October 31, 2010

Home Sweet Home!

Well, we're back from the Happiest Place on Earth!

Let me preface this post by saying that it was truly wonderful to get away, have time together, and enjoy Disney World! We really do love traveling together, and it was so much fun.

With that being said....this trip didn't go as my trips usually go. Meaning, we were thrown a LOT of curve balls! I'll elaborate more when I'm not so tired, but here's a quick rundown:
  • The weather was HOT HOT HOT. As in, the 90s. Miserable.
  • The air conditioning in our room didn't work properly, and so we called maintenance at 10:30 pm (we had just gotten back from the park and we realized that it just wasn't going to start working). At 2:15 AM we finally were able to change rooms and then realized they put us in a room that was for the handicapped (not a big deal but the bathroom layout was just odd). That would've been okay, but it was also an adjoining room. The room next door had yelling, screaming kids. At 2:15 AM. So we switched again, and it was fine.
  • The biggie: My camera is gone. Yes, this means I don't have pictures to show you. And yes, it was soul-crushing. We're thinking it was stolen, because I'm SO extremely careful with that camera. I would never let it out of my sight or lay it down. Anyway, the plus side is that no pictures of Evy were lost--I had put in a new memory card just for Disney. But I had really taken a ton of pictures. Mainly of Disney details that I love. Ugggghhhhh. 
  • When we got to the airport to fly home, they informed me that even though we were confirmed on the flight, we didn't have seat assignments. No biggie--I figured they would just assign them. However, the only seats left were first class. The lady told me that most people don't know this, but you now have to call the airline ahead of time and pay $6 per seat to reserve your seat in advance. UM.....WHAT??? Ridiculous. She said we would have to pay $138 extra for first class, or basically sit and hope we got a seat on the flight, since it was overbooked. We paid the money, because I MISSED my little girl!
  • While on the flight, a kid started throwing up and the attendant asked for any doctors or medical personnel. I thought someone was having a heart attack, and elbowed Kurt (who was napping). It turns out the kid had fallen from a stroller earlier and the mother was worried it was a concussion. A nurse got to the kid first and had it under control, so Kurt wasn't needed. They got him cleaned up and then it was quiet for awhile. Then, during landing (as in, we're all supposed to be in seatbelts and we're about to hit the runway), the mother of the kid starts RUNNING DOWN THE AISLE because the little boy was getting sick again. The attendant started yelling "GET DOWN! GET DOWN!" And they crouched down in the aisle as we landed. This was all happening right next to our first class, $138 extra seats that we didn't want in the first place--haha! They stopped the plane on the runway so the mother and child could get back to their seats. An ambulance was waiting for them at the airport. DRAMA. 

So as you can see......even the best laid plans don't work out sometimes. But we DID have a wonderful trip, and we were so grateful to be able to go. I'm going to post the highlights of our trip over the next couple of days, because we really did have a good time!

Evy's reaction when we got home was priceless--huge smile, hugs.....and she kept pointing to us and saying "Mama! Dada!" She had a great time with her grandparents, and we knew she was happy as a lark with them. It's healthy to have time away, because it makes coming home so much sweeter! 

There's no place like home. :)

October 23, 2010

It's Finally HERE

Tomorrow, bright and early, we're headed to my favorite place on earth--Disney World!! I've been counting down for exactly 6 months, so this has been a long time coming. Kurt and I are so excited to have this time together.

Tonight I took Evy over to my parents' house (just so it's easier getting ready for church tomorrow). I rocked her and put her to bed (after kissing and cuddling her for, oh, a solid hour). Then I went home and started sobbing my eyes out. My heart is just tugged out of my chest when I'm not with my little girl. I just adore being with her all day, every day. I know perfectly well that she will be pampered like a QUEEN the entire time, and both of her grandmothers will lavish her with love and attention. Also, I know that it's healthy for Kurt and I to get away, just for some quality time. Now that I've had my good gut-wrenching cry, I think I'll make it!

My house is being stayed in and cared for, which makes me feel good. I know that the week will go by quickly (which is a good and bad thing!). We can't wait to visit the Happiest Place on Earth, and I am SO EXCITED to take Evy back in January!

I'll see you in a week! :)

October 22, 2010

Toddlers and Tiaras

Needless to say, my sister has her routine down pat.

Go girl.

October 21, 2010

Show Us Your Life: Nurseries

This is my daughter Evy's room:

I based the whole room on Angel Toile fabric, and I love the look of a "British"/formal nursery look. The wardrobe you see below was in my nursery when I was a baby. The chandelier came from Hobby Lobby for $25! We had to rewire it so it would be a ceiling mount, but my brother in law is an electrical engineer, so that was no biggie! :)

Another theme of Evy's room is feathers and angels (I haven't hung her angel wings yet, but they were hanging in our old house). You can read about why these themes are very special here.

The painting below came from a boutique in Mississippi, but you can buy it on Posh Tots. The lamp came from Target. That's Evy's baby book. I have since added Evy's first pair of Mouse Ears that we got while I was pregnant. Guess where they came from? :)

I got the wall monogram from the Etsy shop Leen the Graphics Queen. I LOVE it so much!

Kurt's mom made all of the drapes and bedding. I wanted a very fluffy/full "ballerina tutu"-feeling bedskirt. The chest came from an antique/craft mall, and we recovered the glider (it was oak brown and had red cushions). The crib was mine and all three of my siblings'.

I'll be using this same fabric for Evy's big girl room. I already have an antique daybed for her. I'll be making some adjustments to change it up a little, but we're keeping the beautiful toile!

This is the perfect room for our little angel baby. :)

The Beauty and the Gospel of Adoption

Many months ago, I posted about friends of ours, the Oberhauser family, and their adoption story. They are adopting a special needs little boy from Eastern Europe named Vanya, and he will be their sixth child.

They are in Vanya's country, meeting him for the first time and beginning the process to finally bring him home! I've been following their journey through their Facebook group, and I've been moved to tears watching everything unfold. This little boy is so loved--by God, by his family, and by people who have never even met him.

The "Obies" sent this message out a few days ago, and it is one of the most beautiful things I've ever read. I wanted to share it with you:

To the Extended Bringing Vanya Home Family,

The day before yesterday, our adoption facilitator here in Nikolaev said a couple of things that reminded me what this whole adoption process is ultimately about. Her name is Sasha, and she was talking about the paperwork that should have been kept up-to-date for Vanya. For most orphans in Vanya's orphanage ("The Baby House" - an excellent facility), medical records, etc. are kept in good order so that if and when someone should come to adopt them, the process can go smoothly. In Vanya's case, however, many of the things that should have been kept tidy were not, and now Sasha really has her work cut out for her to get things ready for a court date. The reason Vanya's records have fallen into such disarray is the fact that he is blind and may have other special needs. Because of this, most people working with his case felt that his records did not need to be kept up-to-date, since there was practically no hope that he would ever be adopted.

Wow. No hope. This statement reminded me of Ephesians 2:12, where Paul describes our spiritual state apart from Christ:

"Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated...having no hope and without God in the world."

At one time, I was without hope. Before I knew Christ, I was trapped hopelessly in the Orphanage of Sin, with no power to remove myself from that state. If Vanya is not taken from the Baby House, he will eventually be transferred to an institution for special needs children, where his quality of life would be extremely poor, and his chances of ever being united to a family drop to almost zero. Similarly, if I had never come to be united with Christ, my eternal destiny would have been eternal separation from God in hell.

About a year ago or so, Reece's Rainbow (the adoption ministry from the States that we are working with) began advocating for special needs orphans in the Baby House. Since that time, a number of other "hopeless" orphans have been adopted into loving homes. This has been nothing short of amazing to those associated with these children here in Ukraine. Orphans like these are very undesirable to most Ukrainian families because of their inability to provide for their parents as they age. Shasha described it like this: "To us, it seems like you people are from another planet or something."

This statement stopped me in my tracks. It drove home the fact that in my previous state of lostness, I needed someone "from another planet or something" to come and rescue me. Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world," (John 18:36) and he came to die on the cross to rescue me. Or as Paul puts it in Ephesians 1:3-6:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places {another planet or something}, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved."

Adoption is one of the clearest pictures of what happens in our salvation. We are blinded and without hope in our sin, powerless to escape our destiny. By no merit of ours, the Father chooses to save us by his sovereign, glorious grace, even when we shouldn't be desirable to him. And that's not even the whole story. Not only are we unable to get ourselves to God, we are enemies of God (see Romans 5:6-10). Talk about not deserving to be adopted.

Our adoption of Vanya (and every other earthly adoption) is simply a shadow of the much greater spiritual reality that takes place any time our Heavenly Father adopts a sinful human through faith in his Son Jesus Christ (see Ephesians 2:1-10). So this adoption is not just about us bringing home an unwanted orphan, but it is more ultimately about reflecting the greater truth that God brings home undeserving sinners. We had no hope. He came from "another planet or something" and chose us for adoption as sons. So please pray with us that Sasha and others will see this ultimate reality of adoption and that God will get all glory through this adoption.

Some other prayer requests:

Pray that Sasha will be able to correct and complete the necessary paperwork for us to have a court date this week. Right now, this does not look likely, so pray that God will once again surprise us with his providential power.

Pray for Valentin, Vlad, Ruslan, and some other young Ukrainian boys that have been hanging out by the fence of the orphanage while we've been visiting Vanya. They speak a small amount of English, and I've been able to make a bit of a connection with them. I've been giving them some American dollars and some gospel booklets written by John Piper that have been translated into Russian. Today, they asked me if I was John Piper - I got a kick out of that! Please also pray for Anton, Sasha, and Dasha, some teenagers Jimmy and I talked with at our favorite pizza place tonight. I gave them some of the booklets, and they thought we were part of a cult or something.

Pray that more believers will be obedient to God's call and care for these orphans (James 1:27) by bringing them into Christian homes. There are so many in just Vanya's orphanage that are in desperate need. God is calling you to be involved in adoption and orphan care in some way; pray that you would have the wisdom to see what role you should play...

Tobi, bok (For You, God),
The Adopted Oberhausers

That, my friends, is why Kurt and I are adopting. That's why we're doing something that only God could have ordained and called us to do. WE have been sacrificially saved and adopted through the blood of Jesus Christ. There's no clearer picture of the gospel than adoption.

What is God asking of you? Kurt and I are not perfect people; we have been disobedient to Christ before. We've learned throughout our lives (before marriage and since being married) that being in God's will is incredibly liberating, exciting, and so abundant. We've also learned that sometimes doing His will involves sacrifices and hard times. But we've experienced no greater joy than walking in His truth (3 John 1:4).

Seek the Lord and ask Him how you need to help with the orphan crisis in our country and world. There are so many ways to serve. It is a commandment of our Lord to take care of the orphans and widows (James 1:27). What will you do with that command?

Like the Oberhausers, we are praying that God will use our story of adoption to call others. Be open to hearing God's word for you. This isn't a guilt trip! It's just what we've come to realize about living in God's will.

Seek Him and live! (Amos 5:4)

October 20, 2010

Pictures from Here and There

Here are some recent pictures!

Today was a very happy day:

Fingerprinting! We had our orientation phone call with our branch director in Kansas City, MO yesterday. She emailed us a ton of forms to start working on, and I'm already crossing off the list! My friend Alison calls it "adoption mode," and that's exactly what I'm in! I love working off of a checklist. I'm kind of Type A and I love the accomplishment and organization of a master to-do list. I'll be posting more details on our adoption blog.

Here's a picture that I love of Evy Kate. She's just a cutie, and brings us so much joy!

Recently I helped my little sister get ready for homecoming. She wore a cute black dress and decided to wear sparkle Converse sneakers! It was so her, and very suited to her personality. I know she was the original (and comfortable!) person there!

Bitty loves her Aunt "Pinka"! (Our family has always called Andrea "Punky" and Bitty calls her "Pinka.")

We had a playdate a few weeks ago with our friends Sarah and Ansley and Sonya and Ellie! Sonya is our Pastor of Worship's wife and they have 5 adorable kids! All the rest were at school, so Ellie was an only child for a couple of hours. :) Ansley and Evy are 5 months apart, and they love "chatting" at church. These girls will be good little friends, we can tell!

From left: Ellie, Evy, and Ansley: 

The slide was a hit!

All the girls! (Kurt got home in time to snap our picture!)

Have a great Wednesday!

October 18, 2010

Questions I Had Forgotten!

I realized I had one or two more questions that I never answered. I can't remember the exact wording of the questions, but here's the gist!

Someone asked if it was okay to put a decorative sign (with a serious quote, deep thought, inspirational saying, etc.) in a bathroom, or if it was tacky. 

I LOVE doing this! Let's be honest: everyone uses the bathroom. Sometimes, it's the only other room dinner guests, etc. might see (other than your main living room/kitchen). I think it's great to put something personal ANYWHERE in your house. Now, if this sign had said "Poo Poo with Passion," then I would say a BIG NO to that (I hate cheesy sayings that try to be funny--they're always a huge fail). But if your sign keeps it classy, then I say go for it! :)

I was asked what I would do at Disney if I only had a limited amount of time. Here are the things that are distinctive/special/must-dos for me:

Magic Kingdom:
-Take a picture in front of Cinderella's castle
-Walk slowly down Main Street (one of my favorite things to do in life)
-Ride Peter Pan's Flight
-Ride It's a Small World (I think of my Nana when I ride it--she and I sat next to each other every time I rode it as an infant)
-Sit for 10-15 minutes in the middle of Fantasyland with a Mickey Premium Bar, people-watch, and breathe in the fact that I'm at the Happiest Place on Earth
-Walk into Pinnochio Village Haus and wave to the people on the Small World ride. It's tradition.
-See PhilarMagic
-Briskly walk through the Christmas Shoppe Liberty Square to take in the Christmas-ness and Colonial-ness of the scene

-Eat at San Angel Inn
-Speed-walk through each country, pausing in France, Canada, and Britain (my favorites)
-See "The American Adventure"
-Listen to "Voices of Liberty" perform
-Ride Soarin'
-Ride Spaceship Earth

Animal Kingdom:
-Skip it because to me it's just a glorified zoo. Love animals, but I came to Disney World for other things.

Hollywood Studios:
-See the "Beauty and the Beast" show
-Eat at the Brown Derby for the food AND the atmosphere
-Ride Toy Story Midway Mania

For those that don't know, I have a separate blog where I talk about my love for all things Disney. If you ever have a question about a trip, etc., just let me know!

I think that wraps up the questions. If there are any more, just ask!

October 14, 2010

Show Us Your Life : Office

One of the things I really like about our house is the office space!

On the main level, there's a study with built-in shelving. It still needs organization (big time), but it's coming along! We got the chair and desk for a steal at a furniture market, and Kurt's mom made the curtains!

This is one of the things on the desk.... I bought the frame at a HomeGoods in Dallas. It had another piece of art in it, and I ripped it out so I could put Evy's picture in it. :) Still deciding on where it should go!

This is my piece of Robert Spooner art that I got for my 24th birthday. The reference is John 14:6 - "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."

One of our spare bedrooms upstairs is my office! It already had a built-in desk, so it made sense to put our desktop computer there. Since Kurt already had a space downstairs, I claimed this as mine! I started painting it Tiffany blue, and my sweet father in law finished painting it for me recently! And yes, that's a Christmas tree in the corner. I was asked to open my home for our church's Women's Ministry Christmas Home Tour, and so I'm planning out all of my decorations already. Besides, it my room, and I like having a Christmas tree in it. Which means it will probably stay up year-round! :)

The color is Robin's Egg Blue (I think that's the name) from Benjamin Moore. I'm getting a chair recovered for a computer chair and I'll add drapes and accessories very inexpensively.

The desk/shelf will be painted glossy black!

Here are a couple of my inspiration pictures!

Happy Touring! :)

October 13, 2010

Small-Town Fall Football

Recently, Kurt and I went on a date to our town's high school football game. It was the BIG game against our arch-rivals, the Jackson Indians! (Who we BEAT by an awesome score!) I have wonderful memories of my dad taking me and my siblings to Central football games when we were young. One of the things I love about where I live is that there's one main public high school, and the whole town supports the team. There's a lot of fun camaraderie! The cool weather, sounds, and sites of high school football make me really sentimental. I also love that the stadium felt the exact same way to me as when I was young. It was a great night of reminiscing for me!

Here we are in our Tiger colors:

Look at that line!

Central students getting ready to greet the team:

That fine young gentleman you see below would be my brother. (Not Mr. Conservative Plaid Shirt--My kin is Mr. Short-Shorts, Cut-Off Tank, and Richard Simmons-inspired headgear.)


Not kidding.

I love hearing our marching band perform! They're the old-fashioned, classic marching band type, and I really like that.

As if the ridiculous getup wasn't enough, my brother (and his fellow "Jungle" members), ran out onto the field at halftime and started dancing with his buddies. He's front and center in the black shorts and white shirt.

Then he started SLOW DANCING with his friend (Mr. Afro), while we all roared with laughter.

My little sister had a more conservative ensemble to show her school spirit, and she looked adorable. :)

Happy Fall, and Happy Football!

October 12, 2010

The Secret of Self Worth

I have been surrounded by the issue of women and self-worth lately. It's everywhere.

I was sitting in the nail salon, when a complete stranger and I struck up conversation. In the course of that conversation, she poured out her heart that she was divorced and had just gotten out of her first relationship since her divorce. The reason? The man cheated on her. She confided that as a woman in her late 40's, she felt completely horrible about her weight, her worth, and herself. We ended up exchanging information and I have invited her to church with me.

I help teach a girl's Bible study for our student ministry. The other night, our main teacher couldn't be there, so a friend of mine and I taught the lesson. It was called "The Secret to Self Worth." Within 10 minutes of beginning the lesson, three girls had already started crying because of the way they feel about themselves. Weight, parental relationships as well as relationships with the opposite sex, and feeling media pressure were all things that struck a chord with these young girls, and they couldn't hold back the tears.

I was watching Oprah the other day, and the topic was about two 30-year-old women who hadn't been in an intimate physical relationship with a man. (Of course as a Christian, I think it's God's best for women to wait until marriage for that relationship. But that's beside the point right now.) Both of these women admitted that they felt horribly insecure about themselves. They feel unworthy of having happy relationships.

There's a girl I see at church almost every week. She's in late high school. Her insecurity is so obvious, it's almost painful to watch. And the clincher? She's what the world would consider a really attractive girl. She even has the physical looks to feel confident. But it's blaringly obvious that she is desperate to hide in a cave of insecurity.

And the list goes on and on. Women are crying out to feel worthy, beautiful, and secure. We live in a culture that is obsessed with image and self-glorification. It's disgusting.

At the girls' Bible study, I showed them the Dove video that gives the real scenario behind ad campaigns and models. Even women who are (by worldly standards) beautiful are asked to lose 15 more pounds, are loaded with makeup and styling, and are airbrushed into porcelain, perfect figures. I reminded the girls that there are people sitting around a conference table, deciding how to market a product to young girls. They discuss how to prey on the insecurities of these girls, just to make a buck. They spend millions of dollars to make girls feel 1 inch tall and a dollar short.

The biggest thing we discussed was how the Lord makes a difference in our attitudes and minds if we let Him. He created us perfectly, in His own image, and if we know Him as Lord and Savior, His Holy Spirit dwells inside of us. We have that supernatural power to transform our thinking!

The Bible study told three formulas that girls/women believe:

1. Worth = What I Look Like
2. Worth = What I Do
3. Worth = What Others Think of Me

Aren't these true? We ALL fall into these categories of thinking sometimes. We discussed how to change these formulas:

1. Worth = How I am created in the image of God
2. Worth = What Jesus Christ has done for me
3. Worth = What the Lord thinks of me

Isn't that a wonderful way to change your thinking? Women of ALL AGES need to remember that we are precious, loved children of God. He desires for us to claim the power of Christ over these lies! It breaks my heart that we as women cheat ourselves out of so much happiness, because just can't get over those 20 pounds. Now don't get me wrong--it's important to take care of ourselves and be our best. But the Lord loves us at WHATEVER WEIGHT WE ARE, what we look like, what we have or haven't done, and regardless of what the world thinks. Thank you, God!

I've said this before, but I want to encourage you to read this book:

It was life-changing for me!

Do not let the Enemy steal your joy, keep you from enjoying the rich life God has for you, or deceive you into thinking that you're not worthy of love. (I'm telling this to myself most of all!) We are living in a world where women (men too, but especially women) are desperate for acceptance--most of all from themselves. Claim His promises and know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

You're beautiful!

October 11, 2010

A Good Old-Fashioned Fair

We recently took Evy to the SEMO (Southeast Missouri) District Fair! In the 10 years I lived in Mississippi, I never once went to the fair. But I have always liked the Cape fair, because I remember going when we lived here the first time. :) We went during the day, and not at night, which suits me very well.

The day we went was HOT. We were sweating like crazy (as you'll be able to tell in the pictures!), but it was so worth it to see Evy have fun. Her favorite thing by far was the petting zoo. She was absolutely in heaven, and it was adorable to watch! We were happy to have Papa and Gigi with us, too! (I know some people will ask--Kurt's sweet and VERY talented mom made Evy's dress!)

Let's go to the fair!

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