Wednesday, December 31

New Year's Eve...

I really like to take time on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day to REMEMBER.

I have seen over the years the benefit of setting time aside to remember. To remember what the past year taught me. To remember what I celebrated.

2008 has been an extremely joyful year for me with the birth of our first 2 grandsons. If I wasn't in the habit of reviewing my year, I may overlook the details that made these births so special. Life gets busy and I begin to take things for granted if I don't stop and REMEMBER.

This year has been a year of good health for me and my family and it causes me to stop and give thanks. I have had years in the past where sickness and the death of my parents consumed the year. A year of good health is something to be grateful for and to REMEMBER.

My children took on great challenges this year in their families, work and schooling. They stepped out in faith. They grew in their walk with the Lord. It is a year to REMEMBER and give thanks.

I had to come to terms with a friendship that didn't meet my expectations. I thought I had worked through enough friendships in my days that I knew how to handle disappointment. I need to REMEMBER how I had to learn to forgive again.

My ministry with Homemakers and MOPS provided many opportunities to trust God. I want to REMEMBER how He desired that I learn more than I taught.

As I review my year, I remember how much I forgot has happened this year.

In the book of Deuteromy, God tells the Israelites to REMEMBER 15 times. God knows how life seems to go on whether we REMEMBER or not, but if I remember, I learn. I am grateful. I am ready for the New Year.

Tuesday, December 30

Theme

Each year Barb encourages the Homemakers women to choose a theme. This theme is something we read books about, search Scripture for, keep in mind as we make decisions, etc.

For 2008 I chose the theme Knowing God.

While that may seem like a rather general and vague theme with no real focus, I heard this quote by Beth Moore and knew that I wanted to know my God better by the end of 2008: "I know my God. I don't understand everything about Him. But I know my God is good. I know my God is love. I know my God has my best interest in mind."

It made me think...what do I really KNOW about my God?

The following quotes affirmed my chosen theme:
“There’s a lot of people who know about God, there’s fewer people who actually know God.” – Michael Binder

“Some people pray just to pray and some people pray to know God.” - Andrew Murray

“We only trust people we know,” says Martha Tennison. “If you’re really struggling to trust God, it may be because you don’t really know God.”

In the beginning of 2008 I WAS struggling to trust God. I didn't understand the journey He had me on. Throughout the year I realized that I needed to know God in order to trust Him. And then trust brings peace and peace brought me healing.

What a year!!!!

My theme verse for the year was Psalm 9:10, "Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you."

Ginger Garrett says that "God wants you to simply know Him in the present and trust Him with the unspoken ending."

Throughout the year I wrote down verses that taught me about God's character and who God is.

I can look back on my year and say I know God more. I know Him better. I knew Him in sorrow and deep pain. I knew Him in joy. I knew Him in miracles. I knew Him with an unknown future when I moved and didn't have my next home lined up.

When we miscarried I knew God in a different way because of my loss. "When we recognize that God can uniquely use suffering to draw us to himself and to glorify himself, we're able to actually see it as an opportunity to come to KNOW God in a way we haven't KNOWN him before, in a way we couldn't have KNOWN him without the suffering."

God is the source of all good things.
God gives and takes away.
God is my strength and my shield.
God blesses His people with peace.
God's thoughts are not my thoughts. His ways not my ways.
God's words are flawless.
God loves justice.
God searches hearts and minds.
God is righteous.
God performs wonders that cannot be fathomed and miracles that cannot be counted.
God is a refuge for the oppressed.
God determines our steps.
God weighs our motives.
God blesses those who trust in Him.

Monday, December 29

10,9,8,7,6,5,4,...

3 more days in 2008! How was your year? Did it unfold like you had hoped it would? Did you make a difference in somebody else's life?

I love to review each year as it comes to a close. Some years are easier to evaluate than others, but by reviewing the year just gone by, I am more mindful of where I may be going.

As women, we are probably all exhausted after a busy Christmas week, but take time with me to answer just a few question in your head if nothing else. At some point, write down the answers and then keep them in a place you can refer to in the years to come. This will give you a synopsis of your life!

What was the 'moment of the year' for you in 2008?
(If you can't answer that this year, keep it in mind for 2009. It helps you slow down and live 'in the moment'!)

What was the best choice you made this year?

Who influenced you the most in 2008?

Who do you think YOU influenced the most in 2008?

What was good for you this year?

How many books did you read this year?

Remember that phase we use alot in this blog: "the people you meet, the books you read and the choices you make" will determine the person you will become.

Hopefully, you are pleased with who you have become in 2008, if not, maybe this will give you incentive for making specific New Year's Resolutions.

Monday, December 22

Don't Forget...

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

Today I paused in the middle of my long 'to do' list to read a Christmas card from a friend. She always writes a special Christmas poem each year. This one brought all my senses to life and got me excited for celebrating Christmas ...whether I am ready or not. Take a moment to enjoy:

Christmas Gifts


Seeing Christmas...
A child's eyes reflecting wonder
from lights and glistening snow

Hearing Christmas...
Carols and sleigh bells and laughter
Santa's HO-HO-HO

Smelling Chrismas...
Cinnamon and nutmeg
The pungency of pine

Tasting Christmas...

Gingerbread and sugar cookies
Hot cider and spiced wine

Feeling Christmas...

Hugs from friends and family
bring warmth to Christmas morn

Knowing Christmas...

The gift of hope to all the world
Jesus Christ was born

@Debbie Pea

It's the most wonderful time of the year, start celebrating!

Let it go

Ok I have 3 words for all of us women who are striving to be wise...wise in our homes, wise with our families, wise in our work:

Let

It

Go

At this point, 4 days before Christmas, there is a good chance that everything you have planned to do might not get done.

That's ok. Let it go.

The shopping, baking, Christmas cards, cooking, decorating, scheduling, picture-taking, planning, etc, etc.

It most likely won't all get done. And if it does all get done, it might be at the expense of you losing sleep, or not spending time with family, or being crabby with your spouse or kids because they are preventing you from getting it all done.

If you are feeling tired or overwhelmed or frustrated or stressed then....

Let

It

Go

Change your menu plans and cook something simpler. Don't worry about finding the 'perfect' gift. Wait until after the holidays to do some of the things you were hoping to get done pre-Christmas.

It's ok. Really. It is.

I'm 4 days out from Christmas and my baby announcements and thank yous (which are my Christmas cards) are still piled high on the table.

I will get some sent. But not all.

Oh well. I'm letting it go.

Friday, December 19

Home Improvement...Serving Others

The woman who serves others is the "person who reaches her hand into the darkness to help another hand out into the light and discovers it is her own!"

I know I need to serve others.

I know I want to serve others.

I just get tired and pulled in so many directions that I often lose the vision I need.

Join me this weekend in Home Improvement...Serving Others, to pray this prayer when our energy is low and the demands on our time and money are great:

O Christ, do not give me tasks equal to my powers,
but give me powers equal to my tasks,
for I want to be stretched by things too great for me.
I want to grow through the greatness of my tasks,
but I shall need your help for the growing.
(E.Stanley Jones)

When I 'help another hand out into the light' during this Christmas season, I hope to find my own hand...and that it is stronger.

Thursday, December 18

Joy in serving

I think part of serving at Christmas is remembering...

If serving comes from a heart of gratitude than we need to remember our blessings and serving will come easier.

However, this time of year can be very difficult for some people. I know there are people who are finding it tough to be thankful and are lacking in the area of joy.

These people are still waiting on the Lord for their unanswered prayer. They are waiting to hear the results of a medical test. They are watching their marriage fall apart. Their family is not talking with one another. They have experienced loss and this will be the first Christmas without a loved one. A relationship has left them broken and filled with pain. They are job less and money is scarce during 'the most wonderful time of the year.'

For those of you who might find yourself in this category - it's ok. It's ok to hurt. To be angry. To ask God your questions. To cry.

But through that pain-filled heart I still encourage you to look around and find the blessings in your life.

Then find someone to whom you can be a blessing. You might think you have nothing to offer if you are broken or sad or lonely this Christmas. But in reality, you can bring immense joy to others when you serve them out of a heart that is hurting. What a precious gift you give to another when you serve in the midst of your own pain or loss.

God will honor that. He will bless that. And I believe, you will find a joy that comes, not from your circumstances, but from deep within.

"The only ones around you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve. " - Albert Schweitzer

Wednesday, December 17

Serving with a Smile...

Women serve at Christmas time. Ok, so we serve all year long, but Christmas just magnifies all that we to do so our family has memories, good food, special presents, fabulous decorations, an attractive home, harmony and happiness!

Carol Travilla, in her book Caring Without Wearing, warns about becoming a perfectionist when serving. She lists 5 unrealistic expectations that can contribute to burnout while serving:

1. There should not be any limits to what I can do

2. I have the capacity to help everyone

3. I am the only person available to help

4. I must never make a mistake

5. I have the ability to change another person

I don't consider myself a perfectionist, but I feel like I may crash and burn at times when I start believing these false expectations.

Christmas is a perfect time to serve with a smile. It is a time to reach out to others. It is also a good time to evaluate if you are truly serving or if you are trying to be all things to all people.

Stacy cited a verse in yesterday's posting:

"Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men." Ephesians 6:7

If we stay focused on serving the Lord, I think we can avoid the 5 unrealistic expectations and we will be able to serve with a smile...at Christmas and during the rest of the year!

Tuesday, December 16

An opportunity to serve

Yesterday Barb mentioned serving...

I can't think of a better way to honor Christ's birth than by serving others during the Christmas season! I think our ideas of serving vary greatly from person to person. But we all have opportunities to serve if we look around!

For example,
As an individual, think of someone you can serve in the next week...maybe a co-worker who wouldn't expect it or a parent or a friend.

Or, grab a few friends and plan a way to serve others as a group: go to a homeless shelter and serve food. Volunteer at a food shelf. Adopt a family and plan to serve them anonymously. Go shopping and buy some toys for a local organization.

Or, if you are married, talk with your spouse (and kids?) and find out how they would like to serve. Is there a family you know of who could use a meal or some gifts this Christmas? Maybe there are some parents who could use a night out while you watch their kids? Look around you and notice those in need.

Maybe serving is just the gift of your presence...rather than presents. A listening ear for the elderly or a single mom? A plate of cookies for a family. A evening of encouragement for someone in need of joy this holiday season.

Whatever you do "Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men." Ephesians 6:7

Monday, December 15

Tradition...

Saturday was December 13th. Every year for the past 25 years or so our family has celebrated Santa Lucia Day,the 13th of December. I began this tradition when my kids were very young in hopes to instill in them the 'magic' of serving others and a way to reach out to people who didn't celebrate Christ's birth. Each year I would introduce a new cookie that would go along with a Christmas tradition and we would focus on the meaning and background of that tradition. Everything was done by candlelight and that made the 'magic' of the day memorable.

It became an overwhelming task as the cookies began stacking up and the kids invited their friends over for our Santa Lucia 'feast'. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the kids' involvement and anticipation even when they were in college and out of the house. I looked forward to meeting their friends and loved having a venue that would encourage them to share with others.

Last week, my niece borrowed my Santa Lucia scrapbooks. Her 7 year old daughter needed to share a custom with her 1st grade class, so my niece wanted more info on how we celebrated, but didn't want to get as elaborate as my celebration had gotten. The reason for this posting is to share about her telephone call she made to me Friday night:

"Barb, you did this 'Santa Lucia thing' different every year! I think I see some possibility in doing this if I don't have to be so rigid in tradition."

When talking about this tradition with her earlier, I had emphasized the years that things went smoothly. I didn't think she needed to hear all the times I was frustrated and disappointed. I didn't think she needed to hear about the times I cried to my husband that my plans weren't coming together.

After talking with her, I realized it was because of my shortcomings that she decided she could take on this celebration. She realized she could make it as big or as small as she wanted to, depending on what each year looked like.

Too often we put our best foot forward, trying to make everything look like a success. Success comes in trying.

Christmas...traditions...family time...is meant to be special, not perfect. I encourage you to continue to try different celebrations and make the most of them every year. That's what will make memories and that is what will turn a celebration into a tradition that will fit your family.

Friday, December 12

Home Improvement...Christmas Giving!

Think Outside the Box!

As you prepare for your Christmas celebration and gift giving time, think of ways to share your gifts that make it fun to give rather than receive.

The last few Christmases, we've decided we needed to add some levity to our Christmas morning so we incorporated a TV game to help us distribute the gifts.

One year, we made up our own version of 'Deal or No Deal'. It was the 1st year that program was popular. My husband and I made sheets of paper to represent the suitcases that are popular on the TV show. My husband was the banker and he called my cell phone to offer a 'deal' to whoever was picking a suitcase. The excitement mounted as the deal started at $1.00 and continued to increase to $5, $10 and even $25! It extended our Christmas day and we still talk about the fun.

Last year, we decided to have all the adults bring 5 small gifts to exchange with one another. We put them in a big pile, and then played a 'match game'. We had teams that tried to 'match' family photos that I had blown up and had turned upside down. As matches were made, a gift was opened. After all the gifts were opened, we played the 'dice' game that let us swap gifts away from one another.

The memories we made playing the games have surpassed the gifts that were exchanged.

Improve your family interaction this Christmas and think outside the box. I have a new game I hope to try out this year, share your Christmas gift-giving habits with us.

Thursday, December 11

A homemade Christmas

Last Christmas I received two homemade gifts that were so memorable...

The first was a beautiful crocheted blanket. We use it almost every day and it is a gift that I will always treasure and I think of the friend who made it every time I wrap myself in it.

The second was a jar with the makings for scones. I had never eaten scones, much less made them. They were delicious. I just added the 'wet' ingredients and enjoyed this tasty gift.

This Christmas season, I challenge you to MAKE at least ONE Christmas gift. It's a challenge that I am taking upon myself as well and I hope you'll consider it!

If you are used to making gifts, make a few more than normal. But if making homemade gifts is not your style, then just start with one.

Here are a couple ideas:
Crochet or knit (I've been working on a gift for almost a year....maybe it will be done by Christmas?)
Make a plate of Christmas treats and give to friends, neighbors or family
Make a booklet of coupons for the recipient to redeem throughout the year
A DVD slideshow of pictures throughout the year

Please comment and share what homemade gifts you make or ones that you have received that were memorable.

Let's make this year a homemade, memorable, from-the-heart Christmas.

Tuesday, December 9

JUST DO IT!

"Don't tell me you will do it...JUST DO IT!" Those words probably ring in my kids' ears today, because my husband and I were constantly telling them that good intentions didn't count, actions did. They could tell us over and over again how they were going to clean their rooms, improve their grades or use better manners, but we were never impressed until we saw actual changes in their behavior that brought about changes in their grades, cleanliness or manners.

I recalled that phrase..."Don't tell me you will do it...JUST DO IT!" as I walked out of the Galleria shopping center tonight. I was convicted as I read Stacy's posting yesterday. It encouraged everyone to give their 'presence', not 'presents' this year. I told myself yesterday how I agreed with that...and then I went shopping.

Wow, is it easy to get caught up in the hype and glitter of THINGS. I suddenly felt I needed to purchase items I never even considered before stepping into some of the stores. My 'presence' paled in comparison to some of the 'presents' I could buy with my Visa card.

I came home and pulled out some journals of years gone by. I had a habit of writing down what I was thankful for everyday between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I tried to extend the list daily, never duplicating anything. I made a point of writing down at least one if not more things or people I was thankful for before I would make my Christmas lists. That exercise trained me over the years to focus on what I had, not what I needed to buy. It helped me focus on WHY I was buying something for someone and it helped me develop a giving spirit. My 'presence' was actually worth something to others if I had a thankful spirit within me. I stopped that discipline a few years ago, thinking I knew what I was thankful for and just knowing that would carry me through. Wrong.

I am not going to tell you that I am going to start this exercise of writing out what I am thankful for between now and Christmas. I am not going to just say I will be more mindful of giving my 'presence' to others this Christmas. I am just going to DO IT!

Monday, December 8

450 Billion on Christmas Gifts???

We saw this video at church last night. It was really powerful and I've been contemplating it ever since.

Please watch:




I love gifts. I mean I really love gifts. I love giving them. I love buying them. I love opening them. I just love finding the right gift for the right person. But this time of year we can get so caught up in the obligation of giving that we lose our focus and the purpose of giving.

I hope you take up the challenge presented in the video: buy ONE less gift this year. Less presents - more presence.

Check out this web site for ideas on celebrating the Chrismas season in different ways this year: http://www.rethinkingchristmas.com/

Friday, December 5

Home Improvement-for the Holidays!

As you get into 'high-gear' this weekend to finish your decorating or start your shopping, pick up a 3 ring binder and start recording your activities and plans.

In Simplify Your Holidays, Marcia Ramsland recommends 6 tabs to keep you on track:
The Plan
Gifts
Cards & Decorations
Events
December 1-25
Food

Looking back at past Christmases, it would be helpful to have this all written down and it would be such a good reminder of things that went right and also for those areas I needed to improve on.

Check out her website: www.organizingpro.com and click on downloads for a few free hints.

I love this quote from her book:

"Holidays are as much a matter of organization as they are a matter of the heart.
The two work together. Organization during the holidays IS an expression of the heart."


You are going to be putting together a Christmas for your family this year, you might as well start recording it and give yourself direction for the years to come.

Thursday, December 4

A book for the Christmas season



Today I'm making a book recommendation for the Christmas season: Unafraid by Francine Rivers. I think I did this last year as well, but I was so impacted by this book that I encourage you to check it out of your local library and read it as we head into Christmas. It is a small book and a quick read!

It will challenge your perspective of the Christmas story. It will remind you of the miracle of it all. It will help you refocus on what is important in the weeks to come.

Samuel: Two months

In case you're wondering about my cute little miracle man, yesterday was Samuel's two-month birthday so we did a little birthday photo shoot...

You can check out the pictures here: www.samuelmay.com

Thanks to all of you who continue to pray for the adoption process.

Wednesday, December 3

Are You a Planner?

In life, there are those who plan...and those who are more 'free-spirited'!

At Christmas, I think everyone needs to plan! The time is short and there is so much to do, I don't think you can just 'let things happen'.

Marcia Ramsland has a new book out called Simplify Your Holidays. It is a great resource for you 'free-spirited' women. She suggests that you start your Christmas planning in Oct, so you know that alot of planning is necessary according to the experts.

One idea she promotes is to make notes of all you do each year.
I have kept a notebook over the years, not as extensive as she would like, but I use it as a resource to keep all my Christmas recipes and ideas. I also keep track of gifts I give, so I don't duplicate giving my co-workers or sunday school teachers, candles or Avon every year.

Marcia says to think about giving similar items each year. For example, give all magazine subscriptions to friends one year. The next year, give them all spa certificates or give all of them books. That way you can do one-stop shopping and check off a good numbers of recipients from your list.

If you mail out alot of gifts, you may enjoy shopping at Von Maur. They offer interest-free credit, free gift wrap and NO shipping fee.

Being intentional and planning this year will save you time and money.

Tuesday, December 2

An intentional Christmas

As wise women, we strive to make choices intentionally. Our goal is to daily live out our purpose, priorities and principles.

During the Christmas season, it is so easy to let these slide.

Lets challenge one another this month to make choices wisely...deliberately...intentionally.

Every November a friend calls me and says lets get dates on the calendar for December. We plan to work on our Christmas cards together. We plan a day to bake Christmas cookies with a few family members. We plan events that are priorities in our life and we don't want the month to slip by without those happening.

I am so grateful for this friend and how she intentionally pursues me.

Make the choice to live out your priorities this month: whether that be family, friends, your faith, your home, etc.

Plan a new tradition. Take time to read the Christmas story each week. Take photographs that reflect the Christmas season. Call a friend who might be having a hard time and meet her for coffee. Turn on the Christmas music and let the true meaning of Christmas minister to your heart.

Living intentionally requires effort and planning on our part. Lets start today!

Monday, December 1

Cyber Monday...

Today is supposed to be the busiest day on the internet for shopping...Check out these sights:

www.mysimon.com
nexttag.com

Or this is good for additional coupons!:

http://www.couponcabin.com/


Just a reminder before you click "order" or before you head to the mall, make a list of all the gifts you need to buy. Write the names of who you need to buy for and one short statement of why you are buying for them. It will put your heart in the right mood for sharing with others and give you the right motive for shopping.
If you can't write a reason for buying for that person, perhaps you will do better this year to renew that relationship by spending time with them...or deleting them from your list.

Be intentional in your shopping this Christmas. This time of year, I like to recall a definition of maturity I read along time ago. You are mature when you can 'carry money without spending it'

Thursday, November 27

Happy Thanksgiving...

A young mom shared an idea with me I'd like to pass along. Years ago, she received a letter from a student of hers telling her how she had impacted this girl's life. The young mom was a new teacher at the time and was moved that a student would take the time to write such a note. The student explained that it was a 'tradition' in their family to choose one person each year that made a difference in their life. Then they would write a note of gratitude to that person on Thanksgiving Day. This young mom was going to start that 'tradition' with her young 4 year old this year.

Most of you will be reading this after your Thanksgiving Day is done, but consider choosing someone who has impacted your life this year. Sometime over the weekend, send off a note of thanks to that person and let them know how they impacted your life. Tell them you are writing only ONE letter and it is to them!

If you do this with your children, the first few years they may choose daddy or grandma or grandpa to write to, but if they do this each year, they will begin to 'look' for people in their life that are making a difference. They will also become aware of how they may be impacting others!

I think I will commit to do this each year. A truly wonderful Thanksgiving Tradition.

Wednesday, November 26

Caramel Apple Bars

Here is a tasty dessert for fall days and cool nights. They are best served warm. Caution: the butter content is not low for those trying to eat healthy! I only make these if I am taking them somewhere so I don't eat the whole pan myself.

Caramel Apple Bars

2 cups flour
2 cups quick cooking rolled oats
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1-1/2 cups butter, melted
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping
3 TBS flour
2 cups finely chopped peeled Granny Smith apples (or whatever you have on hand)

PREPARATION:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 pan and set aside. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, and melted butter. Stir with wooden spoon and mix until crumbly.

Press half to ¾ (about 3 cups) of this mixture in prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine ice cream topping and 3 TBS flour. Mix well with wire whisk. Sprinkle apples over lightly baked crust in pan. Pour caramel mixture over apples and sprinkle with reserved crumbly mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Cool and cut into bars.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 25

Another Thanksgiving Favorite...

Lena said to Ole "My 2 specialties are meatballs and peach pie"
Ole answered "Oh,I see- and which one is this?"


HA,HA,HA!

Here's a favorite recipe that even Ole would salivate over...

Barb's Best Pecan Pie

9" unbaked pie crust
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 tsp. salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 heaping cup pecan halves

Prepare pie crust. Combine filling. Mix well
Pour filling into crust. Sprinkle with pecans.
Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until center is set. (Insert toothpick)
(Cover with foil when baking if it gets too brown)
Cool
Serve with ice cream. Delish!

Please participate in our contest, share your recipes! (See yesterday's posting) If you are afraid you will WIN and don't want your picture on our blog, we will put a picture of Lena instead! So please share your joy of cooking with us all!

Monday, November 24

Recipe contest!

All of us could use new recipes....especially for the holidays. So we're having a recipe contest!

Please post one of your favorite recipes for Thanksgiving or Christmas in the comment section.

We'll test out the recipes and choose the one we like best. The winner will be recognized on the blog with her photo. AND she gets to choose a topic that we will post about for one week. ANY topic.

Ready...

Set...

Go...

Can't wait to receive and try your recipes!

Contest ends Thursday December 4.


Thanksgiving recipes!

In the next few days you might be asked to bring a recipe to a relative's house, to a potluck or maybe you are hosting thanksgiving for the very first time yourself.

Whatever the case, this week Barb and I will post a few of our favorite recipes for turkey day.

Today I'm including my tried and true Green Bean Casserole. It's not the typical ingredients...much more flavorful and tastier. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Grandma’s Green Bean Casserole
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon white sugar
* 1/4 cup onion, diced
* 1 cup sour cream
* 3 (14.5 ounce) cans French style green beans, drained
* 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
* French Fried Onions (as much as you like)

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth, and cook for one minute. Stir in the salt, sugar, onion, and sour cream. Add green beans, and stir to coat.
3. Transfer the mixture to a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. Spread shredded cheese over the top.
4. Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the top is golden and cheese is bubbly.
5. Sprinkle French Fried Onions over the cheese. Bake another 5 minutes.

Note: I mix in one cup of the cheese and put one cup on top of the beans. I use a lot of the French Fried Onions!! I use 4 cans of beans instead of 3 and I often use regular beans...not french style.

Friday, November 21

Home Improvement...Use Your Money Wisely!

Hopefully, a few of the money-saving tips we shared with you this week sparked an interest to be mindful of your spending/saving habits.

Here's one of the better tips I've heard. Freeze a block of ice in your freezer. Just as it hardens, slip your credit card into the middle of it! If you have more than one card, freeze as many ice blocks as you need. Store them in your freezer for an emergency...then use cash to purchase your necessities.

I am told that freezing the cards will not damage the magnetic strips, so no excuses for not putting your Visa on 'ice' for awhile!

What a great Home Improvement exercise this could be for all of us to eliminate needless spending over the holidays.

Thursday, November 20

Buy or borrow?

In today's world we are bombarded by ads, commercials, and billboards that tell us what we need and when we need it. We are told to consume, consume, consume...

We don't really need everything "they" tell us we do.

And why buy when you can borrow?

Recently I've learned that I don't need to register or purchase everything that Babies-R-Us offers. I've received so much baby stuff from other people. Some has been borrowed, some has been given. This has taught me much. Why do we save stuff and hoard it in our basements and closets when we can share it with others?

There are many items that you could borrow rather than buy. Here are just a few:
Books
CDs
Movies
Children's clothing
Dishes/serving platters (for special occasions)
Many baby items
Tools used for specific projects
Household items like large ladders

If you buy all this, not only will you spend more money, but you will also have to find a place to store it all. So next time you are tempted, ask yourself, "Buy or borrow?"

Wednesday, November 19

Save Money at the Grocery Store!

It's never easy to cut back on spending, especially at the grocery store!

My husband and I have lived on commission for most of our married life, so I have found over the years it is easier to have a system in place for sensible shopping, rather than cut corners severely when the income wasn't there. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Shop with a plan. I always try to have a list along when I shop and stick to that list! I make a weekly menu and make sure I have the items I need for the meals I will be serving. If the budget is lean, I choose recipes that are economical.

2. I found a 'planned menu' keeps variety on the table.

3. Emilie Barnes taught me to shop within a half hour. A study suggested that customers spent at least 75 cents a minute after a half-hour in the store! This is another reason to shop with a list!

4. I try to avoid rush hour and busy weekends...and try never to shop when I am hungry!

5. I buy the fruits and vegetables that are in season...lots of corn on the cob in the summer, and then I buy squash in the fall. In-season foods are tastier and cheaper.

6. I try to shop alone. Even my husband will throw in 'extras' that we don't need when I am trying to keep my spending down. Kids will slow your shopping down and will plead for everything they've seen advertised on TV!

7. I will stock up when the money comes in, and then I live 'out of the pantry' when the money is tight. Creativity and 'presentation of the food' can be fun challenge to master as you serve your family and still maintain a budget.

Join us and share your money-saving tips. Help us all be better stewards of our money.

Tuesday, November 18

Temperature tips

My home, cute as it is, was built in 1938 and it's cold!

I've been working all day on an article that's due this week and as I type my fingers are ice cold. ICE COLD.

It is 31 degrees outside and thermostat in my home is set at 69 degrees...I am unusually cold at all times...so I've got to do something or it will be a very chilly winter in the May household.

Rather than crank up my thermostat and pay the consequences later, I did a little research on how to keep my home temperature high and my heating bills low.

According to WCCO television, the average family spends $1,000 a year to heat its home. Here are a few tips to help reduce heating costs this winter:

Check outlets on outer walls. If they are letting in cold air, plug em.

If you have an attic door(s) use weather stripping to seal the attic door.

Seal all windows (or add plastic to them like we did!).

Turn down the thermometer at night and when you are not at home. Get a prgrammable thermostat (for as little as $32). Turn your thermostat to 68 during the day and lower at night or when you are gone for extended periods of time.

Replace or clean furnace filters once a month. And be sure to schedule a furnace tune-up so it is running efficiently.

Let the sunshine in....open blinds/drapes and let nature heat your home on sunny days. Close them when the sun goes down or on cloudy days - it keeps the warmth in.

Close off vents and rooms that are not used daily. Keep the warmth in the rooms you reside in most often.

If you live in a newer home you probably don't have to worry about attics or old windows. But if your home is big, it still takes a lot of energy to heat.


Don't we all have other things we would rather spend our money on than the heating bill? Lets be wise stewards of our resources...and reap the rewards later!

Monday, November 17

We're Back...with Money-Saving Tips!

We apologize for the interruption on this blog. A gremlin shut it down for a bit, but I think we are good to go again...is there anyone still checking out this blog? I hope so, because Stacy and I are excited to kick-off the holiday season with money-saving tips!

It isn't fun heading into the Christmas season with a tough economy and many jobs on the line, but it's a great time to really focus on the meaning of Christmas and make that shine in your home this year.

Creativity is the key, I think. Be creative when you are thinking of giving gifts.

This year, tell your friends that you will spend time rather than money and plan an evening when you can just hang out together.

Give a photo of you or your family to grandma and grandpa rather than buy an expensive present.

Bake with your children and give away the bounty.

Use cash to purchase the rest of your gifts. If you don't have the money, don't spend it!

Focus on making memories, not debt.

Do a fun, simple project with your kids every day during December as you count down to Christmas. By the time the 25th arrives, you will have made 25 memories and gifts will not be the focus. Need examples? With or without kids, you can...
Go caroling one night
Take several nights to decorate your home
Light candles and spend the evening remembering past Christmases
Set a pretty table every night in honor of Christ's birth
String popcorn and cranberries
Read several Christmas books out loud throughout the season
Wear red one day every week. Wear green one day every week!
Make your own wrapping paper by stamping veggies in paint and pressing on butcher paper!

Got the idea? Be creative...and only use cash when buying presents this year. Not only will you have a Merry Christmas, but also a Happy New Year...debt-free!

Wednesday, November 5

The Day After...

So how did your candidates do last night?

Did your vote put the people you wanted in office?

The verse that came to my mind this morning was 2Timothy 1:7, "For God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind(KJV)."

This year in Homemakers with Hope, we are focusing on our MINDS. What we think and why we dwell on those thoughts. Results of an election of this magnitude can make us lazy if we think 'our people' won and they will take care of us from here on out, or it can make us fearful as we wonder what the future will bring.

A wise woman is a woman who isn't fearful, but has a sound mind. She knows her help comes from the Lord, 'who made the heavens and the earth'.(Ps.121)

Ps 40:4 says, Blessed is the woman who makes the LORD her trust (I inserted the feminine pronouns!)

God has given women the potential for a sound mind, but we need to evaluate what we are thinking continually.

Already this morning, the radio is a-buzz telling us what to think and how to act now that the election is over.

Check yourself as you move forward after this election. Are you a woman who is developing a sound mind?

Do you give thanks in all things?
Do you pray continually?
Do you guard your heart and mind?
Are you faithful in your responsibilities?
Do you have a servant's heart?
Do you use your time wisely?
Do you show self discipline in your words, your habits, your thinking, your emotions?

That's just for starters! This day after the election leaves me with much to do! I don't need to be told what to think and how to act after the election. I have plenty to keep my mind occupied as I strive to become a woman with a sound mind.

Tuesday, November 4

How many elections will you vote in during your lifetime?

Today my husband and I went to vote. We stood in line for 1 hour 15 minutes. While we were waiting a couple went to the front of the line - they were 94 years old. They had voted in 20 elections.

20!?

Ryan and I counted that this was our 4th election we have the privilege of voting in.

I was in awe that a couple of 94 years of age...moving quite delicately and slowly...would take the time and make it a priority to vote.

I wish I could sit down with that couple...and talk to them about what they've seen and experienced in life. About their marriage and commitment to one another. About the changes in politics, government, education, jobs. Can you imagine how different life was when they voted in their first election?

Just seeing them inspired me. Inspired me to make sure I always made it a priority to cast my ballot. Inspired me to stay committed to my spouse for the next 16 elections! Inspired me to look to the future with hope and anticipation.

Monday, November 3

Women...Did You Know?

Did you know that women have been voting for only 88 years? In 1920, women were given the right to vote in the 19th amendment.

Read http://www.snopes.com/politics/ballot/womenvote.asp It describes what some women did to obtain this freedom for us. After reading this article, you will have no excuse for not getting out to vote.

Tomorrow is our opportunity as women to cast our vote to keep America free and strong. Here are some web sites that may help you with any last minute questions you might have about where to vote, who is your candidate and what issues you need to be aware of:

http://votesmart.org/ Click on 'give me the facts' and then type in your zipcode

http://www.ontheissues.org/

What a privilege it is to vote. As a young child, I remember my dad getting up early on election day, dress for work and head to the polling place to be one of the first in line. He always spoke positively about the experience and set a good example for me.

Be mindful, moms, of the little eyes and ears that are watching you tomorrow. Talk about the privilege of voting, the freedoms that America has and the opportunity you have to cast a ballot for the people you want to run this great country.

Celebrate our rights and get out and VOTE tomorrow!

Sunday, November 2

Life as a homemaker

Yesterday marked the 30th day since Samuel's birth - the last day of the birth father's rights. So today Ryan and I feel quite confident that we can move forward with adoption plans.

Of course as we have learned, God's plans are very different than ours... but as I sit here holding my miracle I'm at peace that God is in control.

This week we'll return to Homemaking topics (like politics!). I feel like I'm lacking in the Homemaking department these days....

...my clothes are piling up and I'm living out of my laundry basket.


...I still haven't unpacked from Hawaii (I returned on Sept. 29!!).

...I finally cooked my first real meal today in my newly remodeled kitchen.

But I'm trying to give myself some grace. It took me eight years to become a wife and just 3 hours one Saturday to become a mom (if you don't count the previous three years of waiting).

So I'm learning a little bit at a time. And I hope you'll learn along with me. Even though today is the last posting (for now!) on the miracle of Samuel, I'm sure I'll be blogging about my new role as a mom...and asking all you moms for advice and help.


You can always check out updates of Samuel on www.samuelmay.com.

Who knew when I posted on Friday October 3 about hanging clothes on the line what my next month would hold?

Life as a Homemaker....always full of surprises. We're so glad you're on this journey with us.

Thursday, October 30

Lessons Learned...

Socrates taught his students, "An unexamined life is not worth living."

I have heard it said that "A life worth living is a life worth recording"

To be able to share our sorrow and now our joy through this blog has been such a blessing to me because I am able to write down at least in part the miracle of it all. I am able to 'examine' the details and know that Samuel is nothing short of a blessing from God. As I consider the magnitude of how everything came together so perfectly, I am constantly uttering a prayer of thanksgiving.

I also am recording my thoughts and prayers of praise in my journal and Bible so I will have these moments to treasure and reflect back on during my next period of 'waiting' whenever that may come. I tend to forget easily and by recording my journey of the past 30 days, I will reminded everytime I open my Bible.

'Examining' and 'recording' during times of blessing increases my awareness of God's Goodness and demands that I give thanks for it all.

Wednesday, October 29

Praising God for lessons learned...

I've been thinking a lot this week about my journey. My journey of infertility. My journey of loss - two babies who are now in heaven. My journey of waiting on the Lord.

What do I do now with my journey? How has it impacted and changed me? Does the gift of Samuel now mean that my journey is over? Do I transition from three years of waiting to...non-waiting in the blink of an eye?

I have so many emotions and thoughts to think through and process.

One thing I know for sure...
My journey of waiting was not wasted. It changed me forever and I am forever grateful. It brought me to my knees before the Lord - I could not control my conception (even though I tried!) - and I had to rely in total dependence on the God of the universe.

Through my journey of loss and waiting I know that God used me and I know today that He is continuing to use me. I am currently communicating with various women via e-mail who are still waiting or have suffered the loss of little ones in their womb. My heart aches for them and I identify with every emotion. My hope and prayer is that God would use my experiences to encourage them on their journey.

This quote speaks perfectly to that:
"Our sufferings may be hard to bear, but they teach us lessons which, in turn, equip us to help others."
- Billy Graham

Today I'm curious to know: what have your sufferings taught you? How has your life journey changed you? What lessons have you learned that allow you to help others?

It's good to reflect and ponder the challenges, suffering, and miracles of life.

Let's share with one another and praise God for it all.

Tuesday, October 28

Counting Our Blessings!

5 months ago, we welcomed little Jonathan into our family...and here he is with his NEW cousin, Samuel! If a picture is worth 10,000 words and since I have been speechless the last 2 weeks, I will let this photo do the talking.

Samuel, we all love you!

"Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations."

Psalms 100

Monday, October 27

A daddy's love...via text messages

Ryan left for France on Saturday. From across the ocean he counted down the minutes until the consent to adopt was final today....these are the text messages I received:

oct 26 1:08 pm
approaching 24 hours

oct 27, 6:59 am
7 hours and counting

oct 27, 11:01 am
3 hours. any word?

oct 27, 11:58 am
two hours!

oct 27, 12:59 pm
Any word from Judy? 1 hour to go! Call when you can.

oct 27, 1:41 pm
19 mins

oct 27, 1:57 pm
3 mins. everyone i am with is waiting to hear.


oct 27, 2:01 pm
time up. what's the word?



Clearly, Ryan is quite ecstatic to be a dad. The word is that the consent to adopt from the birth mom was final at 2 p.m. today.

P r a i s e G o d.

Friday, October 24

Perfectly worded

This week I saw the following things written on two separate cards. The words touched my heart in a powerful way....

The first was a baby card that said: "Miracles are worth the wait."

I couldn't agree more.

The second was:

"The Lord is good to those who wait for Him..." Lamentations 3:25

He is SO good.

I am SO thankful that we waited.

I pray that if you are in a waiting season that your heart would be encouraged today. God knows. He has a plan. And His plan is definitely worth waiting for.

Thursday, October 23

And Waiting...

"Waiting on the Lord" is not without activity.

Stacy shared yesterday how she and Ryan did not want their infertility to 'define' their marriage or this time in their lives. I was touched when they shared this at a church service, thinking how wise of them to identify a trap that many people find themselves in when waiting. It becomes all about themselves or all about their problem. People who 'wait' often pull everyone who will listen into their pain and their waiting period becomes a time of re-hashing the problem.

Stacy and Ryan deliberately chose not to do this.

It was an eye-opener to me as I saw them continue on with their lives reaching out to others and sharing their pain with just a few close friends who supported them in prayer and love.

"Waiting on the Lord" can be a defining spiritual exercise. Not easy, but very life-changing when the time is used to listen for God's leading.

Learning contentment is a by-product of 'waiting' as well. Contentment doesn't come from getting what I want...it comes from waiting on the Lord to show me His perfect plan.

This week, as I wait on the Lord for Samuel to become 'ours', I must focus my attention on what is true, delight in what God has provided up to now and give thanks that we have this opportunity to love Samuel each day.

Wednesday, October 22

While I'm Waiting

Pastor John Fuller says, "Be assured of this, if you are not in it right now, God will call all of us to waiting periods in our lives."

What do we do with our waiting periods?

We can become...

angry. jealous. hardened. depressed. frustrated. bitter.

Or we can...

love. serve. believe. worship. give. care. trust. grow.

It's our choice.

Sometimes I've made the wrong choice. But thankfully I recognized my choices and asked the Lord to clean me out of anything that was not of Him.

In the Spring of 2006 Ryan told our church family that we would not be defined by waiting. We would be defined by service. Ryan and I were participating in a service project when we got the call about Samuel. Isn't God good?

A friend shared this song with me recently. It is one of the one most powerful songs I've ever heard. The lyrics tell us exactly what we should do with our wait.

LISTEN to the words.

Tuesday, October 21

Waiting...

Does waiting get any easier the older I get? I mean, I've waited quite abit in my life...

...for boyfriends to call

...zits to clear up

...a job offer to come through

...a sick child to recover

...a relationship to heal

...a biopsy report

and on and on, I've waited. Now our family is waiting for precious Samuel to be 'officially' adopted into our family and I wonder if I have learned anything from my years of waiting.

C.S. Lewis expresses my inner thoughts so well,

"We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be."

My periods of waiting have taught me one thing:

LOOK BACK...not forward. As I look forward, I tend to worry and play the 'what if' game. When I discipline myself to LOOK BACK, I see how God has blessed me all along my journey...not with painful blessings, but indeed blessings!

This week, I can't help but LOOK BACK and remember how Samuel entered into our lives and trust that God will continue to do the best for us.

Monday, October 20

Waiting

Today we are waiting...

Waiting to get our pre-adoptive custody order. Waiting for the 10-day period to go by so the consent to adopt from the birth mom will be final. Waiting for the 30 days that need to pass for the birth dad's rights to be relinquished.

It is hard to wait, but this waiting is different than the waiting I've done in my past.

It is hopeful waiting.

It is also a shorter waiting period compared to the three years we have waited on the Lord to grow our family.

But still....it is waiting.

During my three-year season of waiting I came across this poem. It spoke directly to the hurt, pain and longing that comes with waiting. It challenged me and encouraged me in my waiting. It reminded me that my wait wasn't worthless. My wait wasn't wasted. My wait was part of God's plan for me to truly know Him.

Whatever kind of waiting you are facing today - hopeful waiting, sad waiting, discouraged waiting, painful waiting, anxious waiting - my desire is that this poem speaks to your heart to remind you that it's worth the wait:


The Wait Poem
by Russell Kelfer

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate...
and the Master so gently said, "Wait."

"Wait? you say wait?" my indignant reply.
"Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!"
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I'm claiming your Word.

My future and all to which I relate
hangs in the balance and you tell me to Wait?"
I'm needing a 'yes', a go-ahead sign.
Or even a 'no,' to which I'll resign.

You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
Lord, I've been asking, and this is my cry:
I'm weary of asking! I need a reply.

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate
as my Master replied again, "Wait."
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
and grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting...for what?"

He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine...
and He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.

I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
You'd have what you want, but you wouldn't know Me.
You'd not know the depth of My love for each saint.
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint.

You'd not learn to see through clouds of despair;
you'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there.
You'd not know the joy of resting in Me
when darkness and silence are all you can see.

You'd never experience the fullness of love
when the peace of My spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

The glow of My comfort late into the night,
the faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that's beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.

You'd never know should your pain quickly flee,
what it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
but oh, the loss if I lost what I'm doing in you.

So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
that the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still “WAIT.”

Thursday, October 16

Answered prayer?

It has been such a delight to hear the many many stories of people who have prayed for Ryan and I during the past few years....through the miscarriages, through the infertility, through the heartache and longing.

Just this week I got an e-mail from a friend's mother-in-law who told me she prayed for Ryan and I on Sept. 20 of this year. She wrote in her journal asking God to give us a baby by Sept. 20, 2009. She thought that meant we would have to get pregnant in the next few months because how could we possibly get a baby that quickly if we hadn't started the adoption process?

I also heard that a friend of both my and Ryan's parents has had her small group praying for us for a long time. We have never met this small group and probably never will.

I have four women from my church who I consider mighty prayer warriors who have lifted up Ryan and I and our desire for a baby for many months.

My mother-in-law meets regularly with a few other women to pray for one another's children. I know they have faithfully prayed for Ryan and I for years.

We have friends who fasted and prayed for us after we had our second miscarriage.

These are just a few of the examples of how others have interceded on our behalf and how God responded to those prayers with a miracle.

I heard Beth Moore say that just because you haven't seen an answer to your prayer doesn't mean it hasn't already been answered....maybe it just hasn't come to fruition yet. It is quite possible that three years ago when I prayed for a baby, and when so many others prayed as well, God answered our prayers immediately.

But we didn't see the answer to that prayer until now.

I believe He waited so that He would receive the glory and honor.

I hope each and every one of you are rejoicing with us because if you prayed, this is YOUR miracle too.

Be encouraged friends: God hears your prayers.

Wednesday, October 15

God already knew

Dear Mrs. Herweyer,

Last fall, October 2007, I met with your daughter Heidi at Caribou Coffee. We talked about life...struggles...challenges of waiting on the Lord and trusting in His timing and plan for our lives.

At the time Heidi and I were both trying to conceive and we shared our hearts with one another. It was a very impactful conversation for me.

What specifically spoke to me was when Heidi referenced something you told her. Throughout the past year I have recalled it often.

You told Heidi that God already knew the due date of her future baby. Whether that would be her own due date or the due date of another woman, God already knew.

I've thought about that often. I've contemplated the wisdom of God. The plan that was already in place. I wondered when my due date would come.

My first due date was Feb. 4, 2007. My second due date was April 20, 2009.

Yet neither one of those due dates were ultimately part of God's perfect plan.

That very same day that Heidi and I met for coffee, she went home and took a pregnancy test. She found out she was expecting Claire.

This week I thought once again about that conversation between Heidi and I and the wisdom you shared with her.

God knew Heidi's due date would be June 10, 2008. He knew little miss Claire Weber would be born into this world at 11:10 a.m., 7 lbs, 9 oz.

God knew Samantha's due date would be October 3, 2008. He knew little mr. Samuel May would be born into this world at 2:10 p.m., 6 lbs, 12 oz.

God already knew. Heidi and I just needed people to come alongside us and remind us that He had a plan already in place.

Whatever the future holds, God already knows.

And I can rest in that truth today.

Tuesday, October 14

No fear in miracles

Thank you to everyone who prayed for the home study yesterday....we think it went well. We're just happy to be done with that portion of the adoption process. We still have paperwork to complete but we're getting closer.

As the days go by, I find myself having moments of deep fear. The 'what ifs' start pouring in...what if the birth mom wants Samuel back? What if the dad finds out? What if there is some legal glitch we've overlooked? What if we don't get to keep him and love him forever?

What if....

I shared my fear with a friend last week and she wisely responded, "Stacy, there is no fear in a miracle."

Those were exactly the words I needed to hear. Samuel is a miracle....his mom could have aborted him, he could have been born premature with fetal alcohol syndrome or other health issues, he could have gone to another family.

But he is healthy. He is alive. He is ours. He is a living miracle.

So today I'm reminding myself there is no fear in miracles. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

Are you waiting on God for your miracle? Are you living in fear about what ifs in your future?

Let's commit the future, and all of our unkowns, to a known God.

Monday, October 13

Homemakers in real life

Barb and I have been writing on this blog for about 1 1/2 years. I was in Homemakers for 7 years. We studied. We read books. We memorized scripture. We shared recipes. We talked about our homes and how to live intentionally each day. We encouraged one another in our homemaking roles.

Today I feel like so much of what I have learned and put into practice in my home is being critiqued by the outside world.

At 1 p.m. a gal from the adoption agency is coming to see our home and finish our home study (which means asking lots of questions about our marriage, life, parents, work, relationships, parenting, etc).

Will I remember what I've been taught? Will I be able to articulate what I know? Will she understand that no words can adequately describe our desire to be parents to Samuel? Will she notice the time and energy we've put into 'building' our home?

Please pray for the adoption paperwork I need to finish prior to 1 p.m. today and for our appt from 1-3.

It's exciting and yet nerve wracking to take what I learned in the 'homemakers classroom' and apply it to real life today. I am so thankful for the training I've had for the past 7 years.

Let's hope we pass the test!

Friday, October 10

Home Improvement...

Every Friday on this blog, we try to challenge our readers with a 'home improvement' tip or new idea to try. This week, how about being mindful of miracles in your life...and also keep Ryan and Stacy in your prayers.

Wednesday they took Samuel to the pediatrician and received a good report on his health.

Thursday they met with a woman who is doing a 'home-study' on Ryan and Stacy and the extended family.

Today, the birthmom will sign papers that will start the clock ticking towards final approval (about Oct 28).

Ryan and Stacy will get finger-printed today and then spend the weekend filling out paperwork.

On Monday, the 'home-study' lady will visit their home. All week and through the weekend, friends and family have been at their house painting and fixing up the baby's room. Note the posting on Sept 30th...there was no shortage of work to be done!

Thanks to all of you who have prayed along with us this week. Make this weekend a time to rejoice and count your own blessings!

Thursday, October 9

Asked of God; heard by God

"What are you going to name him?" the birth mom asked us Saturday...literally hours after meeting her.

Ryan and I looked at each other. We had a few names in the back of our minds but we weren't sure. Twice we had dreamed of baby names and now we actually had the opportunity to name a baby - our baby!

I went to the nurses station and they gave me a couple baby books, one of which was titled "Baby Naming for Dummies" and one titled "100,000 baby names." Are you kidding me? 100,000 baby names? I was so overhwlemed by this task....not to mention I could hardly comprehend the events of the day were actually occurring.

Ryan and I made a list of names. I crossed lots of them out. We talked. Sounded them out. Wondered how they would work with our last name - May. We wanted a name with meaning.

When we got home from the hospital Saturday night I looked up 1 Samuel in my bible. You can read the first chapter here.

The story of Hannah has been incredibly impactful in my life the past two years. Friends have prayed that the Lord would 'remember me.' For months I 'poured out my soul to the Lord in great anguish and grief.'

I wrote a series of postings from this summer dealing with the bitterness in my heart from my infertility and miscarriages. Verse 10 challenged me to take my bitterness to the Lord: In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord.

I had prayed this very prayer from Hannah's mouth:
And she made a vow, saying, "O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a SON, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life..."

Saturday night the verse that jumped out to me was 1 Samuel 1:20: So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, "Because I asked the Lord for him."

There was no question what his name should be. I felt very strongly and so did Ryan that his name should be Samuel Lee (Lee is his birth mom's middle name).

In Hebrew the meaning of the name Samuel is: asked of God; heard by God.

We prayed. We wept. We hurt. We questioned. We doubted.

Verse 27 says: "I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him."

We asked. God heard.

Wednesday, October 8

Miracles...

The miracles continued into the next day... (Read Monday and Tuesday's posting)

Ryan and Stacy returned to the hospital and were allowed to feed the baby, change him and sit in the nursery throughout the day.

They kept us updated by phone:

"Everything is going great. The little guy sleeps well and takes to the bottle just fine. This all seems like a dream."

"The birthmom said we could give the baby a name"!!

Ryan and Stacy returned to the hospital on Monday:

"The baby is getting circumcised today and we are filling out papers for his release."

"The birthmom returned with a gift for the baby...a blanket that was hand-made by her grandmother. She signed the necessary papers to allow us to take him HOME!"

"A friend stopped by with a car seat. He was certified to install it, so he put it in our car and we now have a baby car seat in the back seat of our car...can you believe it?!"

At 3:30, Ryan and Stacy left the hospital...with a baby. In 48 hours, their lives were changed forever. Do you believe in miracles?

Tuesday, October 7

Living a miracle

There are no words this morning that can express the emotion in my heart. Ryan and I are living a miracle friends.

Barb or I will post again soon with more of this amazing story, but for now...a precious picture of this sweet gift from God.







Monday, October 6

Do You Believe In Miracles?

My husband and I were in Nevada this past week. On Saturday morning, about 9:00 his cell phone rang. It was our son, Ryan, calling from Minneapolis.

"Please pray for Stacy and me. We have been out picking up trash in Northeast Mpls for a community project. It is 11:00am in Mpls and we just received a phone call from a friend who knows of a 19 year old girl who delivered a baby boy yesterday. She is looking for someone to adopt him, and we are going to meet her at 1:30 this afternoon. She wants to meet us and perhaps consider us to be the baby's parents!"

That was the essence of our conversation. Stacy called about 1:00 Mpls time as they were driving to the hospital.

"Please keep praying. We don't know what will really happen at 1:30, but just pray that we have wisdom and empathy for this mom we are meeting."

My husband and I were fit to be tied. We only had 2 short conversations, and we spent the rest of the time in prayer. I lost track of time, but about 2 hours later, we got a third phone call.

"The birth mom signed a release for Stacy and me to handle the decisions about this new baby boy. We both have hospital bracelets on, identifying us as the baby's care-giver and Stacy is feeding the baby right now. The birth mom signed the papers and she went home!"

Less than a month ago, Stacy and Ryan experienced their second miscarriage and our family has been struggling to know how to make sense of it...and then we got the phone call. This is the most fun posting I will ever write because it is nothing short of a miracle. The miracle continues, come back tomorrow to read more...

Friday, October 3

From Hawaii....to this?!




























Currently my dryer is not working (unless I don't mind the greasy black marks it leaves on clothing) so I'm putting my clothesline to good use.


I don't mind it really....although it does take a lot longer to hang clothes on the line rather than toss them in the dryer. And I wonder how moms with a bundle of kids at their feet could possibly find time to hang clothing for their entire family (many moms do that!).

As I was hanging my clothes this week I got to thinking: this is a far cry from my relaxing days on the beach last week.

But there is actually something soothing about hanging clothes out to dry. It brings me a sense of peace. I can't really explain it.

Would I love a new dryer? Absolutely.

I'll get one before our Minnesota winter really sets in.

Until then, I'm hanging my clothes, reminding myself to be thankful for the privilege of caring for my home.

For Home Improvement this weekend stop yourself just once, in the midst of caring for your home....and be thankful.

Chloe update

Thank you for your prayers!

Chloe's health has improved! The doctors said her second set of x-rays looked great - no more bowel issues and no surgery needed. What an ANSWER to prayer.

She is still having eating challenges - gagging and vomiting up her food so please continue to pray for that. She has gained 2 oz due to an IV but she needs to learn how to eat on her own. As soon as she can eat regularly, and she starts gaining more weight, she can go home.

My friends have waited so long to be parents - pray with me that they can go home soon to begin parenting Chloe at home and celebrating her life!

Thursday, October 2

Baby Chloe

Hi friends,
It isn't often that I post a prayer request (in fact, I'm not sure I ever have) but tonight's the exception. I just returned home from the local Children's Hospital and Baby Chloe needs some prayer!

My dear friend Jeri Anne and I have both had a long journey to motherhood and have become close friends during the past two years. Many of you may have read the Mother's Day letter I wrote to Jeri Anne in May to honor her love and care of foster children.

Yesterday at 1:11 p.m. Jeri Anne got to hold her baby girl, Chloe Johannah, after she was delivered by an amazing 16-year-old girl named Elsa.

Chloe is precious, beautiful and an absolute miracle from God! Her names means blossom of God's grace.

However, it was discovered today that Chloe is having eating problems and has some possible obstruction in her bowel. She was airlifted to the Children's Hospital where she is currently. We will find out in the morning if she needs surgery for her bowel.

We are PRAISING GOD for the life of this sweet baby girl, and the miracle she is to Jeri Anne and her family. We are also PETITIONING God for her healing and a quick recovery.

Please pray with me dear friends and readers for Chloe's health, protection and for God to work miraculously in this situation. Pray that Jeri Anne and her husband can rejoice in the miracle of Chloe's birth and take her home very soon.

Thank you!

Wednesday, October 1

Home is where.....

The cat is?
















See that lump on the edge of my bed?

That's Jersey.

She is my four-legged, furry cat.

You see yesterday I didn't get out of bed until noon. I slept in after our long two days of travel and then I spent time reading, writing, and listening to my ipod.

During the couple hours I spent awake in bed, I found great comfort in Jersey's presence.

First she settled on my lap for awhile and then she crawled under the covers where she purred and kept me warm.

To be honest, I was very nervous about coming home yesterday. I was worried about the emotions and anxieties that would greet me as I walked through the door. I was fearful that the feelings I had left in MN 10 days before would come flooding back.

But instead walking through the door, seeing my sweet Jersey meowing like crazy, sitting in my comfortable furniture, sleeping in my bed...it was all very soothing to my heart.

At home I can be me. I can laugh. I can sing. I can be sad. I can cry. I can sleep until noon or wake at dawn.

Being a Homemaker isn't an easy job. Creating homes of comfort, rest, peace, nourishment, growth, encouragement...it can be quite overwhelming at times.

But this week I'm reminded: it's so worth it.

"Home is the one place in all this world where hearts are sure of each other. It is the place of confidence. It is the place where we tear off that mask of guarded and suspicious coldness which the world forces us to wear in self-defense, and where we pour out the unreserved communications of full and confiding hearts. It is the spot where expressions of tenderness gush out without any sensation of awkwardness and without any dread of ridicule." ~Frederick W. Robertson

Tuesday, September 30

Home














Welcome home to me.

I just returned last night from a 10-day trip to Hawaii. It was fantastic - relaxing, refreshing and so beautiful.

But as much as I enjoyed the escape from reality, and sights soothing to my soul, I could not wait to get home.

The amazing thing is that 2235 Stinson has only been my home for two months. Two crazy, busy remodeling months.

In fact, here is what my extra bedroom looks like:















Still lots of boxes to unpack and things to organize. Still painting to do, walls to fix and projects to complete.

But it's home.

My home.

And already, after just 60 days, I love it.

Isn't home good?

Friday, September 26

Home Improvement...Start Organizing

My favorite organizing books:

Simplify your life by Marcia Ramsland
Simplify your time by Marcia Ramsland
Organizing your home and Family by Sandra Felton
Organizing Plain and Simple by Donna Smallin
Two other authors whose books I have read are Emilie Barnes and Kathy Peel


I know that usually on Fridays Barb or Stacy give a directive of some sort. I guess my hope for you this week is that I have inspired you in some small way to see the benefit of being organized.

I have only scratched the surface so I hope you will take some time to check one of these books out of the library and start putting some of these ideas into practice so that you can become the effective, organized homemaker God had designed you to be. Thank you so much for sharing these few days with me. Betsy

Thursday, September 25

Practical Organizing by Betsy

Today I would like to share some practical organizing tips/systems for everyday activities.

1. My grocery list. I have made a master list of basic sections of my grocery store and mass-produced them. I have attached them to a large sheet magnet and have it hanging on the side of our refrigerator. When an item is getting low or someone in the family uses something up, we add it to the list in the appropriate section That way we always know when we need something and everyone is involved in the process.
It also makes grocery shopping easier since everything is listed by the general layout of the store.

2. Meal planning. Above my grocery list is a blank calendar that is also attached to a large magnetic sheet. I write down our basic schedules on this to show which nights we are planning on being at home. I then write in pencil the meals I plan to make within the next week or two. This allows my family to know what I am planning and it is a central location to plan my grocery list as well.

3. Leftovers. After dinner I place individual meals into small glass containers to place in the freezer. This way my husband can just grab a complete meal from the freezer to take for lunch. He doesn’t have to try to put the meal together by going to each pan that the meal originated from.

4. Place a load of laundry in the washer right away in the morning, even before breakfast if possible. Then by the time you have eaten, showered and are ready for the day you can place that load in the dryer. You will have one load of clothes done before your day starts. I also try to fold laundry and iron clothes while making phone calls. They are both easy tasks to do while on the phone.

I apologize that my tips today revolved around the kitchen organization more than anything else. Four days is really not enough time to share all that I could share. Tomorrow I hope you will join me for my list of favorite organizing books/authors. I hope to pass along information where you can get into organizing on a deeper level than I have been able to do in these few days.--Betsy