Sunday, January 25, 2009

Gong Xi Fa Cai

"I wish you wealth and prosperity." Happy Chinese New Year! The Chinese follow a lunar calendar, celebrating their new year on the second new moon after the winter solstice. This means that Chinese New Year can fall anywhere from mid-January to mid-February. This year, we celebrate on Monday, January 26. Each Chinese year is given the name of an animal in the Chinese zodiac. There are 12 animals, and each one cycles around again every 12 years. This year, we are celebrating the year of the Ox.

Chinese legend has it that the 12 animals were gathered on a riverbank trying to decide the order of the animals for the years of the Chinese zodiac. They held a contest, and the order in which they arrived on the opposite bank would determine the order of the years. The crafty rat jumped on the back of the ox, letting him to all the work. Just before reaching the opposite bank, the rat jumped from the ox's back. Thus, the rat is the first animal in the Chinese zodiac, followed by the ox. The lazy pig came in last!

This year, we are celebrating by making paper lanterns to hang in our living room.

We have also assembled treat boxes for each of Dayna's friends at daycare. They will receive a tangerine (for luck), a red envelope filled with chocolate coins (for prosperity), some rice cake treats and a fortune cookie. Each child will also be able to make an ox mask to take home. We're hoping that by sharing some Chinese stories and a movie, that Dayna's culture and heritage will become a bit more meaningful for herself and her friends.

Next weekend, we will celebrate with other adoptive families and get to watch the Lion Dancers. Dayna's still pretty scared of them, but they're still an awesome sight to behold!

Gung Xi Fa Cai!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Zoo Day

Click to play Zoo Day with Elijah
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I had a restless night last night. I can't explain why, but I just couldn't quiet my soul. I think I just had a plain old ordinary case of restlessness. Maybe there was a little discontentment thrown in as well. I'm ready to move away from this house and this city...I'm ready to add to our family through adoption...I love my job, but feel like I need a change of scenery... But the unknown aspect of all of these things scares me. What if we can't sell our house? How much money will we need to spend to fix it up first? What if we can't get jobs in the state where we want to move? Where will the money come for the next adoption? What happens if the child we feel led to adopt slips through our fingers? What if I get moved to a new school (AGAIN) and have to spend another 2 years to establish my procedures and method of teaching? What if? Where? How? I guess it's no wonder I had a hard time falling asleep.

And yet I know God is sovereign. For now, we are living exactly where He wants us to be. When His light turns green, He will provide the finances and the very child He intends to be part of our family. And when it's time, He will provide the resources and direction for us to move.

So today, I remind myself of these verses:

Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Proverbs 12:25 An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.

Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Matthew 7:7 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

Psalm 94:19 When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Today a new man will be sworn in as our 44th President. The enormity of this event cannot help but impress me this morning. For the first time, a minority will take the oath to represent our country. How far America has come in her short far we still need to go. But today's event is another step toward equality for EVERY American.

I cannot admit to being a fan of our new President, nor do I believe that our outgoing President is as horrible as so many Americans would like to think. Regardless, it's a position not to be taken lightly, and with it comes great responsibility. Barack Obama will step into the shoes only 42 other men have filled, but he will step into it with a background unlike those other 42 men. Although Barack Obama is not the man I would have picked for the job, nevertheless, Americans voted and today he will take the highest position in our land. I may not be a fan of Obama, but I am a fan of democracy, and today is democracy in action. I cannot help but be reminded of a passage in Romans (13:1) Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. So while Barack is not taking office today as a result of my vote, he is taking that position as a result of God's design. Honestly, I'd rather God be making those decisions instead of me.

Which leads me to the real purpose of my post...

Heavenly Father, I lift up Barack Obama to you today, and for whatever days remain of his time in office. Lord, he is taking on a huge responsibility; give him wisdom and courage to make the right, though not always popular, decisions. Give him a softened heart that will rely on you every day as he governs our country. Give him the humility to accept when he has made a wrong decision. Surround him with wise men and women who will give counsel that will prosper and not harm the people of our country. Protect his life from those who would want to cause him hurt. Protect his marriage and family from the stresses of his job that could tear them apart. Be with Michelle as she takes on the new role of First Lady. Keep her priorities with her family and make her the helpmate her husband needs. Guide their children as they enter their new home and new school, making new friends along the way. Protect their innocence as the weight of the world will surround them in the White House. Put your hand on this family, Lord. Thank you for your continued guidance and direction for our country, and I pray that in all we do, America will bless You. I ask these things in the name of Jesus, to whom You have given all authority. Amen.

*I found this site this morning. Haven't looked through it completely, but what I saw impressed me. Let me know what you think.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Ice Skating

I'm a homebody. If I have a day to stay home (especially in the winter), I prefer to do just that. Last week was a pretty tiring week (I turned a year older, the weather turned incredibly cold, I was just plain tired.)

We had planned on going to Norfolk to see what we could do to help out my mom and aunt with my grandmother's things, but received a call Friday morning that it would be unnecessary. I admit, I was a bit relieved to know that I had Saturday to sit in the house and just be lazy...catching up on a bit of sleep, and snuggling down in some sweats and under a ton of blankets on the couch.

Wouldn't you know it, I got a full night's sleep on Friday and woke up completely refreshed on Saturday. Our cold snap broke (we had wind chills in the -20s and -30s last week), and Saturday stretched before me with no pressing obligations. In my refreshed and recharged state, I suggested we take a little family outing to the state park a few miles from our house. We introduced Dayna to ice skating. What fun we had, and what a trooper she was while wobbling and bobbling around the ice.

When our ice skating adventure was over, we spent some time at the huge indoor playground. What a fun spontaneous afternoon. I think cuddling on the couch under a ton of blankets is overrated, anyway!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Red Light, Green Light

I loved to play Red Light, Green Light when I was a kid. You know the can only run when "it" has her back turned.

In studying the life of Moses this year, I'm struck by God's guidance of the Israelites while in the desert. God's presence, or Shekinah Glory, went before the Israelites everywhere they went. But after the golden calf episode, God had apparently had enough of the Israelites idolatrous hearts. He told Moses that he would send an angel with them, but that He Himself would not go. Then Moses said to him, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. (Exodus 33:15) Moses would not take another step if the Lord wasn't going to go before him.

Right now, I feel a bit like Moses. We are ready in our hearts to proceed with our next adoption, and have been for almost a year, but we don't have the peace in our hearts that God is going ahead of us and giving us His green light.

The Israelites had a visible sign to know when to proceed and when to stay still. In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. So the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels. (Exodus 40:36-38)

I kind of wish it were that easy for us. We don't want to run ahead of God, but we are so ready to move on with our family. I thought we learned how to wait on the Lord while we were waiting for Dayna. It seems that lesson is never quite mastered.

So we sit at this red light, with our foot poised on the gas, ready to proceed when God says "Go!"

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mommy Time

I must admit, my favorite time of day is right after Dayna wakes up in the morning. That's when we snuggle (or in Dayna's words, "cuggle") on the couch and spend a few quiet moments together before the craziness of the day begins. Dayna calls this time "Mommy time." (Can't say I'm complaining!)

Well, the underlying circumstances aren't favorable, but I'm looking forward to a little "Mommy time" of my own tonight. In about 2 1/2 hours, my mom and aunt will be arriving from Oregon. They will spend the night with us before driving up to Norfolk.

My grandmother's health is not doing so well. It looks like she will either be staying in nursing care or possibly (hopefully?) qualifying for assisted living. Nonetheless, after her recent hospitalization, it's pretty clear that she won't be able to return to her apartment. Thus, my mom and aunt are coming in for a few weeks to take care of things.

So, while I'm looking forward to a little "Mommy time" tonight, I'm also praying that she has some quality "Mommy time" of her own with my grandma. Grandma is a wonderful lady who has her moments (it must run in the family!), and the added circumstances will bring added stress. I pray that this visit will be one that will leave wonderful memories for everyone and conversations that draw them closer to each other and closer to God.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


It was a good morning. Weather, crazy flights and vacation have kept us from Sunday services at our church for almost a month. Today, Pastor Mark was speaking on 1 John 2:29-3:3

If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him. How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

I've been struggling with grace lately. Extending it, that is. Forgiveness has been difficult in some situations, and I hate to admit, but bitterness is starting to take root. This passage brought conviction, but also hope.

One the hurts I'm harboring is over the fact that people who have "known" me for years haven't ever really taken the time to get to know me. That is, years into the relationship, things are still very much on the surface. I'm sometimes feel I have nothing to contribute and my feelings, thoughts, and opinions are of no value. There have been times where my faith has been under attack (sometimes subtle, sometimes not). I remembered today that it's not a personal attack on me, but on the God I serve. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

And yet, while I sit here nursing this grudge and letting it fester, I forget How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! The question was asked this morning "What did it cost God to give me this love?" If it cost God His only son, then shouldn't I be able to swallow my pride to love the difficult people in my life?

And so, as I think more about right living (dealing with my sins), right loving (dealing with my brothers and sisters in Christ) and right learning (dealing with my enemies), I ask myself how I can be someone who does what is right. So I will pray that my actions would be in accordance with God's Word, that my motivation will be in line with God's will, and that any good I do will be by God's power. And I will continue to pray for a heart of forgiveness.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Welcome the New

I'm not one for New Year's Resolutions. Like most people, they usually don't last a week. But a new year presents the opportunity to start over and set some goals.
This year, I would like to spend more time in concentrated prayer - not just the quick "help me, God" prayers that get me through the day (not that those are bad.) I need to spend more time interceding for the salvation of family and friends.
This year, I would like to read through the Bible again, a little every day. I have started the One Year Chronological Bible. I love to read the Bible chronologically (the order in which events happened, rather than the order they are listed in the Bible - that is, the Psalms of David are listed with the events in David's life when they were written; likewise, the Epistles of Paul are listed historically with the events in Acts, etc.) I last read the Bible this way in 2004, and I'm excited to read it again. This year, I would like to find more ways to serve my husband. Life can become so overwhelming that we (I) often let little things slide (dishes, dusting, laundry). Dan is a saint and helps pick up the slack, but there are still things I could do to serve him better.
This year, I would like to spend more time memorizing Scripture with Dayna. I would like for her to learn some of the great hymns of the Christian faith. She has such a tender, sensitive heart to the things of God. As the mother God appointed for her, I need to be a good shepherd and steward of her heart.
This year, I would like to find more joy in the effort of housekeeping. If I can look at it as a way to bless my family and set an example for my daughter, I can find meaning and purpose in the mundane.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Farewell to the Old

2008 has slipped into the history books. I can't say it's a fond farewell. I'm sure this entry will sound pretty negative, but 2008 really was a difficult year, and the end of the year disintegrated rapidly.

2008 began with the death of Dan's grandmother. She was never particularly kind to me, and her loss leaves an emptiness of a relationship that could have been. We also saw gas prices soar, and while that seems to be petty, it hit us hard, as Dan & I both commute great distances. After opting to stay home this summer to save up more money for another adoption, massive storms ripped through our county, flooding our basement several times to a pricetag of $13,000. I picked up an extra school this fall, only a half day every week, but it brought more stress than I could have imagined. Early in the school year, I lost a sweet student to asthma. Ten years old is too young to say goodbye.

But Christmas really takes the cake. No matter what I tried to do to keep my heart and attitude focused on Christ, it seems that circumstances, Satan and my own sin nature kept throwing curve ball after curve ball.

The Christmas season began with some strained family relationships. No matter how I looked at it or prayed about it, I just couldn't make sense of the way things were going. I was so looking forward to Christmas at home in Oregon. It was about that time that the storm of the century (at least the worst one in 40+ years) hit the Pacific Northwest. While our flights were only slightly delayed, we ended up being the only Frontier Airlines flight to land in Portland the day we were scheduled to come to town. Meanwhile, my dad was unable to return to Portland. (This was actually a blessing, as he was able to spend 3 more days with Uncle Jim and be there when his brother took his last breath on earth.) On another front, Dan's parents were unable to come in from Denver. They spent 37 hours at the airport, and right before giving up and returning to Omaha, they found a new flight via Las Vegas. Back in Oregon, we were left with 2 feet of snow and ice, with unplowed roads that were treacherous at best. The stress on my mom was enormous, as she couldn't be with my dad to offer support. Meanwhile, my attitude continued to be a constant struggle as stress, snow and strained relationships rolled into one big avalanche. By the 30th, I seemed to be unable to go more than 5 minutes without crying.

Now, 2008 wasn't all bad. We had some amazing times this summer on our "nonvacation", finding creative things to do as a family. My best friend came and visited me for a week here in Nebraska. We were able to take a few quick trips (some "business") to Denver, Wichita and Oklahoma City. On many of these journeys, we met some of our internet friends with children from China. The Beijing Olympics were a thing to behold, and gave Dayna much pride in her country of origin. My main school has been a pleasure this year. And Bible Study Fellowship has been such a blessing as I grow in knowledge of the Word and faith in God.

Still, I am beginning 2009 on a difficult note and praying not that God would give me a year without struggles, but the strength and faith to face them as they come.