thought crept into my mind. I jumped up from the couch and went to a closet to retrieve our indoor central vacuum. I plugged it into the wall (the motor was located in the garage) and the garage was filled with the sudden very LOUD sound of the vacuum. Chappy and Caleb quickly caught on to what I was doing. Within seconds,
the little stubborn, self-sufficient, "I can do it myself" and "I am in charge of my own life" girl from Russia started pounding on the garage door. I quickly turned off the vacuum and rushed to the door. When I opened it, she lept into my arms crying: "Mommy". It was the very first time Natalie had ever allowed herself to "need" anyone in her entire life. It was a turning point for both of us.

That is what my life is about, friends. Each day of Natalie's life with us (8 years now), I see another babystep. We have walked miles of babysteps. Once you get a taste of something powerful like this, it changes you. Through Natalie, I have witnessed a life that was once without hope being filled with neverending hope. Why wouldn't every believer rush to be a part of something this magnificent??? There are 147 million orphans around the world in desperate need of hope.

You've probably already thought it, but I'll go ahead and write it: yes, my life is work. Natalie still wrestles with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome daily, Hope has a heart that is not fixable on top of her Down Syndrome, Charlie has Down Syndrome, and Caleb is a product of my first marriage (which comes with its own set of struggles). It is often a balancing act around the Hollis home. However, I wouldn't choose to spend my life any other way, because MY LIFE MATTERS!

Each day, I have the awesome privilege of being a potter. Natalie, for instance, came to me as a broken teacup......she entered the fire when she came into our home, because she was asked to put her guard down and allow herself to be loved.....finally she submitted to the "love heat" and became a lump of clay.....each day, I handle that clay in my own hands, I pray over the clay, I mold it and shape it, I speak God's Word into it.....and each day, she looks more and more fit to be the King's cup. Natalie is in school now, and she rushes home each day to tell me about a little girl in her class who is handicapped and she tells me how she loved on her. I couldn't be more proud of Natalie! While she knows she is in school to learn, she sees the greater purpose. She was once broken, but not anymore. The King is using this little cup.

What if I had given up on Nat? What if I had decided the work was too much for me? What if I had felt cheated because she wasn't fulfilling my needs?

How about Hopey? When the OBGYN told me the rest of my life would be difficult if I decided to go through with my pregnancy and birth Hope instead of aborting her, what if I had listened? Hopey has taught me more about God than anyone ever has, and she still hasn't spoken her first word. Because of Hope, we have Charlie. Because of Hope, we will welcome Amy Joy into our home this year!

To close, our purpose on this earth is not to see what we can get out of it, but to see how much we can give. Through emptying ourselves, we begin to glimpse the Glory of the Father. I can testify to this personally. In the most difficult circumstances with Natalie.....and in the most frightening medical situations with Hopey, I have seen God clearly....like a Beacon. He is real! And, we will all face Him someday soon. Are you ready? What can you give?

"I am coming soon!" Revelation 3:11

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Haiti---Want To Serve????

If you live in the Middle TN area and would have an interest in hosting (fostering) a Haitian child who has been displaced from their family due to the extreme conditions in Haiti post-earthquake, you can place your name on a list that is being compiled by the Middle Tennessee Orphan Alliance at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Y6Q6G9P . In addition, anyone can find information on the current status of getting the Haitian children to America and into safe homes at: http://www.rainbowkids.com/ArticleDetails.aspx?id=692 OR contact two reputable organizations directly: Safe Families (http://www.safe-families.org/ ) ; 4 Kids (http://www.4kidsofsfl.org/ ).

This was sent out today from the Middle Tennessee Orphan Alliance:
"There appears to be the public/government response that has come out against any new adoptions. Yet at the same time different organizations are getting calls to expect to have a number of children brought their way. So at this time, we just don't know what will happen."

Unfortunately, there is alot of misinformation floating about, so be cautious. If you decide to call around to agencies that are listed on the internet as being involved in placing the Haitian orphans in America, DO NOT give any personal information about your family (SSN, DOB, Income, Credit Card Number, etc.) over the phone. As in any high-profile situation, there are some masquerading and pretending to be something they are not while seeking to profit from others' generosity. Beware.

I know each and every reader of this blog has a HUGE heart....I say that without a moment of hesitation. In fact, most have adopted or are hoping to adopt at some point in their lives. While the placement of most of these children will not result in adoption, but will be temporary care until the children can be sent back to a safe environment, this is a great opportunity to minister to people who are truly needy. I knew you would all want to know about it!

If you have any questions, please place a comment on the blog. Between all of the readers and myself, we should manage to get some answers!!!

Micah 6:8: "What does the Lord require of you; to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."

Monday, January 25, 2010

Still Wrestling With Lukewarm Christianity

"When I was in high school, I seriously considered joining the Marines; this was when they first came out with the commercials for "the few, the proud, the Marines." What turned me off was that in those advertisements, everyone was always running. Always. I hate running."

"But you know what? I didn't bother to ask if they would modify the rules for me so I could run less, and maybe also do fewer push-ups. That would've been pointless and stupid, and I knew it. Everyone knows that if you sign up for the Marines, you have to do whatever they tell you. They own you."

"Somehow this realization does not cross over to our thinking about the Christian life. Jesus didn't say that if you wanted to follow Him you could do it in a lukewarm manner. He said, "Take up your cross and follow Me." He also said:

"Suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up EVERYTHING HE HAS cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:31-33)

"Jesus asks for everything, but we try to give Him less. Jesus said, "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out." (Luke 14:34-35)

"Jesus isn't making a cute little analogy here. He is addressing those who aren't willing to give everything, who won't follow Him all the way. He is saying that lukewarm, halfhearted following is useless, that it sickens our souls. He is saying this kind of salt is not even fit for 'the manure pile'. "

"Wow. How would you like to hear the Son of God say, "You would ruin manure"?"

"When salt is salty, it helps manure become good fertilizer.....but lukewarm and uncommitted faith is completely useless."

"As I see it, a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron; there is no such thing. To put it plainly, churchgoers who are "lukewarm" are not Christians. We will not see them in heaven."

--Excerpt taken from Francis Chan's "Crazy Love"--

Lukewarm Christianity has been the topic of our nightly family Bible studies for the last couple of weeks; we are having a tough time getting past it. The subject has caused us to pause and think about taking our lives more seriously: What does it look like to fight WORLDINESS when the lure of it is constantly surrounding us? How do we purposefully choose to make material things NOT matter?

Consider this: I could go into my closet and get rid of the majority of my clothing, only saving a few things....giving the rest to the poor. I could also sell my car and use only Chappy's car when he is not working.....giving the car away to someone who needs it more. I could give up all food that is not necessary for my health: sweet tea, pies, and cakes......using money that typically goes toward those extravagances to help feed the hungry. I could even stop watching TV in order to spend more time serving others. You get the idea....the list could go on for awhile longer.

I could make a choice to do all of these things, and I am even stubborn (head-strong) enough to succeed. However, what good does a head decision or an "act" do if my heart has not changed? That is not what God is asking for when He is telling us not to be lukewarm; it is much deeper and much more difficult than "works".

The question our family continues to have is this: How do believers get to a point where Jesus' thoughts are our thoughts and His ways become our ways? In other words, How do we move past a "works" mentality and toward developing a "heart" that eagerly gives because if it doesn't, it will bust? How do we allow ourselves to be transformed into someone who gives all there is to give out of reckless abandon to the Savior?

Tonight, Chappy and I had each of the kids write down on a sheet of paper how the Father has been dealing with them lately during our Bible Study. We were blown away by their answers (one 15 year old boy and two 11 year old girls): The main theme each of them wrote about was pride and selfishness. All three of them, separately, wrote how they want to strive to put others' needs before their own desires and how they don't want to care about what others think.

God is continuing to work on the Hollis Gang!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Football!!!

You don't have to be a guy to love football.....I'm sure there have to be some football fans reading the blog. If you aren't one of them, you might still want continue to read a bit.....I threw in an awesome recipe toward the end of this post just for you!!!

First, can you believe the Saints/Vikings game? What a great game! I was pulling for Brett Favre (he makes me feel young), so I wasn't particularly thrilled with the outcome; however I was happy for the 23 year old field goal kicker (Hartley) for making his kick in a true clutch! I bet he'll never see that much pressure again in his lifetime. Do you remember, he was the one who MISSED the "final seconds of the game" field goal in the game against Tampa Bay a few weeks ago? I couldn't help but think of his momma; you know she was saying alot of prayers!!!

Second, the Colts game......even though I am a Petyon Manning fan, I have to admit, I was kind of secretly hoping the Jets might pull out the game (especially when they started out so strong this evening). QB, Sanchez, was a college student last year at USC, and this year leading a pro football team to a potential AFC victory??? Get out! How cool would that have been? Ah well, it wasn't meant to be.

That's what I love about the game.....it is so unpredictable. Players are expertly trained, coaches are prepared for the other teams' maneuvers, and the officials are supposedly able to see what is going on on the field at all times. (Sometimes I doubt their vision, however---especially in tonight's Saints/Vikings overtime). But isn't that what makes it fun??? Do you get mad at the officials and stand up and yell? We do. Do you cheer like crazy when a quarterback throws a bomb into the endzone and an impossible catch is found cradled in the receivers hands just over the goal line for a touchdown? We do. Football is a wonderful family-friendly phenomenon.

I heard a football analogy once where God was called "Coach". The field, the players, the officials, and the stands of spectators.....all represent the world. First of all, it should be noted, the Coach's job is NOT to get in the game, but to direct those who are in the game. He recognizes the talents and gifts of each player and puts them into the position that will benefit the team as a whole. The Coach is not making decisions based on "favoritism", but He is objective as He looks at the total picture. Some of the players come out to play their hearts out; they leave it all on the field. Others, however, only give the minimum that is expected. They complete their tasks, but they come out of the game with only a few bumps and bruises. As for the spectators, they love to scream and shout and complain, but they never get their hands dirty at all-----and the officials (those who are payed generously to make sure the rules are being followed) stand in judgement making decisions that affect the whole game; but, oh how they can be swayed by the world by way of hidden bribes or by dislike of a certain individual who plays for one of the teams on the field.

I guess the question remains: Who are we? I don't know about you, but I want to come out of the game with more than a few bumps and bruises. I want the coach to find me being carried out on a gurney during the last few seconds of the fourth quarter with an IV stuck in my arm and blood staining my jersey. I want to give THAT much....to leave my all out on the field of life. Then, the coach will grab me up by the jersey and tell me: "Great Game!"

Tonight, to make game day a little extra fun, the girls and I made homemade chili and poured it over fritos....then we sprinkled cheese on top. Yummy, not healthy, but yummy. Then, we topped off the night with a little Cherry Surprise. Here is the recipe for you to enjoy:

Preheat oven: 350
Fill the bottom of a 9X13 glass dish with Cherry Pie filling (2 large cans are enough for us, but you can use an extra)
In a large bowl, beat 1 egg mixed with 1 tsp. baking powder. Add 1 cup flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix well.
With your hands, gather the mixture and press it between your palms causing it to form into clumps. Lay clumps on top of the cherries using all of the mix.
Pour 1 stick of melted butter over the top and bake for 45 minutes.
Serve with ice cream!!!

On a final note, we had a GREAT time together as a family today. Lydia and Hopey have been feeling a bit under the weather, so we dragged down a spare twin mattress and covered it with blankets and pillows for them to watch the game in the great room with the rest of us....pretty soon, Natalie and the dog (Trudy) had joined them. We cooked together, ate together, cheered together, "boo-ed" the officials together, explained football to the girls for the 100th time together, and just simply enjoyed creating a memory. It didn't cost much, but it was valuable. As I sat and looked around the room today, I made another mental picture that I will tuck away in my heart. We ended our evening with our nightly Bible Study and prayer time....followed by lots of hugs. Thank you Lord!

"From a survey of 26,000 teens, 52.4% say that spending time with their parents is one of their favorite things to do."

We have to meet them where they are.....and have lots of fun!!!

"A leader must manage his family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he be of help to other believers?" 1 Timothy 3:4,5



"

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Thought From A Friend

A friend who has adopted a little boy with Down Syndrome shared an interesting thought with Chappy recently. See what you think....he said something like this:

When we adopted our son, I suddenly realized no matter how hard my son works throughout his life, he will never have the ability to help me out with my life in any way. He will never be able to obtain a job that will hold alot of value in the world's eyes, and he will never be able to care for me in my old age. Complete dependence.

And then I realized, in that same moment, that is how I am with God. No matter how hard I work in this life, I can never bring anything to him that will help Him out. I will never be able to hold a job or do anything grand enough to make a huge impact on Him.....He is already a perfect, complete God. I am only righteous because of what He has done for me.
Complete dependence.

As a father to this little guy, I can tell you that I love him with a different kind of love than I have ever loved in my life. I adore my son. It moves me to think: this is how God loves me. I can do absolutely nothing that will add to God....I have nothing to bring to the table..... and He knows it. Like my son, I come before Him daily completely disabled and in need. Yet, He loves me anyway in a crazy kind of way. How wonderful that my love for our son is a small constant reminder of God's perfect love for me.

"All our righteous acts are like filthy rags." Isaiah 64:6

"The Lord is good to those who depend upon Him; to those who search for Him."
Lamentations 3:25

Thursday, January 21, 2010

An Email From Sasha's New Family:

I received this email today and asked permission to share it. It blessed me, and I am certain you will be blessed to:

"Our family owes your entire family a huge THANK YOU! :) Just about 2 months ago, we
read of Lydia's efforts to raise the money to bring Amy Joy home. The day we found your blog
changed our lives. We got excited watching the fund grow and we all celebrated with the news
that God had indeed brought you a miracle! God chose to use that miracle to touch my
husband's heart. After 5+ years of being unwilling to discuss adoption (we have 3 beautiful
children at home already), he began looking at the possibilities. After 5+ years of begging and
pleading and crying (I was definitely not honoring God in my behavior), I tried to stay very quiet and I waited. Your family chose Sasha to sponsor for January, so we printed off his picture and
put it on our refrigerator and prayed for him every day. And now, God has given us the
opportunity to be Sasha's family. We are so thankful for Lydia's faith in God and for your
family's faith in her, and we are thankful for the fundraising that you did to add to Sasha's grant."

Sasha's new family members are: Jeff, Tina, Harry, Tucker and Lucy Thomas from the great state of Michigan!

I want you all to know, had our family not had the opportunity to know Hope Hollis and Charlie Hollis, we would be far less than we are today. Those two little ones have made a greater impact on our lives than anything or anyone else. Daily, they strive to overcome weak muscle tone and the inability to communicate with words.....but they continue to strive with all they have been given. They consistently give 100%. Hope and Charlie are constant reminders to the rest of us who, with strong minds and healthy bodies, oftentimes become lazy and ungrateful. And as a bonus: they give away the most pure love ever created....it is their gift. Without them, we would have missed out on so much.

We came into the world of Special Needs Adoptions the "Natural Way" when Hope was diagnosed at 16 weeks in the womb. The Thomas family is entering the world of Special Needs Adoptions by way of the Cross.....recklessly abandoned to their Savior. I am in awe of them.

I stand on this side of the process with two children who have Down Syndrome and another on the way later this year....because of my experience, I know the blessing the Thomas family is in for. They, however, are standing on faith alone. I can hardly wait until they have Sasha home, safe and sound.....then they will have the awesome experience of loving a child who has Down Syndrome. God doesn't ever make mistakes, and Sasha's extra chromosome didn't take Him by surprise. There is wonderful purpose; a divine purpose the Thomas family will soon grow to comprehend on a spiritual level they never knew existed. Our family is absolutely thrilled for them!!! God wins and Enemy loses once again!!! (You have to shout a huge AMEN on that!)

We have 10 more days left in January to donate to Sasha. Now that you know something about his new family, I believe it will be even more exciting to give!!! Simply go to www.reecesrainbow.org , choose donate as a gift and use paypal! In the note section just remember to signify your gift is going to Sasha from orphanage 2.

"Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.....as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!" Joshua 24:15 (Thank you Thomas family for choosing Him!)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sasha Has A Family Now

Nothing else needs to be said, does it? Will you gather with me down on your knees and praise the Father for providing a family for sweet little Sasha? To the family who stepped out and answered "yes" when God called, may you be blessed beyond measure! It is all about eternity....

"Now unto Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His Power that is at work within us, to Him be Glory in the Church, and in Christ Jesus, throughout all generations.....forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:20

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Slow To Speak

Today I listened as a well-meaning Christian offered an opinion on someone else's three year old divorce....ironically, the person offering the advice has never experienced divorce.

Many of you know I have been divorced. I was involved in an abusive marriage for 4 years. I was raised in a strong Southern Baptist tradition that taught divorce is always wrong. Because of that teaching, I stayed in my first marriage much longer than I should have. I stayed because I was afraid of making God angry with me. As I look back on it, I think I actually believed I might go to Hell if I divorced my husband.

Things finally escalated to a point where I felt terribly unsafe, so I left. It took more courage than you can imagine to leave. It took months for me to gather up the nerve to walk out the door and not turn back. No one in my family had ever gone through a divorce before, so I knew I was going to bring embarrassment and shame to all of them. At the time, Caleb was only a few weeks old. I was a new mommy, and thankfully, my mommy instinct kicked in and said: "Get out of this relationship fast!" So, I did.

Many Christian friends unknowingly heaped guilt and shame on me after I left. They were well meaning, but they didn't understand my situation. They couldn't understand. They quoted scripture to me about "hope" that can be found in Jesus.....and often told me about a God that is able to do the impossible and Who could change my ex-husband and make him a new man if I would only have faith and give him another chance.

Of course I knew all of the scripture; afterall, I grew up in church. In fact, I would argue I knew the scripture better than the well-meaning friends. Those scriptures they kept quoting to me were the very ones that had caused me to stay in the marriage for so long in the first place. Those scriptures kept me up night after night, praying to God, wrestling with God. What my friends could not appreciate is the frightening path I had walked....they could not feel the very real pain I had experienced for four years. Their advice, instead, was coming from their own experiences......they had solid marriages, so their knowledge was limited at best. From their comfortable marriages, alongside their "normal" spouses, they quoted scripture that sounded powerful and true. But they were speaking to someone who was broken, abused, and a mess. They couldn't see that.

Several years later, I sat in a church service with my family. (By the way, I remarried an incredible man a couple of years after breaking free from my first marriage and we have the family I dreamed of my entire life. Chappy is good to me, he respects me, and he honors me. He is honest and works hard; he provides for our family. Chappy is our Spiritual leader and he loves the children to pieces. I am so blessed.) As I sat beside my husband and children on this particular Sunday, we listened to a very well-known Southern Baptist pastor literally rip apart every Christian who has ever been divorced.....on that day, he was speaking to me, the believer who had been divorced. He called ME a disgrace that day. He questioned MY faith and my salvation. He stood before a large group of believers and said there is never an excuse for A REAL CHRISTIAN to file for a divorce. I remember vividly, during the sermon, Lydia put her hand out and held mine. She looked up at me with a smile and said, "It's ok mom." She was only 8 years old at the time, but she knew what the preacher on the stage was saying.....he was talking about her mom.

At lunch that afternoon, Lydia asked me if I was a Christian. "Yes", I told her. We had a long discussion about how that preacher was speaking about something he knows nothing about, and how he was wrong to say the things he said. And I had to forgive that man that day, and I had to ask forgiveness for hating him and for wanting to scratch his eyeballs out.

This happens waaaaay too often. I think as believers, we too often forget about love and make the mistake of jumping to assume we know how to "fix things" or how "things ought to be" when the truth is, we should be worrying about our own lives.....our own salvation. (By the way, I have some news for all of the blog readers who have never gone through a divorce: NO ONE EVER WANTS TO GO THROUGH A DIVORCE!!!)

When one spouse cheats on the other spouse.....or when a spouse abuses the other spouse.....relationship is broken.....fellowship is broken.....a vow to God is broken. If the incident happens one time and then repentance takes place, I'll agree there is hope. However, when the incident happens over and over and over again......there is very little hope.

Obviously, this strikes a chord with me. I didn't intend to be "preachy" this evening, but I think this message is so important. When I heard a fellow believer today jump to judge another divorced believer, I became sick inside....her words brought back a wave of horrible memories, and it has been weighing heavy on my heart all day. I think the answer for all believers is to be slow to speak and quick to listen, even quicker to love. Our words can hurt, destroy and condemn, so we need to be very careful with them.

Believe me, I am speaking to myself, too, because I have been guilty of offering advice when I should have shut my mouth and listened. I admit I have conviction written all over my forehead, and I feel sorry for the times I have hurt with my words. Love, Love, Love.....Love is the key, don't you think? If we love others, then we are doing all that is required of us. I need to be reminded daily: there is only One Perfect Judge.

On a final note, if you signed up to send $$$ to help assist Sasha's adoption miracle during the month of January, time is running out. To make your donation, go to http://www.reecesrainbow.com/, choose "donate as a gift" and specify Sasha from orphanage #2.

"My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry". James 1:19

Monday, January 18, 2010

Rats Are In My Cellar

How many times have you said something without thinking and wished you could take it back? How often do you lose your temper? Do you ever smile at someone and act friendly while thinking terrible thoughts about the person you are smiling at? Do you ever do something for someone just because you are looking for praise or a pat on the back?

Human nature stinks! I am probably more guilty than most. I have to be honest, I struggle with it.....especially when I am exhausted or have a long "to-do" list that seems insurmountable. During these times, I find I am not as good at "hiding" my true nature. As a result, the ugly side of me just pops out of nowhere, and I become the selfish, complaining, tempermental person I cannot stand and do not want to be. As Paul said so eloquently: "For I do not understand my own actions, I am baffled and bewildered. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe." (from the Amplified version of the Bible)

My favorite verse in the entire Bible is 2 Corinthians 3:18. It gives me hope.....hope that eventually I will become more like Jesus. With all of my heart, I want to be like Him, but it is a constant battle. My selfish nature gets involved and messes things up daily. In training the children when they were small to brush their teeth two times per day, I encouraged them by saying after doing it for 3 weeks, they will have formed a habit and wouldn't have to think about it anymore....brushing two times per day would become routine. It works. We have developed many good habits this way. I have often tried the same with my sin-nature, but with "not-so-good results". For instance, I will go several weeks with no harsh reactions to anyone, feeling certain I have conquered my temper only to blow it in a silly traffic jam. (Then I REALLY lose it!)

C.S. Lewis, in "Mere Christianity", says this:

"When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected; I was caught off guard, I had not time to collect myself. Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on his disguise is the truth? If there are rats in the cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light. Apparently the rats of resentment and vindictiveness are always there in the cellar of my soul........if what we are matters even more than what we do, if, indeed, what we do matters chiefly as evidence as what we are, then it follows that the change which I must undergo is a change that my own direct, voluntary efforts cannot bring about. And this applies to my good actions too. How many of them were done for the right motive? How many for fear of public opinion or desire to show off? How many from a sort of obstinacy or sense of superiority which, in different circumstances, might equally have led to some very bad act? But I cannot, by direct moral effort, give myself new motives. After the first few steps in the Christian life we realize that everything which needs to be done in our souls can be done only by God."

This journey we are all on is not easy, but wouldn't you agree it is incredibly purposeful? Even though we have been created in God's image, does it cease to amaze you how different we are from His Holiness? 2 Corinthians 3:18 reminds me that I am to strive to be like Him. Through Jesus, the Father has given me a real life example to follow.....and through His Word, He has given me His Law and shown me His Way. If, each day, I look toward Him and strive to follow His Way, then over time, His Word tells me I will be transformed. This requires such faith.

On the other side, the Father has accepted me, as imperfect as I am, because of the Son. When He looks at me, He only sees Jesus who has stepped in for me. Therefore, the relationship is reciprocal: Wearing my red cloak of sinful nature, I look toward a perfect Savior and work, through obedience, to make my life conform and mold to His image.....attempting at every turn to remove the cloak and tuck it away in a chest and have it locked forever.......in much the same way, the Father looks toward me, but sees the Savior standing on my behalf. Instead of the red cloak of sin, He sees the blood of Jesus, covering me. Both sides are actively coming together.....me to Him.....and Him to me.

Again to quote C.S. Lewis:

"The Three-Personal God, so to speak, sees before Him in fact a self-centered, greedy, grumbling, rebellious human animal. But He says: "Let's pretend that this is not a mere creature, but our Son. It is like Christ in so far as it is a Man, for He became Man. Let us pretend that it is also like Him in Spirit. Let us treat it as if it were what in fact is is not." And God looks at us as if we are a little Christ.

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."
2 Corinthians 3:18

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Do You Ever Laugh Until Your Face Hurts?

OK, so here is the setup:

Chappy and I do our best to go on a date once a week. Caleb is 15, so we put him in charge of his younger siblings and take off for two to three hours.....usually somewhere nearby. We have one rule: Don't call us unless it is an emergency, and only Caleb can text us if he needs to. If the rule sounds harsh, it really isn't. Without the rule, we would get a call every 15 minutes (we learned this through experience).

So, here are the texts I received this evening during my 2 hour date with Chappy:

"Hey please reply....I'm sick...like achy all over, horrible headaches, and inactive....what do I do??? (Caleb)

Well, of course I called him immediately----we had only been gone for 30 minutes, and he seemed fine before we left, but I thought maybe he had come down with something horrible. During my conversation with Caleb, I decided he must have overdone it this week with a full load at school and three basketball games, so I told him to put on a Barney tape for Hope and Charlie and lie down with a blanket on the couch. He did and said he was already feeling 10% better. I ended the call by telling him to call me back if he started feeling worse.

Next text (45 minutes later):

"Hey, Hope just fell down and has a bump on her head..." (Caleb)

"Put ice on it for 5 minutes" (Me)

"Trying.... she popped a vessel though" (Caleb)

"Hang in there and let me know if you think there's a problem" (Me)

"Alright, I just finished putting ice on it....I'm positive I stopped the flow of blood so it shouldn't bulge out any more than it already has....she stopped crying, so the pain must have stopped...but she has a nice pump knot on her head....she popped a vessel from what I can figure, but she'll be alright...love ya!" (Caleb---10 minutes later)

"Thanks for the update . We'll be home soon." (Me)

"No problem...love you a ton....and I'm feeling 50% better." (Caleb)

When we returned home, I took out my magnifying glass to locate the busted blood vessel and pump knot on Hopey's head.....she was happy as a little clam. I praised Caleb for doing such a magnificent job even while feeling under the weather himself. He was pleased, and now (thankfully) seems to be feeling 75% better. Lydia and Natalie just about knocked me down when I came in the door to tell me about the emergency situation and how they had assisted Caleb. They were so excited about the entire event; they gave me a complete rundown with impressive dramatic interpretation.

I love this life!!! What do parents who only have one or two children do for fun??? Ha! Ha!

"A merry heart does good like a medicine!" Proverbs 17:22

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dennis Needs Help!

There is a little guy on the Reece's Rainbow website who just lost his prospective family. His name is Dennis. As a result of his loss, he only has 7 weeks left before he is to be put into an institution. Because of the emergent nature of his situation, Reece's Rainbow is looking for a family that is already USCIS approved. Unfortunately, Dennis is not in good enough health to survive very long in the mental institution.

To view Dennis, go to www.reecesrainbow.org ; click on Waiting Children ; then click on Most At Risk Children Ages 3-5. Dennis is in Orphange (9). Warning: his picture is horrible. The blue spots all over his body are a medicine used often in the orphanages for dry skin. (Natalie had it all over her when we adopted her from Russia, and it took forever to wear off.)

Dennis is in a poorer orphanage that does not provide therapy, so he is likely very behind. In addition, he has Pulmonary Artery Stenosis that will need to be followed by a pediatric cardiologist and Rickets (which means he is in desperate need of some sunshine---Natalie had this too).

Please join us in praying for Dennis to find his family. God does not want him to be sent to the mental institution where he will be tied to a bed and left without touch for the rest of his life. He was born with an extra chromosome, but it is not his fault. Dennis has never had a chance at life, and in only seven weeks, his life may be over.

Dennis already has $3,231.00 in his adoption fund that will go toward the $20,000.00 cost.

In speaking about the poor, the hungry, the orphans and the sick, Mother Teresa said:
"Each one of them is Jesus in disguise."

"Whatever you do for the least of these......you do it for Me." (Jesus)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Looking For A Good Book To Read???


This is a typical evening at our house.....Caleb, football always under his arm.....Charlie, ending up each evening in his arms.....and Trudy, pushing her way in. It is so difficult for me to believe Caleb is 15. It wasn't that long ago that I held him like he is holding Charlie now. Time flies. I am making sure to spend many moments each day just looking at Caleb. Taking in every detail of his face, his expressions, his voice, his laugh, etc. I notice his face is more mature. Handsome. In addition, he has become quite protective of me and his siblings. It seems God is preparing him to protect his wife and family some day. He hugs me tighter than he ever has in his life. I melt. Thank you, Lord. Protect Caleb all the days of his life and lead him in the way he should go----prepare his future bride, even now, to be his partner in life. Keep them both pure, and give them a love for You that will bind them together for a lifetime. Thank you so much for Caleb. Indeed, he is a tremendous blessing to me.
***
Now, for the book review: I started reading Francine Rivers' book, "The Scarlet Thread" last Sunday and finished it today. I am a big fan of Rivers, especially her "The Mark of the Lion" series. This book was not a disappointment; in fact, I had a difficult time putting it down. The book chronicles two stories and two women. One story takes place in the present time, and the other is a story being read from the way distant past. The book is a reminder that some things never change; whether present or past, life is full of ups and downs, ebs and flows, young and old, new life and passing of life. What remains the same, however, is our Father.....Creator.....Lord.....Savior. He uses each and ever stage of life to draw us closer to Him. Every event is purposed for our good, and nothing takes Him by surprise. If you are looking for a book that is certain to pick up your spirits, I'd highly recommend it!
***
Don't forget Sasha! This week, a 14 year old neighbor brought $78.00 in cash to send to Sasha, and his younger brother brought $30.00 more yesterday. It is part of their allowance money. You can go to http://www.reecesrainbow.org/ and make your contribution online. Be sure to note the money is to go to Sasha, our January baby!
***
"There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven---a time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; a time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost, a time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; a time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Rain, Snow, and the Word of God







"As the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." Isaiah 55



All creation has a purpose......even the snow. In Isaiah, snow is used as an analogy to describe the purpose of God's Word. His Word was perfectly thought out and masterfully planned, so it could be utilized by believers to accomplish the Father's all-powerful, life-changing plans....plans He has to prosper us, not to harm us, and to give us hope and a future (Jer. 29:11) . Have you thought about that before? In Ephesians 6, God's Word is called a "sword"......a weapon to be used against the enemy's schemes. How often do you pray His Word? Let me ask the question another way.....are your words more powerful than His Words? Of course not. Once believers grasp this truth, it changes everything. When we put His Words into our hearts, then boldly speak them back to the Giver of Life out of love, faith and adoration, the enemy flees and God's power is set into motion.....never returning void, but accomplishing MUCH!!!

Redemption is found in the blood.....Power is found in the Word!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Beauty Of Down Syndrome

I shared yesterday about Natalie and Caleb entering the public school system after five years of homeschooling and the grief I am experiencing through the process of letting them go. I miss them terribly and have already cried buckets in the privacy of my closet; however, I am very careful to "act normal" when in front of the gang. I asked God to comfort me, and He did.....but in an unexpected way. He chose a method that surely brought a grin to His face, I am certain, because it has brought a grin to my own.

Little Hope, in her perceptive way, wasn't fooled by my "happy mom act".....not one bit. She must have sensed my sadness, because she followed me around the house all afternoon. During the day she would periodically seek me out and lift her arms up in the air for me to pick her up with a great big grin on her face (so big her eyes would squint shut underneath her purple glasses), but instead of simply sitting in my arms, she would turn to me and embrace me tight, patting my back.....not for a few moments, but for minutes at a time. Other times she would come and simply hug my leg or grab hold of my hand to follow her over to a chair so I could sit and hold her in my lap. Each time she showed her sweet love to me today, my heart filled as her tenderness enveloped me. Tonight, Hope is sleeping soundly, and her mommy's heart is full. Her job is done.

It never ceases to amaze me how God uses the weak to confound the so-called wise. God gives all of us unique gifts, and these "special ones" are no exception. In fact, I would argue the gifts He gives them are exceptional.....in the way they love completely.....and innocently.....giving all they have to give through an embrace, a smile, a touch, or the smack of a kiss. Nothing quite like it.

Tomorrow it is supposed to snow. School has already been canceled. YIPEE!!! I get a full day with all of the children tomorrow. (Momma hen is happy 'cause the chickens are cooped up with her in the henhouse.) I think the Lord knew I needed baby steps---He sees ahead and provides. As the white snow covers the earth tomorrow, I will choose to remember God is able to cover all of our fears, sadness, uncertainties, and pain with Hope and Love!!! And I will praise Him.

"But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him; on those whose HOPE is in his unfailing LOVE...." Psalm 33:18

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Jenny Is The Winner!!!

Jenny and Rebecca guessed that Chappy and I dated 3 months.....both were very close. We actually dated 3 1/2 months total......no engagement. I was 28 and he was 38....both type A personalities, both first-borns, and both crazy in love. Still are. Lydia drew between the two names, and Jenny won! So, Jenny, let me know size, fabric choice, and an address.....your Poppy Dip dress will be on the way! Congratulations.

Did you take the time to read the comments from the Poppy Dip Contest??? Each person wrote something they would give to the Lord in 2010, and I was captivated by the responses. The hearts of those who have joined this blog journey are beautiful. Thank you for making yourself vulnerable and sharing. Through your testimony, others are blessed. Now, if you will oblige, I am going to make myself vulnerable to you:

Today was a HUGE day for me. If you "view my profile" you will see I introduce myself as a homeschool mom. I have been homeschooling the kiddos for 5 years and have loved every single minute of it. Over that time, I spent at least twelve hours a day, seven days a week, with my children. Is that amazing?? We ate all three meals together, read together, learned together, worked together, laughed a whole lot together, cried together, prayed together, and even fussed from time to time. Truly, I am the most blessed mom in the world. No value can be placed on time spent with those we love.

Today, I sent Natalie and Caleb to school. Today, their homeschool journey ended. This was Natalie's very first time to be in a classroom; she is in 5th grade. I decided to send Natalie to school when I noticed she was beginning to fall behind in her classwork and becoming increasingly more frustrated with her schoolwork. Most of you are aware that Natalie was adopted from Russia when she was three and has some affects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Sadly, FAS has impacted her ability to retain knowledge. I had Natalie tested, and she needs speech and occupational therapy. Thankfully, both are available through the public school system. I have met with the teachers and they are thrilled to have the opportunity to help Natalie and feel confident some assistance will make a tremendous difference. She climbed on the school bus this morning and the bus pulled away.....a new day.....a new life....a new start.

As for Caleb, he is a total sports nut; he has been a good athlete since he was a little guy. When he found out Natalie was entering the public school system, he quickly seized the opportunity to make a case for his need to play sports in a more competitive league. The homeschool league he is currently involved with does not offer a very challenging outlet for him. In contrast, the Williamson County athletic programs are extremely competitive. Caleb has been discussing this desire with us for some time, so we decided to give him the opportunity. We have "trained him in the way he should go" through the years, and now it is time for him to put his faith into action and live it out. He tried out for the basketball team yesterday and was accepted, his first day of school was today, he dressed out with the basketball team this evening, and he will get to play on Thursday night in a home game. Caleb is walking on air.....no longer under my wing, but tucked in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will still homeschool Lydia. She is involved in a homeschool tutorial group and enjoys it. Lydia's passion is music, so the free time homeschooling affords gives her ample opportunity to master different instruments and write her music. Our day was lonesome today without Caleb and Natalie. Lydia and I must have looked at the clock 100 times or more.....counting down the hours, then minutes. We had a wonderful evening listening intently as Natalie and Caleb recounted their day.....trying to live in each moment with them.

I will write more tomorrow. Tonight, I will go to bed with my tear-soaked face and heartfelt prayers to a Father who feels my pain with me. The pain of letting go. I have been a very unselfish mother today. Desperately, yes, some would say selfishly, I want to keep my babes at home with me forever. I love them more than air and never tire of their company. It is time, however, for them to enter a new chapter of life. This is best for them. Natlie will get help from trained professionals that I have been unable to give her......therapy that will equip her to retain knowledge and teach her to use different methods in order to achieve her full potential. She deserves that. Likewise, Caleb will have the opportunity he has dreamed of.....the chance to play sports with the best.....the chance to play for a team where a college scholarship would not be out of reach. If that is his passion, and it is, he deserves the chance. This way, he will never have to live with any "I wonder if" moments.

Parenting is the toughest job in the world, isn't it??? To think God loves me more than I love Chappy and the children is beyond my comprehension. Remember the old song:
Oh, how He loves you and me......oh, how He loves you and me.....He gave His life....what more could He give......oh, how He loves you.....oh, how He loves me.....oh, how He loves you and me.

"Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.....love never fails." 1 Cor. 13

Monday, January 4, 2010

Thank You! AND A Free Gift!

We were out of town for two weeks over the holidays; we did not return until late yesterday afternoon. We had our mail held while we were away, and when it was delivered today, we were so surprised. We sent out 500 Christmas Cards this year, making sure we thanked everyone who donated to the "Darya Project". It was a pleasure to write out each and every envelope, because as I did, I was thanking the Father for all of you in my heart. Your generosity still overwhelms our family.

When retrieving the mail today, I quickly realized almost all of you sent a card right back to us. WOW!!! I brought the huge stack of mail inside and gathered the children around the table. Together, we opened each one. We loved seeing your pictures, and reading your family stories. Thank you for honoring our family in this way. To see your faces, and your children's faces, means more to our family than I can describe with mere words. Truly, we are blown away by your lovingkindness. Again, thank you!

As a special "thank you" treat, I want to give away a Poppy Dip dress to the person who can guess how long Chappy and I dated before getting married on the blog tomorrow.....in addition, each comment should include something you want to give to God this year! To view the Poppy Dip dress choices, please click the button on my sidebar. In your comment, please remember to include your email address so I can contact you for size and pattern choice. ALSO, on the Poppy Dip blog: http://itspoppydipblog.blogspot.com/ , you'll find Sallee is giving away a free Poppy Dip dress too (so enter again there!!!) Hopey wears her Poppy Dips all of the time and I get more comments on them. Best Wishes and another big thank you to all!!!

Philippians 1:3
"I thank my God every time I remember you."

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sasha is our January Baby!!!

I wanted to remind everyone who is on board for the "$100 for 200 in 2010" project, we are supporting Sasha this month. If you'll recall, our children did a fundraiser for Sasha last month and collected $300.00 to gain the little blondie a strong start. Let's finish strong, shall we?

If you go to http://www.reecesrainbow.org/ and click on "Waiting Children", you will find him under the tab for Down Syndrome age 0-2. (He is in orphanage number 2 and is wearing a red and blue outfit) To make your donation, either mail a check directly to Reece's Rainbow OR pay through paypal on the Reece's Rainbow site. Make sure to designate your donation as follows : Sasha (orphanage 2) for the "$100 for 200 in 2010" project. If 200 people would donate $100.00, the international adoption fee for Sasha would be covered and a family could go rescue him and bring him home. I can't think of a better way to spend $100.00 in the first month of 2010!

On an economic note, I did receive a question about yesterday's blog post in regards to recession vs. inflation. I pulled out the "Whatever Happened to Penny Candy" book by Richard J. Maybury and found the following (hope it helps):

1. Inflation is an increase in the amount of money (money supply). When the amount of money goes up, the value goes down. When the value goes down, people need more of it. Rising prices are not inflation; they are a result of inflation.

2. At bottom, inflation is an ethics problem. It is a result of The Lie that is popular with voters. The Lie is, I will give you what you want and I will make someone else pay for it.

3. Inflation causes business people to make mistakes. When inflation stops, the business people see their mistakes and start making corrections. They must fire workers, and unemployment goes up.

4. If the inflation starts up again, the corrections stop and the workers go back to work. A recession has happened.

5. If the inflation does not start up again, the corrections are completed. Unemployment stays up for a longer time because the workers cannot go back to their old jobs; they must find new ones. That is a depression.

6. Inflation causes recessions and depressions. The only way to have no recessions or depressions is to never inflate. Once inflations has started, there is no known way to avoid the results.

This particular chapter then goes onto express the importance of understanding TANSTAAFL (there ain't no such thing as a free lunch). When people lose the value and motivation that comes from producing what they need through hard work, they start looking for handouts.....and....handouts = inflation.

Maybury tells a story of the "German Miracle" that took place near the end of WWII when Germany was in ruins. The country had been bombed out and destroyed, millions had been killed, and lines of transportation and communication had been completely "demolished". As a result, robberies, murders, poverty and starvation ravaged the nation.

This is the true story about a small group of economists led by Ludwig Erhard who took the hopeless situation of Germany and completely turned it around:

"Erhard was able to persuade the people who were governing Germany the wage/price and all other controls must be lifted. He convinced them that taxes must be lowered and inflation must be stopped. Most controls were lifted, taxes were lowered dramatically, and a new, hard (noninflated) currency, the Deutsche-mark, was introduced. Almost overnight things got better. People who had been stealing and killing began working, and people who had abandoned the cities came back. Everyone knew that their hard work would be rewarded with hard money and the things hard money would buy. An eyewitness said: Shops filled with goods from one day to the next; the factores began to work. On the eve of currency reform the Germans were aimlessly wandering about their towns in search of a few additional items of food. A day later they thought of nothing but producing them. One day apathy was mirrored in their faces while on the next a whole nation looked hopefully into the future."

In closing, if we see taxes go up, inflation increase (the dollar lose value), and spending continue to rise.......we are going in the opposite direction of the "German Miracle". Friends, we just need to be wise. I encouraged yesterday, and want to encourage you again, educate yourself. Do not get caught up in "politics", because that is not what this is about. Our current situation just "is what it is", and it is trending into a scenario that is ripe for inflation. If that becomes the case, a wise man/woman will be prepared and will not be impacted as much.

Keep in mind, one of the very best ways to hedge against the (good) possibility of inflation is to purchase "hard assets"....something tangible. Don't have enough cash? Consider going in with friends or family and purchase something together.....land, rental property, etc. Free advice from someone who makes it a daily habit to keep up with economic trends based on historical evidence. (Whoa, and you thought I was going to ONLY be talking about adoption and raising special needs kids....ha! ha!)

"The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender." Proverbs 22:7

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Bit Of Business

Most of you don't know, but prior to becoming a full-time mom, I worked 8 years in the investment business; I was a "boring" Finance Major and get a thrill from math and numbers. Weird, huh? I admit it. As a result, I keep up with the state of the financial markets and political happenings (since political changes impact the economy greatly) regularly. I guess you could say I have made it a handy hobby. In addition, my husband (Chappy) works in the investment field.....so, our poor kids don't have a chance. (Big Smile) We are constantly talking economics and politics (drives them nuts!).

There is a projection I am concerned about and want to share for your information. I do not have a crystal ball, so take this information for what it is worth---it's free, afterall:

First, recall the government raises money by issuing treasury obligations.....debt. Last year, we issued 2 trillion in treasury obligations. The current projection for 2010 is close to 2.5 trillion. Unfortunately for the U.S., foreign investors are getting tired of our low rates. (The current 10 year treasury is trading in the 3% range). To attract investors, and counteract our rising deficit, rates must increase.

What does this mean to you???
Real estate rates are based on the 10 year treasury. If rates increase from 3% to the 5% range, as speculated, the 30 year mortgage rates will go from the current 5% range to 7%....and possibly 8%. Wow, how long has it been since we have seen rates that high? Some project the rate jump may happen by mid-year. This is a big deal since most Americans list their biggest investment as their home.

If this is the future, it would be a good idea to refinance home loans and lock in the current lower rates. Also, we should make sure we are living in homes we can afford, paying off credit cards, avoiding taking on additional debt, and preparing for what might be to come by educating ourselves on current financial/political changes.

Assume for a moment that rates increase and cause the housing market to sharply plummet (sound familiar?)causing a double dip recesssion. Possibly, the government would be forced to decrease real estate mortgage rates once again to fuel the housing market .....OR, would they? What about the foreign investors who are demanding higher rates? uh-oh. See what a mess this is fast becoming?

Another problem is INFLATION. It is coming. Whenever spending gets out of control, INFLATION is right around the corner. Rising unemployment appears to be conflicting with, possibly holding off, inflation at the moment, but for how long? I would guess not too much longer. If we have inflation, the dollar's value decreases. Hence, what you can buy today is MORE than what you will be able to purchase with the same amount of cash in the future. If you have cash, you might consider buying hard assets such as real estate, especially since there are some VERY good buys right now in real estate/property due to foreclosures and short sells.

To sum up, uncertainty is ahead. I would advise everyone to make it your business to be aware of what is going on in our nation and how it is affecting our economy and you. If it seems too difficult to comprehend, go out and purchase the "Uncle Eric" books from your local bookstore.....the first book in the series is called: "Whatever Happened To Penny Candy". The "Uncle Eric" books is a series of books that teaches Economics 101 on a level anyone can understand. I have used the books to successfully teach our children about the economy at home.

Please do not hear me cheering for the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. I don't see this as a partisan issue at all. Sadly, through the years, both parties have failed their constituents miserably by using their elected power/control to make decisions that have too often been politically motivated instead of prudent for the future of our nation.

Please consider this information and feel free to comment with your thoughts on the subject. We may disagree on some points stated, but I am certain we can all agree spending money we do not have when we are already burdened by a tremendous deficit is not good. Read the following verse and open your heart to hear how the scripture speaks to you and your family.....then pray continually:

"And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord they God. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of the ground, and the fruit of they cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store. Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out. The Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways. The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and He shall bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. And the Lord shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of they body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers to give thee. The Lord shall open unto thee His good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in His season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow."
Deut. 28: 2-8, 11, 12

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!!!

Grandparents are visiting, and we have had a wonderful time. We've been riding bikes, stuffing our faces full of seafood, and watching football (big shout for Bobby Bowden---80 years old and just now retiring as Florida State's head coach---is 80 the new 60??? Possibly.). We took a few days and escaped to Florida, and the weather has been fabulous.....cool temperatures (50s and low 60s) and lots of sunshine. There is something about sunshine that lifts my spirit and puts spring in my step, how about you?

Last night, for New Year's Eve, we went to Seaside Beach for a "Family Style" New Year's Eve Party. A tent was set up for kids to make party hats, noise makers, get faces painted, etc. Our girls LOVED it! In addition, a live Zydeco (Cajun) band entertained for hours. They were a very fun group, and little Hopey danced her feet off. Chappy even took her on the stage and let her dance for a few minutes. Needless to say, she was a total hit with her pony tail, gigantic glasses, and boogy-woogy bootie.

My dad decided to stay back with sleepy-head Charlie, so he missed the party. I think he and Charlie slept together on the couch the entire time we were away. Unfortunately, as a result of Dad's absence, my mom seemed to have appeared single and available (at least to one guy who was every bit 25+ years her junior---my mom does not look her age at all). This tall skinny guy with a beret hat approached mom and offered her a Happy New Year tiara. Not knowing "strings were attached", mom said thanks and accepted it. Next thing she knew, he started doing some groovy dancing around her and asking her to dance with him----she quickly said: "No thanks", turned her head, and blushed more shades of red than I knew existed. We laughed and laughed, full belly laughs. I guess mom's still got it. She is appalled, totally, but she's still got it. Ha! Ha!

If I were to confess one of my weaknesses, I would have to say that I am excellent at "WORK", but not so great at relaxing. I tend to be a type A personality; admittedly, when I have a goal in mind (big or small), I can be quite driven. The last several days at the beach have been therapeutic for me. I feel rejuvenated and relaxed.

What a way to spend the first day of 2010.....laughing, celebrating, and creating memories. I'd like to preach to myself first and suggest we all need to be intentional about taking time to drink in life on occasion.....to be thrilled because the sun is shining....to look for reasons to laugh out loud.....to appreciate the taste and smell of good food.....to breathe in fresh air deeply......to dance like a crazy person to zydeco music....and sing from the top of our lungs even though we don't know the words....to admire the Artist who created the vastness of the ocean and more grains of sand than could ever be counted.....but also created delicate dandelions that bend with the wind and fluffy white clouds of different shape and size. God's creation, all of it, is something to get excited about!

"Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in they name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips."
Psalm 63:3-5