Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Two Dates and a Party

Can you believe it?  Two dates in less than 3 weeks!!  It's a record.  It had been absolutely forever since James and I had been out alone~well, if you don't count a trip Christmas shopping, or perhaps another trip to WalMart.  I have built-in help willing to babysit for me.  Why is it still so hard for just the 2 of us to get out the door?  We've had these restaurant gift certificates my mom gave us for over 2 years!  In fact, when we finally went, the lady at the register said, "Huh, I've never seen this kind before."  Pathetic.  We stuffed ourselves at the buffet and had a really great evening.  Before we ate, we went to Home Depot and Lowes and picked out a new vanity, sink top, and faucet for our bathroom.  James went back the next day and got them.  (Now if we can just find time to install them!) 
So, last week, we turned a "had to" shopping excursion into a date, too.  I wanted to get Daniella an outfit for her Groovy Girls for her birthday.  The only place I knew here that sold them was a shop in Dollywood.  So off James and I go.  We have season passes, so we didn't have to pay to get in or park.  We got the outfit, but we also got dessert at the bakery, held hands and walked around, and rode the ferris wheel and the scrambler.  I even bought myself something, which is rare~a beautiful white and blue teapot from Vietnam.  Dollywood is having their Festival of Nations, and they have shows and products from several different countries.  It was a great afternoon.  Too short, but great.  We had to cut it short, because.....guess where we had to go.  Yep.  WalMart. 
Wednesday was Daniella's birthday and my parents came for the day.  We all had a nice day, and she had a fun birthday.  Then Saturday was her very first party with friends.  She had a super time. Three out of the seven invited got to come, plus 2 siblings participated, too, so we had a nice size group. 
The Lord gave us our desires that day.  It was an outside party, and most of the week they were calling for a 30% chance of rain.  By Thursday it was 50%; Friday 60%, and when I got up Saturday morning 90%.  I had prayed and prayed all week that it wouldn't rain, and I have to admit, 90% made me lose the faith I had had all week that the Lord would give us sunshine (or at least no rain).  I continued to pray all morning, while I watched the radar ,and I watched God roll the clouds away~quite literally.  The line headed across Tennessee broke in the middle of the state (north to south).  The rain to the south moved directly east, while the rain in line with us and to the north moved northeast.  It did not rain the first drop at my house the entire day!!!  In fact, we got a little bit sunburned! 
The kids had a ball.  We have a huge fort/swing set that James built for them last spring, plus they played basketball and rode in the electric Jeep.  At the end of the party we had a pinata. 

Resting after the party


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Big Day

Daniella turns 7 today!  Happy Birthday Sweet Girl !
I was looking for a picture of her and found this series that someone took of her.  Some of them are a little blurry, but I thought I'd show a little of her personality.  She's a mess.  : )  We also celebrated her Gotcha Day last week.  She's been home 6 years.

                        We Love You Baby Girl

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Salamander Hunt

We recently went with some from our homeschool group on a Salamander Hunt.  Two different groups went, and there were 25 in our group.  For those who are familiar with the Smoky Mountains, this is at the Chimney Tops picnic area and the trail just above it.  As you can see, it wasn't the warm sunshiny day we hoped and had been having.  The kids had a blast, though.
James and Daniella hunting for salamanders under rocks and logs.

Found one
See the wind blowing her hair?  It was nippy!

Found a bunch!

The big black one in the upper left corner of that picture above is one Marissa found.  It's called the Imitator.

You can't really see this salamander, but it is called a Red Cheek, and the Smoky Mountains is the only place in the world where it can be found. 

My wildflower photos didn't come out really great, maybe because it was so windy up on the hill where we were.  This is a while trillium.

Duchman's Breeches

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Funding an Adoptioin

The following are excerpts from an aritcle by Crown Financial Ministries (www.crown.org)  You can read the full article here~ http://www.crown.org/LIBRARY/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=276 If you've ever felt a tug in  your heart about adoption, but didn't think you could afford it, read this article and pray.  If that tug is from God, He will provide a way in every area of question.
"Adoption offers a chance at a new beginning for many children cared for by state and private agencies and international orphan situations. Families constitute the building blocks of God's Kingdom. A strong family unit provides an orphan with the love and security that is needed to ensure that they grow into healthy adults and a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. James 1:27 says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (NIV).
Adoption is part of the Great Commission, and we see that God's heart of compassion for the fatherless is clearly expressed throughout Scripture. We see adoption by believers as "missions in reverse" because adoption provides an opportunity to reach across the globe and bring children into homes where Jesus is present and God's Word is central.
The decision to adopt
Because the adoption of children needs to be planned, within reason, a decision to adopt must be made with prayer and the counsel of mature and trusted Christians..........
..........Depending on the circumstances, the cost of adoption can range between nothing to $30,000.
.......Many options exist to help families bridge the gap between their budgets and the costs for adoption. The US government provides a federal tax credit per child adopted in a tax year (which for tax year 2007, was a maximum of $11,390 - see www.irs.ustreas.gov) and some states offer up to $10,000 tax credits (Georgia's was $10,160 for 2006). Many corporations offer adoption assistance programs (www.adopting.org), and the US military offers a non-recurring subsidy for military personnel (www.militaryadoption.com).   
(Letitia's note:  the tax credit mentioned here, is not a deduction, but an actual credit.   If you owe $500 on your taxes this year, the credit will wipe that out.  It then carries over year after  year until you have used the entire amount.  The article goes on here to list several grants and options to fund an adoption. )
........If you are seeking the Lord's will for your life and in the life of an orphan who needs a home, and are obedient to His call, He will provide a way for you to finance it without having to jeopardize your future. Matthew 6:31-33 says, "So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (NIV). In Philippians 4:19 we read, "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus" (NIV).
........The financial barriers to adoption can seem overwhelming, but fortunately, we do not have to look at the outward appearance of things; we can look to the One who controls all the circumstances of our lives.
If a couple feels strongly that God is directing them to adopt and/or to reach out to an orphan, they should begin to save and to prepare for the expenses, and to prayerfully make their needs known to their church, family, and friends. If God is truly leading a couple to adopt, He will be faithful to provide for all of the financial needs. "
Go here to read more specifics on funding adoptions.  http://www.crown.org/LIBRARY/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=276 
I will remind you here, that if you adopt from the foster care system, there is no or little expense.  I read one of my friends here say that their adoption cost $40!!  If God is leading you to adopt, whether domestically, foster, or international, don't let fears or questions stop you from doing what He is calling you to.  (When we adopted Marissa, we had no clue what we were doing, and didn't know anyone who had adopted IRL or online.)  Pray.  Ask for confirmation that your desire is from Him.  Be open.  Ask questions~there is a long list of my "Adoption Friends" in my sidebar, and millions of others to talk to and ask questions.  And, of course, you can ask me!  : )  God ALWAYS provides a way for His work.  Millions of children await someone to love them, teach them, and share God's love with them.  Ask God if you're one of them.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Horses Lapbooks

Waaay back in the fall, we started a lapbook on horses from Hands of a Child.  We've just kind of worked on it a little here and there, and didn't work on it much at all Nov. through Feb.  We finished up in early March, so I thought I'd share it with you.  We added some photos of the girls with horses.  Daniella was too young to understand and do a lot of the projects, but I've done a few with her, adapted a few, and made up  one.  Hers is still in progress.
Marissa's cover~picture printed off the internet

Photo of Marissa riding last year on her birthday

back of lapbook~ Photo of Marissa petting some horses and a picture she colored.

Daniella's front cover

Inside so far

Back~picture off the internet and photo of her riding

Marissa really enjoyed the lapbooking.  We are currently slowly working on Time Travelers~The American Revolution.  It has a lapbook, notebooking, time line, projects.....

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Fellowship and Springtime

We've been enjoying both around here.  This past weekend was a busy time of fellowship!  Saturday morning, Ashley, Briana, and I went to a small outdoor wedding in the countryside.  It was a beautiful setting~in a field, surrounded my rolling hillsides and a stream.  While we were gone, James dropped Marissa off with a small group from church to see the show at the Miracle Theater.  We picked her back up, and headed to have dinner with Paul and Gena Suarez.   Betsy and her family were there, too.  We had a great time with them.  The Suarez children are so polite, and made mine feel right at home.   Little Susanna is a cutie pie.  I got to old her and put her to sleep!  : )  Gena is a good cook, too!  Betsy's family is great, too.   We got to hear some great adventure stories about her "daughter".  (You can see her on her current post, I think.)  Betsy and I (and Angie, too, I think) have some big plans in May.  We will be answering questions after a homeschool seminar at Johnson Bible College on Friday and Saturday.  I think it now involves a sleepover!
   Starting this last Sunday, James and I joined a once a month Bible study/prayer group.  They meet the last Sunday of the month.  There are about 5 couples, counting us, plus 3 single women.  They are a group of people from our church that really hunger for the Lord,  led by our Minister of Music and his wife.  James and I are the youngest in the group, and were so blessed to be asked to join them.  I forsee gleaning so much wisdom there.  They leave church, pick up sandwiches or something to take out to the house, eat, fellowship, then meet until time to leave for night services.  It was so great last Sunday.  I am also thankful to my sweet Ashley and Briana, who brought Marissa and Daniella home from church and watched over them all day so that we could go. 
   Now for some of our Spring enjoyment~~  you know I have to post pictures as often as I can get away with!

Marissa's new bike (her first non-hand-me-down bike).  It's about as hot pink as you can get!  She loves it.

Ashley made us some yummy spring sugar cookies.

Briana hard at work studying~and enjoying spring at the same time.

Amazingly, there are only a few stuffed animals in the strollers.  Normally they are piled high.  Maybe they are all already in the tents!

How about a big, slobbery smooch?