Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Embrace the Mystery

Currently, I'm waiting to get news on when a staffing meeting will be held by the state to decide whether or not I'd be a good match for a preteen boy who needs a forever family. There is a lot of hopefulness that I'll get picked and also a ton of waiting right now which can make me impatient. All the workers are probably busy with helping other grateful families during National Adoption Month and also the Thanksgiving holiday being right around the corner could delay things. So I find myself moving between content in the timing and impatient for answers. And let me just tell you, "impatience for answers" is never a healthy place for me to camp out. So tonight, I'm spending some time with God meditating on the beauty of mystery. I've been in the bible, in some poetry books and searching online on the topic of mystery. This time reflecting on the mysteries of God has been so refreshing. I'm finding that an amazing calmness springs up in my heart as I embrace how mysterious the Lord is in everything He orchestrates. Here's just a taste...enjoy! 
1 Timothy 3:16 "Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith: Christ was revealed in a human body and vindicated by the Spirit. He was seen by angels and announced to the nations. He was believed in throughout the world and taken to heaven in glory." 

A.W. Tozer, " We cover our deep ignorance with words, but we are ashamed to wonder, we are afraid to whisper mystery.

Ecc. 11:5 TLB, God’s ways are as mysterious as the pathway of the wind and as the manner in which a human spirit is infused into the little body of a baby while it is yet in its mother’s womb. 

Matthew Henry commentary on Ecc. 11 [para] - We don't know the way of the Spirit. We know not when it comes, or when it goes, or when it will turn. The same can be said of the human soul; we know that God made us, and gave us these souls, but how our specific souls entered into these bodies, are united to them, animate them, and operate upon them, we can't understand! The soul is a mystery. For all that we do know, we cannot describe the infusing of the body with a soul; both, we know, are the work of God, and we yield to in his work, but cannot trace the process of the operation. And because of this great mystery and his powerful working, we may well trust God to provide for us... 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Build, with faith, in the wait.

New table - has butterfly leaf that transforms it to seat 8 people!
Lately, I think I've been nesting again. Life with my daughter is going amazing and although God's not opened the door yet for another child for me or a sibling for her, we've been doing what families do...soaking up life together.

We have also been preparing for the upcoming holidays. Our Halloween yard decorations are planned already since she has begged me to "make it legit this year, Mom." *laughing* Done, girl. Recently, I bought a beautiful dining room table and chairs that seats up to 8 people. I was a bit cautious at first but, after visiting 10 stores looking for the perfect table, I'm ecstatic with this buy. Our new table has already gotten so much use now that we have something larger and a bit more comfy. Another holiday I recently made a purchase for was Christmas. I swooped up a dreamy Christmas tree! This artificial tree stands proudly at 7.5 ft. and is heavily flocked with long needles and gentle, white lights.

So what's with all the money spending? Well, I've been praying about that and thinking a lot about my purchases to check my motives. (Do you ever do that?) The only way I can explain it is that when I "nest" I'm building, with faith, in the wait. This is not the first time I've done this either. For example, I just celebrated the five year anniversary of purchasing my home. Five short years ago, I bought a three bedroom home as a single woman. This.was.a.faith.move. I had no one to fill the house. No potential female roommates from church, no children, and I wasn't dating anyone but God drew me to the home. I knew it as soon as I walked through the door that I was suppose to buy this house and I knew He would fill it and make it a home! So in the meantime I nested. Even back then, I built, with faith, in the wait until finally, BAM, I have a daughter! Ha. #adoptionrocks

And I'm waiting again. I'm waiting for God to add to my family because something in my spirit tells me God's not done. I have no clue on his timing. I have zero information on the plans He's drawn up but I'm committed to keep building with faith during this wait. After all, there is only two of us in my home right now but I just bought a table for eight! That's a faith move! But I believe God can fill it...one way or another and if He does, my home will be ready. This morning, I can say with confidence, "My God is up to something!" I can't tell you exactly what, who, or even when but I feel His prompting as He's preparing my heart so I'm preparing too. I want to be ready.

Are you waiting on something to happen that God's placed on your heart? How are you building, with faith, during your wait? I think for many of us, it's hard to make faith moves because we think more about how stupid we'd feel if things don't turn out than about how much it pleases God to take steps of faith! So let me remind you...if you make faith moves, God can come through. Don't you believe that He wants to come through?! Work on stretching your faith and be bolder. Have faith in God.
Faith verses to ponder: 
2 Samuel 22:26 “To the faithful you [God] show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity.
Psalm 119:30 "I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your [the Lord's] regulations.
Isaiah 7:9 "But this is what the Sovereign Lord says...Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.” 
Habakkuk 2:4 “...But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.
Matthew 9:29 "Then he [Jesus] touched their eyes and said, “Because of your faith, it will happen.”
Matthew 15:28 “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.
Matthew 17:20-21 “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible. Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen.”
Matthew 21:22 "You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.” ~Jesus
Galatians 5:22 "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness..."
2 Thessalonians 1:11 "So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.
Hebrews 11:1 "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
Hebrews 11:6 "And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
James 1:2-4 "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
New Christmas Tree

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Comfort Embrace

This picture makes me smile because the angle
makes her hair seem super long! But it's the horse's tail. ha
Over the past year it has happened several times, but there are two times I remember being surprised by it. Once when my daughter returned from the most recent church teen camp and then today. Being that my girl will be 17 years old in a few months, I am shocked each time it happens. It's what I call "the comfort embrace."

When Rene' got off the bus after being gone for a week at camp, I guess I expected her to be a bit stand-offish with me while around her peers but instead, she bounced off the bus and straight into my arms in full view of, well everyone. And it wasn't a quick hug...it was a full on, let me stand here and be held embrace. I felt so loved!

Today, she spent time with new friends and had a day full of horseback riding and swimming. [More pics below] I picked her up from a local ranch and when she saw me, she walked up to me, "fell" into my arms and again just stood there in my embrace. 

So as I was driving us home today, the story of the Prodigal Son came to mind. I tend to picture that returning son falling into the arms of a comfort embrace with his Dad [Luke 15]. The embrace is one of those, "I'm so tired and glad to be with you that I just want to be held" type of hugs. And I REALLY want this type of relationship with God! But I found myself wondering when the last time was that I just "fell" into His loving embrace or cuddled snugly into the hope of my salvation or even let myself rest in the comfort of all that Christ's love is in my life? I think it's been too long! Do I even view God as the God of Comfort? Am I forgetting how much he loves to have me in a Comfort Embrace? Yes. I've forgotten that lately. And I don't think I reflect on Him as the Lord who loves to comfort us - but He totally does! 

So, as I'm looking up "comfort" in the bible, I'm seeing how MUCH our God really loves to comfort us and how He continually wants us in His Comfort Embrace! Want proof? Here are some verses I've been reflecting on - may they bring you comfort too. 
  • Isaiah 40:1-3Comfort for God's People -  “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned."
  • Isaiah 57: 18-19, "I have seen what they do, but I will heal them anyway! I will lead them. I will comfort those who mourn, bringing words of praise to their lips. May they have abundant peace, both near and far,” says the Lord, who heals them."
  • Isaiah 61:1 Good News for the Oppressed ] The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me [Jesus - ref. Luke 4], for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.
  • 2 Corinthians 1:3 [ God Offers Comfort to All ] "All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort." ...and verses 4-5
  • Also read - Zechariah 1:12-14
  • Psalm 94: 19, "When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer." 
  • Psalm 119: 50, "Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles."
  • Psalm 86: 17b, "...for you, O Lord, help and comfort me. 
  • Psalm 23:4 HCSB, "Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff - they comfort me."

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Deep Roots with God

Take a look at this tree in the picture below. It's obviously fallen, taken a beating in the Texas heat, and is under distress. But besides that, do you notice how most of this tree's leaves are still green? Take note with me that, even though it's fallen, instead of removing it and chopping it up for wood, the business has simply mowed around it. This intrigues me! This fallen tree has become a daily reminder to me about the value of having deep roots with God. You see, this tree fell months ago.

I'm not sure what happened. One day I drove by on my way to work and suddenly there it was in the grass looking as though it's completely disconnected. It's one of those things you notice casually at first and give only a passing thought to but then as the days, weeks, and months have gone by, it seems to whisper a valiant reminder and I marvel. 

In one way or another, we can all relate to this fallen tree. Over the past few weeks, I've felt knocked over. Besides Miss M. deciding she'd rather age out of foster care than be adopted by any family and that I have been extremely sick, I've felt impoverished artistically. Although this may seem small to most people, my fellow creatives know what a big deal that can be! I also have felt depleted of inspiration to blog. I'm struggling to feel inspired towards adventure. And most importantly, I'm lacking depth or emotions in my coffee and cozy times with God. : (  

But God is always showing himself to be fabulously faithful! And recently He reminded me of this tree. This tree obviously has one heck of a deep root! So today I've searched out scriptures to share and I hope they inspire you as well. May your roots go deep with God, my friend!

The bible says: 

"But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green and they never stop producing fruit." Jeremiah 17:7-9

"I pray that from his [God's] glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how long, how high, and how deep his love is." Ephesians 3:16-18

"And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness." Colossians 2:6-8

Friday, June 19, 2015

Inspiring Songs for Young Women

One thing I decided to create in 2014 right before my daughter moved in from foster care was a playlist of music. The list is meant to inspire her as a young women and to be played especially during the summer while we are in the car or jamming out to music at the house.

Even today, as another young lady is about to move in this summer, I find myself adding to it. I feel strongly that positive words and music can strengthen our character and resolve! Since my daughters are healing from tremendous heartache and have been bombarded by stress and negativity for several years, this is one thing I created to love up on them. 

You may not be familiar with some of these songs and you might not completely agree with some of what they share...that's okay. These songs have a range of themes and are from different decades or genres but are all meant to either be inspiring or spur our conversations and give me an avenue to teach lessons. Because my girls are teens, I know that music is especially powerful! I have over 65 songs complied in this particular playlist so the list below is a slightly shortened version I thought others might enjoy too!

I Lived - OneRepublic
Brave - Sara Bareilles
Make It Out This Town - Eve & Gabe Saporta
Just Fine - Mary J. Blige
Who Says - Selena Gomez
I Won't Back Down - Tom Petty
I'll Stand By You - Pretenders
Stand Up - Jessie J
You Don't Own Me - Lesley Gore
He Knows My Name - Francesca Battistelli
Price Tag - Jessie J
Fight Another Day - Addison Road
One Girl Revolution [Battle Mix]- Superchick
Perfect [clean version] - Pink
Soar - Christina Aguilera
Same in Any Language - I Nine
Who You Are - Jessie J
Hate On Me - Jill Scott
Masterpiece - Jessie J
Nobody Love - Tori Kelly
Corner of Queens - Walk Off the Earth
Eyelashes - Tori Kelly
I'm a Survivor - Destiny's Child
Stomp - [Remix] - Kirk Franklin
Life is Wonderful - Jason Mraz
Go Get It - Mary Mary
Black or White - Michael Jackson
Turn Off the Light - Nelly Furtado
Take a Back Road - Rodney Atkins
Howlin' At The Moon - Sam Bush
Better People - India Arie
Stronger - Kelly Clarkson
Just Around the Riverbend - Pocahontas
Three Little Birds - Strange Magic version
There's Hope & Video - India Arie
My Wish - Rascal Flatts
Listen - Beyonce'
Daydream - Tori Kelly
I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor
Man in the Mirror - Michael Jackson
Where Is The Love? - The Black Eyed Peas
No Giving Up - Crossfade
Appletree - Erykah Badu
I Gotta Feeling - The Black Eyed Peas
You Can't Hurry Love - Phil Collins
Good Fight - Unspoken
Stand - Rascal Flatts
Thank You - Alanis Morissette
Life is a Highway - Rascal Flatts
Best Day of My Life - American Authors
Shake it Off - Taylor Swift
Bills, bills, bills - Destiny's Child
How to Save a Life - The Fray
Say Hey - Strange Magic version
Home - Phillip Phillips

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Adoption Update & Self-Care Tips for Reading CPS Files

(apologies for the long title but I wanted it to be searchable for other families on a topic I couldn't find a blog post about in my own searches) 

This has been an amazing year so far. Life as a new mom has been terrific and my daughter is doing wonderful. After her adoption and with my home on "hold" with the agency, we've continued spending time bonding, growing and deepening our relationship as mother and daughter. She's also been growing in her relationships with her new grandparents (my folks) too. I'm already so proud of the young woman she's becoming and all the ways she's grown!

And now...there's another door opening. I decided not to close my home after the adoption because I knew there was a chance I might adopt again. I felt it would be easier to keep my certification up to date verses starting the whole certification process over again. In March, I re-opened my home! I knew the process of finding a match could take a while and that soon many children in foster care would be shifting homes again since often children are shuffled to different homes at the end of each school year. It seem this may be done in an attempt to encourage adoption either of the current foster families or to try to place children in a new home that may be more adoption motivated.

Shortly after being reopened I was on the phone with a caseworker to discuss how my certification was being switched over from foster-to-adopt to adopt-only again so that we could make certain I received broadcasts of children who are already legally free and open to finding an adoptive family. She also reminded me of how long a matched adoption could take. Fortunately, just a short time after our conversation ended she called again and said, "You aren't going to believe this but a broadcast just came in and I think she might be a great match!"

As soon as I read the broadcast, I thought, "uh yeah!" Honestly, this young lady seems an amazing match for us. :) My daughter is beyond excited that we were matched and selected as a family for this new young lady, Miss M.! And God has not only answered so many of my prayers but he has been building my faith and courage at every step. Honestly, I really have to cling to those answered prayers and faith-courage because, unlike with my daughter, I'll be committing to an adoption placement of Miss M. sight unseen. All I have is a few pictures of this beautify 15 yr old teen, the small bio she wrote for her broadcast and two huge, heartbreaking binders of her case from CPS. It's totally a leap of faith! I have to choose to be faithful and trust in God. 

So now to the second reason I felt compelled to blog this morning. Reading the CPS files is beyond HARD so I wanted to share some things that help me during this stage of the process:

1. Set aside some quite hours for reading them. Both times now, I've taken a half day off from work for reading CPS files. There are a ton of court documents, medical evaluations and case worker reports. Many of the documents will have redundant, dry paragraphs with maybe one sentence changed but I find that often that one changed sentence will have extremely valuable information! So you may have to skim pages just for your own sanity but I wouldn't skip anything completely. On average it takes me one hour per binder to read. 

2. Have a paper and pen with you. There can be a lot of acronyms that you may want the definitions to and you will come across some information that will bring up questions - write them down. Because the sections are barely tabbed, I tend to dog-ear pages so I can find important information quickly again in them. 

3. Prepare your support system. Let them know you are reading the CPS file and it'll be hard. Remind them you won't be sharing details but that you may need to talk some or even pray together to help process what you've read. Married couples may have each other to debrief with but they might need to talk things out with someone else too. As a single woman, I call my Mom, talk to my Papa some and to a best friend as a confidant to process my thoughts. 

4. Try to set up a lighthearted activity after reading the files. For me, there are always moments when I'm reading the files that I will cry as I read the tough things a child has gone through. My heart physically aches! So afterwards is a good time to practice some quality self-care. I don't recommend reading these files at night before bed. Instead give your mind some time to process before heading off to sleep. Some self-care could include: Praying, going for a walk, taking a relaxing hot shower, doing something active (basketball, bike riding etc..) watching a happy movie or if you have pets - play with them! :) 

5. Finally, although it's great to have more understanding of the history, I really try to focus on how the child is doing over the past year. Yes, there may have been behaviors when they first entered care that are concerning but you can't forget that they were under extreme stress and dealing with tremendous loss! Their history is a part of their story but it doesn't have to be what defines them. We all do things as kids/teens that are not great...so I try to remember sometimes behaviors may be trauma related but sometimes they are just kids being kids. If you have serious concerns, talk to your caseworker about them for insight. They work closely with kids from hard places and can help you to decide if a behavior is a deal-breaker or not. 

So what's next? 

I believe I will be heading towards Presentation Staffing. I will meet with all those involved in Miss M.'s life (caseworkers, fosters, maybe CASA, counselor, etc) and I will ask my questions. After that, I foresee the next step as giving my official "yes" for this adoption placement and getting time set up for meeting my next daughter! It's a scary time and an extremely exciting time...but most of all, I hope it's finally time for this young lady to get her forever family.

** Update - Regretfully, Miss M has decided to age out of foster care instead of being adopted. So with surrender and hope...we move on. <3

Friday, February 6, 2015

Prayer Journal for a Prayer Warrior

"When my arms can't reach people who are close to my heart, I hug them with prayers."

This is a quote written in the "Friends" tab of my prayer journal. I started this prayer journal last Sept. (2014) Prayer is my weakness. I'm a study and reading powerhouse but prayer - not so much. I often would find myself getting distracted when I prayed. Also, it seemed I didn't cast my prayers very wide. To me, this means I'd just pray for the same stuff going on in my little world only.

I've had a basic prayer journal in the past but this one has helped me because I tabbed it! You may see 5 tabs but there are actually 6 sections. When I was creating the tabs I accidentally forgot to make one for the section on my prayers. When I realized that, I found it fitting that other prayers were forefront over me. :) The sections are:

Beloved (me - that's what my name means)

I don't write in each section ever day nor do I pray through ever section at one time but this has helped me to pray much deeper. In the Gratitude section, I journal to God things I'm happy and grateful for while in the Worship section I doodle and record scriptures that inspire me as I worship God. In the Beloved section I tend to pray about things I need to grow in and sometimes record points during a sermon that personally pierce my heart. This section also has some specific "Mom Prayers" I pray for fairly consistently so that I can grow as a mom too. In the Family section, I pray different things for my family and I have this list of things I continually pray over my daughter. (the list below)

The largest section ends up being the Friends tab. I record prayers people ask for and pray almost daily for these needs and desires. Sometimes I date them when I begin praying and I place a heart next to the ones I finish praying for when the prayer is answered or when that person has asked me to now pray for other things.

The Beyond section is the section that really stretches me! I try to pray for world events, tragic happenings, and bold prayers for people I don't even know! I pray for our country and for other countries. I pray about the wars going on, the people in power, the hungry and those in need. I pray for public health issues and for Christians under persecution.

I wish there were more pictures that I could show you but I want to be respectful of the prayers I'm praying for others. There are lots of different examples online of prayer journals- this is just the one that has been working for me. Anyway, it's been great to have this little journal and if you are looking for a way to be more of a prayer warrior but like me, really struggle to go as deep as you really want to in prayer, then I hope you'll think about giving it a try.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Gentle Jesus

When Peter saw Jesus walking on water, he asked the Lord to invite him to come join. With the invitation, Peter stepped out of the boat and walked on water too but then got afraid. Beginning to sink, he cried out to the Lord Jesus. Our Messiah reached out and saved him then said, "You have so little faith. Why did you doubt me?" Matthew 14:22-36

I've been moved lately to the conviction that Christians in general don't hear or speak enough about Christ. Instead the bulk of our speech and what we are taught is about "right living." I'm beginning to see how letting our conversation be saturated with talk of Jesus is a narrow road and how a focus on mostly "right living" is the broad one. So in our family times, and more in my conversations, I want to speak about him most because he is the Heart of All!!!

Last night during our family devotional, my daughter and I spoke about Jesus and it was amazing! Like many of us who didn't grow up consistently attending church, there is SO much about Jesus she doesn't know and what she perceives isn't biblically accurate. I can relate.

So as she described Jesus to me, and since she's reading through Matthew in her personal times with God, she brought up the story above and mentioned how mad Jesus was at Peter. Is that how you read it too? I remember as a younger Christian reading verses the same way! Do you read scriptures as though Jesus and God are totally frustrated at people all the time? Honestly, many of us do. Consider with me, though, Galatians 5:22-23. In this passage the fruits of the Holy Spirit are described, " love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." These descriptions are of God's spirit...so why do we so often read Jesus with a harsh or disappointing tone even if he's correcting?

Since the bible is not labeled with emoticons :) my suggestion to her, and to you, is to read Jesus with a fruit of the spirit tone unless there are words written to describe his tone differently. I described the verse above to my daughter again but in the light of thinking about when a child walks for the first time. See the excitement in the parent's eyes with each step the child makes...when they stumble or get scared most parents don't come back with a harsh tone. When a child is experiencing walking for the first time parents try to be there to swoop them up in their arms. So I see Jesus with excitement in his eyes as Peter takes his first steps of walking on water. Then I see him swooping him up like a father would his child in a huge hug when he got scared and began sinking. Then how Jesus spoke about faith and doubt but with compassion, gentleness and understanding.

I think when we see Jesus fully in the light of the fruit of the Spirit, our whole outlook and reading of his life on earth can make our hearts take a beautiful shift! Remember Jesus loves you.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Valentine Day Gift Ideas

Did you realize Valentine's day is only 28 days away. Don't wait until the last minute to plan for your special loved one. Take some time to really make them feel special. LOVE is awesome! Whether you are single, dating, or married the fact is we ALL have someone that we can show love and appreciation to. Here are some quick ideas to spark your mind and heart. Please add your own special touch to these and adapt them. I've started out with some basics and added variations to get your creative juices flowing. Enjoy spreading the love!

Gift ideas for Children
  • Tic-Tacs & Tic Tac Toe board. This is precious, can be fun to play together and not too much sugar. 
  • Make the bracelet above for your kid'o. Here's how: Heart bracelets
  • My dad left for work early before mom and I had gotten out of bed but, even if the holiday fell on a weekend, he always left a red box of Valentine chocolates for my mom and a pink one for me when we woke up. Made me feel super special!
  • Leave surprise notes all over the house for kids to find. On them share what you love and appreciate about them.
  • Consider surprising your child in the morning by hanging hearts in their doorway. (or all over the house) On the hearts, write sweet words of encouragement and love. Check Hearts Galore idea here. (picture below)

Gifts ideas for Women
  • Romantic: Simple wine glass (dollar stores are a great place to buy one) - if it's painted, even better. Fill with chocolate, or hand written encouragement notes. Tie a fancy red ribbon around the base for special touch. ** Variation: buy two and enjoy some wine/sparkling cider with a toast in a location that's special to you both. Add simple grapes/cheeses for an "indoor picnic".
  • Poetic: Buy a small, cute box. Write your own poem(s) or print off some special ones. Roll up like a scroll and tied with a fancy red ribbon. Place some real rose petals or silk flowers inside the box along side the poems. Wrap and give with a sweet valentine card.** Variation: After the gift is opened, recite these poems personally to your special person. If there is a special item mentioned in the poem (like a rose, jewelry, etc) consider handing it to them as you speak those words in the poem.
  • Dreamers: Purchase an inexpensive book that would inspire your special person. Inside write a sweet note of love and encouragement. Consider flipping through the book and marking some pages that you think they will enjoy with heart shaped memos.** Variation: Spend time together flipping through the book or making a dream list. Cozy book stores or in front of a fireplace are great locations for this.
  • Inspiration: On squares of beautiful, valentine card stock, write out inspiring quotes or sayings. Carefully hole punch the left corner of each square and loop all the cards together with fancy red ribbon. Please a few chocolates inside and wrap in a pretty valentine box. ** Variation: make each card have positive affirmations or romantic quotes. You can also write on each card things you love about your special person.
  • Simple reminders: Fill a picture frame (valentine theme a bonus) with encouraging words, favorite poems, funny pictures of the two of you, things you have drawn etc. Wrap in valentine gift wrap and include a sweet card. **Variation: Keep & display items from dates by creating a shadow box and embellishing with hearts inside. Some examples are: ticket stubs, branded napkin from a favorite restaurant, tokens, photographs...etc...
Gifts ideas for Men
  • Are there any successful men or someone he admires? Fill a small photo album with quotes from them. Gift-wrap in valentine style and consider writing to him why he is a man you admire.  
  • Gift him a special valentine card and with it provide a food gift certificate/gas card inside. Guys do enjoy practical things sometimes.
  • Gift him tickets to his favorite upcoming sporting event. Surprise him by placing them in a place he won't expect it.
  • Want a gift that gives on Valentine's day and beyond? Give a food, beer, or wine of the month club gift certificate.
  • Cook him a special or favorite lunch/dinner. If a lunch, consider if there is a way to deliver to him at work. If dinner, set a special valentine atmosphere.
  • Bake him something sweet! Wrap up in a simple valentine box and surprise deliver. Consider sharing with him what you find to be "sweet" about him.
  • Buy an accessory for his favorite gadget. Package in a valentine box. Share with him all the special ways he improves your life and makes you smile. 

Here's an idea of a funny, homemade 3-D card. I thought this was priceless and perfect for all those in love! Origami Valentine

 Pop-up Cards instructions:

  • Fold a colorful sheet of paper in half vertically.
  • On the fold, cut four short lines near the middle of that fold.
  • Push the two “flaps” these cuts make towards the inside of the card and make a crease.
  • With construction paper cut out balloons, flowers, or letters spelling your message.
  • Tape or glue these items to the “flaps” inside your card. (make sure these items do not stick out when the card is closed)
  • Glue another piece of paper around the edges to the outside of the card.
  • Write any further messages. (design and date the back)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Victory Jar 2014 & Adoption Day!

This morning I'm reading all my victories that I recorded in 2014. It's amazing how many of these I forget as the year passes. These are not only my personal victories but beautiful things that happened which made me feel special and loved. Of course, our "gotcha day" was the biggest so I'll finally be able to share pictures now that it's done. They are at the end of the post. Anyway, I'm so grateful I had these written so I can remember and smile! Random order...
  • Began visiting a nursing and rehab facility in my neighborhood to encourage the residents there 
  • Completed some projects at work that went wonderful and received praise from my boss
  • Had my first respite visit and was able to love up on a young sibling group from foster care
  • Worship God at night under the stars
  • Memorize a new poem
  • Completed my photo album for the adoption agency and began submitting homestudy for potential children
  • Enjoyed the company of two best friends who came over with dinner and prayed with me during an extremely challenging time this year 
  • Secret serving of another
  • Began zendoodling 
  • Planned a wonderful "Strength Weekend" for me and some close friends to get away and get closer to God
  • Met my daughter for the first time...
  • Received gift from church for my daughter to attend teen camp and a teen weekend
  • Put a hybrid exercise machine together by myself
  • Made dinner for a couple and served them in my home
  • Had an funky and unique 40th birthday party at a spa & trendy hotel with friends
  • I was called "Mom" for the first time by my girl.
  • Followed God's spirit and left an ill-fitted group at church
  • Connected with several parents who foster teens
  • Joined an amazing family group in my church, in my area - their support this year has been incredible
  • Finished ALL that paperwork for the adoption
  • Successful sweet 16 birthday party for my daughter :)
  • Had an amazing July 4th and family reunion to introduce my potential daughter to extended family
  • Terrific "girls weekend" with my momma
  • Enjoyed a segway adventure and David Garrett concert with my folks
  • Joined a parenting/teen class with my girl
  • Challenged a book in the library of my girl's high school and WON! They reviewed it and decided it's subject matter was too pornographic and pulled it from the shelves
  • Got a wonderful new treadmill to exercise
  • Opened up and shared deeply with friends about some fears and hurts from others
  • Finished Christmas shopping early to help my budget
  • Started a prayer journal to widen my prayer life
  • Heard a great message about embracing the full ministry of Jesus "The Great Compassion" 
  • Survived cat dental cleaning and other cat health issues - ha
  • Great friend traveled to my job several time to have lunch with me and encourage me
  • Coworker praised me to my boss
  • Asked my girl if she would be open to us "adopting" each other - she said yes!
  • Planned annual trip to hometown and got to see an answered prayer of my daughter seeing the passion play with me that I watched as a teen!
  • Completed the sponsorship of a teen in the Compassion program - Chidodolo graduated on to police school
  • Enjoyed a day of "healing" - rain, butterflies and special time with God
  • Decorated for the holidays with my daughter and enjoyed seeing things as she experienced it
  • Amazing family photo session to celebrate my new family
  • Adoption Day! Family, friends, laughter and so much joy
  • Began new family, new traditions, new life!
I'm certain more things happened during the months before the adoption but that I was just too busy to record them. Ultimately this has been a life changing and amazing year! I'm so grateful and in awe. Life is good and God's plans are best. 

Introducing my new smart, funny and beautiful daughter. :) 

My best friend support team! 

The moment after the judge granted our adoption.

My amazing parents! I'm so grateful for their support.
Would have been tough without this crew as our support.

The one who calls me Mom. :)