Room for More, Part 2

People have been asking all sorts of questions about our upcoming adoption.  I am so excited about that.  One of our prayers, is that others will want to adopt because of our experience.  So I thought the  easiest way to answer them all would be in a questions and answer format.  So here we go:

1. Domestic or International?

2. Boy or Girl?

Our house has loads of estrogen so we are looking at adding some testosterone into the family.  We         are so excited to add a little boy or boys to our family.  Yes, we are boldly praying for twin boys.

3. What agency are you going through?

We signed a contract with Faithful Adoption Consultants in Georgia.  We have friends who have used them and had wonderful experiences, so we were very excited when they accepted us.  We have loved everyone that we have talked with at FAC so far.  The neat thing about their agency is that everyone who works there has adopted at least once, many multiple times.  They know what it's like to be in our shoes.  They also fervently pray for their waiting families.  I love knowing we are being covered in prayer.   If you aren't familiar with a consultant agency let me explain.  FAC works with about 75 or more adoption agencies all over the country.  Going through a consultant agency helps speed up the process because they work with so many agencies.  Most of the agencies they work with have a relinquishment period of 24-72 hours.  More than likely we will travel out of state to pick up our son(s).   FAC's average waiting period is 4 months.  They've never had a couple wait longer than 10 months.  Some couples go live and within the week get the call the baby is on the way.  This is exciting and terrifying all at the same time.  So, as you can imagine I am trying to finish paperwork, decorate a nursery and now start homeschooling on top of it all.  It's a crazy time, but my heart could burst from all the excitement and anticipation.

4. Who did you home study?

Joanne Zambo at Adoption Promises in Smyrna did our home study.  She rocked!  I can't recommend her enough.  Not only was she the least expensive, she was able to get it done in 3 weeks. That's crazy fast.  She also only required 2 visits instead of 3.

5. So where are you in the process?

So we have signed on with FAC and are compiling all the paperwork they need.  Y'all I am not joking when I say that I have over 100 pages of agency applications to fill out.  Plus we are working on our birth mom book.  This is the most important piece of the whole process.  So thankful I have an awesome husband to help out with everything.  He has taken over the book as his project and I couldn't be more thrilled.  We are blessed to have a friend who is going to make it look pretty.  He's a graphic designer so this is a no brainer for him and y'all he's good.  I can't wait to see the final result.  By doing it ourselves we are saving around $750.  If you have adopted, you know that the average cost is about $40,000 so anyway we can save money, we will do it.

I think that answers most of the questions.  Thank you for being excited for us.  We covet your prayers for us and the birth family.  Adoption is a beautiful journey, but not one without pain and heartache.  I love this quote by Judy Landers.  Even though we don't know our birthmother yet, we pray for her daily.  She is already a hero in our eyes.

Room for More, Part 1

It all started with Sydney.  For over 2 years now she has been praying for a baby brother or brothers.  She has such a sweet sensitive heart and she loves little children.  She is so good with young kids and it's a joy to watch her care for them.  (Here she is reading to Ladd.  This is such a beautiful picture to me because we helped Ladd's parents bring him home).

After we lost Jonathan over 5 years ago and after suffering from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy last year, the chances of getting pregnant and having a baby were slim to none.  However, I do believe God can and still performs miracles, so I have always been open to that.  I prayed that if that was not His plan for us that He would take the ache away.  That longing to have another biological child finally went away, but not the desire to continue to grow our family.  I often hear from women who say they had a peace in their hearts when they knew their family was completed.  I have never had that peace.  Brian and I both come from large families and that has always been our desire from the day we said "I do".  We just never knew the heartache that would come trying to build our family.

I was thankful to have a music career in my twenties and early thirties.  I always knew I wanted to be a singer.  I am so thankful God blessed me with those years of ministry and being on the road.  Those will always be some of the best years of my life.  The only other job I ever wanted to have was that of wife and mom.  I love being a mom and I love homeschooling and being home with my girls.  Nothing brings me greater joy.  I am molding and shaping my children and trying to raise young women who will follow and serve the Lord.  It's exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time.

Am I nervous and scared about adopting, absolutely.  Here's the deal though, nothing in life that is worth anything is ever easy and without sacrifice.  Do I want to hyperventilate when I think about the fact that I will most likely have 8 year olds, when my girls go to college? Yes.  I quickly have realized though that what God calls you to, He will provide the courage and the strength to do it.  We aren't called to a comfortable life friends.  We are called to care for the least of these.  If you've adopted you know this verse very well.  James 1:27  "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world".

Room for More, Part 2 coming tomorrow......

Our family news

We are excited to share with y'all our happy news.  It's official.  We are adopting!  

More news to come.......

Come Alive

The older I get the more I come into my own skin.  I know who I am and I know who I belong to.  I also become more aware of the spiritual world and the forces around us at work, both good and evil.  I desire to raise children that know the Holy Spirit on a deep and personal level.  The other day I had a conversation with the girls about why we left our last church.  I won't mention the name, but in a nutshell I never heard the name of the Holy Spirit mentioned from the pulpit.  I enjoyed the pastor and the people and that's what kept us there longer than we probably should have stayed.   As we were chatting about it Sydney said, "Mommy you can't have just Jesus and God.  You have to have the Holy Spirit too".  At 9, she gets the Trinity.  Jesus left a free gift to us in the Holy Spirit.  So many Christians, including myself, forget this crucial part of Christianity.  We walk around hopeless and defeated, racked with anxiety and fear.  This is not living friends.  He has so much more for us.

I am thankful the Holy Spirit led us back to a place that is familiar to us, with an amazing pastor, one who is longing for revival.  We are getting ready to embark on something life changing for our family and I will tell you I have had many thoughts of inadequacies and "what the heck are we doing moments".  These thoughts are straight from the pit of hell.  We know God has called us for such a time as this.  That's where I must rely on the Holy Spirit to put the devil in its place and to ask for more of Him.  Doubt, confusion, worry, fear, etc. all come from the enemy.

What are you fearing today?  What are you believing God for, but questioning if He will really come through for you?  Brian and I had a lunch meeting today and I was reminded that anytime you step outside of your comfort zone and believe God will show up and doing the remarkable, you will always be faced with opposition.  Satan is on the prowl and ready to devour anyone standing in his way.  We are living in times where Christians must take up the armor of God and go to battle.  The battle that is fought and won on our knees.  We have to pray like we have never prayed before.  I am constantly talking to the Lord throughout my day.  It really is the only way I make it.  It may sound cliche' but it is so true.  I continually have to ask Him to fill me up.  One way we do that is to listen to worship music in our home.  We are huge Lauren Daigle fans at our house.  We have her record on repeat at our house, that is if I am not listening to a podcast.  That's another blog post coming soon.  Enjoy this video of one of my favorites and be reminded that the Holy Spirit is waiting for you draw near to Him.  Breathe O breath of God, Breathe.

He Makes All Things New

I've sensed a calling in my spirit now for sometime to come back to blogging.  A month ago I decided to get off Facebook.  I knew it was taking up to much time.  When you've spent more time on Facebook than time in the Word, it becomes an idol.  I knew that had to change.  I meant business this time, so I told Brian to change my password.  I didn't want to have the opportunity to log in when I was feeling a moment of weakness.  That made all the difference in the world.  I have been faithful to what He has called me to do. Y'all it has been life changing.  I told Brian last night that I don't miss Facebook at all.  If you know me, however, you know I love to share my heart and thoughts.  Facebook gave me that platform.  Although, I know at times I didn't use it well.  There is only so much you can share in so many words and I am afraid at times I came off harsh and insensitive.  That was never my intent.  With blogging, however, I am free to bare my soul in more just than a few words.

God is moving in our family and I am excited to share some things with you in the next few months.  We are on a new and crazy journey and I invite you along for the ride.  It's been a long 12 year journey, but He is making ALL THINGS NEW.  The heartache He is replacing with Hope, tears with Joy and mourning with Dancing.

Lord I worship you above all others. You carry me through the storms and valleys and you set my feet upon higher ground.  To you be all the Glory, Honor and Praise forever and ever.

Delight in Him,

Tuesday's Tip- Building a cleaning bucket for your kids

Ok moms, you are gonna love today's Tuesday's tip.  I guarantee it.  A few months ago, shortly after Sydney turned 6, I decided it was time to teach them how to clean a bathroom.  To be honest, I did it out of sheer exhaustion.  I figured if we lived on a farm (that's my secret dream), they would've been working by now.  So instead of collecting eggs from chickens (sigh!), they get to learn how to clean a bathroom.  When I told them what we were going to do that day, you would have thought I had just announced we were going to Disneyland.  They were that excited.

I divided the girls up.  Sydney basically begged to clean the toilet.  Um, ok sure.  Have at it.  Brooklyn wanted the sink.  They actually did a really good job on their bathroom.  They had so much fun.   Who knew?  Wish I would've started it earlier.

So here is my tip to get your kids to enjoy cleaning.  Give them their own cleaning buckets or pails.  Here's what you need:

1 bucket or pail
1 "magic wand"
1 sponge or rag
1 water bottle filled with water
an apron (optional)

You may have all the supplies you need already in your home.  If not, you can create a bucket for around $5-$20 depending on how elaborate you want to get.  Here's my cost breakdown.

Pail: $1 at Target.
"Magic wands": $2.99 at Target.
Rags: I already had them.  Two pack from Trader Joes.
Water bottle: $1 at Ikea
Aprons (not pictured): Already had them
My total cost: $4 per bucket

Here's another tip.  Fill the water bottle with plain old water.  That way they can clean almost about anything and if they decide to have an impromptu water fight, it's not a big deal.

For the magic wand, I use half vinegar and half liquid soap. I love it.  It works fantastically and it's non toxic for the kids.

A bit of caution.  If you are a control freak like me, let me give you one piece of advice, Let it go!  Chances are they will end up making more of a mess for you to clean up, but you know what,  it's all worth it to see them learn and grow.  They are not perfect.  Far from it, but as I watched them  clean my bathroom tonight, I got a small glimpse of the beautiful mothers they will make one day. My other piece of advice is stay close by.  I was downstairs when they got started and by the time I got to my bathroom, here is what I saw.

So I had to give them a few rules, like don't climb up on a slippery counter.  Yikes.  Do you have any great ways you get your children to help around the house?  I'd love to hear about them.

Switcheroo Sunday-Peanut Butter

Today's Switcheroo Sunday came in the form of a question from my friend Tina, shout out to her.  She asked me a few weeks ago what brand of peanut butter I buy.  My text back to her was, I don't buy peanut butter.  I buy almond butter and cashew butter instead.  Let me tell you why.

You might be surprised to find out that peanuts are not actually nuts, they're legumes.  Did you know that?  Kind of strange right.  I mean why would they call it a nut if it's not?  Here is why I don't think peanuts are good for you.  They can be quite toxic and cause inflammation.

Here's a great explanation I found from Whole9Life blog.  "When peanuts grow, they can harbor carcinogenic mold called an “aflatoxin“. This goes for conventional and organic peanuts. The longer they sit (during shipping, for example), especially in warm temperatures and high humidity, the more mold grows. And as it’s nearly impossible to buy peanuts “local”, as they are only grown in a few Southern locations, more likely than not, even your organic peanuts, are suspect.  The far bigger concern, however, is that peanuts contain lectins which are believed to have inflammatory and atherogenic potential. Most plants contain lectins, some of which are toxic, inflammatory, or both. Many of these lectins are resistant to cooking and to digestive enzymes, and some have been scientifically shown to have significant GI toxicity in humans. Lectins from grains (especially wheat) and legumes (including peanuts and soybeans) are most commonly associated with aggravation of inflammatory and digestive diseases in the body. (As an aside, dairy from cows fed grain-based diets can also contain these grain-derived lectins.)

So instead of this......

Switch to one of these......

There are actually quite a few alternative nut butters.  In our home we use almond butter, for the girls and Brian and cashew butter for me.  If you live near a Costco, you are in luck.  You can buy a big jar, 26oz, of Maranatha Almond Butter for around $7.  That's a great deal.
I love cashew butter.  My favorite way to buy it is at Whole Foods fresh from the grinder.  Just cashews.  No oils added.  Unfortunately, they don't always have cashews for fresh cashew butter.  So I buy the Whole Foods brand.  Although I've decided I'm going to use my Vitamix to start making my own from scratch.  It just makes sense.  We always have cashews on hand at the house and it would be so easy to make and so much cheaper.
Another great option is Sunbutter from sunflower seeds.  I haven't personally used sunbutter but I have many friends whose kids can't have nuts and they use this and love it.
As you can see, you have so many great options for healthy protein and healthy fats.  It's just experimenting and finding one that's right for you.  Here's a tip. Did you know you can buy anything from Whole Foods and if you don't like it or aren't satisfied with any of their products, you can take it back, no questions asked?  You don't even need a receipt.  They have fantastic customer service and I can't tell you how many things my family has tried, that we didn't like, and they are always so kind and helpful.
If you can't let go of your peanut butter and you just have to have it, make sure it's organic and made only of peanuts.  That's it.  No sugar and no added oils and try to limit how often you eat it. 
Have you tried any alternatives to Peanut Butter?  What is your favorite?

Switcheroo Sunday-Baking Powder

I wanted to give you another easy and inexpensive switch this Sunday.  Today we are going to take on Baking Powder.  If you bake anything at all, you have this ingredient in your pantry.  Have you ever looked at the ingredients?  More than likely, no.  If you are like me, you probably bought whatever was on sale.  Just a few months ago, I had to do my own Switcheroo.  You see I had this brand in my pantry.

I love the packaging on this baking powder.  What I don't like are the ingredients.  In particular, cornstarch and aluminum.  Let's start with cornstarch.  It is more than likely genetically modified corn.  Yucko.  Then there is aluminum.  Let's be honest, this ingredient doesn't belong in food.  Enough said.  Some studies show that aluminum is linked to Alzheimer's.  I don't want to find out.  It's an easy switch to this:
These two baking powders are actually made by the same company, Clabber Girl.  Rumford, however, is aluminum free and non-GMO. A win, win.  I don't have the cost breakdown on the two, but I know it was maybe 50 cents more.  To me, totally worth it.  You should be able to find the Rumford brand at any market.  Just make sure the can says non-GMO on it.  Mine does, but I've heard others say that it wasn't labeled on their can.  If it's not labeled, I wouldn't buy it.  Keep looking until you find a can that says, non-GMO.  This means they have used corn for their corn starch that is not genetically modified.  Corn is one of the worst for being GMO.

There you have it.  A very easy Switcheroo for you.  Is this a switch that you need to make?  Drop me a comment and let me know. 

Switcheroo Sunday-Ketchup

I'm back with my Switcheroo Sunday posts.  I've had many friends ask my opinion about switching the foods that they eat.  They feel overwhelmed and have no idea where to start.  So I hope this will help you all out.  Instead of trying to change your whole pantry or fridge all at once, choose 1 item every week to change.  Buy the time Fall rolls around, you will have switched about 20 items.     

I think most homes in America have this condiment in their pantries.  It's really an American staple, is it not?  I mean, a hot dog or french fries just don't feel complete without it.  What you might not know, is that in this bright red bottle lurks a dirty little word, HFCS, aka, High Fructose Corn Syrup.  I'm sure you have heard the debate over HFCS through the years.  Some say it's no worse than sugar and others say it's a man made chemical that should be avoided. 

I have to agree with the later.  Here's why.  HFCS is made from corn, Genetically Modified corn.  Unlike real cane sugar that grows from a plant, HCFS is engineered in a lab.  There is research that shows that the more you consume HCFS, the more likely you are to be overweight?  That can go for sugar as well, but my rule of thumb is to eat as close to how God created things to be. 

The second reason to switch your ketchup is because the tomatoes are not organic.  What does that mean?  It means that they are heavily sprayed with pesticides and more than likely, are GMO, genetically modified organisms.  I'll go into further details about GMO's in a later post.

Heinz ketchup contains tomato concentrate made from red ripe tomatoes, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, salt, spice, onion powder, and natural flavors.

Tomato Paste (Made from ripe tomatoes), Liquid Sugar, White Vinegar, Salt, Orion Powder, Spices Salt, Sugar, Lactose Syrup, Red Ripe Tomato's, Onion Pepper, Spice's, and Natural Flavouring.

This switch is super easy.  You can even stick with the same brand, Heinz.  I know around our house, Heinz is the only brand my family likes.  I tried a different brand of organic ketchup years ago and no one would eat it.  I can honestly say, you cannot tell the difference between Heinz organic and non organic ketchup.
Organic tomato concentrate made from red ripe organic tomatoes, organic distilled vinegar, organic sugar, salt, organic onion powder, organic spices, natural flavoring.

So what is the difference between the two?  The organic version uses organic tomatoes and organic sugar.  The original version uses HFCS and pesticide ridden tomatoes.  Yes, there is still sugar in the organic version, but I would much prefer my kids to eat organic sugar than the HFCS.  I don't worry that much about the sugar in ketchup because we don't eat alot of it.  Primarily because we don't eat alot of processed foods.  I think we've had the same bottle of ketchup for about 6 months.  I better go check the expiration date.

So how does the organic version compare to the original version in price?  At my local Publix, the original 14 oz bottle of Heinz ketchup is $1.79.  The organic version is $3.19.  To me, it's worth it to spend more for better ingredients.  Of course you could always use coupons or wait until it goes on sale and stock up.  I try to do that all the time with organic food because it is more expensive.

I hope you have found this week's Switcheroo helpful.  Do you have a product you would love for me to Switcheroo?  Leave me a comment and let me know.  If you'd like to check out more Switcheroo Sunday's, click on the tab at the top of the page.

R.I.P. Nutella

Dear Nutella,

Our friendship must come to an abrupt end.  I normally would say that I feel so incredibly sorry about this, but today, I simply do not.  You knew what you were doing from the first moment we met.  You weren't being truthful with me sweet chocolaty goodness.  You were lying to me and my other mommy friends.  I should have followed my gut when I bought you in a two pack from Costco, but who can resist a deal?  Something just didn't sit right with me about buying a big vat of chocolate spread for my family, but I did it anyway.  Now I am kicking myself that I didn't follow my gut. I know you've learned the hard way.  You now have to shell out $3,000,000 and can no longer claim your chocolate spread is healthy.  I'm sure you are not worried, you will make that 3 million back in no time.  I'm just glad this mom won't be helping you do it.

A mom on a mission

To read more about the class action lawsuit filed by a California mom, click here.

If you'd like to learn more about the ingredients in Nutella, click here.  I love Weed'em and Reap's blog.  It's funny and insightful.  She also has a homemade version of Nutella with just 3 simple ingredients.  I'm so making it.  Looks delish.

To my readers:  In all seriousness, this goes to show you that even for someone like myself, who prides herself in looking at labels and buying organic foods, I often fall short.  This was a major fail on my part.  I won't beat myself over it.  I will simply use it as a tool to continue to look closely at the ingredients I allow me and my family to consume. 

I didn't need a lawsuit to tell me that Nutella was not good for my family.  I didn't seek out the $20 I could've received as a consumer, but it is a reminder that I vote every time I go to the grocery store. A reminder to me too that my sweet girls, eat what I give them.  They don't get the chance to have a say in the matter.  At 5 & 7, they are already learning what is acceptable to eat in our house and what is not.  They can tell you all about food dyes and high fructose corn syrup.  While some might think I am crazy and a "little overboard" I tell my girls all the time, I don't say no to alot of foods that aren't good for them because I want to be mean, I do it because I love them so much.  My prayer is that by the time they go off to college and have to fend for themselves, this will be second nature to them. 

On another note:  Maybe it's time to go back to Switcheroo Sunday.  If you aren't familiar with that series, it's where I take one product and switch it out for something healthier.  You can click on the Switcheroo Sunday tab at the top of the page to check it out.  I'm curious to know if that is something you'd like me to start back up.  Could you leave me a comment if that's something you are interested in seeing every week?  I'd sure appreciate it.

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