Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thinking about Levi and Keren Jubilee

Our agency director HollyAnn is winging her way to Liberia, with packages and gifts for the orphanage and for the children whose parents sent gifts to their referred children . We sent money along too so the children will have a Christmas party. There is also much business to accomplish while she is there too..the big BIGGIE being getting case histories signed off for the children so that adoptions can be completed. A key player on the Liberian side has been dragging his feet with this all important step and in the Name Of Jesus, for the children's sake, he needs to stop dragging and start signing , ie doing his job!!!
We got our finger prints done Wednesday and hope that our 171 H , the American advance approval for adoption document...will be here in January so that we can plan our travel dates for sometime in the second half of February. In the mean time we gather other documents and make mulitple copies in preparation for our trip.
Sweet children we are praying for you nwo and preparing for when we can bring you home!!!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Giving credit where credit is due

The lovely seasonal face lift to my blog is thanks to my dear friend and Sister in the Lord, Jill. She spent a lot of time this afternoon while her little kiddos wer napping tweaking the new background and making my beautiful header.........this was NOT my creative blogging ability.I just get to enjoy her loving handiwork! Thank you Jill!!!!!!

Black Friday, how about SLEEPY Friday?

Thursday was wonderful!! Caleb and Courtney are here from Ft Campbell, Hannah and Jon with Blake and Maddy were here, Esther's sweetie Casey got in, Gideon, Malachi, Esther and Jael, Isaac, Leah, Noah, Isaiah, Rachel and Naomi all home safe and sound, Charlie is home, my mom is healthy and able to join in the celebrations of God's rich blessings, our gifts to Junior (Levi Matthew) and Diamoh, (Keren Jubilee) are ready to leave on a plane tomorrow with our agency director, Joshua was able to email from his duty station (asking "Is sand an ingredient in stuffing?" ) and Kari called from Lufkin Texas on her way to in law's house in Houston for the day. Dinner was wonderful........three days in the making and is should be, right? The pies were perfect, so was the cake. I have enough bread stuffing left over for several more dinners (GREAT PLANNING THERE!!!) and there should be enough turkey and ham and all other accompanying side dishes for Sunday dinner and the Mom doesn't have to cook, just "nuke" bowls and bags of already cooked delicacies. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! We are so blessed to be together, to be able to communicate, to be of one mind and spirit, to KNOW we are so incredibly blessed and be able to experience it together. God kept us sound while Charlie , Gideon, Caleb and Joshua have been deployed before, and we are so very humbly thankful that each one is safe today (Joshua will be home in spring) From those wonderful "big" praises, to the "Smaller" ones such as being prompted by the Lord ( I KNOW that is Who it was!!) to call the propane man on Tuesday for a tankful of fuel. WEDNESDAY we ran completely OUT!!!! I was so thankful that I called because we'd have had a long, cold (as in no heat, no hot water, no cooking) week and weekend until he could come next week! It should not have been time to order yet, I don't really think. In my mind I was planning ahead. HA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
At about 10 or so the kitchen was clean last night and I vegged out to watch a movie with the older members of the family, and Hannah and I planned to do Black Friday, at 5:30.the AM 5:30.....yes me. Well by golly I did it!! We hit 5 stores and
IHOP for breakfast all before 9. Charlie always laughs when I tell him how much I saved...........sine I'd have saved "even more" if I'd stayed home entirely, but it was VERY productive and we had our fun annual shopping trip together. We have just never done it this early. I am officially tired now!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wednesday musings.........................

WHAT A FULL WEEK THIS IS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The most wonderful part is that our son Caleb and his wife Courtney are in for the holiday from Ft Campbell Kentucky. We haven't seen them since June at Hannah's wedding. Caleb deploys in about a month for the middle east so this is a special family gathering for sure! We took them to an NBA basketball game last night in Oklahoma City. Caleb is not much of a basketball fan but Courtney LOVES it and I am a big fan too. Now that OKC has its own NBA team, the THUNDER, we can not only enjoy our sport on tv but in person! OKC lost by a single point after putting up a great effort all night long and the four of us had a totally super time.
MORE FORWARD PROGRESS ON THE ADOPTION FRONT TOO!! Today we did our finger prints for our new 171 H approval doc for the US govt to be adoptive parents again.
TRUSTFULLY we will have this next document in hand by early February..we'll see!!!
Courtney told me that she has a cousin in Tulsa who is adopting two children from Ghana; that was really cool to find out!
AND THEN THERE is THANKSGIVING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I chopped and assembled and fried and cooked my traditional bread stuffing yesterday morning before we left for the basketball game......a LOT of bread stuffing. 10 or 12 loaves of ripped up bread, two whole bunches of celery chopped up, 5# of onions, a lot of chopped cilantro and a lot of seasonings,part fried to blend the flavors. YUMMY, cooked my cranberries so they will be chilled, today when we got back from USICS, I jumped into baking another Pecan Pie cake, for Caleb, Noah and Jon especially, baked pumpkin pie and pecan pie and using a new slow cooked turkey recipe, got my turkey prepped and into the oven. He will be done by mid afternoon, and all I have to do tomorrow is mashed potatoes, fresh pot of rice and make the gravy.EASY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
MY Thanksgiving tradition is to watch the parades and I wanted the bulk of the dinner prep out of my way. Mission accomplished!!!!!!!!!!!! In the midst of last minute grocery shopping , feed store shopping and washing and vacuuming the Suburban, I also managed to please Malachi with Little Cesar's take out pizzas for supper. YAY Mom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
In the midst of all of that busyness and hustle bustle, I was reminded so many times to GIVE THANKS to GOD for His many , oh so many, blessings in my life!God is so very good and faithful. He has brought us though, over, and around so many experiences where He proved Himself over and over again, to HIS glory. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sean Connery

OK there is a side of me that has nothing to do with being Charlie's wife, mom to many, herder and tender of goats, lover of gardening, or even being a non-practicing nurse -midwife. I am a huge fan of Sean Connery!!!!!!!!There are many photos on our fridge door and he holds two spots on the front door! WELL, I just found a photo which gives him the distinct honor LOL of having THREE SPOTS on the door! And lest anyone think this is just not right for a very married Christian lady: one of my "treasured " photos is of he and his wife together, in a gondola. The other is pretty impressive...he is wearing a kilt!!! I do have to confess however, that when Charlie found an old Sean Connery 007 James Bond movie on tv last night, I thought the object of my refrigerator door honors looked PRETTY SILLY!!!!!!!!!!!!! Figure that out. Now tell me, is this not an awesome photo with which to grace a farm refrigerator door???

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thanksgiving traditions

I found a recipe in Southern Living Magazine in 1998 for "Pecan Pie Cake". I made it for Thanksgiving dinner at our church in Louisiana that year and have made it by request, every year since! Several weeks ago when we began to finalize plans for our church Thanksgiving dinner for 2008, the request was made for "THE CAKE Linda bakes". This morning when I started to grind fresh cracked pecans (the kids ' yesterday project) the cry went up.
"MOMMY IS MAKING HER PECAN PIE CAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
So my annual piece' de' re stance ' is almost assembled. The cake starts with buttering (real butter please!!) 2 10 " round pans and sprinkling several cups of the ground pecans onto the buttered pans. The cake has ground pecans in the batter as well, and buttermilk (goat milk of course!) and its a chiffon cake so 5 egg whites are beaten to meringue state and added in by hand to the batter. The cooked filling for the cake is like pecan pie filling ingredients , except no pecans. Pie crust dough rolled out and cut into leaf shapes make a beautiful garnish-finish. Brushed with egg white they bake kind of brown and crispy looking. Pecan halves wrapped with dough to make little "acorn" looking garnishes add to the visual appeal. It is "labor intensive' as a friend described it, but OH is it worth it once its finally sliced and served up witha good cup of coffee!!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

REALLY looking a lot like Christmas , or not

Ok I was really used to this kind of day when Sulphur La was home: 70+ degrees in mid-November, gardening AND putting up Christmas lights. BUT FOLKS, we live in the middle of Oklahoma and less than a week ago we had the wood stove blazing as self defense from the cold and to divert our attention from the frost on the ground outside!! Granted we are being warned that tonight will get VERY COLD and the next few days will also be VERY COLD, but today, November 19 in Stillwater OK felt just like a normal SW Louisiana day. We thankfully used it accordingly. After checking all the light strings from last year, replacing bulbs and opening a few packages of new strings, the lighting project began. The kids LOVE to get up on the roof and decorate. Yes its a little scary up there: two stories high spots and all, but a lot of flat places too. ANYHOW, as the Blessed Bunch decorated two stories up, I dug and ripped and pruned, and moved old mulch to prepare the rose garden and the big main bed in front of the house for new spring bulbs. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!!! The new tulips, daffodils and crocuses are in, the grape hyacinth, hyacinth, paper whites, older tulips and snow drops are set, all is mulched and I CAN'T WAIT to see the flower beds in Spring 2009!!!!! BEST OF ALL, we should be able to share the beauty of the blooms and buds with Keren Jubilee and Levi Matthew as well as the rest of my Smith Soup bunch!! For now I will enjoy the lighted, festive view of our house, with its prepped flower beds and thank the Lord again for His many, many blessings!!! And lest I forget, we welcomed a new addition to Calico Acres Farm today: Jael's first 2008-09 Season show pig; a lovely little Yorkshire gilt ( FFA speak for a young , never been bred -white female hog). We have also, to the best of my knowledge , successfully bred two of our dairy goats and today introduced a yearling doe to the fine art of breeding with a stinky buck this afternoon . Bucks really do flat out STINK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Is that an OK way to end a blog entry? It seems a bit harsh , but this was my day: from the more sublime to the slightly ridiculous. Just let it be said , over and over again..I am living a blessed life!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Its beginning to look as lot like CHRISTMAS...

or at least to sound like it!! I had to run something to Malachi at the university a little while ago. I left the kids doing various levels of language arts. I came home to find them still hard at work, but added to the home schooling scenario was music coming from the cd player in the kitchen..................CHRISTMAS CAROLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Everyone was singing "Joy To The World" as they worked!!
My Blessing Bunch always amazes me and makes me so thankful I'm their mom! This morning before school we all went out to do the farm chores, and part of that today was to load the tractor trailer with feed forthe goat barn. Well it seems that Jael, working diligently on her pig pen in preparation for tomorrow's new arrival , used the tractor, and forgot to turn it off. DEAD BATTERY, trailer full of hundreds of pounds of feed to be put up. Whathappened next was jsut too cool not to share. Isaac, always the leader of the pack sent Noah in to get the girls who were finishing up dishes, so that he had a team. He lined everybody up on both sides of the tractor and they PUSHED IT TO THE PASTURE GATE..we are talking several hundred feet of pushing on uneven land, but push it they did! "NO Mommy . We're OK. Just open the gates!" We then unloaded the sacks, carried them together and filled the plastic containers which keep the mice out of the grains. They always smile when I pick up a 50 # sack of feed and haul it somewhere andI always smile when they do this kind of hard working team effort. Lesser kids would have left it till we got the tractor battery recharged. NO!!! They detatched the trailer and pushed the trator back to the garage and THEN set it up to recharge for the day. On the FIRST DAY OF PRE-THANKSGIVING / CHRISTMAS MY SAVIOR GAVE TO ME

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Sunday out reach cookout

As our Sunday afternoon cookout outreach drew closer, we gathered to pray, we planned , we tweaked the plan, and kept praying . Friday had gotten colder, Saturday was colder still. Undaunted , we added hot cocoa to our menu, cleaned up the Smith crawfish boiler and refilled the propane tank so we could make a big pot of hot water for cocoa. We were ready for was a stretch out of the compfort zone of several of our folks to not only "do" the cookout, but open themselves up to talking to total strangers, but we were excited!! Sunday was as beautiful as a day could have been!! Clear, blue, NOT windy (a special order kind of day for Oklahoma) and NOT COLD!!!!!!!
Our crowd was far smaller than we'd antiicpated and I am not sure now where the original number of folks estimated came from, but you never know even inviting kids to a birthday party who will show up even when RSVP is invoked. But people came! A lot of people drove by and kept on driving, so we waved, but people DID COME and STAY and we had a great time! Gideon and our son in law Jon, BIG muscular guys, were playing touch football in the field adjoining our church and the complex, with the high scool and elemtary (and a few even younger) boys and having a blast! They invited the college aged guys who came to eat with us and THAT was fun to see!! JUST FUN...........not competition, even though there have to be 2 teams to play football, but pure fun! AND aside from Gideon's shirt being torn by Jon, NO INJURIES, NO "HE CHEATED" NO "THEY WON'T LET ME PLAY!" !!!!! Younger church kids walked dogs for several people so they could get food and we just hung out with our guests. MANY stayed for quite a while. Our conversations were varied in depth and content, but I know GOD'S LOVE was poured over the people who came by! My last act of out reach for the afternoon was to prepare a large tray of food for the staff of my nail salon, which is across the street from church and the apartments. Several of them work all day every Sunday but live in this complex. They were quite touched that we'd thought of them, as were several customers who heard the conversation when I brought the chaffing dish full of burgers, bag of buns , vegetables and of course many bags of cookies. It was a quick ministry moment because the nail salon was busy and it wasn't my intention to come off patting us on the back forbringing something over, but to quietly bring some more tangible love of Jesus to a group of hard working Vietnamese people whom I have come to love. Who knows what God started or watered or tilled with that over-purchased for event..............................we donated quite a bit to the homeless shelter after the fact, froze the cooked and uneaten meat for our next church Sunday fellowship dinner and overall felt like we had obeyed God's instructions for our little part of the Body to reach out. As we were closing up, the song "IF WE ARE THE BODY....." came on the radio in Charlie's felt humbling to know that in a small way our Community Free Church hands WERE reaching....... let's see if we reached deeply enough to cause any of those people to come to our church or go to some other church because GOD'S LOVE is drawing them in !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Celebrating OUR Soldiers, Celebrating MY Soldiers!!

Veteran's Day is a big deal for us. Gideon plans a huge cookout, Charlie wears his uniform if situation allows (unfortunately today he has to work at his civilian job and there is no place in a refinery for non-flame retardant attire) and our family praises God that while we are certainly no more special than any other military family, we have the distinct and very blessed and humbling ability to claim that all of our soldiers are home safely, after almost 10 tours of duty between the dad, the sons and the son-in-law. We lost a very very dear friend in June, and that made our 100% safe return blessing even more precious. Caleb and Charlie lost a close friend and comrade at Christmas time in 06, Gideon lost two comrades during his tour in Iraq. It could have been any of MY GUYS as quickly as it was someone else's and I have not taken a day of that for granted, not as I prayed for my guys and the others serving around them or as we helped with funeral arrangements and attended funeral and graveside services for our fallen friends. Our dear friend Scott was memorialized at our daughter Hannah's wedding with a military traditional place setting in his honor. BUT TODAY IS TO HONOR OUR LIVING VETERANS even as we think about those who gave their lives! It is amazing to me how incredibly well-trained our soldiers are that we have "only" (and those of you who know me know I do NOT use that word lightly in any fashion!!!) lost the number of soldiers we have lost. It is a tribute to our military, from the youngest Private E-1 grade up to our Generals and Washington DC Top Brass and to our President that as of today 12 of the 18 Iraqi provinces which once were in shambles and tyranny are now officially and on he record as being turned over to and being run by the Iraqis............Afghanistan is ongoing but we are strong and smart and we will not quit. For our soldiers VICTORY is the only way in which to leave a war and it is my prayer for our military in the months and 4 years to come, that the administration keep that goal and that objective clearly in their thoughts as they discuss and plan for the future.
I am so proud of our military, proud of my son who is serving in Iraq right now, (his 4th tour in the middle east) and proud of my son who is leaving for his second tour in just a few short months. I am so proud of my husband who served two tours nearly back to back in Baghdad and then in Ramadi, I am proud of my son who served one tour in Iraq and came home with some permanent disabilities, proud of my son -in -law who served a tour with the Marines in Iraq. These brave soldiers accompanied by so many others have protected our freedoms and upheld and secured the freedoms of millions of other people, at the expense of their lives, their backs, their eyes, their shoulders, their knees, their safe and comfortable family time at home, enduring nearly indescribable discomforts of extreme cold and extreme heat, sometimes in the same day. THEY DIDN'T GO BECAUSE THEY WERE DRAFTED AND "HAD TO" GO, but BECAUSE THEY VOLUNTEERED TO SERVE OUR COUNTRY, and OUR WORLD. Find a soldier somewhere today and thank them for all that they have done and are doing? We have the great country we do because throughout our history brave Americans have served to protect our great land, and WE THE PEOPLE!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Feeding 220 people, maybe......

Our big project this week has been a several months in the making but this Sunday is THE day! Our little church meets in a building right in front of a large apartment complex of mainly students but some long term local folks as well. It has been our prayer project and the object of our concern for ministry and outreach to share the love of JESUS to these people who are our neighbors. Our first outreachs were door -to-door with platters of cookies, all home baked and dressed up nicely with a covering and a bow, and a card telling who we, Community Free Church are and where we meet. Our approach was varied by the personalities of those doing the "cookie walk" but the message was basically "HI! We're your neighbors and we wanted to stop by to introduce ourselves and give you a gift ." Some sharing of the gospel happened and some praying with folks too. A few people we met were believers who prayed for US!!We've done that twice so far and seen some folks come visit, but mostly it has given us an opened door of accountability and credibility in the community."OH its YOUR CHURCH who came to the door...hey! that was nice" kinds of things. WELL this Sunday we are sponsoring an outreach barbeque, with the apartment complex owner's blessing, AT THE APARTMENT CLUBHOUSE and we are providing lunch: burgers and hot dogs, sides, and home baked cookies to again, introduce ourselves but to reach out to the people who are our neighbors. Charlie was the designated co-ordinator but our whole little part of the Body is busy with details. We are anticipating serving at least 220 people! The weather in this part of Oklahoma can be pretty unpredictable so that's a matter of preparation, but we are BIG TIME in prayer that this won't be "just some idea" or in the words of a Matthew West song that I ran into this weekend, "Going through the Motions" of being a Believer. We want to show God's love in practical ways, beyond the "Random Acts of Kindness" day/week that the Stillwater churches host each fall, but anytime we have opportunity and a leading from the Lord to just show love. Please pray with us that God's love will be Salt and Light and that we will be His salt shakers and lanterns, drawing ALL MEN TO HIM!!!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

calling all sewing machines and hearts for Haitian babies.......

When I read about this Haiti project it immediately made me think of our kids'multi-church youth group's (K-LIFE for anyone familiar with that program and KANAKKUK KAMPS, or Joe White) current Haiti project , but my thoughts got bigger on me almost immediately as well!!
I got this from a fellow-adoptive mom this morning and it set me in high gear!
It is a group that is putting together safe birthing kits for moms in Haiti.
"These kits - consisting of plastic sheeting, hand sanitizer, a sterile piece of string and razor blade, and these newborn baby caps - have the potential to reduce infant and maternal mortality, and give babies a safer, healthier start."

Cool, huh? There is a pattern ( A VERY SIMPLE PATTERN!!!) for the caps on the website
and they can be made from t-shirt material. The newborn caps are about as simple of a sewing project as can be, and for those of us who know anything about prenatal care and birth, we understand that safe clean birth is absolutely critical to a good start in life. A cap to help keep the new born baby's head warm also keeps his /her body temperature "in" and reduces the likelihood of the baby getting "cold stressed" and going into respiratory distress. That can be life threatening for some babies and deadly for those already compromised.
What I shared with all my local contact groups is this:
If anyone is interested in making any of these newborn caps, I'd be happy to coordinate getting them from whomever sews them and then mailing the box off to Maine by the deadline of December 10.
I'm not practicing midwifery these days but prenatal care and safe births are still so dear to my heart, this really touched me. I hope that some of you will want to join in ! Please let me know if you're interested?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Today and every day

my heart will choose to say, "LORD BLESSED BE YOUR NAME!"

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Well all righty then!!! In this morning's mail we received ur USCIS appointment notice for finger prints: scheduled for November 25!!!!!!!!!! Not even a month since submitting our I 600 -A app. Good deal!
IF the average processing time remains at 60 days + or - as the notice said, we should have 171 H approval in January!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mommy and Daddy are one step closer to bringing you home Levi Matthew Cooper and Kerene Jubilee Diamoh Smith!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A family who votes together............

The first words out of Naomi's mouth this morning when she came down stairs were "DID YOU VOTE FOR MCCAIN YET?" Her daddy quickly told her that he had and mommy was going soon. Hannah came over so we could go vote together in her first election. Malachi and I will meet up with Gideon at 1 so they can vote as well. Its Gideon's first election to vote in person for president.Last time he was in Iraq. Its Malachi's first presidential election as well. Esther and Jael will vote together for their first presidential choice in 2012..sweet Esther who is so up on politics and theology and debates frequently, misses this election by a hair..She won't be 18 until Nov 11. She was born 5 weeks prematurely, and wishes that she could have been born even one day inside the eligibility cutoff so she too would have been voting this time. She will be just shy of 22 when she votes with Jael who will be 18. Not voting didn't stop them from praying with us or from sharing thoughts with teachers and friends. When a teacher asked Jael a political question yesterday in sophomore history class, she responded that she would vote Biblically if she were voting. The teacher asked some very pointed questions in his still -undecided- state of mind and she said seemed quite thoughtful about her scripture based responses pertaining to same-sex unions and abortion and helping the poor.
Its a very serious day, but an exciting one . This IS the day that the Lord has made. I WILL rejoice and BE GLAD in it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Breathe on us again........Please Lord!!
is the link to the song God has placed so deeply into my heart for the past few days.
The words read:

O Lord hear
O Lord forgive us
We have lost the awe of You
Have mercy have mercy
O Lord cleanse
Our hearts which are divided
Stir the faith that we once knew
We're thirsty we're thirsty

O Lord restore
The church that bears Your name
O Spirit send
A revival to this nation
Breathe on us again
Breathe on us again

As I pray today for our country, this is my fervent prayer, above all that I believe so passionately about the election and the candidates, my prayer for our country is more fervent and more passisonate and this song sings it for me. Whether we grieve that our candidate lost, or revel in the victory of our chosen candidate, God calls His Church to be HOLY as HE IS HOLY. Please God , bless America,
Please America.BLESS GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

a political thought

After being up most of the night praying and thinking about the election, and what is at stake, after listening to the song on my playlist by Sandi Patti "Masterpiece" with the lead-in scripture from Psalm 139 I decided to try to sum up my political feelings in a sentence. Maybe its too simple, maybe its too wordy, but I believe I can stand by my words and share them with anyone anywhere and never have to be apologetic for them.
A politician can always re-work policies about taxes which are bad policy, broaden or narrow give away programs, enter or exit a war, start or end a war, write a tax or let a tax code expire, but one can never by any legislation, declaration or amendment, un-kill a baby.