"" Life A Bit Sweeter: February 2012

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Giveaway: Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian

**Giveaway CLOSED**

Yesterday, I referenced in my post, the impact the book The Power of a Praying Wife had in my marriage. Over the years, I've hosted book studies, given this book away, and re-read it again...it never gets old to me. Because I enjoy the book so much, I wanted to give a brand new copy away to one of Y-O-U!

If you're single or already have a copy, how awesome would it be for me to send it to a friend on your behalf with a special little note from you??? I think really cool!

It's really simple. Just leave a comment here on this blog post and tell me, "Good or bad...what have you learned about marriage from your own experience or watching others?"

No long waits to pull a winner....I'll pull a name sometime this Thursday so don't delay, get your comment in today! Hey, tell your friends, I'm sure some of them would love to get in on this giveaway.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Do Your Eyes Still Light Up When Your Spouse Enters The Room?

I heard someone ask this before about your child but it got me to thinking about marriage. You see, this adoption is the one that almost never was. Why you ask? As with many couples, Tony and I went through some really tough patches early in our marriage and I wanted to call it quits a couple of times. Had I done so, I would have aborted this dream. Often that's the case with so many divorces or marriages, because we don't fully do 'our part', we miss out on some amazing missions and dreams that God could have orchestrated through that couple.

But during one particular season, I got a hold of Stormie Omartian's book The Power of A Praying Wife and it totally reversed my thoughts and had me focus on Michelle. Some years later, 2007 to be exact, I wrote this entry into a newsletter I was writing. Take a peek...it became my surrender that saved my marriage.

Page 1

Page 2
**Just a quick note of clarity, even during that time of challenge during our marriage, I never believed that we should stop praying that God would change various things about our spouses. I just think that the majority of our prayers should be focused on God doing a work within us--just in case our spouse never changes. Love y'all!

Monday, February 27, 2012

New Adoption Numbers!!!

Do you see what I see?! That's right we're #9 for a toddler girl and #24 for an infant girl. Unbelievable and so exciting!

*this is the unofficial list that our agency's parents put together according to the date our dossier was sent to Ethiopia.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Family: Shelly and John

The other night, me and the boys were so pleasantly surprised when two of my family members joined us for MJ's bball game. They actually went out of their way which was so super sweet to me.

Meet Shelly & John. They're siblings and best of all, they're my birth mom's sister's children. What's so cool is that they really knew my birth mom...from her thumb-sucking habit to her likes and dislikes.

Shelly has been a MAJOR supporter of our adoption since the day I shared it. In fact, she and one of my close girlfriends, Trenace, will be accompanying me on the second trip to Ethiopia to bring Selah home. From a young age, her walk with God has been so strong and has been one that I admired.

John (okay...he may get me but I don't really call him John...it's Chippy. His nickname as a child is the only one I and now my kids know...sorry, Love. *smile*) He lives out-of-town but when he comes here, if my schedule allows, I try to hop over to his mom's house, my Aunt Johnette, because he lays out a breakfast spread that makes me dance. He then tops it off with a cup of his special hot cocoa. I wonder if Selah will enjoy it? I'm guessing yes!

Thanks fam for your love!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Adoption Numbers: Moving On Up Like The Jeffersons

We're so elated that referrals have been happening within our agency. Simply put, we've moved in the 'unofficial list' to #25 for an infant girl and #10 for a toddler girl.

I'm still not confident that we'll get a referral this year....but she and we are in His perfect hands.

Just wanted to share! Keep praying us through this journey. It makes a difference. Love y'all!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My Date w/ God: Created for Care Retreat

Soooo.....this 'date' with God totally rocked my world. Have you ever had one of those times when you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is real because of something very personal he did JUST FOR YOU? That's exactly what happened to me at Created for Care.

To be totally transparent, prior to the retreat, I have been just dry....dehydrated in my relationship with God. Feeling as if I just wasn't connected...as if we were just miles apart. Not that He went anywhere, it was me. The crazy thing is that I work full-time at a church so some may ask how do you get so far away from God if you WORK in a church. I'll say very easy, my friend. Sometimes you can get so busy with 'church work' and the care of other people that if you're not careful your own 1-1 with God can become distant.

Going to the retreat, I knew I need refreshing and renewal but when Andrea (the founder of Created for Care) kept encouraging us all to make sure we signed up for our 1-hour date with God, I was a bit hesitant. One hour with God....on a date....but I mean we're really not connecting right now. I mean....I pray, sing worship songs, raise my hands in praise but that deep relationship thing....we're not there right now and I thought God was just so disappointed by my lack of excitement to spend time with Him. Anywho, I went ahead and signed up for the very last day possible.

So the day and hour came. I was actually a bit late going in....about 15 minutes but you know what He still waited there for me. When I arrived at the room where the Date with God was being held, the room was scattered with women who were praying, crying, worshipping God. The lights were dim and worship music filled the air. Still apprehensive, I asked one of the volunteers, "What do I do? How does this work?" She sweetly explained the various stations around the room and basically gently prodded me to jump in wherever I wanted. So I put my bags down and went to the first station....and may I tell you that the tears began to flow and never stopped from that point. I cried so much that the tears burned my cheeks as they fell but in that burning, it felt so good. My savior met me just where I was but I didn't realize there was one more thing that He wanted 'to fix' before I left that place.

I visited 4 stations during my date with God and the time flew....wow! I concluded my time by getting in the prayer line where two amazing and beautiful women of God patiently talked and prayed with each woman in line.....and here's how it went down...(sorry for the audio speed...iMovie is acting a bit looney!)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Created for Care Retreat....The BEAUTIFUL People

Oh my goodness! I so wish I had the time to tell you about all of the amazing women that I met in person. With them, I've been blog buddies, Facebook friends, Twitterheads, and some I met for the first time at the retreat. Let me first just say that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Andrea Pierce Young.  She is the founder of Created for Care. She has a heart for mamas who need to be refreshed, orphans, and widows. If you haven't seen her blog, I'm telling you....you're totally missing out so stop by --> http://www.babeofmyheart.com/

Can I tell you how awesome it was for me to finally meet in person Ms. B from the This is the Life blog? She's a gem of a woman. From the beginning of our encounters in blog land, I totally hit it off with her. I've been following her journey and I've been so floored and honored that she follows mine. She is beautiful from the inside out....and her girls...wowza! They're little angels. (Her picture is about the 7th in the slideshow below).

Then....there was the picture that I got on the last day with Kristi from We Love Our Lucy. I was hoping to get a picture with me, her, Gwen & Suzanne (from 147 Million Orphans) but things got a bit hectic that day. In case you didn't know, if I could create my own Dream Team that inspires me, it would totally be Kristi, Gwen, Suzanne, and Katie Davis (from Amazaima Ministries).....a girl can dream, right? I'll get that pic one day. For now, the one with me, Kristi, and her son, Wes is in a 4x6 frame on my wall at my office. Yes, she inspires me that much. (smile)

Again, there were so many women that I met....I wish I could have taken photos of them all so I can share but for the sake of not making you read forever, you'll just have to trust me. You'd love these chicas. Here are just a few pics of the BEAUTIFUL people and things all around me.

The way that the retreat was planned, there was so much to choose. I mean the general sessions were fantastic and then you had these AMAZING breakout sessions like this one below....

Recognize these beautiful women? This breakout session was called "Blogger Panel: Using Your Blog as Ministry". Here's the line-up from left to right... Gwen (Oatsvall Team), Suzanne (Joining the Journey), Missy (It's Almost Naptime!!), Kristi (Home with Lucy Lane & Wes), Lovelyn (Moments with Love), and Lara (The Farmer's Wife Tells All.) What a beautiful line-up of women who are advocating hard for the orphan crisis. Love these gals and their transparency.

As to not give anything away for the ladies who are attending in March, I do want to share this one thing from Suzanne...she said something like..."There is a fa├žade of picture perfect families. For all of us, we love to see a family we are drawn to but know that they are not perfect. As a culture we’re searching for people who are like us that are not perfect. People long for the truth." Amen sister. That's one of the things that draws me to blogs and let me be honest...even reality tv. I enjoy peeking into other people's lives to learn. I also find it very healing to share transparently on my own blog what's happening in my life.

I attended a couple more FANTASTIC breakouts over the weekend. I couldn't attend the well over a dozen breakouts offered so I did the next best thing......ordered the mp3 deal of all of the taped sessions. Adoption Mama Heaven! (smile)

So if you were going to a retreat like this, what type of breakout sessions would you have attended? What topics would you want to discuss?

I've got one more thing that I've got to tell you about regarding the retreat. I mean the sessions, breakouts, and worship were awesome but wait 'til I tell you about my 'Date with God'.  Oh my goodness! It will blow your mind....this one caught me TOTALLY off-guard. Stay tuned...

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Day 2: Created for Care Retreat

Friday! Friday! Friday! I woke up last Friday morning in my room to this beautiful balcony view of the lake. M-A-G-N-I-F-I-C-E-N-T! He does all things well. I so wish I could have transported this back to Maryland.

I loafed around in my pjs and got some work done with my new MacBook Pro that I use at work. Boy....this sucker is like night and day in terms of efficiency in comparison to my Dell laptop. I also love that technology allows this type of flexibility. Hanging in Georgia but working for our Maryland church campus. Okay, I know I was on a 'retreat' yet, I'm still figuring out my own balance between work and home. It's tough when you actually get to work at your dream job because its no longer 'work'. It's your passion...what you were created to do. I'd do this 'job' for free.

Anywho....back to the retreat. I stayed up in my room so long, I had to wait for Bullfrogs to open up for lunch. Because I am a big eater, no worries. I didn't starve. I'm so glad I didn't take a picture of my food drawer. I had actually driven to the local Target on Thursday afternoon when I arrived and bought some, shall I say 'snacks'....Yes, a small pack of cold cuts and all. With no refrigerator in the room, I did what any ol' resourceful mom would have done. I picked up a plastic shoebox type of container and filled it with ice. Inside, I buried my small pack of cold cuts and Colby Jack cheese. Inside my food drawer I had the following --prepare yourself: small loaf of bread, mustard, salt, pepper, sour cream & onion chips, white cheddar popcorn, chocolate chip cookies, cheese-its, and some cans of sprite. I know...so sad but I just didn't want to spend a lot of money on food between Thursday (since I arrived very early) and Friday evening when the retreat began. Now I was going to treat myself to lunch but I am a big in-between meals type of girl so don't judge me. (smile)

Now Lake Lanier Resort has a pretty cute gift shop and I did fall prey BUT the deals were great! I bought a really nice grey scarf (i LOVE grey). It was $8 because everything was 40% off. I also got these really cute manicure sets for a make-up 101 party I'm planning for the Spring. While shopping, I met a woman who I can't remember her name but we chatted like two girlfriends about our adoption process. (If you're out there, drop me a line...sorry!)

Laura Kirkland
Just before the registration process started, I met another cool woman who was helping out with the 60 Feet table. Her name is Laura Kirkland. We popped into the gift shop to ask my new 'buddy' who manages the shop to take a picture of us. Lo and behold as we're taking a pic, Laura says, "Hey, they have my stuff in here!" Believe it or not, Laura is an artist that designs beautiful art for a company called Glory Haus. The stuff was too cute! She had also completed canvas art for the conference that was being sold at the 60 Feet table. Yep, another mama match made in heaven. Another one of those women that you just wanna hang and grab some coffee with for a bit.

The doors for registration opened up and I popped on in. The highlight that night was when my girlfriend Missy Dollahan texted me and told me she had arrived. When I saw her we....okay, maybe I, screamed like a first grader who had just hooked up with a favorite playmate. Missy....how do I describe her??? She's that girlfriend who will keep you laughing until you wet your pants...yes, really! LOL. She's very strong in her opinions and is PASSIONATE about children and family. Check out her blog, It's Almost Naptime.

As if that wasn't joy overload, I looked to my right and saw Gwen Oatsvall and Suzanne Mayernik. Okay....seriously God?! Gwen & Suzanne are the women behind 147 Million Orphans. I am a total nut for their products, but especially their heart for the orphan. I'll share more on them in the next blog post.

I grabbed some snacks and headed for the vendor tables. Who was there???? Check-out this vendor lineup....
147 Million Orphans 
Adoption Tees 

The ladies from Light Gives Heat.
I purchased some items and that was that! My gift to me. I mean it was for the cause. (smile) Be sure to click their names above to visit their websites. These vendors offer LOTS of great products to support orphan advocacy.

.....and then.....the conference officially kicked off! The first thing we were shuttled off to were breakout sessions and OMG wait until I tell you which one I attended. I was absolutely IN HEAVEN!!!! Stay tuned. I'll share the pics tomorrow of what the night held.

**BTW: I can't share all of the details because there's a group of ladies heading to the conference in March. Don't want to spoil it all for them. Ladies: If you're going, take some cash with you. You'll DEFINITELY want to do some shopping. (smile)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Day 1: Created for Care Retreat

Waterfall at Front of Resort
My first day at the retreat's resort wasn't really Friday when things got started. Instead, I actually flew down to Atlanta on Thursday morning...after the kiddos were dropped off at school. Whenever I go to a retreat, when possible, I try to fly down the day before to relax and unwind. I mean it's REALLY rare for a mama to get away with no husband and kids. Don't get me wrong, I love my little babies and my big, beautiful strong 'Baby' but a girl needs to getaway. You know......where no one calls your name because they're looking for their basketball uniform.....where you can spread out in a big bed all by yourself...and no one's patting or rubbing your hip at night....oops...sorry, maybe TMI for you but that's my life! LOL.

 The Resort Sits On This BEAUTIFUL Lake!
So because Andrea and her retreat planning girls thought of everything, they actually planned for mom's like me. We had a really cool, laid-back dinner at the restaurant on the lower level called Bullfrogs. It was phenomenal...because at the moment when I walked in by my lonesome, I realized that I wasn't at all alone. At the table, there sat about 30, perhaps, women who had or are walking this same adoption road as me. My soul was so happy as we chatterboxes sat, ate, and just looked at the beauty at the table. Everything was awesome from the server to the yummy sweet potato fries that I L-O-V-E-D! Now the one thing I'd change --> the poor guy who was trying to entertain us with his singing and music. I guess nobody told him that a table full of mamas don't need any entertaining at all, especially when they actually get to enjoy a meal with no littles making spills or crying to go to the potty. (smile)

Come back in a bit! I'll be sharing Day 2 next!

Welcome to Lake Lanier Resort!

Traded in my "Mom Big SUV" for this Rental Cutie!

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