Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"Just another day in paradise" the song says.............

The past four days here might just be what that song was about, if you've ever heard it. Regarding the washing machine: "Honey DON'T KICK IT!!" "Promise I'll fix it!!" Yes, like that!! Despite the fact that the dishwasher died on Saturday morning with a sink full of birthday party prep stuff and a dishwahser full of the rest of the birthday party food prep items, we got all the dishes washed and put up, the party was a terrific success and the kitchen was clean before I went to bed, oh around 1:30. The Hannah and Grammy Linda created Disney princess two tiered cake : one tier blue, and one tier pink was sprinkled with colored sugar sprinkles and was beautifully colorful with HAPPY BIRTHDAY MADDY across it, the potato salad, pasta salad, rice, beans, beef burgers and venison burgers were supurb! The 40 + people celebrating my grand daughter's birthday had a great time I think, whether they sat on the deck in the PERFECT late September evening weather,bounced on the trampoline, swang or slid or climbed on the playset, played football, baseball, or rode the horse. Maddy was so sweet with her gifts, opening something and running to the giver with a huge hug and a loud "THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!!" She later told Hannah, "Mommy?" I wasn't GREEDY at ALL and I made sure I told everyone 'thank you' didn't I!!!"
I was so thankful for the diversion of the party for Hannah and Jon's stil grieving spirits. Sunday's worship music , since I am the worship leader was led by God to be all about praise, thanksgiving and God's faithfulness, and His mercies which are new EVERY MORNING. Some of the words God had me choose were hard for me to sing, and impossible for me to look toward Hannah or Jon over, for sure, but God IS FAITHFUL and His Word does not come back void. Our wonderful Heavenly Father ministered His comfort and His loving kindness all through the day!
Sunday was also our family outing day and we went to see "Fire Proof" at the closest theatre showing it:45 miles away. IT WAS 100% worth the gas in our Big Green 12 passenger Glory Bus to make the trip. GO SEE THE MOVIE if you are married, want to be married, know someone who is married .....JUST GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You'll see why as you watch the movie. Its on my list of Christmas gift ideas now!
Monday was supposed to just be a "Regular school day" RIGHT? It was until a teen aged boy decided to go racing up our country road so fast that he didn't see what he created for my young children to see and create last night's nightmares about: his slamming into Esther's Corgi pup, at the edge of the road, sending him up in the air, and careening down the road on his head.The teen driver did not stop. Now that we have identified him, we will be visiting him and his parents this afternoon, with the $150 vet bill so that we could determine if he was too injured to let live or if he would be able to recover. Since this would have been the 5th dog we lost this year to careless drivers (some in MY DRIVEWAY and NOT my family!!) I was thrilled to discover that his puppy bones were still soft enough to not have been broken. The concussion will heal, the dislocated hips will heal, he will walk again, maybe he will even bark again. After running puppy ICU I was thrilled to have a quiet dinner date with dh Charlie . Some hard decisions were made about our adoption plans but some really good ones too; a few more details to follow after we finish the conversation our Army son in California interupted with on his first chance to use his phone in 4 weeks due to a desert training exercise . All's well that's ending well, and I'm ready to call it a night when dear Hannah called with apparent scary complications from Friday's D&C. My quiet night ,and my date with DH was postponed as I spent the night with Hannah and Jon in the ER. She is OK but needed quite a bit of intervention and meds. Suffice it to say I am a sleepy Mamma today!!!!!!!! Hannah is feeling way better she told me and for that I praise God. His mercies ARE new every morning and I am still singing "Great IS Thy Faithfulness"
The puppy just peed about a gallon, Esther reports, his first "offering" since before the accident at 1 yesterday!!!!!! Hurray!!!
We thought that the wiring had gone out in the kitchen along with the dishwahser, but AGAIN, Praise God, it was something easily remedied and repaired. We can wash dishes by hand for a while ( NOT my favorite chore to be sure,) but at least we are not doing it in the dark or by candlelight!!!!! Blessed be the name of the Lord! My heart WILL choose to say "Lord Blessed be Your Name!!"
VERY near to announcing our adoption plans, school happened today, I am coherent and Oh............. Charlie also shared last night that he got the really big refinery contract that he'd been working for several months..... This is HUGE!!!
JUST ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love our life!!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

God's faithfulness through Tupperware!

What a week! All are busy weeks but add working a Tupperware fund raising campaign into the mix and, yes, BUSY is a very underestimated assessment of the situation. I am so pleased to be able to share that we had just under $600 in sales!!!! We will make 60% of that in funds toward our adoption !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not the events of Thursday and Friday with Hannah and the baby, not Charlie forgetting his phone and then being "missing in action" late into the night can diminsh how thrilled I am at God's providence! My sales rep was so excited as well at the success of this campaign. She encouraged me to open another month long fund raiser, or as many monhth long fund raisers as I wanted to do because even in this great sale, there were a lot of folks I couldn't touch base with and complete a sale.
I did work hard, but God gave the increase, as the Aposlte Paul would say.
Little by little God is providing, and I am going to praise HIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
The Presidential campaigning has opened a lot of new / old dialog, dissent, heated arguementor introspective thought and personal reflection about LIFE. I'm reading more PRO-LIFE stories in the news than I have since the early 1990's when we were so deeply involved.
One candidate feels that it is the right of one human being to order and pay for the execution of a baby in the womb AND also the right of one human being to choose to allow an "unwanted" or "unplanned" baby who is born alive despite efforts to prevent such an event, to die: as long as that human is the baby's own MOTHER. One candidate stands staunchly entrenched in his firm belief that life begins at conception and is sacred, should be valued and protected. This seems like such a no-brainer; yet the enemy has done an excellent PR job in convincing people that "it" is not a life:YET (something I simply do not "get" ) that "it" is a "choice" and that "it" is a "just a 'Fetus' " . Its as if using a word other than "baby" somehow diminishes the fact that any "fetus" ... a Latin word for "little one" has value or the right to his or her life, or should be treated any differently than a bigger person or one with a mother possessing different beliefs.
This week our family has been hit squarely in our reality how precious LIFE is. Even in grieving today over the loss of my daughter's baby,at 11 weeks into her pregnancy, and discovering that the baby probably didn't even live past about 3 or 4 weeks, we KNOW this was a life and we are very sad that the life created by the love between my daughter and my son in law will not be born into and grow up in our lively rambunctious love filled family........ we won't get to know Baby T .....for now. God in His wisdom, allowed us all to know there WAS a baby, but then took that child Home before Hannah got to feel the life kicking, before Jon could put a hand on Hannah's belly and feel a kick for himself. It was LIFE , it was cherished and it was anticpated. The absence of any of those emotions would NOT have made my grand baby baby any LESS
of a LIVE LIFE. I don't know why this baby was taken into the presence of the Father so early in his/her life but I know that Heaven is now Baby T's home. I know that the D&C Hannah experienced this afternoon was only a closing of a chapter of her newly married life, and I know that she and her husband are grieving that their tiny baby, so loved so eagerly awaited , and now so missed. How could there be any question that pregnancy produces LIFE??

Thursday, September 25, 2008

some days are just harder than others

God is always good. He is always in control but that doesn't mean that sad , heartbreaking things don't happen. They do. Our daughter Hannah went to her OB appointment this morning for her scheduled ultrasound to check on the pregnancy and get a "head count".Meds and family history were leaning toward a multiple baby pregnancy and we were eager to find out. All was going well until after the doctor found the placenta . That was all he found. No baby , babies, no heart beats, no little arms or legs................something had happened and the placenta kept growing even though the baby had died. A second ( and internal) ultrasound in the afternoon confirmed the findings of the first one and Hannah is having a D&C in the morning. All the excitment which had built throughout the week and which was bubbling from my sweet daughter quickly turned to tears and heart break. Her husband was off work for the day and was with her. For that I am so thankful. We prayed together several times, and I saw God pouring out His Spirit of comfort upon her and Jon but OH YES,
we are hurting. The memory of all 7 of my miscarriages has come flooding back in empathy for my daughter. It was a pain and sadness I hoped that none of my children would experience and yet now my daughter and I share the sadness of both loosing our first pregnancies . I will be with her for the day tomorrow and Saturday we will have a 4th birthday party BBQ for Mady, Jon's daughter whom Hannah loves as much as any mom could love a child. HOW I praise God that the exhcange of Mady from her birth mom went well today. It is seldom nice, and I am thankful to the Father that Mady is with them this weekend because Hannah has both Jon and Mady to focus on as she grieves the loss of their baby. When I was pregnant the last time, our daughter Kari was pregnant too and we teased about the movie "Father of the Bride, part 2" where the mom and daughter were pregnant together. Well, that time Kari had twins and I lost the baby. Hannah and I kidded about it being our turn for "Father of the Bride, part 2" this time...her pregnancy and our adoptions. Perhaps if she is able to heal and conceive again after a few months we will STILL have our "fantasy" come true. We won't travel until after mid February for our children. Not as close in arrivals perhaps, but its still possible!!!!!!!!
My prayer today has been in song. "Blessed be your name. When the darkness closes in Lord still I will say 'Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your name. My heart will CHOOSE to say 'blessed be the name of the Lord!'" I am trusting God to heal my daughter and my son in law of their broken hearts as He heals her body and that He draws them even closer to Himself in this hard time, and that I will be what she needs me to be in this very grown up mother -daughter situation.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Giving and Receiving

We are in the final days of a Tupperware fund raiser for our adoption fund and I am SO blessed by the repsonse so far!!!Even our dentist and orthodontist and oral sugeon's offices are praticipating.with excitement!!!! I am humbled and thrilled that so many people from our city will have had a part directly in bringing our children home!!!! Thank You Father for the response!
Last nightwe went to a fund raiser for K-Life, which is our youth program. K-Life branched out from Joe White and Kannakuk Kamps in Brnason Misouri so that kids touched by God in that camp setting could continue to fellowship and grow in their faith and with accountability in a youth group setting. K-Life has big weekly meetings, small group meetings for just a few kids with their leader, and then there are one-on-one meetings:just one child with one leader. My pre-teen and teen kids have loved the Bible study time as well as the fellowship of a college aged person whoshares their interests for sports, gymnastics, academics, etc. We began our K-Life chapter last year and the report we got last night was that the leaders spent 7200 hours with kids in that one year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The club had to move from its first location due to incredible response of the community! Now K-Life has a great venue right on Main Street down town, great visibility and lots of space for the big groups of kids (K-Life ministers to children age 7 -12th grade in age and gender specific groups). The focus is FELLOWSHIP and SPIRITUAL GROWTH and the leaders, all trainedfor what they volunteer to do, is amazing!!!!
We were invited guests of one of the sponsors of this chapter ( who happends to be a close friend) to the fund raiser dinner and speech time. The needed budget goal for the year, which includes the salary for only paid staff memeber: the K-Life leader who IS a full time K-Life missionary, if you will, and all other expenses was set at $55,000. At the dinner last night, I received word this morning, K-Life raised $30,000!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
K-Life is not a replacement for church's own youth programs, but some churches like ours are too small to have their own programs so K-Life is perfect for us. Other chuches supplement thier own programs with K-Life so that the kids don't get the idea that "only " their church has the Truth or true Believers.K-Life has helped to create a bond between a lot of the Christian kids at the High School, reaching across the FFA, sports and band "clique" lines like nothing else could because the love of Jesus brings them together. The outreach to unchurched kids has been wonderful too. For so many kids who are from one parent homes with very limited parent to child time ("quality" or "quantity" ) having small groups where someone is taking the time to get to KNOW them and care for them is truly the hand of Jesus reaching out.
It is so awesome to be part of GIVING to support K-Life (among other things) WHILE being minstered to by RECEIVING from others who are supporting us.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A friend shared this link earlier today. I don't know much about the spiritual concept of "soaking" intellectually, but spiritually I "get it" and this link is to some absolutely beautiful "soaking music".
Enjoy, be blessed and ministered to as you come just as you are and spend time in the presence of our Heavenly Father!

Friday, September 19, 2008

if I am trusting God implicitly, why is my stomach churning?

A friend shared some information about a foundation which provides adoption grants. This organization had extra funds available so was providing opportunity to apply for an unplanned grant between September 1 and 8. I prayed over my words, filled out the form on Sept 1, asked to be added to thieir email news list, and waited..............and prayed , and waited. Today a comment I made to one of my beloved email Sister-groups caused this friend to let me know that she'd gotten an email from the organization saying that they had selected and notified three recipients of the grant. OBVIOUSLY not the SMITHS. OK so I am disappointed that we were not selected, but I fully acknowledge that there are always folks needier. That part is ok. BUT, here's the stomach churning part.............DID I hit a wrong button and NOT supbmit the application at all?????????????????????????? Why aren't I even on their email list as I also asked? The other churn-cranker is that they announced in the email my friend sent on to me (since I didn't get it) that they were so touched by the stories of the applicants that NEXT TIME they have funds to give as a grant, they will pick from THAT batch of applicants, and not open the pool to new ones. Since we are proceeding in Ghana as an independent adotpion, and not affiliated with an agency, there are far fewer organizations who will provide grants. IF I "blew" this one somehow, it is back to square one with trusting God to show us what to check into next. I am believing that we will NOT go nose deep into debt over our new children, so I know if I did inded "blow" this opportunity, God will open a new path for us to walk on...................but my stomach is still churning.Did God provide an opportunity and I got careless with it? I am not much of a second -guesser so right this minute I am really trying to rebalance KNOWING in my deepest knowing places that GOD (with my "help" and without) makes NO MISTAKES against WHAT's UP WITH THIS???????? I am totally fine with not getting the grant, I am NOT OK with DID LINDA MESS UP!!!??? I emailed the organization asking if they would check on the existence of our application.That will tell me something anyhow.
We now have 5 wonderful notarized copies of our home study in hand, are awaiting word of referrals for our new children's identities, my Tupperware fund raiser is in full gear........is God going to provide in such a way that we don't "NEED" the grant folks??? I'm OK with that certainly, my faith was not in them anyhow, but it sure seemed "right" , "easier" "cool" "worth hoping for". I DO KNOW that My GOD SHALL SUPPLY ALL OUR NEEDS ACCORDING TO HIS RICHES IN GLORY. I just need to know where the next doors are so I can knock on them.
Praise God , three other families did get financial assistance for their adoptions!! God met some needs this week and I am so thankful that these other people's burdens were lightened a bit!!!! My stomach will be fine!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


We got it ! We got the rough draft tonight; we corrected the very few mistakes and I sent it on to our Ghana program coordinators!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Tupperware fund raiser got off to a nice start too with over $60 in sales in a very short time!!
We will have the notarized copies of the new home study in our hands on Thursday when the kids and I make a trip to our Asian Market and take some freshly home baked goodies from our kitchen to our dear social worker!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Its beginning to look a lot like.......ADOPTING!!!

.....starting with the email this morning from our social worker that our home study will be completed no later than Wednesday morning but more than likely TOMORROW (YAY HURRAY and PRAISE THE LORD!!!) to meeting with my friend who is coordinating our Tupperware fund raiser,to getting an email from ANOTHER friend, who is a rep for a home decorating catalog company, has also offered to help with a fund raiser in her business !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I just felt so blessed and so loved to have friends who are working to help their family incomes as reps for their respective companies offer to help US!!! It was pretty exciting this evening to send out the email invitations to my communities to particapte in our two-week long Tupperware campaign, AND to get responses so quickly! (Details tba on the home decorating party schedule)
There has been fund raising going on for awhile, but this is the first PUBLIC-involved fund raising.
I have two more , yes, OK, three , goats still to sell and any money we make there will be Calico Acres Farm's contribution to the Adoption Fund. Two are going to sell soon; I have a buyer just finishing up his fence so he's ready for them. My other side effort is that any money from refunds or rebates on anything go into THE FUND.
I am praying that God will be glorified in our efforts as He guides us and that He bless all those who would help us with putting the funds together, so we can together celebrate the home coming of the newest "ingredients in Smith Soup: " our new little girl and boy.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

the wallet story

For the past several days Charlie's wallet has been missing.Well Charlie NOTICED that it was missing several days ago. He really had no idea for how LONG it had been missing. Could be for as long as 2 weeks. He doesn't use his check book all that often. Not "Where did I leave my wallet? " spaced out-missing , but "I ALWAYS keep my wallet in this certain place and its GONE" --kind of missing. We tore the house apart, scoured the barn, Charlie tore his truck apart numerous times in search of his rather large checkbook wallet, which had not only his check book but several hundreds of dollars as well. We could cancel the checks ,not a big deal, but his cash , well that is another story. We prayed , we asked friends to pray. NO WALLET. The bank reassured me that there had been no checks written on the account: good sign , but three days and no sign of the wallet. I took the truck shopping today and in the Walmart parking lot the Lord so very strongly impressed upon me to look one more time for Charlie's wallet. I pulled the seats down and forward, looked in the wheel wells, the spare tire compartment, under the floor mats, ran my hand in every possible crevice and cranny. NO wallet. "I decided" to start at the very beginning, where the wallet usually sits: in the center console. I opened the console, pushed a few things around and looked around in a circular fashion at the whole compartment. THERE IN A MAP COMPARTMENT ON THE INSIDE OF THE CONSOLE DOOR, almost camouflaged because it and the console door are matte black, WAS THE WALLET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I opened it quickly to be sure that the contents were still there, and yes they were!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! After breaking into tears of absolute joy and relief and prayers of thanksgiving, composing myself enough to be understood by a human, I called Charlie to tell him the news. "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH'" he responded. "Now I remember. I saw that map slot one afternoon and tried it out for my wallet and it fit. I completely forgot that slot was there!. Oh thank YOU FATHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Much rejoicing in the camp at the "found" wallet to be sure! I knew Charlie was beating himself up like crazy for loosing or allowing his wallet to be stolen, and I was really praying that he's sense that we were not beating him up, but praying that the wallet be found safe and sound. God was faithful!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

reading and fundraising

I am reading THE ART OF LISTENING PRAYER and RED LETTERS, by Seth Barnes and Tom Davis respectively.
WOW!!!!!!!! That is a lot to take in all at once but I am being so challenged by both of these men through their writings!!! Maybe nothing "new" theologically, but like fresh water ideologically.............combining the two authors thoughts and intents, I can say that I am growing in how I am willing to spend time with God: being filled and developing a deeper, fuller, and richer relationship with my Father
so that I am better equipped BY my Father to be used in more and more areas of my life, and the life around me. OK maybe a bit of a run on sentene but that would sum it up at the moment!!! Please check out both of their blogs from my blog list if you are not reading them already (making a big jump of an assumption that there are more than two or three of us reading what I write at all!!)
AND, on the fund raising front, my dear precious dentist wanted Tupperware catalogs TODAY when I told her , over the pulling of daughter Rachel's two really bad teeth, that we would be doing a Tupperware fund raiser for our next kiddos! Her first question to me after HOW were we today was, "WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH YOUR ADOPTION PLANS??????????????????? " She told me to absolutely bring catalogs in to the office and she'd get them around and would definitely order some things!!! She shares office space with her brother who is also a doctor so I am anticipating great participation from their office!! Churhc and the bowling alley are bing alerted, so is the home school group, the basketball group.................I took letters to several businsses asking for OSU sports event parking donations....I asked if the businesses who sell parking spaces for the football games would donate 1/10 of one days' proceeds to our adoption fund. I know that a lot of the funds are used for mission trips and such, and the Humane Society, so my thinking was 1/10 of one day from a number of different locations would not "hurt" thier pre-planned giving, but woud SURE help us!!!!!!!! Praying over who else to visit and getting the word out...I'm excited!!!!!!!!!!!!PRAYING SAMUEL ELIJAH AND KEREN JUBILEE HOME!!!!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sweatshirts, bowling and fund raisers, and kids in college

Ok so you have to scroll down below the posts to see what Jael, 14 1/2, our sophomore, HAD TO HAVE for school! She has joined the Young Republicans club at the high school, is quite well informed on issues , she is animatedly articulate (maybe just a "little" like her Mamma?) and not afraid to engage anyone in a discussion. Her hoodie sweatshirt pick for a "school uniform" is perfect for her. She was not particularly excited about the party ticket until the addition of Sarah Palin, but she immediately read up on both cnadidates, and is now doing a speech for her AG class next week comparing the two major parties, platforms, and their candidates. GO JAEL GO!!!!
Bowling. did you know I am an avid ,albiet not supurb bowler and have bowled on a mixed league for several years? Even with my right hip being seriously out of allignment tonight I still managed to maintain my 144 average, even if I didn't bowl any spectacular games tonight. My highest game ever was a 192, and that only happened once ,but I do like to bowl. While bowling and talking about various ways to raise funds for our up-coming adoptions, I mentioned asking for 1/10 of the parking money that various busineses in Stillwater take in during our University football and basketball seasons . It is BIG business, using your parking lot of $15-$30 per ehcile parking for the college sporting events. MAYBE 1/10 of one afternoon's intake might not be a big gauge in the overall tke for a business, but if several were willing to donate that money to our adotpion fund, it would make a BIG difference for us. My friend and bowling partner suggested several businesses for me to ask.
THEN she told me that if I booked a Tupperware party with her, she would donate her take as the sales rep to our fund raiser!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
HOW COOL IS THAT?????????????????????????????????????
We talked about the grant we applied for last week, and which I hope and pray we find favor for , about matching grants and other fund raiser ideas, but I was so touched at her generous offer to out right give her profits along with whatever else we might make, to our fund!!!!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU Pashca and THANK YOU LORD!!!!!!!!!!!! We will have a Tupperware party sometime in the next few weeks! Please pray with me that I do find favor with local businesses and churches when I approach them about our fund raiser? I know that most of the churches have earmarked their parking money for mission projects, but what I will be proposing is ALSO a mission out reach! I'm excited ! I've sold cook books before, adoption bracelets, bumper stickers and lots of other items but never taken our fund raising to the city itself.
OH and our two most recent college entrants received their Pell grant letters today.PRAISE THE LORD we do not have to go deep into debt over this school year !! Almost every expense was covered by grant and scholarship offerings!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We were "audited" for the 4th year in a row so actually getting the award letter took a lot longer than a normal submission, process and approval time frame. The kids started their freshman semester almost a month ago!! We are very thankful for the assistance!!!!!
NOW .....we just need that Home Study in hand!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

My beautiful blog!

I have long admired the creative and personalized blogs of friends and acquaintances but didn't have a clue how to make my blog anything other than BASIC. Thanks to my dear friend Jill, Smith Soup has a whole new look !! Sweet friend, she just can't do anything with the fact that we Smiths seem to just have BAD photographs but didn't she do an awesome labor of love with the blog body itself?!!! ?? All that I did (read : all that I COULD do) was pick out the background color pattern and Jill took off!! I learned a bit more about backgrounds and such from her as we spent the afternoon in cyber space together and had great fellowship together as she worked. A neat little God -given extra was when she put the button in the header, but wasn't really sure why. I had to smile. My gramma was a depression era professional seamstress, who saved everything left over from her many projects. She had an old cookie tin which was filled with years of leftover buttons. My mom followed her example and kept a button box too. My botton box is a mere wisp of a shadow of theirs but I can't waste even a button myself. SO, the button kind of represents my heritage: something that went into who I am long before God began to cook up "Smith Soup" in my adult life. I am so blessed by the wonderful people God has brought into my life, who season ME and add their own flavorful influences to SMITH SOUP!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fridays and ramblings from a Mamma 's heart

Last Friday daughter Esther received a "promise ring" from her boy friend Casey, after 6 months of a relationship. She is a college freshman on her way to becoming a dentist so marriage any time before graduation from at least her undergrad degree is out, she reassures me, AND I reassure her!!!!! Tonight our almost 15 year old daughter, Jael went on her first "group date" aka "hanging out" with a boy who she knows from youth group, basketball and home schooling. Grief!!! It has not even been three months since daughter Hannah got married and only one month since she knew she was "about to be late" and tested + with the test stick!! This is really life in the fast lane!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A year ago Hannah had just met Jon and was not interested in dating him, or anyone. HA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Isaac was signed up for Junior Varsity home school basketball team tonight and Rachel wrote her first real (NO help from Mommy...) letter!!!! In the middle of all that everyone has stopped along their way to here or there, or there to here, to ask "Have you heard anything from Earlene (our sw who is doing our home study) or Ghana today??????????????????" Even some of the kids' friends want daily updates on what is happening in our process to adopt our newest sweeties. Several of the kids' friends have asked if we'd adopt THEM! One of our elders from church who wrote a recommendation letter for us to our social worker said he wanted to write on his form "I WISH THEY'D ASK TO ADOPT ME!!" and he is 71.
No word today that our rough draft is ready to proof read, so maybe early next week. I hope so....I am so ready to take the next step in our process and hopefully be asked to be matched with THE CHILDREN who will be OUR children!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IS he 9?? IS she 5??? Is it the little boy I "think" is going to be ours??? IS our little girl even at the orphanage yet??? Every post I read from other families who are preparing to travel to Ghana for their children excites me deep in my spirit for when it is or turn to travel and our turn to start parenting our new children!! For now it has to be enough to pray for them when I pray for all of our children, so I will and I do and I shall, continue to pray and trust our Heavenly Father to keep the clock for us and to keep me focused on all that is happening in our home now as He prepares all of us for that next chapter!!!!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

almost 26 years.................

since Charlie and I got married !! Our anniversary is the 18th. We missed our 23rd and 25th together because of Charlie serving 2 tours in Iraq . We celebrated our
25th a bit early last June by combining that celebration with our son Malachi's high school graduation and our son Caleb's wedding since he could only get one 2 week leave from duty. It was very special regardless of the date!!! The photos I have added are just a glance over the years from our wedding to the most recent ones in the family. 14 kiddos and a farm later we are still praising God for bringing us together! I don't know how or where we will celebrate this anniversary. Charlie is home, we are together ........THAT is the main thing!!!
What's next?? Praying about and moving forward to adopt two children from Ghana, hopefully before Hannah and Jon have their first child in mid April! Our home study is still in the works so no official referrals yet, but praying about a "virtual twin" for 9 year old Isaiah and little sister for 6 1/2 year old Naomi, and feeling as though we've got a "heart match" for who our son will be................can't say more than that until there IS more to say!!! (But he is sure a cutie with a smile that could light up a very dark sky!!!
Home schooling the youngest 6 has started for another year, only 1 kiddo in high school this year, two more Smith kiddos started college, bringing the total to 4 currently enrolled, one son serving in Iraq,and in December there will be 2. Just one with no big life changes going on and that's because she and her dh got their chiropractic clinic up and running last year....... celebrating 12 years of marriage this November will be their biggie. It will be 12 years for our oldest son and his wife as well but he is the one who is in Iraq again right now, and he will miss his anniversary. How I thank our Heavely Father for His hand of safety on our family! Without taking that safety for granted even one second, I am trusting that Joshua and then Caleb will serve these next tours and return safely to their wives and families.
What a rich history we are recording as we live it out day by day.......this simmering pot of wonderful ingredients which are SMITH SOUP!

Monday, September 1, 2008

8 Similarities between God's adoption of us and our adoption of children

While this has been shared by a number of other people already, I was reading it afresh this weekend and wanted to share it again ; its that good!

Eight Similarities Between God’s Adoption of Us and Our Adoption of Children
By John Piper February 10, 2007

Galatians 4:4-8
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. 8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.

Romans 8:14-17
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

The biblical foundation for the act of adopting children is primarily in the New Testament rather than the Old. There are only three adoptions in the Old Testament (Moses, Esther, and Genubath, 1 Kings 11:20). Israel is called God’s son (Exodus 4:22; Deuteronomy 14:1; 32:6; Jeremiah 31:9; Hosea 11:1) but not until the New Testament is this called adoption.

The Foundation of Adoption

The deepest and strongest foundation of adoption is located not in the act of humans adopting humans, but in God adopting humans. And this act is not part of his ordinary providence in the world; it is at the heart of the gospel. Galatians 4:4-5 is as central a gospel statement as there is:

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”

God did not have to use the concept of adoption to explain how he saved us, or even how we become part of his family. He could have stayed with the language of new birth so that all his children were described as children by nature only (John 1:12-13, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”). But he chose to speak of us as adopted as well as being children by new birth. This is the most essential foundation of the practice of adoption.

Eight Similarities

What I would like to do is lay out eight similarities between what God did in adoption and what happens in a Christian adoption today. I pray that whether you have adopted, or are engaged in assisting adoptions, or are pondering an adoption, God will use these comparisons to heighten your confidence that God is graciously involved in our adoptions. He has done it himself. He knows what it costs. And he stands ready to support us all the way to the end.

1. Adoption was (for God) and is (for us) costly.

When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)

To redeem means to obtain or to set free by paying a price. What was the price that God paid for our liberation and adoption? In the previous chapter, we heard the answer: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13). It cost God the price of his Son’s life.
There are huge costs in adopting children. Some are financial; some are emotional. There are costs in time and stress for the rest of your life. You never stop being a parent till you die. And the stresses of caring about adult children can be as great, or greater, than the stresses of caring for young children. There is something very deep and right about the embrace of this cost for the life of a child!

Few things bring me more satisfaction than seeing a culture of adoption flourish at Bethlehem. It means that our people are looking to their heavenly Father for their joy rather than rejecting the stress and cost of children in order to maximize their freedom and comforts. When people embrace the pain and joy of children rather than using abortion or birth control simply to keep children away, the worth of Christ shines more visibly. Adoption is as far as possible from the mindset that rejects children as an intrusion. Praise God for people ready to embrace the suffering—known and unknown. God’s cost to adopt us was infinitely greater than any cost we will endure in adopting and raising children.

2. Adoption did (for God) and does (for us) involve the legal status of the child.

When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:4-6)

There were legal realities God had to deal with. His own justice and law demanded that we be punished and excluded from his presence for our sins. Righteousness was required and punishment demanded. God had to satisfy his justice and his law in order to adopt sinners into his family. This he did by the life, death, and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ.

This means that the status of being a son legally preceded the experience of the Spirit coming to give us the affections of sons. We are legally sons before we experience the joy of sonship. The object work of our salvation (two thousand years ago at Calvary) precedes and grounds the subjective experience of our salvation by the Spirit today.

So it is with our adopting children today: The legal transactions precede and under gird the growth of family feelings. If the legal red tape seems long and hard, keep in mind that this tape is not yet red with your blood, but Jesus satisfied all the legal demands precisely by shedding his blood.

3. Adoption was blessed and is blessed with God’s pouring out a Spirit of sonship.

Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6)

You did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. (Romans 8:15-16)

God does not leave us in the condition of aliens when he adopts us. He does not leave us with no feelings of acceptance and love. Rather, he pours his Spirit into our hearts to give us the experience of being embraced in the family. What is remarkable about these two texts is the term abba. It is an Aramaic word. Why then does Paul use it, transliterated, in these two letters written in Greek?

The answer is that it was the way Jesus spoke to his Father, in spite of the fact that virtually no one in Jewish culture referred to God with this endearing word abba. It stunned the disciples. They held onto it as a precious remnant of the very voice of Jesus in the language he spoke. In Mark 14:36, Jesus is in Gethsemane and prays, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Therefore, in adopting us, God give us the very Spirit of his Son and grants us to feel the affections of belonging to the very family of God.

In the mercy of God, in our families God works to awaken affections in adopted children for their parents that are far more than legal outcomes. They are deeply personal and spiritual bonds. Adopted children do not infer that they are our children by checking out the adoption papers. A spirit pervades our relationship that bears witness to this reality. Like the other children in the family, they all cry, “Daddy.”

Praise God that he give us both legal standing as his children and the very Spirit of his Son so that we find ourselves saying from a heart of deep conviction, “Abba, Father.”

4. Adoption was (for God) and is (for us) marked by moral transformation through the Spirit.

All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)

God does not leave his children without help to bear the moral image of the family. We may trust that his help will be there for our children as we bring them under the means of grace that God uses to awaken and transform his children.

5. Adoption brought us, and brings our children, the rights of being heirs of the Father.

Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:6-7)

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:16-17)

Notice that Galatians 4:7 says we are heirs “through God” and Romans 8:17 says we are heirs “of God.” In Galatians, the context is the promise of Abraham—through God, that is, by his sending his Son to redeem us, we are heirs with Abraham (even though many of us are Gentiles!) of his inheritance, namely the world (Romans 4:13). But in Romans 8:17, the context is that we, with Christ, are heirs of all that God has, namely, everything. “All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:21).

Just before we left for England on sabbatical, Noël and I went to a lawyer and updated our wills. All the boys are married, and Talitha is the only legal “dependent.” A lot had changed since the last time we made wills. This was a reminder to us that she will inherit like the sons. She is not in a lesser adoptive class. All inherit together. That is the way God did it. That is the way we do it.

6. Adoption was (for God) and is (for us) seriously planned.

He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:4-6)

Adoption in God’s mind was not Plan B. He predestined us for adoption before the creation of the world. Plan A was not lots of children who never sin and never need to be redeemed. Plan A was creation, fall, redemption, adoption so that the full range of God’s glory and mercy and grace could be known by his adopted children. Adoption was not second best. It was planned from the beginning.

In our lives, there is something uniquely precious about having children by birth. That is a good plan. There is also something different, but also uniquely precious, about adopting children. Each has its own uniqueness. Your choice to adopt children may be sequentially second. But does not have to be secondary. It can be as precious and significant as having children by birth. God is able to make adoption and A+ plan in our lives.

7. Adoption was (for God) and often is now (for us) from very bad situations.

We . . . were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:3)

God did not find us like an abandoned foundling bundled on the front step and irresistibly cute. He found us ugly and evil and rebellious. We were not attractive. We would not be easy children to deal with. And, what’s worse, God himself was angry with us. He hates sin and rebellion. We were then doubly “children of wrath.”

These are the ones God pursued in adoption. Therefore, all of God’s adoptions crossed a greater moral and cultural divide than any of our adoptions could. The distance between what we are, and what God is, is infinitely greater than any distance between us and a child we might adopt. God crossed the greatest cultural barrier to redeem and adopt us.

Consider too, that according to Romans 9:4, the people that God chose in the Old Testament, the Israelites, were adopted out of a terrible situation. “They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.” But how was this adoption effected? Hosea 11:1, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” They were slaves in Egypt. But not only that, they were often also rebellious against God. “Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea” (Psalm 106:7).

Therefore, God went and took a son from Egypt who was both enslaved and rebellious. The pattern is set: adoptions do not just come from nice, healthy, safe, auspicious situations.

8. Adoption meant (for all Christans) and means (for Christian parents) that we suffer now and experience glory later.

The whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:22-23)

This strikes us as strange. Aren’t we already adopted? Why does Paul say that we are “waiting for our adoption”? Yes, we are already adopted. When Christ died for us, the price was paid, and when we trust him, we are legally and permanently in the family. But God’s purpose for adoption is not to leave any of his children in a state of groaning and suffering. He raised Jesus from the dead with a new body, and he promises that part of our adoption will be a new resurrection body with no more disabilities and no more groaning. Therefore, what we wait for is the full experience of our adoption—the resurrection of our bodies.

There is much groaning in the path of adoption on the way to full salvation. But the outcome is glorious. It is worth it all. “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).

This is especially relevant for parents of children with disabilities. They know the “groaning” of this life. All of us have children with some sort of disability, and some of us will live to get very old and watch our children age and die before we do. Others will see their children struck down in war or by accident or disease. Others will care for a disabled child till one of them dies. All of this groaning is groaning in hope because we are adopted by God and destined for a resurrection and an eternal future of health and wholeness and joy. It will be worth it all.
Adopting Talitha Ruth

In conclusion, it might be helpful for you to hear some of the process that Noël and I walked through in deciding to adopt Talitha. We spent long hours and days pondering and praying over whether to adopt in 1995. It was not a light or easy decision. I was fifty years old. Here is the letter I wrote to Noël saying yes.

Monday, November 6, 1995, 11:12 PM
Dear Noël,
With confidence in the all-sufficient future grace of God, I am ready and eager to move ahead with the adoption of Talitha Ruth. I want to thank you that during these years, when your heart has yearned to adopt a daughter, you have not badgered me or coerced me. You have been wonderfully patient. You have modeled faith in the sufficiency of prayer. You have always expressed support of me and my ministry even if we should never adopt. You have been reasonable in all our discussions and have come forth with your rationale only when asked. You have honored my misgivings as worthy of serious consideration. God was good to put it in Phoebe’s heart to call about this child when she did, and not before we were ready.

I realize more than ever that “the mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” This decision is not merely a tabulation of pros and cons. I would be deceiving myself to think that. Yet I am persuaded that this decision to adopt honors God more than not adopting. To my perspective, it seems to be the path that will “spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples.” I believe it will bless Bethlehem and not hinder our work there. I believe it is the path of the greatest love for the greatest number. And therefore I have confidence that God is pleased with it.

I choose it not under constraint or with any reservation of commitment. I relinquish every thought that, because you initiated this idea, you will bear blame for the burdens it will bring. As with our choice to have children in the first place and with our choice to go to Germany and our choice to leave Bethel and enter the pastorate, there is a common and united commitment to all that God will be for us in this path, including any “frowning providence” that he plans to sanctify to us. I believe our eyes are open, though we have learned that the toothache expected and the toothache experienced are not the same. We have come through enough to believe that God’s future grace will be sufficient. His mercies are new every morning and there will be mercies for every weight and wonder on this new path of our lives.

I thank God for you. I enter with you gladly on this path. Whether we live to see our daughter grown or not, we will have done well to take her in. Life is very short, whether 12 hours like Ashley Hope, or 50 years like me, or 76 years like my father, or 94 years like Crystal Anderson. What matters is not that we do all we might have done or all we dreamed of doing, but that, while we live, we live by faith in future grace and walk in the path of love. The times are in God’s hands, not ours.

With this common conviction, we will, God willing, embrace our new daughter and give ourselves, with all the might that God inspires in us, to love her into the kingdom. May the Lord establish the plans of our hearts, and bring Talitha Ruth (and the future husband God already knows) into deep and lasting fellowship with Christ. May she be an ebony broach of beauty around your aging neck and a crown of purity and joy on your graying head.
I love you,Johnny