Syncing Supper?

I have a fairly traditional job. Mostly 9-5ish hours, and the ability to work from home if extended hours are needed — and they usually are.

Ken has a nontraditional job. Yes, he almost always heads to work at 8:30 a.m., or 8:00 a.m. on Saturdays, but he also has evening activities most days of the week. (Sunday-Thursday, and often on Saturday)

So, I get home at 5:30, and Ken gets home at 8:30 or later on most nights. We live about 20 minutes from church, if there’s no traffic, so there’s not really time for him to come home for dinner.

My problem is: What do we do about dinner? I do a lot of crock-pot dinners, a lot of cereal and microwave frozen E-mealz leftovers. Many times we eat completely different meals, three hours apart. I feel like I can’t quite get into the rhythm of our schedule.

Any suggestions for meals in a totally out-of-sync schedule?

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The Missing Smiles

Today, we received new pictures from our Congo Program Director of both kids. It’s the first picture that we’ve seen of Emmanuel since his intake photo, and only the second of Rose. No longer are their faces filled with strain and stress of being abandoned at an orphanage. Their feet are no longer bare, and their clothes are new and clean, instead of the ill-fitting and stained clothes they were wearing in the first pictures we had received from them.

Emmanuel is such a handsome boy. Rose’s cheeks are healthy and chubby, and her lips are plump and sweet. They are simply adorable.

But there is still something missing from their pictures: smiles. Rose’s eyes especially convey sadness. And why shouldn’t they? Those whom they loved and trusted most are gone, and they have been left in the care of an orphanage.

One of the things I look forward to most when we travel to the DRC is seeing the sad faces of these two precious children, soon to be our precious children, smile. To laugh. To blow bubbles. To jump rope and ride bikes. To color and play with sticker books. To eat an ice cream cone as it dribbles down their chin and hands. To enjoy some fun-filled Busy Bags. To get to just be kids. Who know they are loved. Who have no worries. Who smile.

We are still awaiting our court documents to come back to the United States. They have to be translated back into English so that we can correct them, so they can be translated back into French and be sent back to the court. Then we can begin the 30 day appeal period. It’s a minimum of 30 days, but could be much longer. It seems like after that, the process moves forward in many small but fairly quick steps.

Each step forward is a step closer to bringing smiles to two children who haven’t had the chance to smile enough.

Rescued

A guest post by Ken

Tonight Jeremy Michael lead worship at the Rescue Mission and I was able to bring the Word.

I love anytime Jeremy leads in worship, but tonight was extra special as it was with 100 guys very near to my heart. I believe in what God is doing at the Rescue Mission.

The Rescue Mission was started in 1954 and today it continues to serve hundreds of meals three times a day; 365 days a year. And they do all of it with no government assistance. All of their funding is donation based. That’s a lot of guys and a lot of faith.

While I support the over all goal of the Rescue Mission, my heart really belongs to these guys in the program. “The program” is a six month residential treatment for guys who want a Christ-centered approach to facing their life issues and chemical addictions. I love these guys and have tremendous respect for their courage to face their demons.

Over the years I have been able to volunteer in the kitchen and dinning room with a number of my friends from both the college and middle school ministry. And from time to time were even able to come and lead the evening chapel service for the guys in “the program”. Tonight was one of those special nights: a good friend led us in worship, I was able to preach to a group of fellas who were hungry for the Word, the guys even laughed at all my jokes, and I was treated to a choir who didn’t care how they sounded. What they lacked in musical ability, they more than made up for in gusto.

The guys in the program are the backbone of what goes on at the Mission. They are the ones cooking the meals, serving the food, providing security and custodial services for their hundreds of “guests” each night. Perhaps what amazes me most about these guys is their transparency and vulnerability. Most of the guys are open about how they ended up at the Mission and what struggles they still battle on a daily basis. It’s refreshing to talk with guys who have no pretense or refuse to hide behind excuses. The program is a deeply spiritual experience. The guys are encouraged to share their stories, immerse themselves in the Word and find reward in serving the needy.

The Rescue Mission may not be perfect, but it does a lot of good – day after day – and lives are being changed one at a time. I feel blessed just to be able to be with the guys and to be touched by them.

My Latest Obsession: Busy Bags

If you’ve not heard of them before, “busy bags” are gallon-size resealable bags that contain activities that can keep a preschooler busy while on-the-go (church, doctor’s offices, traveling) or during quiet times at home. As I think about boarding a plane for an inhumanely long flight with two preschoolers, who don’t know us, who don’t speak English, who probably have never seen a plane before, who have unknown language, mathematical, and fine motor skills, who will likely not understand that silly seatbelt light, I think: “Perhaps we need to have some fun activities on hand.”

The basics of busy bags are:

  • The contents must fit easily into a gallon-size resealable bag. The flatter, the better, in my opinion.
  • The activities should not be messy or contain many small parts that can’t be lost.
  • The activities must be relatively quiet.
  • The activities must be reusable.
  • The activities should cost around $1 or less.

Creativity and using what you have on hand is key. Sounds great to me!

There are hundreds of ideas for busy bags online, and I’ve been wading through great suggestions like:

shower curtain playmat

Playmats! Add in a matchbox car and some small plastic animals, and let the fun begin! Ken has already been given the task of creating a couple of these on the fabric from my never-ending fabric stash, or even an old bread cloth would work. Ken’s quite an artist, so I’m really looking forward to these!

lacing cards

Lacing cards. Some cardstock, or even a cereal box, some shoestring, and a hole punch: magic.

Felt board with shapes. Where can I get small amounts of felt for cheap, by the way?

I spy bags, which contain small objects hidden in the beads or rice that kids must find. This could also be done with a clear plastic bottle. Glued shut, of course.

The button snake. Cut holes in the center of felt squares, and slide the pieces over a button onto a ribbon.

Even better? A linky party with hundreds of ideas here!

As I’ve been sorting through tons of ideas, I’ve realized that it might be easier to create lots of the same type of bag, and then swap with others in a “Busy Bag Swap.” In fact, momblogiverse posts frequently of such swaps, so I know they work. For instance, 15 people create 15 bags each, and then everyone swaps so that each participant ends up with 15 different types of Busy Bags.

Would anyone be interested in Busy Bag Swapping with a group of people, including me? Or, if I were to use my crafting time over the next few weeks to create massive numbers of these, would anyone be interested in purchasing sets of 15 different Busy Bags? Do you have any Busy Bag ideas that you love?

Quick Update

Today, we received notification from the State Department that they are forwarding our case to the DRC, where we will be having our adoption interview in a few months. This was another step that I thought would come later, but it’s nice that our paperwork from the U.S. is already headed to the embassy. It’s even nicer that we don’t have to send it!

We’re still awaiting our court documents to be received and translated, so that we can correct any errors and send them back. Then there will be a 30 day appeal period, and then things should begin to move again. I think.

When the Blog, Blog, Bloggin’ Comes Hop, Hop, Hoppin’ Along

Adopting can be a lonely journey, especially if you don’t know anyone else who is going through the process. Fortunately, our church has several families who have adopted previously, and I’ve been able to find other blogs and discussion boards of families adopting, including from the DRC. It helps to know what’s ahead of us, and encourage and help others who are behind us.

So today, I’m participating in a Blog Hop. Several bloggers have linked up here to make our blogs known to other adoption bloggers.

If you’re here from the Blog Hop, welcome! We’re in the process of adopting two siblings from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and have just come out of court. But our journey started with attempting to adopt through foster care, and from a “birth mother” who found us through our church. There have been highlights along the way as well, as we’ve experienced the miracle of God’s financial provision in our adoption.

But of course, while we wait, life continues on, so I blog a little about our adventures, crafts, cooking, and lessons God is teaching us along the way! Categories of topics are broken down on the right, if one topic interests you more than another. Regardless, I’m glad you’re here!

And if you’re considering adoption, support adoption, or want to pray for families who are pursuing adoption, hop on over to the blog hop!

Nearly Free Embellished Skirt

This weekend’s free crafting project started with a rather homely skirt. Several years ago, I came across this skirt at the Goodwill Outlet, where items are priced by the pound. I’m pretty sure that I paid less than a dollar for it, even though it was brand new with the tags still on. It was a Sag Harbor, and is wrinkle resistant, which I like. It had pockets, and came with a belt, which I soon commandeered for other outfits. The only real problem with the skirt was that it was plain. I tucked it in the back of the closet, where it has waited for some help.

 

Help came this weekend.

I went to my legendary fabric stash, and pulled out these fabrics:

I also had a t-shirt that we had picked up for free at Food Truck Tuesdays at Second Harvest Food Bank, but when we got home, we realized it was gigantic.

And of course, my button stash came in handy once again.

I started by making some yoyo’s. Tracing circles with around a container lid, I traced out 12 circles for yoyo’s. Tutorials for yoyo’s abound, including one I found here.

 

I also created some knit flowers. To make those, I cut out sets of 3 successively smaller roughly circular shapes. I used this tutorial as a guide to make them into flowers.

After some quick stitching, I came up with these. They were all so easy to make!

 

I assembled all of the flowers together at the bottom of one side of the front slit of the skirt, and sewed the flowers into place.

 

 

What started out as a plain skirt is now going to be a new favorite! I’m going to use the extra yoyo circles for a brooch to match!

So, Where Does This Leave Us?

We really don’t have a clear answer.

Now that we’re out of court, it seems like we’re now past what we had anticipated would be the longest wait in the process. It seemed like we just fast-forwarded the process by several months, but with the elections coming up next month, there is still the US Embassy warning that adoption travels will be delayed. Or not. Reading the online discussion boards of those adopting through our agency from the DRC, it seems like unexpected delays are the rule, rather than the exception. But we just experienced an acceleration of the timeline.

When will we travel? January? March? Next summer? Later?

Those who are seasoned in international adoption warn not to get caught up in projected timelines because the only thing we can be sure of is that things will not go as planned, especially in a country that is new to international adoption. Planning, predicting, stressing about timelines expends unnecessary energy, and can lead to unnecessary frustration.

And unnecessary worry.

And I refuse to worry. God’s call is clear. The timeline was established long before we even began considering adoption.

So, we’ll continue to file paperwork when we need to, answer requests for information, and consider items needed for travel. But we’ll leave the rest to God.

Resting in the Lord is not dependent on your external circumstances at all,

but on your relationship with God Himself.” — Oswald Chambers

Shhhhhhhh

I wrote this original post on October 11, setting it to autopost on the 13th. Even in the brief time in between, our story has quickly changed, but I thought the original post still had merit. The update follows:

——————————————————

Our dossier is now being forwarded to the Democratic Republic of Congo for translation and court approval. We now won’t hear anything about our case until it comes out of court. The cases that are just coming out of court now were submitted in April. Nearly six months of silence. Our case could take as little as one month, or as many as six or more. All we can do is wait.

In silence.

Sometimes silence is enjoyable. Sometimes it is frustrating. Sometimes it is absolutely painful.

I tend to think of spriritual silence as being the latter two. To want to hear something from God, anything from God, but to only be met with silence is difficult. I wonder: Have I done something wrong? Is God punishing me? How can I get the lines of communication open again?

I read these words from My Utmost for His Highest today:

“When you cannot hear God, you will find that He has trusted you in the most intimate way possible— with absolute silence, not a silence of despair, but one of pleasure, because He saw that you could withstand an even bigger revelation. If God has given you a silence, then praise Him— He is bringing you into the mainstream of His purposes. A wonderful thing about God’s silence is that His stillness is contagious— it gets into you, causing you to become perfectly confident so that you can honestly say, ‘I know that God has heard me.’ His silence is the very proof that He has.”

These words reminded me that spiritual silence is a blessing. I don’t have to be frustrated or hurt. God has heard me, and His silence implies trust, not punishment.

Lamentations 3: 25-32, NIV

 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
   to the one who seeks him; 
it is good to wait quietly
   for the salvation of the LORD.
It is good for a man to bear the yoke
   while he is young.

 Let him sit alone in silence,
   for the LORD has laid it on him.
Let him bury his face in the dust—
   there may yet be hope.
Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
   and let him be filled with disgrace.

For no one is cast off
   by the Lord forever.
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
   so great is his unfailing love.

 

Welcome silence. Feel free to stay a while. Indeed, God has heard me, and His love is unfailing.

Shhhhhhhhh.

___________________________________________________

Update: At the time of the writing above, I wasn’t even sure if our mountain of paperwork had made it to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and our social worker emailed me this afternoon to let me know that not only had it made it, but it was already translated into French, processed in court, put before a judge, and today he approved it! We passed court!

The wait that I mentioned above that might take six months took just DAYS! The judge is new, and very pro-adoption. It was taking him a while to learn the process, but now that he has, he is processing cases in RECORD time. Four families, including ours, passed court today.  I can hardly believe it!

Our hearts are pounding, our heads are spinning, and our hands are lifted in praise to the God who cares deeply for the fatherless!

Buffalo Chicken Soup

Fall is in the air. The leaves are changing colors. The nights are crisp and cool. The air is distinctively less humid, even though the sun still shines brightly during the day.

And best of all, the crock pot becomes a stable feature in my kitchen.

One of my favorite things to make in a crock pot are soups. The flavors have time to slowly simmer together and fill the house with delightful smells. One of my favorite soups to make is as simple as it is delicious, and rich. It’s not the soup that you can eat heaping bowlfuls at one time. Less is more in this flavor-packed soup.

Buffalo Chicken Soup

2 Cups Milk
1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 large or 2 small breasts of chicken
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup blue cheese dressing
1/4 cup Buffalo wing sauce (adjust to taste)

Combine Cream of Chicken soup, Buffalo wing sauce, and chicken breasts. Cook on low for 4 hours. Remove chicken and shred. Return to crock pot.

Add milk, blue cheese dressing, and sour cream.  Heat on low for 1-2 hours until hot. Stir thoroughly or whisk until smooth.

Serve hot with celery sticks (to ease your conscience about vegetable consumption) and bread. Also, consider have extra sour cream and/or wing sauce at the table to adjust level of spiciness.

The recipe is easily doubled, just know that it will take the dairy longer to come to temperature.  I’ve taken giant crock pots full of this soup to church dinners and I’ve never had any left by the end of the night. I hope you enjoy it too!

What is your favorite crock pot recipe?