Favorite "Meditation of My Heart"

Call unto me,

and I will answer thee,

and shew thee great and mighty things,

which thou knowest not. --Jeremiah 33:3 KJV

Monday, February 28, 2011


I decided to finish February with
my own personal version of Hebrews 11
...not that mine is in anyway inspired, but it is a partial listing of modern heroes of faith whom I know personally and who have inspired and encouraged me in my Christian development. 
It was great fun to write
and I encourage you to consider documenting your own "heroes".

Faith is the foundation of hope and the proof of God’s unseen presence. For by it, people who I respected as a child taught me about our Lord’s power. Through their testimonies, I learned that the Lord who formed the Universe from nothing is just as powerful today as He was at creation.

By faith my grandparents learned about God’s gift of salvation, accepted that gift and sought to live by Christ’s example in the Word of God.

By faith during the heat of summer, my grandfather would turn off the church air conditioner when the preaching started so he and others could hear the message; by this action he showed me that I should respect the message of a pastor over my personal comfort.

By faith I was taught how to give to others, when funds were tight, my grandparents reached out with loving care and their limited means to help neighbors, showing equal compassion towards the saint as the sinner and with gifts often given in secrecy.

By faith, my parents taught me the importance of tithing on whatever you have, if it is money or livestock or garden produce, God is the giver and I must be a good steward to make sure 10% blesses others.

By faith, at age 5, I prayed for a little brother and by faith, my parents adopted, showing me that real families really love each other, no matter how God brings them together or the challenges they face.

By faith, Grandma Dee set an example of regular church attendance and insisted on attending church even on vacation because we need to learn from and encourage each other in the Lord.

By faith a church member named Velma demonstrated how to tithe on her talents as she made two beautiful new dresses a year for the pastor’s wife.

By faith a piano player named Ms. Morris, arrived every service to play the church piano for over 20 years, she was not discouraged by low attendance or impressed by high attendance, her example is the reason I can gain joy from singing hymns in my car and humming praises in the shower even if God is my only audience.

By faith a country preacher named George Taylor and his wife Hilda were called to serve as local and foreign missionaries, from limited earthly resources they received numerous opportunities to teach and to preach to small and large crowds in remote areas of Missouri, Arkansas and even Haiti.

By faith Hilda taught Sunday school and vacation Bible school so that a child like me could accept Christ as my Savior and begin to grow in knowledge of the Lord.

By faith, lives were shaped by Christian school principal Mr. Wass who set forth a bold vision of Christian service for the children under his leadership, who would become soldiers, firefighters, law enforcement, pastors, pastor’s wives, missionaries, teachers, Sunday school teachers, business owners, Godly parents and so much more.

By faith, Sunday school teacher Jane Meyer taught teenage girls about why Christian husbands were important, how a Christian man will act, and how to pray for our future Christian husband.

By faith, my first supervisors and co-workers Barbara Richardson, Bob Barker & Jim Harriger, who patiently showed me the complexities of Christian service, as they consistently demonstrated compassion and expected accountability, but without either action being dependent on the other.

By faith, families who had adopted children shared with us their struggles, their love and their passion for bringing orphans home. Their bold confidence in God’s plan for their families encouraged and helped sustain us during the toughest times of our first adoption.

By faith, my husband and I added more children to our home, having overcome challenges and having witnessed countless miracles of healing and providence; knowing friends would be fervently praying with us and for us as we stepped out in faith; and based on the testimonies of others, having all confidence that our God is more than sufficient to meet needs yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My brother

I've never talked on my blog much about my little brother Daniel.  Since he passed away in 2007, it has been hard to come to grips with his unexpected death.  My brother had a huge impact on my life.  Perhaps so huge that even almost 4 years after his death, I am still realizing and processing the full weight of the loss for me personally. 

Daniel (age 1) & I (age 6) 
Daniel was the most pesky little brother that you can imagine.  He came into my 5 year old world and turned it upside down!  I have tales of mean tricks, hair pulling, wrestling, arguing, and purposefully annoying me.  However, I'll only tell you my side of those stories...just like the ultimate fight where I had him pinned and he spit and squished gum into my very long hair so it had to have a chunk cut out of it....the result was not pretty.  However, once again you will only hear my side.  Let's just say Daniel taught me to love REALLY annoying people, and he taught me to ANNOY the people that I REALLY LOVE! LOL!

As we grew up, Daniel always thought he was big enough to do what I was doing.  If I went with friends to a movie, he thought he could too.  If I got to go to camp, to Aunt Jean's house or anywhere, then he begged to go on his own or with me too.  When he was about 12 and I had started driving, our age difference was REALLY starting to annoy him, but one day in a style that only Daniel could do, he let me know that he didn't care anymore that I was older, AND he truly SEEMED not to care!  I asked him why he didn't care, (I might have been enjoying irritating him with my new freedom with a car.) and he said very nonchalantly, "You're older, you're going to die first."   From then on when age difference came up, I was reminded that my expiration date was going to be before his...as we got older he would even adjust my expiration date to be sooner for the stress that my type A personality carried. 

Dad, Daniel (age 4) & I (age 9) 
Since Daniel's death, I've realized that only a pesky little brother will adjust your expiration date based on your stress levels.  I've also had to realize what life is like without someone to share your history.  Sure my parents were there, but they weren't in the back seat "pit" of the 1973 Chevy Charger trying to argue without getting caught!   There is a whole OTHER set of stories there!
So you may be asking, how else did your brother impact your life?  Well, he did teach me more than how to to love REALLY annoying people and how to ANNOY the people that I LOVE.  Daniel shaped my view of adoption as being just as "real" of a family as any other, even though I had no siblings by birth, I was sure I had the REAL deal for a brother!  We were a family forever, no matter what!  When Daniel was diagnosed with schizophrenia, it was a big adjustment for our family to realize that in many ways Daniel and I had switched expectations.  I as the "disabled" child was living independently, while Daniel the free spirit, super talented child would need help at various times taking care of himself while he battled with his own mind.  Through the toughest times of schizophrenia's episodes, mom and dad modeled again for me that "real" families struggle and adjust and struggle and adjust together.  I never doubted it.  I just hadn't yet realized how tough some family struggles could be! 

After Daniel's diagnosis, I mourned for the brother that I had once enjoyed such witty banter with, especially as he would converse about far off plans without logic, reason or reality to ground the conversation. However, a new side of Daniel emerged that was fun loving, but quieter. He enjoyed listening to others and just checking in for no apparent reason at all hours of the night and day. His calling my work to chat with me, the "executive director", during my workday was not real convenient and I never learned to fully appreciate or accommodate this new side to Daniel. I was simply too busy to think our time together might be short.

I appreciate the time he took with my kids. Daniel was a fabulous uncle. He connected with each child differently and perfectly for their personalities and interest.  He was especially good with Hannah who at that time could be very difficult to reach out to and get a meaningful response, but they spoke each others language...music and food.

On May 14, 2007, I stopped for my kids to give Daniel his birthday cards a day early.  He had forget that the next day was his birthday which seemed unusual, but he seemed to be doing well.  We had a nice visit and I hurried off to get on to something else.  The next morning mom called before 7am to say that Daniel got sick in the night and it was serious.  She had called an ambulance when his flu symptoms started including breathing problems.  He lost consciousness within minutes of arriving in the ER.  Later on in the day on Tuesday, on Daniel's 29th birthday, we would learn that he had a colloid cyst in his brain and recovery was unlikely.  By just after 4pm on the 17th, Daniel had passed away.   My parents seemed stuck unable to move and I laid out funeral plans for the brother who knew that I would die first.   He was buried next to our grandparents on May 19th.  It was exactly 29 years before that we had first held him and that he had made our family complete.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Grandma Dee

Grandma Dee was a VERY special lady in my life.  Her real name was Eulah D. Bailey, but we always called her Grandma Dee.  Although she wasn't my biological Grandma, our family permanently adopted her in about 1974. 

I first met Grandma Dee when I was a baby.  I do not remember our first days together, but apparently I was a huge fan of hers from day one.  However, my fondness for her caused some hard feelings.  Her sister Beulah had been babysitting me and had asked Grandma Dee to babysit me for a few days when she was not available.  Grandma Dee was always very honest with me about being asked to watch me.  I can still hear her saying, "Your mom asked me to watch you and I told her that I didn't know anything about taking care of kids like you, but she convinced me to try it.  And well, you just liked me a lot and we got along really well.  Your mom asked me to keep the job, and I had just retired from the shoe factory and my husband had died a few years before so I had time to watch you."  I would always ask with a smile, "What about your sister?"  Grandma Dee would always answer with a smile, "She never has really forgiven me for taking her job."

Grandma Dee had the best stories!  She was born in 1910 and was 63 years old when she began babysitting me.  She had raise 5 kids and worked at a shoe factory for decades.  The noise in the shoe factory had caused nerve damage in her ears so there was always "crickets" as she would call them.  Grandma Dee was one of the few surviving children after the 1925 tornado destroyed the DeSoto School.  She would tell of how loud the tornado was and how she and her sister just kept running until they were away from the building and the flying bricks.  Grandma Dee said about 30 kids died and a lot of their friends and neighbors died too.   She also had stories of how she met her husband at a Tent Revival when she was sitting in the car pouting about having to be there.  She explained how in 1927 at age 17, she walked along the railroad tracks with her few belongings to go get a marriage license with Tom.  She would laugh about how as newlyweds, they lived in her in-laws living room until after their first child was born.  They had been married 42 years when Tom passed away.

Grandma Dee was young at heart!  She was so young a heart that she was one of the few adults who remained "cool" and "smart" during my teen years.  Grandma Dee could make even a trip to Wal-Mart an adventure.  She loved to try new products from her small disc camera (a trend that didn't last long) to her lava lamp to a new nail polish.  She had young taste buds and loved pizza, specifically Supreme (hold the green peppers) Pizza Hut pizza, and she had a soft spot for good fried chicken.  For her 85th birthday, my mom took her to a restaurant that she had always wanted to go to, but she had never gone because the restaurant had a bar.  However, she really wanted to try their famed fried chicken.  She lamented, "What if I see someone from church?"  Her daughter Betty said, "Say hi." and laughter followed from everyone!  So at age 85, Grandma Dee entered a bar for the first time in her life to imbibe on fried chicken and she loved it! 

Grandma Dee was a devoted Christian woman.  She had more Sunday school attendance pins than one shoulder should ever hold.  No matter where she went, she was in church on Sunday.  There was no debate!  One of the things I still remember fondly was how much she loved a good storm.  It seemed unlikely that someone who lived through a deadly tornado would love storms, but Grandma Dee believed that Jesus would return when a lightening storm came out of the east.  (Based on Matthew 24:27)  Every storm, she would run to the window to check the direction.  As a teen, I would tease her that she just wanted to be the first to see Jesus. However, what impressed me was that her faith that was so strong and her desire to see Jesus was so real that she was at the window as soon as the clouds darkened for EVERY storm.

Grandma Dee babysat me while my mom worked in a gas station that my folks owned and operated while dad was in college.  She taught me to walk.  She went to doctors appointments in St. Louis with us.  She was a big part of our family by the time my dad graduated college and we were ready to move to southwest Missouri to be near my mom's family.  Each year she would come stay with us for at least a month and sometimes longer.  Grandma Dee vacationed with us, celebrated with us and was a big part of our plans for Summer adventures.   

My husband got to meet Grandma Dee and my daughter Grace got to meet Grandma Dee before she passed away in the Fall of 1998.  When her daughter Betty called and told us of her death, of course there was great sadness.  Grandma Dee had shared so many great memories with us.   She had literally encouraged me from taking my first steps to graduating college.  However, with the sad news, I couldn't help but smile as I thought of Grandma Dee finally seeing Jesus...needless to say, even now there is rarely a storm in life or in the atmosphere that doesn't make me long for the encouragement and love of Grandma Dee. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Blog Plans

When this month began, it was my intention to focus my blog on people who have inspired me.  The idea being a theme for Valentine's Day, but then it snowed, and snowed, and snowed. Our kids who go to public school have not been in school since January 31st!  Our homeschooled kids are finding it very distracting to have everyone at home (including Daddy for a few days).   We don't expect for school to resume until Valentine's Day on Monday!  So as school resumes, I will resume my plans for this month's blogging.  I doubt that I'll cover as many people as planned and two people are getting moved to their "holidays"....Mother's Day and Father's Day.  However, hopefully the stories will remind you of people who inspired you, loved you and created good things for you!

March's theme will be "Made in March".  I'll be sharing some of my favorite recipes, homemade gifts and cost saving tricks.  I will be showing desserts like Mexican Chocolate Cake (the richest sheet cake ever!) and super moist applesauce cake. Plus I'll show how I save money by making things like laundry soap, dishwasher soap, and more.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Snow Days Survival

I usually love snow days and vacation days.  I enjoy having the kids home so we can play as a family.  The kids enjoy special these times together as much as I do,  However, it has now been a week of snow days.  A week of cabin fever.  A week of too cold to spend much time outside, and I'm worn out!  We've cooked a lot.  We've ate a lot!  We have read, watched movies, played computer and board games for HOURS.  Some of us have played in the snow.  Some of us have done sewing, lesson plans, grading, sorting and cleaning.  HOWEVER, we are all ready for it to melt now.  Even David, who we believe prayed and ordered up these recent snow storms, is ready to go back to school. 

So as I face yet another snow day tomorrow and the possibility of 1 to 5 more inches of snow, I am making plans quickly to make it fun, stress free and hopefully one of our last snow days this school year!  Today I got to reduce my cabin fever by going to teach a college class, but I'm afraid the kid's cabin fever is worse than ever!  Grandma and grand-dad came to visit today too and Grand-dad took Corrine to the library (one of the first days that they have been open).  Unfortunately, her outing seems to have made her cabin fever reach a critical need for more outings! 

This abundance of snow days has even our biggest snow day fans wanting it to melt.  David was quizzing me for new ideas of activities to do because he was bored, and I suggested he play in the snow.  Much to my surprise, he whined, "Not that again."  As I look at the forecast tonight, I must say I whined, "Not that again." This is officially TOO much of a good thing!

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Do you ever get tired of waiting?  Well, due to our family's experiences with adoption, we know many families interested in adoption.  Some of these friends are done with their adoption(s).  Some are just getting started in the process or planning.  And a few are waiting.  Their paperwork is done.  They are in a spot where they have finished their preparations and now it is out of their hands.  There is nothing they can do to speed the process and their only possible influence over the process is through prayer.  These few friends are waiting and many are getting exhausted by the wait.  They are in the stage of adoption that I struggled with the most. 

With Hannah, the waiting lasted 9 long and seemingly eternal months.  There was times that my anxiety was so high that I was sure my heart would stop beating due to the tightness of my chest and neck.  However, finally the call came and travel plans were made.  Then we had to wait 2 of the longest weeks of my life for the date of our departure to Ecuador.  We had only seen two picture of Hannah, but we were in love.  Our trip to Riobamba, Ecuador was exhausting and a story of its own, and when we pulled inside the gates to our hotel at 7am, we had been traveling non-stop for 30 hours.  The taxi driver named Patricio told us that due to arriving so much later than planned, we could get cleaned up and settled in, and he would take us on to the orphanage.  We tried to not let our excitement show too much, but our luggage was inside and we were back in the taxi before Patricio had returned from the restroom!  (We did look in the shower and decided that we were still cleaner than it was.)  The drive to the orphanage seemed forever, but I timed it so I know it was actually 12 minutes....until our wait was over.

With David and Vanessa, the wait was 26 months.  Words cannot describe how long those 26 months were!  I was determined to follow Philippians 4:6, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."  I tried and I prayed.  I REALLY tried and REALLY prayed, but my anxiousness to have my children with me was reducing my patience with others.  Each month our children in the pictures grew.  Each year that passed, their need for the loving stability of a family...our family....was more evident. 

One day I was having an exceptionally BIG pity-party.  I knew no one must be as worried or longing for their children as much as me, and I had let my resentment stall my devotion time until mid-morning. Reluctantly, I began my devotion time by reading Ephesians 1, and immediately verses 3 through 5 jumped off the page and into my heart.  There it was!  Who had waited longer?!  He had!  Why hadn't I realized it before!  I read the beginning of verse 4 again, "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world".  God had waited for a relationship with me since "the foundation of the world".   God had waited for me to seek His forgiveness and be made holy through Christ Jesus so that I could be in His loving and perfect presence.  In fact verse 5 said so that I could be adopted into His family through Christ!

Photos of the end of some of our waitings.

All my life I had known John 3:16 and that God loved me, BUT I was 34 years old before I realized that He had lovingly waited for me from "the foundation of the world"...before He even formed me.  I was humbled.  For the remaining year of our wait, I had confidence that God understood my desire to have my children home, and I turned my prayers towards thanking Him for waiting for me and asking Him to prepare our home and to prepare our children for our future together.  God answered these prayers.  David and Vanessa had a remarkably easy transition into our family.

I'll never understand why adoptions must involve so much waiting.  The feelings of discouragement and the doubts that the adoption will ever happen can be overwhelming.  However, I do know that God knows more about perfect love and waiting than me.  I pray constantly for our friends who are waiting and for the protection of the children who are waiting for them.  I pray for the preparation of their new home physically, mentally and spiritually.  If you know someone waiting on an adoption, please pray for them.   And if you're waiting on an adoption or anything else important to you, please take comfort in knowing that God understands waiting from "the foundation of the world".

If you would like the readers of this blog to pray for your adoption process, then please leave your first name and any specifics that you would like prayed on your behalf AND by all means update us when your wait is over. 

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation
 of the world, that we should be holy and without blame
before him in love: --Ephesians 1:4 

And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious
unto you,  and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have
 mercy upon you:  for the LORD [is] a God of judgment:
blessed [are] all they that wait for him. --Isaiah 30:18

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Eat Our Way Out!

We have a lot of snow!  In our area of Missouri, we usually get freezing rain and rarely over 4 inches of snow.   When this storm's accumulation passed 14 inches...well, that almost made this a storm of the decade!  (The ice storm that took away the power for over a week and destroyed our trees a few years ago remains as the #1 storm of the decade.)

So (or should I say "Snow") now we have a problem...removal!  Even though we live in town, the city is cleaning only the main roads.  A few neighbors fought their way out today, but several tried and went back home.  This problem had me thinking and I thought I had arrived at the perfect solution.....eat it!  Yes, seriously, my kids ate 3 days worth of food today SO if we make snow ice cream, then I figure my crew could reach the main road in 48 hours!

"Snow" I experimented with several snowy recipes today.  Paula Deem offered up one that I was sure would be tasty, but too high calorie and too expensive....she uses sweetened condensed milk, but then again she makes good money and does not have as many (non-paying) mouths to feed as we do.  The recipe below is from a friend's friend.  (Thank you to Kathryn Gold's friend!)

"Snow"  here is the "BEST" Snow Ice Cream Recipe:
‎1 gallon of snow
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
just shy of a 1/2 cup sugar (1/2 cup was a bit sweet)
dash salt

Mix all ingredients except snow.  Dump over the snow & stir.

Some of our crew eating their weight in snow!

"Snow" my kids loved it, as I expected they ate bowl after bowl of it, especially Hannah, Vanessa, David and the twins.  However, WOW!  They got major hyper....crazy hyper...."snow" hyper that I took a nap and left their Dad in charge! 
"Snow" I'm back to thinking....until I find the answer, I think I'll cook some sugar free foods and enjoy having the kids & hubby all at home watching movies, arguing over board game rules and fighting over computer time.  People tell me that someday when the kids are grown, I'll miss these times.  Well, people are probably right because then it will just be Mr. Workman and I at home watching movies, arguing over board game rules and fighting over computer time.