Saturday, December 17, 2011

Moving to a new address...

I am moving my blog thoughts and posts to a new site.  If interested you can follow me here....http://heartmommy.blogspot.com/.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving

Today was glorious!  It started with a 5 mile run with three great friends.  I came home to the smells of coffee and bacon cooking on the griddle.  Ryan had made breakfast and the boys were all snuggled up on the couch with their big cousins.  After a leisure morning we went to my in-laws for a full day of family, food, relaxing and laughing.  We enjoyed wonderful food, a beautiful table and headed out for a walk in 65 degree weather.  The kids played together beautifully and the grown-ups got to laugh and reminisce about Auntie Lois and all the treasured Thanksgiving traditions we have.

We have more family time ahead with my side of the family.  We have more football and friends to look forward to as well.  The abundance of grace poured out on this family is overwhelming.  God is so obviously good to us and I am so, so, so thankful.

This heart of mine is still in training.  I know that as I learn how to give thanks when goodness and grace is obvious that my heart and mind are learning how to give thanks for times ahead when grace looks unexpected.  I remember that He asks me to give thanks all the time.

I read one time that when we presume something is bad we are really trying to be God.  Remember back in the garden.  Adam and Eve wanted to have the knowledge of good and evil to be more like God, as if His proclaimed goodness wasn't to be trusted.  We still fall into the same sin when we judge something as good or bad without knowing the past, present and future.  I think that's why He asks us to be continually giving thanks.  It is an act of trust.  In essence, when we say thank you to God we are saying, "I trust your love, your goodness and Who You Are no matter what."

These words from Colossians say it better than I ever could...

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts since as members of one body you were called to peace, AND BE THANKFUL.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs WITH GRATITUDE IN HEARTS TO GOD.  Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, GIVING THANKS TO GOD THE FATHER THROUGH HIM."  Colossians 3:15-17

and,

"Since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.  We pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way.  Bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you will have great endurance and patience and JOYFULLY GIVING THANKS TO THE FATHER who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light."  Colossians 1: 9-12

I am forever thankful for...

~salvation.  He rescued me from the dominion of darkness and brought me into the kingdom of the son He loves.  In whom, is redemption the forgiveness of sins. (Col 1:13-14)
~books that inspire
~family that I love
~poppyseed bread
~lunch with my mommy
~shopping with my mommy
~Nannie and Hallie making up stories
~My kids running with great big smiles to see Nannie
~Zac's thanksgiving play at school
~holding Ryan's hand
~A back rub from Ryan
~Cousins playing the Princess Pink Restaurant
~Zac saying, "I'm thankful God had me adopted to you, mommy."
~My children
~meeting Melia's cardiologist. It was exactly the meeting I needed.
~Hope, no fear.
~friends I can count on
~comforts of home.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Passing along the gift of thanks...

One of the things I love about my job as a PA is patient education.  I love to explain how the body works, why I am prescribing a certain regimen or medicine and especially what lifestyle changes may help improve well-being.

Well, this whole gratitude thing has started to overflow into my daily clinical practice.  There are so many, many people living out of control lives with hurts, habits and hang-ups that disrupt sleep, relationships, jobs...the list goes on and on.

My approach first addresses a person's physical needs, immediate and long term.  Sometimes this involves medicine for a multitude or reasons.  But, then I also address a person's spiritual and emotional needs.  One of the easiest ways to approach this sometimes sensitive topic is to invite my patients to start a gratitude journal.  I have not run across one person who isn't willing to entertain the idea of giving thanks for small things and big things and everyday things in their lives.  Of course, the act of giving thanks begs the question, "Who are you thanking?"

So, time will tell if this practice and these conversations impact my patients for the kingdom, but I certainly have seen it transform things in my mind, heart and life.  I hope it will do the same for others.  I believe it can.

This gift God has given us in inviting us to give thanks all the time and in all circumstances is part of our freedom in Christ.  We are set free from worry about tomorrow or regret about yesterday when our mind is fixed on giving thanks for every small detail about today.  Sure, if a person has spent the majority of their lives fixed on worry, regret, anger....then the transformation of the mind will take time and practice.  But, that is what the gratitude list is all about.  Practicing and in doing so, being transformed.

We have had a lot of things in our family lately that could and should, according to the world, bring fear and anxiety.  But, I am thankful that God is good and thankful that He is faithful and thankful that His plans for me and my family are based on eternal purposes and He acts in love and thankful that He works all things together for our good.  Here are the latest gifts He has given...

~more days with my mother in law, Jean
~cousin time in Kansas
~calm, sure faith seen in my father-in-law
~seeing a good friend, healed of cancer
~first Husker game with Hallie and Jacob
~Zac's hugs and positive attitude
~a healthy report on Melia
~warm house when the wind blows
~wrestling, giggling brothers
~coming to mom for hugs when the wrestling gets out of hand
~coming to mom for a hug when Hallie bit her tongue
~dinner with our friends, celebrating our dear friend's birthday as one of the family
~hockey game with the kids
~Zac falling asleep in the car.
~Jacob's last words tonight, "I want Husker gear for Christmas, #22" (after a loss)

...the list goes on and on and makes me smile every time!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thankful for a grown up recipe that everyone will eat!

I found this recipe on the pioneer woman website.  I usually brace myself for the complaints I get when trying a new recipe, especially one that is "fancy" and not specifically geared toward kids.  Well, let me tell you this one surprised me.  I had no complaints and it is now one of Jacob's favorite dishes.  We call it...

Three Cheese Pasta Shells



Ingredients

  • 8 ounces, weight Jumbo Pasta Shells
  • 30 ounces, weight Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
  • 8 ounces, weight Parmesan Cheese, Grated, Divided
  • 1/2 cup Grated Romano Cheese
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 12 leaves Basil, Chiffonade
  • 2 Tablespoons Minced Parsley
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 whole Medium Onion, Chopped
  • 5 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1/2 pound Italian Sausage
  • 1/2 cup Red Wine
  • 1 whole 28 Ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 whole 15-ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Minced Parsley

Preparation Instructions

Cook pasta shells for half the cooking time; make sure not to overcook. Drain and rinse in cool water. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for a minute or two. Add Italian sausage and brown, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. Pour in red wine and let it cook for a minute or two.
Pour in cans of crushed tomatoes and stir. Add sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check for seasonings; can add crushed red peppers if you like a little heat.
In a separate bowl, mix ricotta, half the Parmesan, Romano, egg, salt and pepper, basil, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Stir until combined.
To assemble, coat the bottom of a baking dish with sauce. Fill each half-cooked shell with the cheese mixture. Place face down on the sauce. Repeat with shells until cheese mixture is gone. Top shells with remaining sauce. Sprinkle on extra Parmesan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
Serve with crusty French bread.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thankful no matter what...

~thankful that I am lonely when Ryan is gone.  It means I know real love.
~thankful when I am sick.  It reminds me that one day I will never be sick again.
~thankful when I repent to my kids after being a grouch (sin).  It reminds me I am forgiven in Christ.
~thankful for sleeping alone.  It creates in me a compassion for my daughter in China that leads to prayer for her.

The Spirit is opening my eyes to see a reason to always, always give thanks and see beauty in ashes.  Thankful.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Thank God for Sick Days

I'm constantly refining and relearning the purposeful act of giving thanks at all times and in all circumstances.  The Lord reminded me just yesterday in 1 Thes 5:18 that it is His will that I give thanks in all circumstances.  I am thankful to be thankful, that He is giving me eyes to see Him in all things.  Truly, eucharisteo, the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving for undeserved grace, brings joy!

Yesterday I was sick, Hallie was sick, the boys were sick...sick, sick, sick!  Let me tell you how thankful I am for sick days...

~slowing down
~Hallie home from school, snuggling on the couch
~painting toenails
~her hands playing with my hair
~each of us doing devotions on the couch together
~reading our books together on the couch in quiet
~Her book choice, "Little House in the Big Woods"
~cleaning out her closet together
~laundry done (all of it, for at least 4 hours)
~Zac's bravery at the dentist.  Two teeth pulled without a tear
~medicine to lessen pain and an amazingly skillful dentist
~Jacob's attitude.  He rarely complains.
~Watching Jacob construct lego masterpieces at the after school club
~Our home.  Quiet, safe, peaceful
~Phone calls from Ryan throughout the day.

I keep thinking that God is training my heart and mind to think about things above, not earthly things so that I might keep the faith no matter what this life throws at me in the future.  I am thankful he is training me to rejoice, be filled with joy and celebrate Him even on sick days.  Yesterday sure was great!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Marathon Analogy

Last weekend I ran the Omaha Marathon in honor of my dear daughter, Melia. It's no wonder Paul compares life and faith to running a race. It's no wonder the pastor at our church used a marathon to describe parenting. It's a great analogy, and running that race has really impacted my perspective on life. So, here goes...


First, you have to decide to commit to the training and the race. Isn't this the first step in making anything happen. Committing to something that you know will be hard and painful at times (like parenting, adopting a child with a heart condition, marrying someone, following Christ, being a friend....) is difficult. But, setting your mind on things above and not on earthly desires and fear enabled me to make the commitment to run the race.

Second, is the training. Ugh! 12 miles, 16 miles (in the humidity), 18 miles, 20 miles (with shoes that hurt my feet)...this is the hard part. Staying the course and following through when life is uncomfortable, hot, humid and you are running on and on by yourself. I am thankful that most of my training was done with friends that were incredibly encouraging and motivating but there were hours that I was thankful to have Jesus with me when I otherwise would have been all alone. And, isn't that important. When I am faced with challenging parenting moments or frustrated relationships or health concerns...it is good to have Jesus and friends that will listen, encourage, motivate, pray and run alongside me. One of the greatest encouragements was when I was headed out for a run in the rain at 5 a.m. and Ryan says from bed, "Wow, you are amazing. I am so proud of you." (Then, he returned to his slumber :)

Third, the taper. Ahh. The calm before the storm. Isn't it sweet when life calms down for awhile and we can really bask in the rest God gives. The two weeks before the run I was tapering and still concerned about my leg hurting but I also enjoyed more relaxed runs with my friends and a physical therapy friend gave my legs some treatments. During this time I really valued the knowledge from Kelly, a marathon trainer and from my PT friends. It reminds me that we need to stop and listen to the wisdom of others instead of barreling on ahead with our own plans and ideas. Their advice helped me to have a successful race and I am grateful.

Race Day! The start of the race was exciting. I had my tribe of running buddies with me and we all ran the first 13 miles together. They kept my mind off my legs and were a constant source of encouragement. They were in there running the race with me. We all need people that will sweat and run the race of life with us.

After mile 13, I continued on my own but not for long. My family, all wearing pink shirts for Melia, cheered me on at mile 6, 12, 15, 20 and 26. They woke up early, the kids dressed in the car and they tromped all around downtown Omaha, just to support me. Do I have an amazing family or what? This reminds me of the importance of family. No matter what, they will always be my family and they will always cheer me on in life.

Then, at mile 16 another friend, who left her family for a few hours on a Sunday, joined me to run 6 grueling miles. I felt my legs slowing down, but her physical presence inspired me to keep running. She jumped in with me when I was feeling tired and worn out. I can remember feeling this way many times with my children, sometimes with my job or other relationships. This is the point at which you want to slow down or maybe even quit, but then someone comes along and makes all the difference in the world. At one point I almost tripped over her but she still stayed right by my side to run with me. Do you ever do that? When someone tries to help, we push them out of the way because we really don't want to keep running the race, but a true friend doesn't let us quit!


Then, came mile 23. At this point I was by myself and due to a bathroom break my family could not make it to mile 23. And then, a HILL! Seriously! I am hot, my hips and feet hurt, I am all alone and I have to climb a hill! Yep, sometime life is like that. So, I ran (if you can call it that) up the hill and you know what awaited me at the top? An encouraging spectator. I don't know who she is or anything about her, but God knew I needed her kindness at just that moment. Don't you just love it when God drops unexpected blessings in your life in the midst of trials and pain?

Mile 25, a surprise! One of my running buddies was still around and even though her legs were hurting she ran 25-26 with me. She did not let her pain stop her from encouraging me. This is a good reminder to me that even when life is not perfect I need reach out and be a blessing to those around me.

Finally, 26.2 The finish! Cheers, hugs, a medal. That is the welcome home we will get from Jesus when we run the race of life faithfully~He is waiting with cheers from angels, hugs and a reward. Oh, what a day that will be! (And, I imagine my knees won't hurt the next day either.)


So, there you have it. Life as a Marathon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fully living

I was challenged through some different readings yesterday and by the Holy Spirit to embrace the full life right now. The only way to really live fully is with an attitude of gratitude for the moments. When we wish for things to come we are silently telling God, "What you have given today isn't enough." When we regret or exalt the past we are telling God, "What you have given today isn't enough."


Colossians 2:6-7 says, "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness."

He wants us to know and live the full life and so a little burble of thanks now and then won't cut it. Gushing out thanks constantly renews our mind, fixes it on Jesus and gives us peace (Phil 4:4-8, Hebrews 12:2, Romans 12:2)

~April's jelly beans rattling in the booster seat
~the smell of clean clothes fresh out of the dryer
~Ryan's kind, affirming words about my mothering
~a big hug from Jake after a hard lesson learned
~Understanding God better through parenting
~My mom's voice and laugh in the morning
~the smell of coffee in the morning
~shiny floors
~folding laundry (yep, I said it)
~Hannah's text message
~Filling up, resting in God's Word at Bible study

Monday, September 19, 2011

Scripture Memory

I am so blessed to be digging in deep to Colossians. The Holy Spirit is taking Paul's words to the faithful followers at Colosse and impressing them on my heart in Omaha, NE. He is reminding me to remember the freedom I have when because I have chosen to trust in Christ. It is a beautiful thing that God is doing in me day by day. Slow, but good.


Read THIS quick post about Scripture memory for more inspiration today.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Saturday Reflections...

Lord, thank you for...

~little boys doing somersaults at football practice.
~Steam rising from the lake early in the morning
~Mama deer with her babies on my run
~Those hugs from Ryan I just melt into
~Brester kids calling Ryan, "Mr. Honker"
~Flashlight tag in the backyard
~Hallie's reputation at school...helpful, kind, smart
~laughing
~Trust and optimism seen in my friend, Mindy.
~Saturday morning cartoons
~Seeing "MOM" written at the top of Zac's school paper with hearts and stars around it
~Hallie's attitude about schoolwork
~Jake's leadership at football

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Have you considered adoption?

God is so good to us. While we were yet sinners He died for us. Why would he do such a thing? Because His love for us is crazy. It doesn't make sense to the world and it is extravegent. Christ didn't listen to the temptations of Satan and this world, he knew that love would cost Him, but he did it anyway so that we could be his forever. Temporary pain for an eternal gain.


And this gracious gift is without any strings attached. But, when we believe we are changed. We become a new creation with new thoughts and Christ begins to transform our minds and actions so that our desires are his desires, our hurt is his hurt and our longings are his longings. We accept the gift and in doing so become more like him. "And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Cor 3:18

Certainly, scripture tells us of how passionate God is about the orphan. "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families." Psalm 68:5-6

So, when we take the orphan in as one of our own we emulate Christ. There are huge unknowns when you say yes to the orphan and invite them to be called your son or daughter. But, if we trust in the Lord we can be sure he will supply all we need to care for and passionately love these children. As believers we do not live with a spirit of fear, we can trust in the goodness of God. We become more like Christ when we care for the orphan. It does not make sense to a selfish world, but it is a thing of beauty. When our hearts are burdened for the fatherless, just like the Lord's heart, we should be moved to action. Not convenient action, but something that requires more of us than we think we have. When we are weak, He is strong!

If any of these words or anything in your past has sparked something in you to adopt, please don't ignore the calling of God. Have you, as a person transformed in mind and action by Christ, considered adoption?


Friday, September 2, 2011

Running for Melia

I wanted to let you know about an organization called, Brittany's Hope.


Ryan and I were introduced to this non-profit organization through our adoption agency, Holt International, after we were matched with our dear daughter, Melia.

Melia has been diagnosed with a complicated congenital heart disease and because of this diagnosis she is considered to be a special needs child in the adoption world. Brittany's Hope helps place children with all kinds of special needs into forever families and they support orphanages around the world that are caring for these wonderful children who have not yet been adopted.

Brittany's Hope offered us a matching grant for our adoption if we were willing to raise awareness for their organization and for the needs of special kiddos around the world.

On September 25th I am going to run the Omaha Marathon in honor of my daughter, Melia and to raise funds for Brittany's Hope. If you would like to contribute please click HERE. One possible suggestion is $26 for each mile I run, but any amount will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you, dear friends, for joining me in our effort to bring Melia home and help these amazing, special needs children all around the world.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New Picture!!



Yesterday our adoption agency sent us an updated picture of our precious little girl. Look at her! She is walking all by herself now and lives with a family that has three other children. She is the youngest of the four, just like she will be when she gets home.

Right now we are waiting for this pesky piece of paperwork from China called the LOA (Letter of Acceptance). My hope is that we will have the LOA by my birthday in late September. Once we get that we file an I-800 form with the US government. I hope that will take less than 4 weeks to get back. Then, we send a letter to China for travel approval (4 weeks) and then we get issued a travel date (3-6weeks later). I think that puts us in late December at the earliest and maybe into next year for travel. I really, really, really hope God's plan is for her to be with us before the end of the year. But, no matter what, all is grace and I am thankful today for her picture. They even reported to us that she can say mama and baba (dada in Chinese) and looks at our photo album almost every day!

~thankful for her little fingers
~thankful for her toddling walk
~thankful for a clean home for her to live in
~thankful she has warm clothes to wear
~thankful she is known and loved by her Heavenly Father
~thankful that her brothers and sister pray for her
~thankful for grandparents that share our joy over a new picture
~thankful for friends who delight to hear our updates

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Reading through Colossians

God has brought me to the book of Colossians for scripture memory lately. By focusing on memorizing just one verse every day and repeating all the previous verses each day the Word is coming alive in a whole new way. God's merciful, endless grace poured out and described by Paul in Colossians calls me to thankfulness.


Most recently I have been concentrating on the first part of Chapter 2. Paul is struggling to reach the world with the awesome message of salvation and rejoices in the labor. I am challenged by this devotion to people he knows and even those that have not met him personally. He struggles with the energy of Christ to reach the lost for the glory of God. (1:29-2:2)

Do I rejoice in my light and momentary burdens in suburbia? Do I complain and throw little tantrums when my children test me? Do I elevate stuff over relationships? I wish my answer was no, but far to often I find myself compelled by selfish desire with complaints instead of praise.

But, praise the Lord! Even when my humanity rears it's ugly sin nature, God's grace is poured out into my life. There is conviction from the Holy Spirit that redirects me and illuminates the narrow way. I am so thankful for grace that leads me in everlasting ways instead of down a dead-end, selfish road. Grace gets me back on track.

Paul goes on to write that he delights in how orderly the Christ followers are and how firm their faith is. This reminds me that order and discipline is part of me staying on the right path. (2:5) Order in my daily life helps me so that I will not be deceived and led astray by the world's temptations. So, I am thankful for order in my life and how God works gloriously in the routine of life to show me the way.

Thankful for these routines:

~Waking for an early morning run
~The constancy of meeting these women for running
~The kids doing their morning chores...bed, clothes, teeth
~Unhurried breakfast
~The rhythm of school days
~A kiss from my husband before me leaves for the day
~At least two calls from Ryan every day
~"I love you" before we go to sleep every night
~Church every Sunday
~No TV on Sundays
~Sitting around the table as a family at dinner
~Bedtime story every night with Daddy reading in our big bed
~Scripture memory while I drive



Monday, August 15, 2011

1000 Gifts

There is nothing more powerful than seeing Jesus. You might ask, "Katie, have you really seen him? Seriously?" My answer to you is YES! When we see his bountiful, overflowing, never-ending gifts poured out so freely and lavishly over us every day we encounter him and we get glimpses of him. Counting these blessings has opened my eyes to see Him and his grace and mercy.


Although I may not actually count them past 1,000 I will keep counting them in my heart and mind because this acknowledgment of His gifts is life giving. My life has been changed for good, not because everything always goes my way and not because my eyes don't see the evils and heartache in this world, but because the light of his presence is brighter. When you count the gifts and see him in all things then even hurt and sadness gets consumed with the light of His love.

1 John 4: 12, 18 comes to mind..."No one has seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us...There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear..."

When I see the love expressed so freely from friends, family, co-workers and even strangers I give thanks. Why? Because I am seeing God and this practice of acknowledging his goodness drives out fears I might have about the future. His love poured out consumes evil and hurt. Praise the Lord!

991. Seeing Jesus in my friend, Rhonda. Her faith is strong as she deals with her son's cancer. I have seen Jesus!
992. My ten running friends gathering together to celebrate Melia and offer generous gifts of love, support and friendship at her baby shower. I have seen Jesus!
993. Ryan's parents sacrificially caring for his 97 year old great aunt as she painfully gets ready to exit this life and enter the presence of Jesus. I have seen Jesus!
994. Watching all three of my boys play catch and Ryan saying yes over and over again to, "Dad do you want to play catch? Are you ready?" I have seen Jesus!
995. My parents offering to give up their dreams and travel plans to go with us to China, or stay at home with Zac while we travel. Whatever we want, they said. I have seen Jesus!
996. My friend calling me today to tell me she needed to repent of the thoughts and words she so honestly shared with me and then tell me the beautiful lesson of love that God revealed to her. I have seen Jesus!
997. Watching our three kids each show their friends such polite hospitality at the movie night we had on the driveway. I have seen Jesus!
998. Listening to the encouraging, authentic, convicting words from our pastor this Sunday that drew my attention to 1 John. I have seen Jesus!
999. Meeting a stranger at the pool and sharing our adoption journeys and God's provision all in 45 minutes. I have seen Jesus!
1000. Feeling the breeze, listening to my kids play with toys in the front yard while swinging on the front porch swing in 75 degree weather and reading my bible. I have seen Jesus!

So, #1000 is not some over the top gift that anyone would even normally pay attention to, but that's the point. It's all grace. It's all a gift. So, I will continue to see Him and know Him in everything, for His glory alone!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Look who's seven!




So thankful that seven years ago God graced us with the gift of Jacob.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Back To School

The Third Grader
The Kindergartener
The First Grader

August 10th and we are back to school in Millard! The summer was absolutely wonderful with the kids and I am sad to see it come to a end. BUT, I am also excited to see what unfolds this next year with all three of my big kids in school!


Yesterday, the boys and I went to the park one last time and my heart hurt a little thinking about not having them at home today. But, at the same time I gave thanks that God was giving me another daughter to love and care for at home in just a few short months (I hope).

Last night we had our back to school dinner inspired by my dear friend, Jen in Texas.


We had three-cheese stuffed pasta, broccoli and carrots, strawberries and sparkling grape juice! We set goals for the year, worked on memorizing our verse for the year (Psalm 121:8), wrote prayers out for our teachers and then daddy prayed over each child and gave a toast. Simple and wonderful!



After dinner, Grammy and Grandpa joined us for ice cream sundaes to wish the kids well on their first day of school.


This morning I woke to happy, excited children and everyone was ready to head out the door on time at 8:00. Each of the kids had a great day and is eager to go back to school tomorrow. I am so thankful!


976. Trips to the park on scooters
977. Best friends
978. Zac's confidence in meeting a new friend as he waited in line to go into school
979. No tears, all joy!
980. Phone calls to grandparents
981. Jacob's happiness about being calendar helper next week
982. Brushing Hallie's beautiful, golden hair before school
983. Daddy making eggs for breakfast
984. Thoughtful prayers for the kids teachers from the kids' hearts...patience, peace and health
985. Singing our memory verse at the table together.
986. Eating ice cream with Grammy and Grandpa
987. Talking to my mom, uninterrupted, while the kids were at school.
988. My mom's inspirational ideas
989. Friends calling to see how the lone mommy was doing...just fine!
990. Excitement about tomorrow.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Mother's Love

Today, my friend sent me a link to a wonderful editorial about motherhood. It speaks of the selfless love that is required of a mother and how the world so often directly and indirectly opposes that kind of love. I am by no means a perfectly, selfless mother so the article challenged and encouraged me. I hope you might also read it.


Because we are close to bringing our daughter Melia home, of course my thoughts went to her after reading the article. You see, Melia has some known congenital heart defects. That "known" information can seem overwhelming if I let the world influence my passion and emotions. After all, it might seem to some like a lot to take on. But, it is only because it is what is known. The unknown is in God's hands. Her future, however many days and years she has is in the hands of a faithful Father who says He IS love. He can not operate out of anything but love for my family, my children, because He IS love.


And, the reality is that all my days, all my other childrens' days are unknown to me, but known by this good, loving God that I have come to trust. He says, and I believe Him, that He goes before all things and in Him all things hold together (Col 1:17). He says that He empowers us to labor and struggle with all His energy which powerfully works in us (Col 1:29).


Because of the hope in Him and the love from Him I joyfully labor in the opportunity to pour out myself for one of my callings...motherhood. I rejoice because I have discovered over time that dying to myself, living like Christ, actually brings blessing, joy and peace. So, with a thankful heart for the overflowing love I give thanks for...




966. Jacob's caution 967. Riding a roller coaster with Mr. Adventure, Zac
968. Hallie choosing to be with us over friends
969. Ryan's spontaneity...Adventureland on a Tuesday!
970. Melia's inquistive look in the picture I stare at each morning.

971. That God knows the future and is love

972. A full day of patients at work

973. Talking about gratitude journals with one of my patients

974. A phone call from Hallie, her voice on the phone

975. Listening to my kids endless thanks over lunch.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Listing my thanks...

951. Air Conditioning

952. A Family swim
953. The Gulps
954. Five Horners snuggling in bed and listening to Ryan read a story
955. The ache that comes with loss
956. Phone call from my mom
957. Peaceful mornings
958. Grandparents at swim meets
959. New school clothes
960. Trying new foods
961. Fresh fruit
962. Watching a movie with Ryan
963. Reading a good book
964. All three kids listening to a story on CD together in the backseat
965. Rediscovering toys in the basement

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Thankful...

941. Boys flying down the hill on their bikes with no hands on a summer day

942. Kids mesmerized by a book on CD in the car
943. Swimming with my kids
944. New pictures of Melia
945. Grandparents that took Zac on a special vacation and made him feel so special
946. Being a prayer partner for my parents at the Royal Family Kids Camp next week
947. Fried potatoes with my grandmother's seasoning
948. Surprise treat with my kiddos at Red Mango...their smiles
949. Daddy teaching an impromptu swim lesson over the lunch hour
950. Cuddling with all three kids on the couch after we all woke up after 8:00 a.m.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What will we do without Hannah?

Our dear, sweet Hannah is moving out next weekend. We are wondering what we will do without her around. Here is an example of how helpful she can be...


We have a wonderful video of Melia that our agency sent us. In it Melia is kicking her legs and excited about a song that one of the caretakers is playing on her phone for Melia. We thought it would be so cool to have that song in our itunes for her when she comes home, but how in the world were we going to find a Chinese song?

In walks Hannah with an app. She enlightens us with Shazam! She just puts her phone up to the speaker on our computer and within 20 seconds a youtube video of the song pops up. We copy and paste the Chinese name into itunes and viola...free download of the song we were looking for.

Hannah you are so cool!

Below is a video of the song. By the way, Hallie practically has the song memorized, in Chinese!



Wednesday, July 6, 2011

All Grace...

931. The ache in my heart for Melia

932. My cousin Nick's grin
933. Big boys and big fireworks
934. Watermelon to celebrate the fourth
935. Holding Hallie's hand
936. Strong bond of family
937. Sending pictures to Melia
938. Discovering God's goodness with Amy and Beth
939. Ryan's funny faces
940. Laughing cousins in a tub of bubbles at Grammy's house

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Without Further Adieu...

...I would like to introduce to you Melia Xinai Horner! (pronounced Meh-lee-uh Shin-eye)








Just today Ryan and I received word from our adoption agency that they have approved us to be the parents of a sweet, 13 month old girl from China. We are bursting with joy, excitement and anticipation! She is our long awaited, hoped for daughter and we feel so very blessed!

This past week has been an incredible journey of faith and trust in God as we learned about some heart conditions that our daughter has. I won't go into all the details, it's her story to share, but I will tell you that God has changed us for good through the process of finding our daughter.

Our precious Melia was born with a heart condition that will likely require some surgery down the road. We spent the week educating ourselves on her heart issues with several doctors, other mothers and our social worker. In the end, we felt God drawing us to this gem. Every time we resisted the idea of adoption anxiety would well up in me and I realized that fear of the unknown was the source of that anxiousness. When we submitted to God and made the choice to say yes to what God already chose for us,"peace that surpasses understanding" flooded over us and has been "guarding my heart and mind" against fear ever since.

This process also made us dive into the idea of God's goodness. After all, how is it good that any child should be born with physical affliction? Why should any child be living outside the love of a family? How is that good, God?

That's when my wise, wonderful husband reminded me that God's good is not ours. His definition is greater and far better than mine. That's when I became aware that most of the time I define good as something that makes ME happy, makes ME smile or pleases ME. It's so self focused. God's good is bigger. He wants us eternally and His goodness seeks to save us eternally. That's when I began seeing good in Melia's physical condition.

Melia's heart is her way out of an atheist country. She will learn about God and His eternal love for her in our family. It is good to live life fully with a mom and dad, brothers and a sister. It is good that we are more aware, after only one week, of the blessings and goodness of this day. Because, we are not guaranteed tomorrow or the next heart beat. Melia has already made us more intentionally thankful and thus more fully alive and present in our moments.

So, I give thanks today for...
921. Another daughter
922. Her smile, her button nose, her beautiful eyes
923. Her growth and development thus far
924. A husband who repromised to love me always...in sickness and in health
925. Hallie's squeal over a new sister
926. Jacob's confidence, "I knew that was my sister"
927. Zac's determination to be her protector and helper when she comes home
928. Our parents joy, support and love for their new granddaughter
929. New friends to help us with new information...Chelle
930. God's promises fulfilled when we act in faith, trusting His goodness always (Phil 4:7)

If you have read this blog post, then you are part of Melia's story too. I would ask you to pray for her while she is away. I ask you to pray that God would prepare her for all the new sights, sounds, smells, foods, textures, experiences that she will have in our family. I ask that you pray for our other children as they welcome a new child into our family. It can be very emotionally difficult. Please pray that our marriage would remain strong. Please pray for God to touch her body with healing and that his strength would be powerful in her weaknesses.

Thank you for sharing in our joy!