Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Remembering Luke's Foster Family

Recently we sent an album of 25 photos and a CD with 2 mini videos on it, through Ann of Red Thread China, to Luke's orphanage to also be shared with his foster family.




The director of the Bayanur Orphanage is a very sweet lady. She was so kind and cooperative in seeing to it that we received updates and photos of Luke as we waited....every time we asked. We wanted to return that kindness to her and to his sweet foster family.



We chose the rush option for a three day delivery. Just a day or so after those three days were up, we received the sweetest letter from Director Z. expressing her gratitude and excitement over seeing "Zhi Jie's" face and hearing his voice. She said the foster family had been asking about him alot recently as to whether she had heard anything from us, so she was going to be happy to share the photos and updates with them.

I hope it brought as much happiness to them as it did to us when we opened our inbox to find an email with an update and pics!

We will forever be grateful to the loving foster family that Luke knew for the first two years of his life!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Hi everyone! This is Joy. Today, August 28th, is my mama's birthday!

People are always saying that we look alike (a LOT). I love that, but even more then that, I would love it if I could look like her on the inside! Mama has a beautiful soul--she amazes me with what all she does for us with no complaints, no grumbling, and no bad attitudes. She is a great cook and housekeeper, but more important then that, she's a woman of God. She follows Deuteronomy 11:9.

Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

She takes every opportunity to teach us something about God and she's forever giving me her wise advice--I'm sure she's saved me from a lot of trouble through that! She's my absolute best friend here on earth. I kid you not! I don't think I could live without that lady.

We'll be working on the Cedar Loft until 5:30 or so this evening. After that, we'll be heading to a local (yummy) Asian restraunt to celebrate Mama's birthday!

One of Mama's baby pictures


The little lady!


First grade

Third grade


Fifth grade--this is my favorite picture!

Seventh grade

Her fourteenth birthday--just starting 9th grade. 

Earlier this year--the end of March, I believe.  So that would be five months before her 48th birthday.  I know, I know, she totally doesn't look it, does she?!

I thank God for you, Mama!

Happy birthday!  I love you!  8!

Love,
Joy

Friday, August 26, 2011

Faithful Friday - "The Church Keeper"

Today’s Faithful Friday post is a little on the lighter side. :)



We’ve been asking Luke if he wants to play the guitar, drums, piano, or sing at church when he gets older. He never wants to do any of those things. He wants to “teach the kids” like mama or be the M & M guy.

Let me explain.

The Sunday that Jason and I were on our little weekend retreat for our anniversary, the kids went to church with my mom and dad. That particular Sunday, the Pastor had skittles and starbursts on everyone’s seat. That came about as sort of a joke because the week before, our pastor said everyone was too quiet in the congregation and that we must not have had our skittles that morning. Well Mama said Luke ate his skittles and everyone else’s around him. And he refers to them as M & M’s. So, he decided that was what he wanted to be at church. The M & M guy.

The other thing he decided he might like to be is the church keeper. That one took us a little bit to figure out. We realized he was referring to our pastor. In his eyes, he was the church keeper. That makes sense doesn’t it?

So today you are being treated to Luke as The Church Keeper. He is preaching. And let me tell you…..our preacher doesn’t preach in this style. I have no idea where he got this style and all the animation. He is also throwing in random words, just for the sake of keeping it going. He talks about the Bible, Noah and the Ark, tanker trucks, people and animal in boxes, Grandmama, winter, sin, and more.

Oh, and he’s preaching from an insurance pamphlet. I guess he couldn’t find his Bible.

Enjoy!


video

*******************************************************************************************

If you would like to participate in Faithful Fridays, please grab the button and leave a comment on Joy’s blog, Doodlebug, and let her know that you are participating. We’d love to visit you too. And be sure and check out Joy's Faithful Friday post too. It blessed me. And I think you will be blessed too.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Green Eggs and Ham

Lately, Luke has been borrowing lines from one of his favorite books, Green Eggs and Ham. When he doesn’t want to try something, he proclaims, “I no like it in a boat, with a goat, I no like it in a train, in the rain, in a house, or with a mouse”………and on and on.  And he says it with such drama too!

So the other day, for lunch, Joy asked me if we could make green eggs and ham for him. So without letting Luke in on the lunch plans, she went to work. She pulled out the green food coloring and ham. While she did that, I worked on the eggs.



He LOVES surprises, so no problem getting him to close his eyes and wait at the table. He did and we put the eggs and ham before him. He was pretty tickled about it….obviously.....see that grin?



And he ate every single bite too. We put an old shirt over his clothes because I was envisioning green everywhere. However, he did very well and didn’t even make a mess. Joy was the one with green fingers!



Luke was happy to tell everyone that he had green eggs and ham for lunch. Who knew a simple thing like that would make him so happy.




Saturday, August 20, 2011

Waiting For Fall

I just had to share this today since it put a smile on my face.

I picked up this shirt for Luke in Alabama from a consignment sale. He loved it from the minute I bought it because it has a dinosaur on it. Every.single.day since we brought it home, he’s asked to wear it.

Well, I kept putting him off telling him it was long sleeves. You have to wait until it gets colder. It’s too hot outside for that shirt.

You have to wait for fall, Luke.

So you know what he did? He proceeded to sit his little self down on the loveseat in my room and said, “Okay, mom (all grown up like), I’m gonna wait for fall”. And there he sat, patiently waiting for fall.


A little blurry because he was doing the "I'm a 3 year old little boy" wiggle.


Still waiting....

I think he might win on this one and we’ll be rolling up the sleeves. :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Faithful Friday - "Somewhere in the Middle"

Happy Friday! Joy (my daughter) was trying to come up with a special way to set aside at least one day a week to share her (our) faith with the blogging world. She came up with Faithful Fridays. And Mandie of Life in the Craft Lane with Mandie, was nice enough to create a free button for her to use. We’d like to invite you to participate too. Just grab her button below and share about your Christian walk, whether it be just something inspirational or uplifting, a devotional, scripture or a thought or something God laid on your heart, something God has done for you lately, or even prayer requests. Then just leave a comment HERE on Joy’s blog letting her know you are participating, and we’ll come visit you too! It’s encouraging to read about fellow Christians’ Walk with the Lord.




*********************************************************************************************

As we headed home from Alabama this past weekend, I volunteered to drive for the first half. As I did (and everyone else was snoozing), I was listening to one of my Casting Crowns CDs. They just happen to be at the top of the list of my favorite Christian artists. I love their song writing! During the drive, I listened to one particular song many times. It was a quiet moment for me.

Remember how I told you in a previous Faithful Friday post that music can speak multitudes to me – a sermon really? This time it was a convicting one. As I listened, the words pierced my heart. And that’s what I want to share with you today.

The song is titled Somewhere in the Middle. Just listen to the words of this song:



I love that chorus. Just imagine each one of these things………..fearless warriors in a picket fence, reckless abandon wrapped in common sense, deep water faith in the shallow end. What a waste all of those things are if not used to their full potential.

Somewhere in the middle is not a good place to be. If we are there, it probably means we’re compromising or we’re moving into gray areas.

God tells us in His Word that He’d rather that we be one way or the other – not in the middle, or straddling the fence:

"So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth." Revelation 3:16 NIV

“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Matthew 12:30 NIV & again in Luke 11:23 NIV.

That pretty much says that when we’re in the middle – lukewarm – it actually makes Him want to spit us out (that denotes being very displeased with us). Do we really want that? If we aren't with him or gathering with him, we're actually scattering (causing more harm).

I wonder why it’s so hard for us to just be completely sold out to the Lord without wavering or worrying about what others will think? Too many times, we are just like that chorus said: seeing how close we can get to complete surrender without losing control (it’s never comfortable to give up our control). Compromise can be a good thing obviously, such as in a marriage. But when we are talking about compromise for the sake of being accepted, or accepting things that society dictates we must accept, yet those things are contrary to God’s Word, He tells us it’s not a good thing and God doesn’t want us to be that way. In fact, He doesn’t like it at all. When we do that, we’re moving to neutral ground. For a Christian, when something comes up that goes against God’s Word (which is what God gave us as His History and guidelines to live by), we aren’t supposed to be neutral. Ouch! It’s not easy moving over to God’s side and staying there no matter what other folks think of us. That requires boldness on our part. And that’s why this was so convicting to me.

I don’t want to ever be content being somewhere in the middle. I pray I can be bold enough to move from the middle in every situation and move to God’s side and stay there. As Christians, maybe we could lift each other up in prayer so that we wouldn’t be comfortable being somewhere in the middle. We need to be set apart.

Thank you for stopping by today! I know this wasn’t so much an uplifting post, but more of a convicting one (at least the finger points at me). But, I hope you were blessed! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Cedar Loft - Update #7

As you probably know from my last post, we took a little break to go to Alabama to see my new nieces this past weekend, so we didn’t get much accomplished since last week’s update for The Cedar Loft.

I did get the bead board that covers the kitchen bar area painted and distressed and Jason installed it. This is a photo of the living room side.  Oh, and you can see the painted door to the side.  That's the color all the doors will be.  It's called Brown Moss, but it's actually more green(ish).  I love the way the two colors compliment one another.  It actually even looks better in person than it does in the photo. 



The bead board is also on the backsplash area next to the bar on the kitchen side. In the background of this photo below, you can actually see more of the true color of the door.



The wood countertops will separate the red of the cabinets and the red of the backsplash, adding contrast, but we’re still working on them.  Here's a sneak peek:



Speaking of the countertops, they have certainly challenged us! Jason finally got them cut to fit properly. He has sanded and re-sanded. I’ve stained them and now we’re applying the layers of polyurethane, which is important for the protection of the wood since they will get lots of use. This is just time consuming. I’m not very patient either. :) There’s too much waiting in between staining and adding polyurethane and waiting for it all to dry! However, we hope to have the last layer of polyurethane applied and begin installing the countertops tonight.

I had hoped to have a picture this week of the bar countertop in place (it will sit right on top of the red bead board panel of the bar in the first photo above), but the best I can do is show you a picture of it on the sawhorses this week.



And that is where we are this week with progress on The Cedar Loft. Jason is off this Friday, so we hope to accomplish much: painting the doors (bathroom, laundry room and closets), begin hanging doors, getting the toilet in, and installing the countertops (which I think will make a BIG difference).

But…..we shall see! Sometimes our planning exceeds our follow through. :)

Thank you so much for stopping by! Hope you all have a wonderful day!  :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The "Eyes" Have It

After seeing my newly adopted niece for the first time this weekend and photographing her, I decided to enter this week’s I heart faces challenge/contest: Beautiful eyes.  


I’ve never entered before, but there has to be a first time for everything, right?

18 month old Sydney has beautiful blue eyes and long eyelashes to frame them. She uses her eyes to talk, raising her eyebrows, so they just glimmer with expression!

I thought this photo captured those beautiful eyes.




Monday, August 15, 2011

Sugar and Spice x 2

My two new nieces, Sydney and Ellie, have been home for two weeks and we made the trip to Alabama this weekend to finally see them!

And let me tell you, they are sweet, sweet, sweet! They’re only ten months apart, so there is never a dull moment either.

I guess you can imagine that Joy was in baby heaven! Since we arrived late Friday night, they were already asleep for the night, so we were only able to peek in at sleeping babies, which by the way was absolutely precious! So Saturday morning, Joy’s eyes popped open at the first peep of baby sounds and she was up to check it out! Sydney (who’s almost 19 months old) took up with Joy immediately and was attached to Joy’s hip most of the time. She loved being toted around and was curious about everything and wanted to be in the “happening place”.



Sydney has the bluest eyes and the longest eyelashes!



And then little Ms. Ellie (9 months old) was absolutely precious. She is a tiny thing – a little peanut. Since Joy had her hands full with Sydney when Ellie woke up, I claimed Ellie first!  But then as you can see here, it didn't take Joy long to take her from me either.



Ellie has the sweetest disposition and an illuminating smile!



Well it goes without saying that both girls were wagged around lots and kissed all over their baby cheeks (between us and Grandmama and Pop).



Both girls have special needs, but that’s just another way of saying they need special love and attention which they most certainly are getting now! I look at those two girls and I don’t see “special needs”. I see “special blessings” sent straight from heaven to Richie and Missy’s family.



God is good!  :)

Oh, and I snapped one picture of the youngest grandkids.  We were just missing Colt and Trey (they're both 22 and weren't there at the time).

Kemper (13) holding Sydney (almost 19 mos), Joy (12) holding Ellie (9 mos), Laci (almost 8), and Luke (3).  
 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Faithful Friday - "Against the Tide"

It's Friday again already! That means it's time for Faithful Fridays. If you have something to share about your Christian Walk, we'd love to hear about it. We, as Christians, really should be encouraging one another! If you have a post for Faithful Fridays, please visit Joy's blog, grab her button, and leave her a comment letting her know you are participating, so we can visit you too!



In today’s society, going with the flow or the normal (according to our culture) seems to be the easiest and safest thing to do, but God tells us, His children:

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

That means we’re supposed to BE different, THINK different.

But, He doesn’t expect us to stand up – stand out – or “go against the tide”, so to speak, on our own. And actually if we attempt to do so, we most certainly will fail. But He promises He will never leave us:

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5



As I was thinking on this, immediately three different examples straight from the Bible came to mind and in each one of these situations, they dared to go against the tide and step out – stand up – and be different and not conform to what others were saying and doing. They didn’t let circumstances dictate their actions, but they stood strong, trusted God, and stood up.

First of all, there was David, the shepherd boy. He dared to stand up and face the giant, Goliath, with only a slingshot. Everyone doubted and laughed. BUT GOD was with David. And well, I think we all know what happened to the giant. The giant was big, but God was bigger. And armed with the power of God and a little slingshot, David defeated Goliath. David trusted in God and didn’t conform to the thinking around him, and God took care of the situation.



Another one that came to mind was Daniel. Daniel refused to pray to the king, but only to God. He didn’t do it secretly, hiding away in a closet either, but opened his windows, so all could see. Daniel was thrown into the den of lions, BUT GOD shut the mouths of the lions. Daniel was brought out of the lions’ den, safe and unharmed.



Then there was Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Remember them? They were ordered by King Nebuchadnezzar to bow down before a golden image and worship it. The result of not doing so was to be thrown into a blazing furnace. I love their response. They replied to the king that their God they served was able to save them from it and He would rescue them, but even if He didn't, they wanted the king to know that they still would not serve any other gods or worship the image of gold. And they didn’t. So they were thrown into the furnace and it was even ordered to be turned up hotter than usual. BUT GOD stepped in and saved them. And I love this part: When they were brought out, the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them!



And what God did then, He does now. For us, His children:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

So today, I’d like to encourage you in your walk with the Lord in the world we live in, to dare to be different and stand up and stand out. We cannot stand in our own strength, but remember the enormous God we have backing us. He will fill us with the courage to face the giants, the lions, and the fiery furnaces in our lives. He will never leave us. He will never forsake us.


Thank you for stopping by! Have a great weekend! Be blessed!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Cedar Loft - Update #6

Finally……progress you can really see!

The flooring company guys came out late Friday afternoon to prep the floor, then were back out late Saturday morning and finished with it by 4:30 Saturday! I love it! It’s even prettier than the sample they gave us (that we used to make the decision on the flooring).



There’s much more detail. For vinyl flooring, I think it really does look like a rustic pine wood floor.




Despite the wind Saturday, we managed to get the cabinets painted, distressed, and a coat of polyurethane added. I can’t believe I'm actually going to have red kitchen cabinets somewhere! Remember how Jason likes his wood? Well, he gave in and gave me my red cabinets in the loft. My red cabinets make me really happy! :) Oh, and I did change my mind on the red…..the new color is Valspar – Heirloom Red. It seemed to match the red table and chairs that we bought at the Antique Gallery a little better.

Here’s a little peak at the cabinets along with the stove and dishwasher. We’ve just begun getting them situated in their spot in the kitchen.




I’ve still been staining lots of trim, but still have more to go! Actually, I think I'm only half way there!  Hopefully later this week, Jason will begin hanging some of the trim. We’ll be working on the wood countertops and I hope to talk him into hanging the microwave vent-a-hood, so I can make a decision on whether I want a wall cabinet or just open shelves.

And that’s where we are.....what we’ve been up to this past week on The Cedar Loft. :) Thanks so much for stopping by! I truly appreciate your visit!  :)


**********************************************************************************************

And by the way, thanks to those that left input on how you blog. I found that very interesting! I guess I AM a little strange! Lol! 

Monday, August 8, 2011

How Do YOU Blog?

I’ve been wondering, so I’ve got to ask!

When you blog……when you’re writing posts for your blog, how do you do it? Are you always at your computer, typing it and saving it to your computer? Or do you jot down ideas or even entire posts on paper, (possibly for later use), and then type them?

I’m wondering because Joy and I are totally opposite on this. She types hers and saves them to her computer almost always. I have a notebook that I grab and carry with me, so when an idea or blogging opportunity arises, I can jot down at least the idea.



 But more times than not, I handwrite the entire post (very messily I might add because I'm in a hurry to get my words on paper). Then when I get the chance, I type it on my blog. I rarely ever begin at the computer.



So I was just wondering if I’m strange in the way I post? Am I the only one that does this?

How do you blog?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Faithful Friday - "Every Little Thing"


Wow, it’s Friday again already! My daughter, Joy, began Faithful Fridays as a way to share our Christian faith in the blogging world, in hopes that it would encourage others in their Christian walk as well. If you would like to share, please leave Joy a comment here, letting her know you participated, so we can visit. It can be anything inspirational, a devotional, prayer requests, praise reports, just anything concerning your Christian walk and faith that would edify others.  And don't forget to grab her button above!


I’m very much a music person. Not that I’m exceptionally great at anything musical, but music means a lot to me, which means that listening to songs and taking the words to heart come easy to me. There are songs that I hear that make me want to praise the Lord, others that convict me, some that comfort me, and others that inspire me and build me up.

So today, I want to share a song with you By Steven Curtis Chapman.

I like this song a lot. To others, my life and daily routine, as a stay-at-home homeschooling mom, may not look like anything that is making a big difference in this world. I mean I’m not an international missionary, traveling the world making a difference feeding hungry children or giving them medical attention, or even much bigger things. BUT, I am where God wants me, ministering to my family every day. And I want every little thing I do to bring glory to God. And that’s what his song is about.




And yesterday as I was outside staining many trim boards in 104 degree weather, I was actually wondering how I could bring God glory doing this. And you know, the Lord just gently reminded me that I have two hands that I was using to stain those boards. My husband has a job, and gladly works everyday so I can be home with our children (and home doing this staining during the day). I have so many reasons to give God glory. So I did…..right then and there. And I just prayed, Lord, You know these trim boards are going up in our loft, I pray that You would just bless every person that enters and do a great work in the life of each one. And I believe He will. He cares about every little thing we do. And He loves it when we give Him the glory.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

So I challenge you today, to just notice all the little things you do and think about how you can give God glory in every little thing you do!

Thanks for stopping by! Be blessed! :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Cedar Loft - Update #5

There’s really not as much to share in an update this week, at least not anything that’s very exciting, or changes that you can actually see. Well, Jason did finish hanging the last piece of barn siding on the walls on Sunday evening and we finished painting it all that evening too. That is something to celebrate anyway! Here’s just an overview of the room (this is the kitchen/living room area) all painted:



And now you can tell a little bit more about the bathroom with the interior walls in place:



Because of the slope in this corner of the bathroom where the sink and vanity will be located not leaving room for anything but a mirror, we had to have some type of alternative lighting on the wall beside it. We found this light in the outdoor section and I love it here! It looks black, but it’s actually rubbed bronze, so it coordinates with the others that I spray painted the “rusty” color.





There’s good news and bad news about the flooring. The bad news: that particular flooring that I had picked out has been discontinued (this happened just since the time I picked it out a few months ago and the clerk told me they “always” had it). :(  The good news: we ARE going to be able to have the flooring company lay the floor (they gave us a really good price). And they found something that I like just as much, possibly even a little better (because it isn't as glossy) . It still has rustic appeal. Here’s the new flooring:


They are scheduled to lay the floor on Saturday, possibly even starting it Friday evening. We won’t lose time because if we were doing it, it would have taken us longer than them. While they’re laying flooring, we will be staining trim and cabinets downstairs.

That brings me to my next part of the update. Last night we made a trip to Lowes and this was a biggie trip. We had the truck bed and trailer loaded down! This is stuff for the cabinets, countertop, trim work, kitchen sink, and finishing out the bar area.





This week Joy and I will be staining LOTS of trim. We will have cabinets to paint. And speaking of cabinets to paint, I changed my mind on the cabinet color. Let’s see if you can guess what color I chose……

If you guessed red, then you would be correct. I just can’t help myself…..I love that color. It makes me happy. And you know Jason doesn’t go for painting the cabinets in the kitchen, but in here, he didn’t care what I chose. He left it totally up to me, so I took full advantage and just went bold! So I will have red cabinets, a red table, and a checked red couch! I’m doing the happy dance!  :)

I found another wonderful greenish/brownish color that we will be incorporating in some way, possibly the doors, and maybe even into the bar area. So here’s the color scheme:


Actually this red is in question.....while at Lowes last night we tried another sample because this one tended to have pinkish hues......the finally decision will be made today after we try it over oak.

We tried out several samples of stains to see which coordinated best with our colors and tin ceiling.


My hubby is going to love the fact that  put a picture on here of him all sweaty!  Shh!

 We finally decided on Provincial, which is in the 2nd one over counting from Joy's end.  Here it is with some of the other colors.







Next week’s update should make a huge difference with flooring, and maybe even some of the cabinetry installed. Hopefully we will have a very productive weekend, but it’s going to be tough in this heat. We will be staining outside and it is supposed to be 103 degrees here today. Have I ever mentioned how much I really don’t like the heat? I am going to gladly welcome fall!

Thanks for stopping by! And thank you for the very sweet comments on little Sydney and Ellie, my two new nieces! I think we’re going to take a day off from working on The Cedar Loft next weekend to go plant some hugs and kisses on those two.

Have a great day! :)