Tuesday, October 30, 2012

First Annual Frugal Housewife Clothing Sale

 I just cleaned out my closet. I want to gag. Apart from having clothing in a size 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 (good grief), I have so many quality things that I just can't wear any more. I would love to donate it all, but the truth is--I don't have the money to go shopping and start over. And even if I did--should I? I'm sure many of you are in the same exact situation and so here's what I'm proposing: a women's consignment sale where we bring together all the things in our closet that the Halloween candy is preventing us from wearing and we sell it at reasonable prices. Simple, right?  Let's help one another be good stewards of what the Lord has given us. Oh, and if you see me wearing your pants...thanks!

The 1st Semi-Annual


Consignment sale

You calling me cheap? As Believers we acknowledge that every good and perfect gift comes from above. Our Father has greatly gifted us and it honors Christ when we are faithful stewards of that which He has entrusted to us. This is the driving principle behind the first bi-annual women’s’ clothing consignment sale. Let’s recycle and reuse what we have been blessed with!

How it works!

Step 1. Begin clearing out your winter gear. If you haven't worn in the last three months--you aren't going to. Pitch it.

Step 2. Donate first- There are people in this city who RELY on donations to clothe themselves and their family. Take several quality items and donate them to The Lovelady Center or some other worthy charity.

Step 3. Take the left-over things that you wish to contribute and hang them on any kind of hanger—with the hanger hook facing like a question mark (just like Kids Market requires).

Step 4. Put a strip of masking tape (with your first and last name clearly written and the SIZE of the item) inside the neck of your shirt/jacket/sweater and in the waistband of your pants. Do the same for purses, shoes, accessories—make it visible.

Step 5. Gather your stuff and come on over to my house—4705 Bridgewater Road Birmingham, AL 35243. The sale will be set up in my basement.

Step 6. COME SHOP. You must contribute to shop. Bring cash or your checkbook. Each contributor will have a brown manila envelope with their name on it. When you purchase an item, you will look inside the item for the contributor’s name and then go to her envelope and either deposit the exact cash or make out a check in the correct amount. So—you could be making out many checks to many people. Understand?

Step 7. Pick up your leftover items if you want them back. Pick up your envelope of checks and cash!

Step 8- give back! Tithe off of your earnings and don’t simply use that money to put more items back in your closet. Be creative.

All remaining items will be donated to The Lovelady Center.


What we take:

Any size women’s winter clothing that is in VERY GOOD condition: long-sleeved tops, sweaters, jackets, coats and Fleece jackets, pants, sweatshirts etc…

Shoes/boots: in good condition. Lightly worn. Label inside BOTH shoes.

Accessories: purses, bags, totes, jewelry, scarves, gloves, hats etc…

Winter maternity clothes.

Contribution Dates: I will begin accepting contributions Saturday, November 17. It must be hung and labeled for me to accept it because I just don’t have time to do it.

Shopping Dates:

Friday, December 7

Saturday, December 8

Sunday, December 9

Times TBA based on the number of contributions.

 HELP NEEDED! If you want to hang, group sizes, or help check out—let me know.

Contact- Kerry Cobb 968-3253 (h)  567-2061 (cell)


Sunday, October 28, 2012

What adoption does to your children

  Baby scorpions crawling through the light fixture in our shower. A constipated Beta fish on a diet of blanched peas. A certain four year old goes missing in action for his flu shot (found in another patient room hiding under the exam table). A pop-tart meltdown at Walmart. A $625 glow-in-the-dark retainer.... so are the days of our lives.
   I think a certain amount of insanity is our new normal. What's not normal (for me), is that I'm learning to roll with it. I'm so hopelessly Type A. When I don't have anything to worry about, I worry that things are going too well. I schedule spontaneity. I plan, control, manipulate and schedule. I very seldom roll with anything.
  Adopting has changed me. More and more, I find myself relinquishing control, throwing up my hands, and saying: What do you have for me today, Lord? I can now put the laundry down when Will grabs my hands and leads me to a toy. I take the time to braid the girls' hair and talk about their day. I even (attempt to) build Lego creations with Ben. The house isn't perfect. Sometimes we have interesting meals, but we're happier. I'm more attentive to my children. I'm less shackled to my own agenda. And it's good. Priorities are changing as we all change.
  One of my biggest fears about adopting (besides being murdered in my bed by a hostile adoptee) was what it would do to my children. They didn't choose this. We were heeding a call they didn't hear. Could they accept as their brother a child from across the world? Would they resent us for this decision? The anxieties and questions were great, but I kept coming back to one basic fact--regardless of how it affected our children, it didn't change the need for us to obey. This was hard for me to reconcile.
  Fellow adopting mothers, listen well and take heart. Adoption IS dear to God's heart. It IS a major sacrifice and leap of faith which will strengthen your relationship with the Lord and unveil more of His beautiful character. And yet, we are not promised a beautiful story. It will be a long time before Brent and I get to see the impact of our adoption on the lives of our other children. We are prayful that it will plant a seed in their hearts to care and love the least of these, but if it doesn't, we can tell our children that we were faithful to our Lord and His big-picture plan for our lives.
  The first few weeks were very difficult for Molly (8), Grace (6) and Ben (4). They were expecting an instant playmate not a screaming ball of fury. They tired of the crying very quickly and would do anything to make it stop. They would look at me to make it stop and I simply couldn't. Our house was not peaceful and it was upsetting to them. We encouraged the children to just be patient. We tried to tell them what Will was experiencing in hopes that they would understand and not try to suffocate him with a pillow! And at night, I begged God for the changes I'd assured them were coming.
 It's been two months home now and our children have changed--bringing about joy and challenges. Molly has assumed a great deal of responsibility for Will which I am so pleased to see. He's brought out some much-needed softness in her and I think she's beginning to understand why we needed to bring him into our family. She constantly loves on him and tends to him and tells us how glad she is that he's ours. I pray it stays that way.
  Grace is naturally loving and nurturing....overpoweringly so at times. She gets frustrated when Will prefers Molly to her. She gets frustrated when he won't do what she wants him to do. She is learning patience and tolerance and to be comfortable with Will's displays of sadness as part of the process. While Molly clams up with concerns, Grace spews out her feelings. I've bought them each a special diary and fun pen. They each write to me at the end of the day and leave it for me on their bed. They can say anything they want. We don't discuss together what they write. I read it and write back. It's been a great tool for them to share their feelings with me without having to come face to face with me. I highly recommend this with older children.
By far, it's been Ben who has had the hardest time with this transition. I thought he'd be jealous of my attention, but he's been more jealous that his sisters have a new play thing. He's territorial over his toys and meets Will's aggression with a higher level of aggression. But he's learning to be an older sibling and to have a brother. We pray that they will bond tightly together and that Ben will be his protector.
Yes, we're all changing along the way and we'll all be different at various stages of this journey. The change we ask for most is that we'll be more like Jesus. That we'll love as he loves. As we work towards that end, I seek to love my children where they are. I seek to give them the freedom to say what they are feeling even when it's not what I want to hear. I seek to spend extra time with them, loving them in the individual ways they each need love. And so we roll with it-- looking unto Jesus.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

 Two children playing in the street with wind-kissed cheeks from the cooling English weather. I remember it so clearly. I can almost smell the salt from the nearby beach and feel the chill whip around my collar. It was a lazy Saturday afternoon when my parents called my brother and I in from nature's playground. I'm quite sure we grumbled and complained as we stomped up the stairs to bundle up for the walk we didn't want to take. And sitting on my bed was a box. A large box. Inside was the most fantastic pair of roller skates I had ever seen. I heard a shriek from my brother's room and realized that he had been greeted by the same gift. To this day I can't remember being more excited about a present. It wasn't my birthday. We weren't celebrating any special occasion--it was just a rare, special treat. When I say that it was rare, I by no means infer that I was deprived. My parents just knew how to live modestly and intentionally and when they gave to us it meant something. I'm not sure we've imparted that to our children and for that I grieve. I wish plenty were a stranger to them.
 Donning our new skates, we took to the beach front as a family and wore ourselves out. We had so much fun. It's obvious that my fun came from the spontaneous gifting of something I had so desired. My parents' joy, however, was rooted in simply watching us receive. They were so content and happy to see us having fun. That's parenting isn't it? Finding contentment in watching your children fully live.
 And now I sit back watching my children live and loving the wonder in their eyes from the things that give them joy. There is a special contentment in seeing Will's orphan mentality temporarily disappear and him just being a normal, happy two-year-old boy.
 I hope my children look back at the things we did as a family and it means something to them. I hope they have a roller skate story where it wasn't about the contents of the box but about knowing that their parents experienced joy in watching them experience joy.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Which China did I visit?

    I'm sitting here tonight stunned by the fact that we've had Will for about five weeks. It seems much longer than that and as I count the weeks of his presence, I think about his foster mother and how she must be counting the weeks of his absence. I actually think about her quite often and how she looked the day I drove away with a very large piece of her heart. She never cried. Her face was intense, however, with the look of self-sorrow. Without language, I was helpless to do anything but reassure her (through our interpreter) that William would be loved and well cared for and that is true. But what about her? Her family? I wonder if they have ever heard the gospel? I wonder if they have been told that they are the beautiful creations of a masterful creator. I wonder if she knows that there is a antidote to sorrow? I pray for her salvation--for the soul saving of a woman who wears a jade Buddha around her neck and a bracelet to ward off evil spirits and I think to myself -how could God get even one little gospel seed to fall there?
I've been pondering those two weeks in China and trying to reflect on the varied aspects of that trip. First and foremost, was the union with our son and the completion of our adoption. But I had prayed all along that God would reveal to me the spiritual needs of China and allow me to see the people (HIS people) with gospel eyes. I long to be burdened for this country. Am I? It's so hard to be when so much about China and her people remain a mystery to me.
     Joanne Pittman, (in her Gospel Coalition article: 8 Myths About China Today) perfectly summarizes my feelings towards China. She writes,
In order to understand China today, it's helpful to understand this simple rule: nothing is as it seems. In fact, I would say this rule applies when observing and analyzing nearly all segments of life in China: politics, economy, social relationships, and even religion. To put it another way, whatever China seems to be at any given moment, it is in fact the opposite. This can be difficult for Westerners, because we tend to be dichotomist in our thinking, wanting something to be either this or that. We don't do well with this and that.
It may be hard for you to understand, but she is exactly right in her summation. China is like a face at a masquerade ball. Bewildering and confusing.  Double-layered. China is modern, rich, and powerful yet traditional, poor, and unstable. The people are more free than they have ever been, yet the Government's presence hangs heavy in the dirty air. The Church is present and the government boasts  "religious freedom" and yet all religious activity must be approved and registered.  I never had the sense that I completely understood how things really are for Chinese people.
    Our guide in Guangzhou was very open to the questions we had about the Chinese way of life. Knowing that the people are extremely patriotic in China, I was careful to phrase my questions delicately. I broached the subject of the one-child only policy (a policy that is slowly changing and currently does not apply to all Chinese women), questioning the course of action for those women who might unexpectedly find themselves pregnant with a second child. Sadly, Jack reported that the women are reported to the police when they start to show. The police turn them over for a government mandated abortion---even well in to the seven month and beyond. How many of you have now-healthy children who were born prematurely in the seventh or eighth month? My stomach turned and I fought to hide my sheer disgust. I could hardly say anything--we (the United States) voluntarily dispose of our babies like yesterday's leftovers. All of a sudden China's sin problems weren't looking so unique.
    I know God is moving in China but I have never been in a country where there was such a lack of churches and such a presence of pagan worship. But within my own heart, I could not feel God. I could not see Him in the faces of the people like I do here. Superstition replaces scripture and the people pin their entire futures on lifeless, powerless images and rituals. Emptiness. The gospel is an untold story in much of the country. I honestly believe that to serve as a missionary in China is to be a laborer tilling the hardest of soil. The language is a virtual impossibility to learn. The people know their country's history. They have a deep fertile root system sprawled out and wrapped around Buddhism, traditional folk beliefs, and superstition. To renounce that would be to renounce their family, their national pride, their heritage---everything. Lord, help my unbelief! I found myself thinking that there just might be places God himself can't reach. Despite all I have learned and experienced, I still make God smaller than He really is.

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
(Romans 10:14-15 ESV) 
Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--every one--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.  
(Isaiah 53:1-6)
One message delivered by way of preaching can sweep that nation for Jesus and I have to want it for them. I have to pray it for them. I have to feel the ache of telling Will that his parents might not ever hear the gospel and might not ever believe. The immovable walls of people closed in on me for two weeks and I thought about the number of non-believers in a country of  1,347,350,000 in a world of 7.044 billion and it meant something.
I want beautiful feet. I want to take the gospel into the home, the community, the schools, the workplace, the grocery store, the world. Tell me how, Lord. Show me where.
Perhaps these pictures will show some of the faces of China.

Monday, October 1, 2012

In the Boat with Jesus

And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still! And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?"
--Mark 4:38-40
   The seas got mighty rough today. I'm in the boat with Jesus and I'm waiting for the moment when he stretches out his arms, lifts his head to the heavens and in a single breath of ease commands the storm to cease. It hasn't happened. The calm may not be coming.
  Like the disciples sailing on the Sea of Galilee that day, I fear drowning in this storm that has come my way. Like the disciples who lacked the expertise to handle such severe conditions, I lack the knowledge to calm a little heart raging wildly against everything and everyone. I have no plan. I have no power. I have no control. But Jesus is in the boat.
  Today was by far the hardest day yet with Will. The grieving has stopped and anger has set in. He is so desperate to control something, anything in his life that even the smallest decision made for him stirs up a windstorm that leaves me crying out to the sleeping God in the boat: "Why have you called me to this when it's so clear I can't handle it?" Will raged continually throughout the day and by suppertime I was physically holding his writhing body against mine, constricting his arms and legs until he submitted.  Submission came one hour and fifteen minutes later when we were both sweat drenched and I couldn't formulate the words "I love you" without them sounding like a lie. I came undone.
  And laying him down in his crib for the night's sleep, he rolls over and faces me through the slats. I tell him I love him and I mean it. He shakes his head no. I say it again. He shakes his head no. I say it again. He pushes his hand through the gap and I take it in mine and stroke his palm as his eye lids close. His steady breathing holds no memory of the days events. The storm has calmed for this night at least.
 As I was re-reading the story of Jesus calming the storm, I was reminded that though the disciples were fearful and panicked, Jesus was so at peace that he was sleeping. Although my fears rise up from time to time and I doubt my ability to parent this hurting child, God is at peace. He has every power and every remarkable resource available to him which he can call down on my storm. And he's not getting out of the boat.
 Furthermore, Jesus didn't even have to calm the storm in order for the disciples to be alright. God's presence was all they needed...and it's all I need too. Yes, I'd like for things to get easier, but if they don't I will not feel like this endeavor was a mistake. I will not doubt God's sovereignty in orchestrating Will's union with our family.  I will know that God's presence throughout the storm was what I needed and I will praise him.
  Whatever your storm is, I'm praying courage for you. I'm resting in the truth that with God's presence throughout the turmoil, we will all be fine.  I stand in awe of a God who calls nature to obey and I humbly ask him to turn the little heart of a two year old towards mine. Lower his defenses and let him be still enough to feel peace for the first time in his life.  I ask God to help the others in the storm--Molly, Grace, and Ben who are so young in their understanding of who God is and the complicated nature of his ways. Oh, that we can show them more of him throughout this struggle. And I ask for the grace to get up tomorrow and get back in the boat yet again. I can do this because He is the master of the ship.