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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Why Adoption?

This is an awesome article I read this afternoon (from this month's Ensign).

Why Adoption?

When Chuck and Rachael Sharp learned they would not be able to conceive a baby, Rachael thought her heart would break. She had yearned to be a mother, and she knew Chuck would be a wonderful father. For years the couple had dreamed of skiing and camping trips with their children, of noisy conversations around the dinner table, of music lessons and parties with cousins and picnics in the park. What would they do with all of those dreams?

That same year, in another city, Jessica Anderson (name has been changed) was struggling with heartbreak of her own. She had recently learned she was pregnant and the father didn’t want to be involved. Her mind reeled with questions: With so little education, how would she financially support her child? How could she fill the roles of both a mother and a father? What kind of future could she provide?

Over the past several decades, societal attitudes about unwed pregnancy have changed dramatically. For most unwed mothers 30 years ago, the choice was clear: they would either marry and raise the baby, or they would place the baby for adoption. Today, by contrast, most unwed mothers choose to either raise their babies on their own or get an abortion. In the United States, for example, only about 1 percent of unwed mothers place their babies for adoption.1 In many other countries the percentage is almost negligible.

While Church members lag behind much of the rest of the world in the single-parent trend, more and more Latter-day Saint unwed mothers are choosing to become single parents. Yet the official position of the First Presidency remains consistent: when a successful marriage is not likely, unwed parents are encouraged to place their babies for adoption into a loving, two-parent, Latter-day Saint home.
Why does the Church support adoption?

What’s Best for the Baby?
A popular modern catchphrase is “A family can be anything as long as there is love.” Yet the proclamation on the family declares, “Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.”2 Numerous studies have shown that children are better off when raised by both a mother and a father. These children are less likely to drop out of school, have behavioral problems, participate in delinquent behavior, become single mothers themselves, and live in poverty.3

In her book For the Love of a Child, social worker Monica L. Blume points out, “Almost every birth mother I have ever seen who is choosing to single parent believes she will be one of the very few who beat the odds.”4 Many of these unwed mothers count on the father remaining fully involved or on having their own father help raise the child. And many Latter-day Saint single mothers hope to eventually get married and become sealed to their child in the temple.

Unfortunately, such hopes are not often realized. And many unwed mothers find that single parenthood is much more challenging than they expected. Studies have shown that single mothers have higher rates of illness, have less social involvement, and, if they are teenagers, are less likely to eventually marry than those who place their babies for adoption.5

But as Tammy Squires with LDS Family Services says, none of her clients wants to be labeled a “statistic.” These mothers feel great love toward their babies and may believe that others cannot offer the same love and care a biological parent can provide. “I try to help them see that it’s not about biology; it’s about stability and what is best for the baby,” Sister Squires explains. “Their decision will affect their child not only throughout this life but in eternity. They need to pray about it and feel peaceful about their decision, whatever that final decision may be.”

Chuck had already accepted the possibility that children would come to their family through adoption, but for Rachael, acceptance came less readily. She felt angry at God for denying her what she longed for most. One day, however, a friend spoke about adoption in a way that resonated with her. “Imagine having a baby placed in your arms,” her friend said. “Think about looking down at that little face and knowing that child is yours. You can still be a mother!” Rachael felt the first stirrings of renewed hope in her heart.

Meanwhile, Jessica struggled with her decision. Her parents, especially her father, felt she should place the baby for adoption. Her friends encouraged her to raise the child herself. So many decisions, so many questions! Finally, she decided to get an abortion. That would make everything so much easier—wouldn’t it?

Latter-day Saint Theology and Adoption
A primary reason the Church supports adoption is that children who are adopted by temple-worthy Latter-day Saint couples can be sealed to their adoptive parents. The sealing ordinance is the capstone ordinance in the Church, and its blessings are present in this life as well as in the next. As President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) declared, children who are born in the covenant—and, by extension, those who are sealed to their parents in the temple—“have claims upon the blessings of the gospel beyond what those not so born are entitled to receive. They may receive a greater guidance, a greater protection, a greater inspiration from the Spirit of the Lord; and then there is no power that can take them away from their parents.”6

Fred Riley, commissioner of LDS Family Services, says that although adoption is rarely discussed in Church meetings, it is a profound gospel principle. He points out that when the prophet Elijah restored the sealing keys, these keys encompassed adoption. And one of the ways in which Jesus Christ is our Father is through adoption, for we become His sons and His daughters when we are adopted into the family of Christ.

Additionally, Church members who are not direct descendants of Israel may be adopted into the house of Israel through their faith (see Romans 8:9; 9:4).

“From the time of Adam, adoption has been a priesthood ordinance,” says Brother Riley. “It’s a principle of the gospel that probably all of us will experience at some point as we’re literally adopted into our Heavenly Father’s kingdom.”

Rachael and Chuck started participating in the training LDS Family Services offers prospective adoptive parents. They listened to birth mothers tell their stories—birth mothers who were so different from the rebellious girls they had envisioned. Many of these young women, by contrast, seemed wise beyond their years. Rachael and Chuck sensed some of the pain, as well as the peace, these young women had experienced. Maybe they too would one day be on the receiving end of such a sacrifice. Their excitement at the prospect of parenthood grew—as did their awe for these birth mothers.

On a warm day in late August, Jessica sat in silence as her friends drove her to a class at the abortion clinic two hours away. With every mile, her heart grew heavier and her dread increased. When they finally drew near the clinic, she told her friends, “I can’t do this.” She couldn’t take an innocent life. She would have to make a different decision.

Taking Care of Our Own?
One of the most powerful factors that influence an unwed expectant mother’s decision regarding her baby is the opinion of her parents. It can be heart-wrenching for grandparents to consider relinquishing an infant grandchild. Like their daughter, grandparents often bond with the baby even before birth, and they have hopes and dreams for the baby’s future.

Many parents feel a grave sense of responsibility when their child becomes pregnant out of wedlock. They may feel that the most moral decision is to support their child in raising the baby rather than releasing the baby to the care of others. Church teachings about self-reliance and using family resources may seem to reinforce this belief. However, the First Presidency has addressed these concerns.

Not only does the choice to be a single parent leave the child bereft of the sealing ordinance, but its outcome can be confusing when the child is raised by extended family members. Shanna Bake of LDS Family Services explains that these children “often don’t know who to call mom. Who do they listen to? Who do they go to first when they have a problem? What about discipline? It’s undefined.”

Some may view placing a child for adoption as “abandoning” that child. But, as Sister Bake emphasizes, adoption “is not abandoning your responsibility. It’s taking more responsibility. It is truly taking care of your own, because you’re saying, ‘I can’t give this child what he or she needs, but someone else can.’ ”

One writer expressed it this way: adoption is “not the abandonment of a baby but an abandonment of self for a baby’s sake.”7

Jessica grappled with her two remaining choices. She decided she would keep her baby, despite her father’s strong feelings in favor of adoption. But then she realized that the things she valued most from growing up in her own family—a loving mother and a father with a temple marriage, the knowledge that she was sealed to her parents, financial security—were things she would be unable to provide her baby. She could give her baby love, but was love enough to raise a child? She hadn’t prayed much for a while, but now she poured out her heart to Heavenly Father. The answer, when it came, was not the one she wanted, but she knew it was right.

Changes in Adoption Practice
In years past, most birth mothers who placed their children for adoption had little or no involvement in deciding who would be the parents of their children. “It was almost as if the baby went into a big black hole,” says Brother Riley. Often the birth mothers were not even able to see the baby after the birth. They were left with unanswered questions: Is my baby OK? Is she in a good family that loves and cares for her? Does he know how much I love him and why I made my decision? Does my baby know how hard it was for me?

Many adopted children faced questions of their own: What were my birth parents like? Why did my birth mother choose to let me go? Didn’t she want me? What about my birth father?

Today, many of these issues have been addressed as adoptions have become more open. Usually the birth mother chooses the adoptive parents for her child, and she meets them before the birth. Together she and the adoptive family determine the type and frequency of future contact that will work best for them, whether such contact is through letters, photos, or face-to-face visits.

Sister Bake says that this type of adoption “really helps the birth mothers move on. Part of their grief comes from wondering, ‘Did I do the right thing?’ Through regular contact it’s reaffirmed: ‘Yes I did the right thing. He’s happy, he’s doing well, they love him.’ It helps them heal faster.”

Jessica couldn’t get enough of her baby. For the past three days she had stroked little Aliza’s soft skin and hair, breathed in her baby scent, cried over her, and loved her. Another couple would be taking her home—a couple who had all the characteristics Jessica had hoped for as she searched for her baby’s new parents. Jessica knew, deep in her soul, that Rachael and Chuck Sharp were supposed to be Aliza’s eternal parents. But for these three days, Aliza had been her baby.

Now it was time to place Aliza with her new parents. Jessica didn’t think she had ever shed more tears. Behind her sorrow, though, was the peaceful assurance that she was giving her daughter the most priceless gift she could ever give: both a mother and a father.

Beauty for Ashes
The Lord gives compensating blessings to those who sacrifice their will to His. Speaking messianically, the prophet Isaiah proclaimed, “The Lord hath anointed me … to give … beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:1, 3). In placing their faith in the Lord as they make a truly selfless choice, many birth mothers have found that from the ashes of their deepest pain, He has made something beautiful.

“Most likely this is the hardest thing these birth mothers will ever do,” says Sister Bake. “But in the end, almost all the girls I’ve worked with have said, ‘I’m a better person now—I’m stronger, wiser, and more mature.’ ”

Audrey Johnson (name has been changed), who placed her baby for adoption six years ago, acknowledges that, like many birth mothers, she used to wonder how she could recover from her grief. But, she says, “I believed Heavenly Father had a plan for my baby, and if I would submit to His will and follow His guidance, He would get me through it. And He did.”

She says that at times she feels a little pensive, usually around her baby’s birthday. “But the overriding feeling is one of peace,” she says. “I know I did absolutely the best thing I could have done for her—and for me. It turned my whole life around. And I learned that not only could I be happy again, but I could be happier than I was before.”

Six years have gone by since Aliza’s adoptive placement. She is now an energetic six-year-old who loves eating popsicles, doing art projects, and playing with her three-year-old sister, Katy, who was also placed through LDS Family Services. Her parents cherish their little family, and they can’t imagine it coming about in any other way. Among the memories they treasure most are the days when Aliza and Katy were sealed to them. They will forever be grateful for the two birth mothers whose sacrifices enabled them to have the family they had hoped, prayed, and prepared for.

Jessica has since married in the temple and is attending school, with plans to become a nurse and to have children of her own someday. She still keeps pictures of Aliza in her living room. She receives letters occasionally; she’s even seen Aliza several times since the placement.

Her experiences have changed her. She’s softer now; her family members tease her about her tender side. She is grateful to the baby girl who inspired her to return to church and put her life back on the right path. She knows she made a difficult but truly selfless choice, and she draws strength from that knowledge. Her future, like Aliza’s, is bright.

First Presidency Statement on Adoption
“We … express our support of unwed parents who place their children for adoption in stable homes with a mother and a father. We also express our support of the married mothers and fathers who adopt these children.

“Children are entitled to the blessing of being reared in a stable family environment where father and mother honor marital vows. Having a secure, nurturing, and consistent relationship with both a father and a mother is essential to a child’s well-being. When choosing adoption, unwed parents grant their children this most important blessing. Adoption is an unselfish, loving decision that blesses the child, birth parents, and adoptive parents in this life and throughout the eternities. We commend all those who strengthen children and families by promoting adoption.”
First Presidency statement, Oct. 4, 2006

Services for Unwed Expectant Parents
LDS Family Services provides free, confidential counseling to unwed expectant parents and their family members at their offices in the United States and Canada. Counselors help unwed parents explore options that include marriage, adoption, and single parenting. Clients do not need a bishop’s referral to receive services.

If expectant parents choose to place their baby for adoption through LDS Family Services, they may select the couple they want to adopt their baby. Birth parents and adoptive couples can have as much privacy and openness as they desire.

For more information, please visit or call 1-800-453-3860 ext. 2-1711.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Puzzles and Movies

One of our favorite traditions at Christmastime is building puzzles. It's the only time of year we do it, so it always feels exciting to get out the puzzles. This year, we decided to buy a few new ones. We've finished one and are still working on the second one, but that should be done very soon.

And, while building the puzzles, we've been watching movies! There is a movie rental store we like to go to where you can rent 5 movies for 5 days for 5 dollars. There's nothing like movies and puzzles to make it feel like vacation!

The other night we were watching Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events and it was a little bit on the weird side, to be honest. But, I loved the ending and the message they brought home. Without giving away too much, this is part of a letter the children read after experiencing quite a few "unfortunate events":

At times the world can seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe us when we say there is much more good in it than bad. All you have to do is look hard enough. And what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events, may, in-fact be the first steps of a journey.

I loved that message of the movie.

Then, yesterday we watched Nicholas Nickleby, which is based on a novel by Charles Dickens. Another great movie, with a great message at the end:

In every life, no matter how full or empty one's purse, there is tragedy. It is the one promise life always fulfills. Thus, happiness is a gift, and the trick is not to expect it, but to delight in it when it comes, and to add to other people's store of it … What did these people do when their families shrank? They cried their tears, but then they did the vital thing. They built a new family, person by person. They came to see that family need not be defined merely as those with whom they share blood, but as those for whom they would give their blood.

Before we got into adoption, Marc and I talked openly and honestly about our ability to love a child that wasn't made up of our genes. We started first by looking at our nieces and nephews. Could we love them as if they were our own? Yes, of course. Then, we looked at the children of our close friends. Could we love those kids with a parent's love? Yes, definitely. Then, we started asking the same question, this time about children that we've never had any contact with.

Over and over again we have felt an overwhelming love overflow in our hearts. There is absolutely no doubt that we will cherish and rejoice in opening our hearts to any child that comes into our home, no matter how they get here. And, that is why I love the ending quote in Nicholas Nickleby. Family is so much more than genes and blood.

For much of the last few weeks, my thoughts have been turned to Joseph. I love this inspiring story of a young father opening his heart to a Son of another Father, and loving him and teaching him as his own child. It's an amazing story of the miracle of a family created by love.

On Christmas day I got to hold a friend's two-week old baby girl. Oh the joy! Such a perfect little soul. Fragile and beautiful, bringing out the most tender and gentle feelings. I have moments when I'm afraid that my desire to be a mother will lessen with time, like maybe I'll find some other area in life that will take priority over motherhood. But after moments like holding little McKenna, I feel the yearning has only multiplied with time. I think at times I may appear aloof around people with babies... only because I'm afraid to reveal the aching in my arms to hold a baby I can call my own. I am hopeful that day will come soon.

I know miracles happen and I know they can happen for me personally.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

O Christmas Tree

So, we like to buy our Christmas tree about a week before Christmas... hoping that the pine needles will stay on the tree until after Christmas is over, rather than having a bare, needleless tree on Christmas morning.

Well, it has always worked fine for us to find a tree the week before... except for this year. We went to the place we've gotten our tree the last two years and they were out. Okay, no big deal, right? We'll just find one somewhere else. Well, in all our searching we couldn't find any place that still had trees to sell.

At one point we had half-jokingly talked about buying a potted tree. And, it turns out that is exactly what we've done! At the last place we'd gone to check for a Christmas tree, we looked at their potted tree section and finally decided on buying an orange tree. (The choice was actually really easy as that was the only tree they had in stock.)

So, we have an Orange Christmas tree... well, it's actually green, but produces oranges instead of pine cones, but I guess you probably figured that out. :)

Here's Einstein checking it out:

And, Watson also gives his approval:

The best thing about having this as our Christmas tree? We'll plant it next to the apple tree in the Spring, and hopefully have some of our own home-grown oranges for Christmas next year. How cool will that be? Yes, we are feeling rather self-sufficient and environmentally friendly with this little adventure!

As we were driving home from the store after having bought the tree, we were laughing at our situation and how crazy it was that we were using an orange tree as our Christmas tree. That was about when Marc said, "Procrastinate now, get oranges later."

So, there you have it. We have gone against tradition and it's actually been kind of fun. Although, I think I'm going through withdrawals of "pine-scentedness" right now. I'll have to find some pine branch somewhere. Or a candle.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My Dream Job #1 and #2

Being a mother is BY FAR my number one aspiration, desire, dream, goal, purpose... whatever you want to call it, Motherhood tops my list and always has. Dream Job #1 is being a Mom. Hands down.

While I enjoy doing many things and can find happiness in almost any situation, I don't know that I have ever identified any "job" to be in the second place position. Until now, that is. I think I've finally found my dream job #2. Now, this is a job that really deserves the "dream" part in it's description... it would take a lot of dreaming to make this job a reality. But, one can dream, right?!

This lady's job has an incredible mixure of some of my most favorite things. I can't believe I never came up with it myself. I keep having day dreams about how I would do it my own way, and one thing that's certain is that the last stop would have to be a gelateria. There's nothin' like a large cone of gelato after a long day!

So, who wants to come tour Italy with me by jogging through the cobblestone streets, down the narrow alleyways, hearing the faint sound of a tenor warming his vocal chords, and smelling the aroma of freshly baked bread and pastries, all the while enjoying beautiful vistas of culture and history untouched by modernity. One day, one day...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Happy Adoption Story

Today I just had to announce the exciting news of our adoption friends Bryce and Brenley. They have just arrived back home with their baby boy, who was born just two days ago. We have loved following their adoption story and thought some of you might be interested in reading more about it on their blog, by going here.

We are so thrilled for them and for this new addition to join their family. We know they will make terrific parents and that their little McCoy will fulfill his great potential under their guidance and love. We are so happy for them and their little Christmas miracle.

We love you guys! Congratulations!!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights

I'm sure everyone has heard of No Child Left Behind... but, have you ever heard the phrase No Child Left Inside? Well, there are organizations out there working together to get children to reconnect with nature. With computers, video games, TV, iPods, busy schedules, fear of predators, etc. there are less children experiencing the outdoors like past generations have.

I came across this other website, whose mission is: To encourage California’s children to participate in outdoor recreational activities and discover their heritage. They even have a Children Outdoor Bill of Rights, which is a list of outdoor activities that each child should have the opportunity to experience by the time they turn 14.

Every child should have the opportunity to:

1. Discover California's Past
2. Splash in the water
3. Play in a safe place
4. Camp under the stars
5. Explore nature
6. Learn to swim
7. Play on a team
8. Follow a trail
9. Catch a fish
10. Celebrate their heritage

As I went down the list, so many fond childhood memories came to mind. I remember long summer days when we'd play outside all day, until the street lights started to come on, and even then we'd have to be coerced back inside. I remember playing baseball games in the middle of the street and playing "capture the flag" late into the night. I remember making mud pies with the petals from the "snowball" flowers in the backyard. I remember helping my Dad plant the garden, and kneeling next to my Mom weeding the flower bed. Kite-flying and making sand candles at the beach are among my favorite memories. There were some things I was "forced" to do for some school project, like rock identification and bird watching... but, now even those things are meaningful.

I know the world is a lot different than it was when I grew up, but I've decided to make a conscious choice to make sure our children have these same experiences in their childhood. I want to be outside with them exploring the world - following the trail of ants to their hive or watching a bee pollinate a flower, or sucking the "honey" out of the honeysuckles, or laying under the stars in mid-August searching for falling stars, or jumping in piles of leaves, or catching snow flakes on our tongues. Such wonder and beauty.

I've been thinking I'd like to add more to the list of Outdoor Bill of Rights. What other things would you add?

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. ~John Muir

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A little scare last night...

So, this is where we spent part of our night last night - walking through a dark cemetery. Only, the moon wasn't full. It was just a little sliver of light. The evening was dark and cold. At one point I lost sight of Marc and called him on his cell phone, and said, "Under any other circumstances I would be totally freaked out right now, walking through a cemetery by myself like this..."

You see, it all started when we were out running a couple of errands. I convinced Marc to come with me, with the promise, "I swear, we'll be back within 15 minutes." Well, as soon as we got in the car there was an announcement on the radio that a boy with autism from our local high school was lost in the mountains adjacent to the school. So, we made our first stop and then had a little debate - should we go see if we could help? Should we just keep going about our errand-running?

In the end we decided we had to at least see if there was some way we could help. We arrived just as it was getting dark and the guy heading up the search effort assigned us to search the cemetery, which is nearby. We noticed that one volunteer was standing around with a box of flashlights, but for some reason he was unwilling to hand any over. We thought we might have one or two somewhere in the car, so we drove over to the cemetery without thinking more about it. When we arrived, we looked around the car, and nope, no flashlights. Not only that... but we didn't have anything we would need in an emergency. Except a first-aid kit. And ketchup packets in the glove box - an emergency essential. I guess you just don't think about the importance of a lot of little things until you find yourself in an emergency. We now have a new list of things to put in our truck to be better prepared for next time.

So, we met up with a couple of other searchers who were already at the cemetery. We were sweeping the entire area (the two of us being the only ones without flashlights), walking about 20 yards apart from each other. By this time it was getting dark fast. I was assigned a side that had a lot of bushes and trees and was looking closely in every dark cove where someone might be found. That was about the point when I lost where Marc was. I panicked a little. Until that point I hadn't even thought about how frightening this situation would have been had we been there for any other reason.

After we finished searching the cemetery we went back to the search headquarters - a parking lot next to the school. They were setting up large tents and getting ready for an all-nighter. There were lots of people there. It was really an amazing sight. We stayed and helped as long as we could. Even after we left, we couldn't think about anything else for the rest of the night.

Fortunately, we got a phone call very early this morning letting us know that they did find the lost boy at about 1 a.m., walking past the cemetery back towards the high school. Thankfully there was a very happy ending to this story. Such relief!

On the way home, Marc insisted that we stop and pick up a couple of these:

(Hand crank LED flashlight that doesn't require batteries)

And, one of these:

"This 6-in-1 PSD (Personal Safety Device?) incorporates six of the most important tools you will need in an emergency or disaster with the functionality of a radio, cell phone charger, flashlight, emergency flashers, siren and compass that can also be used without batteries."

Little by little we'll be more and more prepared.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

First Aid

About a year ago when Marc and I first started our adoption paperwork, one of the things we had to do was go through a First Aid certification class. So, one weekend in February we took the class together. It was great - we learned so much! One of the biggest things I learned was that First Aid, is exactly what it says it is... First Aid, not Final Aid or Only Aid or Professional Aid or Medical Aid. It's the first aid that's given before trained professionals can take over and actually doing the life-saving.

The most important thing we learned was how to most effectively respond in the first few minutes during an emergency, since those first minutes are so crucial. I won't get into the details, but there were some basic steps we were taught that can apply in just about any emergency. They are the 3 A's - Assess the scene and the victim(s), Alert Emergency Medical Services, and Attend to the victim(s).

Probably the most important step in there is the "Alert" part. The best thing for a victim is to receive professional help ASAP. Of course, assessing the situation and attending to the victim while waiting for help to arrive is important, but those are just meant to be ways of assisting the professionally trained medical people. Being first aid certified really means that it qualifies us with the knowledge that we may not know what we're doing and we need to get someone who does and FAST.

The last couple of days I've been thinking about what sort of protocols I follow when I need first aid for wounds that aren't physical. For those wounds you can't really call 911. That would be nice though. Please send emergency help to heal a broken heart. But, I've found that a lot of the steps are the same as what we learned in our First Aid class. Assess, Alert, and Attend... with the most important step being to get the best help from the best "doctor" as fast as possible.

But, while waiting for that help, there are ways we can "attend" to those wounds. Different things will work for different people, but things like running 10 miles, eating ice cream, or doing a Tarzan-like yell usually work pretty well for me. Well, at least initially... then, when I have to seriously attend to those non-physical wounds, I turn to things like calming music, writing, reading, prayer, or just simply sitting on my bed and looking out the window.

I would consider these things the "ambulance" that transports us to "The Doctor." As much as we try to bind our own wounds or dry our own tears by doing these simple things, the true healing comes only from He who has felt the depths of our wounds and knows how to take away the sting.

As the psalm goes: "[The Lord] healeth the broken heart, and bindeth up their wounds." And, Isaiah said, "the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces."

With all these thoughts on my mind, I taught a lesson in seminary this morning that goes along so well. We were reading in Numbers about the fiery serpents that were biting and killing the Israelites. To provide a way for the people to be healed from the serpents, Moses was instructed to make a serpent out of brass and put it on a pole. Anyone who was bitten by the serpents would be healed if they just looked up at the brass serpent on the pole. But, we learn that "because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished."

(I find it interesting that The American Medical Association has actually used this serpeant on a pole as their symbol. Kind of cool.)

Anyway, the reason why some of them wouldn't look was because "they did not believe that it would heal them." It was such an easy thing to do, though, that I would think it wouldn't hurt for them to just try it and see. But, at the same time I've had moments when I haven't immediately "looked." My excuses always seemed valid at the time. I need to go through this hard thing on my own, so I can learn what I need to learn. Or, I'll just wait and ask for help when I'm more deserving of it. Or, my pain is much too deep for anyone to reach. Or, I'm strong enough to handle this on my own - I don't need anyone's help.

When a person is physically ill, how ridiculous would it sound if they said, "Well, I don't want to burden the doctor with my sickness, so I'll just wait until I get better and then I'll make an appointment." Waiting to ask God for help until we're "healthy" is missing the whole point. "They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick."

I've come to a realization that perhaps the most important thing I'm meant to learn from non-physical wounds is that not only am I unable to completely help myself, I'm not meant to do it all on my own. I am grateful for He who "rises with healing in his wings" and offers to carry my burdens and give rest to my soul. I'm grateful to know that I'm not ever alone, there is always One who knows how to run to me in my time of need.

"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up on wings of eagles."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Over the weekend Marc and I were wanting to go see a movie, so we were looking at movie reviews at our favorite movie review site. We happened to notice a movie, Juno, on their list that got a 92% (which is a really good score) but didn't recognize the movie title. So, we watched the trailer and it turns out to be a movie about a young teenage girl who gets pregnant and decides to have her baby and give it to an infertile couple. We wanted to go see it over the weekend, but it hasn't come to our theater yet... and I have since learned that it's a "limited-release movie."

Maybe somebody out there has already seen it and can let us know if it's a good flick. The trailer is good, so we're hoping that the rest of the movie is just as good. I wonder what we would have to do to get our theater to bring it here for a week.... I'll have to look into that. In the meantime, check out the trailer:

Amazing Young Talent

This little eight-year old is so talented!

He was on the Today Show this morning, too. He is so cute!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Writer's Block

Okay, so I've had writer's block the last couple of days. It happens every once in a while, but never before have I felt the pressure so intense. And, for our faithful blog readers, who also happen to be very observant, you probably already know why.

I know, I know... it's such a silly thing to take so seriously. It isn't like it's that big of a deal. But, no matter how much my head tells my fingers that, it just doesn't work. My poor fingers just can't handle the pressure of writing...

our 100th blog post!

Yes, my friend, THIS post that you are reading is number ONE HUNDRED! And, I still don't know what to write about!

So, I asked our blog what it would like for its "100th post party"... and it has decided that it would like to receive comments from as many people as possible.
(We never realized we had such a needy blog. I guess we won't ask it that again.)

You can write whatever you'd like to write in the comment box; we encourage creativity and random thoughts. Haikus are good, too.

If you don't know what to write in the comment box, we'll give you a few options:

What is your preference between the following items?
Jif or Skippy?
Breyers or Dreyers?
Hidden Valley or Kraft?

If you don't happen to have a preference for any of the above, maybe you ought to have some serious blind-folded taste-testing this weekend. That's our favorite back-up Friday night date activity. Although, I think Marc's getting tired of being the blind-folded one.
Here are some quick instructions of how to leave comments:
1. Click the "comment" link at the bottom of this post.
2. Write your comment in the comment box.
3. Fill in the "word verification" code.
4. Choose your identity, which can be "anonymous" if you prefer that.
5. Publish your comment.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

"Fix the roof while the sun shines"

So, we've been having non-stop rain and very strong winds for what seems like weeks... but, really it's just been two days. I've been bracing for the rain to come ever since August when Marc had already started to pray for rain. Yeah, I was so surprised by his plea for rain that I'm pretty sure I giggled slightly. My "Seattle-boy" doesn't do well with too many consecutive days of hot weather.

One interesting bit of information - Marc's childhood hometown (near Seattle) gets an annual rainfall average of 38 inches, while my childhood hometown (in California) gets an annual average rainfall of 36 inches. You can file that away in your "Random-who-cares?-facts" file in your brain.

Yesterday it was raining so hard, and I was sitting at my desk working on a paper for one of my classes. I paused for a while, turned off the computer, leaned back in my chair, closed my eyes, pulled my blanket up around my neck, and just listened to the sound of the rain on the skylight. It was so soothing and relaxing.

I was thinking through different common "rain" phrases. You know, like "when it rains, it pours," and "fix the roof while the sun shines," and "rain, rain go away..." Are there any I'm missing?

But, the one that has been on my mind the last few days is the "fix the roof while the sun shines" quote. I was thinking of a specific winter when the rains really came down and there was a weak area on our roof that was affected by the buckets of rain that year, causing a headache of a mess. It was just this one little spot, but it was quickly escalating to a bigger mess. (Just ask my Dad, I'm sure he'll confirm that since he was the one fixing it.)

In the midst of a terrible storm, it's very difficult to fix a roof problem. You can try to manage it by catching the leaky water dripping through, but other than that you will probably have to wait until the rain has stopped and you can climb up on the house and fix the leaky area. I don't really know from personal experience, but I can imagine that it wouldn't be very fun to fix a roof leak while rain is pouring down. Just a guess.

But, I couldn't help but think about how life is like that. You know, when life's storms come, it's harder to fix the problems within yourself when everything else is falling apart all around you. But, if while "the sun is shining" we are building up and preparing ourselves to get through the storms, then when those rains come down we'll make it through without as much difficulty.

Now, that's not to say that there won't be any damage or that storms are fun. Sometimes we may prepare and do everything we can to face life's storms, and they're just plain hard. And, I think that's okay. Storms are just sometimes rotten, but they are an important part of life. Isn't the sun so much more beautiful after a good, long rain? And, what about rainbows? We wouldn't be able to enjoy their beauty if we didn't have a little rain to mix with the sun.

As unenjoyable as they might be, storms do help us see things more clearly... calling our attention to problem areas that we've neglected to notice. We may not even know we have a leaky roof until a good, hard rain has fallen. And, while it's no fun to realize you have one more thing to add to the "to do" list, there is great peace of mind that comes from working towards repairing a problem area in your life and knowing you've done your part to be prepared for whatever comes next.

Whatever storms you may be experiencing or whatever storms may come your way, know this one thing - there is always an end. And, with that end will come a great calm. We will not be abandoned in those most crucial moments of life, when we need peace more than anything. We will be strengthened through those storms we just can't face on our own.

"...a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves.... let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed."

And just to share my more favorite "rain" quote:

"May the sun bring you new energies by day, may the moon softly restore you by night, may the rain wash away any worries you may have. May gentle breezes refresh your soul and all the days of your life, may you walk gently through the world and know its beauty." —Unknown

Monday, December 3, 2007

Mandi's little Audrey

I posted the other day about my little sister being in the hospital to have her baby, and in case there was anyone wondering how that went, everyone is back home - happy and healthy. Mandi and Adam are the proud parents of a baby girl, born at 11:57pm on Thursday, the 29th. She weighed 6 pounds 8 ounces and measured 18 and a half inches long. They have decided to name her: Audrey.

For those of you who know my sister, you know that she has always been a big fan of Audrey Hepburn, so it feels very natural for her to have a daughter by that name. With the fantastic parents that this little Audrey has been blessed with, she will no doubt possess great beauty, grace and poise. We're thrilled for them and can't wait to meet the newest addition to our family!