Wednesday, March 30, 2011

{Way more than} 5 things on my mind..and an adoption update.

I've been gone for a while. This I know.

I have a very good reason:

My dog ate my laptop

I was convicted of a felony and sent away to do hard time

I have been training to swim the English Channel

I broke both my index fingers making it impossible to type

I lost my contacts making it impossible to see

Okay, okay...

You know that feeling when you're being taunted and there is nothing you can do about it? Yes, well, my blog has been taunting me lately....

Just laughing at my wordlessness.

Gawking at my inability to complete a coherent thought.

Mocking my attempts to excuse away my lack of motivation.

In effect,  I just didn't really know how to put everything into words.

I feel better now, thankyouverymuchforasking.

Let's see if I can even remember how to do this "blogging" thing =)

1.  Food. 

Lately, I have been on one heckuva Suzie Homemaker phase (no offense to any Suzie Workingwomen out there....or for that matter...homemakers in general). The Pioneer Woman and I would be great friends. I am sure of it.  Breaking out the list of my current cooking ventures:
  • Sourdough Bread
  • Grasshopper Pie
  • Lemon Noodle Bake
  • Burgundy Mushrooms
  • Fancy Macaroni (seriously fancy.)
  • P-Dub's favorite meatloaf (and I usually HATE meatloaf!)
  • And this weekend? Yummy homemade cinnamon rolls.....
Did I hear some say "oink"?

You should be ashamed of yourselves..... ;-)
  • I should also note that we eat a lot of fresh veggies in our home.

2.  Sewing. 

I cleaned up my sewing multi-purpose room (sorry, babe) and it looks really nice. I have been lately getting distracted and have about half a million addition to the 8 summer dresses, two aprons, three flower bows, and a tie-shirt that need to go out this Monday! Arghh...

But I love it. What can I say.

I am also super-stoked because I have been trying to create the perfect skirt for graduation in May. I had found several semi-close tutes that I liked, but nothing that was perfect for what I was looking for.

Thank you Elle Apparel for giving me hope this afternoon.

[Enter contented sigh here]

Wait...scratch that...

[Enter Must Finish a Project determination here]


Much better.

3.  School. 

We are still revising our almost 100 page report. This is our 1 millionth revision, I believe (but who's counting)

I am so mad I could spit.

I am now only referring to this project as the neverending paper. The neverending-puke-inducing-scum-between-my-toes-stupidest-thing-ever paper.

It doesn't make me feel any better to name-call though.

4.  Florida.

The husband and I snagged a deal that we COULD. NOT.  pass up on last week.

Two people round trip. From Little Rock (holla) to Destin. $120.

For both of us. 

Not each.


We are so excited! The plan is to spend a couple days at Panama City Beach (swimming with the dolphins), Drive down to Orlando to cash in our Universal Studios vouchers, and then head back up to Destin/Pensacola for a few beach-layin'/dolphin-swimmin'/ocean-snorkelin'/zoo-goin' fun.

Any pointers from friends who frequent the Gulf coast would be much-appreciated.

In fact I would offer to name our first child after you, but The Husband has banned me from promising that anymore.

At last tally, our child had 28 names.

Did I mention we are going to be gone over Easter? So, because we didn't want to miss Easter service, we have found a sunrise beach service that Sunday. Church AND the beach? Praise the Lord, indeed!!!

P.S. People who think you might take advantage of the fact that we will be gone? We have people house-sitting..and yes, they are packing. I wouldn't take my chances if I were you.

5.  Friends.

My friends, the Clovers, surprised me for my birthday. They--literally--drove 3 hours to have dinner with us and then drove home.

They are crazy people.

I told them it was a terrible plan.

That I never would have let them drive all that way for such a short trip. For dinner with me.

They said, 'yes', they knew I would never allow such ridiculousness. Which is why they didn't tell me.

I love them very much. And all their silliness.

6.  Books.

When the Clover family was driving home Saturday night, I was riddled with guilt that I was at home in my nice warm bed. So I stayed up until I got word they were home. I decided it was the perfect opportunity to start in on the reading binge.

And started and finished the first of my 6 books that came in Friday.

Apparently I missed reading.


7.  Adoption.

Finally. This is it. The big news. The reason you are still reading this montage of nonsense.  
Assuming--of course--that you didn't just skip to the bottom....

The adoption update.

And just to be clear. No, we don't have a referral yet.

A couple of months ago, our hearts were being changed. We could feel it. But the stress of "paperwork" and pretty much the idea of changing N-E- thing was so overwhelming that we pushed our silly thoughts right to the back room. Locked them up and then sealed the room with cement so as to never be faced with such things again.

God never cares how much cement you place between you and His plan.

We knew that He was changing our hearts towards older children. But, we really REALLY didn't want to acknowledge it.

With the chaos of the last month in adoption-land. Specifically Ethiopian-adoption-land, we were faced once again with with the the deep-rooted changes happening in our hearts.  We committed to pray, to seek His will in our lives, and of course, to repent. well, you know, for the cement. and the padlock. and the unwillingness to bend.

In the last month, we have started seeking the wisdom of others. Mainly for practical issues, but also for those best and worst case scenarios. The "what-ifs" in life that are useless to examine and impossible to ignore.

If you are better at ignoring "what-ifs" then you are a better person than I am. Of course, if you have never had to staple the hem of your pants back up then you are a better person than I am too.

The bar is set awfully low.

For me, it was about changing my expectation. I had a crib in the garage. I had made  slaved over a crib quilt. We had read/watched Happiest Toddler on the Block. Checked out educational preschools. Collected clothing, toys, highchairs, etc...from friends and family.

A baby/toddler?

We could handle that.

We had an idea of what to expect. Yes, we had settled our minds around what that would look like. We were confident we could do it. We could parent a baby/toddler.

But a 4-6 year old? Well, we really had no idea what that would look like.  How it would all work.  What we would be able to learn....If we could even learn anything....

I mean if I am being completely honest. I was uneasy about so many practical things--but to be clear, never scared of it. How long would it take to learn English? Would I need to quit my job and home school? Would a 5 year old cuddle up to bond with his/her mommy?  How hard would it be to attach? How do you "cocoon" with a 4-6 year old?  How much more overwhelming would those first days/weeks/months be for him/her? Would they understand any of this? Could we convey our protection and love the way we could with a baby?

This was a huge shift. Everything we were comfortable with? was changing.

Even how we refer to our child was changing. Instead of Baby Smith, we have starting calling him/her Little Smith.

It's a new world.

We are totally in the dark about how to parent a 4-6 year old.

In fact, we are completely incapable of doing it on our own.

Which is probably exactly what God had in mind when He first started lighting this next section of our path.

So, to answer the questions:

1. Yes, it probably means we could get a referral sooner rather than later.

2. No, it does not necessarily mean our process will speed up any (in fact, we may need extra EXTRA prayers for the long duration expected waiting for a court date)

3.  We have additional costs that will be incurred to update all of our information (though that doesn't have to be done before we could get a referral)

4.  Yes, we are trying to learn more Amharic than we probably would have.

5. The 'denim diaper pic of each of our kids' idea is probably out the window, too. =)

6. Fundraising still continues. The costs haven't gone down, in fact they are more now and we have to consider the additional costs associated with Little Smith flying home.

All in all, we are praying for the system reforms  to happen faster than they are currently expecting. We want our process to move speedily through the system so we can get home with Little Smith as soon as possible. Since we are going to accept referrals for up to 4 years old, with the current process expectations, it could mean we bring home a 6 year old.

We want to bring Little Smith home sooner than that. 

MUCH sooner.

Your prayers are so incredibly-greatly appreciated, you truly have no idea!

*Ashley Lou*

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

5 {or close} Things On My Mind

My birthday, capstone presentation, and normal work/life activities have put blogging on the back burner lately....the WAY WAAAAY back burner.

Okay, so the truth is.....

I have writer's block.

I do not--however--have nothing going on to write about. The wall is somewhere right between the things that are perfect to be written about, and the ability to actually write them.

So instead, let me indulge you in my recent joys, starting with my purchase tonight:

Yes, I know. It's truly shameful.

I have survived the last year on recipes from the blog...but now I wanted the whole shebang!

Jodi Picoult is one of my two favorite authors. I was bawling over My Sister's Keeper years before they even considered making it a movie. She is raw and deals with the most controversial issues in an intriguing and objective perspective.

And then there's my other fav. Ted Dekker

And finally, an untrusted author...but I have heard such good things about this book, I had to give a try =)
Next on my list of indulges?


Friday, March 18, 2011

{My Week In Review}

Filled With Praise

Today I am linking up with Amy over at Filled with Praise for My Week In Review...sharing our highs, lows and lessons learned each week.What a great opportunity to be reminded of how blessed we truly are. 

Ya'll feel free to link up, too! As a special bonus this week, Poppie Lane has partnered with Amy for a giveaway! She's another adoptive momma...who is basking in the smiles and joys of her little guy who just recently came home!!

So without further ado:



This Monday at 6pm, my project team will present our final research project to the Dean of the college, Program Faculty, Faculty Project Sponsor, Classmates, and Families.

It couldn't come soon enough. Finishing a master's degree is no small feat [Trust me] but I am so thankful that I did it now!! I have so many projects I want to finish, gardens that need weeding, dishes that need baking, and a house that needs cleaning! Things that-- for the majority of the past 18 months-- have taken a serious backseat to grad. school and adoption preparations.

Needless to say, I am thrilled to have this behind me! We officially walk on May 7th but after Monday night? We are finished!



I can't even begin to express my grief and heaviness for the Japanese people. I've cried so many times looking at the pictures of destruction and loss. Families separated, desperate to find their deepest loved ones. Resilient to keep looking. Hopeful that their reunions are coming.....

And this is so far from over. I know the power of prayers...and yet sometimes it doesn't feel like enough. I think we all wish we could fix this for them....

The words to a song came to my mind as I looked through the most recent photos of Japan.

There is no pit too deep, that Jesus cannot reach
There is sorrow to strong, that it would overtake his beloved one.

I don't have any idea what they are going through. But I am confident that Christ is with them and that He can comfort them in their deepest sorrow. I pray that even now, they are feeling His comfort and peace...


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” - Romans 15:13
My hope comes from him. He has made us more than conquerors, yes (Roman 8:37)...But no one conquered without first engaging in a battle. Sometimes, I want to quit fighting...Sometimes I wonder "Why, God, has this been my path?", but in the end, I want to be the conqueror....and I will never be that, if I quit fighting today.

So I am trusting in Him and I am thankful for  supernatural hope given by the Holy Spirit. Yes, it's these things that give me strength to persevere!

So there you have it...My FIRST Week In Review!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patty's Day...and Torture.

This is what my eye looks like today...After I was tortured by a cosmologist and some wax last night. 

I would have told her anything she she wanted to know if only she would quit trying to rub/burn my flesh off. Apparently the books of the Bible/ States & Capitals random info. was not good enough.

I can't wear make-up today...because of the slight coloring difference and my inability to put make-up within a 100 mile radius of my injured eyelids.

So, if you see me today,  don't judge my freckles and tiny eyelashes. They're very sensitive. Literally.

And if that wasn't bad enough?  My car was totally out of gas broken down this morning. I mean it. Would. Not. Start.

In my fury over my eyelids/car troubles, I decided to call The Husband home to put some gas in it fix it so I could resume normal activities.

Needless to say both my pride and my eyelids have been compromised.

In other news, Prior to my unexpected delays this morning, I was super-stoked about St. Patty's Day. As I am just about any opportunity to wear the color green....Or  pinch people at random.

Because--in addition to the random-pinching-and-green-wearing-goodness-- for the past 27 years, SPD has represented the official countdown to my birthday at which time I officially start making birthday requests. These are first on that list.

The Husband is trying to tell me I'll never wear them...So I am currently drafting a document listing all outfits that I am certain I can wear them with =) 

But, if for some reason, that doesn't accomplish the goal, I will settle for these instead.....

Or even these...

 So many choices.......


Here is how I decked out my business attire today. I am also not above dying food tonight, either!

What are you doing to celebrate SPD?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Lucky Ones.

I would have lost heart, unless I been confident that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.  Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.  Psalm 27:13-14

There is a lot of uncertainty in my world these days. And with that? A lot of differing opinions and perspectives. One thing that I have started noticing?

We're the lucky ones.

Imagine the pain and anxiety of this new world without the peace and comfort of our God?

Think about how it would feel to worry that this things you've dreamed of may not ever be a reality, without the confidence that He's not finished with you yet?

What about confusion and anger? How would you cope without the embrace of the Father?

And there are plenty APs out there who aren't leaning on Him right now.

So, tonight as I sat down tonight after reading several things this afternoon that really disturbed me.
And a few things that downright hurt my already-aching heart.

I thanked God.

Because, in the midst of all this uncertainty? 

I am certain of one thing...

I would have lost heart if I didn't have such confidence in Him.


We're really, very lucky.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner!

I just can't believe that didn't even take 24 hours!

I could explode with love for ya'll!

I am glad some lurkers came out of hiding and a few regulars were extra talkative ;-)

I feel so honored that ya'll love my aprons that much!!

I couldn't bear the thought of only having one winner 
(I didn't "win" alot as a kid)

And hated that there was so much love going out and I couldn't repay it all!

So I decided that (by random selection) I would give away a couple more prizes!

How about a couple wristlet keychains? 

I love these. 

Too much.

I don't have enough keys for all the keychains I want!!

So without further ado. By random selection:

Elizabeth Bevers who said:  "love your aprons and blog. elizabeth bevers"

Lisa Cottrell who said:  "I've been wanting one of these aprons since the christmas party! :) I hope I win!! hah"

And the GRAND PRIZE for being the coveted 300th commenter goes to:

Ashley who said:  "I want to win- pick me, pick me!!!"

Ashley, who is the luckiest blog-giveaway-winner I have ever met probably benefits from being a little behind on blogging due to her busy night last night! Check out her blog HERE to get the scoop!

Thank you to everyone who commented and participated in my giveaway! It was sure a lot of fun and I wish there were enough aprons for everyone!!!!

Winners, email me your addresses (if applicable) and I will start working on your prizes ASAP!

Ashley, shoot me an email with favorite colors/styles and we'll see what we can whip up for you!

Home sick.

I know, ya'll.  I am as surprised as you.

I woke up feeling head-congested....

Blamed a co-worker for infecting me with her viral disease.

Started feeling tingly.

Back-story: I can ALWAYS tell when I am feverish because my skin gets really tingly and sensitive all over.

Debated going home since I had earlier overemphasized my sickly-ness in order to make [above-mentioned] co-worker feel guilty.

Decided to go home anyways.

Got home and confirmed increased sickly-ness with temperature-taking

Whipped up a rice hot-pack

And some echinechea tea.

And made my home on the couch under my mom's crocheted blanket.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Comment Giveaway!

I realized today that I am VERY close to having had 300 comments on this blog. Which is exciting!

That, compared with the some-5000 visits since July however, is disheartening.

But today? All that changes!!!

Because, starting today? Its GIVEAWAY TIME!!

And the 300th commenter on this blog will get a handmade apron!

{I guess...if a dude comments, I can make a manly-er version. Or something.}

But the kicker is? I am not telling you how close we are!!!!

Which means....Lurkers?? [And you know who you are] This is your chance to DE-Lurk!

And it starts.



A Very Cool Gift.

This was what was waiting for me when I arrived home tonight.

Have you ever gotten a really big package in the mail?

It's exciting.

It could be dog food...and it's STILL exciting to get packages in the mail!

It wasn't dog food, though.

It was gold.

FABRIC Gold!!!!!

From my high school history teacher.

I know. It's unbelievable.... but you don't know Ms. M. 

She IS unbelievable!

Rabbit Trail: One specific memory I have from Ms. M that touched my heart completely was after a friend died in a car accident. This friend didn't go to my school but to a neighboring school...Thus, our school wasn't let out for the visitation and funeral. But I went anyways. And by going, I missed cheerleading practice (I know, horrific, right???). My cheerleading coach pulled me into her office the next day and began berating me about letting my team down (by missing PRACTICE) and not holding up to my obligations (mind you, my emotions are hanging on by a thread as it is) and before releasing me LATE to my next class, she benched me two games. During football season. Which was the only reason I cheered at all. Before leaving cheer coach's office, I told her I would do it again. That I wasn't sorry. Then, bearing my blotchy and tear-streaked face, I ran to my next class, U.S. History. My teacher took me in the hall to get the scoop about my condition. And she got mad. REALLY mad. And told me that some people are just.... well...she made it clear that I had nothing to be upset about. That I had done nothing wrong and should be proud of myself for standing up for what was right. It meant a lot to me....... Still does.

She was very cool.

And this? Is a very cool gift from a very cool woman. 
One who I was lucky to learn from.

At first glace, these were my FAVORITES!

I was honored that she passed these on to me. And I will do my best to make her proud by turning them into amazing creations!

I am so excited to brainstorm some awesome designs!!

And today? I am full of gratitude.

P.S. Thanks to Ms. M, I can also sing all the states and capitals to the Animaniacs tune. 

Oh yes, I can.

Just get me started! =)

You can check out Ms. M's blog about creativity HERE!


There is a train that goes by our house every day. In fact, in order for me to get anywhere in a reasonable amount of time, I have to cross the train tracks.

For 5 1/2 years, I have successfully mapped my exits and arrivals so that I would miss the train.

And then, all of the sudden? the rules changed.

It seemed like every time I needed to cross those tracks, I was forced to wait.

For a while, I even thought I had the new system figured out, but as soon as I was comfortable again, the rules changed.

I started taking it personal. Like this train was trying to sabotage my plans for the day by making me late everywhere. Like it "had it out for me".

Honestly, I started getting frustrated at God (I know, you good Christians probably never do that....sorry). I mean? God KNEW I had places to be! Why would he let this happen to me?

And then? I heard these words in my heart... 
"It's okay to slow down".

God knew I would be angry about having to wait. He knew the road wouldn't always be a clear shot to the finish line. And sometimes? He puts a train in your way to force you to slow down.

And rest.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I 
will give you rest  Matthew 11:28

Sunday, March 6, 2011


"Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," Whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left." Isaiah 30:21

I can't really express into words the events that have happened around me this week. It was a complete whirlwind of activity and news and struggles and fears and confusion....

Before this week, I had already been struggling emotionally with the preparation that we were not even halfway done with "waiting", so Thursday when I came across a call from another adoptive blogger,  I committed to fast on Friday. Because honestly?  I needed to hear God again.  I needed to feel His presence in my situation and know that I wasn't wandering alone, lost.

Wow.  If ever there was an attack, it was Friday.

I didn't even have words. I didn't know what to to to process....

On the one hand: This new directive means a much LONGER process (a process I was already struggling with) and means a much LONGER time frame that children remain in orphanages. And Every. Single. Day. that a child is without a family is one day too long.

On the other hand:  There IS corruption.  It's naive to ignore that truth. There are unethical people involved in what can only be described as horrific situations (and honestly, that's an understatement).  Adoption IS God's plan for redemption for the orphans. But corruption is the enemy's way of twisting and distorting the will of God. It makes me so angry, I am certain I could breath fire at times! How dare the enemy get his hands on one child's story and destroy it with corruption and tragedy? How dare the enemy corrupt the will of God with baby-trafficking and birthfamily coercion?  We came to adoption because we knew we could love an orphan with all the love two parents can offer...NEVER- NEVER did we dream that a stable, loving family might be broken up because the mighty dollar and two westerners came to adoption?!? { I cry just typing that thought out}.....And so, if it's truly about combating this corruption, then this new directive is a necessary means. And I would rather know that our story is one of God's redemption  than worry about the discovery that it's been tainted with any of the enemy's schemes...

But that's a lot of noise to process.

And what I really wanted to do? was listen.

Our call is to the orphans. We are certain that our family has been called to adoption. But we still need to ask God if at any point in our process, our flesh got in the way. From the day I gave my heart, truly, to God....I vowed that I would do everything possible to bring Him glory with my life.

In my marriage.

In my personal and professional lives.

And through my family.

Adoption? Is just a piece of that puzzle.

Right now, it feels like a pretty important piece....but I must remember that  it's not the whole puzzle.

So listening to God's direction. Following closely to what He directs. And trusting that He has our hand all the way, is all we can do.

We have some praying and seeking to do over the next couple of weeks.  In our own situation, we are seeking for direction. In the general sense, I know our community has been shocked by this news, and we must band together and pray for the children, the families, and the officials involved in this process, that God's hand would be on every aspect. 

I don't know what that looks like. 

I don't know that we will like the end result. 

But more than anything, I want to know---without the shadow of a doubt---that God's people rose up against the attack of the enemy on adoption. That we banded together against corruption and unethical people and organizations. That we fought for the right of every orphan to have a family.

Because, at least for The Husband and I? That's the most important thing.

So bear with us if there is no news for a while. Pray with us as we seek God. And stand with us as we battle an attack of the enemy far more wide-reaching than simply a longer process.

In the end, we know our God is bigger than any attack of the enemy! Adoption bring glory to God! Our hope is not deferred because our God is victorious! 

Can't wait to see how He gets the glory in this story!


Friday, March 4, 2011

5 fun things...

My weekends (and let's be honest---weekdays) have been full of blah work and even blah-er research, data analysis and lean six sigma process maps.

I don't care who you are. These things are NOT fun.

So, this weekend, my mission is to try to throw in as many "fun" things as I can around the overwhelming blah.

1.  Breakfast with Randee (that could be a song from the 80's). I love getting to see Randee! We are very different, and yet very similar. I am growing to love and appreciate our differences as much as I do the similarities that made us friends in the first place...namely: adoption.

2. I am making Lemon Noodle  Bake tomorrow night. And no one's gonna change my mind about it! P.S. I love the Pioneer Woman, let's just get that out in the open. There!! Don't we all feel better now?

3.  I am also going to make Grasshopper Pie. Which means a trip to the liquor store. Where the years of "no-drinking" guilt coupled with my unusually young appearance make me a interesting suspect for sure... Have I ever told ya'll about my guilt ridden trip to buy beer for my Turkey Chili? No?? It's hilariously embarrassing. I had "I'm gonna get caught" written all over my face, haha!! I am better now. This recipe calls for creme de cacao and creme de menthe. I'm not sure how to pronounce them but I know they mean "chocolate" and "mint" so it's all good!!

4.  I am going to start my graduation skirt. I decided a while ago that I wanted to make my graduation outfit (what with all the sewing I do now) and I found an awesome pinwheel skirt tutorial I love. Proof that I wasn't making up my love for tutorials! Anyways, I am really gunnin' to get started on it, and so I will measure and cut this weekend! In related news, this skirt does call for a zipper....which is one of the sewing tasks that I have avoided like the plague. I have watched grown women collapse sobbing in the zipper section. It's do or die out there, folks. So I will let you know when I get to that point so you can all pray for me. I expect all-night vigils!

5. I am going to enjoy the fact that this is a "non-grocery-shopping-weekend" and bask in the  no-trips-to-walmart goodness!

Happy Friday!!

P.S. Don't forget about our 24 hour fast today. We are praying and fasting hardcore for those who are desperately trying to bring their little ones home soon! You can join in!