Friday, January 28, 2011

Just add...

"Movie Reviewer" to my repertoire of talents.

Last night, we got to attend a pre-screening of Soul Surfer, the movie based on the story of Bethany Hamilton.

Christian movies are usually low-budget. They typically have no-name casts. Words that I have heard used to describe Christian movies:

B- acting
Obviously very low budget.

Let's face it, as an emerging entertainment market? It's been lagging.

So you can imagine that our hopes weren't exactly "up" as we walked in the theater.

We were not only pleasantly surprised. We were COMPLETELY surprised!

Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt, and AnnaSophia Robb round out the main characters in this story. The acting is fantastic. The special effects (Remember Bethany Hamilton lost her ARM in a shark attack) are incredible.

It was inspirational.

It was tense at times.

It was compassionate.

It was emotional.

Overall, it was really good!

I mean it....It was REALLY good!

It premiers on April 8th. We'll be back. Because as Christian soon-to-be-parents? We NEED this type of entertainment to be available! We need great actors signing up for wholesome movies. We are hungry for entertainment that we don't have to worry about language, explicit behavior, or plot lines with questionable values.

This is a movie I encourage you to support. It will be opening in 2000 theaters nationwide. Movies like Soul Surfer need solid opening weekends to support and promote it. Movies die without big premiers!

Go see it! Take your friends and families!! We can't wait to check it out again!!!!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

This weekend....

I have to:

Do three loads of laundry.

Clean the kitchen and dining room.

Make 5 onesies, a hat, and a blanket for orders shipping Monday.

Study 'Lean Six Sigma'.

Go grocery shopping.

Paint my toenails.

Crawl into the fetal position and call my mommy.

Convince friends to come do 1 and 2 for me.

Plan a vacation. Somewhere tropical. With drinks that have umbrellas and come in coconuts.

Think about quitting soda.

Put "quitting soda" in the "maybe column"

Completely forget about quitting soda.

Send pictures of me drinking soda to all my friends who have "quit" the good stuff.

Make myself a new headband.

And stay up too late watching Anne of Green Gables.
"Chrysathemum: c-h-r-y-s-a-t-h-E-m-u-m"...Take that Gilbert-smarty-pants!

Then end.

What's on your agenda this weekend?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Helpful tips in "Adoption Talk"

5 Things on my mind. Some kind of record.

5 posts this week already?

This has to be some kind of record. right?? ;-)

1. Last night's State of the Union address got me thinking about what my first job was (What? Were there other things mentioned?). I was 9 (Yes, Nine!) and I seriously wanted a job. My mom was great and totally fed into this completely irrational desire of mine. She knew some people [Don't ALL moms "know" the right people?] and got me a job folding t-shirts at a fudge factory on Spring Street in Eureka Springs. She worked it out where the Trolley would pick me up in the morning (What a wonderful memory!)--I had an 'unlimited rider' pass---and I could walk down to the Trolley Station in the afternoon and find the route time that could take me home. My mom knew the Trolley drivers. My mom knows everyone. I remember one specific day when I got to meet a friend for lunch. Let me tell you, I was Gah-rown.

I still get queasy at the smell of cooking fudge. 

I don't actually remember getting paid.

2. Yesterday, I learned that I have too much on my plate and let the wrong things slide right off the side...I learned that I can forsake glory and fame for the ability to work with strong people. I learned that, if given the chance, I will eat an entire bag of Hershey kisses...I don't even like chocolate that much so this was a serious revelation.

3. The vending machine at the office was out of Pibb Xtra. Un. Acceptable.

4.  I need a sewing class.

5. I finish grad. school in 8 weeks. The day before my birthday. I am shamelessly reminding my co-workers that it is completely appropriate to bring gifts when we present our projects to the board [people come and watch that boring nonsense...I'll never understand it]

You can feel free to send gifts too. Amazon gift-cards are especially appreciated ;-)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Character (Not the Sesame Street kind).

Say it with me 10 times.....

"I am not defined by my job. I am not defined by my job...."

It's true. But it's impossible to believe.

Okay, maybe not *impossible* but it certainly feels impossible sometimes.

I have struggled with this for as long as I can remember. I would like to think that it's simply a spirit of excellence. But the reality is, my "spirit of excellence" is a short jog away from "perfectionism"

Oh yes. Not far at all, my friends.

When things are difficult at work, I immediately feel like a failure. Its usually a mixture of ingredients that make "crap soup" and if anything, my input is minimal...But I can't help it. At least not on my own.

I think sometimes, we take control of what we think success is. Of why we think people love us. Of why we love ourselves. I have always been an overachiever. It's who I am. Down to my core.

I work hard. I am dedicated. And I will always give 110% to everything I put my hands to. But, I won't be good at everything. At least not from man's perspective. Sometimes, it's just not going to go the way I think it should. The way I think I *deserve* it to go. The way I am certain God intends it to go.

But maybe that's because my perspective is skewed.  And if I fail at my job, or at something else, it isn't those things that gain or lose God's approval. It's my heart in the face of those things. It's my character that matters.

Sarah, Abraham's wife, she had this problem too. In their culture, it was customary for a woman to give her husband children, even if that meant a servant bore those children. She couldn't have children. That was her *job* and she felt like a failure. I get that.

And she tried to change the situation (by means that were completely *culturally-acceptable*)...She tried to "fix" what appeared to be "crap-soup". She wasn't trying to "play God" or anything, she was trying to please God. To please her husband. To give them all what she was *certain* they all expected from her. I get that.

And she was so consumed with her "way" of fixing things that she forgotten to listen. She was so caught up in the situation, that she forgot to hear what the Creator was saying. I get that, too.

And she no longer believed in what He would do through her. Yep, totally get that.

But God didn't see Sarah as a failure. Maybe a little impatient. Maybe too much of a perfectionist. Maybe a little "caught up" in the situation that by man's perspective, made her a failure. But God never saw her as a failure.

His promise, while outside of what seemed acceptable, was to make Abraham the father of many nations. Through Sarah.

I have mentioned before that our lives are like a beautiful mural God is painting....There may be patches of black paint and rough strokes (90 years of black paint in Sarah's case) but if we trust that He only makes beautiful paintings. If we believe that it truly is our character that defines us...NOT  our jobs, our successes. our esteem....Then we can trust that, in the end, we are not failures. We are children, trusting our Father not to lead us astray.

"The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Sam 16:7 (b)

So the next time the world tells you it hates your stinkin' guts? That you make it vomit? That you're the scum between its toes?  Remember that God hasn't discounted you just because man has. Remember the things you are called to. Remember that there is a way to bring glory to God in the worst of situations.

 That's character, my friend.

Monday, January 24, 2011

I never do that!

I never look at the waiting children on DHS, or Rainbow kids, or any other "waiting children" site.

It's not that I am heartless. 

It's not that I don't care.

It's just that....

When you see that? When you look at the eyes of children slowly--but surely--aging out of the system?

Well..for me... I begin to feel hopeless.

And I begin to be overcome with sadness at the idea that--for the rest of their lives-- they won't have a mom harassing them to call. Or to come over for dinner. Or worrying if they're eating enough.

They won't have a dad to help them with buying a new car. Or to learn about the "art of grilling". Or to watch a football game with.

They won't have a place to come home to when the world is their enemy. They won't have champions for them, even when they make mistakes.

And I am overwhelmed. With grief for these children.

So, I don't know why yesterday, I happened upon DHS's website.

And I have no recollection of clicking the "waiting for a family" link.

I don't remember scrolling through the lists of children...

But I remember Elmer.

Elmer is 10 years old. He has sad eyes, but a mature smirk. He's wearing a suit, though I imagine someone else dressed him, he looks awfully uncomfortable. And a family hasn't found Elmer yet.

On my way home, I clearly felt God pulling me to pray for Elmer. For his heart. For healing. For comfort. I began to pray that a family would be urged--and accept the calling--to adopt Elmer. That their hearts would be soft to his healing process. That they would understand that his anger and difficulty loving, doesn't have anything to do with them, but is because of a life lived alone. That they would lean on God and constantly remind Elmer that God never forgot about him..and that even though it seemed like it took a long-time... God had never forsaken Elmer's need for a family. I prayed that Elmer would open his heart to this family and begin to trust in their affection and their protection. That God's redemptive plan wouldn't fail to be achieved in Elmer's life.

I can't explain it. I woke in the middle of the night with Elmer on my heart again. And this morning.

I don't know his story. I don't know what his situation is Today. But I know that, for whatever reason, God knew Elmer needed someone standing in the gap for him. For some reason, Elmer needed heartfelt, passionate, overwhelmed prayers on his behalf. God loves Elmer that much. To send strangers to his side.

So today, I am asking you to pray for this child. To pray for his heart, for his situation, that God would intervene on his behalf. That his family would answer the call. That he wouldn't remain an orphan one day longer than necessary.

That his tragedy would be answered with God's redemption.

Thank you for praying with me, today!

*Ashley Lou*

P.S. You can also pray for my ankle. I twisted it over Christmas and it still hurts!! I don't wanna get into *how* it happened. Though, if my little bro. was around, he would be HAPPY to tell you how I tripped over nothing, twisted it on my mother's rock walkway because I*insist* on wearing heels every day even though I am the most clumsy person ever! Yah, he'd have no problem spilling the beans on this one! ;-)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fellow Family Fundraiser

Hi Blog family, friends, followers...and lurkers. You know who you are.

Check out a fellow adoptive family's most recent fundraiser. The O'Neals are patiently  (who's kidding who) waiting for their I-171H so they can turn in their Dossier and get on that waiting list!! There are raising funds for the next big piece due and it's so easy to help them! What's $5 anyways??

Want more info? Check out their BLOG to buy a few puzzle pieces =)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

5 Things on my mind

1. I try so-very-hard to do my devotional every morning. Really, I do. But, I am only good at it about 50% of the time...Ya see....mornings? well, I've never been very *fond* of mornings. But I really love my devo. I really love starting my days with God and the word and by being spiritually challenged. And, so I am trying harder. Yes, I am starting new tomorrow.

2. It's possible that I have begun procrastinating even the things I procrastinate with. Enter: Lord of the Rings instead of sewing instead of reviewing my research proposal for Monday night..Yes indeed, I have hit a new low.

3.  I was blessed this week by a fellow AP that I have never actually met. 
[Back story: We met over a year ago on a facebook group when we were very VERY early in the process. She and her husband then accepted a waiting child and have been home quite some time with their baby girl.
As I was reseaching devotionals at the beginning of the year, I posted a request for favorites on FB. Well this mom told me that she had a Sanctuary Bible/Devotional for Women and that if I was interested, she would give it to me. Just. Give it to me. Not asking for anything for it. Nothing in return. Just a gift. And it was quite a gift too. I have loved reading it every evening (yes, I am better at night) and have since found a way to repay her kindness. She said it was a "Happy Baby-Year" gift....Only in adoption-land. But I am continually grateful and blessed by this new world and those who "understand", like this mom did!

4.  Blankets are harder than they look. Next time someone makes you a blanket. Kiss them right on their face. Blankets are hard. I don't know why I keep making them. I hate making them. I'm never making another blanket as long as I live.

That's probably a lie.

I can't explain it.

5.  I watched Young Victoria last weekend. It was Uh-mazing. I have since been addicted to her story. Seriously. I have been googling and wikipedia-ing ever since. 

You should totally watch it.

That's my official recommendation.

The End.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Just a glimpse...

I may---or may not---have already started making nursery stuff. Yes. BEFORE I have a referral. Which means that, either I will be patting myself on the back for "working ahead" or kicking myself because now I have to start over with the other gender's design.

But, along with all that "working ahead" I have come across some UH-mazing ideas that I intend to incorporate in the room once I actually CAN start doing things.


How's grad. school coming along?

I don't want to talk about that right now (although I will say I ONLY have 9 more weeks). Because there is nothing I enjoy more than procrastinating homework and instead working on crafts.

I have always been this way.

In college, I used to hand-sew throw pillows for my friends for this VERY reason.

But I digress.
So back to Baby Smith's humble abode.

I have been on a mission for MONTHS trying to find a good replacement for the traditional book shelves.

1,  I don't like having to L-bracket everything to my walls and I already have plenty of things that will have to be.

2. I LOVED book racks, but primary colors weren't really "my thing" for this.

3. I wanted Baby Smith to have access to books, being able to see the fronts (and thus, the pictures) and be able to pick out (and put back) the books he or she chooses.
Enter this beaut.  I found her blog-hopping. And I love it! I am going to do four high-- a little bit shorter in length than these-- in coordinating fabrics to the room theme. It's super easy, already attached to the wall (thus relieving that "can they pull this down on themselves?" fear), and if I so choose, I can simply change out the fabrics later.


I want to make this tomorrow. But I can't. Even though it's beautiful. And colorful. And easy. But trust me, when I DO get the time/ability/referral needed to make this, it's gonna be AWESOME! And it might even be the first glimpse into Baby Smith's name 

(for those of you thinking I am gonna slip, you're wrong, friends. WRONG!)

If anyone out there is interested in this kind of crazy  craftiness. This blog. is amazing. I love her. I think we'd be great friends =)

I bought this rocking chair for $20 on craigslist. I wanted something "different" and "unique". I have big BIG plans for this puppy. Back and seat cushions...Arm pads with pockets.... All coordinating with the room decor. Because Coordination is my middle name.

Okay, that's actually a lie.

My middle name is Louise.

Yes. For real.

So, there's your glimpse. I also have a cool wall silhouette I am considering buying/painting. 
But that's just a teaser, I am not gonna show you that just yet! 


*Ashley Lou*

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one”                                              --C.S. Lewis


I have realized that the different between friend-ish and friend-for-life is.....

The  first kind of "friend" might know everything about you that you have ever shared with them...

But the real friends? Well, they seem to know everything about you that you have NEVER shared with them.

Today? I was still surprised to see God moving through those friendships.

On a not-very-grand day, I had two FRIENDS call to say I was on their heart, without a clue that just knowing that made all the difference in the world.

I am very blessed to have those kinds of friends.

I hope you are, too.

Spring Fundraiser Plans

 Hi everyone! We are starting to plan a spring yard sale fundraiser to help fund our TWO trips to Ethiopia this year to get Baby Smith! Right now, the plan is to host this around the beginning of April (barring we are in ET already!) We are praying for God's open doors in a couple of areas:

1. We are still praying about the right location in NWA. Because so many of the people who have offered to donate are there, it didn't make sense to bring everything to Tulsa!! We are praying for a location "right in the mix" so lots of people can come buy our stuff!!! :-)

2. We still need more donations! For now, I am asking that anyone who would be willing to plan to donate to our BIGGEST FUNDRAISER YET!!, please either comment on this post or email me privately and, YES, Tulsa peeps, you can donate too, we'll get the stuff there!!!! And, hey, if there are enough Tulsa donations, we'll just do TWO! Imagine how awesome that would be?!?! =))

3. Please pray for God's continued favor on our journey. We are praying that our referral comes sooner than expected, we believe that's not above God and we ask you to pray with us that the remainder of our journey is speedy and without any more major hurdles!

We know, more than ever that it takes a village, and we feel incredibly blessed to know how big our village has become!

Thank you for considering to help us on this mission! Feel free to invite anyone else you think might be interested!!!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Top Things Our Kids Will Never Know

This morning I found this great article in Moneytalks News which discussed a story the Huffington Post recently did on the Top 20 things that will be obsolete to babies born in 2011. They added a few to the original list and I couldn’t help sharing it with the world!
Nostalgia, here I come!
Video tape: Starting this year, the news stories produced at Money Talks have all been shot, edited, and distributed to TV stations without ever being on any kind of tape. Not only that, the tape-less broadcast camera used today offers much higher quality than anything that could have been imagined 10 years ago -- and cost less than the lens on the camera being used previously.
Travel agents: While not dead today, this profession is one of many that's been decimated by the Internet. When it's time for their honeymoon, will those born in 2011 be able to find one?
The separation of work and home: When you're carrying an email-equipped computer in your pocket, it's not just your friends who can find you -- so can your boss. For kids born this year, the wall between office and home will be blurry indeed.
Books, magazines, and newspapers: Like video tape, words written on dead trees are on their way out. Sure, there may be books -- but for those born today, stores that exist solely to sell them will be as numerous as record stores are now.
Movie rental stores: You actually got in your car and drove someplace just to rent a movie?
Watches: Maybe as quaint jewelry, but the correct time is on your smartphone, which is pretty much always in your hand.
Paper maps: At one time these were available free at every gas station. They're practically obsolete today, and the next generation will probably have to visit a museum to find one.
Wired phones: Why would you pay $35 every month to have a phone that plugs into a wall? For those born today, this will be a silly concept.
Long distance: Thanks to the Internet, the days of paying more to talk to somebody in the next city, state, or even country are limited. 

Newspaper classifieds: The days are gone when you have to buy a bunch of newsprint just to see what's for sale.
Dial-up Internet: While not everyone is on broadband, it won't be long before dial-up Internet goes the way of the plug-in phone.
Encyclopedias: Imagine a time when you had to buy expensive books that were outdated before the ink was dry. This will be a nonsense term for babies born today.
Forgotten friends: Remember when an old friend would bring up someone you went to high school with, and you'd say, "Oh yeah, I forgot about them!" The next generation will automatically be in touch with everyone they've ever known even slightly via Facebook.
Forgotten anything else: Kids born this year will never know what it was like to stand in a bar and incessantly argue the unknowable. Today the world's collective knowledge is on the computer in your pocket or purse. And since you have it with you at all times, why bother remembering anything?
The evening news: The news is on 24/7. And if you're not home to watch it, that's OK -- it's on the smartphone in your pocket.
CDs: First records, then 8-track, then cassette, then CDs -- replacing your music collection used to be an expensive pastime. Now it's cheap(er) and as close as the nearest Internet connection.
Film cameras: For the purist, perhaps, but for kids born today, the word "film" will mean nothing. In fact, even digital cameras -- both video and still -- are in danger of extinction as our pocket computers take over that function too.
Yellow and White Pages: Why in the world would you need a 10-pound book just to find someone?
Catalogs: There's no need to send me a book in the mail when I can see everything you have for sale anywhere, anytime. If you want to remind me to look at it, send me an email.
Fax machines: Can you say "scan," ".pdf" and "email?"
One picture to a frame: Such a waste of wall/counter/desk space to have a separate frame around each picture. Eight gigabytes of pictures and/or video in a digital frame encompassing every person you've ever met and everything you've ever done -- now, that's efficient. Especially compared to what we used to do: put our friends and relatives together in a room and force them to watch what we called a "slide show" or "home movies."
Wires: Wires connecting phones to walls? Wires connecting computers, TVs, stereos, and other electronics to each other? Wires connecting computers to the Internet? To kids born in 2011, that will make as much sense as an electric car trailing an extension cord.
Hand-written letters: For that matter, hand-written anything. When was the last time you wrote cursive? In fact, do you even know what the word "cursive" means? Kids born in 2011 won't -- but they'll put you to shame on a tiny keyboard.
Talking to one person at a time: Remember when it was rude to be with one person while talking to another on the phone? Kids born today will just assume that you're supposed to use texting to maintain contact with five or six other people while pretending to pay attention to the person you happen to be physically next to.
Retirement plans: Yes, Johnny, there was a time when all you had to do was work at the same place for 20 years and they'd send you a check every month for as long as you lived. In fact, some companies would even pay your medical bills, too!
Mail: What's left when you take the mail you receive today, then subtract the bills you could be paying online, the checks you could be having direct-deposited, and the junk mail you could be receiving as junk email? Answer: A bloated bureaucracy that loses billions of taxpayer dollars annually.
Commercials on TV: They're terrifically expensive, easily avoided with DVRs, and inefficiently target mass audiences. Unless somebody comes up with a way to force you to watch them -- as with video on the Internet -- who's going to pay for them?
Commercial music radio: Smartphones with music-streaming programs like Pandora are a better solution that doesn't include ads screaming between every song.
Hiding: Not long ago, if you didn't answer your home phone, that was that -- nobody knew if you were alive or dead, much less where you might be. Now your phone is not only in your pocket, it can potentially tell everyone -- including advertisers -- exactly where you are.

P.S. I added the pictures. I know, pretty awesome. You're welcome ;-)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Years 2011

 I get why people hate New Year's Resolutions. In fact, I agree with most of their reasons...


Unrealistic expectations.

Ultimate letdown.

Yah, sounds crappy if you ask me.

But, on this--the first day of 2011-- I want to propose that resolutions? Aren't bad at all. In fact, resolutions? goals? objectives? Is all about how we "run the race"

Why do we focus our attention on temporal things. We focus on looking like models; spending our money on things that please man; collecting and owning things that have no meaning; and ultimately...just setting ourselves up for disappointment. 

Because, just like C.S. Lewis said in Weight of Glory, "We were not made for here". No, we were meant for another place. So, why should we focus on any less?

Goals give us direction. They keep us on task.

“Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry." (Habakkuk 2:2-3)

"Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty." (Proverbs 21:5)

So, yes, throw out the window the resolutions of old!! Forget about trying to look like Heidi Klum, let go of the fact that you may never vacation like Paris Hilton, and owning a collecting with the likes of Donald Trump..well, why bother?

No, this year? Let resolve. Let's resolve to focus our lives on the destinies God has set forth.

Resolve: (r-zlv) To determine or decide in purpose; to make ready in mind; to fix; to settle on.

Let's resolve to stay on path of the purpose we were created for. Let's resolve that with every day, we do everything possible to please Him with our lives! Let's change what matters to what REALLY matters this year!!

My resolutions:

*  Spend quality time with my family..every week. Our quality time usually consists of worshiping together  in the guest room.

*  Take better care of my body (yes, this does include working out again..but is more in line with my destiny) so that I am healthy and strong to fulfill whatever God has purposed for me.

*  Do a complete study of the life and ministry of Paul.

*  Finish the scripture canvases for Baby Smith #1. I need to prayerfully consider what the third one will be...probably specific to his/her name.

*  Be a better steward of what God has given me.  Organization is key to a clear mind!!

*  Love better. Give more.

*  Get up every morning and go to bed every evening with God.

* Kiss my husband goodnight every  night.

*  And to practice the art of a focused life (scheduling my days).

So, what are some of yours? Let's start the year off right, together!
May 2011 be the year you begin...and end...focused on the main thing!

Happy New Year