Sunday, November 30, 2008


Tomorrow is December 1st, Poppy's birthday. Tonight when I told Marianna, she immediately got a gift bag out and asked if we could get Poppy a present, and we both decided that since she is in heaven, Jesus will give her presents in our place. Instead, we will spend the day remembering and celebrating Poppy Joy.

But that's not all...tomorrow is also Adrienne's adoption day. She has now been in our home for six months, meaning that it is time to go to court and sign the official paper work.

When Nathan and I found out that the days would coincide, I smiled. What could be more appropriate? Tomorrow will represent not only the day we gave our second girl back to Jesus, but also the day our third daughter became a forever part of our family.

It will be a big day.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


The hospital scene is never glamorous, but at Christmas time especially it is a place nobody wants to find themselves. The contrast between where you want to be and where you are has got to be starker at Christmas than any other time of the year. Because of this, I can't think of anything that would be better during this season than doing something for the families who are in this situation.

There isn't just one way to go about doing this, but I have been given several great possibilitis that I'll share. The one we have chosen to do with our family is to adopt a family from our local Children's hospital to visit and help throughout December. Many of the people who find themselves at St. Jude are very far from home, without the support of friends and family that is so valuable during difficult hospital stays. I cannot imagine the stress and loneliness that can build up for these families, and it is my hope that by baking some goodies, visiting the family, and bringing a few presents, we can at least show that family that they are loved and cared about, even though they are so far from home.

Another idea is to visit a waiting room at a local hospital, passing out Christmas packages to those who are there. Coloring books for kids, snack bags with cookies, granola bars, and drinks, and any other small thing that could help make a long stay in a waiting room a little bit more comfortable.

Something else might be to get involved with a Ronald McDonald house or a Target house or something similar and volunteer to cook dinner for the entire house one evening. What a blessing that would be to the families who find themselves living mostly off of fast food, hospital food, or anything else that doesn't quite measure up to a home cooked meal.

Finally, preparing gifts for the patients themselves, even if you can't personally see them, would be a fantastic way to help encourage and lift spirits. I believe many hospitals will be happy to pass out small gifts left at the front desk for the patients. I think an unexpected gift from a stranger could be God's way of letting some people know that they are not forgotten.

I don't know if this type of thing strikes a chord with any of you, but if it does, I hope you will look into calling a local hospital and asking what their needs are and how you can do something to minister and give back to those who are in a difficult place this season.

I am so excited that many of you expressed interest in the Christmas verse books, and I can't wait to hear stories from those of you who pass them out!

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I read this passage this morning and identified with the writer of this Psalm. Here is what it says:

"For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths; their soul melted away in their misery. They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, and were at their wits' end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, so that the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they were quiet, so He guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men!"
Psalm 107:25-31

Today on this Thanksgiving, I feel like I understand the feelings of these sailors who found themselves at the mercy of a terrible storm, so desperate that their souls "melted away in their misery." I feel like I know what it means to be as they were, "at their wits' end", unable to alter the storm in any way. I also relate to crying out to the Lord in times of trouble, and experience what it is like when, "He causes to the storm to be still." I understand the fullness of what it is like to be "guided into a desired haven" and, it is because of all of this that I can "give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness" in a way I never have before.

It is impossible for me to look back over this past year without seeing the most exquisite orchestration of events that have ever played out in my life. That's why this Thanksgiving my heart overflows.

Friday, November 21, 2008

TCB- Christmas Verse Books

Over the next week or so I'll be putting up several specific ideas that I'm going to try and pursue during this Christmas season. I have LOVED hearing all of the ideas that have been shared already, and hopefully if we keep sharing them, everyone will find something that they feel is just right for them. So here it goes! The first idea is a Christmas verse book--an idea that I'm borrowing from my sister, who came up with the concept several years ago. Her goal was to create something that would be a practical encouragement to anyone who was going through a difficult time, and the verse book has been perfect for exactly that!

This is how you make the booK:

Create a word document with your favorite verses, changing the fonts from verse to verse to make it fun and interesting. Come up with 18 verses. Cut coordinating scrapbook paper (12x12 sheets) into 4x3 cards and then use double-sided tape to attach Bible verses onto each card. Next, hole punch one corner, and insert a metal ring through each hole to create the book! And there you have it, a beautiful, pocket-sized verse book that can be taken just about everywhere.

Now for my Christmas twist. I created a page with 18 verses, all chosen specifically for the season. Not each verse has something about Christmas, but each one deals with the hope and joy we have because of Jesus. My goal is to try and give one verse book out each of the 24 days leading up to Christmas, whether it be someone I meet at gymnastics, a cashier at the grocery, or someone who I already know. I am hoping that through these books, God will speak to someone, encouraging them through His word that He loves them and cares about them, no matter what they are going through.

If you would like me to send you the pdf of the verses I have used, just leave a comment with an email address and I will get it to you! Here is a picture of a few of the verses so that you can visualize what the finished product looks like.
**I have received several requests for the verses with no email addresses. If you haven't gotten them, that's why!**

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

If you remember the green token..

then you'll understand why Marianna's bedtime statement tonight was more than a little surprising. After tucking her in (for the third time) Nathan and I were sitting on the couch when she yelled down, "Would you guys please stop bothering me! I'm trying to go to sleep. Please don't come up here again because I'm sleeping." We'll work on manners later, but for tonight, we have a victory!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Take Christmas Back

I've got my button! A big thank you to Aaron for making it, and a huge thank you to all of you who offered to make it. There is very little I can do in the technical realm, and after about an hour of attempting it myself, I didn't have any problem admitting that this button fell into that category. If you would like to add it to your blog, Nathan made it available over there on the sidebar--and if you have trouble, as I'm sure I would, he can help you!

I am so encouraged by every one of you who commented when I introduced my Christmas challenge. The ideas you offered were fantastic, and I've already looked into several. I want to highlight a few of them right now. Someone suggested a children's nativity, and I love that idea. I know several that I have are hands-off to the girls, and I think it is great to have something tangible for Marianna to be able to look at, put her hands on, and picture in her head. My grandmother was able to find this wonderful children's nativity for Marianna's birthday. Marianna is thrilled about it, and can't wait til I let her tear it out of the box. Something else I loved was the link someone provided to a site that offered gift tags and stickers that say "Jesus is the gift." I thought that would be perfect especially for gifts that might be handed out to someone you don't know. I want everyone to know that the reason I have anything to give is not because I'm a good person--it's because of Jesus and what He has given to me! I also loved the suggestions to get involved in a soup kitchen or Ronald McDonald house, especially if you have older children who would be able to participate in something like this.

As I've been thinking on this December and what I hope to do, I keep going back to last December and how different it was. As I looked forward to that month a year ago, I had no idea what to expect, but I anticipated it with a strange mixture of joy and heaviness of spirit. And then Poppy was born, and every one of those 25 days leading up to Christmas was filled with her. Some of the saddest days of my life were last December, but Christmas brought with it something new. The birth of Jesus offers hope to those who are hurting in a way that those who are not cannot understand. It is to a lost and hurting world that Jesus entered, and it was for the purpose of saving it that he came. I don't want to lose hold of that.

This year I want to do what I can to celebrate Jesus' birth in a way that He would want, and I know that being His hands to those who need Him most is the way I can do it.

Keep the ideas coming! I'll be updating in the next few days with a few exciting possibilities.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

my girl

Today was Marianna's third birthday. My baby girl is now my big girl, and even though the time has gone so quickly, I can't really remember what it was like before she was in my life. Marianna is funny, crazy, loving, opinionated, dramatic, playful, helpful, strong-willed, and fun loving, and I have enjoyed every single day I have had to be her mom.I am so crazy about her it would be silly to try and put into words what she is to me, but everyone who has one knows what it's like. She's just my girl.

We went with a princess theme-shocker-and I was able to throw my first "real" birthday party...a bippity boppity boutique, a poison apple scavenger hunt, pass the magic slipper, bella bella dancerella, and other full-blown three year old girl activities. Thank you to all of our wonderful friends and family who helped make it such a happy birthday!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Big Idea

I want to tell you about something I'm really excited about. It was just yesterday that I got it all worked out in my brain, but it's an idea that really started about a month ago, and now, in the words of Sid the Science kid, it's turned into my Super-duper-umper-shumper-BIG IDEA I'll start from the beginning.

Every once in a while I like to take the girls up to Barnes and Noble for story hour, and a few Tuesdays back this is where we found ourselves. Before it was time for the book, Marianna noticed a display with a tv set up next to it running a promotional for The Elf on the Shelf. I heard of it last year for the first time and thought it was a cute idea. If you haven't seen it yet, this is the concept in a nutshell: the book comes with a magic elf, and each day of December the parent hides the elf for the kiddos to find in the morning. The self-named elf cannot be touched (it's magical), and it is always watching so that he can tell Santa whether the children he keeps watch over are good or bad. It also comes with a book. Anyway, it's something exciting to do each day building up to Christmas, and I like that. Part of me wanted to buy it right then and there, but something -maybe the price tag- kept me from sealing the deal.

Since then, the idea has stuck with me, but over the weeks it morphed into a different concept, until it finally materialized into a game plan yesterday. Here it goes...

This year, starting on the first day of December and going all the way til Christmas day, I want to do something every single day to remember what Christmas is really about. I'm going to entitle my little operation Take Christmas Back, and I want our family to see what it is like to try and enjoy every single day of the season, not by seeing how much fun we can have by doing stuff for ourselves, but by seeing how much greater the joy is when we focus on trying to celebrate Jesus and everything He means. How is it going to happen? Well, I'm still piecing it all together, but whatever it is, I want to make sure Marianna can be involved. It hit me that right now she is going to start forming her ideas of what is important in life, and it is me and Nathan who are going to shape that for her. Without even realizing it, I can see how we can create a world that is all about getting, getting, getting, without ever teaching her to give. Having Marianna has opened my eyes in a new way to how Christmas is marketed to appeal to self. It's all about picking out the presents she wants, getting to see Santa, getting to make cookies, going out to see shows or lights, and the thing is, not one of those things is bad. But if that's all it's about, we're robbing her.

So this is what I'm thinking. How about trying to incorporate some of the things we would do anyway, but do them with a twist. For example, I want to make Christmas candy this year, but instead of keeping it all for ourselves, I thought maybe we could package it up and take it to one of the hospitals--maybe even a Children's hospital--to give to those who are sick and can't get out. When I was growing up my mom often made dough ornaments with me, and it's a tradition I would like to keep up. So maybe this year, we can make some for our family tree, and we can make a few extra and take them to an assisted living facility or a nursing home, and visit some people who don't get to see children often. I want to read the Christmas story every morning leading up to Christmas. I want to let Marianna "earn" some money so that she can buy a gift for a child who won't have many. Basically, I want to go about the whole season with a focused effort not to get lost in the lights and presents and pageantry, but rather to keep it in perspective. I love all of it, and I don't think it's bad. I just know how I am. Without thinking about it, planning on, and preparing for it, I'll find myself sliding into all the normal holiday chaos without doing any of these things that I'd really like to do.

So that's my plan. This morning our pastor preached out of Matthew 10, talking about the rich man who hoarded his wealth, and died rich with material possessions but empty of everything that really counted. We might not have a whole lot of financial wealth to hoard, but we do have other things--our time, our focus, our priorities-- that we can hoard without even realizing it. I hope this year it will be different!

I am aware that I'm putting this out there a little early, but I'm excited about it now, and I wanted to share the thought. This is my official invitation to ask you to jump on board with us on our Take Christmas Back adventure... I would love to get one of those buttons for my blog...maybe I'll figure out how before December 1st! I'd love to hear any suggestions or ideas if you have them!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Blessed Be the Name

"Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise."
Nehemiah 9:5

Today was Adrienne's dedication, and the entire day was symbolic for me. First the dedication itself was symbolic of our commitment as parents to raise our little girl for Jesus. It is our way of saying that we understand that she is a gift, placed in our care, but not something we own. She is God's, as we all are, and we wanted to make a public acknowledgement of that understanding.

But the symbolism didn't end there. Today when we walked into the worship service, the first song we sang was "Blessed Be the Name," and the significance of that song on this particular day was impossible to miss. The chorus of that song says, "You give and take away, You give and take away, My heart will choose to say, Lord, Blessed be your name." It was the same song we had chosen to sing at Poppy's funeral, just 11 months ago.

On that day 11 months ago, I walked into our church, wearing a black dress with a green coat, and sang that song. I sang it with tears running down my face, realizing to my core what it meant to have something taken away. The words of that song resonated with me in a way that had been impossible in the past.

And today, 11 months later, I walked into our church, wearing the same black dress and green coat, and sang the song again. This time it was from a heart that has come full circle, arms full with a beautiful six month girl. He has given and taken away, and more than ever, I believe from my heart His name is to be blessed.

I wore the outfit symbolically as well. I bought it for Poppy's celebration service, and I felt like to wear it today represented that her story is intrinsically tied up with Adrienne's. Never would we have her if not for Poppy, and on this day when we publicly gave Adrienne to Jesus, I wanted to remember the day when we publicly gave Poppy to Jesus as well.

My heart is full; I am humbled by what God has done in my life. When I looked up, searching for God and desperately wanting answers so many months ago, I never could have seen what was in store. It is only when I turn around and look back the path we've already walked that I can see His faithfulness so clearly. I hope I remember that the next time darkness enters, but for now, I am enjoying the sunshine.