Saturday, December 19, 2009

My New Kitchen

The kitchen is done !!!! Well, mostly. We'll call it done. I have to touch up some paint, because the new lower cabinets are 1/2 inch shorter than the old ones, and a few other details ... but whatever. They're in !!!!

Almost 3 months to the day later, it's come to a beautiful end. (The fire was September 17th. Today is December 19th.) What a looooonnnng drawn out saga. A friend of mine commented to me yesterday that she was so happy for me, and that I had waited patiently for so long. Um. Haha. No. No I didn't. I waited, just not patient. Seriously, it's me folks. Those who are friends with me on Facebook can certainly attest to my lack of patience. And I just know that all my FB buddies will miss my daily updates about the kitchen drama. Whatever will I have to update people about now? Anyway .......

Wanna see em ??? The pictures don't do them a ton of justice, as the cabinets have a lot of detail in the finish that doesn't show up on photo. Also, some who have seen them have already commented on how stainless steel appliances would look better .... I don't mind. I love my black and white kitchen. T'is always what I've imagined, and I couldn't be happier. They scream classy (with the black cabinets), yet practical-with-four-kids (with the white, easy to clean appliances). And of course, that description fits me to a "t". Mwahahahahaha.

Oh. Sorry. I was going to get to pictures, right ? Here ya go !

Before the fire:

Because of the fire :

After the fire :

Clearing things out for the new cabinets to come in (3 months later):

Removing the old lower cabinets. Aaron, Bmer, and Lewi did a stellar job!

Jeremy (our contractor/friend) doing his thang :

So. Um. Yeah. I ordered the blind cabinet larger than it was supposed to be. (By an inch or something.) Oops. Luckily, Jeremy wasn't afraid of power tools or cutting into drywall to make it work !

Aaaaahhhh ... it fits ! (And I have an extra inch of cabinet space ... priceless ! )

Re-fitting the sink seemed to be the worst and most time consuming part. (At least to me, an observer.)
FINISHED !!!!!!!! This is what you see when you walk in my front door :

I tried to get one picture that showed the finish a little better. It's that cool antiqued finish. You know, the one with the corners that are lighter.

The End !

There you have it. One drama coming to an end. Wonder what is next. ;) If you are ever looking for a spectacular handy man that is fair in cost, treats you well, and does a fantastic job, give Jeremy a call ! (I'll give you his number if you need it!)

And yes, I am for hire to light your kitchen on fire so you too can get a new kitchen. (No, I'm of course kidding ... mostly.) This would not be the way I would have chosen to remodel a kitchen, but it is what it is. I have learned many a lesson (like to trust McDonalds with the fries, not me). I have had my patience tested (daily). I have learned a lot about myself (like how much I love Mr. Crockpot). And I've realized that I need about a quarter of the items my kitchen used to hold (seriously, who needs 45 tupperware lids ?). I'm glad this is over. I'm ready to submit my final paperwork to insurance and start cooking !!!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Heart of the Christmas Card

I recently read an article on the story behind the classic show, "A Christmas Carol". The story itself was pretty cool. But one thing that made me search the web was a brief sentence in the article speaking of the first Christmas card ever designed and sent . I searched google, and found it ! The above card was designed in London by a man named Henry Cole in 1843. Now here is what I thought was cool about it.... The card was designed to call those materially blessed to involve themselves in "clothing the naked" (portrayed on the right of the card), and "feeding the hungry" (portrayed on the left side of the card). In the middle would be you and me, I guess.

I wish this card was still in print. If so, I'd send it. Instead, I choose to blog.

This year my heart is pained more than ever before of the social injustices that are in our world today. My heart is hurting and my mind is numbed by the statistics such as, "2 children per minute are trafficked for sexual exploitation". Or what about the 2.3 million children living with HIV ? Then there are the homeless, of which the National Coalition for the Homeless cannot give an exact number of those effected by homelessness, but do know it is in the millions (near 3.5 million actually). And what about the 143 million orphans world wide? How about the 400,000 children who have a parent(s) in prison this year (50,000 of them who are even harder to reach through Project Angel Tree because they live in an area that cannot be match with a local church)? The list and stat's can go on and on, and I'm left to wonder what Christmas will be like for millions upon millions upon millions of adults and children such as these.

So what do you do with exhausting numbers like these ? Nothing outrageous (unless you are the outrageous type). But may I plead with you to strongly consider your Christmas dollars (of which America as a whole spends over 8 billion dollars at Christmas time) making a dent in at least one of these areas?

For the girl that loves jewelry, while she may not say, "He went to Jared's", I bet she'll be thrilled to say the piece around her neck helped a child stuck in the sex slave trade.
Click here to see some beautiful earthy pieces. (You'll also find some great stuff for the home on that link!) Or here if your girl is a Tiffany's kind of gal and looking for something more fancy.

Who doesn't love new shoes ? An Orphan in Africa would sure love a pair. Buy some from this guy, and he'll give a free pair to a child in need.

Want to help instill charitable values in your children ? Reach out to your local homeless shelter to volunteer serving Christmas Dinner this year. Or search here for the many ways to donate time, goods, services, and money's for the cause of the homeless.

If you have a heart to help with the millions living with HIV, you could give the gift of hope through several options. Check out this sight to find out the different ways you can ! (Jewelry on this one too !!! YES !!! Also child sponsorship options ...what a beautiful gift !)

Surely you know someone who loves nothing but coffee, coffee, and more coffee. (Hint hint. :) ) Try these guys for a yummy gift, that when purchased could feed an Orphan for a month !

Project Angel Tree is always a special thing to do with the kiddo's as they can pick out gifts for children in need and see what it's like to be more blessed to give than receive. I know my church does this program .... but what about those 50,000 who aren't matched with a church (or maybe you don't attend a church that does this program). You can still get your kids involved in a great tradition by going here.

Lastly, instead of giving a gift card this year to the person who already has everything, so you just give them a gift card because you can't decide what else to get them ... how about making a donation in their name to this great agency who is helping women, men and children find a life outside of the slave trade.

Whatever your Christmas Card boasts this year, may our hearts take on the same passions as Henry Cole's 166 years ago. And as we move into a New Year full of New Years Resolution, I urge you to look more into these organizations and/or many others out there and resolve to become involved in making a difference in this broken and hurting world. Again, it doesn't have to be outragious. Under my tree sits a few gifts from one of the above listed organizations, and many from the big box store up the street as well. Just like you, I'm overwhelmed by the needs. But if we all would just pick one or two, it will make a difference.

(Leave a comment with a link to one of your favorite organizations that I missed on here if you have one !)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thoughts and more thoughts all leading to who knows where ....

"I want to be more comfortable being uncomfortable."

I read that on another adoptive families blog. It stung. I like being comfortable. Even in having 4 kids with only one income coming in (a life that many would say doesn't sound comfortable) .... I'd say that I'm pretty comfortable. And yet I still manage to make it through most days whining about what I don't have more than being thankful for what I do. I still manage to make it through most days seeking out comfort for myself, rather than dying to myself.

Needless to say, adoption has been on my mind .... a lot. And the desire to bring another child/children into our home is ever increasing. I find myself staring at the waiting child lists praying for one (or two or four) of them to find their place in our family. However, God's plan and timing are not releasing us at this moment to pursue such change. So I find myself left with this confusion of what now. I'm not sure how to even put it into words, which of course is why I find myself blogging. Sorry about that.

There's this huge world that has been opened up before me. This world of poverty and disease, sadness and pain, and millions of fatherless (and motherless) children. Opening my heart to that world has changed me. It's beginning to feel like a disease or an addiction. I just can't break free from it. I don't want to break free from it. For about 6 months after Malachi's homecoming, I actually tried to tell myself that I did my part in caring for the Orphans. Check that off the list ... Only that's not entirely true. God is still calling me to this world. I struggle to know what that looks like if bringing another child home is not TODAY'S solution.

Aaron and I took caution in our hearts several months ago as the talks of if we would adopt again began to surface. We recognized that for us, adoption could easily become an idol. It feels so good to do something so huge ... and yet that cannot be WHY we do it. It seems so right to pursue something that honors God's heart so greatly... and yet that cannot be WHY we do it. We realized that even in all the good that adoption is, for our family, good may look very different. Good may be loving the four children we have, period. Good may be not extending ourselves any further in this way. Good may be paying down debt rather than trying to raise money again for an adoption. Good may be a lot of things. So what then ? What now do I do with this ever increasing, very raw, very painful emotion and longing in my heart. Part of my heart is still in Ethiopia it seems, with near some 5 million orphans. How do I pursue such things without building a home with 4.8 million beds residing in it ?

That's it. That's all I have. These are the things I can't get away from right now. And I don't know what to do with it. While I recognize the need is far too great for me to solve alone, I DO know that I am to be part of this world of children needing to be redeemed and defended. I'm praying He shows me how....... I will not let the needs that are too great for me to do, too great probably to EVER fully be cured until the day He returns, allow me to grow weary or hardened or inactive. I too, want to be more comfortable being uncomfortable which is what I fear is going to be involved.

(p.s. A friend pointed me to this amazing story. A husband and wife who are Aaron & I's age. Had 3 biological children, adopted 3 at once from Ethiopia, went back one more time for 3 more. So great. I'm encouraged just reading stories like this one.)