Sunday, October 31, 2010

Orphan Sunday - 1 week away

Orphan Sunday is 1 week away.  It is scheduled for Sunday, November 7th.  If you haven't checked it out yet, you can get up to speed with the people who organize Orphan Sunday by clicking their website here.

It was during Orphan Sunday 2009 that God spoke to our hearts about adoption and the world wide orphan crisis.  It was during that Sunday that our eyes were opened to the need and we have not been the same since.

During this next week, we plan on sharing some of the videos related to orphan care.  Take the time to watch them and pray what God would have for you.  What type of orphan care can you be involved in?  We also plan to include a number of orphan care opportunities over the next week from purchasing coffee, to sponsoring children, to adoption.  I think all of us have much to offer.

What a great ministry to be involved help meet the needs of those who have no mom or dad.  To share the love of God with those who only know rejection.

Enjoy the videos.  Let your heart be moved.

Why Love Orphans? from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Crazy Rabid Squirrels

The band has formed.  They are certain they are going to be famous.  I have no doubt that they will be.  Their band name is "The Crazy Rabid Squirrels."  They have practiced one time.  I have heard that they were flawless.  When they come to a town near you, be sure to give them some love.

From left to right:  Caleb "The Big C", Rye Bread, Levi "The Beat", and T-Bird.

BTW - We are very happy that The Beat's parents bought the drums.  That way they have to practice over at his house.

SPECIAL DISCLAIMER from The Beat's Mom:  this is what a basement looks like when a college girl who had her own apartment moves back home!!!

Second SPECIAL DISCLAIMER from "The Beat's" Mom:  Crazy Rabid Squirrels Band picture is official property of The Beat Enterprises and may not be used without expressed, written consent from The Beat Enterprises.  All proceeds from the Crazy Rabid Squirrels Band photo become the property of The Beat's Mom when the Crazy Rabid Squirrels become rich and famous.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Coons, then a Possum, then a bunch of Beavers!

First we were surprised by finding some Coons in our tree.  Then we discovered a Possum in our cage.  To top all of that, we were delighted to have a bunch of Beavers in our house.  I won't take the time to blog about it since they had such a great post.  They were very kind to include in their post a plea for prayer for our Peaches.  What a great night of fun with them.

Read their post by clicking here.

Pray for Mama and Daddy Beaver as they are in Russia right now at their court appearance for the adoption of their soon-to-be newest three children.  We are praying for good news from the court hearing.

You can follow their progress and provide an encouraging comment on their blog by clicking here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Waiting, Still....

More thoughts on waiting.  Not because I've learned new ways to be content or have learned to enjoy the waiting, but rather because I am struggling once again with impatience.  We feel like we are continually walking the line that narrowly divides complaining vs. contemplating and impatience vs. introspection.

We wonder why we have to wait at the #1 spot for a toddler girl for months only to see no toddler girls get referred.  And then this past week, one of the families ahead of us on the overall waiting list changed their parameters to include toddlers girls.  This results in our moving from #1 to #2 on the toddler girl list after being #1 for months.

We know the number of orphaned toddler girls in Ethiopia is unimaginable.  We know our agency and associated orphanage in Addis are doing everything within their abilities to help the most needy orphans reach a family and a home.  And we also know that our little girl is sleeping another night in an orphanage without a mom or dad to hold her, care for her, provide for her.  She remains a body in an institution, being cared for as best as they can, yet still in an institution.

So with these thoughts I think about our Peaches.  Who is taking care of her?  Who is feeding her each day?  Who holds her at night when she is afraid?  Who picks her up when she falls down?  Who protects her from other kids?  Who tells her that Jesus is with her?  We have been told that the orphanage is filled with people who really do care about the kiddos and that the conditions are not horrible considering they are in a third world country.  But, even so, the kids need a family, they need a mom and dad, they need the love and permanence that only comes through adoption.

The recently enacted two-trip policy for Ethiopian adoptions was instituted to help prevent adoptions from going bad.  Additional layers of protection have also been enacted in Ethiopia with the same purpose.  This has resulted in a major slow-down of the whole process.  It has resulted in children and families waiting longer, enduring more obstacles, paying more money to be united.  Is this a good thing?  There are many, many families who are painfully in the midst of the dark time of the waiting list.  We know many of these families through our own agency's listserv.  They are a group of loving, Godly, encouraging, determined people.  They will all become amazing parents.  I wish it could happen more quickly for each of them.

As I have walked the narrow line between impatience and introspection, I realize that I am very good at seeing things from my own point of view.  That is what gives way so easily to complaining.  Complaining really is our internal way of trying to convince the world of the things aren't happening the way we would like.  That things would be better if I were in control.  It is during these times that God's Spirit speaks to my heart and reminds me who is in control, and that His purposes are perfect.

I've been reading a book by Ted Kluck called "Hello, I Love You."  The book is about the author's adventures through two different adoptions from Ukraine.  He candidly shares his thoughts and feelings through much transparency about the inefficiences and deficiencies of the country of Ukraine and the unpredictability of an international adoption.  He is also wrestled by God's Spirit of his own complaining and his own lack of pause under God's sovereign plan.  Here is an excerpt from the book as he is writing in Kiev on their second adoption from that country - each time having to spend more than a month in-country (from page 143):

Kristin and I (mostly I) have been feeling convicted about something of late, and that is our propensity toward complaining.  I complain a lot here.  A lot of that complaining finds its way onto the page and results in good writing, of the laugh-getting variety.  But that doesn't make it right.

I've felt increasingly convicted that complaining is essentially a rejection of God, who is sovereign and sends every circumstance into our lives and intends it for our good (Romans 8:28).  I've always said that one of the drawbacks of Reformed theology (which I love) is that it doesn't leave you anyone to be mad at.  So when I pace the apartment and rant, I'm pacing the apartment and ranting at God, and suggesting that what He's given is somehow insufficient.  

When I rant about the dirty sidewalks, or complain that I'm not at home in my comfortable house, I'm doubting God's provision.  I'm disappointed in myself that this contentment lesson has been so hard to learn, but I'm thankful that He sent me Numbers 11 this morning, and pray that He will forgive me for this besetting sin.

So there it is.  A summary of the importance of allowing my impatience and complaining to fall at the feet of Jesus.  To know that He is the one who is taking care of Peaches tonight.  Her life this very moment rests within His care.  He is actively caring for her right now in a greater capacity than my feeble attempts ever will accomplish.

Thank You God for Your conviction of my heart and Your care for Peaches.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Congratulations Sunshine!!!!

Sunshine tried out for the Nebraska All-State Choir a week and a half ago.  She found out this morning that she made it!!!!!  This is a choir that takes the best high school singers from across the entire state.  It's a huge honor to make the choir.  She's very giddy!

She'll get to have a weekend of practice and a concert at the University of Nebraska (GO BIG RED!) campus in the middle of November.  It's a big deal to make the choir and we are very, very proud of her.  She worked so hard at getting ready for the try outs.

Last year she tried out and two of her friends made it but she was disappointed to just make alternate.  So it was especially sweet for her this year since she had tasted the disappointment last year.

Way to go Sunshine......we love you!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Oh, Possum!

Well lookey what ended up in the trap this time!  Not any of the three cute little coons, but instead one ugly Possum.  I think our escapades involving traps have ended.  I'm afraid if we keep setting it we might end up with Cody (aka, Dingleberry) in it again or maybe even one of our kids (they're always in to something).  And who knows what other types of wildlife are out there!!!

We'll call the Sheriff this week and have him come get the trap (without the Possum).  I opened the trap and sent him running so that he didn't have to be "relocated."

Friday, October 15, 2010

Coons, Combines, and Construction

Thought I'd give an update out on what's been happening in our little world.  Let's just say that there's plenty happening.

First, harvest took place this last week in the soybean field in back of our house.  Every other year they switch between corn and soybeans.  Even numbered years are soybeans and odd numbered years are corn.  I always enjoy watching the combine work the fields.  The kids thought it was really cool for the first few years, but now I think they basically just humor me and come out and watch because my excitement scares them.

 Here's the combine starting to come through the field.  T-bird has his Stutzman's Ethiopia Adoption shirt on!

The combine gets right up against our backyard and swingset.  It's very impressive (at least to me it is).

Here's the amazing Eddie Joe....always looking for a camera to smile for!

Once the combine went by and cleaned the field, the leftover wild pumpkins were revealed.  Each year after Halloween we through our leftover pumpkins out in our mulch pile.  The next spring they grow and spread out into the farmer's field.  We then have more pumpkins to carve when fall comes and then throw back in the mulch pile when we're done with them.  Kind of a cool cycle.  That's T-bird and The Big Fella in the picture above.

How's the house coming, you ask?  Well, all of the upstairs is sheetrocked, textured, and primed.  The sheetrock on the basement rooms just finished today.  Taping and texturing will start in the basement tomorrow.  We have had to make about a thousand decisions on everything little detail over the last couple of weeks.

What kind of decisions????

Where exactly will the dining room table sit?  (Exact placement needed for determining location of light above the future table and extent of wood flooring for the dining area.)

What color of paint?

What do those colors look like when they're painted on the walls?

What color of carpet?

What type of vinyl flooring for the basement bathroom?

What type of lighting?

It just goes on and on and on and on.  The addition has certainly filled up our "free time."

Another interesting thing that's been going on?  There's been three baby racoons in the backyard this last week.  They probably got dislodged when the field was harvested.  Anyway our neighbor was concerned because she runs a daycare and together we decided that we should take some action.  Heather called the Sheriff and the Sheriff's office dispatched their finest.

After surveying "the situation," the Sheriff told us we had two options.  He could either trap them.........or shoot them.  His vote was obviously for the latter.  In an effort to protect the little ones in the neighborhood from rogue baby racoons, he felt the best choice was to open fire in our backyard with his, more than likely, rarely used sidearm.  His fingers were likely tingling with the potential delight of feeling the magical recoil of the revolver - relishing the thought of it unleashing a hollow point through the hide of an extremely villainous creature.

Well, needless to say, we opted for the trap.  So, in his disappointment, he set a trap in our backyard and left the scene.  We figured it wouldn't be long until we had some trapped coons.  (We also knew what the likely fate of the trapped coons would be when the Sheriff's office's finest came back to "relocate" the trapped perpetrators.  His tingling fingers would happily whisk away the full trap quickly placing it in the trunk of the squad car for a hastily arranged training session outside of city limits.)

So, later that evening, Heather went out at around 10:00 pm to see if anything was out there.  As she began to walk out in the yard, she shined her flashlight in the direction of the trap.  She could faintly see two eyes looking back at her from the trap.  She inched forward, cautiously trying to make out the details of the creature in the trap.  As she continued to close in on the trap, she realized the trapped critter was light in color.  Inching even closer she tried to make out the details, not sure if the creature was about to somehow rip open the trap and pounce upon her.  To her amazement, she finally recognized what was in the trap.  It was our dog, Cody (aka, Dingleberry).  Cody (aka, Dingleberry) had smelled the bowl of tuna in the trap and couldn't contain himself.  So there he sat in the trap, whimpering, but satisfied from the good meal.  We wrestled him out of there and decided to leave the trap unset.  We knew Cody (aka, Dingleberry) would likely climb right back in and we didn't want the Sheriff's office's finest to "relocate" him.

Well today, Cody (aka, Dingleberry) was barking loudly at one of our apple trees.  It's not completely unusual for him to bark at nothing, but his behavior seemed even strange for him.  I was out watering our newly seeded grass, which is doing quite well I might add, and decided to go take a look.  Up in the tree I spotted what looked like a cat at first.  But then noticed not one, not two, but three baby racoons up in the tree.  Throughout the day we then watched them and spotted them not only in the apple tree, but in the Linden tree, and then scampering out along the edge of the bean field.  I got some great pics of the coons.  They were fun for us all to watch.  Heather wants to adopt these newly orphaned cuties, but I'm certain that we would meet the same fate as Will Ferrell did in "Elf" when he tried to give a racoon a hug.

Tomorrow's activities?  A wedding to go to, Sunshine's marching band competition, the Huskers play Texas, and I get ready to travel to Donaldsonville, Louisiana for the week.  Another busy day!  Hope you have a great weekend.


Omaha World-Herald Article on Ethiopian Adoption

The Omaha World-Herald has a good article on Ethiopian Adoption.  It's cool to see a relatively positive article in the midst of many articles that focus on the very small percentage of adoptions that don't go well.

Enjoy reading and have a great Friday!  (click on the headline below for a link to the article)

Ethiopia opens door to international adoptions

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sunshine Rocks the House!

Sunshine's high school choir had a concert tonight.  The highlight of the night was the last song where Sunshine and their normal accompanist combined together to accompany the choir on the piano.  After snapping a couple of pics of them at the piano, I recorded the rest of the song on my camera.  The video footage is poor, but the playing is excellent.  It's one of those times where as a parent your pride swells greatly, and with a tear in the corner of your eye you want to stand and tell everyone, "that's my girl!"  I was very proud of her.

Grandma and Grandpa Nordstrom were also there and together we enjoyed a feast of lasagna before the concert and homemade lemon meringue pie after the concert.  Awesome cooking Bo!  What a woman! 

After the pie, we were serenaded by Rye-Bread and T-Bird on their horns to "Thriller" and the SSC fight song.  After T-Bird put down his trumpet, Eddie Joe picked it up and blew some notes.  It was hilarious.  I should have taken some video shots of that too.

Sunshine and the SSC Choir from nordstromseven on Vimeo.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Couple of Videos....

The Dunlap family have an amazing story.  They were on the waitlist for a total of 4 hours!  They received their referral phone call a brief 4 hours after they had been informed they were officially on the waitlist last June.  Very exciting. They adopted Yohannes, a really cute toddler boy.

You have to watch....especially the part where they return on their second trip and Yohannes sees them from the gate of Hannah's Hope.  The excitement on his face as he runs to them is indescribable.  It is truly the miracle of a child realizing that his mom and dad have returned for him. Check out the Dunlap's blog by clicking here.

Also included here is a video from the Smith family. They also recently adopted through our Agency AGCI. They adopted two siblings. What joy on their faces! Check out the Smith's blog by clicking here.

Blessings of a Burdened Heart from smith on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Psalm 24 - Who is This King of Glory?

Our new number is 24.  We received an email from Kiersten with our new number on Tuesday.  Hopeful that this would be the week for our referral (for whatever reason, it seemed like this was the week for us), we instead received an email with our updated number.  Initially, we took it as a big blow.  More waiting.  But after time to process everything, we realize that we are very fortunate to have the opportunity to be on the waiting list and we are privileged to be able to provide a home and a family in the near future to a beautiful little girl.  A girl who desperately needs and home and desperately needs a family.  God richly provides in many ways in our lives every day.

Our Psalm this month is Psalm 24.

24:1 The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.

He will receive blessing from the Lord
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah
Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
he is the King of glory! Selah

I have always loved this Psalm.  The beauty it paints as the psalmist asks, "Who is this King of Glory?"  A question that leaves the reader silent, pondering the depth of the question that has just been asked.  To explain who the King of Glory is, goes beyond words or language.  To answer the question requires silent lips, a bowed heart, an undone soul.  Only then can we see Him for who He is.  To think that He is not only full of glory, that He is not only worthy to receive all glory, but that He is the KING OF GLORY!  We bow and say, "Selah."

The Psalmist answers His own question and declares that the King of glory is the Lord, He is strong and mighty, He is mighty in battle, He is the Lord of Hosts.  This covers His royalty, His strength, His victory, His Holiness.  One day we will fall on our faces before this King of Glory.  And in His presence, every tear will be wiped away, every orphan's bed will be empty, every lonely child will be made whole.  In His presence there will be fullness of joy.  

How quickly our eyes can be turned to the worries of the world, the impatience of our thoughts, the presence of our own wills.  And how quickly a Psalm can restore our hearts.  He pours His plenteous grace upon our lives and hearts with His word and refreshes us during times when we feel like the thirst is unquenchable.

And so, with the feeding of the Psalm, our eyes are returned to Him.  Our souls rest once again in the fact that He is the King of Glory.  In Him we find perfect peace.  He is our shelter in the time of storm.  He holds our Peaches in His arms.  She sits within the shadow of the One who is the King of Glory.  We gladly wait upon Him.  Selah.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Waiting and Wrestling

We've been waiting now at #1 for a girl toddler since we got on the waiting list on April 22, 2010.  That's a little more than five months of knowing a phone call could come at any time.  That's a little more than five months of knowing that out of the 5 million orphans in Ethiopia, there is one girl out there that is waiting for a home, one girl that will be our little girl.  For now she sleeps in an orphanage.  For now she wakes in the morning without a mom or dad.  It is similar to being 39 weeks pregnant (not that I would know how that feels!) for over five months.  It is knowing that on our end everything is in place and ready, except for the final referral phone call. 

So as I think about us waiting for over five months, I also think about our girl who could be 5 years old.  I think about her waiting for five years for a family, not knowing if there will ever be one.  I also think of her waiting alone, without a mom or dad to support her.  As she watches other children and babies get matched with their families, does she wonder "who is coming for me, who loves me, will I be alone again tonight?" 

So our wait becomes two-fold.  Our own hearts are ready to be joined with our little girl.  That hurts and causes us to become impatient.  And we know that there is a little girl that is ready for a family.  We are waiting for her, she is waiting for us.  When will the referral come?  We know it will come in God's perfect timing, under His perfect control, to reveal His perfect Glory.  We again rest in Him. 

Our minds know the truth of these words, and yet our hearts sometimes struggle.  We wrestle with our own impatience and wanting the process to move at the pace that we best envision.  Our minds go through the endless pieces of our story that have yet to be unveiled to us.  We think through each of the details, trying to bring them to closure by simply processing them over and over.  In the end, we need God's help to allow us to see His purposes through this and to know that His plan will be for our good (and for Peaches' own good).  We are reminded that we need to continue in prayer for the process and for Peaches.  We need to cast all our anxieties on Him, because He cares for us.

And so we pray, and yet we wrestle.  We wrestle and we wait for God.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hillbilly Yardwork

There's always a way to do things on the upper end of the financial scale and a way to do things on the lower end of the financial scale.  When we do things on the lower end of the financial scale, it's clearly doing it the "Hillbilly" way.  When faced this weekend with getting the grass re-seeded in our yard that was destroyed (for the second time this summer), I picked the Hillbilly way to get the work done. 

Note:  After the septic system was replaced this Spring, we paid to have the lawn reseeded not knowing for sure if we were going to do the addition.  We ended up paying for two Yahoo, 20-something kids to careen around our yard in a fourwheeler pulling a drag.  At that point, I realized, that I wasn't going to repeat that mistake.  (see old post)

Back to the Hillbilly story.  Some of it is the Alden that is in my blood (see post about the pitchback net).  You see, my Grandpa Alden was famous for his contraptions.  Contraptions which from his viewpoint were functional and resourceful, but from the viewpoint of others they were somewhat of an eyesore and and were the source of much family conversation.  So, with that blood coursing through my veins, I contraptionalized a gadget to cultivate the bare ground in the backyard so that it would be prepared for seed. 

The contraption consisted of two boards with many screws sticking through them.  The two boards were then affixed to a larger board.  On top of the larger board I mounted three large landscaping stones.  Then I attached the whole thing to my riding lawnmower.  Voila!  A Hillbilly, landscaping contraption. 

Here is a picture of the bottom of my contraption after the work had been completed.  Clearly, I needed heavier duty screws and will take that into account if I have to build another one of these.

Here's the pictures of the Master Contraptioner (aka, Hillbilly) at work.  
(Heather laughed loudly when she saw these pictures.)

Next step was the grass seed which I did yesterday right after completing the cultivating.  After the grass seed was planted, it was time to cover it all with straw.  The boys and I headed to Bomgaars today to get some straw bales.  We threw as many in the back of the surburban as we could (you can fit 6 straw bales in the back of a suburban just in case you needed to know that).  I considered tying several to the top of the suburban (you can just picture that, can't you?), but decided to stick with six.

So then the boys and I proceeded with spreading the straw bales.  We felt rather manly as we threw the bales around and smelled like a farm.

Here's the pics of us spreading the straw.  Check out the pipes on those dudes!

The yard work made for a busy weekend, but hopefully the grass will beat the cold weather and we'll end up with a green yard next spring.  It will be a great place for Peaches to play!  We think about her and pray for her everyday.