Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sugar Scrub Fun- 2009!

Sugar scrubs are amazing...I love them! So this year, for Christmas and the "Make Something" policy that no one but us followed that was invoked this year ( which I actually liked) I MADE homemade sugar scrubs AND even used as many all-natural ingredients as possible (Apparently they don't recommend using organic sugars- go figure). Below are the three kinds of scrubs I made and the ingredients used! Feel free to experiment with them but BEWARE, they leave an oily film in the bottom of the shower. Bad enough to warn you...So consider yourself warned!


Peppermint Sugar Scrub (about 4-6 oz)
1/2 cup white cane sugar
1/2 cup olive oil*
1/4 cup crushed peppermint candy canes
1 Tbs. all-natural cocoa butter**
1 Tbs. Vitamin E oil
Peppermint Essential Oil- as much as desired for scent

Brown Sugar Scrub (4-6 oz)
1 cup brown sugar^
1/2 olive oil*
2 Tbs. honey
1 Tbs. cocoa butter


Lavender Sugar Scrub 
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 olive oil*
1 Tbs. vitamin E oil
2 Tbs. dried lavender
Lavender essential oil- as much as desired

* More expensive oils can be substituted in the place of olive oil (Sweet almond oil is especially great) but for larger quantities, olive oil works great!

**Other moisturizers can be substituted in the place of cocoa butter (shea butter, etc) and I recommend putting it in a processor and getting it as close to a fine powder as possible as it can stay clumpy and hard otherwise!

^ Brown sugar is less abrasive than white sugar which is why the measurement is different! It is great for people who love body scrubs but have sensitive skin! And the honey doubles as a moisturizer and scent. So nice!!!!

Well here it is! My homemade project for 2009! It was fun and I hope everyone loved theirs! Each person got to pick what scent/type they wanted! Hope you can all enjoy it as much as I did!

That is it for me tonight! I am all blogged to date! Goodnight all!


How Does One Remove Stomach From Throat?

Good news! We got our Application Part II packet in the mail today!! That #1 means we were approved to proceed with this agency (good news since my barrage of questions weren't warmly received) and #2 we can officially start the timeline towards picking up Baby Smith!!! might be wondering about my strange title then...when this all seems wonderful...(and is)??? BECAUSE....this "packet"  (for lack of a more all-encompassing word) is far more in-depth than the last application...this portion included individual autobiographies, physicals, recommendation letters (5 to be exact),guardianship designation affidavits, birth certificates, marriage licenses, certificate of financial status (?), the past three years taxes, proofs of employment, and approval of required leave time...just to name a few....EEK....................

This is scary. Don't get me wrong, we are excited and nervous...but THIS- Right here, right now- IS SCARY! Our to be done with this portion of the adoption process by March 31, 2010. That is our goal, today.....So, I guess we better get started!

By the way, for those praying....On March 31, when this is done...Our first portion of $3850 will be due...prayers are SO very appreciated by us!

Learning Curve

I have been staring at my blog page for weeks with nothing to write about...I mean, the mundane is still hanging around like cousin Eddie...but I decided to spare you from  pages and pages of "Woke up a little late today" etc....

Last night I was trying to sleep and, of course, my mind was wandering aimlessly through a barrage of things that make residence in my head, finally settling on something that  I am especially thankful for. I have a few friends that I have been blessed to watch and and learn from with their kids. You see, I know teenagers pretty well. Thankfully I have been able to, over the years, watch teenagers be parented up close and personal and learn from the decisions of others. DH and  I have discussed what we want our parenting style to be...what we want to instill in our children and, most importantly, what we don't. We aren't naive to think that it's not a constant learning curve that people go through, but like everyone else, we would like to think of as many scenarios as possible, watch those around us, and learn as much as we can before we get there.Typically, in all things I would rather be PRO-active than RE-active! =)

So, back to the point. I have begun to categorize the things I see around me and I decided to write about a couple of things have stuck in my mind. Things that I hope we are able to effectively do as parents (names have been changed to protect the innocent). Take Fred and Wilma for instance. Something that I have learned from watching them is how to model the whole "not arguing in front of the kids" aspect of parenting. I don't know if maybe Wilma just ALWAYS agrees with Fred or if she has just perfected the art of pretending...but even in their home they don't disagree with each other in front of the kids...(well, at least in front of me that is--maybe I count, HAHA!) =] Another thing Wilma is amazing at is trying to watch what is said around kids...criticisms, "fat statements", etc...She never says those things and even corrects others when they do. I am sure my approach to this will look quite different ( I sometimes think our actions speak louder and teach our children where their time should be spent), but this is really something I want to get better at. ..Just food for thought I guess.

Then there is Barney and Betty. I have watched them for many years parent their kids and I STILL notice new things. One of the parenting "activities" that really intrigued me, and honestly surprised me, was the fact that they won't tell stories about their kids without their permission. I, truly, never would have thought of this..but I LOVE it. It shows your children you respect them, you honor them, and you won't betray them. Ironically, I have seen all their children naked, bathed them and changed their diapers, and a story about something funny that happened in Wal-Mart is hardly comparable to the "poop in the bathtub" story I personally have...BUT to a child who is learning a child who, YOU as the parent, are trying to instill self-esteem means EVERYTHING that you ask their permission. I have seen it first-hand, when [said] child actually tells Barney or Betty "No" and they watch as their parents honor their wishes. WHAT a remarkable concept...teaching your children respect by GIVING it to them..Now, I am not a parent but this one is going to be filed under "VERY important".

I have a lot of other files categorized...and I am always watching. Because I want to be the best Mom I can be someday (and yes,I know I will fail sometimes)... but maybe I can fail less by paying attention to all the ones who have gone before me. I am a firm believer in NOT re-inventing the wheel...

I see it like this. If I am in the woods, surrounded by things I have never experienced before,a place where I am unfamiliar and can't see my way out... I am DEFINITELY following the trail that someone else left.....Usually that leads to the clearing =)

My Rainbow Box

Do you ever feel "boxed in"? You know, when people see something about you, a trait, a talent, an ability...something. And forever you get identified as that "box"...Well, I kind of feel that way too, sometimes.

This is my amusing metaphor-ish description:

I have a box. This box has 6 sides to color (4 sides, top & bottom) and all 6 sides make up who I am..and in fact, make up my destiny. But you have to start somewhere and I started with the most obvious side. I knew I wanted it to be pink, it was the side closest to me (thereby making it the easiest side to color) and it's a fun side...So I paint it pink. And I like the pink side...It IS in fact part of me.....

Then I go on painting, lots of colors...indigo, red, purple, periwinkle, green...all part of my box. All part of me. But the people around me refuse to see the other colors. They say things like "You make such a good pink box" and "Right now, we only need pink boxes" and they don't really understand that, while the pink side was the first side to be wasn't the only side and probably wasn't even the most important side...most important color....or most important part of me. So what do you do...Do you say "Someday, they will appreciate all my other colors...they won't always see me as a pink box"? Or, do you find new people. New areas of influence. Maybe people who won't even know that you painted the pink side first....Maybe they like my indigo, or periwinkle sides better.....

I just don't think my destiny is to be a pink box forever.....
Do you ever feel that way?

Christmas at Mom and Steven's- 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I really should....

I should post....I have so much to say, what with the holidays and such....I even plan to post pictures and recipes for the sugar scrub I made the fam this Christmas...but I lack motivation and probably need prayer. =)

Posts are coming...really, they are... *sigh*

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

... ...

Application Part I. Turned in.

(Probably drained the poor country program director with all our questions...but nonetheless, I would rather be too thorough than not thorough enough...hopefully they agree) =)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tis the season

Sunday, at church, I was speaking about offerings and the spirit of giving that is so prominent this time of year...It seems like this time of year everyone has the urge or desire to "GIVE" to someone else...But God never intended for us to only give to others at Christmas. The spirit of giving was to be something noticeable all year long, all our lives. We are SUPPOSED to look different from the rest of the world. So if EVERYONE thinks about giving at Christmas time, Christians look no different!

I want to challenge each person reading this to give something every day for the rest of 2009...Not simply in remembrance of Christ and his gift to us, but to start building a habit of giving all the time. You may say "I don't have money to give" or "There are people who can give more than I can" and those statements may be completely true, but as I was once told "You might NOT be able to change the world as one person...but you can change the world FOR one person". Help someone with their shopping bags, smile at the cashier, give you lunch, or your gloves to the person on the corner, give hot chocolate to the bell ringers...There are so many small things that you can do for someone else...and if we ALL do those small things together, they become REALLY REALLY big things instead! That is what the season is truly about....remembering that we should be doing this all the time!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Great Flash Drive Mystery

So...I have been searching painstakingly, for my missing flash drives for at least a week and a half. I have been practicing staying calm and trying so hard not to move into panic mode, but the flash drives contained a LOT of important documents (school, work, personal) and I like a doofus like a normal human being with faults, didn't have them sufficiently backed up....Alas, the worry.....

Last night, I was having a terrible time falling asleep, a lot of things on my mind, but at the forefront was this dang flash drive. I just kept praying over and over again "God, please just help me to find my flash drive". I know, there are bigger issues facing our world than my missing flash drive. I know the world wasn't going to end if I didn't find it...But to me, it was pretty dang important. So this morning, I get up and get ready for work, and like a light bulb turned on, I immediately knew where to look. Praise the Lord, my flash drive has been found!!!

The moral of this story is that, the next time you don't think God cares about your problems, struggles, and worries because there are bigger things going on, just remember...He helped me find my flash drive.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Gestational Period of Elephants...

So, I may have mentioned in passing before, our plan to adopt, and while I might have been coy about everything up til now, it seems that the time is here to kind of "lay it out there". We have been furiously trying to finish the adoption application part 1 for our adoption from Ethiopia (which, in all honestly, is the easiest part...making me very nervous) and trying to get everything done so that we could turn in our application before the end of 2009 to get started on this process. The final step (in step 1, that is) was to complete the Pre-Adoption Workshop..which for our convenience was an online workshop comprised of a "movie" of slide shows that totaled over 6 hours....for real. The first time I attempted to watch it, I fell asleep at around, oh, say...slide 8 of 161...then somehow dreamed a very confusing dream in which my class (in graduate school) was discussing international adoptions...I was SoOoOo confused in my dream, only to awake, amused that the lady speaking on the "movie" had somehow made it into my dreams!

And so comes attempt #2. DH and I were going to watch it TOGETHER on Saturday morning...that was important for both morale support and to ensure we stayed awake for it, since there was an evaluation at the end! We were successful, YAY! And even learned a few things along the way! 

One of the things that really stuck in my mind was that in the "adoption world" they really relate everything about adoption to pregnancy and birth. Comparing the time waiting for your baby's arrival to "pregnancy" and the day you are introduced to your child as his/her "birthday" with his/her Forever Family. Cute, right?? Most adoptive parents try to remind new adoptive families that the same emotions, stresses, and other "fragilities" that happen with biological children are also very common with adoptions. But they also make no qualms about the LENGTH of time that you wait for your baby's "birthday"...Usually between 1 1/2 years to 2 years...that is the gestational period of an ELEPHANT...Now, I don't know much first-hand about "gestational periods" but pretty much everyone around me has been pregnant, and one thing that is resoundingly true is that the picture towards the end is a little different than the picture...well..anywhere else in the pregnancy. As an objective bystander, I generally see that most people are "READY for this kid to get here" at around 8 1/2 can you imagine how you would feel at 2 years?!?!?!

So be praying...because while we aren't "pregnant"..this is a long journey full of ups, downs, and lots of emotions! We trust God because we know this plan was laid out over 2 years ago, and so far everything has been exactly in the timeframe we felt God was leading towards, but that doesn't take away the fears, worries, concerns, etc....One thing we especially ask for your prayers about is the financial aspect. We know that God is going to have control in this and we trust Him even without having the "mapquest" of our trip in front of us. I know how we COULD take care of it in the natural, but I also know that when you trust God and step out in faith along his path, that amazingly supernatural miracles happen,  and in this case we are expecting those financial miracles!

So, I guess this is my first REAL adoption post although I am sure there will be plenty more. We are praying furiously that finances don't delay things (as the time frame is already LOONG!) and we will keep you updated on our journey as we go. Thank you so much for all your prayers and love.

DH and I at Rhema's Christmas Lights 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Revelation (attempt #536)


DH and I having fun at a Razorback Game-2009

Ssshhh...It's 4:30pm on Sunday afternoon and I am holed away in the office trying to write my position paper on Women in Leadership....instead, my mind *of course* is wandering to my weekend in AR. DH and I had a great time visiting with friends, family, and shopping (okay, I probably enjoyed that more than he did) and we are always thankful for the people God has placed in our lives, but it still surprised me, though, at a family gathering this weekend, when some cousins commented on how "fun and exciting" DH's and my life seems....Wait...our life seems fun?? I mean, we stay busy for sure..but all I could picture as they were complimenting us was the 12 loads of laundry, 3 loads of dishes and a litter box I had to get clean before we could even LEAVE for AR.....Yay!! fun!!

But as I sit here pondering the many events of the homework, I realize that having a fun and exciting life is EXACTLY what God wants!! I can't think of a single time that God ushered his warriors into heaven simply because of what a miserable time they were having of it here on earth! fact it was those who had found their "heaven on earth" and were living so much in the presence of God that it simply made more sense for them to be in Heaven that he finally ushered up. I am not a parent yet, but I look around me and objectively evaluate situations I see... Nowhere do I see loving Godly parents who want their children to be fact, it's quite the opposite. And God is the same way! He looks down on his children and says, "Look at how much fun my daughter is having", "Look at them playing" and he dances over us with joy. So why are we, instead, wallowing in our self-pity, crying out over the injustices in our lives, and living in such misery...instead of enjoying the life we have, thanking God for the abundance of love and peace and freedom we have, and loving our lives?? See, we (DH and I) don't have a lot of money, we DEFINITELY don't have any prestige or respect, we don't have any big toys, and yet we STILL have fun. We live our lives, giving thanks to God for all He has done and enjoying our time here together. And I think we should ALL be doing that. Start recognizing the things God IS doing for you instead of always noticing what you don't have, or what you "think" everyone else is getting in life that you're not...God LOVES you! And your story isn't finished yet, so give God the glory while it's still being written, because otherwise, you may look back on your life and shamefully say "Father, I am so sorry I didn't see you there. I am so sorry I didn't lean on you ALWAYS"...I don't know about the rest of you, but I would RATHER NOT have to say that!

We have too much to live for to stay miserable, and nasty all the time. Be thankful for the people around, be thankful for the life you have, and be thankful for a God who isn't done writing your story yet! I know I am!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Trouble with blogger

I would really love to post my "Thanksgiving Revelation" post but for some reason blogger is wacko keeps putting half my post on the sidebar?!?! 

Any ideas what I can do?!?!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I am thankful for laughter, until milk comes out of my nose...

I wasn't gonna do fact I truly avoid those cliche things that people do...including Farmville on Facebook...ahem, you all know who you are. That said, I just really wanted to take inventory and remind myself of all the amazing things I have to be thankful for. I would never be able to capture EVERYTHING, so let's just call this the "10 things Ashley is thankful for right now". These are in no such order, mainly because I am thinking as I write....

1. My amazing husband (I know, I know...totally cliche..but for real). We have been married a little over 4 years and I honestly love him more today than I did then. He is supportive, loving, thoughtful, and strong. He is constantly amazing me with the awesome things he does as worship leader (including restoring our prayer room complete with a prayer wall) and I am truly blessed to go through life with him.

2. My dog, Norman. I really love that dog. I can be in the worst of ways; tired, angry, stressed and Norman just loves completely. I wish I loved that way. I can be so mean to him, beating him (only when he does something wrong), and screaming at him...and the next time I come by, his tail is just wagging and he acts like I am the greatest person in the world.

3. My job. A few of you may know, I struggled in the last year and a half with loving what I do....but God is majorly faithful because around this time last year, I got my current position as a Corporate Education Liaison with St. Gregory's University and I have been SOOOO happy! I really love what I do. I am making a difference in people's lives, the team I work with is amazing, and the schedule isn't bad either! Truly something to be thankful for!

4. Free Grad School. Well almost free and I certainly pay with time and investment...but really, it's a chance of a lifetime to get my Masters with very little out of pocket costs!

5. Facebook. I have re-connected with so many friends in the past few years over facebook and I have to admit, I have a good time stalking all of your pictures on there too =)

6. Friends with healthy habits. I don't usually follow their advice but it's inspirational nonetheless =)

7. Festivals. Probably the best part of living in the Tulsa metro is all the festivals. Peach, BBQ, Tabbouleh, Chili, Wine, Art, and the list goes on and on!! We are kind of junkies, but it's just  a great way to spend a Saturday and I am thankful for all the festivals I get to go to! =)

8.  Front-loading, large-capacity washers and dryers. Actually I don't have this yet, but I imagine I WOULD be thankful if I had one...It feels that way looking in =)

9.  Friendships. Old and new. I am thankful for people who are courageous, strong, wise, forgiving, and who totally believe that God can do anything. That's important even if you don't struggle with it...Surrounding yourself with people who love and have faith strengthens your own love and faith!

10. Jesus. Even if he never did anything else for me, it's already enough to be worth my whole life and then some! I am so thankful for my salvation. his renewing mercies, and never ending grace. God is always good!

So there it is, the top 10 things I am thankful for right now (bottle caps ALMOST made the list). Of course I am always thankful for my family, my health, and my stability. Let this be a reminder for everyone, don't wait until a holiday to take stock of what you have to be thankful for in life...It may surprise you, that you have more to be thankful for than you ever even realized!

Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Re-Post for a GOOD Cause!

This is a post from an adoptive family I follow. They have adopted several older "waiting" children from Ethiopia, and with that comes a lot of adjustments that you rarely face with babies. Most of these children remember their homeland, and even members of their family. What a great opportunity, if you can, to be a part of helping a little girl trust in God's ability to make the impossible, possible! If you want to donate or buy raffle tickets for the beautiful quilt, just follow this link to

The Desire of Honeybee's Heart

(dimensions: 69" x 55")

Honeybee has a dream. She wants to travel to Ethiopia to visit her grandmother and help bring one of her special friends home from AHOPE. She has been talking about this for the past few weeks, and despite the fact that we don't have the means to purchase a plane ticket for her, she believes that God does. Her faith and hope are so great and I want to believe with her.

Last week I spoke with a friend who just brought two daughters home from AHOPE. These two girls arrived at AHOPE shortly after Honeybee did and they grew up together. When I told their mother about Honeybee's desire to travel to Ethiopia with my friend, Signe, she immediately offered to send me a quilt her sister designed and made, and suggested I raffle it off on my blog. So here I am...a little hesitant, but Honeybee is full of faith that this quilt will help her make her way to Ethiopia.

I had hoped to travel with Honeybee and Signe, but after discussing it with Dimples' and Eby's therapist, I have come to the sad realization that I cannot go. For now, Deborah feels that I should not be gone for more than three days at a time. This is very hard for me, but one of my best friends, Michele, is going to go in my place and be Honeybee's special companion.

You can win this beautiful quilt and help fulfill Honeybee's dream:

~Entering is easy! Just make a donation via the "Chip-In" button on the top right of my blog. You are automatically entered for the drawing. I will track your entries via the email address provided at the time of your donation.

~Every $5 donation earns one entry. Every $20 earns 5 entries!

~The winner will be randomly drawn on December 18, 2009 and announced here.

~The Winner must contact me within 10 days and provide a mailing address. I will ship the quilt after Christmas, unless the winner requests that it be shipped on Dec. 19th.

~If you blog, FaceBook, or Twitter, about this event, leave me a comment at any time during the event and I will give you an extra entry.

~Please leave a comment or email me if you have any questions or problems donating.

~This is a simple raffle to support my daughter in her desire to travel to Ethiopia. If we do not raise enough for her to go, the money will be donated to From HIV to Home. To be ultra-careful, I reserve the right to make any changes necessary to this raffle!

~Today, November 19, is Early Bird Extra Entry Day!! To thank you for your help in kicking this event off, I am doubling entries for anyone who donates today!

Below is a photo showing some detail of the quilt.


The Day (s) I Met Jesus

 I remember asking the Lord into my heart at age 7. I didn't have any great epiphany or anything significant like that..I have just always been a logical person..It made sense to me that if my two options were Heaven, where angels sang and we danced, feasted, and worshiped God all day and night for eternity, or--well, the "Other" just seemed like a no-brainier. My parents made a big deal about it, even getting our pastor (who was a friend) come to the house to walk me through the sinner's prayer (I actually probably did have a laundry list of sins by that time...I am the oldest child after all) 

But I? Just wanted to go to sleep that night knowing that if a fire came and burned everything up (I also had a severe fear of fire at that age- Thank you Back Draft) that I would get to go to the place with all the gold, and the singing, and the happiness...instead of more fire.... 

Logical, right? 
I am just being honest with you guys...That truly is what it boiled down to for me =)

So, life goes on, and I progressively become more and more of a perfectionist as it does, and due to that ailment, never REALLY got into trouble. I went to church (a Methodist Church in B-ville--Shout out to all my MCJammers out there), even went through confirmation and was an acolyte on just wasn't personal. I was a perfectionist, and simply out of my desire to be perfect...I knew what to do. Say your prayers every night (Typically the Lord's Prayer- John Wesley would have been proud); Go to church twice a week (Three times if there was a special Sunday evening service); NEVER miss Communion Sunday (5th Sunday special); and do everything the Bible said (I specifically remember "no cussing" and "say no to drugs" being preached in Sunday school)..but looking back I have to say that I was a "good girl" for all the wrong reasons. God was a good concept, I liked the idea of this eternal being who would answer my prayers to make  &$%*#!  my boyfriend, help me pass the test I barely studied for (If we are being completely honest, I still did this even after my second conversion...I think it's just human nature to bargain with God) and keep me happy and well-liked at school. But anything deeper? Nah...not yet anyways.

The year was 1996. I was in 8th grade (Sorry is what it is). That's the first time I really remember having an epiphany. I had spent the night with my BFF Courtney, and her church was in a revival, with none other than Ap. Jack Richey (the Ap. part wasn't identified yet, but the guy was the same). I actually remember how it felt to walk into the church. I didn't know anything about it. I didn't know if it was different than my other "church", if the people were crazy (yep), or anything besides Courtney telling me they spoke in tongues right before we got there. I didn't know what that was, so it was kind of a non-issue for me. So, as I walked in the door, I felt the presence of God so strong that I literally stopped in my tracks, right there in the foyer/hallway.  I looked around...nobody else had just been hit in the face by a freight fact, nobody else seemed to realize what was in the room at all...I mean, didn't they know?!?! This was HUGE...I had to tell someone...

"Courtney, God is actually HERE, I mean, like, I can really feel him!" ...

"Of course God is here. Where else would he be?"...

"You mean, this is NORMAL?"....

Yeah, Ashley. This is normal..."  

Well that was it. I was sold. I jumped in (literally, another story though) and never looked back....and one thing about me that has never changed. I give 150% all the time....I had a real reason to live "good", now...I had had an actual encounter with God, and I was going to do everything I could to have that experience all the time. I was a Jesus junkie, from that moment on. And that wasn't the last time I encountered him either. He continued to show himself to me in new (and unusual) ways throughout my high school career. I went to college...and God was, thankfully, still there (whew... would have been bad news if I had had to stay at GFCC for the rest of my life just to hang around God)...and through all the different seasons in my walk with him, after each new thing I learn about him, I realize I still know nothing about him, and I still long to know "nothing" more and more every day. I WANT to be known as a lunatic.... 

So when people ask me when I was saved I am torn between two dates. The day I was saved(you remember, the one that kept me out of Hell)- Or the day I was Soul-ed out (Never looking back, zealously seeking the Lord, --first one in the river, even if I have to knock you down to get there--throw back to the good ol' Brownsville days). At this point, it really doesn't matter. All that matters is that I go after him as hard TODAY as I did on that day in 1996. 

That day, that church...truly changed my life. Who knows, maybe I wouldn't be using my powers for good without them =) Thanks Court for being courageous enough to invite me to a totally crazy church, forsaking all "coolness" to go after God. We can be crazy, together! 

For now, my motto (and someday hopefully my legacy) is to be one who runs her race with the convictions of Paul and the heart of David.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

To love God is to love a child

Some of you may know that DH and I are in the beginning steps of an international adoption. There is a long story that brought us to the decision to adopt internationally and BEFORE even attempting biological children. But lately, while answering the questions in their applications I begin to have the fears that, I am sure, many adoptive parents have. I have read discussion threads by APs for over two years, even following their blogs...I have addressed all the heritage issues (actually our agency of choice has done that for me), all the cost issues, found all the necessary parenting classes (especially the transracial ones) but I still wonder... What if 15 years from now, my child wishes he/she was adopted by a brown-skinned family (In Africa, this is what they call themselves).You see, for's an issue.. in fact, I think it's naive for any prospective APs  to say it's a "non-issue"..but not in the negative way. Because we are so thankful that our family might be a glimpse of the beautiful canvas God created...We are honored to raise God's amazing creations, and we would never suggest that their beauty: black, white, or brown is something to be ignored completely...I just worry that we won't meet their needs (even as much as we are trying to) about their beautiful ethnicities, and someday have a child who wishes their life had been different. Heartbreaking.
Don't worry, no one is embracing my fears. I have an amazing friend who told me that I was pretty much crazy, that this child would know that they had been loved and that we had listened to God, that He had made him/her for our family...but the fears are still there. It's crazy. When you know you are listening to God, there is a peace...but sometime our soul (mind, will, emotions) don't line up to our spirit.

Don't worry, we aren't looking to have a baby in arm for a WHILE now. Its just a LooOOoong process.... so we have a lot of time to think. Thank you for listening to me vent. I suppose if I can't vent on my own blog, where can I? =)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Question for all...

Last night, during an "impromptu" meeting, I was addressing some concerns and observations. In my conclusions about what was happening in life and what my place would be...I decided that "I would rather not". Those are interesting and difficult words for me to say. Trust me, I walk NOT in false humility. I truly have been humbled...and it wasn't fun. I have felt I earned and, even deserved things in life (and typically got them) and I have had important things washed away like sand castles during high tide. I have felt rejected, lost, hurting, and soaking wet at times in the middle of storms and I have carefully tried to remember those feelings and remain humble. I know, my personality is 'matter of fact', and I rarely put up with foolishness for very long, but don't make the mistake of wrongly associating those traits with pride or self-elevation...These things I tread lightly around...I say all this to say that in the end of the meeting, my conclusion was no longer simply "I'd rather not" but became, instead, "I will, but I'd rather not"... See, there are a lot of things I would do for the people I care about...I think about giving organs to loved ones, even giving my life to protect my family...I sometimes give my lunch to the guy standing at the stoplight, I would give money, clothes, shelter to friends...all out of love for them..and I think MOST of us would say the same thing, that doesn't separate me from the masses...but in this case, there was only ONE reason why I agreed. I was compelled by the One that has given his life for me, and in return, I have given back the life I owe, to serve him.

Weeks ago, God began impressing on my heart 2 Cor. 5:14-15 " For the love of Christ compels us, because we are convinced of this, that One died for all, and therefore all have died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again." 
I love that verse, my spirit jumps every time I read it...but I didn't really understand the "Why" of it all...Sometimes, as a minister, I feel led to research scriptures, to dig to the depths of a thought or verse..but in this case..I just kept reading it, over and over... Until last night.

Then, I needed to know the depths of Paul's words because I quickly recognized that they were no longer Paul's words alone, but now they were my words also. I was compelled by my love for his love for do something that, in all honesty, I would be fine without. You see, the idea is that Christ's love so completely controlled and dominated Paul's life that he had NO CHOICE but to preach. He wasn't forced in the negative sense of the word, by way of a gun to his head or a threat looming over...He had just come to the careful conclusion, by thorough examination and analysis, that Christ HAD died for all...and that by reaping the benefits of having him on that cross, representative of our sinful nature, all had died with him... So, to Paul (and me) there is no other option but to live fully, 100% for Christ...even to the point of doing things I would rather NOT do, to serve Him...No one here on earth can force, sway, or influence my decisions anywhere remotely close to the way Christ can, simply through his love for me...How could I say no??? How can ANY of us say him....???

I have been reading some amazing commentaries on these few verses and may make a series of posts digging deeper into what Paul was REALLY saying here...but, do we even need that? Isn't this enough for today, or any day for that matter? I mean, what else do you need to know to start living your life for God? Because to live your life for "yourself" as "the master of your own destiny" is to truly serve sin....Freedom (in the manner we choose to use it) is an illusion. Your life has already been purchased. Your only choice now, is to serve the one who loves you, or to serve the one who wants to destroy you. One has already given you all His love...isn't that compelling enough?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I like roller coasters, but I wouldn't want to live on one...

DH and I at the Hogs Homecoming Game

I should be ashamed of my blogger self. I really have not fallen into a deep crevice in the wilderness somewhere outside of civilization...In fact, there have been so many happenings in my life in the past few weeks that I am not even sure where to start....or where that might lead. I have decided, however, through the course of these past weeks...that I like roller coasters...but I don't want to live on one...See DH and I live a pretty even-keel life...Where drama ensues, we typically withdraw. We just don't like it. Emotions and feelings are part of who we are as humans. We all have them...we all express them... But it's that extra dramatic flair that makes us know, the point when you're on a roller coaster and it looks as though you are going to slam right into something, only to drop enough to barely avoid catastrophe?? Yah...that.  But, hence, these human bodies we have here on earth do tend to make it virtually impossible to live one's life without some roller coaster aspects...I just hope they are as temporary as the ones we ride....or as painless as the kiddie rides (wouldn't that be nice?)

Synopsis of the past two weeks: I have finished another class (Graduate Research, to be exact), said goodbye to a friend too soon and watched my grandma take too long, it seemed....I have changed goals significantly at work (God is my strength and peace), enjoyed birthday parties/football games/concerts, and struggled with physical health (God is my healer)... And, I believe that through the course of all these emotional trips, I have had to deal with emotions that I typically would ignore (just through lack of energy to suppress them)..loneliness, hurt, rejection, worry... It's times like this that I just want to say....No thank you, I will not be riding today. Unfortunately...THAT we don't get a choice instead, I hang on for dear life and try to move past the emotions as quickly as I get know, like being on a roller coaster.

Until next time, whenever that might be....I praise my God for who he is, regardless of how I feel.

The Lord is my strength and my shield, in him my heart trusts and I am helped.
My heart exults with praise and with my song I give thanks to him. Psalms 28:7

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Storm

Tonight I just wanted to encourage anyone out there who wonders where God is sometimes. I watches a video done by this guy that we sometimes use for youth services..this particular message really touched my heart. While I feel like there is "turmoil" all around me in my life right now, I can honestly say that because of HIM, internally I am truly at peace. I recognize all these stressful things (as duly noted by my various social networking sites) but truth be told..God is doing something really great inside my spirit.  I trust that it will all come together in his timing and I am at peace because of that.

So the story goes like this:
He was camping with his family and decided to go on a hike with his, then, 1 year old son in a backpack on his back. A few miles into the trip, it started raining. At first it was a small rain, and his son wasn't too concerned...but as it continued, the rain began coming down harder, lightning and thunder were all around them, and the wind was blowing the trees all over the place...his son began crying, even wailing....his reality at that moment was soaking wet, full of fear and confusion...It was all he knew. But the dad....knew the way home. So even though he could recognize his son's reality, he also knew it was temporary. Pretty soon, the son's cries seemed unbearable to the father, he responded to the cries of his child....he took the backpack off, and wrapped his son up close to his chest, as close to his heartbeat as he could, and he began whispering "I love you son..Don't worry, Daddy knows the way home...We're almost there and we're gonna be okay....I love you child" over and over again...until they were home.

Imagine years later. The son is in "therapy" talking about all the damage that was caused from this storm. All the anger and bitterness he holds because his dad let him experience the turmoil of that storm. The dad, would be crushed...because those moments were some of the most intimate, close memories he holds with his son. Those memories are what grew and deepened their relationship as father and child...the trust the child has in his father.

See, sometimes, we look at the storms in our life and say "If there was really a God, and if He really loved me, I wouldn't be going through this right now" and God is saying, "Please trust me, child. I know the way home, and I love you. I am going to make sure you make it home safe...I LOVE you" And we, sometimes look back at these situations in anger at God...but if we cry out to Him instead and let him respond as a loving father to our cries, these could be the moments that we remember as the most important in building our relationship with God. What we see as a storm...what our REALITY is today, is different from our Dad's...just like the son in the story... he couldn't see anything besides the storm...but his father heard his cry, comforted him, and got him home safely. How much more will Abba Father for us?? Sometimes we need to be reminded to trust that our Dad....knows the way home, even if we don't.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Yes...and No...

I find myself using this phrase a LOT lately....nothing is a definite anymore, which is highly unusual for me, but it seems that with 100 different things going on, I am "on the fence" a lot more frequently than ever before. TAHEC (The educational consortium in Tulsa that I currently preside as President over) has probably seen the biggest hit from my new unsettling disease. Case in point: "Do you know when/where our next meeting is, Ashley?" Answer: Yes...and no. "Was So-and-so getting the new tablecloths, Ashley?" Answer: Yes...and no. "Do we have a schedule for the upcoming event, Ashley?" Answer: Yes...and no. But TAHEC isn't alone....Oh no, in fact I am nothing if not COMPLETELY fair! "Are you finished with your part of the group assignment, Ashley?" Answer:...well, you can certainly get the picture by now...  

I know I need to get better at time management, with work, grad school, youth, working out, keeping house, etc... I know I need to be taking vitamins so that mornings aren't so terrible to bear and I can actually get moving in less than two hours, I know I need to be cleaning/finishing projects when I am home (and homework is completed) instead of watching sitcoms on TV....but when you ask me if I am serious about changing all these things in my life?? The answer is..of course...Yes...and no.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Out with the old...In with the new!

I have recently become very frustrated with my beautiful blog template...various things were disappearing and I was being forced to learn more about editing HTML's than I have ever anticipated. So, while this one  doesn't make me want to puke is nice enough,  although certainly not as unique as my previous template... it doesn't appear to be giving me the grief that my beautiful one was giving......c'est la vie..

I will have to re-add all my fun side sections at a more convenient time. Hopefully I can find it somewhere deep inside to be satisfied with the way it looks...changing templates is a pain.

Til next time.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A re-post I thought you all would enjoy

This post is from one of the Ethiopian Adoption blogs I stalk read on a regular basis. I thought that, while there are specific implications when looking at it from an adoption perspective...we can all get better at "living in a life of gray". I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! If you like this, you can follow this amazing family @

It is always difficult for Dimples when things don't go as she anticipates. Changes in routine, menu, wardrobe, etc. are all challenging for her and very keenly felt, which has resulted in overly dramatic responses. If you have a child like this, you know exactly what I'm talking about. In a recent appointment, Deborah talked to Dimples about the idea that life is not "All or Nothing". In Dimples' mind, it is all black and white, so one of our healing tasks is to help her learn to live comfortably in a life of gray.

For example, in the past, when it was time to set the table, Dimples might ask to set the plates, but if I had already told one of the other children they could do the plates, drama ensued. She wasn't able to accept that there was another job that just might be okay as well. Now we practice saying, "It's not what I want, but it is okay." Or, if we were reading a book and another child was sitting on my lap, she couldn't cope with that, and disrupted all of us. If she couldn't be happily sitting on my lap, nobody could be happy at all.

When a child is an orphan and a survivor, she can't afford to think, "If I get a little and they get a little, it's okay. There is plenty to go around." In reality, there may not be plenty at all. Or, when the nanny opens the clothing cupboard for the children to get dressed, the little girl can't think to herself, "If I wait sweetly and patiently, I just might get that pink dress that I love so much." No, she rushes to the front, smiling her cutest fake smile, hoping to attract the nanny's attention, and pleading, oh so sweetly, for the pink dress.

Then we place this child, who has learned to be a survivor, in a family, and we wonder why she can't take turns, and why she gets so agitated as the food is being passed around the table. And why, oh why, does she wail when she can't wear the pink shirt that is in the laundry today?

So we practice coping with disappointment. We say, "It's okay if I can't wear my pink shirt today. I have a green one that I also like." Or, "It's okay if Ladybug puts the plates on the table, I can put the glasses on, and that is a fun job too."

If you have a child who completely falls apart when things don't go her way, who has reactions that are completely out of proportion with the situation, who can't accept changes in plans and is crushed by the simplest change, do not lose heart. Practice living comfortably in a life of gray. Role play situations where things don't go quite right and help her to find phrases that she can grasp and use.

Most recently, we are working on this with Dimples regarding school. She wants to do it all perfectly, which isn't possible. She also wants to do it all very quickly, which tends to have an inverse relationship with doing it perfectly. Each week she has a spelling test on Thursday and if she gets 100%, she is exempt from the test on Friday. She builds this up in her mind, but unfortunately, spelling is challenging for her. She has not gotten 100% on a Thursday yet. We adults know that this is not a big deal, but to her, it is black and white. Anything short of 100% is failure.

Our most recent phrase is, "Every week I do my best."

If a little extra help is needed, we rock in the rocking chair, we chew a piece of gum, or we take a few deep breaths. Jumping on the trampoline is good for resetting emotions as well.

This is nothing earth shattering, just one more thing we are learning along the way. Dimples is getting so much better at this and we are very, very proud of her.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Somber thoughts regarding friendship- warning!

So, I was all ready to "hit the sack" after spending the whole evening playing on facebook and fulfilling my incessant need to comment on everyone's facebook status er... working on homework. But, sitting in the shower (what, you guys don't sit on the shower floor?) I realized that I had a lot on my mind that, unfortunately, wasn't adequately released while doing above mentioned homework

I had an amazing weekend with one of my OLDEST, DEAREST friends this past weekend. I love that some friendships never fade, no matter how long they are separated, or how much distance is between them. We had an awesome time catching up, shopping, cooking, eating...And through the course of this fantastic weekend, I came to a pretty sobering realization; I don't make friends like that anymore, and probably haven't in the last 10 years. Although, I did have a few that could have grown to that point around 5 years ago...I think some of them stalk my blog and I wouldn't want any Conway-ians to think I don't realize what we had.
Don't get me wrong, I make friends. I even make good friends. But when we get together, we talk about kids, pets, fitness, shopping, recipes. When old friends get together you talk about sex, fears, anger, struggles, and love. I guess I never realized how important that really is to my soul. I thought I was fine shooting the breeze, but getting to truly pour out my heart without fear of reprisal, correction, or, that is a good feeling. I tend to internalize things that really bother me...I mean REALLY bother me, and getting to vent knowing that I could completely trust Ruth (not just her, I actually have a few friends I feel that way about) helped me, kind of, clean out my soul and my mind.

I think the worst thing about it, besides the miles I have to put on my car on trips to AR and MO to get my "fix", is the fact that I think I am a pretty good friend. And I bet there are some people out there that probably could use a friend like me. I just think I am incapable anymore of getting that close to people. I think that too many times, trust has been broken, corrections have been made, and wounds have been created. I have learned, in my life, that two childhood sayings ring very true. 

1. "Once you get burned, you learn not to touch the stove" 

2. "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me".

It's a shame's the truth but a shame nonetheless.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The things animals say...

I lay in bed last night, myself. I find it humorous how "integrated" my dog, Norman, feels in our family. STORY: I had gone to bed later than usual (class until 10pm, studying to minister Wed. night, and wind-down process had kept me alert until well past midnight), and Norman, being the loyal dog that he is, grudgingly stayed up slept in the living room, waiting for me to go to bed. Once I got there, I was so amused by this DOG...who thinks he owns everything we own pretty much owns everything we own. He had such a difficult time falling asleep...he was tossing and turning, kicking and snorting (he is a PUG after all), when finally he discovered the thing that would aid him in "getting comfortable"...a bone. He rushed off the bed and ran through the house (yes, you can tell he was running...once again, he is a PUG) to find this enormous bone he has been working on for many, many moons. He runs back to the bedroom, jumps on the bed, tucks it safely under my blanket and promptly snuggles up to sleep. It was hilarious. You could just sense that, in his world, something WAS NOT RIGHT!

But the thing that struck me most was that I was paying such close attention to these assertions of my dog's emotions. Why is it, we think we can understand our pets? I mean, I have never heard my prissy cat, Claire, make snooty and rude comments, but I am quite aware of those times that she wishes she could. Claire is also my diabetic cat, to whom I have to give twice daily shots. It's really hard for me (and I am not even the one getting the shot), yet she always nuzzles my hand or face when I am done. It's like she's telling me "I understand, I know you're just doing what you have to do and I love you anyways"...She can't speak so I am obviously reading a lot into a very normal cat behavior...but it's what I need to know, at that moment.

My other cat, Oliver, who gives a whole new meaning to the term scaredy cat can be timid when people are over, is also the bravest beast in the wilderness when he's up against a fly. He's such a lover, yet can be extremely ornery. He cuddles up next to you, strokes your face with his paw, and nuzzles your cheek with his nose, right before he takes a quick, yet small, bite of your face. Oliver has been in our family for 5 years now. I still never see it coming. Not to mention, Oliver is the most vocal cat I have ever seen. It seems like he wants to "talk" all the time, about anything. He doesn't like it when he doesn't know which room we're in (and God forbid we ever shut him OUT of that room), or when we are gone all day...and he tells us exactly how he feels...or so I think...

I had my wisdom teeth removed on Thursday and told Jeremiah I wanted NO ANIMALS bothering me while the drugs wore off. When I woke up, I saw three "concerned" animals sitting outside the baby gate that was hindering their ability to come see if I was okay. Of course, they never said that...So maybe my interpretation of my animal's personalities is simply what I would WANT them to think and say and feel about me. By the way, if Norman was a child...he would be a momma's boy. I am very much his

favorite =)

Just my thoughts for the day.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bathroom Remodel

Okay, this is my third attempt at posting bathroom remodel pictures...grr...for some reason, they don't want to cooperate with me. Anyways, this is our completely remodeled..okay almost completely remodeled bathroom. 3 days of sweat (and a little blood), $300 $400 once you add in our bathroom lights, fixtures, and hardware but overall, we didn't kill each other. That's the most important thing!

These are our BEFORE pictures...It's important to disclaim that the walls were self-induced. In my defense, the Lowe's people said it was very easy to create this "faux rust" look. Apparently I am simply an anomoly of painting failure...

Here is our "working" pictures. We tore out the carpet (and cleaned all the cigarette butts from under our tub. Thank you to the gentlemen who built my house with such a spirit of excellence...grr... removed the baseboards, painted the walls, laid the tiles, grouted tiles, and replaced finished baseboard..all in three days work (one of which we were pleasantly surprised by friends from AR and got very little work done

As it would turn out uploading photos to blogger is a horrifyingly disgusting job that makes me want to throw my laptop out the window not as easy as one might hope. I guess, this will have to be my plug for Facebook if you want to see more pictures of the job. Alas, our finished product!