You know it’s been a bad day at the airport

The Cot Guy… when you spot the cot guy driving along dropping off cots at every gate.  Turns out Dallas is not used to snow, wreaking havoc on many, many people’s travel plans yesterday. Many people waited all day as flight after flight was delayed and canceled.  The great news?  My flight was ONLY four hours late, when means I hit my hotel here in Atlanta at 2:30AM, got some sleep and will soon have a ride from a friend to the Created for Care gathering.

Things I now know about Dallas:

~Dallas seems to have more swimming pools per capita than is strictly normal.

~The lady who I became fast friends with while standing in line at the American airlines service counter DID make it onto my flight, which means she will indeed get to go furniture shopping at the outlet malls in North (South?) Carolina this weekend.

~ The very nice surgeon who was going to Atlanta for a conference did not get there after all, but (bonus for his patients) he DID reschedule all his surgeries for today.

~ There are at least two very sweet people, who, when faced by weather delays in the Dallas airport will take it upon themselves to apologize to this Idaho gal for ALL of Texas and it’s lack of snow-handling ability.

Things I am thankful for on this adventure called life:  That wherever I go, I meet many kind people.  Praise God for traveling mercies.  And for the fact that I got where I needed to be.  Pray for the retreat this weekend, that it will bless and nurture many precious mommas.

Weekend reading

Focus

I Am a Birth Mother

Made better by good conversation

Creating a supportive environment

The Simple, Hard Part of Motherhood

Made to worship

Don’t give up

The Way to Get You Here

Feasts and Gatherings

This weekend we’re having a big crew of college students, friends of our sons, over for dinner.  We’re making Ethiopian food for a special treat: injera (Ethiopian sourdough flatbread made with a grain called teff), alecha wat (mild veggie stew), doro wat (spicy chicken) and misir wat(lentil stew). Rolled injeraSince the injera takes a couple of days to do, we started it yesterday morning.  It should be a lot of fun.  If I remember, I’ll take pictures of more of the dishes for you.  But pictured here is the injera (here’s my recipe), and the alecha wat, which is made with cabbage, carrots, potatoes, and onions, with turmeric as part of the seasoning.

In February two of our sons will be taking drivers’ ed, which means EARLY morning rising for five weeks straight.  I am not naturally a morning person but I do enjoy the productivity that those early mornings tend to give me.  OK, and the chance to sit at the coffee shop for an hour sipping my americano with coconut flavoring.  Yum!

Another lovely thing about February and March is that I get to do some adventuring.   Feb 7-9 and March 7-9 I’m attending Created for Care, an amazing adoptive-momma retreat in Atlanta, GA.  I went last year and was sooooooo very inspired and encouraged.  It is an amazing experience, and was sold out almost immediately when registration first opened last summer.  But rumor has it that there have been a few cancellations, so if you’re interested in attending, check the website and see if there’s still space.

The other adoption conference that I’m attending is closer to home–the Refresh Conference in Seattle.  That event is for dads AND moms, and there’s even child care!  I’ve never attended this event, but I’ve heard great things about it so I’m really excited.  Registration is still open for this particular event.

In both places I’ll be sharing on two topics:  organizing a busy home, and trusting God in times of challenge.  At Created for Care I’ll be speaking on my own, and at Refresh I’m blessed to be speaking with Jen Summers and Lisa Qualls. Jen writes at Grace and Glory and has 10 kids. Lisa writes at One Thankful Mom and has 12. I’m so much looking forward to meeting these fellow mommas-of-many in person!

Now I’d love a bit of feedback from you all.  I’ve talked about organization and family management before, but this time around I’d like to add more wisdom about learning to say ‘no’ to what won’t fit well in your life.  I’d love to hear what you’ve said no to, and how you came to feel that was the right decision for your family.

One small example from my home:  I rarely iron.  Usually it’s when I sew, or very occasionally (as in maybe 4x a year?) I’ll help one of the boys iron a Sunday shirt if it didn’t get pulled out of the dryer and put on a hanger quickly enough.  We pick easy-care clothes and I have just decided not to sweat it.  It works for me but it wouldn’t work for everyone.  What DON’T you do to add to the peace and freedom in your home?

Ways to honor loved ones this Christmas

If you’re like most people, a few people on your Christmas list are extra-hard to shop for, either because they already have so much, or because you want to give them something extra-wonderful, extra-meaningful, extra-special. Compassion International is one of my favorite causes year in and year out, and is a great way to honor a loved one while helping a vulnerable child.

But here are a few other absolutely FABULOUS causes begun by folks I am proud to call friends.  ( I honestly believe I have some of THE most interesting friends in the world!) I hope that you will consider honoring someone on your Christmas list by supporting these causes in their name.  Adoption is only ONE small part of the solution to the orphan crisis.  These folks are on the ground, living in the countries they are serving, providing vital support to families on the edge of calamity, allowing them to KEEP their children.  THAT is what we need more of in this world!

Maybe you’d like to sponsor BringLove.In’s Great Big Dreams to provide families for widows and orphans and to support vulnerable families in Ethiopia.

Bring Love In – Uniting widows and orphans to create new families in Ethiopia .Donate here.

Or perhaps the Charis project to create an (eventually) self-sustaining orphanage in Thailand is more to your interest. (video is NEAT!)

Click here to donate and get a handmade doll tree ornament to give the person you are honoring.

Or maybe you’d like to support my very own sister Sophie, who is currently working in the Wollaitta area of Ethiopia doing medical mission work with the focus of providing medical care with pregnant women.  Keep those mommas alive and there will be fewer orphans in the world!  Exciting stuff!Sophie at work in Ethiopia

You can make a donation on her behalf with her sending agency Equip Ministries.

I would be so honored if you would consider honoring loved ones by supporting one or all of these ministries.  I can personally vouch for the heart and integrity of the folks doing this work in the name of Jesus.  And whether or not you have the means to contribute, I hope you might consider sharing a link (or a tweet or a pin) to this post so that more people can know about the awesome work these folks are doing. Thank you so much!

Please pray for Pastor Saeed

Save Saeed

According to this news story, American Pastor Saeed has been moved to an even more terrible prison in Iran. Pray for his family. Pray that he will be released.  And pray that God’s name will be glorified.

Please share his story so that others can pray as well.

Three things about poverty

Compassion International

Five years ago I went on a wonderful adventure with Compassion International .  I went on a trip to see  how Compassion, through their child sponsorship program, is improving the lives of poverty-stricken children in the Dominican Republic.  John and I had been Compassion supporters for years before that, but I came home from the Dominican Republic even more convinced that the work Compassion is doing around the world is making a huge difference in the lives of children, both now and eternally.  September is Blog Month at Compassion– an opportunity for bloggers to let more people know about Compassion’s work.

Why do I hope that you’ll partner with Compassion and sponsor a child?  Because poverty is a thief.  A thief that steals some really important things from children.

Poverty takes away a parent’s ability to make as good choices for their children.  All parents want to feed their children well, and provide them with clothing and the opportunity to learn. Can you imagine how much your heart would hurt if you couldn’t feed or clothe or educate your child? Parents in poverty cannot give their children even these basics things. Compassion comes alongside those hurting mommas and dads and helps provide those basics for their children.

Poverty steals years.  Parents who can barely feed their kids aren’t going to be able to afford medicine for their kids, let alone buy it for themselves when they need it.  Too often parents struggle with treatable illnesses, and die at ridiculously young ages, and children are left parentless.  Sure, adoption is one way to care for orphans, but an even better plan is to support the family– to keep parents alive so kids don’t become orphans in the first place.

Poverty makes people question their own worth, their value on this earth.  Does anyone really care? Here’s a place where child sponsorship really shines.  By writing letters to our sponsored kids month after month, year after year, we can speak truth into their lives.  It may be from afar.  It may be only in letters.  But we can be the hands and feet of Jesus in their live, telling these kids that they are precious and dearly loved by God.  We can remind them that He has a good plan for their lives.

Will you consider joining me in sponsoring a child today?

Save Saeed

Are you familiar with the plight of Pastor Saeed Abedini?  His wife and kids live right near me and attend a local church that many of my friends attend.  He went to Iran to set up an orphanage and in September was illegally imprisoned in Iran and is being tortured.

His wife, his friends, Calvary Chapel Boise, the American Center for Law and Justice, and numerous Christian recording artists are working together to seek signatures on a petition requesting the US and the UN to publicly demand Saeed’s release.

Would you sign the petition, pray for him and his family, pin this post on Pinterest, and share his story on Facebook? Let’s pray that God will turn the hearts of kings (Prov 21:1) and bring this man back to his family.

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Book giveaway: The Last Hunger Season

Today I’m giving away two copies of an intriguing book called The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change.  This book tells the story of a group of Kenyan women who are trying to improve their lives by working with an aid organization called One Acre Fund.  I read the book in two days and was  fascinated by the look into the lives of these four farmers.

Though I don’t agree with all its politics, overall this is exactly my kind of book.  As an advocate for orphans, I believe that there is not ONE single solution for the orphan crisis in Africa, but I believe that a variety of ideas could be partial solutions.  International adoption only helps a few children. Good healthcare would help more families stay intact.  In-country adoption programs like Bring Love In have exciting potential.  But an adequate food supply is absolutely a crucial part of keeping more mommas alive so that they can raise their own kids.

If you’d like to win one of the two copies of this book that I’m giving away, comment below and tell me why this books sounds interesting to you.  For a second entry, go like One Acre Fund on facebook, then come back and tell me that you’ve done so.  I’ll pick two winners of this giveaway early next week.

At the beach

A week at the beach in a lovely home is pure luxury even when it rains, something worth saving all year long to afford. If all your kids and their spouses can come too, PLUS the new grandson, PLUS your parents….well, then that is pretty much a guaranteed winning week, with many, many opportunities for good family memories.

We had three really nice mostly rain-free days on the beach before the rain began. On the rainy days we visited museums, including an air museum in McMinnville that John had been wanting to see for awhile.  The ladies checked out the outlet mall. Indoors we fit in lots of pinochle, Up The River, video games, movies, food, and baby-cuddling.  One evening we even had singing accompanied by multiple guitars.  Lovely memories.

Here are a few dozen of the hundred of pictures I took while we were there.  Click on any picture to enlarge.  Especially don’t miss the baby and little kid pictures. OK– the big kids too.  I may be biased, but I think they are all rather darling. With such a big clan, I always end up wishing I’d gotten a few more pictures of some folks. But with or without pictoral evidence, I can assure you that a lovely time was had by all.

About large-family rentals

Renting a vacation house off-season is a great way to make a beach vacation more affordable and fun for a large family.  We save money by cooking for ourselves, and the washer and dryer ensures we won’t run out of dry clothes when the weather gets rainy.

2012 – Lincoln City –More expensive than other places we’ve stayed but completely lovely in every way.  We loved this home. Easy flat 2-minute beach access, beautifully appointed, very family-friendly, right in town.
2006-2009 -  Ona Beach- only 2 bathrooms and very steep 5-minute walk to the beach, but affordable and comfortable with a lovely ocean view.
2010–Tillamook- gorgeous home, stunning views and beautifully appointed home,  20-minute walk to beach
2011–Bandon- older home with only 2 bathrooms, no internet, and 10 minute walk to the ocean.  Only 3 of the bedrooms are truly private.  Family-friendly, open floor plan.

 

$2 day: the bread’s all gone

The good news is that no one went to bed hungry.  The bad news is that I broke down and got the butter out to go with the bread and soup for dinner bringing our grand total for the day to just under $3.   Because really, how can you be expected to eat fresh bread without butter?

Oh, that’s right.  People do it all the time.  I’m just spoiled.

Dinner this evening turned out quite nice.  The vegetable barley soup was filling, and there was enough that everyone had all the soup they wanted.  There was even a big bowl full left for my husband when he got home from work.  And everyone ate as much bread as they wanted.  Those two loaves of bread?  All gone.  We ate inhaled a loaf and a half at dinner –and the last half-loaf was gobbled at bedtime.

I am actually quite happy with how well we really ate for that small sum of money.  I wouldn’t want to do a $2 day again anytime soon, but I am thinking about doing a $5 day every now and then.  Even twice a month would give us $30 a month for something other than belly-filling.

Here are pictures of our meals today, as well as a picture of our younger girls just before dinner, grinning happily over our TWO loaves of bread.

 

The kids were exceedingly good sports about it all. I’ll add more comments in the morning when we debrief at breakfast, but here are some comments from the kids:

17 yo son-  It was fine for the most part.   I was a little worried at breakfast to be honest. But the rest of the day was better.

16 yo- We should do this another time to save money.  I like oatmeal with no sugar.

13 yo daughter–  I wasn’t too hungry.   But we should have bacon and ice cream for breakfast.

7 yo daughter – I didn’t like the oatmeal with no sugar.

 

A few notes from me about the day.   This morning I got out our copy of Hungry Planet, which several of the kids looked at during the day.  And at lunch I read the kids a few essays about the blessing of food that I found in an excellent cookbook called Extending the Table.  (I’ve told you about that cookbook before, right??)

I noticed we were all much more food-obsessed than usual today.  When coming in from playing outside, almost all the kids exclaimed over the good smells of the bread baking.  Usually they are much more blase about good-food-smells in the house– after all, it’s normal.  But today they really appreciated it. 

I also noticed that I ate much slower.  I wasn’t about to deprive the kids of food by getting seconds of anything myself (well, except for the bread this evening) so I really wanted to make my food last.  And the plates today?  They were CLEAN.  Nothing was wasted.  Crazy how a 12-hour experience can give you a different mindset.

Now, what to do about it?

 I have thought that one way to use the money we saved might be to to gift someone via a charity like Heifer.org. Or I might just ask my sister in Ethiopia if she knows a family in her community who would benefit from a gift of chickens or a goat.

Whatever we end up doing with this experience, the day made us think.  The day made us grateful.  We are so very blessed.