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Pinspiration Link Up!!!

So today I'm hosting a linky party for our Pinterest inspired projects! Maybe you've tried a recipe there, or bought something you saw there, or did a project or craft you pinned. Maybe you used a decorating or party idea you saw. Anything you pinned will work!

I'll share my project first, then tell you how YOU can participate today!

I've used several recipes on Pinterest already, but since I've done recipes on my blog before, I decided to share about something else.

This past weekend was Melissa's shower for baby Caleb. I had seen a quote on Pinterest several weeks ago, and knew it would be perfect for a homemade gift. I admit, I didn't actually pin it, because I didn't want Mel to see it. But it inspired my gift.

Here's the image I saw on Pinterest:

I changed it up a little bit so the wording reflected adoption. I got this frame:

I liked the design but it was gold [hideous]. So I spray painted it black. Then, I printed my own version of the quote and a picture of Mel and Caleb onto some pretty scrapbooking paper, and voila! My gift:

{Note: I wasn't planning to use this as my Pinspiration post, so I didn't take great pictures of the process. Next time I'm be more deliberate. : )}

It was fun to make and fun to give. : )

OK, so here's how you can link up your Pinspiration post:
  • Click on "Click here to enter" below
  • Put your permalink in the linky below (link directly to your post, not just your blog.)
  • Add the linky box to your post so your readers can see all the projects!
  • Copy and paste the Pinspiration logo at the top on my post, and add it to your post!
Looking forward to seeing some ideas in action! I'm off to go make some of these! Your turn!!


{Back} To School! (Pinspiration postponed!)

It has been a crazy week in my household as I'm sure it has been in many of yours. It's back to school time! As I mentioned, for us, is a new adventure as my kids go TO school for the first time. We are all adjusting to new schedules and new routines and new experiences and new JUST-ABOUT-EVERYTHING! We're finding our sea legs in these uncharted waters, and I am glad to report: so far, so good. We are easily identified in the school--since we kinda stand out--one family, four kids, all in one middle school, homeschool background. We are praying for our representation of the King in this new context and for His glory displayed through us.

One thing I am quickly realizing is that my time to sit and be on my computer has virtually evaporated. Abby and I stay pretty busy during the day, and with the driving back and forth to school and various evening activities, there's just not alot of time left. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. But you may see a little less of me on facebook and pinterest and even here. I'll be around, I just may have to catch up in chunks.

In light of the busy week, I am not ready for my pinspiration post. So how about we reschedule, and do it Monday? Are you planning on joining in?? Now you have the weekend to take photos of your project and post to link up here so we can all see what kind of fun things Pinterest in inspiring (be sure and grab the logo on my pinspiration post)!! And our easy weeknight dinner board is up, so message me your email if you'd like to be a contributor and post recipes there for all of us to share and comment on! C'mon, I know some of you have some good ones to share with me!!! (By the way, if you're not on Pinterest and want an invite so you can join immediately and not wait to be accepted, message me your email address.)

Hope you enjoy a great weekend after this busy week! I leave you with some back to school pics of some good lookin' kiddoes! : )

Nathan, 8th grade

Josh, 8th grade

Hannah, 8th grade

Danielle, 6th grade

Abby, Kindergarten {at home}

The Fab Five


Some Pinterest fun!!!!

OK so who's like me and is pinning things on Pinterest non-stop, but the follow through is a bit lacking?? So I had a fun idea to get me inspired to actually implement and create the things I'm pinning on Pinterest! It's called:

Next Friday, I'll have a linky party where you can link up your posts about something you have done, created, worn, or eaten that has been inspired by Pinterest! It will be so fun to see what others are creating as well as motivating to have a deadline to finish something so you can post it!! Whadaya say?!?! Are you in?! OK, then get busy, and check back to link up your projects next Friday, August 26!


And maybe it's the fact that my kids all head to school next week and I'm already overwhelmed with the anticipation of our new schedule--but I am trying to find healthy, easy recipes for dinner on busy weeknights. Maybe it has only a few ingredients, or takes just a little prep time, or cooks in the crockpot, or maybe all three!! But I need your help planning my next few weeks full of menus!

SO...I've created a board on Pinterest we we can ALL post our favorite easy dinner recipes on one board and share them with each other! Leave me a comment here with your Pinterest name, and I will add you as a contributor to my board on Pinterest, so you can post there! You'll receive an email letting you know you can now post there. Won't it be fun to all share recipes and comment on each others ideas there?!

Follow Me on Pinterest

Hope you'll join in the fun! Have a great weekend!!!

We love Show Hope!!

We recently submitted a testimony to Show Hope as they were collecting stories from their grant recipients for the last year. This organization has helped so many families, and we will forver be linked with their ministry. I recently finished reading Mary Beth Chapman's book, and it was so fun to hear the Chapmans' adoption stories and read about how Show Hope was founded. I fell in love with her passion for orphans and her {huge} heart to come along side families struggling to pay for their adoptions.

Even though some of what I wrote for the testimony I've already written here, I thought it would be fun to post. It was good for me to reflect back over the whole process again, and remember what God did to bring Abby home.

Our grant was unusual, in that an anonymous donor who had never met us actually funded the grant to our family through Show Hope. I will never be able to personally thank that person outside of updates I still send to Show Hope. But, my dear donor friend, whoever you are--if by chance you read my blog and follow Abby's story still--know that we will be forever grateful for the part you played in helping Abby become a part of our family. Thank you. Thank you.

In August of 2009, we embarked on a journey with little logic and lots of faith. Years before, a seed had been planted in our hearts for adoption, but it loomed large before us, as something overwhelming and costly and unknown. We figured we’d stay open, and if God wanted us to adopt, He would give us the push when the timing was right.

After ten years in full time pastoral ministry, we moved to Florida in 2007 to plant a new church from scratch. Joe began working bi-vocationally and I focused on homeschooling our four children while we sought to honor the Lord in this new endeavor of ministry. In 2009, God brought a family to our church with a passion for Africa and for adoption. It was a clear sign to us. I remember the night Joe looked at me and said, “Well, it’s our turn.”

All of the circumstances around us pointed to us being out of our minds. Here we were, with little to no discretionary income, Joe working two jobs, balancing the pressures of church planting with the needs of our family, in a three bedroom house with six people. But we prayed, and realized: there is never a good time to begin an adoption. But, as my friend says, there is never a bad time to have a baby! You can plan and fret and try to be strategic but ultimately God gives you the grace you need, one. day. at. a. time.

We felt called to international adoption and specifically Ethiopia, as our church began to catch a vision for a long term, strategic ministry in that country. We loved that our ministry would overlap with our child’s birth country. But the cost scared us. It was almost laughable, the amount we needed. Then my friend said to me, “Do you have $100? Because that’s all you need to apply. Take it one step at a time. One fee at a time. God will provide.”

So that’s exactly what we did. We pulled together $100 and mailed in our application. Then we had a big garage sale. I designed a t-shirt and began selling it on my blog. I hosted a vendor/craft fair fundraiser night. I planned a raffle/auction event. I did market research to earn extra money. When we got our referral, friends –some we knew and some we didn’t—participated in a puzzle fundraiser online that covered our referral fee. And then we received a Show Hope grant that finalized our travel and finished our fundraising needs. God always provided just what we needed for the next step. He proved Himself faithful to provide for what He had called us to do. It also convinced me that money should never be what stands between a family and their calling to adopt. God is the Father to the Fatherless and owns it all—all we have is His and all we need is His to provide. We found that to be firm ground to stand on.

Abby was a little 4 year old on the waiting child list for our agency. She had been on the list for almost two months when our paperwork was completed, so we immediately asked for her file. On July 28th, 2010, we accepted her referral. Because of court closures and various hang-ups, she would not arrive home until January 8, 2011. But she was well worth the wait.

After a year of fundraising, our Show Hope grant took the pressure off by providing exactly what we needed to bring Abby home. We will forever be grateful for the way God used this organization and it’s supporters as a part of our adoption journey.

In the last eight months, our small church has seen three children come home to their forever families, and we will be welcoming the fourth home next month. It has been a movement of God, revealing the heart of the gospel in a tangible way and the ripple effect is ongoing. Our story is so much bigger than just our family—it is woven together with our close friends and colaborers as we have walked this out side by side, as deeply invested in each others’ adoptions as we are in our own.

It has been a wonderful six months since she has been home. I try to expect and be prepared for anything at the same time that I enjoy the relative ease with which Abby has integrated into our family. We continue to speak love and assurance to her little heart, not just of her place in this family, but as a child of the King. We try to be sensitive and open to her as we watch her continue to discover how God is weaving her unique story, consistently providing a secure and loving place to grow and develop. I know there are many who fear adopting an older child, and I would certainly never suggest our experience would be everyone's. But I am blessed to say any problems we have faced so far have paled in comparison to the joy we have experienced with Abby in our lives. Becoming this little girl's family has been one of the greatest gifts God has ever given to me, to Joe, to Josh, Nathan, Hannah and Danielle. We all agree: we are richly blessed.


Linking Arms with Friends


One of the greatest blessings (I feel like a broken record, but it's true) in this journey of adoption has been walking it out with dear friends at the same time. In our church, four families have been somewhere in process for the last 2 years. Three of these children are home. We have one left to go. Caleb.

Yesterday, the Masers found out they had received their MOWCYA letter and their court decree--Caleb is officially a Maser!!!!! They will travel in the next 4-6 weeks to bring him home. Adoption timelines are always uncertain, but we were gearing up for a long wait, particularly because of several issues in Ethiopia as well as the courts annual closure that began last week. It looked like it could be late October and even potentially into the new year before Caleb would be home.

But Jon and Melissa's faith never wavered. She was an inspiration to me to trust that our God could do BIG things, bigger than all the obstacles and hurdles in the way. She said on her blog:
We have peace friends. Peace doesn't mean that you still don't hurt and long. We are standing firm in our Faith. COME WHAT MAY. Jesus is all we ever seek and His will is all we ever ask for. The pains we have in our heart were put there by Him. Making our requests known and believing with out a doubt that If He wanted to get our letter by tomorrow He could. Also believing without a doubt that our hearts are being transformed and prepared for whatever His will is. Thank you Jesus! Being "caught in the closures" has no bearing on my King.
I love that! "Being "caught in the closures" has no bearing on my King."---darn right, sister!!! She wants her boy home!!!--and she knew that even though she had everything going against her, she had God-- a Father to the fatherless-- on her side, and so she prayed. She was ready to accept His timing, either way, but in boldness she asked for Him to move. And He did.

It is hard to put our hope out there. We fear disappointment and know it seems crazy. But faith is trusting when what we're asking does not make sense in light of reality-- unless God is who He says He is and heaven is real. We can ask God in boldness to move when we know we are in His will and asking ultimately for His glory. Sometimes He moves, and we give Him glory. Other times, our timing is not His, and so we continue to wait...and give Him glory. The Masers' faith was never in the outcome. It was in the God who was able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all they could even conceive to ask. And I think He delights in exceeding our expectations.

So we're celebrating here, rejoicing with our friends, and now counting the days until Caleb is home where he belongs!!!!!!!

Congrats Maser fam!!!!!!! We love you all!!!

And speaking of friends, I have a couple who are fundraising and could use some help! These are some really fun opportunities going on this weekend to get some cool stuff AND help raise funds for adoption. You really should go check them out!!

Baby A Shower

I met Lara (online) early on in our adoption process, and I have watched her own adoption journey unfold in an amazing way. (I have also become a faithful reader of her blog--it's a good one to follow!!) There have been ups and downs in their process, but God has led them to adopt a little boy from Uganda! Her friends hijacked her blog and are doing a virtual shower--go check it out and see how you could win this:


Also my local friend Sarah is running an auction and give*away on her blog! Be sure and check out the neat things she's offering to help raise funds to bring home her baby girl from China! (Also, she is featured on My crazy adoption today, so go read her story here for fun!!

Have a great weekend!!

From homeschool to public school: one mom's journey

A person who lives in faith must proceed on incomplete evidence,
trusting in advance what will only makes sense in reverse.
Philip Yancey

So it's official. After 10 years of homeschooling, my kids are going to public school. I am a little bit excited and alot terrified.

This is totally new to me. My kids have been home with me from birth, and I starting schooling them when the boys were 4 years old. If I'm honest, my decision to homeschool at first was a financial one. I had fun doing some activities at home when they were little toddlers, but when the boys were 5 and Hannah was 4, I looked into preschool. There was no way we could afford it for all three to attend, so I figured hey, how hard could it be? A couple hours a day a few times a week, no problem. Then it was time for kindergarten. I figured, hey, I did preschool, how much harder could kindergarten be? And so on and so on...

I know that doesn't sound like a very convincing reason to homeschool, but it was mine. I had read about classical education when my kids were babies, and it fascinated me. One of my greatest problems still is being able to tie things I know about history and literature and science together chronologically, and I thought a classical approach would be a neat way to learn multiple subjects. I have never (EVER) wanted to be a school teacher, but I had three kids all in the same grade (Hannah was always right there, ready to do whatever the boys were doing!), so it was like I was tailor made to homeschool my very own little classroom.

And there were other reasons, too, other positives to homeschooling. We had a high priority for a good education and wanted our kids in a more controlled environment for sure, where we could pass on our values and give them undivided attention in a way a classroom setting can't always provide. But we have never been anti-public school--this is just what worked for our family. And I always said to Joe--it's one year at a time.

I loved the flexibility it gave me. At the time, Joe was off on Mondays, and I loved that since we didn't really get a traditional weekend, we always had Mondays to look forward to for family days. We did school 3 days a week, and that left one day for field trips or playdates or co-ops. It was a good system, and worked for several years.

After we moved to Florida, my kids started 5th grade and we switched to a software based curriculum. I was sacrificing a bit of what I liked about classical education, but I loved how it streamlined my paperwork. The kids loved working on the computer. We ended up needing to add Mondays as school days, but homeschooling gave us the flexibility to take a day or two off whenever we wanted.

Last year, the curriculum went online, and it was even better for me, to be able to access my kids' work from anywhere. Computer breakdowns no longer set us back for weeks at a time--we'd just use a different computer or go to the library.

But my kids were growing weary. Each year, when we'd evaluate what we were doing for the next year, the kids were pretty compliant. But this last year has been different. Their independent learning has been good prep for self-discipline in college, but it's not good for kids that want and need some interaction to learn. They were tired of being home. all. day. long. They wanted to be around other kids. Sure, we'd go out, do things with friends, go to the skatepark, go to co-op---but it wasn't enough. They wanted more. And as they approach 8th grade, I'll be honest--the material has gotten harder. Up to this point, if they had a question, I could skim the lesson and find a way to teach whatever they were struggling with. But this last year that became harder and harder to do. It took me longer to figure out what the answers are myself, and while I may have been more apt in certain subjects, I was an expert in none. The ratio of time to teach myself and then turn around and teach them was growing, and my motivation was lacking.

And then there's Abby. Let's just say it's not been the quietest studying environment since she's been home. And I couldn't send her to her room away from me and the kids--that's just antithetical to everything we've tried to do to bond with her. She could only color and play with playdough quietly for so long. I could take her out and run a few errands, providing some quiet for the kids, but somehow it felt wrong to leave my kids at home doing school by themselves.

So the tide shifted. We began to investigate all of our options. And frankly, financially, we only had two: homeschool or public school. I'll just put it out there and say my first choice would be private school--a gradual shift for my kids out of the home and into a classroom in a more controlled setting. I'm not naive enough to think issues won't arise because it's private school, but it would not be the deluge that I fear with public school. However, financially, there is just no way.

So we made a list of pros and cons. And there are both pros and cons! Both for homeschooling and public school. Good things and bad things about both. Without taking you through them individually and through our last few of weeks of wrestling through them, you know by our decision where we landed.

This does not mean we love everything about public school and this decision. In fact, I've told my friends--I reserve the right to change my mind, to feel differently about what is best, especially as the next few months unfold. As I said, I'm terrified. I am not a controlling mother, it's just not my way. But I wrestling with entrusting my kids to people who don't care about them like I do. I wrestle with how kids will treat them, especially being the new kids in middle school (does anyone remember actually LIKING middle school??). I wrestle with what they will be exposed to, what the "norm" presented to them will be, what messages they will be bombarded with that are directly opposed to what we believe and what we have taught them. I wrestle with their vision of what it will be like being shattered--since what they perceive is some blending of Disney Channel and Glee--and what reality will feel like for them as they face the demands of a new schedule, new relationships, new teachers, HOMEWORK, etc---all at once.

At this moment, we feel like we have good, open communication with our kids. We feel like they have every advantage a kid could have entering into the flow of the world. I plan on being at that school every week volunteering and getting involved in the PTA and bringing brownies to the staff and talking to their counselors and teachers--it's not like I will sit idly by and hope for the best. We will pray alot and remind them daily of their identity in Christ and his love for them--just as they are. We are excited--we're church planters, after all--to get to know new kids and new families and have opportunities to share the gospel in word and action. I am excited to have time just with Abby to begin teaching her and planning our days around her activities.

But the verdict is still out. These are uncharted waters for us. It could be horrible. It could be wonderful. It could be some combination of the two. These are our kids!!! Much is at stake.

I guess I'm writing this post mainly because I need to write out my thoughts, for myself. It helps me. : ) But I know this is a touchy subject that many have very strong feelings about on both sides, so I'm taking a bit of a risk sharing my personal process. I just want to say up front: this is my journey, my story, and these are my kids. I am not making a statement about what is best for you or your children.

I'm just a mom, leaning into her Savior, and trusting He has a plan.

We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.
C. S. Lewis

Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
Isaiah 43:19