So Thankful!

Thanksgiving was a wonderful day with family! The holidays are fun with a toddler again! Still remembering and thinking of the holidays that I was longing for our little girl! Those were so hard, especially in 2009 when we knew who she was and that she was spending her first Christmas in an orphanage. The song, "Merry Christmas" by Third Day about put me over the edge...not sure why I kept listening to it, but the lyrics were as if I wrote them:
But half a world away I hang the stockings by the fire
And dream about the day when I can finally call you mine

It's Christmas time again but you're not home
Your family is here and yet you're somewhere else alone
And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in his arms
And tell you from my heart I wish you Merry Christmas

However, this permanently etched memory of how hard the wait was for Abby and all the obstacles really, to this day and I pray ALWAYS, makes me not take a moment for granted! It's a really good place to parent from (as long as I don't slip into spoiling her because of it, that is. My mom said I'm a little "soft" when it comes to discipline this time around...oops). It has been the same way with my boys. They didn't come "easy" either and I am just always so thankful and in awe of God's faithfulness to bless us with these amazing two young men. I am ONE LUCKY MOM!!! Feeling very thankful! 


Christmas Card Shopping!

Most Wonderful Story Christmas Card
Find unique and Personalized Christmas cards at Shutterfly.com.
View the entire collection of cards.
Last year we used Shutterfly for our cards and I was so pleased by how they turned out.  The photos were crisp and clear and the cards were thick and sturdy.  My favorite part of the card was the inside where there was room to write just a brief update on each child. Of course, it was extra fun to have this be our FIRST Christmas Card with ABBY IN IT! 

This year I am trying to once again decide which design we will use.  There are so many to choose from that I am having a hard time deciding.  I am also in the process of making cards for my parents as this year was their 50th Wedding Anniversary so I chose Shutterfly once again to try to capture this wonderful memory! We gave my parents a photo session for their anniversary to MAKE them get their pictures taken. They had never done anything like that and had more pictures taken than on their actual wedding day. They ended up having such a great time and we have lots of good pictures to choose from for their Christmas Card! :)
Poinsettia Window Christmas Card
View the entire collection of cards.

So, what about you?  Have you thought about Christmas cards and Christmas gifts yet?  Shutterfly has so many options to choose from from calendars to photo gifts.  I cannot wait to see what Christmas cards you send this year.

Tis' the Season! :)


New Favorite Song!

I have a new favorite song by Peder Eide that I know all you orphan care/adoption friends will love too! Watch closely because Abby and I make a brief appearance...fun! :) It's the moment that Abby melted into my shoulder just like I had dreamed of. It was an amazing, perfect and unforgetable moment the day we picked her up at the orphanage! :) Here is the music video:

For those that have attended the National Orphan Summit the last two years, you'll remember Peder Eide as he led worship there. His song, "Why Wouldn't ?" touched so many of our hearts and decisions to adopt! That song is on his Christmas Album, Perfect Surprise which I can't wait to start listening to now that the season is upon us!

Back to Come to the Rescue though (I digressed in my enthusiasm for all of Peder's music)! I wanted to make sure you know that if you order the CD directly from his website, they are giving a part of the sale proceeds to an amazing program from Compassion called the Highly Vulnerable Children's Fund. It is a crucial fund for children who have been orphaned or suffered abuse. Click on the link for more info. 

But that's not all! Peder is letting me start a contest and is going to have a drawing for a free t-shirt and autographed CD for those that help spread the word about his new album, Come to the Rescue! Please help bless his ministry by spreading the word and most of all share the song that will soften hearts to the orphan and motivate people to ACTION! That's my only motivation by starting this contest (I don't work for him!)!! Here are the details:

-Blog, facebook, post on adoption Yahoo groups, share with your adoption agency and/or twitter. Please make sure to include the music video and Highly Vulnerable Children's fund info. You get one entry for EACH thing you do! I am praying this song goes viral! :)

-Send an email to: michelle@pedereide.com and tell her what all you did. Please include the link to your blog post. She will do the drawing on November 19!!!

Thank you orphan advocates and blog friends for helping to get the word out about this song that we pray will impact the life of a child! 


Back to School...

Well, big week as our boys started their last year of middle school and last year of elementary school! They were both ready to get back and see all their friends. My favorite line from the week came from Josiah in explaining that the music teacher asked him to come see her after class. His immediate response to her was, "I am so sorry. I am just so excited to be back in school and see all my friends again. It was wrong of me to be talking in class and I won't do it again." You might be thinking..SUCK UP...and you'd be right. But, I also was proud of him for looking her in the eye and apologizing. AND...he was very excited. Here is Josiah leaving for the first day of school:

Sam on the other hand was LESS than thrilled to have me take his picture commenting that I shouldn't do that anymore. I told him I would still be taking pictures in HS of his first day and he just didn't have a choice. The sign was really pushing it:

 My little HAM!
 We all get to go to the bus stop with Josiah. Last year for that!
Abby spent the entire day asking about "Mam Mam (not sure how Sam became a "sam sam") and Iah". She and I have been keeping busy with the park, zoo, speech therapy and running with Mom (which Abby has decided she does not like so well now. She says, "No, no, no, no!" as soon as I start changing to run). BUT...have to keep plugging away on my exercise program. Have not exercised for this many months in a long time. Made my goal of running of 5K at the end of August and even ran it in 26:33. Surprised myself even! :)
 My "Moms on the Run" Group
A few other photos to share:
 The boys both had sleep-overs at friends so Scott and I decided to do something that was Abby-focused (vs. her always coming along to the boys' events)! While at the MOA, I told Scott we should stop at the American Doll Store to see what she thinks of Bitty Babies. His face was PRICELESS. He said that going from two boys who love Fleet Farm to the American Girl Store was culture shock! :)
 So last night Abby picked out her PJ's when dad was changing her and he went with it. This is what she picked out because she is still a huge ELMO fan:
 BUT now we need to mix in DORA because I just let her see that show recently and she loves it. The "backpack" and Dora shoes are such a nice look for her, huh! Cracked me up!!!! Oh...and unfortunately the "Elmo" underwear is over the top of her diaper. She actually freaks out about her potty chair so I haven't pushed it!
 Grandpa and Abby at the zoo today:
 Last day of summer:

We start the Fall Mom's on the Run Class in the a.m. so I better get to bed. Blessings Blog Friends!


God's Stirring

God is stirring in my heart and the themes are destiny, choice and restoration. I just finishing reading David Housholder's book, The Blackberry Bush and a few quotes continue to propel what God is doing in me forward.  On a side-note, I have to say my reading time has been minimal this past year. I start to read at night and fall asleep so quickly or don't even read thinking about the time I will be up in the middle of the night with a precious 2 year old! :)  This book is different, as the author is a  dear person in my life. My former teaching pastor and boss who hired me at a pivotal point in my career moving from the teaching world to ministry. This book was one that I knew I had to read to honor him and knowing how God speaks through Pastor Dave. So glad I did.

"...Destiny is fixed and freedom is real. Don't ask me how the two fit together, but they do. And the pivot points in our life story are tiny shifts that lead us to a whole new future." (pg. 167 The Blackberry Bush) 
The theology of predestination vs. free will. I have often wrestled with this and growing up I took it as ...what is going to happen is going to be...almost as if I didn't have choice in it. For me, spiritual apathy followed this mentality.  Yet, I knew that I had a choice to make and of course my choices would affect my future. But, when I really grasped that God has a plan for me and I can choose to SEEK AFTER and follow HIS ways, the power of God started really moving in my life. Knowing I have a destiny and calling that is unique for me individually and YET within that plan I have choices is challenging. That is one of the reasons I love this quote from Dave's book..."Destiny is fixed and freedom is real" And the PIVOT POINTS have led me to a whole new future and one that I am constantly thankful for. I look back to the summer/fall of 2007 in feeling the call to go on my first mission trip to India and think, "What if I didn't go?!" India 2008 was a major PIVOT POINT! This morning I was again brought to tears thinking of what if I would have chose to stay in my comfort zone like I wanted to? Literally that thought almost shakes me because I am convinced that I would have missed experiencing God's heart for the orphans and therefore missed Abby. I am not trying to be dramatic...just the thought of my freedom to make choices almost scares me (a good and holy fear of the Lord). The prayer..."Not my will but yours Lord" is comforting. The thoughts that as I seek Him...he always makes it clear..."writing on the wall" so that I don't miss him also brings me comfort moving forward. Again, I feel like I am at a pivot point in my spiritual journey. One that is going to require more of me. One that is going to again call me out of my comfort zone. I know the faithfulness of God in the past and that His ways are always better than mine and yet. And yet...I also know I am still "hanging on" to comfort and wanting to play it safe at times. I can justify many things.  While singing the song "All to You" and the lyrics...
I'm living my life for You
And I'm giving everything to You
Not holding back, from every part
I'm giving it all to You
I found myself wanting to sing/insert, "I'm trying"! Because really...I am still holding on in some areas of my life, I can justify holding back some parts. AND YET...I KNOW BETTER! God's plans are always WAY BETTER THAN MINE! So...my prayer is that I will continue to surrender ALL and go ALL OUT in this wonderful, crazy journey that the Lord has me on in serving in His Kingdom here on Earth. It will require sacrifice. It will require more of me. 

"Oh God...thank you for your patience, your grace and your compassion for the lost, the vulnerable, the widow and the orphan. Let me not miss the pivot points that you have for me that will continue to lead to the amazing future that you have for me and for my family."

Will have to blog on the "Restoration"word another day. This is all I can process for today! :)


Scott's 40th!!!

Well...this is our year to turn 40! Scott and I were high school sweethearts. I was a grade older than him, but he has an August birthday so we are really only 4 months apart. Still, he loves to call me his "old lady". :)

In our group of friends, for the most part, we are the last to turn 40 and so I have watched all the other ideas for parties, etc. Many have gone ALL OUT but Scott said he just wanted family over and to keep it small. So, we did that on his birthday which was Sat. However, with the help of some friends, I was able to surprise him with a special night! I even called his work to make sure he would be home by 4:30 to leave in time! A golf course had a couple's night with a Murder Mystery theme. Prizes and Prime Rib dinner too! We played best ball with 2 other couples. One of the guys was the grounds keeper at the course and I was joking with him every time I made a divot. :) We had a blast! Best of all for me, my only good tee shot of the night WON a contest for the women! HA! Golf is really one of those games that you just have to practice and I sure don't do that these days. However, it was the PERFECT thing to surprise Scott with and made such a fun night for him! He loves to golf and even loves it when I golf with him. What a great guy! Seriously, I hit the jackpot with my husband!!! Knowing him for 26 of his 40 years is pretty special too!

 Closest to the Pin Award!
 The deer decided to join us!
And to top of the fun, the course made this fun "cake" for Scott. Snickers and a free round of golf! Combined with my gift card I won at a local restaurant, I think we'll be driving back to that town. Well, maybe I won't golf...they gave him 18 holes and that is just WAY TOO LONG for my golf attention span! :)


A Great Place to Order Canvas Photos

One of my new favorite looks for displaying photos is canvas and I recently found out about Easy Canvas Prints. EasyCanvasPrints.com, is where you can upload your own photographs, art, or designs to have printed on gallery wrapped canvas and it really is EASY! Easy Canvas Prints offers high quality, gallery-ready prints at an affordable price which I love! 

I chose a 10x8" with a .75 wrap which was perfect for the picture frame stand that I already owned:

Let me know if you decide to try one from them. The service was quick and I was very satisfied. :)


Family of 5 for ONE Year

I am feeling very sentimental about August 5th. In fact, not sure if we celebrate the day Scott and I picked up Abby on July 31 or Aug. 5. You see....on August 5, 2009, we found out about our Abby! It was the day we first saw her beautiful face!!! The day that we had been dreaming of for a year (and little did we know that we would have another year before we got to hold her)!

I'll never forget when this picture came up on my computer! Seeing that she had a BUTTERFLY on her dress (when God had been speaking to me through butterflies all year) was amazing!

Then on August 5, 2010 our dream of being a family of 5 came true! We were united at the airport and it was a beautiful celebration with family and friends! This year has been so wonderful and I just wanted to attempt to put a video together (quickly..just started last night) to document our year together! 

Our 1st Year as a Family of 5 from Jennifer Needham on Vimeo.



I CAN'T BELIEVE it's been ONE YEAR!!! Today was the day our precious gift, Abby, was placed in our arms! After waiting a year from the first time we saw her pictures, it was surreal to finally see her in person! I just couldn't believe that I finally got to HOLD HER!

Scott and I had an on-going joke about who was going to be the one to have to "rip her away" from her Ayah (caregiver) and potentially be the "bad person". It was so amazing....we were not expecting the CEREMONY that the orphanage staff put on for us. They had children come out and place flowers around our neck and even had a special prayer time (I so wish I knew what he was praying...but I knew it didn't matter...God knew!)! Then the ayahs brought her out and she actually smiled! She had a little bit of a "what in the world is going on look" but she was just so amazing to sit in our laps right away. It really was an answer to prayers. The ayah even said that it was "a miracle...because she has been really fussy the last couple of weeks!"

We have been talking about "one year ago" all day today. We took a family bike ride to Subway to celebrate. :) Looking at pictures, we said we just hardly recognize her! She was only 15 lbs. and wore 3-6 mo. clothes. She actually is just in 24 mo. clothes and weighs 24 lbs. now. She has grown and changed SO MUCH!

When I think back to all she has gone through this past year, I am amazed! So thankful that she is doing so well now and progressed so much. She has speech twice a week and is talking so much better. She is getting some of her explosive sounds, /b/,/d/,/p/, etc. and even said puPPy this week and is starting to put 2 words together. We are praying she will learn to accommodate despite the cleft palate opening through her gum and get the sounds out her mouth and not her nose. She is also learning to blow air out her mouth and not her nose.

I never dreamed that one little one could add so much JOY to our family! She lights up our home! Her daddy and brothers are CRAZY about her and shower her with love and attention all the time. She loves to laugh and is just fine being the center of attention! :)

July 30, 2010
 I'll never forgot seeing the sign that I'd seen in pictures and then the gate opening and seeing the orphanage for the first time! It was just so amazing to finally BE THERE after 2 years of thinking about it!

 The ceremony prayer time. It was actually so hard to keep my eyes closed when I just wanted to SEE ABBY and HOLD HER!!!!
 We loved that they place her in our arms. She sat in daddy's lap first. What a special moment. Really felt just like the time I got to hold my baby boys after giving birth. Heck...she just weighed a few lbs (ok 7 and 8 lbs) more! ;)

 I couldn't get over how tiny she was! 

 Getting to travel with the Leslies was so amazing! Tara and I talked almost daily praying each other through the adoption hurdles! So awesome to share this day with them and their precious Sanjai!
 The day wouldn't be complete without mentioning that while this was one of the BEST days of my life, it was also one of the hardest. See the faces we left behind. These are the faces that drive me to STILL CARE about orphans and DO SOMETHING! While I may not be able to help these kiddos (and THANKFULLY two are in families now), I am able to respond to what the Lord is calling me to do. More on that later!!!
 ONE YEAR LATER!!! A couple pictures that I took on my phone tonight while we attended a benefit for a friend. Yes...she has grown and changed a ton in one year!!!!