Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat

The kids are all dressed up and ready to head to the church Trunk or Treat event on Saturday.

My little cowboy and cowgirl

My little heart babies were snow princesses

My sports nuts

These two didn't have a theme...they were just being buddies for the day

Lacking a horse...this was the best he could do

Then off we went to the church. Our church has a huge neighborhood event called Trunk or Treat. We park our cars in a circle and give out candy from our 'trunks' or the back of vans and trucks. It seems to grow every year--last year we had 700 kids and I think this year we had more. There is a bounce house for the little kids, lots of games and prizes for the other kids, pony rides, free hot dogs, cider and elephant ears.
Unfortunately, Molly quickly won one of these. Fortunately, it already died. (Don't tell her I'm so happy about it, will ya?)

The little kids have a variety of reactions to the peppy Alice in Wonderland. Kinda wondering what Jake looks so bummed about.

Wooo! Waiting in line for the ponies! Jeff is looking especially excited about this event.

"Oh yeah. I'm rockin' this costume. I even have real cowboy boots from Colorado, thanks to some hand-me-downs from my big brother, Ryan."

"Dad took the spurs off these boots or I'd be galloping this mare right now."

I'm sad to say that we came home with no less than THREE of these! Ack! We are down to two, but they still look pretty chipper, despite the cloudy water they are now swimming in. What in the world to they DO in that water that makes it so filthy in three hours? Never mind...don't tell me. I think I already know.

And the teen...our pride and joy. He is now a minor celebrity in our town for trick-or-treating in this costume. He spent hours perfecting a cornstarch and water substance to mimic milk, that he sprayed out of the udders to unsuspecting people.

And this little one is soooo excited because it's her birthday tomorrow. Do you think our kids are going to be on a major sugar overload?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Holes in our Purses

Is the slow economy getting you down? Have you ever felt like you can never get ahead? You get some birthday money and then the dishwasher springs a leak. Or you get a tax refund just in time to fix the car that broke down AGAIN.

In some cases, this is God's provision but in other cases, it's because we have holes in our purses.

" earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it." Haggai 1:6

Holes in our purses is due to a big lie.

What lie is that?

The one that says that you need to get ahead financially before you can give to others.

With that mindset, you will most likely never get ahead enough to think you can give. The evil one will make sure you have an endless supply of unexpected bills.

I've noticed that God's love letter to us--the Bible--is replete with examples that are counter-intuitive. One that is especially so, is His call to tithe--also known as giving back 10% of our income to Him.

Is that really very much? Let's put this in perspective. How many of us would drive across town to hit a sale that was offering us 10% off? Not me. In fact, if a store is ONLY offering a 10% discount on something, I practically consider it an insult. If we need a $30 item, is it a huge incentive to save $3.00? It would cost more in gas to get to the sale.

So why do we think it is a big deal to give back 10%?

Well, to be perfectly honest, it's because we are greedy at the very core of our beings.
Oh, yes we are.

So let me share something that God clued me into awhile back. God asks us to give because it benefits US.


Think about it...does God need our money? That is laughable. Of course He doesn't need our money. But He knows something about our hearts when we do.

It brings us JOY.
In fact, it's downright exhilarating to give. The evil one does not want you to know that.

And another cannot out-give God.

In August, many of you participated in buying doll blanket and pillow sets from my girls. I thought it would be a small project--maybe we could sell 20 sets. So I told everyone that we would cover the cost of fabric, thread, stuffing, and postage for the project. I had an amount in mind above our tithe that I thought we could give without starving my children for the rest of the month. you know, that project grew FAR beyond our imagination. I was making trips to the fabric store almost daily and spending money that I worried we might not have. But as I prayed and asked God what to do--He said to keep going until the orders stopped. And so we did. But let me tell you...the amount was hundreds more than the amount I thought we could give. I was a tad nervous. Just sayin....

Then, here and there, some people sent money saying, "Please use this for fabric,' or "Please use this for postage." We were so busy sewing and shipping orders that I didn't have time to keep track of how much we were spending vs. how much people were giving. I just knew that God says this in Malachi 3:10 about giving to Him...,
"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse...TEST ME IN THIS," says the Lord Almighty," and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it."

And you know what? When things slowed down, I finally had time to add things up. We were $55 dollars short of the amount I had thought we could give. I was slightly disappointed--not because we couldn't squeeze out the extra $55, but just because God is such a God of detail and I thought He really could have gotten it a little closer than that. The next day, we got a letter in the mail from our former doctor in Michigan (where we have not lived for 14 months). Inside was a check for $57 because we had overpaid them. Don't you love it?! I laughed and laughed when I got that because I knew God was saying, "You can't out give Me, Karin. Not ever."

So...back to the title of this post... God says that if we give to Him from our hearts (not to GET something back from Him in the way of blessing), He will bless us. Sometimes that blessing comes in actual dollars. Sometimes it comes by way of health--not needing to make expensive trips to the doctor. Sometimes He keeps our cars running far longer than they should. He keeps our washer and dryer running, etc. We are probably unaware of all the ways He is saving us money.

But when we do not give back the paltry amount He asks for, it shows something about our hearts. We don't trust Him. We are basically accusing Him of trying to take something from us that is rightfully ours. it really ours? Or does He give it to us in the first place and only ask for a little back SO THAT we can have JOY in our hearts?'s FOR US!! He knows what a blessing it is to our hearts to give. And He knows how cold and brittle our hearts will be if we hoard our money to ourselves.

So instead of receiving His blessing, we opt to keep stuffing purses that have holes in them. Um...isn't that kind of a big fat, 'DUH' moment?

Don't buy into the lies of the evil one who wants to make sure you never get clued into the joy of giving...because would be a dangerous tool for God against the evil in this world.

I challenge you to TEST GOD IN THIS!!! Just for this month, tithe and see what happens! As soon as you are paid, give 10% of that check to God, by way of your church, your favorite charity...whatever. Then see if you have enough money to get through the month. God invites you to TEST HIM in this! Jeff and I did this several years ago and God passed the test with flying colors--not once have we ever been short. If you take the challenge, please come back in a month and tell me what happened, okay?!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

October Surprise

Eleven years ago today, it was a beautiful Indian summer day like the one we are having in New England today.

It was just another ordinary day. We were deep into the process of adopting a little girl from China--our very first China adoption. We were expecting to wait another two weeks to get 'THE CALL,' telling us who and where our little girl was.

And then I saw one of these....

It was significant because the China adoption community has a thing for ladybugs. Folklore would have it that when something good is about to happen in the adoption world, a ladybug would herald it's arrival. We put no stock in such things, but it became an icon for us nevertheless. We prayed for Jillian every time we saw a ladybug.

And so I prayed for my sweet baby girl...knowing that somewhere in an orphanage in China, she waited.


Longing for something that she didn't understand because she had never had it.

She didn't know that we had been planning for her arrival with great love and expectation. Nor did she know of all the friends and family who cared enough to pray for her. She had no idea of all the time, paperwork, and financial resources that had gone into the task of bringing her home. She had no idea that there was a family who would do whatever it took to get her home...who would go to the ends of the earth to claim their treasure.
A family who wanted to give her their name.
She only knew her own reality.

She knew what life was like without a Mama and a Daddy.
She knew what it felt like to go to bed with a hungry tummy.
She knew what it was like to see toys in wrappers but not be allowed to play with them.
She knew what it was like to be so cold that you had to wear six layers of clothes but your cheeks and hands were still red and chapped.

She didn't know what it was like to have a Mama sing you to sleep.
Or have Daddy swing you high in the air.
She didn't know what it was like to have a blankie that was all your own.
Or a stuffed animal to hug when you awoke in the night.
She didn't know what pumpkin bread tasted like.
Or what it felt like to be held and snuggled for hours at a time.
She didn't know what it felt like to be able to run around. Running is impossible when you are wearing six layers of clothes. In fact, sitting is pretty difficult as well.

All that was about to change. And she had no idea.


It is a profound word. Think about what it means to have someone say, "I want YOU. Yes, you...the one with the filthy clothes and matted hair. I don't care what you look like or if you have medical needs that I will have to pay for.
I will pay any price to call you mine."

Jesus did that for me. For you. We were all alone in the world with no hope. While we had no idea what He was planning, He went to great lengths to prepare a home and a family for us. All He asks is that you say yes. He wants to be your Daddy. He wants to show you how much He loves you. He is willing to do whatever it takes to call you His. Even die.

Will you say yes?

Life changed for our family that day back in 1999. Another family in our travel group posted their referral that morning. What? Referrals weren't expected for two more weeks!! And then word trickled out that our agency had gotten an unexpected batch of referrals. Oh the excitement...the anticipation!

I waited. I paced. I stared at the phone.

It wouldn't ring. Stupid, stinkin' phone.

I took it in the shower with me (ok--NEXT to the shower).
I took it everywhere that morning, but it didn't ring.

Cell phones were not common then, so I had to leave the phone to take Taylor to preschool. In a rebellious fit of, 'If I'm gone the phone will ring," I decided to go grocery shopping while he was in school.

Yeah. Like that would keep my mind off the phone.

Finally it was time to pick up Taylor. I rushed home to be with the phone. Surely the answering machine light would be blinking!


What?!?!?! I was so irked. For goodness long did it take to make those calls anyway? I ran to the computer and logged on to see if anyone else had gotten a referral.

As I waited for dial-up (yep--it was THAT long ago), the treacherous phone rang.
I sprinted for it.
Caller ID (yep--we had it!) said:


Trembling, I picked up the phone and answered with a quavering hello.

"I have a little girl for you!," the caller said.
I squealed!

I wrote out the sparse information with a shaking hand. Lives were changed in those few moments that it took to write out the details of Jillian's little life.
If I could get this excited over a little girl in a foreign land whom I had never excited is God to know you when He knows every detail of your heart, mind, soul and body. Did you know that He even knows how many hairs are on your head?

He waits with great excitement and anticipation to hear you say yes...that you want to know the One who gave His life for you.
Just because He loves you.

Adoption is a picture of the way God feels about you. He even says in the Bible that He wants to adopt us so we can be in His family. As you look at these pictures, put yourself in Jillian's place and imagine being chosen--for no reason other than the arbitrary choice of the one who came to redeem you.

Lifted from this:

To her Daddy's arms.
"Daddy, hold me high!"

Snuggled in her Mama's embrace

Dancing to "You Light up My Life," with Daddy

You belong with us...forever.

God wants to bring you into His family and show you off to everyone--just like we wanted to show Jillian off to our friends and family at the airport.

Home. Adopted. And loved.

Won't you come home?
He knows your name. He wants to love you, hold you, smother you with kisses and take care of you forever.
Just say yes.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fall Foliage in New England

To take my mind off the fact that three of my kids have the stomach flu and the rest of us are probably going to follow suit, I thought I would post some fall foliage. I love how God paints the trees for us!
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This is the street going out of our neighborhood.

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The view from our deck. We have a super small yard but a nice view.

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Another angle from our deck

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Our drive home from school every day (this photo was taken through the car window-ha)

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More of our drive home

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These next photos are of an area we pass on our way home from school and church. It is so beautiful no matter what time of year. It always makes me catch my breath. In fact, I drive the longer scenic route home so I can see this every day. I love the low stone walls that dot the New England countryside and this one is one of my favorites.
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I'm loving this old gate, can you tell?

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Wish that power line wasn't in the way...or telephone line, or whatever it is...

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Skype is a wonderful thing.

It makes brothers and sons seem as if they are not on the other side of the globe.

The screen is completely inadequate when eight kids are crowding around trying to see their big brother.

And the pictures are blurry because they are in constant motion, wiggling and squeezing into every available air pocket.

When you can't be together, Skype helps.

Friday, October 15, 2010

What did those shirts say?

I don't know if you have been as mesmerized by the rescue of the Chilean miners as I have been, but wow. I noticed as they were pulled from the hole that they had shirts on that said, 'JESUS,' on them. I also saw that there were words written on the back but the words weren't in English so I wondered all day what they said.

Someone has posted a video on YouTube that I wanted to share with you. ENJOY! And to God be the Glory for rescuing those men and giving the rescue teams the knowledge and skill to reach the miners!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Snow in October?

It all started with this...

which then turned into this...

and a blizzard of seeds ensued...

"Wheee! We are having some fun!" (and yes, there are two extra girls--friends from school)

"Hey mom, let me get a bunch of cotton on you!"

"This is a blast!"

All of that white stuff is from the cat tails.

Dancing in the seed pods

Ewww...they stick to everything

Click to enlarge if you want to see the 'snow' clinging to the pails

"Snowing" again

Throwing the 'snow' around

Let's try raking up the mess (to no avail)

It's still sitting out on our grass after two days, but the kids sure had a lot of fun! I much prefer this kind of white stuff to the real kind we will get in a few months.