Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Not Enough Fingers....

Today's the day my baby girls no longer have enough fingers to show their age.  And it's unlikely that such refined, grown-up ladies will whip off their shoes to throw a toe into the mix!

Izzie & Chloe's birth story is so much more than the incredible story of their's the story of a really sweet Heavenly Father who heard the secret longings of my heart and gave me the cake with the fancy icing and the cherry on top.

I recently found a letter that I had written to a friend a few years ago who was worried about a pregnancy she thought was in trouble.  I told her my story.  Listen in....

I have to tell you that I really know how crazy and awful your heart felt this weekend... I've got some stories to tell you about my life!  One of the points our pastor made in the sermon this Sunday was that when we are going through troubles, God comforts us, not just to make us comfortable, but so that we can comfort others.  I thought right away of the comfort God has give me through my pregnancy troubles and felt like I should share my story with you and hopefully also share the comfort God has give me.  I'm warning you... I don't know how to make it short!!!  Sorry!

 My first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage at about 9 weeks and it was emotionally devastating for me especially, and I think Scott too.  I wanted that baby so badly and I suddenly found myself worried about if I would ever be able to have children, wondering what I had done wrong and questioning a lot of the things I thought I was sure about in my relationship with God.  Honestly, I was really mad at God for a while and mad at Scott that he wasn't mad at God too!  For me, much of my faith finally came down to two things I knew I believed  in spite of how I was feeling:

1)When I don't understand life I can still trust God's character - He is trustworthy, good and gentle with me and that won't ever change.  Psalm 103 helped build my trust... it reminds me about all the blessings God has given me (vs. 2-6), how instead of treating me as my sins deserve, He loves to tenderly take care of me as His child (vs.10-14) and especially that His plan for my life is one that will satisfy my desires with good things (vs. 5).  I found myself reading this over and over and slowly my emotions followed my trust in God to be doing what was right and good for me rather than my circumstances.

Psalm 103

Of David.
 1 Praise the LORD, O my soul;
       all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
 2 Praise the LORD, O my soul,
       and forget not all his benefits-
 3 who forgives all your sins
       and heals all your diseases,
 4 who redeems your life from the pit
       and crowns you with love and compassion,
 5 who satisfies your desires with good things
       so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
 6 The LORD works righteousness
       and justice for all the oppressed.
 7 He made known his ways to Moses,
       his deeds to the people of Israel:
 8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
       slow to anger, abounding in love.
 9 He will not always accuse,
       nor will he harbor his anger forever;
 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
       or repay us according to our iniquities.
 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
       so great is his love for those who fear him;
 12 as far as the east is from the west,
       so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
 13 As a father has compassion on his children,
       so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
 14 for he knows how we are formed,
       he remembers that we are dust.
 15 As for man, his days are like grass,
       he flourishes like a flower of the field;
 16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
       and its place remembers it no more.
 17 But from everlasting to everlasting
       the LORD's love is with those who fear him,
       and his righteousness with their children's children-
 18 with those who keep his covenant
       and remember to obey his precepts.
 19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
       and his kingdom rules over all.
 20 Praise the LORD, you his angels,
       you mighty ones who do his bidding,
       who obey his word.
 21 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
       you his servants who do his will.
 22 Praise the LORD, all his works
       everywhere in his dominion.
       Praise the LORD, O my soul.

2)Romans was really important to building my trust in God too.  I knew and believed that God had graciously provided a free gift of salvation for me that I didn't deserve because I was a sinner.  I kept coming back to that... if God really loved me that much, enough to let His own Son die so that I could have a relationship with Him when I had absolutely nothing of value to offer back, would He now be mean to me and hold-out on me???  My prayers began to change from "Why didn't you stop this God?" to "I know that you love me and have already given me more than I deserve - help me trust you while I wait for you to satisfy this intense desire I have to be a mom."
Romans 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

I got pregnant again right away and had two trouble free pregnancies with Riley & Trevor.  But then when we began trying for baby #3 the same problems started looming.  I got pregnant easily, but at 9 weeks trouble started.  Went for the ultrasound and received bad news.  I went right back to those things I had learned the first time and God was gentle and kind with my emotions.  He gave me the help of my friends. 

I got pregnant again and this time found out something was wrong at a check-up where we couldn't find the heartbeat.  It ended up being a very rare condition that can possibly lead to cancer so the doc told me I had to wait for 6 months to try again while they watched me closely. 

Well, by this time, we were thinking that we should seriously look into adoption.  We began researching and praying and I fell in love with the idea of a little girl from China.  As Scott & talked and prayed about it, we admitted to each other and to God, that our dream would really be to adopt twin girls from China

About this time I got pregnant again and it honestly scared me to death.  I was feeling really good about the adoption option and really afraid of going through the pain of losing a baby again.  At 9 weeks we had the same trouble we had seen before.  I think I had put my emotions on hold because of my fear and was really "matter of fact" and unemotional about it this time.  I scheduled the ultrasound knowing that there wouldn't be any good news for me.  I remember the tears pooling up in my ears while I laid on the table and stared at the ceiling.  The tech kept the screen turned away from me for the longest time, another bad sign.  Finally, she turned it to us and I'll never forget her words, "The baby looks fine, the heartbeat is healthy and the best part of my job is to tell you that you're having twins!" 

I have never in my life  gone so quickly from such a low point to such a high point.  I remember going home to call my friends who had been praying and give them the good news!  My doctor put me on progesterone and my pregnancy was a breeze.  A few months later we went for the ultrasound that would tell us the secret of our babies sex - and can you believe it - twin girls!! I felt like God was saying, "Just keep trusting me darling - I know the desires of your heart and I love to fulfill them." 

Right from the start, being a mom has been an intensely spiritual journey for me.  It has tested my faith, forced me to confirm for myself that I believed the truth of the Bible and had something real to pass on to my kids, and really pushed me to "grow up" as a child of God by refining my character.  I wouldn't trade this part of my life for anything, even with all it's emotions and ups and downs! 

So, sweet daughters of my dreams, know how loved you are today, how wanted and longed for you were years ago, and how your life proves the goodness and tenderness of our Heavenly Father!  Happy Birthday!

A Good Man

I've found myself breaking out into tears over a lot of simple things today.  The more everyday and normal a thing, the more golden it seems and teary it's making me.

Our church family lost a good man today....a good man who was a good husband, a good father. 

I'm married to a good man.  I'm feeling how every simple action I'm taking would have been totally different if my good man had been the one to take his last breath today.  The tears that came without warning as I pulled toast out the toaster today were because everything, ev-er-y-THING, would be wrong, off-kilter, horrifying if I were doing it with the ugly knowledge that I was making one piece of toast less than I made yesterday.

I find myself imagining the pain his wife and girls are feeling tonight as they're faced with the sun going down on the day their good man died...and it stops me in my tracks taking my breath away.  How do you sleep in a bed alone with the worst pain you've ever encountered?  How do you face a hamper full of his lovely, dirty clothes?  How do pack your girls' backpacks with school supplies when all you can think about is who won't be walking them down the aisle someday?

He was a good, good man.  He was in the thick of a life that mattered, living humbly and acting righteously.  If his wife and girls are crying that it's not fair tonight, they're right.  It's not fair.  It's not fair at all.  It's horribly wrong.  It's ugly.  It makes me mad.  It's not the way little girls are supposed to go to bed or barely middle-aged wives are supposed to wake up.  They're going to be spending a lot of time with the question, "Why?"

But if I know anything about the husband and Daddy that was taken from them today....I'm pretty sure that I know he's left them with the answer.  As the "why's" echo through their hearts over and over today, tomorrow and as time goes by, I think they're gonna hear other echo's, in a familiar voice, that answer with the truth he left behind.

Their Daddy's voice is going to remind their hearts that....
     ...they still have a good Father who's heart hurts with every tear they cry.
     ...that their Heavenly Father will never leave them.
     ....that all things work together for their good, even ugly things like this.

Her husband's voice will whisper to her that....
     ...God is really good. All. The. Time.
     ...that God will strengthen and carry her and calm her fears.
     ...that God will satisfy her heart with good things.

Because he lived the Gospel.  He lived, in front of them, the power of Christ's redemption over the ravages of sin in the world.  God didn't plan it this way....He didn't create a world where Daddy's hearts give out when they're 38 and deeply loved husbands have to be taken off of life-support less than a week after they left for work healthy and strong. 

God created the Garden of Eden for his beloved humans, He gave them paradise.  God didn't do this.  Sin did it.  The selfish sin in the Garden of Eden started the nasty spiral into death that left us crying, "it's not fair!" today.  Sin is the ultimate cancer that's infected our world.  It leaves us gasping for breath and knowing deep in our souls that something is profoundly broken in our world.  But, God will not be thwarted, His plan will prevail, even as sin has it's way for a while.  Because, as my friend taught his daughters, Christ has conquered death, and stolen the sting of death out of Satan's arsenal.  Oh, death can knock the wind out of believers, it causes us great pain.  But death cannot crush us.  Just as the power of the cross restores our hearts to freedom, it restores our hope with the resurrection.  Sin turned the Garden of Eden into a minefield full of dangers.  The cross paved narrow paths of safety and hope with a guide offering comfort as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

The lost of a good man has left us grieving today.  But that good man would want the very pain his loss caused to be swallowed up by the care of a Good Father.  He would tell us to be mad at sin, not mad at God.  He would want us to see all the ways God is protecting us, even today, from the full ugliness of sin. 

And he wouldn't want the world to stand still, as it feels like it should today.  He would ask us to hold up his beloved family as they stagger under the weight of emptiness.  He would tell us to live deeply our everyday moments with the ones we love. He would expect us to trust our Good Father with the fullness of today as well as the emptiness of tomorrow.  He would want us to savor making every piece of toast...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Jello Love

Can I just say that I love potlucks??  I really love them.  I love the anticipation and day-dreaming about lovelys I'll get to put on my Styrofoam plate.  The old friends are routinely there, like warm flannel pj pants..... cheesy potatoes, green bean casserole, baked beans... 

But it's the new loves cuddled up in their Tupperware that draw me like a hummingbird.  I love trying new foods.  I love trying at least one bite of things, just for the bragging rights....toad stir-fry, chicken hearts.  I think this side of me was born when my Dad dared his 10 year old Lori to eat a frog leg and 14 year old Lori to order Wild Boar off the menu.  It's especially fun if I'm not quite sure what it is!  (The only time this didn't work out so well was in Thailand....found out into the second bite that the sweet little dumplings in my soup weren't dumplings, but blood clots. My apologies, if you're snacking while reading...) 

The jello salads slowly brought in and deposited on the long tables by the grandmas are the best for adventures.  You can never quite tell what's lurking beneath until it's in your mouth....and even then you've gotta sleuth it out by texture and taste, or the occasional "pull it out of your mouth quick to get a peek at it" when it just won't give up the secret.  And they're so full of surprises...apparently there are no rules about what's allowed in a jello salad....fruit, marshmallows, vegetables... a skilled jello architect can make almost any combination seem right.  Those sneaky little jello salads show up on every table too, don't let the word "salad" in the name  fool ya.  I've seen those stinkers on the salad table, dessert table and everywhere in between. 

Another cool thing about the jello salads is that you know the person who brought it was really committed to the whole potluck thing.  This person isn't like me....someone who swings by the store on the way in for a "2 bags of chips = a salad" or even the person who remembers the night before and stays up late so they're offering qualifies as homemade.  Oh no...the jello salad requires so much more.  It's like a lady who needs to be thoughtfully courted....ingredients must be gathered... boiling, then chilling, then combining and mixing and chilling again.  Forethought, planning and time - jello can't be a one-stop cooking experience if you're gonna do it right....old lady style. 

And then there's the jello coup-de-grace...the beautifully, tupperwarely molded jello extravaganza.  Every time I put a slice of one of these wonders on my plate angels sing, sunbeams hit my plate and I'm amazed again at the ingenuity of  the modern woman in the kitchen.  Who would thought something so delicious could also be art.

My love for potluck jellos is so thick that it can't even be slowed by those rare jellos that disappoint.  Every now and then, a veteran jello maker gets over-eager, can't just rest in their past victories and dips their toe too far into jello schizophrenia....there are some things that just shouldn't be put in jello, my dears.  And then there's the newbies....this is why I don't do jello.  Looks so simple, but girls, it really should be left to the professionals.  Unless you've been mentored in the art be someone with more white hair than not, you might end up bringing a bowl full of that gritty stuff that gives jello a bad name.

Church potlucks are, by far, the best place to eat jello salad....I can eat it spontaneously and know that I'll be getting the good stuff, made by a white-haired professional.  I met a new jello today....a nicely molded slice... opaque, creamy yellow....full of...I'm not quite sure.  But it was yummy, yummy, yummy....

So, I guess, I'd have to say that it's the jello.  Yep, jello love is why I love church potlucks so much!  What a lovely way to spend a Sunday...

Hey...if that made you hungry for some yummy jello can head over to Ordinary Hero, help us with our adoption fundraiser...and buy some!!  We get 40% of the purchase price of every jello salad ordered and we're in another race for a $500 grant to the top 3 sellers this week! Ok...they don't really sell jello salad, you'll have to make your own or crash a church potluck....but they do sell tees with a message and donation kits to help hungry, needy kids in click below and check it out!!
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Saturday, August 20, 2011

3 Cheers!! Our Home has Officially Been Studied!!

Got the email this past week....not THE email, the one with a picture of the cutest baby in Ethiopia attached....but the email with another attachment called 'The Completed HomeStudy.'  This is a big deal!  The giant first step.

It was a strange feeling to read a boiled down 10 page version of my life.  I felt like I was on a ladder peeking into my own windows.  If there ever was a "long story short," this is it.   Our social worker did a really good job pulling the marrow out of our interviews and leaving the rest alone.  At one point, social worker Kim asked Scott what originally attracted him to me.  The HomeStudy reads, " Scott was attracted to Loretta’s love for God, her family, and her willingness to pursue fulltime ministry. "  I like that, sounds good for Pastor Scott to be attracted to his future wife by such things.  The whole story's just un-necessary....I mean really, who in Ethiopia needs to know that the first comment out of his mouth after that question was about the hot-ness of my legs.  Probably doesn't factor much into my fitness as an adoptive mother...sounds more like ad copy.  So, we're thankful for Kim's insight and keen sifting ability. We sound like a pretty nice American family....I have to admit I was impressed with the "HomeStudy Us."

We are the first of three people who need to proof-read it and send it back to Kim with approval.  When that's done....the first big invoice will start making it's way through the postal service to our mailbox.  The sand is running through the hourglass on this one.  It's pretty important that we pay that bill right away and keep things moving to avoid bumping up against our police clearance expiration date.  They want to make sure there hasn't been any time for us to mis-behave between our clean bill of felony health and choosing to let us adopt a child!  After the bill's paid we'll be cleared to send our HomeStudy to Immigration and begin assembling our Dossier.  The Immigration Clearance will give us a green light to pay the second big bill and send the whole shebang to Ethiopia and get ourselves on the golden waiting list.

We're excited!!  So excited!!  One big step closer to bringing our baby home!  Or as Ginger would say..."My little brother's in Eefiopeeea and he's cryyyyying.  I want to take care of him."  I can't wait to get him (or her) in my arms either!

In the mean-time, we're still trying to work every fundraising open door God puts in front of us.  The day after our HomeStudy came I got an email from Ordinary Hero.  We totally knocked out the competition in a grant contest they hosted last month, won the grant and deposited $1,159 into our adoption fund!  The email announced another week-long grant contest starting today.  I really hesitated....our friends and family came through in such a big way last time, but my first thought was, "How many t-shirts can I ask people to buy??!"  After having two friends mention that they were planning another purchase, having others ask me to let them know when the next contest starts, feeling the weight of the pending invoice and getting a pep-talk from a friend about "just putting it out there and letting people do what they're gonna do..."  it seemed as if we should do just that. 

So, I'm putting it out there.  This contest works just like the last....we get 40% of all purchases and the top 3 sellers of the week earn an extra $500.  You'll be seeing lots of facebook posts in the next week.  Use them as reminders to pray, reminders to buy tees or goats to feed African kids if the Spirit leads, and as reminders to repost and help us spread the word.  But please, don't feel any pressure along with the posts....I can't stand that, it would stress me out! 

Let's get comfortable on the couch together....grab some popcorn and get ready to watch.  God's gonna do what He does best....and that's always a show worth paying attention to!  He'll be making something out of nothing....either through the Ordinary Hero contest or something beyond what I could even cook up in my own little brain as something to ask for.  The lights are dimming, the previews have started and the feature presentation is just around the corner.....I'm getting goosebumps!!
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Monday, August 8, 2011

Magnetic People

There's a curious phenomenon I'm noticing...something like a magnetic force between the hearts of people who share a common cause.  Like iron shavings that come to life and are irresistibly drawn to a magnet, I'm discovering a band of people with a bewitching charm I can't resist.  I find myself wondering if I'm suddenly sensitized in a new way to people who care about adoption in my world who were surrounding me all along.  Probably....but there has also been a steady troupe of people showing up in my life that only God could have sent.

Early on, soon after we made ourselves officially "paper pregnant" and chose Bethany as the place to make it happen, I was unconsciously yearning for a specific new friend.  I don't know anyone closely who has walked the path we're on.  I've read a lot of encouraging blogs chronicling Ethiopian adoption processes of great people from hither and yon.  And I rub shoulders with a bunch of amazing people who've adopted from near and far.  What I my heart was yearning for was someone with all the common denominators....Ethiopia, physical near-ness, and Bethany Christian Services.  My heart was yearning, and little did I know, God was already moving iron shaving  hearts towards me.

It was a two-pronged approach. 

The first prong began in a 4th grade classroom with a little girl who wrote a note and a teacher with a tender heart.  Chloe was so excited to share our adoption news with her beloved teacher and chose to do it on paper.  She made her announcement and then wrote...."We don't really know how we are going to do it (we need God's help). So we are also doing it to make Jesus famous because we can't do it without him." Well, that teacher "just happens" to have two roommates, sisters, who's family brought a brother and sister home from Ethiopia last year! In fact, the two sisters and their friend were on the verge of a missions trip back to the orphanage and birth mom in Ethiopia who loved on their siblings before they were adopted. (You can get a cool snapshot of the place our little one is likely to come from on their blog here...  Chloe's teacher immediately sent me an email linking me to their blog and emails....pushing those iron shavings closer and closer together.

The second prong came through one of my former high school small group girls.  She had gone off to Chicago for college as her parents moved to Thailand as missionaries.  During summer and holiday breaks she spent time at friends' families homes, one of which she wanted me to meet .  I got a facebook message from her, the same week as the email from Chloe's teacher, connecting me with the same family as Chloe's teacher!  And, she happened to mention, they had adopted through Bethany.

As icing on the cake, I realized that there was a actually a third prong in this connection.  Reading through this family's blog, brought me to a picture of the dad....and brought me to tears when I realized how many avenues God had been working to bring my heart just what it needed.

He was "that guy."  I had glossed over Chloe's teacher's comment that the dad worked at a camp the 4th grade had visited on a field trip that year.  In fact, I had chaperoned 3 forth grade field trips to this camp and come home each time with stories for Scott about "that guy" at the camp that just had something special about him.  The way he taught the kids about nature, loved the world and life and connected with the kids made him look suspiciously like a follower of Jesus to me and the kind of guy who you think you could easily become good friends with.  When I scrolled down far enough in the blog to stumble across a picture of him, all the pieces of God's good work for my benefit fell into place and I fell apart into tears of amazement.

We've been chatting on facebook....our unlikely band of brothers....Chloe's teacher, my former senior high student, "that guy" and his great wife and their two daughters.  We've become friends, kindred spirits...and we're working on a time this month to get together in person and share life - can't hardly wait!!

One of the daughters who spent part of June in Ethiopia, Kate, has also offered herself toward our fundraising.  She makes some pretty cool and canvases....and donates her proceeds towards the care of orphans.  She has generously offered her newest two lines  to help us bring our little person/people home!  Check out her on any to see more...

Now you can call all that coincidence....but I think that would take a whole lot of faith.  And it would have to be faith in something mindless and random, which seems to me like a poor place to trust.  Or you can admit that having all these dots connect at just the right moment in just the right hearts had a whole lot of purpose behind it....loving, thoughtful purpose. 

Iron shavings drawn together out of more than random magnetic force, but for a purpose by a loving Father who uses iron to sharpen iron as He accomplishes His purposes. 

This is God's story, from beginning to end.  This curious, magnetic-like phenomenon is just one more evidence.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

It's still FLOODING at the Florida house!!

The mailbox contained another check today!  It was a computer-generated bill-pay printed check, so I couldn't figure it out at first.  "Why's somebody sending me $200?"  I asked Scott when I got the perforated strips off and could read the inside...  Then I noticed the memo line - "ADOPTION."  Once again, I'm surprised by my friends and in awe of God. 

Another day to praise Jesus as the giver of all good gifts and the One who works to accomplish His great purpose beyond our means or imagination!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Floodgates Update

Well, it's been a busy summer around the Florida house....actually we haven't been around the Florida house much at all this summer...hence the busy-ness.  The blog's been sitting silent, the dust is thick and the weeds are high...I'm feeling like my list of things to do around here is growing faster than my 15 year old son's feet!

My projects may be languishing, but God's got His all under control and has been making some noteworthy progress.  Apparently the Holy Spirit has been busy speaking and you all have been busy listening...because things are happening and we're hearing a steady clink, clink, clink as the coins drop from God's Floodgates.  It's gotten to the point that I think it deserves a special ledger page on the blog to keep track of all these deposits and praise God out loud for them.

If you've been following us at all, you couldn't have missed the Ordinary Hero grant contest we participated in during the end of August.  I turned my facebook profile into a one week-long commercial and sent so many emails that Yahoo temporarily blocked my account because of "suspicious spam-like activity!"  You can read about how Ordinary Hero helps adoptive families raise adoption funds here.  This week-long grant contest was an open door I felt I had to walk through and let God make what He wanted to make out of it.  Long story short - not only were we one of the top 3 sellers who received an extra $500 grant BUT WE TOOK 1ST PLACE!!!  1st place didn't earn us any extra money, but it gave us a great big shot of adrenaline and put a spotlight on the amazing team of family and friends who are ready to link arms with us on our way to Ethiopia.  Each time I see or hear about one of you wearing an image of Africa on your shirt in solidarity with us it overwhelms me again.  What a blessing you all are!!  Our total earnings from Ordinary Hero are $1,158 - $$ clinking straight into the adoption fund!!  You can check out the Ordinary Hero blog to read more about the contest results.

The coffee fundraiser got a bit overshadowed by the OH frenzy, but it's an on-going opportunity.  It's earned $15 so far thanks to our coffee-loving family and friends!!  We're just finishing up our first bag of strong Ethiopian brew and will be ordering more soon.  Hope you love yours too!

While we were camping with friends, the three 10 year old amigos assisted by a little sister, hosted a lemonade & bracelet making stand.  They gave up a whole afternoon of swimming and other camp-ish activities to alternately sit behind the sales table and ride their billboard-laden bikes around the campground to advertise.  We now have an envelope full of coins, $2.98 worth, labeled "Baby Birr" with the donated proceeds from their sales.  (Birr is an Ethiopian dollar!) Thank you sweet girls, for loving little baby Florida this much!!

God's been smiling down on our mailbox too. 

A check arrived with "adoption fund" in the memo line.  The return address was for some sweet friends of ours who we've connected with through ministry and our kids.  It's amazing to have God connect us with people who's hearts beat the same way.

Another check arrived from an aunt and uncle who are echoing their wonder at God's workings and plans for us.  Impossible to underestimate the power of blood-family who follow God side by side.  Our families give us such momentum.

Another check arrived from a dear girlfriend who used to be one of my Senior High small group girls and her husband.  They've been encouraging to us even before we signed on the adoption dotted line (I think they could see the writing on the wall before we could!) and have given us courage every step of the way.  What a blessing to have her grow up in front of me and turn into just the friend I need at just the time I need her!  The check came in a super-cute card that said "You're Adopting" across the front!  Who knew Hallmark had adoption cards??!!

And then today....I found a strange purple gift bag crunched between the console and passenger seat of the suburban.  Usually our suburban is carpeted with stray papers, wrappers and general it's unusual that I would be alerted to something new appearing.  We've had a recent cleaning extravaganza to clear out the camping crud which shined a spotlight on the purple bag I hadn't seen before.  (My kids disagree with me on this, they're position is that we clean the suburban "ALL THE TIME!"  The recent cleaning must have seared itself into their minds so hotly that it displaced the memory of junk falling out of the doors each time they're opened.)  The purple bag contained a Ziplock bag stuffed with coins and bills and a note that said it was "to help bring the new Florida baby home!"  It was signed by the two adopted sons of one of my dearest friends - the friend that pushes me, prods me, challenges me to follow God farther and harder.  Support from these two boys is especially precious to me.  I'm counting on them to be part of the support team  that makes my little adopted person/people understand how wanted and loved they are by us.  BIG kiss, kiss to my sister-friend who's upholding me with her friendship and raising such tough and tender boys.

Isn't this ah-maz-ing??!!  I desperately don't want events like this to begin to feel common-place as God makes them  happen with common-place regularity .  Each one deserves celebration and thanksgiving - for the God who is opening His floodgates and for the people who are letting themselves be the funnel through which His blessings flow. 

16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. "
James 1:16-17