Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A New Home for the Douglas Family

We're under contract on a HOUSE! A perfect little house for us, right in the city, with a nice backyard and washer dryer hookups! Here it is:

Welcome to our home. This is is our new living room.

Here is the dining area.

The kitchen.

The hallway, complete with two friendly faces.

I have more pictures of the bedrooms and the bath, but blogger was giving me grief about posting them right, so it will have to wait.

And the backyard with plenty of running room!

We're hoping to close March 17th. Buying a house at this point was so far beyond our expectations or even hopes. This is just a phenomenal blessing from God. Thank you Lord for blessing us over and above what we could think possible.

We're just thrilled to pieces!

My Thoughts Exactly

I was surfin' some of my favorite frugal blogs recently and ran across this post on money choices from Simple Mom. She quotes JD Roth as saying “You can have anything you want - but you can’t have everything you want.” I've found that to be true in terms of time and money. We have to make choices and those choices result in our individual unique lives. For me staying home has been a major time/money choice and it definitely does change the way our life (and budget!) look. Sometimes I'm tempted to regret that choice, but only when I'm looking at the wrong things. No, we don't have matching furniture. No, we don't go out to eat. Yes, I have to do my laundry at the apartment laundromat. Yes, we have one car and my husband cycles to to work everyday. But that is no reason to feel deprived. I get to spend every day with my two year old son. I see every smile, hear every laugh, and catch every tear that falls. We are able by God's grace to pay our bills. My husband has a job he loves. We are very rich.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Beautiful Vulnerability

Lately I have felt the Lord calling me to be his feet and hands. To love the unlovely-- and not just in Africa, but the unlovely in my life. You know, those people who have problems, the ones you can't stand, the ones with the messy lives that seem way too complicated to sort out. And I'm being convicted about how very little I actually do that as I write this. Faces are coming before my eyes, and all I can say is: Lord, I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Help me do better.

This necklace was a gift from Brian for my birthday. It is what I want and need to have as a Christian, and as a mom who struggles with infertility-- an open heart. My heart is being called and awakened towards little ones in foster care who are broken and abused and seem too messed up to help. With each story I hear, the passion to serve them grows in my heart. But fear has come too. How can I help them? They're too far gone, they've seen too much, their future is too uncertain. What about my own son? And the Lord has answered me:

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

I cannot be the Rock that those kids-- or anyone else, for that matter-- need. God is their Rock and their comfort. He is the only stability for anyone. Those of us who come from loving homes or good financial backgrounds can be deceived into thinking that is where our stability comes from. But God is big enough for any fears or problems and if I can point the way to run to that Rock that is higher than all of us, then I have helped someone find rest. Anything else is all too temporary.

Along with this, he has helped to realize that loving people is painful. There is no way around that, except not to love. There are no risk-free relationships. There aren't any guarantees with biological children, let alone children who are strangers who have been hurt and abandoned by those who ought to love and care for them more than anyone else. So loving foster kids won't be easy. And there are times when it won't feel nice or be pretty. But being vulnerable and open to being hurt to minister love and comfort in the name of Christ is a beautiful thing.

This was from the bulletin at church several months ago and I taped it above my desk:

"By Your command, O God, I want to meet each person today, not just as an interruption to my plans or an obstruction to my will, but as a never-to-be-repeated life, made in Your image, in whom I can meet the very person of Jesus Christ."

Lord, please help me to see the opportunities you give me every moment of every day to love the people you have put in my life. Help me not to be too lazy or selfish to do that. And Lord if you call us into foster care ministry, please give us the wisdom, strength, and deep reserves of love that we will need to do the job.

I hope that we are able to foster at some point in the near future, but even if that door closes, I know that this compassion the Lord is laying on me is for a purpose. I will wait on him as patiently as I can and strive to serve him where I am until he shows me what that is. I am comforted by the beauty that vulnerability to the Lord has brought in my life. I didn't choose the path of infertility, but I have learned so much by walking it. So now I can say: Lord, I am open to your plan, whatever it is. You know what is best. I trust you to take my weakness and make it strength. That is what my birthday necklace symbolizes to me. An open heart to people, and an open heart to the will of God. When I wear it I hope it will remind me of all of this, which I am all to prone to forget.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Another Milestone

Today is the first day of Potty Boot Camp in our house, and at nap time it looks like things have gone pretty well. Iain has gone on the potty successfully 5 times and has only had one accident. I've been plying him with plenty of chocolate milk and we've spent a good deal of the day in the bathroom (he has made 24 trips to the potty so far today). The day has been a "happy day" according to Iain, so that makes me feel good. We've been watching potty videos online, coloring potty pictures, playing games, reading stories, and having special potty day drinks. And going to the potty every 10-15 minutes. I've been stuck to him like a senator on a stimulus bill all day and I'm feeling pretty worn out even though it is only two o'clock.

After his first success "I did it, mommy! I did it!" we called Daddy at work, Nana, and Grandma and ate graham crackers shaped like his beloved cars. He has been wearing new big boy underwear with trains or cars on them all day, and we are only on the third pair. We lost the first pair in the enthusiasm of that first success when tossed his underwear for joy into the air only to have them land in the newly filled potty. Whoops. :) I also gave him a new Curious George book that we read while waiting for It to happen. So it has been a happy, but tiring day. And naptime is over very soon!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

What's for Dinner?

I am often baffled about what to make when I do my weekly menu planning, despite the fact that I've been in charge of making dinner for nearly 8 years! We tried this black bean soup tonight and it is a winner! It is wonderfully flavorful and fairly inexpensive to make. Sadly, I wasn't able to get a picture before we ate it tonight.

I've often found that the key to cooking recipes with many ingredients economically is part planning and part improvisation. Earlier this week we had burritos, so there was some overlap in the ingredients. And sometimes I just improvise a bit. Instead of buying a sweet potato I used carrots in this recipe.

I served it with some leftover tortillas that I baked in the oven to give them some crispness for dipping. It would also be good with a salad or quesadillas.

Here is the recipe:

It came out awesome!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Heartbreak in the Theatre

While my sweet husband watched the Super Bowl, I took some time off and went to see a movie downtown. I decided to see Slumdog Millionaire, a story about an impoverished Indian boy named Jamal who makes it onto Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. He answers so many questions correctly that he draws suspicion and must defend his knowledge to police. That is all I knew about the film before I went to see it. I was completely unprepared for the emotional earthquake I was unleashing on myself. The film focuses on Jamal's childhood in the slums as an orphan. Nothing good happens. Watching a five-year-old orphan being tortured is not something that this mama's heart can take. This film has a happy ending, and is worth seeing, but it is not easy to watch.

The worst part is that while this film is fiction, the suffering of children world-wide is not. And they don't get a happy ending. God continues to fill my heart with compassion for orphans, but I feel so powerless. My empathy does nothing to help them and is a painful burden to me. Not that it is anything to compare with what these children actually live through. I'm asking the Lord to help me find a way to help them. Please pray with me that he will help me find an outlet for this burden he has given me.

I see that I am not the first to feel this way. Psalm 10:

Why, O LORD, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
who are caught in the schemes he devises.

He boasts of the cravings of his heart;
he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD.

In his pride the wicked does not seek him;
in all his thoughts there is no room for God.

His ways are always prosperous;
he is haughty and your laws are far from him;
he sneers at all his enemies.

He says to himself, "Nothing will shake me;
I'll always be happy and never have trouble."

His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats;
trouble and evil are under his tongue.

He lies in wait near the villages;
from ambush he murders the innocent,
watching in secret for his victims.

He lies in wait like a lion in cover;
he lies in wait to catch the helpless;
he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.

His victims are crushed, they collapse;
they fall under his strength.

He says to himself, "God has forgotten;
he covers his face and never sees."

Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.

Why does the wicked man revile God?
Why does he say to himself,
"He won't call me to account"?

But you, O God, do see trouble and grief;
you consider it to take it in hand.
The victim commits himself to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.

Break the arm of the wicked and evil man;
call him to account for his wickedness
that would not be found out.

The LORD is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.

You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.

This is my comfort. I think I need to meditate on this:

But may the righteous be glad
and rejoice before God;
may they be happy and joyful.

Sing to God, sing praise to his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds
his name is the LORD—
and rejoice before him.

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.

God sets the lonely in families,
he leads forth the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. Psalm 68:3-6