In the beginning, JD adamantly only wanted two children. I thought that four would be perfect. Once we caught God's vision of putting orphans into families, our plan was multiplied by God. We are currently blessed with 12 children; five biological, six adopted and one more waiting in Ethiopia. Our first adoption was from the U.S., the next three were from Liberia, West Africa, and our last two were from Ethiopia. We are supporting our 12th child in Ethiopia after her adoption could not pass court.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The End of 2009

Reading a few other blogs this evening has really made me reflect back on the last year. While the last few years have run at a faster pace than any other time of our lives, I feel blessed to reflect back on several situations that I've seen God's hand directly at work in our lives. While we have faced different challenges that alone are discouraging, I rest knowing that the reason for our days on earth are not to lay up treasures or fill our days with pleasures but to invest in others in hopes of contributing to eternity.

If there is one thing I never want to do with this blog, it is to appear that we have it more together than the average family. There are so many moments during the day that I fall short that I tend to focus on my failures more than my blessings. (I have several children that would probably love to give examples, but we won't go there.) There are so many times that I am frustrated at different challenges, but refrain from writing about them for respect to the people that are involved. Yet when I look at my life, I truly feel that I'm one of the most blessed people I know, because I have gotten exactly what I wanted in life. I may not have had any idea of what I truly was hoping for, because children are far more work and challenging than I ever dreamed, but I am living my dream. And for that I'm truly blessed!

2010 is going to be a big year around here. In April, I'm turning 40 and I don't think that is really bothering me. In December we will celebrate our 20th anniversary. Gabriel is going to graduate from high-school and Elijah is going to enter the two year old realm. A year goes so fast, yet so much can happen!

I pray you are looking optimistically at your year ahead and pray God's blessings as you strive to live your days as He has planned for you.

Nothing like a quadruple batch of Chex buddy mix to ring in the New Year!

Good-bye 2009, hello 2010.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Neck vs Elbows

So, to celebrate our 19th anniversary today, we headed off to the orthopedic doctor to discuss the on-going shooting pain in my elbows. When I herniated the disks in my neck a few years ago, the pain always shot down my left arm and pounded in my elbow. Since re-injuring my neck a few months back, catching Elijah as he was falling off the bed, both my elbows ache constantly. The chiropractor really thinks that it is stemming from my neck, but GOOD NEWS, the ortho. doctor thinks it's just severe tennis elbow from lugging a dozen babies around the last 18 years! So, although I'm not thrilled with the elbow wraps and cortisone shots idea, it sure beats neck surgery.

On the plus side, we did go out for anniversary brunch after the appointment. Sadly enough, we spent a good bit of the time discussing the sad reality that we are getting older and starting to feel it!

Other than that, all is well and Julia is finishing up playing with the Christmas items before they are packed up for another year. Here she is with Mary, Joseph and a snow-man on the time-out bench.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Little Musician

I have physically felt pretty yuck since Christmas Eve, just exhausted even after adequate sleep. Since I haven't been sick at all, I really just thought I was run-down from pre-Christmas work. Then today, it hit me - it's my iron; I tend to get quite anemic and feel much better after a few days of iron supplements. I wish I had figured it out a few days ago.

Here's Elijah, our little guitarist. He strums the guitar gently and really listens to it.

Elijah was 17 months yesterday. It's hard to believe that the big 1 1/2 is around the corner!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from Elijah, the horse, and the rest of us here at Our Plans Multiplied. May the Prince of Peace to real to each of you today.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Gift of Music

JD's sister and family arrived safely yesterday from South Carolina. Uncle Pedro is a musician and an artist and blessed our family with several instruments. He restored and hand-painted the guitars.

He also made three of the coolest drums I have ever seen. The base is pottery that he creates and the top is stretched goat skin just like the wooden Liberian drum I brought home from my first Liberian trip. Unfortunately, Julia broke one of the drums this morning (see my last post) so they are going to only be used by little people with careful monitoring!

Although Uncle Pedro had no idea, Alyssa has been asking for a key-board and he showed up with one of those also! She wanted one because she plays the piano for hours a day and the other kids gripe at her, so now she can play in her room in peace.

He also made several wooden flutes that play soft and pretty.

You may think that our house is even more noisy than usual, but it is happy and creative noise to me.

James and Ben are opening Scripture readers for our Christmas Eve service tonight, so I have much to do in the next few hours!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I Used to Have Stuff... Now I Have Julia!

I used to have stuff, but Julia has seriously broken most of it. There is a pile of ornaments in the middle of the dining room table awaiting a super-glue marathon. I also used to have a snow-man collection, now I have a handicapped snow-man collection. She doesn't intend on breaking anything, she just plays with everything all day long. It really doesn't matter if she isn't supposed to either, she will the minute I'm not looking! The snowmen have been put to bed and sent to time-out dozens of times in the few weeks they have lived out-side their rubber-maid container.

I assure you that I had nothing to do with today's (or this hour's) ward-robe choice either! Today the snow-men were continually whining for gum, so they were all sent to bed on the couch.

I bundled the kids up this morning for one last hurrah in the snow. Our Christmas company starts rolling in today and I'm slightly over-whelmed with boots and snow-gear. It's been fun though!
Elijah didn't object to his pink mittens; they were on the top of the pile and we live in the middle of no-where. I may have re-considered if I had thought about posting pictures.

I'm trying to focus on all I have done getting ready for Christmas, but there still seems to be a lot that I haven't accomplished.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

We Weren't Disappointed

We got at least the forecast snow. We bundled up and headed out after breakfast. We snapped this family snow picture before anyone fell, or lost a mitten or had anything else to cry about. Not that you can tell, but Charlie was dressed in a Santa suit, Toby was wearing a reindeer suit and I had antlers for the big dogs. Once Lincoln took one look at Reagan in her antlers, he hid under the porch. We are blessed with an array of animals with insecurity issues. Lincoln will hide for entire day if he even suspects that you have a vial of Frontline in your pocket!

This was Elijah's first snow outing. It was so deep that he couldn't walk, but he enjoyed being carried around in it and watching the kids sled.

Alei and Elijah -

Elijah and Gabriel -

We really don't have any hills, but the kids made use of the top-soil mountain that still remains in the future cow-pasture.

Tori and Julia also played on the slides.

Charlie enjoyed the snow and didn't object to a sled-ride with Alyssa.

Alyssa making a snow angel.

I think Elijah was deep in thought about the kids sledding. I guess he'll be one of them next year.
Happy Snow Day!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ready As We Can Be

While my friends in Michigan may chuckle, it's a big deal around here to get more than two inches of snow. It's an even way bigger deal to get snow before Christmas! So, when they have spent the entire day on the radio rambling on about a blizzard, I decided we should be at least somewhat prepared. We had to make two trips "to town" today to drop off and pick up the kittens that were getting fixed. I combined the morning trip with shopping for the family we felt called to bless this year and taking James and Ben to buy a present for the sibling whose name they drew. When we arrived home, Moriah promptly wrapped and boxed the gifts.

JD made the cat pick-up run combined with an Alei CLEP psychology test and buying lots of paint at Wal-Mart. I should have bought stock in Kilz paint before we started painting the basement. The cats are happy resting in the warmth of the basement after their surgeries.

So, it wasn't supposed to start snowing until mid-night, but it's already coming down strong. JD has the little generator staged to hook up to the well if we lose power.

The thought of a possible power outage has thrown me into a laundry frenzy. I have both washers and dryers humming away. There will be lots of laundry folding time tomorrow (and basement painting opportunities) since our other obligations have melted away as fast as the snow is falling.

Julia and Tori have spent the day singing their two favorite Christmas carols, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas (from the bottom of my heart) and DON'T Tell It on the Mountain.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Simple Task

My simple idea was for Moriah to make cookies while I made bread to give to the Wednesday night teachers at church. Moriah got off easy as Elijah was my "helper."

First we had to grind the wheat. Elijah played in it like a sandbox and sampled a bit.

Once it became flour, he sampled that as well.

Once we washed his hands, he turned to water play.

All the sampling and washing made him thirsty and he has seen the cat drink from the sink, so he gave it a try.

That turned into a really fun game as well.

At some point, he saw the camera and gave me a "cheese."

Even routine tasks can be fun if you have a "helping buddy."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

What's Going On....

Things have been great here, just busy. We tried to accomplish a lot of school last week; it went well until Thursday, then we fizzled a bit. I guess I'm going to continue with school at least part of this week.

We spent Saturday cleaning the house. I also made a mental note of all the things that I'd like to get done before our Christmas company arrives. JD resumed working in the basement; he had taken the last few weeks off due to a back injury. We then attended a Christmas party Saturday evening, it was a nice treat after working all day.

This week I need to finish shopping, finish wrapping and make lists of meals and groceries. It is also the much loved HAIR WEEK, which means that Julia has spent a few hours whining this afternoon while I've taken out braids.

The front is out (as you can see,) but I still have the back to go. There's always plenty to do around here!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Little Kids, Big Kids

Today's post is a perfect example of what I said yesterday about the little guys getting all the pictures. While I went out to take pictures of the big kids, Julia and Elijah accompanied me; I can barely even go to the bathroom without them!

Anyway, the camera eventually was turned on them, because they are just so entertaining.

When Elijah saw the puddle, he ran straight to it, into it and started stomping and splashing.

He got down on his knees at one point like he was going to swim in it, but I decided it was too cold to get soaked.

So, another boy/girl difference - look how Julia remains on the side with dry shoes while Elijah stands in the puddle.

No one could ever convince me that boys and girls are born the same; Elijah ignores all the girly stuff and focuses on balls, tractors and dirt.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Oldest Four - Seldom Seen

The pattern I've noticed is, the younger the child the more pictures I take of them. I guess it's proportional to the amount of time they spend right under my feet. Today I deliberately took some pictures of my oldest four; for many years before adoption entered our lives, they were the only four.

Gabriel -

Alei and her dog, Toby.

Moriah is holding her kitty, Tally.
Alyssa also has her own dog, Charlie.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Prosperity and the Gospel

I have been really pondering the whole rich American, money and Gospel thing lately. Two things have greatly impacted my thinking in this area. The first is the last lesson of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace course, which is labeled "The Great Misunderstanding." Dave explains the reason behind being out of debt and financially stable is not to hoard wealth, but to advance the Kingdom. I was especially impressed when he opened with an adoption story. The reality is that we shouldn't view our money, possessions or even our life as our own; we are accountable to God with how we use all of them and we will answer for our decisions. In the face of that, it's hard to imagine explaining to God our fat retirement in the face of starving children. I am not saying that we aren't supposed to save, because I believe we should and we do, but our wealth shouldn't be our focus nor should a cushy retirement be our life's goal.

The second thing I have been pondering is this short ten minute YouTube video by John Piper on the prosperity Gospel. I urge you to watch it. I have never been a fan of the prosperity message, but this ten minutes summed up for me some things I wouldn't have been able to put into words.


Someone has well said, "Our pocketbooks have more to do with heaven and hell than our hymnbooks."

Cyprian, the third-century bishop of Carthage wrote an amazingly up-to-date look at the affluent of the day, which could have been written today. "Their property held them in chains... which shackled their courage and choked their faith and hampered their judgment and throttled their souls.... If they stored up their treasure in heaven, they would not now have an enemy and a thief within their household...They think of themselves as owners, whereas it is they rather who are owned: enslaved as they are to their own property, they are not the masters of their money but its slaves."