And the moral of the story is…

Don’t listen to rumors!!  Now agencies are reporting that the courts aren’t opening for another two weeks…maybe even three!  Yes, I’m not thinking nice thoughts.  Looks like it will be definitely be after Christmas before the boys are home and we will have had their referrals for almost a year.   Please pray specifically for them and especially our oldest who has to be wondering what in the world is taking so long…may the God of all comforts bring great comfort to them as they wait for a family.

Almond-Pear Cream Cheese Torte

Almond_Pear_Cream_Cheese_TorteA delicious and beautiful dessert…and perfect for fall!  Every time I make this one, it looks like I spent a lot of time, but its so easy!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1 cup  sugar, divided
1 cup flour
1 pkg.  (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 egg
1/2 tsp.  vanilla
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
4   fresh pears, peeled, sliced
1/4 cup PLANTERS Sliced Almonds

HEAT oven to 425°F.

BEAT butter and 1/3 cup sugar in small bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Add flour; mix well. Press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of 9-inch springform pan.

BEAT cream cheese and 1/3 cup of the remaining sugar in same bowl with mixer until well blended. Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Spread onto bottom of crust. Mix remaining sugar and cinnamon. Add to pears in large bowl; toss to coat. Arrange over cream cheese layer; top with nuts.

BAKE 10 min. Reduce temperature to 375°F; bake 30 min. or until center is set. Cool completely. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen torte. Remove rim. Refrigerate torte 3 hours.

Rumor Has It…

A couple of agencies are reporting that the Ethiopian courts are re-opening this coming Monday, September 28th!!!  Please let it be so, and please Lord move the mountains that stand in the way.  We are still hoping that God might work miraculously to allow us to have the boys home by Christmas.  Thank you for praying faithfully, even through the rainy season!  May God be glorified through every step of this process.

Pan-grilled Snapper with Orzo Pasta Salad

grilled-snapper-ck-1662933-lAnother one of my many “projects” as of late was to find ways to incorporate more fish into our monthly menu plans, but to do so without increasing our grocery budget in a huge way.  I pulled this snapper recipe from a recent e-mail from Cooking Light and was greatly pleased with last night’s dinner!  I bought almost 2 lbs of fresh snapper at Costco for about $13 and was able to cut it into six fillets (and freeze four of them).  Since Molly Kate only eats a few bites of my meat, this easily made three nights worth of dinner at $2.16/fillet…not too shabby! 

 

 

 

 

  • 1 1/2  cups  uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  • Cooking spray
  • 4  (6-ounce) red snapper fillets
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper, divided
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  minced shallots
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped fresh parsley
  • 1  tablespoon  fresh lemon juice
  • 2  teaspoons  orange juice
  • 1  teaspoon  Dijon mustard
  • 2 1/2  tablespoons  extravirgin olive oil

Preparation

Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and keep warm.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle fish evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Add fish to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.

Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper, shallots, parsley, lemon juice, orange juice, and mustard in a small bowl, stirring well. Slowly add olive oil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Drizzle the shallot mixture over pasta; toss well to coat.

God’s Perfect Timing?

Sometimes I just feel plain old sorry for women who don’t have sisters, or who as adults are no longer close to their sisters.  While Amy and I have certainly had our ups and downs, I keep finding that our relationship becomes more worthwhile with each passing year.  I adore spending time with her as I’ve posted before, but I think the distance (miles) between us has also given us these incredible opportunities for deep encouraging conversations that we might not have if we saw each other everyday.  Case in point…Wednesday night.  I just happened to give Amy a quick call that evening and an hour and a half later, was so thankful God gave us time in our busy schedules to just slow down and catch up.

The circulating topic of conversation, of course, was the trials God continues to take us through (you can read more about what the Lord is doing in her life here and here).  At one point we began talking about the “not-so-helpful” comments that others tend to offer us when they just really have no idea what to say to comfort us in our hardships.  We had to laugh as number one of both of our lists was the same phrase…”God’s timing is perfect!”  There’s just something about this sentence that never seems to settle right and strangely, we both felt the same way.  So, we tried to get to the bottom of this well-used phrase, what about it really bugs us and where the truth lies within it.

First we talked about how its true….we know and believe that our God is sovereign, He is the One who has planned and “timed” all events for all of time.  “And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this (Esther 4:14)?” “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven– (Ecc. 3:1)”  And as we believe our God is Perfect, His timing must be perfect as well.  With those thoughts established, we began talking about why it bothers us when friends, family members or acquaintances say this in response to God causing us to wait right now ( my waiting on our boys, her waiting on conception).  And finally, I think I figured it out!  From the context of different conversations, I think most of those who have made this comment to me mean something like this…”I’m sure once the boys are here, you’ll be able to look back on all of this and see why God made you wait and why He chose this exact time to bring the boys home.”  In essence, they are saying God’s perfect timing means the best possible time to make your life the easiest and the time that will make the most sense in hindsight.  This is unsettling to me for a couple of reasons…1) No where in Scripture does it tell us that God will always reveal the “whys” of our waiting.  I doubt I’ll ever fully understand this side of heaven all the reasons the Lord had for making us wait.  2) Molly Kate and I have sat around all summer wanting the boys home…no doubt this summer would have been my perfect timing.  It was warm, providing numerous opportunities for family bonding outside.  We had a closet full of summer clothes for both boys.  All the financial aspects are in line.  Its hard for me to believe that when the boys come home in the dead of winter and we are cooped up in our 1500 square foot home for four months, I’ll think to myself…”Yes, what perfect timing!!!  Yea!!”. 

But that’s when it dawned on me.  God’s perfect timing isn’t a timing that necessarily yields the easiest life for me.  God’s perfect timing is the one that brings the most glory to Himself and the greatest sanctification to me.  As I thought about bringing the boys home in the bitter cold of Louisville winter and how hard that would be for someone like me (who tends to be more warm weather oriented), I realized how much it would cause me to depend on God, to throw myself at His mercy.  Of course, I have no guarantee that they will actually come home this winter…we may not see their sweet faces until next summer.  But, I am a bit more at ease with “God’s perfect timing” as I now know what to think when I hear that phrase and can actually rejoice that it will bring the Lord the utmost glory. 

Yes, His perfect timing is a good thing…but it is rarely an easy thing.  May the Lord give Amy and I both the grace we so desperately need to trust His will and time.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins and Sausage Frittatas

As promised, here are two excellent recipes from one of my close friends here in Louisville.

Frittatas:

1 lb. sausage (Jimmy Dean – Hot)

1 med. Onion (chopped)

2 cups shredded hash brown potatoes

1 tsp. Lawry’s seasoning salt

6 oz. shredded cheddar cheese

3 Tbsp. flour

6 eggs

½ cup milk

1 cup ranch dressing

 Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray muffin tins.  Cook sausage & onion then drain.    Add potatoes, cheese & flour.  In another bowl, beat eggs, dressing & milk then add to potato mixture.  Stir in seasonings.  Pour into muffin tins and bake for 15 to 20 mins.

Makes ~ 24 frittatas

 

 

Pumpkin Pie Spice Muffins

1 2/3 cup flour

1 cup sugar

1 T pumpkin pie spice

1 t baking soda

¼ t salt

1 t baking powder

2 large eggs

1 cup plain pumpkin

½ cup butter melted

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup thinly sliced granny smith apples

 Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, sugar, spice, soda, powder, & salt. In another bowl, whisk eggs, pumpkin & butter until well blended.  Add egg mixture to flour mixture.  Stir in chips and fold in apples.  Spoon mixture into sprayed muffin tins.  Bake for approximately 20 to 23 minutes.

Makes~24 muffins

Projects, projects, projects!

k0520038I read a quote in Parents magazine last month that said something to the effect of “Vitamins, organic food and organizing your house…don’t stress out, you’ll think it all through again in February.”  While I couldn’t find the exact quote, the point was this: as summer comes to a close and a new season approaches, all of us tend to get motivated to tackle some new projects or research some facet of our lives that we never got around to doing in the summer (or winter!).  I laughed when I read it because it followed shortly after I had made a short list of some “must-tackle” projects!  Here a few things on my agenda right now…

  1. Research new make-up and skin care products that don’t contain harmful chemicals that could result in negative health side effects later in life.   My budget in this area is relatively small, so I’m trying to locate products that strike a balance between safe and affordable.  I’m using the Skin Deep database…what an enormous wealth of information!  This will be a slow to complete project as I only plan on buying new products once I have used up what we currently have on hand.
  2. Bake and freeze some breakfast foods for Kevin to have during the week.  My awesome hubby leaves for the public bus at 6:45 am every morning, so he usually eats breakfast at work and needs something portable and filling.  I decided at the first of each month, I’m going to take a day to bake at least three varieties of breakfast items to freeze and have on hand throughout the month.  Last week I made Pumpkin Spice Muffins, Sausage and Hash Brown Frittatas (recipes to follow later) and Blueberry Spelt Muffins.  Kevin is a very happy man!
  3. Research and decide on a dollhouse for Molly Kate.  We’re still trying to weigh out how much to spend on Christmas presents this year because we don’t know if we’ll be buying for just one kiddo or three!  Oh, how we hope to celebrate this special holiday with all of our children in our home.  But, since we don’t know, I’m trying to find a dollhouse that I know Molly Kate will love for several years and one that still leaves us enough cash to buy the boys fun stuff as well.  Plastic or wood, large or small, lots of color or plain…there are thousands of options!  If any of you mamas have an opinion, I’m all ears!

Never Could Have Imagined…

I knew parenting was going to bring many new experiences to my life, but there are always these moments with Molly Kate that I stop and think to myself, “never could I have imagined doing _______”.  Here’s some examples of a few such moments:

  1. Racing out the back door because we hear the garbage truck coming down the street…something about these trucks is so unbelievably exciting to my daughter and we must stop everything we are doing to watch each can on our street be lifted up into the truck and taken “far, far away”!
  2. Pulling the van up to the local waste plant so that Molly Kate could see exactly where her poop goes when she flushes the toilet…this was the end to our potty training week…what a celebration ;)!  And of course, now there is much talk about the “poo-poo water” and constant requests to stop by the plant when we drive by!
  3. Playing “choo-choo train” by lining up all of our patio furniture (sometimes up to 7 chairs), calling out “All Aboard!” and pretending to take up tickets from passengers.  Sometimes I get to be the conductor, other times the passenger.
  4. Desperately longing for Molly Kate to have siblings and soon as I am so weary of Ring-around-the Rosie…one time is never enough and of course most of the time, I’m the only one around to join hands with and dance in a circle.  Though, her lovey (a purple donkey/blanket thing) has joined us a few times.  Okay, okay…sometimes it is pretty precious, but maybe I should learn some of the other verses before I lose my mind!
  5. Rolling down the windows, honking like crazy, and yelling “yea!” every (yes, every) single time we drive through the tunnel on I-64 here in Louisville.  No doubt other drivers think I have indeed lost my mind!  But my daughter thinks it’s the best thing ever and now that’s it become a tradition, how could I dare stop?

The truth is, I adore all of these moments and more because they are unique and special to our family and to the daughter God has so magnificently created for us.  Even at my most tired moments, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Setting up the choo-choo train
Setting up the choo-choo train

The Holiness of God – Book Review

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While this book was not originally on my 2009 list, I’m so thankful the Lord led me to it when He did.  After our first failed court hearing for the adoption of our two boys from Ethiopia, I really began to struggle with God’s character.  The Bible told me that God cares for the orphans, that He is good, loving, kind and faithful.  Delaying these two boys becoming a part of a family and causing them to remain orphans did not seem like a good, loving and kind decision.  We’ve owned this book for some time now and I knew it was one that would require deeper thought than a lot of my regular reading.  I decided to add it to my morning devotional time and also answered the questions at the end of each chapter in order to better process what I was reading.  Sproul does an excellent job of explaining and making clear the very complex issue of God’s holiness.  For the first time, I understood that God’s holiness is not simply one of His attributes (like faithful, merciful, loving, just).

The tendency is to add the idea of the holy to this long list of attributes as one attribute among many.  But when the word holy is applied to God, it does not signify one single attribute.  On the contrary, God is called holy in a general sense.  The word is used as a synonym for his deity.  That is, the word holy calls attention to all that God is.  It reminds us that His love is holy love, His justice is holy justice, His mercy is holy mercy, His knowledge is holy knowledge, His spirit is holy spirit.  pp 39-40

In addition, the Lord brought me to a right understanding of our crazy court/adoption situation.  He did this by humbling my haughty attitude that thought I somehow deserved for God to act on my behalf in bringing these boys home.  He used chapter 6, Holy Justice, to help me understand myself in light of Him in a way I had yet to understand.  I came to see that God has already done the most kind, loving, faithful act imaginable by causing His Son to suffer for my sin and bring redemption to my wretched soul.  Anything beyond this one act is simply an overflow of the blessing I have already received in Christ.  I think every Christian should be required to read chapter 6…yes, it really is that helpful and that good!  And in case you are skeptical, here’s a highlight:

The Cross was at once the most horrible and the most beautiful example of God’s wrath.  It was the most just and the most gracious act in history.  God would have been more than unjust, He would have been diabolical to punish Jesus if Jesus had not first willingly taken on Himself the sins of the world.  Once Christ had done that, once He volunteered to be the Lamb of God, laden with our sin, then He became the most grotesque and vile thing on this planet.  With the concentrated load of sin He carried, He became utterly repugnant to the Father.  God poured out His wrath on this obscene thing.  God made Christ accursed for the sin He bore.  Herein was God’s holy justice perfectly manifest.  Yet it was done for us.  He took what justice demanded from us.  This “for us” aspect of the Cross is what displays the majesty of its grace.  At the same time justice and grace, wrath and mercy.  It is too astonishing to fathom.  pp 121-122

I highly doubt Dr. Sproul ever intended his book to be an encouragement to the suffering soul.  But when one is suffering, it is so easy to be self-focused and misinterpret the hand of God.  Again, I am so thankful for the timing of this book as it gave me a better grip on who my God is and certainly, I have no more excuses for not trusting His ways.

Shoulder to Shoulder

In the craziness of my stomach bug last week, I completely forgot to share the great gift I received earlier in the week.  A fellow Hope mommy and someone who has also become a dear friend, Kristine, was finally able to snap a picture (well three actually!) of our two boys sitting side by side.  For the first several months, the boys resided at different locations and even now under one roof, they are several floors apart.  Other travelers attempted to get pictures of them together, but schedules and such always seemed to get in the way.  But my awesome friend was determined and I cannot begin to describe the emotion of finally seeing the boys in the same picture, an even greater glimpse into the family God is weaving together.  Here’s a tiny peak of our two little men, sitting shoulder to shoulder (yes, W is wearing purple and pink!).

shouldertoshoulder