heads up

Just so you know, when I hit 50 followers I am going to do my very first...

Get excited!

What will it be? A book? A gift card? Some old gum already chewed?

The possibilities are endless. Get to following!

groceries of 2010

So you may remember at the beginning of this year when I linked up with my friend Sarah for The 200 Challenge. It went well for several months and then life got in the way and we didn't post anymore about it. However, I continued the challenge through the entire year, even though I didn't post. I wanted to bring you all my results as encouragement that you can feed two (and sometimes more) mouths on a mere $200 per month limit.



Aaaaand I didn't just buy groceries! I included toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, make-up, deoderant, etc. in my budget as well. Want to know what I spent on all of that in one year?

$1,820.29

And if we average that per month?

$151.60

That is an average of $48.40 saved every month. Let's compare this total to 2009s, shall we? In 2009 I spent...

$2433.58

Which is an average of $202.80 and that is not bad, but by being very conscience of what I buy, where and when I buy it and how I use it in my home I have managed to save my family $613.29 in one year. That is a lot of money! I plan to continue this trend in 2011 and I may start adding coupons to my ever-growing list of tips/tricks to save money on groceries and household items!

A big thanks to Sarah who was the inspiration for my frugal grocery budget makeover!

So how about you guys? How did you do in 2010 budget-wise?

iclw

Hello ICLW friends! This is only my second month participating, and I didn't do a very good job at it the first time! I would like to encourage you to take a minute if you have never been here before to read our story. It will give you insight to what my little blog is all about.

I promise to do better this time!

tradition

Eric and I have been married 4 years, but this is our 5th married Christmas. We started some of our Christmas traditions early in our marriage, which I love ; ) Some were born out of traditions we had with our families, some were new and unique to us, and others were happenstance. (Isn't that a fun word!?)

A lot of people think kids when they think traditions, and I'd like to break that mold. Just because we don't have children yet doesn't mean we are any less a family, or any less deserving of our very own traditions. In fact, when we do have kids I am glad we have things already in place that define the holidays for us. Kids will just add more to what we already have!

So here are some of the Evans' Family Christmas Traditions (yes I know some of you are squealing with delight at yet another numbered list!):

1. We have an angel on the tree. I bought it at Pier 1 our first year of marriage and I think it's beautiful. Eric has to be the one to put it on the tree (as he did every year growing up) and I always get a picture of it.

2. We always sometimes have two trees. Our fake one was bought at Wal-Mart our first year of marriage for $30. It's sad, but it's all we could afford. It's very Charlie Brown. Usually it is Eric's Kentucky tree. Long story short, Eric's dad is from Kentucky, a family friend sent a KY ornament to Eric every year since birth basically so now we have 9,731 blue ornaments. So he gets his own tree. The real tree leads me to...

3. Every year for the past 3 years we go with The Bell's to a Christmas Tree Farm and pick out a real tree. They have hot chocolate and a cute little ornament shop and apparently this year, jacked up prices on trees. We didn't get one this year, but we went for the experience. Read about what Amy did here! Then we head to either of our houses and, yes this is going to sound weird, eat hot dogs, slaw, and baked beans! This is one of those randomly-happened-two-years-in-a-row-instances-so-now-it's-a-funny-tradition-things.

4. Christmas Eve is reserved for me and Eric only. It's when we put on pj's, Christmas music, drink hot chocolate and open our presents. This tradition is my fave ;) I think even when we have kids we will continue to do this "just for the two of us" routine after they are long asleep with sugar plums and whatnot.

5. Christmas morning is at my mom's. She makes steak (yup!) and cranberry muffins. This is obviously carried over from my childhood.

6. Christmas afternoon/evening is with Eric's side of the family. Usually this consists of 20-30 people crammed into someone's house and we do a Chinese gift exchange. It's hectic and crazy but oh so much fun!

7. We have to watch Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, and 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. It's not Christmas unless we do. Ask Eric.

There are definitely things I am probably forgetting and lots more in my brain that I want to add to our list (like baking a certain dessert only at Christmas or starting a Christmas-only scrap book) but you get the general tradition idea!

So how about you guys? Any funny/strange/sentimental Christmas traditions going on at your house? Or are we the only ones eating steak for breakfast Christmas morning?

songs of christmas

Every year there are a few Christmas songs that I can't wait to hear...like this one:



or this one (which I actually got to see TSO in person two years ago!):



Then there are the ones Eric and I joke about, like Christmas Shoes. Not that it isn't a great song, it is! But when you hear it 9000 times in one hour it gets a little old. We always say it's not Christmas until we hear it! Basically it's a topic of conversation in our household.

So what about you? Your favorite Christmas songs? Your favorite jokeaboutaserioussongbecauseit'soverplayed song? Are you sick of Christmas music yet or just getting started?

memorial box monday - the great provider

Click here to learn more about mbm!


What I am about to share is fairly personal, but you should know I have the permission of my darling husband to do so.

December 1st around 5:15 PM I got a call from Eric, which I promptly ignored because I was in a tutoring session. He immediately called again, which I thought strange because he knows my schedule and should have known where I was. I quickly sent him a text saying "tutoring." He replied "I know, it's kinda important..."

It was the "..." that tipped me off. My husband (like most men I'm sure) is a get to the point guy. He lays the facts out on the table in a quick and concise manner. He does not "..." or leave things to the imagination. I immediately knew something was wrong. I excused myself from my student to call him. He relayed the imminent bad news in the only way he knew how, like ripping off a bandaid he said "I was just fired."

Words eluded me. Emotions excaped me. All I felt was numbness. You know that pit-in-your-stomach feeling? Yup, had that too. You may recall this post, where I regaled you with tales of how God prompted me to leave my full-time teaching position in hopes of starting a family? So picture us, living frugally on 1.5 incomes over a year later with no expansion to our family save a lab/collie mix, just getting the news that less than a month before Christmas 3/4 of our income has vanished.

We did what any couple in our situation would do. We cried out to the Lord. And He has answered. No, Eric didn't miraculously get an even better job the next day (not that God can't do that) but He has sincerely shown us the love of Christ through his people. Our church has stepped up in ways we never could have imagined to support us during this time. God is good.

But, even with all the support we getting and the prayer uplifting us, I was still worried about us financially. You see he was let go at a time where his next check would only have 3 days of work on it. He filed for unemployment and we held our breath. I checked the bank account on Friday to see if unemployment had gone through. I just stared at the screen in disbelief. I thought "either it went through or it's a Christmas miracle!" Neither. It was a deposit of a substantial amount from his old company.

Guess what our God did?

When I showed Eric the amount and where it was from he was just as perplexed as I was. Until a revelation hit him...he had gotten paid for his unused vacation days! Now you might being saying "duh, you should have known that was coming!" we didn't. It never crossed our minds once. You see, to say the company he worked for was frugal is the understatement of the year so we never imagined in our wildest dreams they would pay him for his vacation days. And the best news? The amount was more than what his normal check would have been!

Praise God! He is good all the time!!!

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;" - 2 Corinthians 9:8

9 is smaller than 225

This is my 225th post. Why am I telling you that? Well because I need to post something. I mean really, it's been 4 days...which is a little ridiculous. (Although I do have amazing excuses, I just can't give them to you. Stop rolling your eyes, it's the truth.) So let's talk about the number 225, shall we?

If you split it up into 2, 2, and 5 you can say: 2+ 2 + 5 = 9.

I love equations.

Let's use 9, because it is so much smaller than 225. Here are the top 9 things swimming around in my head right now...

1. It's almost midnight and I'm hungry. Of course, I'm pretty much always hungry.
2. The last 2 weeks have been the most physically and emotionally exhausting of my life. I'm not being dramatic either. Hard to believe, I know.
3. I serve a REALLY big God. We are celebrating the birth of his son, our Lord, in two weeks!  Exciting!!!
4. I am newly addicted to Pictureka on the iPhone. It's a sickness. I have over 20,000 points. Don't judge me.
5. I have the two weirdest dogs on the planet. Don't fight me on this, it's true.
6. Still hungry...
7. How random is too random? If I get any more random will I lose you? Forever or just until my next post? Are you even here now? Hello?
8. I am fighting some serious bitterness right now when it comes to our adoption. No news, no homestudy, no inspections. Nothing nada zero zip zilch. Yeah, I'm a little frustrated.
9. I have the greatest husband! He kills the bugs, takes out the trash, does the dishes, and rubs my head. It doesn't get much better than that.

Now I am going to bed before I eat something.

read.this.now.

Seriously, this has to be one of the best posts I have ever read.  Call me convicted.

Nets by Linny @ A Place Called Simplicity

sanctification

sanctification - being set apart to be made holy or consecrated for God's use. It describes the transformation of the believer into the image of Christ.



"Sanctification is never advanced by self-focused grief or guilt. It is energized by joy and driven by love." - David Harrell (my pastor)

cherry on top

Here are the rules: Link back to the person who awarded you, and then pick five blogs to pass on the award too. Make sure to comment on the awarded blogs so they know they've been picked.  

I love awards! I have been blogging for almost two years now and I never would have guessed a few things that came out of it....
- that I love to write
- that people think I'm funny/interesting enough to follow
- that I would have followers
- that it would house an adoption story (or more)

So I must thank my dear friend Gaby (whom you may remember from this post) for my Cherry on Top Award. This is award numero dos for my little blog. Oh the love! Now it's time to share that love with...

1. Joy Will Come in the Morning
2. Missy Mom in Madrid
3. Portrait Rachel
4. Chois R Us
5. Once Upon a Miracle

Congrats! You guys are stupendous amazing brilliant loving and funny enough to deserve this award! Does that give you the warmandfuzzies like it gave me? I thought so.  You are welcome!

psalm 23


A Psalm of David.


The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
 
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters. 
 
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness 
for his name's sake.


Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.


You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
 
Surely  goodness and mercy  shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell  in the house of the Lord
forever. 

slacker

That pretty much sums up my relationship with my blog lately. Please, forgive me. We have had a LOT going on in our little casa. (Don't get adoption-excited, it's not that unfortunately.) I have learned a little on that front though. A friend of mine who has a sweet little baby girl that just turned one through the DSS foster/adopt system let me in on a few things. After they turned in their paperwork they waited SIX months for their homestudy.

Yup. You heard that right.

Which puts us at about 4 more months of waiting. Seriously??? I really thought we could get it done before Christmas but that chances of that are looking highly unlikely. Throw into the mix the fact that I have called and emailed our social worker twice now with no response and you have one unhappy lady.

One unhappy, very busy (I can't elaborate on how, but believe me it's going to be crazy here until about February.), slightly scatter-brained paper pregnant waiting mom.

Our God is greater.

thanksgiving


"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name."
 - Psalm 100:4


Jesus
my church
my husband
my family
my dogs
my house
warmth
food
 my friends
love
chocolate
my bible
nieces
nephews
good books
coffee
costa rica
honduras
laughter
fun
games
quality time
hugs
opportunities
experiences
the past
the present
the future
all of you
 

flash mob phenomenon

There is a new phenomenon called the flash mob taking place all over the world. I think it is quite possibly one of the greatest things to ever hit our planet! They are like musical sneak attacks, which speaks to my inner ninja self.  You should really take the time to watch these two videos...they will make your heart smile.

Sound of Music flash mob in Belgium:



Hallelujah Chorus flash mob in food court:

isaiah's story

This is the story of Josh and Debbs and how their family adopted a nearly dead homeless newborn. This story breaks my heart because of the state that this precious baby was in. My mind can't help but wander to the what if's about our own children who are not yet in our home.


Isaiah's Story from 31Films on Vimeo.

ready for rice and beans

You guys are good! Good job Thelma for correctly ending my little song AND guessing both countries!

It's true, Eric is going to Costa Rica and I am heading off to Honduras! We are WAY excited to be serving the Lord in this capacity.

Eric will be going with a group of men and the same missionary that we have gone to help for the past 2 years to help him build a new translation station in the lower region of Costa Rica. For those of you who don't know, the missionary family's main goal is to translate the entire bible in Cabecar. The Cabecar's are an indigenous people who have never been taught about Jesus. You can read more about that here and here.

I am going to Honduras with a very good friend of mine who started a ministry called Shoes for Oscar. We will be visiting orphanages, giving out food and shoes to those who live in the dumps/slums/river, and generally serving the Lord in any way possible. I am super stoked about this trip. I will probably come home with 3 Honduran babies...

I'll update more on our mission trips as soon as we learn more on our end! In the meantime, please be in prayer for us and our teams and the people we will encounter while we are there.

We are so ready for rice and beans again!

where in the world is...

(Quick! 20 points to the first one to give me the end of that phrase!)

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know my husband and I have a heart for missions. I have been going on local/national/international mission trips for years now. I love everything about them: the team, the bonding, the people we meet, the work we do, the way I grow closer to Christ, the way He works on my heart, what we accomplish for the Lord, the love...the list goes on.


The funny thing about all this waiting we have been doing concerning the adoption is that God has given us some pretty incredible opportunities. We tried to ignore our call, citing facts like "what if our kids come during that time" or "won't that push us back even further?" In the end, only God could reignite in our hearts our passion for missions despite what our minds were telling us. I just wrote about how we need to be content in the season that we are in. We not only need to be content, but active! We need to be serving the Lord in the best way possible during our season of childlessness. So we are taking some leaps of faith! In fact, come February Eric is going here:



And come March I am going here:




I know, I have been holding out on you. Sorry! So can you put those Geography skills to the test? Or at least do some good Google detective work? Here is your hint: we need to be brushing up on our espaƱol!

I'll be back soon with the answers...stay tuned!

what love really means

He cries in the corner where nobody sees 
He’s the kid with the story no one would believe
He prays every night, “Dear God won’t you please... 
Could you send someone here who will love me?”
- JJ Heller


story book

I was driving down the road today listening to one of my favorite bands right now when I really started to listen to the words...

Tell me
Tell me can you tell me
That the page will turn itself
And take us somewhere else?
- Deas Vail

It got me thinking about our life as a story book. You know the ones you read when you were little and now you help little ones read yourself? I love reading, and I love reading to my precious nephews and niece. Do you know what it's like to read to a 2 year old though?

Well here is a reminder.

They run up to you so excited, favorite book in hand. "Please read to me!" they cry. You oblige because what could be better than having that little warm body climb on top of you to sit and listen to a tale or two. You get all snuggled in on the couch and read the title. You open the book to page one and start (in your most animated voice) to relay whatever story about frogs or shoes or bad days they picked out. Page two is pretty smooth, although they do seem to be a little squirmier...By page three you have barely gotten the words out of your mouth before they are turning to the next page. Page four you get about five words in and - boom - page turn. By page six you have stopped reading altogether because you have figured out that to them "story time" means flying through a book so fast you can barely see pictures, let alone read words.

I feel like I do this in My Life: The Story Book. God is the author, of course. I want so badly to know what comes next in my story that I start flipping the pages trying to get to page twenty five, not really focusing on what is happening on page twenty. I am so concerned with what my "happy ending" will be that I lose what God is trying to teach me in the middle. You can't have an end to a book without a middle. If you skip the middle, the end doesn't even make sense.

I need to start letting the pages turn themselves. I need to live in the here and now and not in some future that I am not even promised. I am not promised tomorrow, only today.

"The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more." - Psalm 103:15-16


Today I will start reading my story one page at a time.

expectant mother

"There are those who say to us, "You're lucky...you didn't have morning sickness, stretch marks, and cravings," or "At least you only had to wait three months to get your baby, rather than nine months." If you are like me and are planning to or have adopted a baby, you know how comments like this can hurt.

I want to tell them, "I have had morning sickness and afternoon sickness and evening sickness. Every time I thought of the fact that my body cannot conceive or sustain a pregnancy, I am heartsick." And stretch marks? My hope and faith bear the marks of being stretched to places that can only be seen with the divine eye of God. I have been pulled, prodded, poked, and stretched far beyond what any human eye can see. My heart has felt each of those stretches or exercises of my faith while waiting for God to answer our prayers.

Then there are the cravings. We throw the word "craving" around a lot in our everyday conversations, but have you ever looked up the word? Merriam-Webster defines craving as: "an intense, urgent, or abnormal desire or longing." I may not crave watermelon, ice cream, and pickles, but I have been struck by a craving - an intense, urgent desire - for a child for many years. It has been a longing so great that, at times, it is suffocating, leaving me teary, breathless, and in terrible emotional pain. People are correct: We haven't been waiting for nine months. It has been almost five years. I would take a nine-month waiting period over a five-year one anytime.

I am an expectant mother. I am not pregnant."

- Becky Saunders
taken from Stepping Stones newsletter

happiness is...

 
...warm cookie dough, cold milk, laughter, and friends.

cleaning party at my house!

Since I don't have a real update for you, because we haven't heard from our social worker still, I figured I would update on our progress with the house. We only have a few things left! I am excited about that, and not-so-excited all at the same time. Confused? Yeah me too.

Excited because that was a heck of a list we got through! Not-so-excited because what if we get done with our list and still no homestudy? That leaves me sitting. Waiting. Wondering. Anxious. With nothing to do. Have I mentioned lately that I'm not so good with the whole waiting thing? Mmmmk just makin' sure.

Here's the list:

Fire Inspection
- smoke alarms installed:
          - on the ceiling or wall outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of bedrooms
          - in each room used for sleeping purposes
          - in each story within a dwelling unit
- fire extinguisher shall be located in the cooking area mounted on a wall in an accessible location and not obscured from view
- each facility housing foster children shall have two independent means of escape
- a fire plan describing what actions are to be taken by the family in the even of a fire must be developed, posted, and copies made available to the local fire department noting the location of all crib infants
          - notation of two ways out, meeting place, locations of fire extinguishers, and smoke alarms to be noted on plan (I've started but I can't finish until we get the smoke detectors.)
- fire drill conducted every 3 months, save records
- resident bedrooms shall have emergency egress openings with:
          - window/door with minimum net clear opening of 5 square feet for ground level with dimensions 24"x20", bottom of opening is not to be greater than 44" measure from floor
- exit hallways/access/doors are not blocked
- no gasoline or gasoline appliances stored in or under home
- dryer vents not clogged or crushed
- electrical blanks kept in receptacles at all times
- keep 3 foot clearance from all electrical/mechanical equipment
- windows operational

*There are many, many specifics that I am leaving out, but you get the general idea.

DHEC Inspection (SC Department of Health and Environmental Control)
- all pets must have vaccinations up to date with a copy of shot record available (vaccinations 11/16/10)
- refridgerator must have thermometer to ensure that temperature is 42 degrees or cooler
- hot water heater is set no higher than 120 degrees
- well water will be check for contamination (We don't have a well!)
- all chemicals, toxic substances, or medicines must be in a locked cabinet or out of reach of small children 
- refuse storage and disposal will be check (city trash pick up, taking trash to county disposal center, burning, etc. ) (We have city!)
- disposal of waste water will be checked (city sewer or septic tank) (We have city!)
- microwaves will be checked for leakage (how is this even possible?)
- lead paint testing (getting the kit from Lowes)

So I have decided, since I love lists so much (insert sarcastic tone here) that I'd just create another one. This one is slightly embarrassing however, because it pertains to the condition of my house. It's just me and Eric and a couple dogs but man, 1400+ square feet gets dirty quick in 2.5 years of house owning! So here is my IneedtocleanthisnastyplaceupbeforesomeonecomesbytodecideifIcanparent list:



Operation Clean House
- dust ceiling fans
- dust baseboards/vents
- dust blinds
- move e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g to vacuum
- gets spots out of carpet
- shampoo carpet
- move e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g to sweep and mop
- scrub both bathrooms until my hands are raw
- paint front porch with nonslip concrete paint
- install front porch railing 
- sweep garage/tidy it up
- stain/water-seal back deck

Anything else you guys can add that I am forgetting? Little or big, things you wouldn't normally clean? How about that cleaning party? Who's game? I'll even throw in a pizza or two...

the wonder

I hope I never lose the impact that the cross has had on my life. I hope I never forget that Jesus DIED for my filthy rotten sinful self.

thankful


Today I am choosing to be thankful. I believe thankfulness is a choice we must make on a daily basis. Like choosing to get out of bed or choosing to eat that brownie or choosing to love the unlovable.

Today I am thankful for:


  •  My all-powerful, all-knowing, omnipotent, omnipresent, compasionate, loving, forgiving and grace-giving God. 
  •  My amazingly wonderful, loves me in spite of my *insert slew of negative characteristics here* Godly husband. 
  •  My ever supportive friends and family. 
  •  My amazing Bible-based church that just celebrated it's 10 year anniversary!
  •  A roof over my head, food in my refrigerator, a car that runs. 
  •  A job that I love and look forward to daily. 
  • An opportunity to go on a mission trip to Honduras (I'll update on this soon!)
  •  A chance to be a mom some day. 
"Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" - Ephesians 5:20 

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." - 1 Thessalonians 5:18

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!"- Psalm 107:1



marked

"And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal" - Ephesians 1:13

empty arms

I may have posted this before, but God laid it on my heart to post it again. Please take the time to watch this video. I have said before that unless you have walked the infertility road, you do not truly know what it is like. This video does a good job of giving you a glimpse of that pain. It says at one point "we will resolve our infertility, we just don't know how." You guys all know that we are adopting, and though that is seen as a "resolution," the stamp of infertility on our hearts will never truly go away.

november - national adoption month

"November is National Adoption Month, a month set aside each year to raise awareness about the adoption of children and youth from foster care. This year's National Adoption Month initiative targets adoption professionals by focusing on ways to recruit and retain parents for the 115,000 children and youth in foster care waiting for adoptive families." - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Adoption.com has come up with a really cool calendar of ideas for National Adoption Month. Even if you have never adopted and never plan too, you can support the adoption community. Click here to learn some cool ways to show your support!

ode to cherry chapstick

I have a slight obsession. It's bad. I use it no less than 10 times a day (yes, I've counted). It's...


And it can't be any other lip product. Not vanilla ChapStick, not lip gloss, not lipstick. Classic Cherry ChapStick is the only thing I want.

You know those commericials where people get paid in gum? And they are excited about it? Yeah. Well I can honestly say I have been paid in Cherry ChapStick for babysitting...and I was ecstatic. Yup, it's better than moolah.

I mean I am so obsessed that I didn't even have to buy Cherry ChapStick this year for myself. That's right. My family and friends know me so well that last year for Christmas I got not 7, not 8, but 9 tubes of Cherry ChapStick in my stockings and wrapped into gifts.(I am down to the last one,I am hoping that trend not only continues, but grows this year.)

I keep one in my pocket book, one beside my bed, and during the winter (so it doesn't melt) one in my car. I need them like peanutbutter needs jelly. It's serious.

My friends often tell me that I no longer have a "natural protective coating" on my lips.

Bah humbug.

Me + Cherry ChapStick = True Love.

Do you have any weird obsessions?

memorial box monday - gaby

It's time to link up with Linny for another...

Click here to learn more about mbm


I have been posting a lot more than usual about our battle with infertility, but I have neglected to share with you guys one of the biggest ways God has shown up in my life.

Her name is Gaby.

I met Gaby 2 years ago, my first year teaching. It was her first year at the high school we both taught at. She taught Spanish and I taught Math. We were both high school teachers with dark skin and hair and that, to me, seemed to be the end of our similarities. Then one day Gaby and I were paired together on field trip for the seniors and we sat next to each other for the 10 minute bus ride it took for us to get to the college we were visiting.

I should mention that only a month before that I was diagnosed with PCOS and basically told that our year of trying to conceive without success made us an infertile couple.The only person I had confided in up to that point had been my husband. He hadn't started the grieving process like I had yet, so I basically felt like I was walking this road alone. (I do want to say he is very supportive now, men just take a little longer for things to hit home ;) )

So Gaby and I started to get to know each other on that bus. The usual things like where we were from (she is from Ecuador by the way, how cool is that?) and what our husbands did (her's is a pastor; so I immediately knew she was a Christian). We talked about our faith and I thought "God how great you are to have placed an awesome Christian woman and fellow teacher into my life."

Oh how little did I know of his awesomeness.

Slowly the conversation turned to more serious things. I learned that Gaby had two gorgeous and adopted children! Now, picture me, no longer naive about the ease of growing a family the old fashioned way learning that this new friend had no biological children. I needed to know more, and she was ready and willing to share. I spilled my guts about all that I was afraid of, and she listened like what I was saying mattered.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep" - Romans 12:15

Over the next few months Gaby unfolded her and her husband's 10+ years of marriage, infertility, failed IUIs, and adoption. She has taught me more than I can communicate about what the definition of a Christian, a woman, and mom are. She has seen me at my lowest while in the midst of fertility treatments and rejoiced with me over our decision to adopt! I can honestly say I don't know what I would have done without her.

God put my friend Gaby in my life at the time I needed her most, and I didn't even know it. I look back now at all the heartache we were experiencing and saw how Gaby hurt for us, because she had hurt the same way with her husband years before. I look back and see a woman of God who knew how to talk to and pray with a friend who was walking a similar path.

Most importantly, Gaby has shown me that an adoptive parent is no less a parent than those who have biological children. I have always had a heart for the orphan, but Gaby continually confirmed God's will for our lives concerning adoption. I can truly attest to the fact that there is a bond between her and her children that would rival most biological moms.

Oh how big and mighty and wonderful our God is. How he loves us! I am forever thankful to him for my dear friend Gaby. I love to look back on times where I couldn't see his plan, only to view the big picture months or years later with the most thankful heart.

So, in my virtual memorial box will go a cup from Starbucks (where we have a fair amount of our conversations) and a little school bus.

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." - Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

it's time you met

It is high time you meet three of the reasons I count myself blessed every day. Throughout our infertility struggle, these three precious little lives have allowed Eric and I to experience a love like no other. I really don't know what life would be like without them. I am humbled and honored to call two of them my God-children and beyond blessed to have them all call me Aunt Heather. Honestly I can't believe I have never "introduced" you before. Please meet...

My little sister's boy, Caleb. He will be 2 at the end of November! He is seriously one of the most gorgeous kids on the planet. He makes the best facial expressions (that may be a whole other post!) and he will eat you out of house and home. He calls me Edda and melts my heart. He gives big, slobbery, full-o-love kisses!

This is Lula Mae. She is (bear with me) Eric's cousin-but-more-like-his-sister Amy's oldest child. She will be 3 in May. She is absolutely stinkin' hilarious (click here for just a sneek peak at one of her antics that keeps us in stitches). She has a better vocabulary than me. I think she may have more scripture memorized than me as well. Truly, she is one of the biggest reasons I started to want kids. Oh and she is more than just a little obsessed with her Uncle Eric. No really, it's a sickness between them. Like if she had to choose between Mickey Mouse and Eric - no contest - Eric.

This is Jayce, Lula Mae's little brother. Hello??? Do you see those cheeks? I have the privilege of being able to eat them up every chance I get! Probably the most cuddly baby alive, I am trying to convince Jayce early that I am his favorite. Not Eric. Lula Mae has a monopoly on that one my dear. It's me you want. I promise I am way cooler. Ok maybe not, but I won't put you to bed with your bib still on... ;)

Well there you have it folks. These three make it possible for me to give out some of this love I have just stored up for kids and they allow my dear sweet inexperienced husband to get some much needed hands-on experience with "a day in the life of a baby."

LOVE THEM!

word verification

This is one of those totally-random-doesn't-connect-to-any-other-post, posts. (There go those dashes again). It's one of those things that you have probably thought about but I'm beating you to the punch by blogging it...not that it's really blog-worthy. (Do you do that? Judge thoughts/ideas by whether they are blog-worthy? Is that just me? Ok.)

You know those word verification thingies? The word in the box that you have to type out to leave a comment on most blogs? You know the ones on the comment section that keep people from mass spam attacks?

I. love. them.

Seriously! I think they are like a secret language. I like to try to pronounce them and I give them definitions and I try to work them into everyday language. If I notice a particularly interesting one while I am commenting you, I may share it with you as a little "ps" gift from me to you. Are you weirded out yet or intrigued?

That's what I thought!

So in honor of my infatuation (and the fact that this is my 200th post! woot!) with captchas (that's right, there is an actual definition for the word verifcation thingy) I am going to give you my favorite five with definition and how to use it in a sentence.

1. sponliker (spawn-like-er) - a small container used for storing small objects.
Sentence: I drop my keys in my sponliker by the door so I don't lose them.

2. fulatums (fool-ah-tums) - the little mascara particles that settle into the corners of your eye
Sentence: Even though I wash my face every night, I still wake up with fulatums!

3. phlephis (flehf-iss) - a state of phlephory, feeling out of sorts or boggled
Sentence: I have failed to get much work done today because I have felt very phlephis.

4. peredrin (pair-ah-drin) - a fruity drink made from the nectar of a goji berry blended with milk
Sentence: I'll have the ahi tuna with asparagus and wild rice with a peredrin to drink.

5. unfoquacious (un-foe-quay-shus) - bitter, the inability to forgive and forget
Sentence: Heather is still very unfoquacious towards Amy since she posted those incriminating Savannah pictures.

So do you guys  have any captchas that pop into mind? What are your definitions?

endurance

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,
 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance." - James 1:2-3

do a happy dance...

...because I'm back! I know I left you for 4 whole days with a pretty deep post. I am sorry about that. My mother-in-law and her three sisters and my cousin-in-laws (one who happens to be my friend Amy) all went to Savannah, GA for a long weekend get together. I can't post pictures as of yet because I may or may not have forgotten my camera. And my contact solution. I'll post pics later when I steal them from her (because I need to delete an impromptu photo shoot on her camera anyway...)

To sum up our trip:

coffee + laughing + shopping + walking + desserts + food + no boys = weekend in Savannah with seven women!

I'll be back to my regularly scheduled posting asap ;)

PS - I didn't suddenly become uber-popular on my last post. I joined ICLW, which is on my sidebar, you should check it out!

myths

Below is an adapted list from Resolve about the myths of infertilty. I worry about posting this because I don't want to hurt your feelings if you are guilty of ever saying these things. Heck, I probably said some of them before our infertility journey started. How will you know if some doesn't educate you? Please, never say these things to someone struggling with trying to conceive.Whether it has been 1 year or 8, words that are meant to help only come across as hurt.

- Infertility is a women's problem.
- Must be something in the water!
- It's all in your head! Why don't you relax or take a vacation. Then you'll get pregnant!
- Don't worry so much -- it just takes time. You'll get pregnant if you're just patient.
- If you adopt a baby you'll get pregnant!
- Why don't you just forget it and adopt? After all, there are so many babies out there who need homes!
- Maybe you two are doing something wrong!
- Are you afraid your partner might leave you because of your infertility?
- Perhaps this is God's way of telling you that you two aren't meant to be parents!
- Infertility is nature's way of controlling population.

The worst statement to me personally, however, is this: Oh I understand exactly what you are feeling. *Insert ludicrous story about waiting 4 months to get pregnant here.*

Please please please if you are not infertile, never ever tell an infertile you understand. You don't. You may have had major loss in your life, but until you have walked a mile (or 20) in our shoes, you have no idea what it feels like. And honestly, we could all write a book just trying to put into words that which cannot be put into words. I am not trying to discount anyone else's pain. I am simply saying that infertility, in all it's various shapes and sizes, is a pain all it's own.


Although infertility is never truly gone from someone there are three ways people move on in their life.


1. They do get pregnant.
2. They adopt.
3. They live child free.

The infertility road is unique to each couple; do not assume you know what is best for them. That is best left up to the only One who knows the plan for their life.

I hope you feel more educated and not offended by this post. My friend Grace posted a while ago on this topic, and she may have a little more tact in explaining that me.

lead me

I mentioned earlier that I think the Christian church is seriously lacking in strong male leaders, particularly in the husband department. Below is a song by Sanctus Real singing about just that. The other video is the story about the song. Couples are going to go through hard times, it's how we deal with our problems in marriage that either makes a marriage flourish or fail. Husbands are called to be the head of the home spiritually.

"Yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." - Genesis 3:16b

"When it says, 'Your desire shall be for your husband,' it means that when sin has the upper hand in woman she will desire to overpower or subdue or exploit man. And when sin has the upper hand in man he will respond in like manner and with his strength subdue her, or rule over her." - John Piper (Manhood and Womanhood: Confusion After the Fall)

I don't think it could be more clearly spelled out for us than in Ephesians...

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." - Ephesians 5:25-33

 Men, this is big calling, and I don't envy you at all for this. Which is why I am a woman ;)



The story behind the song (the full story here, but I can't embed it):

weheardweheardweheard

In case you didn't get that: WE HEARD!

From our social worker that is! My last adoption post was kind of a downer, so I am super excited that this one is way more positive.

So Melyssa, our social worker, finally called me back today. I called her a week and a half ago. She had been in court and then on a leave of absence so that is why she didn't call back in her usual fashion. (I have never waited more than 2 days to hear from her.) She apologized for the wait and was very very sweet. I voiced my concern over calling her too much and she said it was "not a problem, please feel free to contact me by phone or email as much as you would like."

"She clearly doesn't know me well...oh but she will" I thought as I scribbled down her email. (Ways to contact Melyssa count is now up to 3.)

I asked her when we could expect a tentative time for our homestudy and she said she really couldn't give me any kind of timeline. That was a little disappointing, but I do understand. I would much rather not know than to have her guess and be way off base. She did say there was nothing wrong with our paperwork so far and everything looks great. Praise God! Also, the homestudy will be first, and then the fire and DHEC inspections. (Click here to find out about those.)

So long story short Melyssa and I are best buds (well maybe not yet, but soon, I can feel it) and we are on a first name basis. I have the green light to contact my little heart out and our paperwork is just dandy so far.

Today is a good day.

"Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created."- Revelation 4:11

this looks good

I found this trailer today. This looks like it could be worthwhile! I love the sudden influx of Christian movies in the last couple years. It is so hard to find things that are God-honoring in today's world.

wordle

Click below on the image to view my wordle. It's what I got when I entered my blog url. I think it is a fairly good representation of me, what do you think?

Wordle: blog

shades of brown

"There is no such thing as race. There is no black or white, we are all just different shades of brown; we are all one race." - David Harrell (my Pastor)



"and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us." - Acts 17:26-27

courageous

Below is a trailer for Sherwood's next movie. I am excited for another Christian film to be hitting the big screens, but I have some mixed emotions. This movie is all about what God calls a father to be. I think the modern church is seriously lacking in men being the spiritual leaders of their households and I am beyond excited that Sherwood is addressing this issue head on.

However, my husband, who is one of the Godliest men I know, is not yet a father. He will be, God has promised us that, but it may or may not be by the time this movie comes out. Regardless, we will see this movie and we will suggest it to our non-Christian friends as well. I'm sure the message in this movie will be applicable to many different walks of life.

Eric, you will be an amazing, Godly, and loving father one day. God designed you to be a dad. It is woven into every fiber of your being.

command his angels


"For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone." - Psalm 91:11-12

triple digits

I would just like you all to know that yesterday, October 12, 2010, my little blog got 100 visits!

That's right, one hundred unique visitors all came to my blog in one day. This is chump change for some of the blogs I read, but for me this is EXCITING!

So now that I am in the triple digits club I have a question:

Where are all of you? It's ok if you don't follow me or comment all the time. But once in a while it would be nice if one of my stalkers lurkers shy readers would come out of their shell!

Come out come out wherever you are!!!

you can have me

If I saw You on the street
And You said come and follow me
But I had to give up everything
All I once held dear and all of my dreams

Would I love You enough to let go
Or would my love run dry
When You asked for my life

When did love become unmoving?
When did love become unconsuming?

Forgetting what the world has told me
Father of love, You can have me
You can have me

If You’re all You claim to be
Then I’m not losing anything
So I will crawl upon my knees
Just to know the joy of suffering

I will love You enough to let go
Lord, I give you my life
I give you my life

When did love become unmoving?
When did love become unconsuming?

Forgetting what the world has told me
Father of love, You can have me
You can have me

I want to be where You are
I’m running into Your arms
And I will never look back
So Jesus, here is my heart

When did love become unmoving?
When did love become unconsuming?

Forgetting what the world has told me
Father of love, You can have me
You can have me

When did love become unmoving?
When did love become unconsuming?

Forgetting what the world has told me
Father of love, You can have me
My Father, my love
You can have me

memorial box monday - wedding photography

It's time to link up with Linny for another...

click here to learn more about mbm

When Eric and I were planning our wedding, we were flat broke. We are talking I-am-still-a-college-student-he-just-graduated-five-days-ago broke. My dad generously gave us a lump sum of money for the wedding. However, we could not just spend it on the wedding, there was no way. We had to think frugally. We also needed to stretch that money for a honeymoon and a down payment on a house in the near future. Oh, and did I mention Eric didn't have a full-time job? That's right. I agreed to marry this man, for him to take care of me, without even the slightest prospect of a full-time job. (This is another mbm, I'm getting off track...)

Anyway, we I was trying to plan our wedding and I was trying to prioritize. What was most important? The memories. How did you remember? Through pictures. So I decided, photography was going to be a big part of my budget. Well I started researching photographers and realized that I had champagne taste on a draft beer budget. Wow! What I wanted, my wedding story told in pictures, seemed way out of reach.

Stress started settling in. (Stress and I got to be pretty good friends over those short 6 months of engagement.) I scoured the internet for hours trying to find someone, anyone who could do what I wanted, do it well, and do it cheap.

Then God moved. He brought me to a website of a photographer who had previously only done nature shots, and had ONE wedding under his belt. But, as I read his profile my heart knew. He was a Christian. His entire vision of what a wedding should look like was biblically based. He had scripture captioned under each and every picture. And...

HE WAS GOOD!

Like really good. I held my breath as I clicked on "pricing." And then I rubbed my eyes. Squinted. Called Eric over to see if he saw what I saw.

DIAMOND PACKAGE
- All day coverage (no time contraints)
- bridal portaits
- all photos on cd and in a custom album
- doubles of all photos
- 10 5x7s, 10 8x10s, 3 16x24s, customized wedding book
price: $1200

Less than what I had budgeted.

The most amazing part of this story is that not only did I get my dream photos, but our photographer raised his prices just a mere 6 months later to over $4000 for a package that included half of what I got! He was good, and people were noticing.

Praising God today for allowing me to have sweet memories like these:

sleeping beauty flower girl

my handsome fiance' and almost father-in-law

my crazy bridesmaids, flower girl and attendees

my beautiful bridesmaids and their flowers

dancing with my daddy to Elvis

me and my honey toasting the night away


So all of these pictures go in my (virtual) memorial box to remind me of God's provision on the happiest day of my life!

By the way, my friend Amy was getting married not quite a year after us and my photographer was so good she wanted to use him as well. He had already raised his prices outside her budget as well, but because I was drumming up business for him like crazy, he gave her a huge discount as well.

How cool is our God to supply us exactly what we want and need on our most special days!

...and i'll get back to you

That's the end of the message I hear every time I call my social worker.

It's been one month since we have turned in our paperwork and we have had no contact with DSS. I called today and, you guessed it, left a message. I am trying to find a balance between "bugging the crap out of my social worker" and "letting her know our persistence is a good quality." But...

I
am
so 
anxious.

I just want to move on and get the homestudy and inspections done already! I want my precious child(ren) into my home and out of harm's way. We were so hoping to become a waiting family by Christmas and that dream seems to be fading fast.

Sorry for the downer post, but you guys know you are my ventlet (That's a new word I made up: vent + outlet = ventlet. You like? Feel free to steal it, I don't have the $ to copyright.)

"But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint." - Isaiah 40:31

PS - click here if you want to see some of the beautiful faces that are in the system right now. Please take some time to pray for the precious miracles of God and their forever home. 

manure

"Christians are like manure. Heap them all together and they smell, a lot. Spread them out and they become fertilizer!"
- Rick Warren (via my pastor David Harrell)

dear fall

Dear Fall,

I like you. I really really do. That is why I would really like for you to sign what us teachers like to call a "Contract for Success." Think of it like a little prenup between you and I, if you want our long standing relationship to last.



CONTRACT FOR SUCCESS:

During the months of October through Mid-December, Fall agrees to:
- allow the leaves to change colors
- crisp up the air
- enable weather for boots/leggings/sweaters
- have stores sell
          - spiced apple candles
          - hot chocolate (especially the salted caramel hot chocolate at Starbucks...mmmm)
          - pumpkin flavored things

However, I would formally like to lodge a few complaints about this year, since our contract will be post-dated.. Namely: The leaves are changing entirely too fast, we need some color variation here. Green to brown isn't cutting it.I said crisp, not frigid air. Seeing my breath in the morning is not acceptable in October, thank you very much. Also, this whole freezing-in-the-morning-blazin-hot-in-the-afternoon thing is really starting to do a number on my laundry. The laundry I already despise doing, so cut that out too.

Failure to adhere to said regulations will result in the termination of your position. IE: Summer will go directly into Winter, bypassing the need for Fall altogether. You understand, don't you?

Fall's Signature:____________________

Heather's Signature:

he is LORD

"'Tis at the cross of Christ
Where earth and heaven meet
Where sin is overcome
To God the victory"

I always think that there is Earth, then a million miles away there is Heaven. They are two separate and distinct places. One I live in now, the other I will live in forever. But they aren't as distinct as my mind makes them out to be. 

They meet.
They come together.
They fuse. 
The gap is bridged. 

It all happens at the cross. The cross of Jesus Christ is the only reason that one day I will walk from darkness into eternal light (Acts 26:18). It's the only way I will enter the gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise (Psalm 100:4). It's the only way I can enter the small gate at the end of the narrow road (Matthew 7:14).

He is the only way. 

Heaven and Earth, they meet. They are closely linked. You can almost reach out and touch Heaven. It's like we (Earth) are on the outside looking in (Heaven). We can see it, we know what is there, what waits for us. The only thing separating us from it is window/door, and all we have to do it knock and the door will be opened (Matthew 7:7). We will be changed from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18)!

"Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." - John 14:6