Some Thoughts on Adoption and Foster Care

Recently I had a conversation with some friends about adoption.

It is something I have been passionate about since high school.  Even when Spencer and I had our first real conversation I brought up adoption and how he felt about it.

Taking care of orphans is part of the Christian’s calling.  Adoption is so intricately woven in the gospel; they cannot be separated.  Believers have been adopted in the family of God.  We were lost, helpless, alone.  We needed the Father’s love, discipline, grace.

Spencer and I get so excited when we talk about adoption.  Whenever we are able to start the adoption process it will be a joyous day.  Even as we are about a month away from welcoming our first daughter into the world, we can’t help but anticipate the other children that will join our family.

So recently as I talked with a couple friends about adoption, it was encouraging to hear others share their hearts for orphans and hope to adopt.  A young girl was around us as we discussed this, and she was quick to say, “Wait, so you can’t have kids?”  We tried to explain that there are millions of children around the world who need families, but she didn’t quite understand why we would want to adopt if we can have “our own kids.”  It reminded me of a time last year when Spencer and I were discussing adoption with some people.  Someone asked, “So you don’t want kids of your own?”

Those words hurt my heart.  When you are adopted into a family you belong there.  You were made to be there.  You are the parents own.  I loved how a friend from church said he explained to his son that he was adopted.  He said that even though he was in a different woman’s tummy, he was meant to be part of their family, to be their son.  He came from someone else’s tummy, but he is theirs.  Completely.

As much as adoption is just a sweet thought to many, foster care seems to be even more of a distant thought.  Believers need to be in the foster care system.  Desperately.  This article from the NY Times yesterday shares that 30 percent of the homeless in America were once in foster care:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/01/fashion/Just-Holding-On-Through-the-Curves-modern-love.html?_r=0  There is a huge need with children and teenagers here in America.  Christians need to step up and be willing to step outside of their comfort zones and open their homes and hearts to this group that desperately needs love, discipline, training, hope, families.

As much as I believe Christians should be at the forefront of orphan care, the reality is so many have distorted views on it and so many still don’t even think about it.  Hopefully Spencer and I can share our heart for orphans with those in our life and help others realize the need to care for the least of these.  I absolutely love seeing churches have orphan care ministries.  It encourages my heart so much.  And I love reading others’ hearts about this topic.  My friend has a wonderful blog that I encourage you to read and let it challenge you:  http://waitingonaword.blogspot.com

I can’t wait to see how the Lord grows our family.  I know it will be a long process, filled with joy and heartache, hope and longing.  But I pray our growing little family will point others to Christ and expand His Kingdom.  May our hearts beat for the needs of the orphans.

 

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Food and Cancer

I have an unexpected day home.  So I decided to pull out the hot glue gun and work on some crafts for Katherine’s room and watch a documentary.

I love documentaries about food and nutrition.  And Netflix has a pretty good selection of them.  They are always eye-opening and inspiring.  Forks Over Knives will probably always trump all the rest, but I still love to be informed.

This morning I watched FoodMatters.  Overall, it was pretty good.  I agreed with a lot of what they said and was encouraged by how much time they spent talking about nutrition and cancer.

The only thing I didn’t agree with was their talk of vitamins.   I do think vitamins should be regulated, because you have no way of knowing what they say is in the bottle is actually in it.  And I completely believe that we have a whole food deficiency in our country, not a vitamin deficiency.  (A friend recently posted this article about what is in children’s vitamins:  http://wakeupcallnews.blogspot.com/2013/07/top-childrens-vitamins-full-of.html)  I do think there is good research about how our bodies deal with manufactured vitamins versus the vitamins and minerals that come from whole foods.

But what the documentary did do was share the awful state of health in America especially regarding cancer.  There are reasons why Americans deal with things like cancer, heart disease, infertility, and autoimmune diseases in crazy high amounts and other countries don’t.  The answer?  What we eat.  If we fill our bodies with processed “foods” filled with chemicals and artificial ingredients of course we will feel tired in the afternoons, get grouchy, deal with all sorts of sicknesses and syndromes, and negatively impact our future health.  Our bodies need the nutrients found in plant-based whole foods.  And with the state we are in, our bodies need them desperately.  We can actually reverse DNA damage and cancer cells.  Our cancer rates (and other disease rates) will dramatically decrease once we realize the answer is found in the garden.

Watching things like FoodMatters makes me so grateful that we learned about Juice Plus and include it in our daily lives.  Check out my website for research and information about the most researched nutritional product in the world:  http://sconnatser.juiceplus.com  Seriously, just read about it.  It can change your life and give you peace of mind about your health.  It has for us.

I encourage you to do your own research and watch the documentaries FoodMatters and Forks Over Knives, especially if you are connected with cancer in this season of life or want to do what you can to not include it in your future.

Fun Family Traditions

As students are walking back into their classrooms and journeying into a new school year, I can’t help but think of one of the silly, but special, traditions we had growing up.

On the first day of school we had a fairly unique breakfast.

Ice cream!

It’s true.

We would dive into bowls of ice cream in the early hours of the morning before hopping on the bus and heading to conquer the first day of school.

It’s silly.  But I can look back and smile on it.

I can’t wait to have our own traditions for our kids to enjoy as we grow our family!

Week 32 Baby Update

It’s true!  We are 32 weeks pregnant.  Crazy, huh!?  We are in month eight of this roller coaster ride.

And if I can be honest, I am so glad we are nearing the end of this.

Of course I am so very excited to meet our little girl.  But I’m also quite excited to not be pregnant anymore.

Some ladies love these nine months.  They love all the changes that happen and somehow are so elegant in the process.  But that hasn’t been me.  I can say that being pregnant hasn’t been an enjoyable process.

I’ve had friends ask why I haven’t taken the weekly bump photos.  Well, I think we’ve taken two.  But pictures involve looking decent.  And feeling decent.  So there was no way they were happening in the first trimester.  I went to work, somehow, and then came home and went to bed.  Then the next day did the same thing again.  It is wasn’t until about week 21 that there was any bump.  And most of the time I’ve been in t-shirts and athletic shorts.  So you couldn’t really tell I was pregnant for quite some time.  All in all, the cute pinteresty pregnancy photos didn’t happen and didn’t even come close to happening.  Sometimes just getting through each day is more than enough.

Thankfully, I haven’t had to deal with getting sick like I did in the first half.  That was just awful.  We’ve had different stairs to climb in the second half.  The past couple months have been the can’t sleep-weird dreams-aches and pains-can’t breathe-baby kicks really hard phase.

But we are making it!  Not too much longer to go and our sweet little girl will be here.  And she officially has a name now!

Katherine Elizabeth Connatser

It might be a bit long, but we love it.  They are family names and have great meanings.  Katherine means pure and Elizabeth means God’s promise or God is my oath.

Pregnancy might not be fun or glamorous, at least for me.  But the truth about it all is that this crazy process testifies that life is a miracle.  We serve an amazingly creative God who really does knit each and every one of us in the womb.  And these long nine months of pregnancy, of pain and longing to just get through it all, echo the longing we as the church have to be truly home with our Lord.  As long as pregnancy seems to be and as hard as it can get some days, it is temporary.  There is a glorious end that makes it all worth it.

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32 weeks

Thinking About Our Wedding

Summers are full of weddings.  I’ve always loved weddings, but now that we’re married they carry such special significance.  I love being able to be reminded of our commitment to each other and how marriage displays the gospel.  And they always bring up such wonderful thoughts of our wedding.

Our wedding day was just wonderful and perfect.  Everyone’s really is though.  Because they reflect the unique personalities of the couple and represent them.

I love thinking about our wedding.  Spencer and I planned it together.  We worked hard to make it reflect us and had a blast in the process.  We came up with the decorations and tried to be as cost effective as possible. We loved how it all turned out.  So I thought I’d share some of our crafts and ideas.

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We tried to keep things consistent.  Using chalkboards was a great way to do that.  We made chalkboard from frames found at garage sales and thrift stores and chalkboard paint.

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The only flowers we used at the ceremony were baby’s breath.  They were classy, simple, and made things easy for us to set up.  The programs we made and had printed at our university’s printing services (super cheap!), and then stamped with a stamp we used on the little favor bags.  We printed off booklets for kids to color in…which they loved!  (They can be found here:  http://lovelyindeed.com/diy-activity-book-free-printable/)

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We used an old family Bible for people to underline passages for us to go back and read later.  This is something we will treasure and be able to pass down.

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This box is something my grandfather made.  It worked perfectly for collecting advice cards written by family and friends.  The sign is made from burlap, canvas fabric, and paint strung together with twine.  We left out cardstock and sharpies for people to write their advice for us.

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The guest book was a shutterfly book we made filled with pictures from relationship.  We love being able to look through it because of the pictures and the notes!

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A great friend helped make some banners which was such a huge help as we neared the big day.  This banner we were going to use in pictures.  But I don’t actually know what happened to it, haha.  So it wasn’t ever used.  But it looked great!  🙂

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I had this crazy idea of making the bouquets and boutonnieres.  I loved the idea of everyone being able to keep theirs, and so that’s what we did.  A friend taught me how to make them and helped me.  After hours of making fabric flowers, I think they turned out wonderfully!

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These handsome little guys held a sign and pillow that were made also.  I made the sign and my mom sewed the pillow.

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The prayer bench Spencer made as a wedding gift.  We used it in our ceremony when we prayed together and took communion.  And now it is a treasured piece in our home.

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The sign hanging on the wall had our wedding date on it and was the perfect, simple backdrop for chalkboard message pictures guests could have taken.

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We took this photo and used it on postcards we sent out to our wedding guests to thank them for coming and celebrating with us.

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At the reception we had a gift table set up with an old suitcase for cards and a jar that said “Honeymoon Fund” for any cash.

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An old window was the perfect way to display pictures from our relationship.

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No need to pay loads of money for a florist when plenty of talented family and friends are around.  My mom borrowed this vase from one of her neighbors and my aunts put together this beautiful floral arrangement.

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We had a small cake to cut and then provided guests with lots of wonderful cupcakes.  And as a groom’s cake, we had a table full of chocolate chip cookies (Spencer’s favorite dessert)!  They were all a hit.  The cupcakes stands we made with plates and candlestick holders.

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My mom did such an incredible job helping with so many things for the wedding.  She set up the table centerpieces at the reception using candles, old books, greenery, burlap and lace, and mixtures of green and clear glass vases.  Each table was different and they were all perfect.

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Our favors were different types of teas.  We found little brown bags at Hobby Lobby and put a tea bag in each one.  We stamped the bags with Psalm 37:4 on one side and the stamp we used on the programs on the other.

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So that’s a little look into our wedding decorations.  Hope it helps your creativity as you plan for your special day!