Family

Family

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Finishing the Race Strong

Hebrews 12:1-3 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 

Philippians 3:14-21 "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus...But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

2 Timothy 4:7-8 "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing."

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Running a race is never easy, regardless if you are a seasoned runner or are just starting to run for the first time. You begin your race strong and you run as hard as you can to keep up with the "fast" runners. Unless you've learned to hold your own tempo, you can quickly run out of steam those first few minutes. Part of running a race is endurance. When you start to get tired, you set little goals (I can make it to the next block). At times you need the crowd around you to keep you moving your feet toward that goal. Once you see the goal, that finish line ahead of you, you start to run faster. You run with more purpose. The end is in sight! 

I find it very interesting that God tells us to keep our eyes on the finish line. I think that God wants us to remember every day that we are running a race. He doesn't want us to be stuck in the middle of the race where we are having a hard time staying motivated. He wants us to fix our eyes on Jesus and push forward strong to the end. There is an elation at the end of the race to push harder those last few yards to make it across the finish line strong. That is how I want to run the race of my life...strong and with my eyes fixed on the finish line.

Through our journey last year with cancer, we were blessed to meet different people along the way. Some people we have met were diagnosed before Wayne and some were diagnosed after Wayne. Those who were diagnosed before us were able to give us some insight on what to expect. Early in the journey, I wanted God to be able to use me to help encourage and help others who were diagnosed after us. There is a common bond in sharing our experiences and understanding how to pray for people in the same circumstances. God was entwining our lives and our stories with many different people around the country. One couple that God introduced us to was Terry and Jan Kent. We discovered that we had many mutual friends, but God had never crossed our paths until Terry was diagnosed with brain cancer two months after Wayne. 

I was privileged to meet with Terry and Jan early last summer. It was the beginning of a friendship that I know was ordained by God. Jan has been a constant encouragement to our family, a prayer warrior, and someone I am blessed to call my friend. I am always amazed how God is weaving together a beautiful story in each of our lives. 





This week Terry finished his race here on earth. Although I didn't have the privilege of knowing Terry long, the impact of his life can be seen all around. He lived a life fully surrendered to God. God used his life to impact many lives around him. His passion was in glorifying God, in both his life and in his suffering. Terry had a passion for the lost and loved to share the HOPE of Jesus with everyone. He opened his home to strangers, he shared the love of Jesus with friends, he discipled and trained up younger believers, and even up until his final breath, he prayed for his neighbors and those who didn't know Jesus as their Savior and Lord. This man leaves behind an amazing legacy of faith to his family and a challenge to all of us to live fully for God, to live lives fully surrendered for the glory of God! Terry is no longer suffering and is rejoicing with his Heavenly Father up in heaven. Terry ran his race well and he finished his race strong. 




The challenge for us left behind is this: run your race full speed ahead keeping your eyes on the finish line. When God asks you to do something, even if it is crazy, don't be afraid to say YES! We never know how God is going to use our lives to impact those around us. Let's all finish running our races strong for the glory of God's name!! My prayer is to hear these words, "Well done my good and faithful servant."

Regardless of what we face in life, we know that God is with us and we can say "It Is Well With My Soul" 



Sunday, October 16, 2016

Family Traditions

Psalm 17:8 "Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings."

When we started having kids, we wanted to make sure that we made fun memories with them. As a child, some of my favorite memories revolved around family traditions and camping trips. We enjoy spending time with our kids and we have discovered that having these family traditions means a lot to the kids. One of our favorite family traditions is to go apple picking each year. Years ago we found a great place in Michigan called Tree-Mendus. The girls love this orchard! Last year we went somewhere else that is closer, and they weren't happy. They begged us to take them to the original orchard that we've always gone each year. The only downside about family traditions is sometimes you can't change things and you have to keep things exactly the same...year after year. So, this year we decided to drive the extra hour north to our kid's favorite orchard. One of the reasons they love this orchard is because they always have a horse or pony available for the kids to ride. The girls, especially Sophia, love to ride horses! They also enjoy riding on the tractor out to the orchard. The girls were disappointed this year because we didn't take the tractor. We still had a blast picking apples, riding the horse, and eating caramel apples! After I uploaded the pictures, I realized that I never got a close shot of Naomi. She was off on her own picking apples and I missed getting a picture of her.






























Update on adoption: Our dossier went to China 10/7 and arrived and was logged in 10/10. Now we wait 1-3 months (I think the average right now is about 40 days) to have our dossier translated, approved, and an approval sent to us. Once we receive that approval, we can let the boys know that we are pursuing them!! Based on averages, we are about 4-6 months from traveling to China to get our boys.

While we are waiting, we are doing a few more fundraisers to raise the last funds needed for the adoption. 

1) We are selling sheets ($35 for one or $65 for two plus $10 shipping, if you aren't local - see picture below); 

2) We are selling homemade chocolate fudge ($15/lb and $6.80 for shipping - priority flat rate box); 

3) For local friends, we are selling pans of homemade cinnamon rolls ($25 for a large pan or $14 for a small pan);

4) We have a few custom towels available to sell. A friend donated them to us to sell. They are $20 each plus shipping (see picture below). We have the following still available: monkey, Snoopy, Woodstock, My little Pony, Fear from Inside Out, and Wyldstyle from Lego Movie. 

5) I-Pad Custom Covers for Ipad 2,3,4: $40 (includes shipping). The cases come in two colors: pink and grey. You pick the color of the case, the state you are from, the country you are adopting from, red hearts or pink hearts. If you are adopting more then one child, we can also color more hearts in the country. You can also select whether you want "we are connected" (1st example) or just "connected" (see 2nd example).

For example: we are adopting two boys from China, so we have 2 hearts in China and we are from IL. $40 includes shipping. All proceeds will go to help us bring our two boys home from China!! If you are interested, please PM me.




Thank you for continuing to pray for our family as we take this step of faith. We appreciate all of your love, support, and prayers!!









Monday, October 10, 2016

Lemonhead Cupcakes

Proverbs 16:24 "Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body."

This weekend we attended a baby shower for a family at church. I was asked to make a dessert for the event. The father-to-be LOVES lemonhead candy. I decided that I would try to make a lemon cupcake with lemonheads. The following is the recipe that I came up with for the event. It was inspired by the "Incredible Lemon Cake" from food.com and "Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting" from all recipes.com. I modified them a little to suit my creation. Feel free to pin this to Pinterest to save for future use...I know I did.




Lemon Cake:

Prep time: 35 minutes
Bake time: 15-18 minutes
Yield: 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:
1/2 lb salted butter (room temperature)
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs (room temperature)
1/3 cup lemon zest
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup buttermilk (room temperature)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Place cupcake liners in cupcake tin
3. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes)
4. With mixer on medium speed, add eggs (one at a time), and the lemon zest
5. Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a separate bowl
6. In another bowl, combine 1/2 cup lemon juice, buttermilk, and vanilla
7. Alternatively add flour and buttermilk mixtures to batter
8. Scoop batter into cupcake liners and bake for 15-18 minutes
9. Remove cupcakes from the oven and let them cool

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:

Ingredients:
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese (softened)
1/4 cup butter (room temperature)
6 T. freshly squeeze lemon juice
4 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 cups confectioners' sugar

Directions:

Beat cream cheese, butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla together until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Slowly add confectioners' sugar and blend until creamy. Add more juice or sugar to adjust the texture.

Finishing Touches:

Crush lemonheads in a blender (or use old fashioned lemon drops to get better consistency). Mix crushed lemonheads with 2 T. of sugar. The mixture may clump together. Just break up again when you are ready to use. 

Take cooled cupcake and pipe lemon cream cheese frosting on top of the cupcake. Spread crushed lemonhead mixture on top of the frosting. Place a whole lemonhead on top of the cupcake for final touch.







Thursday, October 6, 2016

God's Goodness

Philippians 4:19 "And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."

Matthew 6:31-32 "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all."

Stepping out in faith can be intimidating and scary, but obedience is a beautiful thing. As we prayerfully considered adding to our family through adoption, it was one of those moments. We were at the ledge of the cliff and we had a choice: we could obey God and take that leap of faith, or we could worry about the deep chasm beneath us and be fearful. We decided that life is too short to not live courageously. If God was calling us to adopt, then we would obey. We know that He is sovereign, so if it wasn't His will, He would close the doors. Over the last few months, we have seen God do some pretty amazing things in the adoption process. When one of our payments was due to our agency (due to adding an additional child), we received a financial gift from someone. We had paid some of our fees with our credit card and Wayne wasn't sure how we were going to pay it off. The next day, his adoption credit from work hit our bank account. Two weeks ago we held a rummage sale with another adopting family at church. God provided in a huge way then as well...just in time for our next payment to our agency. These are just some examples of how God has moved some gigantic financial mountains...I mean, who has approximately $60,000 laying around to adopt two kids?

God has been working in other ways as well. We can look back and see how God opened doors throughout this process and made ways where there didn't seem to be a way. With that in mind, even though I would love to still travel in December, that won't happen apart from a miraculous working of God (which I know is possible). But I have learned on this journey to trust God's timing. Maybe my "ideal" time to travel isn't what is best for the boys or our children. Faith, trust, and obedience are difficult things to do, but they are so worth it. Our dossier (a fancy term for tons of paperwork that took months to accumulate) is sitting at our adoption agency waiting to be sent to China tomorrow!! From this point, it is anyone's guess how long it will take. The general timeline is 4-6 months. Thankfully we are so busy with school that it has distracted me. Again, I'm just trusting God's timing. The girls can't wait for us to bring their brothers home. They daily pray for them and it is so sweet to see their excited faces.

Please pray with us for SC & DJ. Please also pray for the paperwork and the government agencies that we have to wait on during the next few weeks. Once we receive our letter of acceptance (LOA), we can officially announce our intentions to the boys and write them!! Thank you to everyone who has been praying for us during this process. 

If anyone is interested, Great Wall China Adoption is still looking for host families for the winter session (mid December to mid January). Here is a great video on the amazing kids waiting to be hosted by a family.


Below are some "catch up" pictures from what we've been up to. 


Pictures from the rummage sale at our church. Thank you to everyone who donated items and showed up to shop.






Nature walk at the Little Red Schoolhouse. We had to identify trees and study leaves and their bark. We also fit some PE in as we walked around the nature preserve!



















This year we are part of a local co-op. The girls have really enjoyed going each week, especially Joella who is part of a preschool class.




Abigail, Grace, and Naomi joined the local homeschool cross country team. We made a couple of them join, which has resulted in tears at times. Thankfully, they told me the other day, after successfully running a 5k - see pictures further down, that cross country has been good for them. I'm just excited that they are starting to run so I have people to run with in the future...although once Abigail gets up her distance, she is going to kick my butt in time (her pace is about 8:15)










We made two trips downtown last week to get the last of our paperwork done. Monday the four youngest went with me to drop off our I797 (approval of our adoption from the US government) at the Chinese consulate. We paid to expedite it and we were able to pick it up the next day!! After we picked up our paperwork, I found out that our dossier would sit at our agency for a week due to a huge Chinese holiday that shuts down the government in China.


Tuesday we picked up the paperwork after co-op and then had to drive to Indiana for a cross country meet.


We attended a symphony performance at Wheaton College. You can't beat a free concert!




We attended a cooking class at the library.