Saturday, October 23, 2010

Another Divine Encounter

A few months ago, I got an email from a lady that had found my blog through Amanda. She got in contact with me because of my fostering posts.

This interested her because she is a "mom" at a foster home in South Africa. She is from America and moved over there a few years ago to work at a home called Baby Haven that was a transitional home for babies that needed to be adopted.

While working at Baby Haven, she saw such a need for a children's home that she felt compelled to start, through the same ministry, a home for children called Child Haven! She cares for 12 precious children ages 2-10.

Ever since she contacted me, I have been keeping up with her blog and we've been emailing back and forth some. She's been a great encouragement to me. Y'all would not believe how adorable her kids are!! I mean they are just the most precious things. When you go to her blog, you will fall in love.

Well, about a month ago she emailed me saying she would be in town for a conference and asked if we could meet up! Ummm...let me think about this...YES!!!!! Oh my goodness, I was so excited.

It just amazed me that she is not even from here and of all places for her to have a conference it was in my city!!

The days she was here, I had to work, but she so sweetly came to my church (where I work) and hung out with me for a couple of hours. My church is incredibly mission minded, so it was exciting to get to introduce this missionary to my church staff!

We had a great conversation and I was immeasurably blessed by her visit. In fact, so blessed I came home and told Heath I think we need to pack up our things and move to South Africa to join her team at Child Haven!! :-) I'm not sure if that's from the Lord or just my immense joy in talking with her. But oh how I would love to meet her sweet children and love on them.

The foster system in South Africa is actually pretty similar to ours. She told me however, they don't have has many agents as we do, so only the absolute EXTREME cases are placed into foster care. Unlike here where there is a wide spectrum of extreme cases. So I'll let you use your own imagine on what the kids have gone through that eventually make it into her care.

The children at Child Haven are adoptable, just like our children in our foster care system. They adopt domestically and internationally. But of course, just like here, most of the kids are adopted out of Baby Haven and not Child Haven. So there is definitely a need for these children to be adopted into loving families.

The timing of this visit was incredible because I had just finished reading the biography of Amy Carmichael. And my sweet friend from South Africa's name is also Amy!! There stories parallel each other so much that I couldn't help but call her our modern day Amy Carmichael!

(Amy, I hope it's ok that I got this off of your blog. It's just so cute I wanted everyone to see.)

She is an inspiration and a blessing to this world. She encouraged me and was beyond precious! Please join me in praying for her ministry there and for strength for her in continuing to do what she feels called to do. I know it is not easy all the time and she misses her family and friends. I so very much look up to her and want to be like her. :-)

Please, if you feel led, visit Amy's blog and maybe leave her a word of encouragement. You will be blessed.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Dad's 60th Bday Party!

My Dad turned 60 a few weeks ago. We had a big surprise party for him last week with family and friends!!

It was a blast and we made some crazy memories.

My dad knew we were having a little family gathering, that part wasn't a surprise. However, we did have some family there that he wasn't expecting. What we didn't tell him was that we had invited some of his dearest friends.

My mom & I were in charge of getting the party ready while Heath, my granddad and my sister kept my dad occupied by taking him golfing. I'm not sure who got the better end of that deal. Oh wait...yes I do. Just kidding. I loved being able to get the party ready.

This is when my dad first arrived before he new that we had a room full of his friends waiting to jump out for his 2nd surprise!

Ella running in for her surprise hug. She new about the surprise party for a few weeks and did such a good job keeping it a secret!

Getting his 2nd surprise when another room of people came out.

These are some really special friends of parents since they were newlyweds. They came in from Cameron, TX to be with my dad for this big day!! So special.

Okay...I have to stop here to tell y'all a really funny story! It's funny now...but not as much in the moment.

Let me confess to you that I am not the best homemaker. After 8 1/2 years of being married I have definitely taken some good strides in the right direction, but it's just not my spiritual gift. Especially when it comes to cooking. But I have to blame a good part of that on my husband because he is a phenomenal cook, so why should I have to be if he fills that role. I mean am I right? And I don't want to put words in my Mom's mouth, but I think she would agree because my Dad is the same way. So cooking just isn't one of our strengths. mother-in-law is known for her AMAZING cooking. In fact, she has done a lot of cooking for special occasions for us since I got married to her son and she LOVES it. She finds so much joy in being able to use her gift.

So when we started talking about my Dad's party a couple of months ago, she willingly offered her resources. Yay!!

Little did we know that my mother-in-law would come down with a terrible intestinal virus that would maker her bedridden for a week...the EXACT week of my Dad's big party.

Which meant that there was nobody to cook. My husband was already on top of smoking the briskets. He was prepared for that and did that. But the day of stuff he couldn't do because his job was to occupy my dad. And then my dad, who would also be our cook, was obviously not an option. This meant my mom and I had to take on this task on ourselves.

Please, please if you know me laugh out loud right now. I give you permission. Imagine 3 ring circus if you will? That about sums it up.

My mother-in-law gave us the list of dishes she was planning on making along with all of her recipes. It was now up to my mom and I to pull them off.

So I started on the journey with my phone close to me so I could call her at a moment's notice for advice when something "wasn't looking right".

Over the course of 24 hours I made 8 dishes/desserts that I have never in my life made. And you know what? They actually turned out great. I couldn't believe it. Who knew that the Lord was going to stretch me on this day?

In this picture, to the left is a corn, tomato, black bean, avocado salad.

Left is a very difficult (just kidding) already made spinach artichoke dip from Sams. But the middle is homemade guacamole and on the right is my hubby's amazing homemade salsa.

On the right is a 7 layer dip.

Homemade cherry cobbler and lemon bars...even the crust is homemade on both. Are you impressed yet? :-)

Ella made a special chocolate cake for Granddad. And decorated it herself. I would say this was the best dish of the day!

My sweet grandparents. These are my dad's parents.

After we all ate, my granddad gave a toast to my sweet dad!

It was very touching and obviously funny!

Ella presenting her cake to her Granddad.

And a happy birthday kiss!

Ella had a blast playing with all of her cousins who were at the party. This is Ethan. They have been good buds since Ella was itty bitty. She thinks he is the funniest human being alive, besides her daddy of course.

These next two pictures are of Ella and her 4th cousins (I think.) They are my 2nd cousin's children. So I'm not sure what that makes them but man am thankful they are in our lives! Ella always has a blast with them and I think it's neat we have this amazing connection with such an extended branch on our family tree.

Our cousins Tiffany, Ethan & Zach. These are my dad's brother's children. Love them!!

My cousin Jerrod made these awesome washer boards and gave them to my dad for his birthday! Isn't that so fun?

Sweet Ella.

After some fun at washers, we broke out my parent's croquet set. It was the most perfect day for a party. The weather was beautiful!!! So I'm glad we spent some time outside.

Ella was so funny. She was very into it. This picture cracks me up.

Ella also got to spend some great quality time with my sister who was in town for the party. They even got to have a slumber party on our couch bed that night which was just the ultimate for Ella.

One way my mom decorated for the party was she put old pictures of my dad out. We also had a running slideshow of about 300 pics from my dad's childhood through adulthood. It was really fun to see all of them!! And relive some fun memories.

This magazine my dad is holding is an old magazine that my Uncle had and gave to him. It's from the year my dad was born. I thought that was really cool!

Happy birthday Dad!!! I hope you felt a little bit of the love that day that you have shown all of us throughout the years!! There is no doubt that I am your daughter because I look so much like you. But more importantly I hope that I possess your character and personality traits. You have been the spiritual leader of our family and I appreciate that now more than ever as I realize how absolutely important that is for a family to survive and thrive.

We have had a blast my whole life!! My goodness...I can't imagine a boring life with you and mom. We have some major outgoing personalities in this family. And it's always kept things exciting. I'm so thankful for that. I love that Ella gets to experience all the fun and these amazing gifts as well. She is one blessed granddaughter.

Love you Dad!! I pray 60 is a blessed year for you and Mom.

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sleeping Ella

I just wrote a post about this recently, but I find so much entertainment in Ella when she is asleep. It is always a surprise how I will find her laying and/or which and how many stuffed animals she will have in bed with her.

A few nights ago, I tucked Ella in with this little pink bear that she won playing a game at the state fair we had just gone too. That was little pink bear was all she had in bed with her when we said goodnight.

When I checked on her a little while later after she had fallen asleep, this is what I found...

Love it!

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Tuesday, October 05, 2010


A few weeks ago, we got to celebrate Tobey's birthday, a very sweet friend of Ella's! His precious parents had his party at Main Event, which is fun place that has bowling and games, but in a very nice environment. This was our first time to take Ella bowling. She went last summer with her Mimi, but we had never been with her. We had a blast!

I LOVE this whole progression of pictures of Ella and her Daddy helping her bowl. Their special relationship makes my heart smile!

Heath was especially excited to help her with this sport because he is a fan of bowling himself. He even has his own ball..."the green machine". Yes, I know.

Her happy dance! Love it!

As you can see, Ella got second place. But for the record, Tom's dad was a little too helpful. So REALLY Ella WON. But that's just for you and I. I, of course, did not tell her that. I'm not quite ready to project on her my competitive nature. Unfortanetly she will learn that in due time.

See the little tiger? That's is Shoulie. I have no idea how to spell the name Ella gave him. She definitely comes up with very creative names (or made up words) for her animals. Anyway...she loves that tiger. Sadly, it kind of replaced Pablo in her heart about a year ago. Poor Pablo.

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