Thursday, October 31, 2013

Child sponsorship

Lately I've been trying to think of fun ways to send letters to my sponsored kids. I try to write to them once a month but have only included a couple pictures to my Compassion kids through the online letter writing tool. Unfortunately, I can only send snail mail letters to my girls in Korea so they have not received any pictures from us. Until today!

On the Compassion forums, some of the sponsors were talking about online photo collage programs. I thought that sounded intriguing so I tested out PicMonkey. It is so easy to use!

I created these two collages and then resized them in Word to fit both on a single sheet of paper. I added numbers next to each photo and then wrote a letter and explained a little bit about each photo. So easy! Today I wrote letters to both of my girls in Korea so now they will have pictures of my trip to Colorado. I didn't realize it could be so easy to send photos to the kids. Now I'm sure I'll be sending a lot!

If you sponsor a child, please send them a letter! I know it means a lot to the children to receive letters from their sponsor.

If you don't sponsor a child, will you consider doing so? It could change their lives and it will definitely bless yours!

This is Do Young, who is 17 years old and whose favorite subject is reading. She's available to sponsor through Children Incorporated. If you have questions about this particular organization or child sponsorship in general, please email me! It's such a blessing to know that you have the opportunity to change a life.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

We've been matched!

*Post edited - Because Z has refused adoption, I have removed her pictures to protect her privacy.

This is Z. She's 10 years old and currently lives in Taiwan. We're hoping to soon change her permanent address to Seattle, WA.

We've earnestly been praying that we would receive orphanage approval and today it arrived! We're so excited!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Home but still recovering

I visited my dad in Colorado for five days. When I arrived in Colorado, I promptly got sick with a nasty cold. I flew back home on Monday last week and am still recovering. Yuck.

I hate not being productive. My husband has had to do the dishes, clean the cat boxes, and do all the grocery shopping. These things are normally my job but I have had no energy for any of it. I'm finally starting to feel better but am having to force myself to remain quiet so that I don't relapse. Maybe I'll be fully recovered mid-week. I sure hope so!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tiny step forward

USCIS has entered our I600A application into their system! Woohoo!

It's such a tiny little step but at least it's a tiny little step forward. They emailed us a case file number so that we can check the status of our application online.

The I600A is a preapproval for adopting a foreign born child and bringing them into the United States. We did not specify a child on our application. They look only at us as potential parents to decide if we are allowed to bring a child to the US.

Once the I600A is approved and we receive the appropriate approvals in Taiwan, we submit an I600 form which requests permission to bring a specific child into the US.

Lots of steps! At least now we can constantly refresh the USCIS website to see our current case status.

Current estimated wait time: 2.5 months.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A few book thoughts

One of my goals for this week is to catch up on reviewing the free books I've received.

40 Most Influential Christians . . .

40 Most Influential Christians Who Shaped What We Believe Today, by Daryl Aaron, is my favorite book of this batch. While I do not agree with the theology and beliefs of each of these influential Christians, I can appreciate the contribution that they made to the development of the Christian church.

The book covers 40 chapters, each chapter devoted to one Christian who influenced church theology or growth. The book is not exhaustive, instead providing a short overview on some influential Christians. Each chapter includes a section on the context of the Christian's life, the contribution he made to Christian history, and a short conclusion about the influences he still has on current Christian thought. This is a great starting point for any person who is interested in learning more about the history of the Christian church.

A Home for My Heart

I've become rather picky about my Christian historical fiction, as I feel most of the books are not literature quality. However, I snapped up a copy of A Home for My Heart, by Anne Mateer, because it's the story of an assistant matron at an orphanage. Sadie suddenly finds herself offered the head matron position and she has to learn how to balance her new duties with her desire to get married (matrons are not allowed to wed).

I really, really wanted to like this book. My heart is all about adoption these days as we navigate the adoption process to adopt our own daughter. I thought that this book would resonate with me but it fell flat. The main character kept insisting that she cares more about the children than her coworkers do, but she never really displays that love in her actions. I had hoped that the book would address her life in an orphanage but it could have been written about any type of administrative position. If you're wanting an ok beach read, this is it. If you're looking for something deep and memorable, keep looking.

Jesus: Pure and Simple

Jesus Pure and Simple, by Wayne Cordeiro, was an interesting but not deep book. It read more like a series of blog posts, rather than having a common thread running through the entire book. Cordeiro talks about how to tell if you need to get back to Jesus, who Jesus is, how to focus on Him, and how to serve. The book itself is rather pure and simple, some basic thoughts on various topics, bullet points that provide a basic to-do list, and group discussion questions at the end of each chapter.

For an example of the simplicity of this book, here are the focus points on the chapter titled "One Thing." The chapter starts off with the verse Luke 10:41-42, which reads, "you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary." What is the one thing that is necessary? Spending time with Jesus. How do we do that?

-Read the Bible daily
-Regularly take time for solitude
-Immerse yourself in gratefulness
-Regularly take time for reflection

As I said, it's an interesting book but not deep. It's a good refresher on basic Christian living but doesn't offer much Biblical meat to chew on.

Much thanks to Bethany House for all three review copies in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions are completely my own.

*Note - Jeff and I promised ourselves we would not ask anyone for money to help fund our adoption. However, if you would like to help us without additional cost to you, feel free to do your normal shopping through my Amazon affiliate links in the above post. Thanks!

Monday, October 14, 2013

A special day

Today is a very special day for us. Not only is it our anniversary... is also my husband's birthday.

We have now been married for eight years and I love him more now that I did the day we said "I do."

Happy birthday, darling!
Happy anniversary!

I can't wait to celebrate the next fifty years with you.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

This week's plans

So my flight to Colorado leaves on Thursday morning. Why did I choose a six A.M. flight? Oh, yes. So that I could spend as much time as possible with my dad instead of spending the day traveling. I will try to remember that when my alarm goes off at four on Thursday morning...

This week I have a couple of goals.

1 - I want to catch up on my language reviews. I have been doing fairly well keeping up with my Japanese reviews but Chinese has been dismal. Truth be told, I'm not extremely motivated to learn Chinese after reading (from multiple sources) that the vast majority of adopted children come to the U.S. and promptly reject their first language. Some children want to remain fluent in their first language but most kids just want to be American. I have no idea which category my daughter will fall under, but the odds are that she will only want to speak English. Thinking of that, I lose most of my motivation to learn her language. I love the Japanese language and eventually want to become fluent. Learning Japanese is for me; learning Chinese is for her. I need to find my motivation again so that she knows I cared enough about her before we met to learn a bit of her language, even if she chooses not to speak it after becoming part of our family.

2 - Book reviews! I have several books in progress that I would like to finish and review on Goodreads before leaving town. This includes several review copies. Finishing these books will allow me to come home to a clean slate and have fun picking out new books from the library. Today I finished reading The Picture of Dorian Gray and need to gather my thoughts on it. Then I can complete the other books that are in progress.

3 - Finish writing letters to my sponsored kids. I recently printed some fall stationary and need to finish writing the last several letters. That way all of my kids have letters coming. I hope to visit the Compassion International headquarters while in Colorado but am not sure I will be able to convince my dad that it will be worth taking the time to visit. His wedding comes first; I'm just hoping we have some extra time to drive the half hour to Compassion and tour the mail room. I am eager to see how they manage all of the thousands of letters that pass through their office before making their way to the children around the world.

I think these three things will keep me busy until Wednesday. Tomorrow is our eighth anniversary and my husband's birthday. He requested homemade pizza and pumpkin pie for our dinner. Sounds good to me!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Preparation Day, Week 1

I feel more prepared for the Sabbath than I have in a long time. I made a conscientious effort this week to clean my house, to be mindful of what still needed to be done, and to make a plan for today.

On Wednesday and Thursday, I completed the majority of my house cleaning. This made it easier for me to focus today on the last minute things that needed to be done.

This morning I made a quick trip to the grocery store for what we need over the weekend. I washed the laundry so that we have clean clothes for church. The dishes are washed and the dishwasher emptied. The entire house is tidied.

I didn't prepare our Sabbath meal in advance but I want to learn to do that in the future. If our friend goes to church with us tomorrow, we'll stay for potluck. Otherwise we'll come home and have pasta for lunch. (Is it possible to boil the noodles in advance so that everything just needs to be heated?)

All that's left for today is to go for a run and put the clean sheets back on the bed. I'm ready to welcome the Sabbath!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Library Time!

I'm so excited! Today I returned most of my books to the library and checked out just a few more.

Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren (new-to-me author)

Escaping the Devil's Bedroom: Sex Trafficking, Global Prostitution, and the Gospel's Transforming Power by Dawn Herzog Jewell

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

Life Without Limits: Inspiration for a Ridiculously Good Life by Nick Vujicic

The Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama

Passionate Housewives Desperate for God by Jennie Chancey

The only trouble will be choosing which two to take with me on my trip!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Preparation day and the Sabbath

Over the past several weeks, I've spent a lot of time in prayer and Bible study. I've had my eyes opened about what Sabbath means to God, what it means to me, and how I should be spending His holy day. I've been convicted in several areas of my life, places where I feel that I'm not really letting God lead.

One of those places is Sabbath preparation. I truly believe that God has given us a day of rest, a day to spend with Him, and that He is offended if we don't honor His command to keep His Sabbath holy. I have been convicted that I should not be spending my Sabbath days doing household labor that could be done on other days, mainly in the areas of meal preparation and how I get ready for church (ironing clothes, etc).

I feel that I need to be more conscientious about how I spend the rest of the week so that I am prepared for the Sabbath when it arrives. There is no excuse for not having our clothes ironed and ready by Friday afternoon. There is no reason why I cannot prep food and prepare meals on Friday for Sabbath. I haven't been doing it, mainly because I've been lazy and have not been convicted about the importance of following God's commands about the Sabbath day.

My Sabbath issues are not just about preparing in advance. I tend to be more motivated about cleaning at the beginning of the week and lose motivation as the week progresses. By the time Friday arrives, the house is rather messy. I attend a knitting group on Friday mornings, go grocery shopping immediately afterwards, and then spend the afternoon scrambling to get things done before sundown. Usually I fail, for whatever reason. So Sabbath arrives and I have dishes in my sink, dinner half prepared, clean clothes but nothing ironed, and an untidy house. I stress when the house is messy and thus often feel overwhelmed on Sabbath.

I am making a commitment this week to put God first. That means that I need to prepare myself both physically and spiritually to spend time with Him on Sabbath. My house needs to be clean so that I can rest my mind. My food preparation needs to be done so that I'm not distracted by the every day chores. My dishes need to be washed and put away so that I can toss the dirty ones into the dishwasher as we use them and thus not create a huge mess in the kitchen, which in turn stresses me out.

I'm sure I won't get everything right this first week. But I am trying. I want to be open and ready to spend time with God during the time He set aside for us.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Another batch of paperwork

We still don't have good news, but we've mailed off another batch of paperwork! Hubby has been wanting to submit our I-600A: Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition. This application, if approved, will give us pre-approval to bring an adopted child into the United States. Before looking into adoption, I had no idea we would have to request approval from the United States to bring a child into the country. It makes sense, now that I think about it. But it's something I wasn't expecting to do!

They required a stack of paperwork:
-A contact form to be notified that they received our application.
-A 3 page application.
-An original copy of our home study
-A copy of both of our birth certificates
-A copy of our marriage license
-Two checks, one for the application fee and one for advance payment of fingerprinting and background checks

Whew! We sent it off priority mail. They should have it on Thursday and then we wait for fingerprinting appointments to be mailed to us. After that, I'm not sure exactly how the process works!

Once we are officially matched with the girl we want to adopt, we submit the I-600, which requests approval for that specific child to be allowed into the United States. The pre-approval that we submitted today should shorten the wait for the actual approval. I can't wait!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Paperwork flurry

Today has been another flurry of paperwork, FedEx deliveries, and emails between ourselves, our agency, and Taiwan. I can't post any specifics yet but I hope to have positive news soon!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

God's miracle timing

Last week we realized that we were very low on printer ink and ordered cartridges from Amazon.

Yesterday, our printer ran out of ink and refused to print another page. Our Amazon order was scheduled to be delivered this Friday.

Today, three days early, our printer ink was delivered.

An hour later, we received a supplemental questionnaire from our adoption agency that needed to be printed, signed, scanned, and emailed back.

God's timing is always perfect.