Saturday, April 26, 2014

Double It!

       My neighbors must truly think I sit at my door and watch all day for the mailman.  While this isn't exactly true, I do often run out immediately to get the mail upon hearing him approach our house.  It's usually nap time and the house is quiet.....okay, so maybe my ears are a little too in tune to the sound of the truck....oh well.  Since we've received USCIS approval, I haven't been waiting expectantly for anything, but here and there, I find little surprises.....like today.

     A couple weeks back we received an extremely generous donation out of the blue.  Truly such a blessing.  Unfortunately, we weren't able to deposit it for the way it was written out, so we had to let the generous donor know.  Today we received a new check in the mail......for DOUBLE the amount...and with the sweetest note.  Can I just say again how incredible it is that so many of you continue to come alongside of us and keep saying Yes to this call to care for the orphans.  And how amazing it is that God is speaking to so many of us, working in our lives, taking care of the details, providing the finances all for this common goal....this investment in His Kingdom?  Just thinking that miles away, a few days ago when were were totally unaware, going about our daily lives....God was prompting someone to "double it" and it was met with a "yes....great!" is truly amazing.  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Personalized Pendant Necklaces


      A while back I posted a photo of a necklace I had purchased from someone else's adoption fundraiser.  It's a necklace with a map of where Levi is from, and I love it.  I had debated looking into making them myself and then tossed the idea aside, but recently decided to go for it.  It's actually a lot of fun, and whether or not they sell, I'm really glad I tried it.  I've always considered myself to be creative/craft-challenged, but these adoptions have really forced me to venture out and as a result I've learned how to make quite a few things!  The photo above is a sample of the three pendants I have......circle, square and heart.  I can put an image of a map, design, quote.....a family photo.....pretty much anything can go on them!  If you click to the link on the right of our blog, you can see some of the samples I've made.  There's also the choice of copper, silver, bronze or gunmetal chains!  I'll keep experimenting too so if you have a suggestion or something you'd like me to try, feel free to mention it!  I'm sure we could do ribbon in place of a chain for instance (I have since added an example with charms as seen below), and I'd like to look into adding some charms.  Anyway, as always feel free to spread the word!

Here's my favorite so far.....I've started adding charms : )

Grace: Extending and Receiving

         The change of seasons is always so refreshing.  While I've never been a huge proponent of change, I always welcome the passing of one season and the beginning of the next.  Since most of our winter was spent indoors, away from the rest of the world, due to some intense germ sharing, I think we welcomed spring with even more excitement and appreciation this year.  I enjoyed the quality time we had together these past months, but to open the windows....to venture outdoors and breathe in the fresh air....to hear the birds chirping and watch little ones explore with joy.....has been such a gift.

And I'm reminded that sometimes we just appreciate more when we've had to wait, when we've experienced a different season and we're ready for something new........when it's not what we've come to expect.

        While our attendance has been ridiculously sporadic, we try to attend a MOPS group once a week.  Recently we made it on a week where we watched a video on parenting, specifically related to course correction.  The woman spoke about correcting your children and mentioned that as a child her parents were very strict with her.  While she did believe this to be beneficial, she also wondered if sometimes we, as adults, have a difficult time receiving grace as a result of a "strict" upbringing.  I was hesitant to agree, until she explained the following.  She then shared that with her children, when it comes to a time that she needs to correct their behavior, and they know what is to come, she will sometimes choose to show them grace instead.  When a pattern has been set.....the child knows the behavior was not acceptable....you step in and discuss this with your child, and even mention what the consequence should be....BUT.....just then, when they least expect it - least deserve it, you show them grace.  And remind them, that this is what Christ did, and does, for us.

        I decided to try this.  With a three (almost four) year old.  I thought it would be way over his head, but wanted to try anyway.  I don't remember what he had done, but he was upset because he knew I was upset with his behavior.  The tears rolled down his face and he apologized.  We talked about what he had done, what he should have done and he knew what was coming.  The dreaded.....time out (in).  (It still amazes me that this pains him so).  BUT.....I told him I was going to show him grace instead.  "I don't like grace!" he declared.  And yet, when he learned what grace was......he thanked me, and a smile broke through the tears.  It was a sweet moment, but I still assumed it was beyond him.  That is, until, a few days later.....  He was eating his oatmeal, while a big chocolate sprinkled doughnut sat in front of him.  He played with the sprinkles and obediently ate his oatmeal without argument.  He was 90% finished with his oatmeal, and I told him to go ahead and eat the doughnut.  He looked at me doubtfully and asked "even though I didn't finish my cereal?"  I assured him that I meant what I said and he thanked me and then paused......"Is that crace, momma?"  (that's not a typo, he literally said Crace : )  While I realize it was in reference to eating a doughnut, the fact that he made the connection blew me away.  It wasn't expected....he didn't do anything to deserve it....he hadn't even asked for it.  Both times we talked about how Jesus shows us grace, and I marveled at what an amazing opportunity this was.....and how much more these little ones understand than I give them credit for.

         I'm not sure, but I think the change in weather has softened us all a bit too.  I can feel it in myself....more relaxed, more patience with my family.  The boys have been so much more loving towards one another.  Caleb sat in school today, listening to me while rubbing Levi's head and giving him kisses periodically.  He has also chosen to add on to our prayers lately......"and thank you God for making meme and pops.....for making my friends.....please keep us safe....thank you for ice cream and the plants growing."  So precious.  With Levi, I think I've most noticed the progress in school and his wanting to be a part of everything.  It's been a gradual change, but comparing where he is now to the beginning of the school year is amazing.  He would have sat for 5 seconds and then left the room, only to come back and leave 20 more times in the 45 minutes or so that school was in session.  Now, most days he stays the whole time.  He sits in his chair, listening and gets up to be involved in any activity we do.  There used to be times that Caleb would do a worksheet and Levi would just look at a book or watch Caleb for a moment.  Now he must be working on his own paper, full participating.  You can't get anything past him.....he knows if he is missing out, if he's not fully involved....and so he's experiencing so much more.....with awe and eagerness....it's priceless to witness.

        It's still a learning process for me.....this recognizing everything as grace, everything as a gift.  But right now, in the midst of this refreshing change of seasons, sweetness and growth in my boys, and hope for what is soon to come, I feel overwhelmed by grace.

                 








Thursday, April 17, 2014

All Natural Homemade Products Raffle!


      All Natural Homemade Products Basket RAFFLE - Laundry Detergent, Dishwasher Detergent, All Purpose Cleaner and Body Scrub.  I personally make each of these for our home and would highly recommend each of them.  I know I would have liked to try them before getting all of the ingredients to make them myself, so I thought this may be a benefit to some of you.  If you like them and are interested in making them yourselves, I'd be happy to pass along the recipes and any tips!  I will list the ingredients in each below for those who are interested.  Here's a few things you may want to know:

                  * Dishwasher Detergent = 72 loads (about 2 tbsp per load)
                  * Laundry Detergent = 118 loads (at 1 tbsp per load) or 59 (at 2 tbsp per load) 
                    The suggested amount is 1-2 tbsp per load.  I use 1 heaping tablespoon and it has always been enough! 




RAFFLE TICKETS ARE 3 for $5.00
Payment: You may click the donate button on the right side of our blog, send payment through paypal to karissacruse@hotmail.com, pay in person, or send a check (email me for our address).  I would be willing to mail the package out if the winner is willing to pay the shipping, however the bottles are all glass so it would likely be a bit expensive to ship.  


                    * The Winner will be chosen at random (for each entry, one paper with your name will be placed into a bag) and shared here on May 16th! 

   _____________________________________________________________
Ingredients

Dishwasher Detergent: Borax, Washing Soda, Lemi Shine, Kosher Salt
Laundry Detergent: Fels Naptha, Borax, Washing Soda
All Purpose Cleaner: White Vinegar, Water, Fresh Squeezed Lemon, Lemon Essential Oils
Body Scrub: Organic Coconut Oil, Epsom Salt, Fresh Squeezed Lemon




Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It Has Arrived

       Our dossier arrived in U yesterday.....to a town that is currently experiencing violence by pro-Russian activists.  Often times when we've shared where we are adopting from people express their disbelief.  First the adoption ban, and now this?  We just seem to pick all the wrong places, right?  Actually, while it was not what we would have chosen, it's not so surprising to me.....nor have we felt for a second that we're not exactly where we should be.  How much more will God's glory be revealed and displayed as He leads us down this road?  He chose the timing, and it is just as it should be.  He chose the place.....He chose the children.....He is making a way and He remains faithful.  Once again we are in a place of complete dependence on Him.  We don't know the outcome, but we trust that whatever it may be, it will bring Him glory.....isn't that what really matters?


                                *                                        *                                            *

      If you are praying for our family, could I ask that you not only pray for our future children, but also for our facilitator and his family?  For their safety and their work in this adoption.  They are believers and we are so grateful for their diligence and dedication.  We have been told that we would likely travel this summer (possibly the end of July) to meet our girls, so there is much that will happen between now and then in terms of our paperwork.  Now we wait, while our facilitator and those who handle adoptions in U take over......your prayers are so greatly appreciated! 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mother's Nest Necklaces

         I mentioned before that friends of ours are hosting an orphan from U this summer (so exciting!!).  So one way they are raising money is by making these beautiful mother's nest necklaces.  I thought this was such a great idea considering mother's day is around the corner and they are personalized with beads according to your children, grandchildren etc.  You can choose birthstone colors, or just a specific bead for each child etc.  This is the one they made for our family.....such a special gift!  If you're interested in one, I'd be happy to put you in touch with this family.  You can also check out their blog here!


Friday, April 11, 2014

Thank You!



              Two more unexpected, generous donations came in this week.  It really blows us away.  Yesterday I opened the mailbox, sat down on the front steps and opened one.  It gets me every single time.....and the tears come.....it's overwhelming....the many people, near and far, that feel led to give, to come alongside of our family.  So many mention the smallness of their gift, but it could not be farther from the truth.  In so many ways, each gift is huge.  Each time, it feels like added confirmation, another glimpse of God's provision, a reminder that this is so beyond just our family.....and as I look at the pages that add up the numbers in my notebook....the numbers added each time may seem small, but together they blow us away - there is nothing small about it!  Please know that we are so grateful....that each of you mean so much and are so very appreciated!  

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Much to be thankful for!

         Choosing a Saturday to have a yard sale is tricky around here with Luke's rotating schedule....so basically our yard sales are planned whenever he has a Saturday off.  We weren't sure this was going to work out with the forecast of rain, but as the hours inched closer, the forecast slowly changed.....the rain would end by 10..then 9....maybe 7....and this morning when our alarms went off at 6:30 the rain had already stopped.  As I ran (literally) back and forth from the basement to the driveway, with boxes full of items, I just kept thanking God over and over.  And, we were told, there weren't really any other yard sales going on, so everyone came to ours!  It was set to start at 9 and I think we'd sold 1/4 of our items before that.  Our total today was $935.71 including Luke's motorcycle which we sold for parts!!  This weekend is also the consignment sale so I'm eager to see what our profit will be tomorrow.  We still have a long way to go, but God is good....and so faithful.  We'll definitely be doing another yard sale after all, but we're not quite sure what else is in store at this point.  If you have any great fundraising ideas, feel free to pass them on! : )

      As always we couldn't do these sales without some amazing help.  We're so thankful for all of the donated items.....I feel like we must have emptied some of your houses with all that you donated!  And to Rachel, who always so willingly and eagerly gives up her Saturday to wake up early and help alongside of us...you are such a blessing to us!!  Without fail this sweet teenager has served our family at each and every yard sale over these past few years.  And then, my aunt who works hard all week, asks what time to be here in the morning.  And works tirelessly (I truly think sometimes harder than any of us!)....always knowing just what needs to be done.  Then there's my parents who take our boys overnight so that we can focus on the task at hand......and who I may add, our boys would prefer to stay with even when we come to pick them up!  And when you've worked all day and still have to put the many boxes of leftover items away, God provides more help......thank you thank you thank you Bryan, Bevin and Tess for offering your time and efforts and serving our family.  It truly saved us so much time and was such a blessing.  We are so humbled that so many of you come alongside of us.  Thank you!!

                                  *                                           *                                           *

       We also finally received USCIS approval so we are eager to send our documents out Monday morning!  And then....the real wait begins.....the wait to hear when we will be invited to travel to meet our girls.....even as I type that, I almost can't believe it......