Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Add some beauty to life!

Lately I've been reading the Anne books again, by L.M. Montgomery.
Right now I'm on Anne of Avonlea and I thought Anne had a nice ambition-

"I'd like to add some beauty to life," said Anne dreamily.
"I don't exactly want to make people know more...
though I know that is the noblest ambition...
but I'd love to make them have a pleasanter time
because of me...to have some little joy
or happy thought that never would have
existed if I hadn't been born."

This cute little teapot was given to me by my Mom, quite a few years ago.
It goes well with my collection of smaller, demitasse size teacups.

I hope you are able to spread some beauty and joy to those around you
this week!  I'm joining Tea Time Tuesday and Table Top Tuesday again this week.

Monday, July 30, 2012

God's goodness

You know, if you start looking around at this old world, it can start to look like a pretty crummy place.  There are bad things happening all around- children die in accidents, mothers die of cancer, crazy men go into theaters and shoot everyone, wars kill innocent people, droughts come and people have trouble making a living, forest fires and prairie fires claim peoples homes.  But the Bible says over and over again that God is good.  These are just a few examples.

Matthew 7:11
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to
give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your Father in heaven
give good gifts to those who ask him!

Psalm 119:68
You are good, and what you do is good;
teach me your decrees.

Psalm 145:9
The Lord is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.

So how can a good God allow all those bad things to happen to us?  It doesn't make sense- cancer and accidents and fires and death don't seem like good, do they?  I was reminded of the story of Joseph, in the book of Genesis.  He was sold into slavery by his jealous half brothers when he was 17, accused falsely by his owner's wife and sent to an Egyptian prison for years.  If that isn't bad I don't know what is.  But then God gave him the ability to interpret dreams, and so the Pharaoh heard about him and brought him out of the jail so he could interpret his dream.  Joseph predicted seven years of plenty followed by seven years of drought, and so Pharaoh made him second in command of the whole country.  This is what Joseph said to his brothers later-

You intended to harm me,
but God intended it for good to accomplish
what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
Genesis 50:20

So, somehow, in a way that we can't understand, God is able to use what is bad for good in our lives, without changing his goodness or his perfection.  I've seen this myself in my own life.  Something bad, like not being able to get pregnant, has been used for good.  We have been able to adopt four children- who I am so thankful for, by the way! 

Now I know in part;
then I shall know fully,
even as I am fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:12

One day, in heaven, we will be able to understand all these things that seem so hard to comprehend now.  For now, we just need to trust that what God says is true- He is good, and his love endures forever!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A story about listening to God's voice

Today I read a verse that I had underlined in my Bible 2 years ago, and it reminded me of the situation we faced at that time.  I thought I'd share the story with you, and maybe it will be an encouragement to you as well. 

We were deep into waiting to adopt, we had been waiting for 2 years already.  Our preferences for a child were boy or girl, up to one year old.   Then one day our agency sent us an email asking if we would consider adopting a sibling group of three sisters, ages 9,7, and 2.  We pretty much thought that would be crazy and so wrote them back and said no.  However, we had not stopped to pray about it!  After we told them no we just couldn't get the girls off our minds.  We knew that if we did end up adopting them it would be the most challenging thing we had ever done.  That's when I read these verses.

for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.
Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did at Meribah,
as you did that day at Massah in the desert.
Psalm 95:7-8

Both Andy and I definitely felt like the Lord was wanting us to say yes to these girls.  So, we emailed the agency back and told them they could show our profile to the girls' mom.  We waited about a week and then heard that we were the mom's first choice and she was going to call us the next day!  We were very excited and couldn't believe it!  But she never called, and never contacted the agency again.  I guess she changed her mind.  Hopefully things worked out for her and she was able to keep her girls. 

But here's the amazing part.  Because we listened to the Lord's voice, and opened our hearts to those girls, the Lord also opened our hearts to the possibility of adopting an older child.  We told the adoption agency we would be willing to adopt a boy up through age three, or an older girl.  We didn't feel it would be right to add another boy in between our boys' ages.  It was only 2 weeks later that we got the phone call saying we had been chosen for AJ, a three year old boy.  You can read the rest of the story here, if you like.

So I challenge you, that if you hear God in your heart, asking you to do something new or different, don't harden your heart to what He is saying to you- there just might be a precious gift right around the corner!

Our precious gift- AJ

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Grandparents visit!

We are glad to have Andy's parents here for a couple days this week!

Last night we took a walk in our little pasture/woods.

The boys are glad to have someone to play legos with!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Just life--

Aren't these Black Eyed Susans pretty?  They are in my Mom's garden.

I hope you are all having a good start to your week.  We are busy here at our house because Andy's parents are coming for a visit this week!  It will be fun to visit with them again.  The kids weren't too pleased with me today though because I made them do a bunch of cleaning...

A week and a half ago I started going off the anti-seizure medicine I've been taking for the last 5 1/2 months.  The withdrawal has given me headaches and made me "mad at the world".  Poor Andy.

It's still so so dry here.  Since we had such a hot dry summer last year we thought for sure this year it would be cool and wet.  But we were wrong.  I heard that around here we haven't had two hot dry years in a row like this since the 1950s.  Maybe next year it will be cool and wet?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Lots of tomatoes = spaghetti for supper!

All the heat and drought this summer hasn't hurt our tomatoes any!  They are producing like crazy.  We can't keep up eating them so I had to cook some up for the freezer this week.  On Monday I did some diced tomatoes and today I made some tomato sauce.  If I was doing this to save money my time wasn't worth much!  But I guess it does give you a sense of accomplishment anyhow. 

While I was looking for a recipe for tomato sauce I found my Grandma's old Bell Canning Book from 1941.  It's falling apart and has her notes of which recipe was good and the year she made it.  The inside front cover has this lady admiring all her jars of who knows what.  Does anybody can like that anymore?

Well, with all that tomato sauce I decided to make spaghetti for supper.  I made this recipe up back when we were first married and we have eaten a lot of it over the years!  In case you would like to try a new spaghetti recipe, here's our family's favorite.

Carmen's Spaghetti

2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 16 oz. can tomato sauce
1 16 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
1 11 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano

Brown ground beef with diced onion.  Drain and add remaining ingredients.  Simmer for 10-20 minutes.  Serve with 1 lb. spaghetti noodles, cooked.  Sprinkle with Parmesan and shredded cheese if desired. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Painting away-

Our sewing room/guest bedroom is getting a new look this week!  With PD and DJ gone to camp and SJ and AJ spending a few days at Grandpa and Grandma's, it was the perfect time to do a little fix-up.  It had old vinyl covered drywall for walls, so LA and I taped and mudded the seams, primed right over the vinyl, and today I painted the first coat of paint. 

I'm using the color Mulberry White, from Walmart.  I really like the color- in some lights it looks more light pink and some more light purple.  It's very feminine.  Perfect for a sewing room!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

But what if they don't turn out?

Isn't this a pretty rose?  Even after weeks of over 100 degree
temperatures, it still produced such a pretty flower- smells good too!

You know, back when we were considering whether we should adopt or not, one of the big questions we considered was, "But what if our adopted children don't turn out very well?"  It kind of embarrasses me to write that now, but it was something we thought about.  I know that we are not the only ones because we have heard that concern from lots of other people who we have spoken with about adoption.  Some have told us that it is just too big a risk, and they are hesitant to adopt because of it.

There is no doubt that adopted children have issues to face that other children do not have.  Questions of who am I really, feelings of abandonment, and lack of self-worth can be some of the resulting feelings of being placed for adoption as an infant.  Older children can have troubles with attaching to their adoptive parents because they have lost trust.  But are these reasons to reject the child forever? 

These kids are out there already.  They will be adopted by somebody, or else grow up in foster care and never have a permanent family, whether we choose to adopt them or not.  As Andy likes to say, they have to grow up somewhere.  We can give them a good and loving home where they can learn about God, so how can we say no?

Andy reminded me of this important truth- we who have trusted Jesus as our Savior are all adopted by God.  Does God look at us first and think, hmm, I wonder if they'll turn out very well?  No, like Romans 5:7-8 says,

  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man,
though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I'm not saying the road will be easy, but it will be rewarding.  God has not promised us an easy road in this life, but adopting is a way that we can serve God by helping the helpless.  Really, if you let fear of the road ahead keep you from adopting, you are not listening to God but to yourself.  Andy and I have a favorite verse that has helped us numerous times in our married life.  It's Deuteronomy 31:8-
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid;
do not be discouraged.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Porch Tea

It was a warm afternoon and I needed something fun to do so I decided to try something new and join Rose Chintz Cottage for her Tea Time Tuesday blog party and A Stroll Thru Life for her Table Top Tuesday blog party.  One thing I love about our house is the porch and our porch swing, it's a great place to sit and eat watermelon in the afternoon, watch a thunderstorm, or visit about the day in the cooler evenings.
Fo this tea I set up my red transferware tea set for two out on our porch table. It was a little too warm for hot tea, so we're having iced tea instead. (You can have iced tea in tea cups, right?)  I found some zinnias in the flower bed to match our transferware, and the rose bush growing next to the porch matches too!  I love that the previous owner planted roses by the porch, it always smells so good when you walk up the steps.
I really like the shape of this teapot.  I was so pleased when I found it on ebay.  It is made by Burton and Burton.
This teacup is Old Britain Castles, by Johnson Brothers.  I love old castles and would love to visit England some day and see them for real!  Andy was there in college on a choir tour when we were dating so I might just have to be satisfied that at least one of us went and look at his pictures.
All my red transferware is different patterns, I like it that way!  The second teacup is Spode and the pattern is called Girl at Well. 

With all the boys around here, sometimes I just have to do something girly!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A little shower

We got a little rain shower tonight!  It made everything smell so good.  If you look real close you can see a rainbow in the middle of the picture.  (:  I hadn't seen a rainbow for a long time.  Thank you Lord!

O Lord my God, you are very great;
you are clothed in splendor and majesty.
He makes the clouds his chariot
and rides on the wings of the wind.
Psalm 104:1,3

Friday, July 13, 2012

Zinnias and butterflies

One of the annual flowers I plant every year are zinnias.  They are hardy and stand up well to the heat and dry conditions we seem to be having a lot of lately!  Zinnias are so colorful and add some cheer to the yard.  They are very easy to grow from seeds too.  Another thing I love about zinnias is how they attract butterflies.  There have been some little yellow butterflies hovering around them for a couple weeks but just today I noticed this black swallowtail out there.  They usually come every year, and they're one of my favorite butterflies.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What will they say about me?

Andy and I went on a date last weekend and
I got LA to take our picture before we left.

This morning we went to the funeral of a lady from our church, she was our friends' mom.  I did not know her that well but her children all spoke very well of her and wished that she could have lived longer so they could have had more opportunity to learn from her.  She was a strong Christian who did her best to follow the Lord. 

It made me wonder what people might say about me at my funeral?  What kind of legacy are Andy and I leaving for our children?  These are good questions to ask every once in a while, to make sure we are on the right track!  I have been blessed with a long line of Godly examples in my family, and as I thought about this today I was reminded of this lady, Marie.  She was my Great-great-great Grandma.  She was born in West Prussia in 1827 and had four sons and one daughter. In 1876 she moved to Russia, then moved to Asia in 1880, and then on to America in 1884.  All of this moving around was because they were Mennonites looking for religious freedom.  The following is from her journal.
So we lived with joys and sorrows, until April 9, 1866, when my dear husband passed away after an 11 day illness following a stroke.  So I remained alone with my orphans.  But God did not forsake me...  On June 4th 1868, I was married to Heinrich, but he too passed away on January 22, 1873...  Sometimes I feel forsaken by God and all who were dear to me.  But I thank God for His discipline for it is for our good.  I pray God to grant me grace that I may appear with my children before His throne and be able to say: "Lord, here am I, and those whom Thou hast given to me. Not a one of them is lost."  O God, grant me this grace.

Her life was very difficult, but her trust in God was strong!  I am thankful for her example.  There are many others I could write about too, God has blessed us with a strong Christian family, and that is a blessing we are very grateful for.  We pray daily that our children will follow the Lord their whole lives as well.  Then one day we will all be together forever, in heaven!

Psalm 145:4-5
One generation will commend your works to another;
they will tell of your mighty acts.
They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Happy Chickens

Well, I can check one thing off my summer to-do list!  We got the chicken coop all done!  This February we got 25 baby chicks in the mail and they just started laying eggs a few weeks ago.  In the past we have always let our chickens roam free, but last year something ate them all, probaby a coyote or coon, who knows.  So we decided to build them a chicken coop this time. 
Andy built the nest boxes on the back, along with a window for light.  The top board slides back and forth so you can get to the eggs.
Hopefully the chickens appreciate their nice accomodations, it took me a long time to paint it all today!
Except for this one, she might be kind of mad at me, but she got too close to the paint brush!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A dry, thirsty land

Being a farmer's daughter, my mood seems to be fairly closely tied to the land and the weather.  The last couple weeks we have had temperatures over 100 degrees each day with no rain.  Since we were dry already to start with everything is looking pretty sad and thirsty.  The grass in the pastures is drying up and the farmers' corn isn't looking too good either.

This is our creek- isn't the water pretty?!?  ):  The people who lived here before us said the creek had never dried up in all the seven years they had lived here, but it has dried up both years we've lived here.  It still has a water in a few spots, but it's definitely not flowing.  We could sure use some rain.  All the dryness makes me feel dry right down to my soul.  They are forecasting a small chance of rain for the weekend so we are praying we'll get some.

This morning I was playing some hymns on the piano, and came across He Hideth My Soul, by Fanny Crosby.  It's one of my favorites, but it seemed especially good today, especially the chorus.  No matter what the weather or how we feel, God's love for us is immeasurable!

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
A wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
Where rivers of pleasure I see.

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life in the depths of His love
And covers me there with his hand.
Then I decided to read up about Fanny Crosby, since she wrote so many of our hymns.  She became blind as a baby, so her life was not easy.  She wrote this about her blindness.  "It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me." 
Fanny Crosby 1872
Then after she was married, she and her husband only had one child, a daughter, who died as an infant.  Knowing that gives the song more meaning, doesn't it?  Fanny Crosby wrote almost 9,000 hymns in her lifetime.  She didn't let the disability of being blind keep her from being used by God.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Our children's birthmoms

This sunflower bloomed in our yard this week- AJ said it was smiling!
A couple months ago I wrote the stories of how we adopted PD, DJ, SJ, and AJ, (click their name if you want to read them) but I didn't write much about someone very important in each of those stories, their birthmoms.  Our children's birthmoms have my respect and admiration, because they made a very, very difficult and selfless decision when they chose adoption for their children.  Our children's birthmoms loved their babies dearly, but they chose adoption for them because they knew they could not give their child the life they wanted for them.  They did what was best for their child, even though it was at great cost to them personally.  They were not looking for the easy way out, if they had wanted that, they would have chosen abortion.  They were not doing what sounded like the most fun, if they had, they would have parented their child. 
When I think back to those days when we were so happy to be receiving our child that we had waited and prayed so long for, our children's birthmoms were filled with sorrow at that same moment.  I remember hugging them as we cried together, telling them we would always love their child.  Adoption is such a mixture of joy and pain...
And now, we keep in contact with each of them, but some of our adoptions are more open than others.  Some of our birthmoms know our last name and address and everything, and some wanted a more semi-open adoption, so we just send letters and pictures through the adoption agency.  I send pictures and a letter about twice a year to each birthmom, letting them see how the kids are doing and how big they're getting.  We hear from them sometimes too, and the kids treasure the pictures and letters they have received.  Openness in adoption is not something to be feared.  It has given our kids peace of mind to know some information about where they come from.

DJ, SJ, PD, and AJ by their "mine" they built in the dirt pile

I am so thankful that our children's birthmoms chose life for their babies!  They are very brave women.  

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Liberty Blue + a recipe!

Andy's smoking some BBQ chicken for our 4th of July supper tonight, so while we wait for it to cook I decided to show you our set of Liberty Blue dishes we are going to use this evening.  They are perfect for the 4th!  The dinner plate has Independence Hall pictured on the front.
We are also going to be having Aunt Mary Ann's Scalloped Potatoes- they are yummy and gluten free!  So many scalloped potato recipes have cream soups in them but this one doesn't.  So in case you're getting hungry here's the recipe-

Scalloped Potatoes

6-8 large potatoes, diced and cooked
1/2 c. butter
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
8 oz. sour cream
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Put cooked potatoes into greased 9x13 inch pan.  Melt remaining ingredients except paprika and pour over potatoes.  Stir to combine.  Sprinkle top with paprika.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Now back to the dishes.  The dessert plate in this set has Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home on it.
For dessert tonight I made the guys some chocolate chip brownies.  I can't have those since I have to be off gluten, so I made myself some black bean chocolate brownies.  Don't those sound good?  (:  They're ok.  When I get desperate enough, I make them.  Of course, every dessert is better with a good cup of coffee, right?  This is the tea cup in the Liberty Blue set, (which we'll be using for coffee later) it has Paul Revere making his ride to tell the colonists that the British were coming.
  So you can see why these are the perfect dishes to use for the 4th of July.  Hope your day is going well and you enjoy the fireworks tonight!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Beat that heat

It seems like everyone is having hot dry weather these days.  Our boys like to put the sprinkler under the trampoline and jump that way to keep cool.  AJ and SJ were putting it to good use yesterday afternoon. 
Another way to keep cool is just stay inside in the air conditioning!  PD and DJ were busy building with their legos yesterday so I got this picture of them.  If we had to choose one toy at our house, it would be legos.  The boys play with them so much, there's always something new you can build!  Right now they were building airplanes and hangars.

I hope you're able to keep cool wherever you live!

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Happy July 4th week!  I hope you have a fun time celebrating our country's freedoms with your friends and family.  Our kids have their fireworks ready to go- hopefully they still have a few left to shoot off on the 4th! 

We have it so good here in our country!  I am thankful for all the brave men and women who have fought to give us the freedoms we have.  Andy has three grandpas who fought in wars, two fought in WWII, one in the navy and one in the air corps, and one fought in the navy in Vietnam.  I don't have photos of two of them from back then, but I do have this photo of his grandpa who was a navigator and gunner in the air corps in WWII in Europe.  He's the one in the middle on the bottom row.  Their plane was called the Lady Luck.
I'm sure that seeing the things that they saw in war changed their lives forever.  How could it not?  This grandpa in the photo was shot down once, the other grandpa that fought in WWII in the navy was on the USS New York and watched the Bismarck sink, and the grandpa that was in Vietnam was a commander on a minesweeper and a PT boat.  We see those things in the movies all the time, but to actually watch it in real life, I can't imagine.  We should always be grateful to them and to all who have helped to keep us free.

No, our country is not perfect, things don't go the way we would choose in the government more often than not, it seems.  But is there another country you would rather live in?  I can't think of one!  God has allowed us to live in a time of peace and safety here in our country.  We don't have to worry about violence, civil war, or bombings like so much of the world.  We have so much to be thankful for!
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