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As we prepare for Abby to come home, I'm in a bit of a nesting mode! I'm organizing and purging and getting things in order.

In honor of this nesting phase, we are clearing out our stock of t-shirts! We have slashed the prices AND we're covering the shipping AND we're even offering an additional discount if you buy two!! We have a limited supply, so get yours before they are gone!

Here's the stock I have left:

Ladies Cream v-neck:
(was $25+s&h)
2 XL

Adult brown:
(was $20+s&h)

Kid's brown:
(was $18+s&h)
4 XSMALL (4/5)
3 SMALL (6)
1 MEDIUM (7/8)
3 LARGE (10/12)

Girl's fitted brown:
(was $18+s&h)
1 SMALL (6)
1 MEDIUM (8)
2 LARGE (10)

So you're saving almost $10 per shirt!! AND...if you buy any combination of two shirts, I'll take another $5 off your order!!! See below:

A ladies cream & an adult brown
both for only $30 SHIPPED!

A ladies cream & a kids shirt
both for only $28 SHIPPED!

An adult brown & a kids shirt
both for only $23 SHIPPED!

Any two kids shirts
both for only $21 SHIPPED!

Order using the links to the right. Be sure and use my special drop down menu "You pick two" to order two with a discount (do not order the shirts individually). Be sure and specify in your note on your order which sizes you want.

For a full description of all of the tshirts, go here.

Stock up on some Christmas gifts or a little treat for yourself! : ) When they're gone, they're gone!

Thanks for ordering!


Our completed puzzle! Framed and hanging where we can see it every day. I can't stop looking at it. Such a beautiful reminder of all of you who helped us raise our referral fee. It brought tears to my eyes to see all the names in one place, and know that you sacrificed and gave on our behalf, for little Abby. Thank you again, from the bottom of our hearts. Here's some shots of the back:

It is a beautiful thing, when something is complete. My friend reminded me recently that the number "seven" in the Bible often represents or signifies "complete". The Walsers are now a family of seven. And yet one of us is still separated from the rest.

I feel incomplete. It is a void I feel as I go through my day and live my daily routine. There is a hole. A void. Something is missing. Someone is missing. And it's not just me. Joe senses it. The kids express it often. We miss Abby.

November 16th Joe and I will leave for Africa. November 18th we will meet little Abby for the first time. It seems like this time is dragging on, like November will never come. I am trying to spend this time waiting productively, perhaps trying not to feel the absence too deeply. But it is hard to ignore.

We sent a care package to Abby via a traveling family a few weeks ago. In it was a sock monkey that my daughter Hannah made for Abby. When we got the pictures back, of Abby carrying the monkey, we all cried. It connected us. Intersected our worlds. Gave us hope. Soon. In His perfect timing. We will be complete.

"Perseverance must finish its work
so that you may be mature and complete..."
James 1:4

Um, I *think* I want to tell you about this giveaway...

...but, if I'm honest, I kinda don't, because then my chances of winning it go down.

But, it's too darn awesome to keep to myself.

My buddy Erica is doing one of the most amazing giveaways I have EVER seen in my tenure here in blogland! It's a GRAND PRIZE FAMILY PACK! If you win this, you would win a TON of stuff. I'm serious. I think it may weigh a ton. (Sure hope she gets a good rate on shipping.)

Go check it out here. There are so many ways to enter to win, but I suggest you buy a puzzle piece and be a part of their adoption story...forever.

Check out a small sampling of what you could win:

That's not even the half of it! Head over there now and enter before it's too late!

"So we grieve & we rejoice, like breathing out & breathing in."

It's been a difficult week.

When a tragedy happens, time stands still for a while. All things seem to come to a stop, and what seemed important in the moments just before you got the news is suddenly forgotten. All you can see, all you can feel, is the loss and the pain. It is all consuming and seeps into every part of your life.

And so it was.

Last Thursday, September 1st, my great niece Emma Jo was born into heaven. Just a month and a half from her expected arrival date, weighing more than 5 lbs. A little sweet life, much too brief. I can hardly begin to articulate the loss without tears filling my eyes.

It is not fair. It is not the way it was suppose to be. I grieve for my loved ones who feel this loss the deepest, and I ache in this world where horrible things that don't make sense, happen.

And as time continues (because though the world seems to stop, it in fact, doesn't), the stuff of life resurfaces, and somehow you must enter back into that flow.

The last week has been filled with much activity-- some mere routine and some, frankly, wonderful. We started homeschooling. We prepared for the official launch of our church. We spent time with friends. We booked our tickets for our first trip to Ethiopia! We saw new pictures of little Abby--beautiful, little Abby.

But my sadness has been just around each corner, just underneath each layer of experience--welling up in tears at just the thought of my loved ones. And though it is painful and sobering, it somehow connects me to them, and to Emma. And even if only for that reason, it is ok that it still hurts.

Maybe it's no coincidence I'm writing this on 9/11. A sovereign God allows tragedy, and creation groans in response. For a brief moment, we see with great clarity: our life is but a vapor. There are no guarantees. This world is broken and in need of rescue.

The majority of us orchestrate our lives so that we mostly avoid discomfort, pain, and suffering. And yet, pain has such beautiful, redeeming value in a life. It reminds us to feel in deep places. It chisels away at our values in a refining way. We love with more intensity. We dimly begin to understand "the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings". The veil is pulled back, and we are reminded that there is more to life than what we can see. Pain is a chance to hope and cling to the promise of something better.

And it helps us to remember. I think sometimes what we fear most, as time passes, as life goes that we will forget.

But I will not forget you, Emma Jo. This auntie loves you. I miss you so much already. But I know I will see you one day, full of love and life everlasting. I can hardly wait.

title quote from Andrew Peterson (read his whole awesome article here)

What's wrong with church

I am a church planter's wife and someone who believes in the hope and calling of local church ministry. I love the church. As such, I feel I have a right to be critical about what we don't do well. (This right is not unique to me, I realize...I'm just saying my observations are more of a self critique and not meant to be seen as me pointing the finger at others. )

I know there are some who don't believe in "organized" religion. I, for one, prefer it over disorganized religion, but whatever, maybe that's just my OCD. Honestly, biblically, I don't see how someone can defend a maturing walk with Christ that doesn't include a faithful commitment to a local church body. But that's a subject for another post.

The church is imperfect, primarily because it is made up of imperfect people. Our forms and structures vary even in instances when our theology and beliefs are the same. I do not expect any church to be doing everything perfectly. But, again--as a church planter's wife and someone deeply connected to the vision and direction of our church-- I do believe we are held accountable for how we do with the calling and mission God has given us.

I think we have a fundamental problem in our churches. You know what--scratch that. I think we have two problems. I want to get to the second, but let me address the first since it's kind of a big deal, too.

First and foremost, we are not gospel-centered churches preaching gospel-centered living. Instead of trying to unpack that statement myself, I'm going to direct you to a video of Matt Chandler addressing this very thing. I think he does a great job challenging pastors to come back to center in their leadership of their churches and their pulpit ministries. And as goes the leader, so goes the church. If you can, take 30 minutes and listen/watch this.

I think our churches are filled with people who have believed a false gospel. But something inside of me (hope?) feels we are waking up to that glaring issue, and I want to believe I sense a revival and a thirst for gospel-centered preaching and churches that elevate Jesus above all else and call us to lay down our lives. I feel like we are at least aware that we have gone off track here, and many are making course adjustments. Since the gospel is kinda the "main thing", that's certainly a good thing!, for our churches and for the body of Christ.

But--I still feel there is an area we are not addressing, an issue we are overlooking. A problem within our churches. And it has to do with church leadership. And the respect of it and submission to it.

Let's be honest. None of us really like to be told what to do. We accept and submit to authority structures when it comes to our jobs, our schools, our communities, even our marriages and families. But when it comes to the church, we do not believe leaders have a right to tell us what we should do.

I am aware that not all church leadership is godly. Sometimes, it's downright sinful and evil, and it has, at times, done much damage to the body of Christ. This is not what I'm talking about-- of course I would not suggest we submit to that kind of leadership. In this discussion, I'm going on the assumption that the leadership is God ordained and functioning according to the scriptural guidelines. I believe there are many churches led by godly men who seek the Lord's guidance and tenderly care for their flock. They take their responsibility seriously, knowing they will give an account one day for those in their care.

So the problem I'm addressing is not with ungodly leadership. It's with godly leadership that won't lead. And it's with the flock. With us.

Instead of going on and on, I invite you to listen to this sermon:

Lead, Follow, or get Leprosy
link to listen or download here)

Why do I think this is such a big deal? Because when leaders won't lead and members won't follow, nothing gets done. At least not with the kind of impact that God designed the church to have in His power. I believe this is why we have so many church hoppers, consumers who take the good teaching and fellowship a church offers but refuse to be accountable to a body and committed to one vision and under one leadership. If we as believers addressed this issue, I think we'd have more devoted Christ followers than mere Sunday attenders, less hypocrisy in our church, and more unity within our communities.

So that's my soapbox for the week. As someone in vocational ministry (well, my husband anyway), these are the kind of things I think about when my mind wanders.

Well, this and little Abby. : )