Wednesday, September 30, 2009


No one wants to win the book?  How about if you leave any kind of comment of any sort on this post, and I'll enter you to win.  Really - it's a good book!


Monday, September 28, 2009

Donald Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

After reading the first few pages of Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, I was skeptical.  It was the first book by Miller that I had read, and I was expecting great things.  But a few pages in, well, it wasn’t catching my attention.

But.  The more I read of this book, the more I loved it.  The book says it is about how Donald Miller used the lessons he learned, while editing his life into a movie, to move himself from a meaningless, boring existence to one of wonder.  And yes, it is about that.  But even more, this book is about story.  What makes a great story.  Why we love a great story.  And most importantly, how to live a great story.

There are only a few books I would call life-changing: A Severe Mercy, The Four Loves, Making Room for Life… and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.  I have seriously been thinking about this book and its message for weeks and I think I need to go re-read it.

I must say, I don’t like the writing style (seems to me like Miller is trying too hard to maintain his tone – and I don’t really like his tone!).  In places, it is simplistic (not simple, which to me is positive, but like he's trying to be a cute kid when he's a grown man), and in places, it is too... modern, perhaps? for my taste.  But I hear that all his books are like this, and so if you like his writing style, you'll really love this book.

Be the writing as it may, the content of the book is solidly good.  I especially liked the stories about Bob and his family, and about the man who changed his daughter's story.  The message of this book is important - too important to miss.

Now for some fun news: When I agreed to read and review this book for Thomas Nelson, they sent me an extra copy - so I get to do a blog giveaway!  If you would like to win this book, leave a comment telling me a great story that you've lived.  Be creative - make it an everyday story (no wedding day or child's birth stories!).  

(I won't pick the winner based on the best story - so no pressure!  It'll be a random drawing.)


Pictures from last week, in random order. (Kelsey, Jenna, and baby Isaiah came to visit. The pictures are Kelsey's; it's so nice having a great photographer for a sister!)

Jenna and Cory on what the boys call the "trumpalump."

Iain can jump pretty high for a little guy!

Trying to get a good "three cousins" picture.

This one might be the keeper:

This one is definitely a keeper!

From the second Jenna brought Isaiah in, the boys were enthralled. They talked to him nonstop ("Don't cry, bee-bee, wanna see my toy? Look, it's a duck! See my shirt; it has a flag on it. See it?"), and held him probably more than I did. They're going to be so great with their new baby sister!
Spidey holds the baby:

Iain and Isaiah:

Aunt Kelsey and her nephews:

Iain took this picture. Pretty artsy, eh?

Come back tomorrow - you might win a book!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Book Review - Voices of the Faithful Book 2, Compiled by Kim P. Davis

I've started reviewing books for Thomas Nelson Publishing, as part of their blogger book review program. What follows is my first review.

Voices of the Faithful, Book 2 is a daily devotional reading, a compilation of short testimonies written by missionaries currently serving around the world. Each day begins with a Scripture verse, includes a few paragraphs written by a missionary that keeps with the month's theme ("Prayer, the Priority," and "Making Him Known" for example), and ends with a prayer.

I have to say, though I loved the idea for this book, I didn't care for the execution. My main complaint was that, because each missionary had such a limited space in which to tell his story, it was sometimes hard to follow what was going on. And it was definitely hard to be invested in it. Sometimes huge chunks of information was left out for the sake of brevity. I understand the need for brevity sometimes, but I feel that this book was trying to say too much too fast.

On the positive side, there are some gems in there. My favorite story, called The Unburned Bible, is nearly worth the whole book right there. I could see using this book as a family read-aloud (good conversations would be had!), but again, there would be some glaring gaps in the stories. The most encouraging thing about the book is that the reader is hearing the voices of 365 different missionaries, a fact that showcases God's glory in its numbers. Although I didn't care for this book, Book 1 was a bestseller, so maybe it's just me!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Third Child

No, unfortunately, this post is not about our real third child (oh, how I wish it were!). I'd like to introduce you to the trusty little fellow we affectionately refer to as The Third Child.

Isn't he a beauty?

The Third Child is my right arm, to mix metaphors a bit. He holds and files the mounds of paperwork needed to bring our real third child home. Because of that, he is so important! Hence the name. As in, if my house were on fire, I'd rescue my first and second children first, but then I just might go back for this box.

I know where The Third Child is every second of the day. Right now? On the floor by my desk, where he lives when not in use (which is hardly ever, these days). When we did our second home study meeting, I had to go by myself for the first hour, and Jeremy for the second. When we switched, I left The Third Child in our social worker's office, so Jeremy would have it if he needed it. Oh, it was so hard to leave it behind! When Jeremy came back, the first question out of my mouth was if he had it. (He did.) "I'm surprised you left it for me," he said. It wasn't easy.

Dear, cube-ular, waterproof, faithful friend! The Third Child, please continue to hold the precious paperwork that will one day bring our real third child home to us! I promise, you will always hold a special place in my... office.

Friday, September 18, 2009

We Laughed and Laughed

Iain was hiding with Aunt Kelsey under a blanket on his bed, asking me to find him. I put my head down on him.

Me: I think I'm going to take a nap on this pillow.
Iain: Noooo! I'm not a pillow!
Me: Well what are you then?
Iain: I'm the strongest, silliest, zaniest kind.
Me: Kind of what?
Iain: Kind of like a man.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

John Piper on Adoption and Race

Read this. John Piper and his wife adopted an African American child; these are his thoughts on racial harmony and the sanctity of life.

Party! Party! Party! Party!

Get ready for lots of party pictures!

First, this is from Iain's actual birthday. He got two fun cards in the mail: one from Yaya (Jeremy's grandmother) and one from Nan (my grandmother). Yaya's card contained some money, and when it fell out onto the table, Iain picked it up. I asked him what it was, and he, looking at the president on the bill, said, "It's a man!" Nan's card held lots of pictures of animals wishing Iain a happy birthday. How clever! They'll be decorating the walls of his room pretty soon here.

Okay, party day. We decided to make a happy birthday banner, which was so fun I think it'll become a tradition. The boys "markered" for a long time and got completely covered. Here we are in progress.

We got distracted because Cory was certain he saw a monkey outside the window and was very frustrated that Iain and I couldn't see it. He kept yelling "Mon-tee! Mon-tee! Eeee, eeee, eee!" (That's what a monkey says.) "Outside! Biiiiiiig mon-tee!"

Here's the finished product and the squirrelly boy underneath:

We also blew up lots of balloons and made cookies, per the birthday boy's request. And we had lollipops. More on those later.
We had three families over for a total of 13 people (including us). And we had breakfast for dinner: pancakes, tater tots, eggs, and bacon. And cookies.

This is the table and chairs from Grammy and Papa. They were a hit! (Grammy, I found a different table than the one we had originally looked at; you can push the chairs in under this one, and it could potentially sit more people.)

Here's the party room. And the presents.

Here's Cael, Cory, and Iain sporting their party hats.

Whenever I asked Iain what he wanted to do for his birthday, the answer was always the same: eat lollipops.


(yes, he did help himself to two when I wasn't watching.)

Lollipop (Cael)

Oh lolly-lolly-lolly

Lollipop (Sam)

Oh lolly-lolly-lolly (Kate)

Lollipop! Lollipop!

Here's Iain and his pancake cake. He started the happy birthday song himself, so eager was he to get to blowing out the candles. And yes, he did get them all in one breath. Wish I could post the video for you!

Opening presents:

And a good time was had by all.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Iain is Three!

How is it possible that my little boy is three? Watch him grow...

(Iain, September 14, 2006 - his birthday)

(September 14, 2007 - his first birthday)

(September 14, 2008 - his second birthday)

(September 14, 2009 - his THIRD birthday!)

This morning we took Iain (and Cory, of course) out to get blueberry biscuits for breakfast - one of Iain's favorite things. We did a few other birthday-type things today as well, but the real party will be later on this week.

(He looks like he's in pain, but he's really just making a crazy face for the camera.)

As Iain was going to bed tonight, he sleepily asked me, "Is it still my birthday?"

Iain, you are a precious boy. You are curious and smart, and you think about and remember everything! You are funny, too. You make up songs and stories. Today, you sang this song:

"You are special, because I made you. But I don't like you very much. But now I do."

And this one:

"Old McDonald had a farm, and that's all he had."

And your stories have to do with fanciful birds of your own creation:
The Wella-bird: brownish.
The Vulture-wella-bird: black, with black eyes.
The B-bird: very tiny with a "b" on his head.
The Kilby-bird: I have no idea what this one looks like. You haven't told me yet.

You bring us so much laughter and joy, and I love your sparkly eyes and your dimples.

You are a good big brother, taking care of Cory, checking on him, patting his back when he's sad. You'll be a great big brother to your new sister someday, too. You already talk about her. You know she'll be from Rwanda, and that she'll be a "bee-bee" (baby). You can't wait to go get her.

You are sweet to me. You tell me, "That's okay, Mama" when I drop something or forget something. You run and jump and wrap your arms and legs around me like a monkey when you give me hugs. You and I have special jokes and stories, too. Tonight, as you were going to sleep, you sat up and peered at me and said, "Mama, I ate all your cake!" And when I smiled and said, "Yes, you did," you laid right back down and went to sleep. You were talking about how on Sunday, I went to find Cory and left you and Dad sitting at the table eating lunch. You were done, so you said, and I had already cleaned you up. But I put my piece of cake down a few seats away from you, and when I came back, you had moved yourself right over, downed my whole piece of cake, and were sitting there, covered in sticky crumbs, with a big grin on your face. The cat that ate the canary.

You and your dad have so much fun together. You love to wrestle or be chased around by him, and you love to be up on his shoulders. You want to go talk to him throughout the day, and you want to do all the "boy things" with him. You love it when he sings you to sleep, and I often catch you singing "Daddy's songs" to Cory, to your stuffed buddies, or to Jesus. You love your daddy so much, and he loves you too.

My favorite thing about you growing up, though, is hearing you talk more and more about Jesus. You ask me about heaven a lot and tell me you want to go there. You talk about God and to God. Last week, you asked God if I could have a coke, and reported that He said no, but that I could have a healthy treat instead! You are growing in your love for Jesus and I thrill to see Him working in your heart.

We love you, Iain. You are a special boy and you have our hearts. So many people love you. And we are proud of the boy you are growing up to be!

Happy birthday, Iain!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Okay, Pray-ers

Time to get praying!

Our last home study visit is Tuesday, and we are still lacking two documents. One needs to come in the mail tomorrow, and one I need to be able to pick up tomorrow.

If we don't get these by Tuesday, our home study will be delayed by at least two weeks because our social worker is going on vacation (the nerve!). We want to get it done asap because the next part of the process - sending away for our I-600 approval - could take anywhere from six weeks to three months, and I'm hoping to get it back before things get busy with the holidays.

Anyway, all that to say, will you please pray with us that
1. the FBI document will be in our mailbox tomorrow, and
2. that "ll have great favor tomorrow with the CPS office, and they'll let me pick up my document from them that day?

Thanks everyone. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bedside Manner

So I finally got into the clinic to get my blood drawn (see previous post). I had both of the boys with me. Iain was worried about the blood draw, a little teary, and very tired. So he sat on my lap and watched the nurse. Oh, the nurse.

First, she gave us the first negative reaction we've had about adopting. She thinks we already have two little ones, so why would we want another?

Second, she argued for a few minutes about how far away we live:
Her: So you're really an hour drive from here?
Me: About 45 minutes, actually.
Her: My brother lives in your town, and it's right over there (she points).
Me: Well, it took us 45 minutes to get here.
Her: But my brother lives there, and it's closer than that.
Me: (really? Are we really arguing about this?) Maybe he lives in a different part of town.
Her: Well, he lives closer than 45 minutes.
Me: (internally) AHHHHH!

But here's the kicker. My almost-three-year old watches as she sticks the needle in my arm. In an attempt to make him feel better, I explain the process, point out the blood collecting in the vial, etc. (Meanwhile, the nurse tries in vain to get that rubberband thing off my arm while the needle is still in. Jerking it this way and that with one hand, mashing the needle down with the other, until I tell her I'll take it off myself. Ouch!)

She finishes, and puts the band-aid on. Iain asks what it's for, and I kid you not, this is what she says to my little boy:

It's so your mama won't bleed to death.

Did you really just say that?!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

They Lost It

Last week, Jeremy and I (and two squirrelly boys) went to the not-very-local doctor's office here to get adoption physicals. They were extensive and expensive, and the fact that I rhymed that amuses me, which shows you how tired I am tonight. Anyway, the office is a good 45 minutes away, but it is near our social worker's house. (It's the only one around that we've found that will do adoption physicals.) Bear with me; there is a point to this story.

So we went in on Wednesday for the physicals. An hour and a half drive, total. Went back on Friday, to get the TB tests read. Another hour and a half. We had planned on picking up the forms then, but one of my blood tests wasn't in yet. No problem; we're headed back up there next Wednesday for our last meeting with the social worker at her house (the next one's at our house). We'll pick them up before we see her, hit a kinko's to make a copy for her, and deliver them to her. Easy.

Well, I got a call today. The lab lost my blood. Yes, friends, they lost my blood. That's slightly disturbing to me. How can you lose a vial of blood? Did the doctor get interrupted by a sudden urge for a cup of coffee and leave it in the break room? Did someone accidently drop it and let it roll under the couch? Where is it??

So I have to go back in tomorrow, while Jeremy is doing his half of the meeting with the social worker, and give more blood, while my two squirrelly boys spin around on the stool or sit on the funny "couch" covered in paper. And then we have to wait longer to get the results (I could just tell them that I KNOW I don't have the particular disease they are testing for), and then we'll have to go down there AGAIN (an hour and a half drive, may I remind you), to pick the forms up so we can give them to our social worker when she comes to our house, even though she'll pass right by it on her way. Making this whole adoption physical goose-chase a four-and-a-half hour long ordeal, drive time only, not counting the three times of sitting in the waiting room!

But, said the receptionist who called me, they won't make me pay for this visit. Darn right! You lost my blood, for goodness' sake!

Iain heard me telling Jeremy about this and asked how they lost it. "It's in your body, Mama." At least someone knows where it is!

Edited to add: Jeremy said this post sounded ticked off. I'm not; just rolling-my-eyes amused at the odd predicament we've found ourselves in.

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Funnies

Cory now says, "Me does" for everything! If I get something out of the pantry that he wants: "Me does!" If I ask him to wash his hands: "Me does!" If Iain is doing something fun: "Me does!" And I've tried getting him to change it to "I do" instead, but he can't seem to remember. So he'll yell "Me does!" and I'll say, "Cory, how are you supposed to say that?" And he'll say, "Ah dew." And then two seconds later I hear, "Me does!"

(the boys, their tractor blankets, their "Nan blankets," and their books. They set this arrangement up themselves and "took a little break" as Iain put it, for a good twenty minutes!)

Yesterday, Iain was singing to Lisa (who came to visit - yay!). Here were the introductions to his songs:
"This is a song from France. It's called 'We Went to the Farm and We Had a Pig With It."
and then:
"When I went to China, I learned this song. It's called, 'We Went to China and Saw a Big Man From the Post Office."

Do you remember the song from Aristocats that goes "Everybody, everybody, everybody wants to be a cat"? I was singing that to the boys the other day (I don't know why), and they started yelling other animals everybody wants to be. Cory sings "Eh-bo-dee, eh-bo-dee, eh-bo-dee..." and then they call out the animal. We heard moose, dog, birdie, and my personal favorite: the pos-soom. Yes, Iain calls possums possooms. Please, nobody correct him; I love it.

(Iain playing with pot holders and showing off his wink)

We're big into making up stories now. Iain always asks for me to tell him stories about Iain, Cory, the dog, the bear, the wella-bird, and the vulture-wella-bird. I have no idea what a wella-bird is, but he and his vultury counterpart make it into every tale we tell!

Oh these boys are so funny.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Future Grace

John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, and his wife Noel adopted a little African American baby girl. He was fifty when she was born. They had already raised their sons; they thought they were done parenting. Then someone called up Noel and said, there's this baby girl here. And I think she's supposed to be yours. Noel was game, but John... he wasn't so sure. It took him lots of time praying and seeking God before he knew that Talitha Ruth was their daughter.

And he said that what finally convinced him was his faith in God's future grace.

Faith in God's future grace means knowing and believing that not only is He sufficient to sustain you today, but that He will be sufficient still tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day, and the day after that. It is trusting that whatever comes up, His grace will still be enough.

I find this thought very comforting. We have been working through the 8-hour online Hague course we're required to take, and part of it outlines everything that could go wrong, both with the adoption process, and with the child herself. As we move forward with this adoption, there are so many unknowns:

When will we get our daughter?
Will the paperwork go through quickly, or will we hit many delays?
How old will she be?
What happened in her family to bring her to an orphanage?
Will she be ill?
Will she be developmentally delayed?
Will she have trouble attaching?
Will she have trouble as she grows up a black child with white parents?
Will she long for her homeland and feel like she doesn't belong?
What will God call us to, in calling us to her?

In a sense, it really doesn't matter. We know that there is a little girl waiting for us. In our eyes, she's already our daughter. We will go get her and bring her home, and we will trust in God's future grace to carry us through whatever comes next.

As He has always done.

As He will always do.