Tuesday, August 28, 2007

LOST: One Serving Fork

Well, I think it's lost.  (Even though technically, I found it.)  It could also have run away looking for the cat with the fiddle, a cow jumping over the moon, a laughing dog and a rebellious dish and spoon.  Ya never know.  But this fork doesn't look quite that adventurous.  (A third option is that it's stolen.  Accidentally, of course.)  I discovered it in my silverware (which is really stainless-steelware) drawer back a few months ago.  I think I brought it home from the after-MCC Sale party we had at Paula and Anthony's house in May and I've tried not to use it very many times.  (Mikaela doesn't think we should use it since it isn't really ours.)
Being the honest person that I am, I decided to try and find the fork's rightful owner, whether it wants me to or not.  I also thought it would be SO much more interesting to post a picture of it (on our piano keys for size perspective and artistic flare) here on my blog than it would be to, say, call Paula and ask her if she had been missing a serving fork for the last 4 and a half months.  And it might not be Paula's anyway.  It might be Amanda's, though it could be tricky to get it to her in Oklahoma.  (And can you even believe that I have written this much--and that you have read this much!!!--about a fork of all things?)  (Well, it is a nice fork.) 
If it belongs to you or somebody you know, please let me know so I can return it to it's rightful drawer.  If it doesn't belong to you and nobody else claims it (because really not very many people in the world read my blog!), I might just have to send it on it's merry way by leaving it in somebody else's stainless-steel-silver-flat-ware-drawer. 
Alright, I can't think of anything else to say, even though I really wanted to incorporate "Hey Diddle Diddle" somewhere in this post.  You should probably thank me now.
J  ~Melissa

Saturday, August 25, 2007

New Seasons

I wrote this in my journal yesterday and thought I'd share with some pictures. Have a blessed weekend!


8:15 am I was just sitting in the kitchen and noticed that there are tiny new leaves growing on the redbud tree where the red-humped caterpillars devoured the old leaves. (There were hundreds of them!!! So gross...)

Already new growth is pushing out, apparently determined and undaunted by what appeared so devastating.

It's encouraging to me. Even right now when I feel so blah about my spiritual life, I know that my relationship with God is secure and this is just a season. It's good to be hungry for God again. It's good to know He is changing my life again and that He knows what He's doing. "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise." Isa. 43:18-21 I know God is recreating me to be a praise-er, And I know I can praise Him in this season because I have no reason not to. He is still Who He has always been and I am who I am in Him regardless of how I feel. I will keep searching and resting in the security of knowing He will not let me go and that someday the little leaves that are starting to shoot out from the barren little branches in my heart will be bigger and more beautiful than even before. SO I WILL PRAISE HIM NO MATTER WHAT because even when I don't know what to pray, I can still praise Him.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sweet & Sour Grapes

Today in the grocery store I saw a girl, probably age 6 or 7, biting a bag of grapes.  I was a bit surprised as I'd never seen anyone try to eat a grape that was still in the bag before.  Then she bit a second bag, um, grape...  Now, these grapes weren't in her mom's cart.  They were on the display case with all the other bags of grapes and her mom was looking at something else, just 2 feet away, and didn't appear to see anything. 
But here's what really surprised me.  When I saw the girl biting the grapes, I didn't gasp in horror and wonder what in the world was wrong with that child or her irresponsible mother.  I didn't agonize over whether I should alert the Produce Security Squad or point out, (graciously of course!), to the mom that her daughter was squishing grapes with her teeth in bags some unsuspecting person might buy in 5 minutes.  You know what I did?  I chuckled.  And smiled.  (HUH?????)
That was when it hit me.  I have crossed some type of line.  I don't know how or when it happened, but I'm not the same person I used to be.  Instead of judging the grape girl and her mom, I knew how quickly even the best-behaved children can--without thinking--do the most illogical things.  At that moment I was grateful my kids weren't the ones chomping on somebody else's grapes.  Yes, I know it is a very sad thing for the poor consumer and I hope they thoroughly wash their grapes before they eat them (after throwing away any with teeth marks).  And at this moment I'm surprised I walked away without intervening or saying anything. 
I just think I've learned that I don't know what battles anybody else is fighting.  The girl's mom could be in the middle of a divorce or working 2 jobs or dealing with illnesses or grief...  or just might have been paying attention to shopping at that moment instead of her daughter.  But it doesn't really matter.  I've come to a point where I feel like all the moms of the world and I are in this battle together and I'm feeling so much more like cheering everybody else on than criticizing them for what I think they're doing wrong.  Now, I grant you, that tomorrow I may be extremely frustrated with what some mother or father is doing or not doing with/for/to their child.  But it was sweet that for that moment today I was able to walk away (with my kids following me an aisle or so behind) hoping nothing but the best for the grape muncher and her mother. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Bit Mixed Up

I knew this was going to happen.  I feel sort of as if my life/routines are puzzle pieces that I had gotten into a nice picture and now the whole thing got dropped on the floor or somehow has been all mixed up and when I put the pieces back together this time it's going to make a different picture, so I can't just try to put them back where they were.  How/where I'm serving at church right now is changing, our house is (hopefully) changing soon, our adoption process is in transition (from work, work, work, to wait, wait, wait).    It's happening to my spiritual life right now, too.  Everything feels out of place and unsettled—my journaling, my prayer time, Bible study, worship, intercession…  Even stuff as simple as when to take a shower isn't the same as it was a week ago or last year.  But I know that if I give things time, we'll settle into a new routine.


I have to be patient.  


I am so thankful that it's really only the details that are changing.  The foundational pieces of my life are still the same:  my family and my God.  And as long as God doesn't change, I know I'll be alright.  J

Monday, August 20, 2007

Things Toby and I learned while Mik was at school today

1.  (This was all very non-graphic, by the way...  purely too many Gingerbread Man stories!)  Toby asked me what I would do if a real fox ate my head.  I said I would cry.  He informed me that I couldn't because what if the fox ate my face, too? 
2.  "Look Mom!  They're selling rocks at Costco!"  A closer look revealed to him they were actually mushrooms, not shrink-wrapped rocks in between the carrots and broccoli.
3.  If Toby parks Mikaela's Dora scooter on the far side of the van and Mommy doesn't see it and tries to back over it, the scooter won't drive perfectly straight afterward--even after Daddy fixes it.  (Oops.)
4.  I learned that when Toby goes to the Diego Live! show next week with his grandparents there will be 190 boys there and 10 girls.  Because he saw a little bit of it on TV so he knows.
And finally...
5.  There are such things as Attacking Tornadoes that shoot fire and even if you erase them (they only exist on dry-erase boards, thankfully!) they can still shoot fire through the eraser.  Wow. 
Toby and I sure had fun today.  J
And in case you're wondering, Mikaela had a nice day too, even though she said the day was longer than she thought it would be.  But I think we're off to a great start.   

Sunday, August 19, 2007

It's the End of the World as We Know It...

And I think I feel fine. : ) Well, it's actually just the end of summer vacation. Mikaela starts first grade tomorrow! Which means she's going to have to be at school at 8:00am everyday (no, not Saturdays and Sundays, silly!) Anyway, her class will still be taught 90 percent in Spanish and 10 percent English (which amounts to about an hour a day) and as the years go by she will end up with 50/50 Spanish and English in 5th and 6th grade where all the kids are so fluent in both languages it is close to impossible to tell which language is their first language. Which is so cool! In case you don't know, my hubby and I both speak Spanish, so we love it for lots of reasons. So if you've been reading my blog since the beginning of summer you might remember that I had a list of things to accomplish. And I'm grateful that I think we did a pretty good job. While we didn't have her friends from school over, we did go to VBS with a couple of them and both of those girls are in her class this year. : ) I also DID get a lot done for our adoption, even though we haven't started our taxes yet... (Don't panic, we have until October to file.) But what I'm most glad about is that we enjoyed the days and weeks and went camping a couple times and the kids just played and played and life felt more peaceful (except for a few weeks ago when you might recall I was about to lose my mind). And amazingly, I'm sort of ready to get back into a routine and expecting it will go well. We're also carpooling!!! My good friend Paula's kids are starting at our school this year and they live very close to us so they're taking the morning shift and I'm bringing Mik, Elena and Ethan home. Hopefully it will turn out to be a time, money and sanity saving venture for us all. Tomorrow I'll try to report on how it went along with pictures of our big first-grader. As for now, her clothes are ready, her backpack is ready, her shoes are ready... If only she could fall asleep......... : )

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Talk about Wild!

I just watched an incredible AMAZING video.  If you have 8 minutes and 23 seconds to watch it (and you aren't my poor sister who lives out in the country with only dial-up internet access) you can click here and watch it BUT read below first...   
I think this video powerfully captures what happens in some people's lives when they are suffering.  Whether they've been attacked by people or taken advantage of by the enemy, they are trapped and it seems easier to write them off as lost than to believe they can be rescued.  Yet when the sufferer truly wants God to rescue them and is willing to submit to God AND when the body of Christ is willing to surround them with love and to fight the enemy on their behalf, the enemy flees!  God, of course, is the rescuer, but WE are His body on earth and He wants us to fight on behalf of the lost and abandoned and lonely and hurt and wounded and trapped.  Knowing how to do that can be so complicated sometimes, I know, but wowIf a herd of buffalo can be willing to fight for their calf, can't we be willing to fight for the minds, hearts and souls of those around us???  Sure, it can absolutely be possible for people to find freedom with only God and the Bible, but I believe wholeheartedly that in the vast majority of cases, GOD WANTS THE BODY OF CHRIST TO BE A PART OF THE PROCESS.
And just like the lions know the buffalo are stronger, demons know WE  as Believers in Jesus are stronger than they are because we are filled with the Holy Spirit of the Lord God Almighty.  (They just don't want us to know that.)
James 4:7  "Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (!)
1 Peter 5:8-9  "Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings."
Ephesians 6:10-12, 18b  "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.....  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."
Stand firm brothers and sisters!  May God give us wisdom to know how to fight for those around us who need our help.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fruity Update

While we're on the subject of updates (see below) I thought I'd let you know about the current fruit situation. I am very sad to say that we have discovered another threat to our trees lives. (Prepare to smack me on the forehead.) NOT ENOUGH WATER! (You can smack me now, but not too hard, please, because Lowell's really the one in charge of our yard.) Our O'Henry peach tree, which should be full of gorgeous, big, luscious peaches right now has some sad looking very small peaches... and a bunch of broken branches. "A bunch" as in there are more that broke than there are that didn't. It looks so sad that I can't even bear to take a picture of it. (And it's dark outside and I don't want to go out there right now...) I think the water for the trees is quite symbolic of the time I spend reading the Bible and praying. No matter how well I'm doing everything else, if I'm not spending enough time abiding with Him the results will be small at best and disastrous at worst. John 15 has always been one of my favorite passages, yet I can still at times get out of my routines and find myself not spending as much time praying and in the Word until God smacks me on the head and gets my attention. (Please don't ask me where all this head-smacking came from tonight. It's late.) I hope and pray that you all are spending time with Jesus on a regular basis. And that you're not discouraged when it feels like what you're reading or praying is water running off of dry ground. Eventually the water WILL sink in if we keep asking Him to pour it on. I promise.

Adoption Update

Hooray! Our dossier is now in the care of a courier in Maryland who is going to take it to the US State Dept and then to the Thai Embassy for the final steps of authentication, certification and legalization. While we're waiting, we have a few other papers to work on and get ready to be sent up to the Holt office in Eugene, Oregon with our dossier when we get it back from the courier. Once Holt receives it we will REALLY be on the REAL waiting list to be matched with our REAL child! (Right now we're on the list sort of tentatively, pending their receipt of our dossier.) Holt will then send it to Thailand. We're also working on immigration paperwork right now. They are still saying that the time from when they receive our dossier to when we are matched is about 6-8 months for a boy, and more for a girl (we don't have a preference). And once we have a match we agree to it could be 7-9 months til we travel to pick him/her up in Thailand. (And yes, we are planning on taking our kids with us, crazy as it may be.) But again, only God knows how long it will really take. It could be slower or faster. And... if you check out the Holt website, right now there is a 3.5 minute video you can watch of some families meeting their new children for the first time in China. On the main page, look toward the bottom on the left and you should see the video link. Our situation will likely be very different, but it's still interesting (and of course a little emotional!) to see. : )

Monday, August 13, 2007


***Updated to say: Sorry for the goofy formatting!*** I'm experimenting with a new journal... my computer. It's a new idea I had the other night and one benefit is that I can copy stuff and send it to my blog. Which I might do on occasion like tonight... or whenever I think God wants me to.

(FYI... the "Bill" I'm talking about here is our neighbor who is a professional musician with a connection in Nashville. Bill wants to hear "my tunes" (as he calls them) one of these days and has told me that he'll send my stuff to his guy out there if I want--even though he hasn't heard any of them yet.) Anyway, here's what I wrote. And now I'm off to bed. Ciao!

8.13.2007 10:10pm

I'm waiting for Lowell to come home from a Ranchwood HOA Board meeting and was just enjoying a few moments of peaceful, quiet contentment when my thoughts turned to turning 35 soon. I was thinking about how You, Jesus, accomplished so much in your 33 years here. You fed thousands, You healed and taught and established a church that has stood the test of time like no other, and been tested like no other. All history and time on earth is defined by YOU and those simple 33 years. I started to think about how bold and fearless You were, but realized that You weren't completely fearless. But You didn't ever, EVER, let Your fear stop You from doing what God told/called You to do. You must have at times been afraid, because You were human, and You were tested in every way, yet every time You obeyed the countless commands to FEAR NOT. Help me, Jesus, to push past my fears every day. To obey You whatever the cost.

What am I afraid of right now? Sharing my songs with people? With Bill? Lord, open my eyes to see the truth about what my music is for. Help me to know how to be faithful with it. I don't want what You've given me taken away because I buried it in the ground. Help me to be brave and to believe in Your ability to use me even though there are thousands of songwriters in the world. You have done mighty things for me, Lord, and I DO want to tell as many people as I can about You and who You are and about Your truth and freedom. Don't let me listen to the enemy's lies telling me that my stuff isn't so great or unique or special or that Bill's company/friends don't have the right connections or whatever. Lead the way Lord. I want to follow You. Fearlessly.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

On a More Positive Note...

I took these pictures a couple days ago because I thought they gave a glimpse of some sort (what sort, I'm not sure) into my life or at least my house and some of the messes I'm currently dealing with. (See, I told you you'd be getting more pictures!) First, I give you the fridge magnet display which isn't really messy but it does have a picture that is probably 2 years old of my nephew Matthew, the word "fox" (which Mikaela wanted to spell with an "a" in the middle because in Spanish the "a" makes the "ah" sound. Please don't panic... she'll be just fine, I promise.), and up on top I'm just sure one of my brilliant children was trying to spell "ingenuity" (which, I might add, I didn't even spell right the first time.)

Next we have the state of my almost new bedroom. We just have to clean it out and get some laminate flooring down and we'll be ready to move in. (Yes, I know... it's huge!) It should only take us, oh, another few months at the rate we seem to go. Well, hopefully just a few weeks. Maybe by my birthday!

But it is very, very exciting. And we really need to get in there quick because I keep thinking of stuff to put on the walls (like blown up versions of these pictures I took last week... I'm doing a beach theme)
And I might just keep buying more and more stuff if we don't get in there soon.

Lastly, I give you Mikaela's kitchen.

This is actually a workbench that she uses as a desk--or kitchen, or whatever her imagination (or whatever is piled upon it) dictates that day. So a couple days ago she called me in to give me the tour of her new kitchen. It included dishes, cookbooks, food, salt and pepper shakers AND EVEN balsamic vinegar and parmesan cheese. Apparently we've taught her some things well... And though cleaning up is still almost always a BIG challenge, today something miraculous happened. Toby--all by himself, although clearly with Divine inspiration-- discovered that he could pretend his arms were BIG STRONG CRANES! (He was very loud during this process.) And he was looking for stuff to pick up and put away. This is my Toby who normally whines and cries about not being able to clean anything up because it's too hard... I have no idea how long the BIG STRONG CRANES will be around, but I'm gonna do everything in my power to keep them as long as possible because he cleaned up more with them than I've ever seen him clean up with his hands. Ever.

And now I'm going to go help my daughter go to sleep because she keeps thinking about the spider that jumped on her leg today and feeling like it's there again. I'm sure you understand. : )

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Ups and Downs of a Paper Pregnancy

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!  That's how I'm feeling about all this paper stuff right now.  Wed. of this week I was all gung-ho about getting our dossier stuff together.  It amounts to more than 20 pages of documents telling everything about us like our birth and marriage certificates, letters from Lowell's employer, our bank, our Dr, our friends, a copy of the 1st page of our taxes (and a copy of our extension form since we haven't actually filed our 2006 taxes yet...  ahem...), our home study, a Thai adoption application (in English, not Thai!!!) some other licenses and stuff from our adoption agency and whatever. 
Some of it we had to have notarized.  I was REALLY excited when I found out there was a Regional CA State Dept. office in Fresno because that meant we didn't have to send everything to Sacramento to be certified.  SO.  Lowell took it all down to the office and found out he had to take it to the county clerk first to verify the notary's license and signature.  Then he took it back.  Now we have a state seal certificating the county clerk's seal certifying that the notary was certified to verify our signatures on our dossier.  You'd think that was enough, right???  Well, now we get to send it all to Washington DC for the US Dept. of State to certify and then it will go to the Royal Thai Embassy (also in DC...  we'll hire a courier to walk it to these places for us) to have the US State Dept. certification verified.
Are you confused yet???  It's just making me tired today b/c I thought we were going to be able to skip the DC part of it until I discovered today that the Thai law changed LAST MONTH saying now it does.
Interestingly enough, God and I wrote another song over the course of the last couple of weeks and it's all about "counting it all joy."  I don't have time to type out all the words right now (and I've already made you read enough!) but whenever I think about the song, it reminds me to count everything as joy.  EVERYTHING.  Even the fact that if we'd gotten this done a month ago it would (supposedly) be a simpler process.  Who knows?  (God.)  I have been trusting God all along to help us get our paperwork done at just the right time so that we will be in just the right place on the waiting list when our child's name is at the top of the other list.  And this is probably just part of that process.  Or maybe it's just developing perseverance.  But no matter what, I can count it all joy. 
So if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go find some joy and praise God He's gotten us this far down the road.  We're almost done with the paper part (I think) and will soon start just waiting.  And I'm sure I'm gonna need some perseverance and joy for that.  : )  Bye!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

So Much to Say! (But then, what's new about that???)

Well, hello my faithful friends!!! Life around here has slowed down a bit. (Sigh. I'm SO glad!) So I thought since it's been (GASP!) almost a week since I added anything to my blog it was time! So here I will share with you some pictures (worth several thousand words you should be grateful you don't have to read) of our camping trip to Morro Bay, CA where we spent several days playing, laughing and getting sunburned even though it was overcast for all but maybe 15 minutes.

This first one is MOST of the group we were with. It's missing one family (who didn't come with us to the museum) and one crying child (Caleb Parra) who refused to be in the picture. I don't have any pictures of the Ebury family, but I do have pictures of the crying child when he was playing with Toby at a different time with our fabulously stylish tent trailer in the background. : ) Dontcha just love it??? (And Carlos, your picture is officially on the internet on somebody's blog.)

Here is a picture of Lowell at the beach with his girls. They didn't pose this way for the picture. They were already sitting on him when I got there. : )

This is Mikaela and Toby with their adorable cousin Caleb who lives in San Luis Obispo (not to be confused with Caleb Parra who is missing from the group picture above). Caleb brought his parents (Lowell's brother Matt and Matt's wife Anne-Therese) to Toby's party because he'd never gotten to hit a pinata before.

We took care of that.

And last but not least... THIS is Toby's cake!!! And Toby, of course. It was his birthday we were celebrating after all. : )

So there you have it. 6000 words worth of pictures and only a few hundred to read. I call that a bargain! I wish I had video of the ROARING (thanks, Duane) campfire and the singing we got to do the last night. It was so sweet. But we were all too busy enjoying ourselves to take any pictures, so (unless you were there) you'll just have to join us next year and experience it for yourself, okay???

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Wow! It worked!

You'll have to read below to know what I'm talking about...  but you can now fully expect to see more pictures on my blog b/c I just figured out a really easy way to do it.  
(And by the way, that's Toby's new Hot Wheels bike he got for his birthday.  It looks even cooler with the stickers on it.  It's very much like the one his Daddy had when he was a little boy which is why his Daddy wanted to buy it for him.  Our generation is SO being taken advantage of by the toy manufacturers who are now remaking all the toys from our childhood!)
(I'm really going to go pack now.)  (Really.)

Happy Birthday Toby! and some other ramblings

This is partly an experiment to see if I can post something via email WITH a picture!  (Did you know I can send an email to my blog and it will automatically be posted?  Hmmm....  I wonder if other people could do that too.  I'd better keep the email address a secret so you all don't start posting unauthorized stuff on my blog.  Cuz you just might do that...)  Ummm...  where was I?
Today is Toby's birthday and he's 4 and we're partly celebrating tonight with the local grandparents and tomorrow with the pinata and coolest cake I've ever made (you'll have to wait to see pictures of it when we get home) (because I know you really want to!) at the campground with all our friends.  It will be memorable I hope and fun even if tricky to get the (really cool!) cake there. 
Which reminds me that I left the family room a few minutes ago saying I needed to go pack.  And I ended up here, of course.  This will probably be the last post until after we get home Sunday.  (Unless I'm all packed up early and have time in the morning with nothing to do.  HA!)  And for those who are wondering, my appt. this morning with my new Dr. went well.  He said I do seem to have many indicators for ADD and he wasn't suprised I was there (looking for help.)  I go back a couple more times for some testing and then we'll see what happens after that.
Have a great week everyone!  While we're in Morro Bay camping I'll be thinking about stories to tell you.  Now I really do need to go pack so I don't repeat the packing disaster before our Hume trip.  Because we're leaving in 18 hours and have a birthday to celebrate tonight yet and I really need to stop procrastinating.  NOW.
OK.  Bye.  : )