How’s this for a random blog post? (Idea stolen from here).

Reading: A few things – The Gospel Centered Woman (I love this!), The Explosive Child (enough said), Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (The boys are loving this and it makes me soooo happy)

Searching for online: Christmas decorations (mostly on Pinterest). I unpacked my stuff this year and was underwhelmed. In reality, I think I’m going to have to pick up some stuff after the holidays on clearance so I don’t find myself in this spot again next year.

Eating: Poorly. I was great in September and October. I don’t know what happened. January is a good time to start this.

Watching: My favorite shows this fall has by far been The Good Wife (even over my beloved Parenthood) and Parks & Recreation. I really don’t think enough people are watching TGW. D and I love it and this season has not disappointed me a bit. And P&R just keeps getting better and better each season. I had no hope for that show when it started but I think it is amazing now. Oooo and The Sing-Off. The Sing-Off just makes me happy!

Wearing: The Sweetheart Skinny Jeans in Black. I cannot believe I like a pair of Old Navy jeans this much but they are a perfect fit.

Wishing: I didn’t have to spend so much time cleaning my kitchen. Not a real problem, I know.

Drinking: Trader Joe’s Wake Up Blend made with my Aeropress

Cooking: We’re in eat down mode. Money seems to be flying out the window. I’m not into grocery shopping right now. So, we’re eating what is currently in the pantry and fridge.

Making: Rainbow Loom bracelets. A is obsessed with this thing and, I must admit, it is strangely addictive. I’m mostly starting and finishing bracelets that he is making for friends.

Smiling: At my funny kids. Best line recently from A: “I never see my butt.” Said with genuine disappointment

Hoping: To get some time to pull together a special gift we are planning for the boys.

Enjoying: The fact that the Spartans are headed to the Rose Bowl and that, in a house of Go Blue fans, my team is victorious.

Listening: Lord, I Need You and All the Poor and Powerless on repeat.

Doing: Advent readings with the kids from The Jesus Storybook Bible. I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of this book.

Planning: Mostly just in my mind right now, but a going-away party for friends moving out of state 🙁

Obsessing: Aztec print. I can’t get enough of it. Really wishing I would have snagged this sweater before it disappeared.

Reading Material

I really do want to write. I can’t decide if I want people to read it or not. And I also have a hard time getting a coherent thought out without being interrupted by someone who needs to be hugged, fed or clothed. So, for now, I’ll share some of what I’ve been reading…

The Trouble with Dave Ramsey from Shannan at Flower Patch Farmgirl

We resisted what we believed in the pit of our stomachs to be true. We thought we could serve them both. We thought maybe we could be that one rich couple who has a lot of money so that they can give more away. We wanted a piece of the blessing of God’s promise, but we hoped it could be without sacrifice. We didn’t want the “living like no one else” to be for nothing.

Six things adoption has taught me by Shaun Groves at Simple Mom

In 2007, I visited an Ethiopian orphanage, trying not to make eye contact with any of the little ones around me in need of a father. I’ve always found avoidance to be the surest way to never feel bad about saying “no.” My brother-in-law, who was adopting from Ethiopia, was there with me. “Maybe we’ve made it too complicated,” he said. (I knew by “we” he meant “me.”) “What if God’s will for our life is found wherever someone’s need and our ability intersect?”

From By His Wounds You Are Healed: How the Message of Ephesians Transforms a Woman’s Identity by Wendy Horger Alsup

I was taken back a bit when I first read the definition of the Greek term translated humility. It means a deep sense of your littleness, especially your moral littleness. Unlike our culture’s watered down version of this term, humility does not mean that you are simply nice, polite, or diplomatic. It means that you have a correct understanding of your salvation as Paul outlined in Ephesians 2. You understand that you were dead in your sins, you were born a child deserving of God’s judgement, and God saved you by his grace and not by your own works. You understand your moral littleness. Then you respond to others in light of this understanding. A humble person does not stand in judgment against others from a point of righteous indignation. You and I have completely missed the entire message of Ephesian 1 and 2 if we think we have any moral high ground over anyone else. This is the core of the gospel.

And, lastly, this verse has shown up to me through various people and places over and over in the last month.

I have told you these things, so that in me you you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33, NIV)

Saturday Seven (on Monday)

1. I watched this interview between Michelle Obama & Matt Lauer the other day. I don’t take in a lot of news or politics so I have not heard many interviews with her. I’ll be totally honest and tell you I found the link because of a blogger mentioning that the First Lady wore a $34 dress from H&M during the interview.  I just wanted to see her outfit. I really have no comments on what she said but, oh my goodness, Matt Lauer is annoying.

2. D went to the Desiring God Pastor’s conference a couple weeks ago and was able to hear Francis Chan (among many others) speak. He picked up these for the boys and even got one of them signed by the author. Super cool.

3. D2 had his Valentine’s Day party at school on Friday (I’m not sure why it isn’t today). He had to write his name on 25 valentines in order to pass them out to his classmates and teachers. On Thursday evening, when we were trying to get the last few done, he sighed and said, “I wish I didn’t have so many friends.

I bought printable valentines on Etsy this year.

4. At last week’s appointment with our adoption worker, we found out that the boys adoption could be completed as early as June! I’m really excited for this possibility. I have been hoping that things would be complete by September so we could enroll D in kindergarten with his new last name.

5. The worker also asked us what we planned to name the boys. We are keeping their first names the same but changing their middle and last. We had not talked about it enough to be able to give her an answer last week but it is fun coming up with some ideas.

6. In case you need something else to occupy your time, ladies, let me introduce you to Everybody, Everwear. The pick a clothing item each month and bloggers post pictures of the outfits they come up with. You can link-click your heart out. Enjoy!

7. I popped into Whole Foods yesterday (a store I kind of hate but is a necessary evil for some gluten-free staples) . The peppy cashier asked me, “Do you have any fun plans for tomorrow?” My thought: “What? Why does she want to know about my Monday? Oh, its Valentine’s Day.” Needless to say, Valentine’s Day was not at the forefront of my mind. I figured I better do something for the boys (all three of them) and, luckily, there were Girl Scouts selling cookies outside the Walgreen’s next to Whole Foods. Two boxes, wrapped in red tissue paper. Done. And, yes, I did let my kids eat cookies for breakfast this morning.

Saturday Seven

1. I have to admit something. I stopped reading the blog that hosts 7 Quick Takes Friday a long time ago. There is nothing wrong with it but it just didn’t make it when I cut my blogroll by fifty-percent. But I like doing these short, quick posts every-once in a while so I kept participating but it felt wrong. Thus, for 2011, the Saturday Seven is born.

2. I almost didn’t even want to look back at last year’s resolutions. I already know they were not all accomplished but here is a run-down:

  • Become parents: done. And I don’t think we are doing too bad a job (but I’m always open to learning how to do it better)
  • Read thru the Bible: Not so much. I read half of the Old Testament and the Gospels. It just did not happen this year.
  • Eat at home: Mostly done. We enjoyed our CSA this summer but it was way more food than we could handle. I still need to figure out how to cook for four people, including one with a food intolerance (me) and three with very limited food preferences.
  • Read five books: Well, I did not read all the ones I listed but I did read To Kill a Mockingbird, I’m Down, Cringe, Love & Logic Magic for Early Childhood, The Help, Growing Up Black in White, The Girl in the Orange Dress, and The Connected Child. Plus, a lot of children’s books (notable mentions go to Grace for President, Corduroy, The Hello, Goodbye Window, The Jesus Storybook Bible and Bear Snores On).
  • Get in shape: Hah! Our elliptical machine stopped working and we gladly said goodbye to it last week via Freecycle. I ran like four times. I took many walks pushing a two-year-old and large baby this summer. But, no, I did not get in shape.

3. Things that did happen in 2010 that I did not predict:

  • I got my nose pierced (after wanting to do so for nearly 10 years).
  • We bought a mini-van. We are now one of many, many silver mini-vans on the streets of the suburbs of Detroit.
  • We cared for six children in our home – five boys and one little girl. I didn’t expect to have this many placements our first year of foster parenting. And I didn’t expect to love being a mom to a little girl so much (after years of saying I only wanted boys, M changed my mind).
  • Enrolling a child in preschool at the private school my husband and I attended. Eating my words.

4. Goals for 2011…

  • A new wall color for the living room, hallway and kitchen
  • Finally watch the tutorial DVD that came with my camera
  • Memorize 24 Bible verses
  • Connected and happy boys
  • More prayer, more Bible reading, more journaling/writing
  • Cook one new recipe per week

5. Some things I am really looking forward to in 2011…

  • The arrival of my best friend’s baby boy (any time now!)
  • A new niece in March…or February 🙂
  • Preschool soccer games
  • Reading books on our new iPad (I’ve already started with Same Kind of Different as Me). Our house is being overtaken by books – I am happy to have this space saving way to read.

6. My favorite television shows of 2010: Mad Men, Parenthood, 30 Rock and Modern Family. My favorite movie on 2010: The Social Network (although, most others didn’t stand a chance because I could not stay awake for them).

7. Here is my first verse for 2011…

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

To Read

Well, you know that I am reading The Connected Child. And Radical. But I also just finished The Girl in the Orange Dress. I know this seems odd to some to be reading three or four books at a time but it seems to be necessary due to the every growing stack of books next to our bed. I like reading but I also like watching TV and that usually wins out because, well, it is easier to watch TV.

Last night, I came home and suggested we do something different. I talked D into going to Biggby with me to read. This is how I did all my studying in college but D finds it distracting to read in a place where other people are talking and socializing. I also did 80% of my homework growing up in front of the television. For some reason, the background noise helps me focus. D was kind enough to go along with me (although, I think it was a bit easier to convince him since we went to Five Guys for dinner first).

The Girl in the Orange Dress was the second memoir from an adult adoptee that I have read recently. The other was Growing Up Black in White. I really find these books helpful in understanding an experience to which I cannot relate. I really appreciate that there are people who are willing to share their struggles and pain in order that people like me can better understand the kids that come into our lives. I think if you are considering foster care or adoption (or you are already a foster or adoptive parent) you can learn a lot from the other people involved: first mothers, foster children, adopted children and other foster/adoptive parents.

Most of the stack next to my bed are books the deal with adoption, foster care, attachment, transracial families or caring for vulnerable children worldwide. It is my passion so books unrelated to the issue tend to keep dropping to the bottom of the stack. I can’t tell you how long Love in the Time of Cholera has been sitting there.

Although, D has forbidden me from buying any new books or borrowing any more, I’m still wondering if there is anything I should add to my “to read stack”….suggestions? Read anything good lately?

On a separate note, we are hoping to get a call next week about a new placement. I’ve probably been able to read a lot more than usual over the past month since we have not be caring for any kiddos. I think I can speak for the both of us when I say we are very ready to jump back into parenting.

7 Quick Takes Friday

1. The kiddos are headed out for their first overnight visit today. It is a little strange but we are going to take advantage of the free time and hang out with our friends, Rob & Elizabeth tonight. Actually, Elizabeth and I are headed to Café Muse for brunch as well. Whenever I see a free morning on the calendar I think, “Who can I get to go to Café Muse with me?” The food is so good and it is the ultimate girl-time treat. It is also always a bonus when I get to go with someone who hasn’t been before. I’ve already checked out the specials for this week.

2. I’ve had a mental list of names I like for a long time (I’m not the only one who does this, right?). I’ve often joked that we are lucky that our kids come with names because D and I rarely agree.  If it were up to me, we would probably have a group of little hippies (Story, Sunny, Love, Mercy, River, etc.)  I just find it really interesting what people decide to name their kids and why. I’ve been enjoying a new blog: You Can’t Call It “It”. The author posts on different name categories, meanings and even offers name consultation.

3. D is reading Brothers, We are Not Professionals by John Piper. He has been reading me some fantastic quotes from the book, this one in particular was striking (he is speaking to pastors but I think it something we all need to hear):

The issue of racial prejudice and snubbing and suspicion and mistreatment is not a social issue; it is a blood-of-Jesus-issue. When you get the conviction and the courage to say something about it to your people, tell them you are not becoming a social-gospeler but a lover of the blood-bought blessings of the cross of Christ…

It doesn’t matter whether your church is in Mississippi or Minnesota, your people are tinged by racism-to put it softly. Time passes swiftly, memories are long, and we have not come very far in the heart.

Piper gives some examples of horrific post-1960s acts of racism. Then says…

These events are the blood-red tip of a deep, partially subconscious iceberg in American culture. It affects all of us. But few in the majority culture feel it or admit it. That is the privilege of being the majority. Your color and your ways are assumed. Whiteness is not an issue for us, we say, so why should blackness be an issue? We are näive at best.

4. I ditched the book I picked up at the library last week for one my boss lent me that seemed more appealing. I’m Down is a memoir of a white girl growing up in an all black community. It has been a fascinating read so far and, often, really funny as well.

5. I’m also reading Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: Practical Parenting from Birth to Six Years. I really love some of the benefits of this method of parenting including giving your child choices and teaching them empathy at an early age. I’m looking forward to discussing this with a group of ladies from church who are also reading along.

6. D and the kids hung out with his mom yesterday and she sent them home with these cute dolls. Grandmas are the best!

7. I’ve been envious of all my friends with cable lately but only because Mad Men: Season 4 starts this week. It will likely not be available until the fall on DVD so I’m going to have avoid all the spoilers until then. D sent me this review of the fourth season and it sound likes Betty only gets crazier.

*Hosted at Conversion Diary

Book Review: My Little Girl

So, not too long ago, Heidi posted about the opportunity to receive free books for writing a book review on your blog. Free books are not something I can pass up on so I signed up as well. You get to pick from several books and have to write a 200 word review on your blog and on a retail site (like Amazon).

Immediatly, I decided to review My Little Girl by Tim McGraw and Tom Douglas. Why you may ask? Well, first of all, I love children’s books. Secondly, I love Tim McGraw. And, three, I wasn’t terribly interested in the other selections.

So, here is my review of My Little Girl:

My Little Girl is a sweet book about Katie and her dad. Katie’s anxiously awaits spending a whole day with her cowboy dad. They visit a “co-op” to see baby animals, eat alphabet soup and just enjoy spending time with each other driving around in a red pick-up truck. The story is sweet but is sort of scattered. It is hard to see how each page connects with each other. It is just sort of a series of events more than a story. The illustrations (done by Julia Denos) are cute and sort of remind me of Precious Moments. I really, really wanted to love this book because it is by Tim McGraw but it fails to be anything very special. The end of the book has a page that says this book was written to inspire fathers and daughters to spend time together and I appreciate the message. If it accomplishes that, then it is worth it. On a side note, as someone who did not grow up playing “princess” it is a bit hard for me to imagine the sugary-sweet Katie. Perhaps there are lots of little girls who could totally relate but it would be nice to see something different.

Reading this book led to a big discussion between D and I about princesses, Barbies and any future daughters we may have. Needless to say, Dan ended the conversation by rolling his eyes at me.

God In The Wasteland

I am not very good at writing book reports or very thoughtful reviews of anything. That’s because I usually watch or read things to be entertained, and my entertainment is very simplistic. Will Ferrell movies and books on inner-city basketball stories is good for me (although, some of the inner-city basketball stories are powerful and make you think a lot).

Anyways, I just started reading a book by David Wells called God In The Wasteland: The Reality of Truth in a World of Fading Dreams. It’s the second book in a series. I didn’t read the first one, but oh well.

Although I’m only two chapters in, the book is excellent and will definitely make you think. He starts off by showing how the main-line liberal protestant churches went from being big, popular, and “successful” to the exact opposite. This was happening as evangelical churches started to gain popularity and therefore were big and “successful.” This transition started around the end of World War 2 and really took effect in the 70’s. So evangelicals took their popularity and became what they had risen against – a civil religion. The problem with a civil religion is that you start to care more about the politics of the day (whatever they may be) than for God’s truth.

The book is going to look specifically at how modernity has effected evangelicals.

Wells says this:

“The fundamental problem in the evangelical world today is not inadequate technique, insufficient organization, or antiquated music, and those who want to squander the church’s resources bandaging these scratches will do nothing to stanch the flow of blood that is spilling from its true wounds. The fundamental problem in the evangelical world today is that God rests too inconsequentially upon the church. His truth is too distant, his grace is too ordinary, his judgment is too benign, his gospel is too easy, and his Christ is too common.”