Aubrey and Aaron...first little okra picked this year!!!!!!
Aaron and Aubrey....about 25 acres of just okra :)
Some blackberries my mom picked just for us!
Dinner....mixed spinach, swiss chard and radish salad, fried together...squash, onion and green tomatoes, baked chicken and baked red potatoes and fresh sugar snap peas! Then vanilla ice cream topped with blackberries for dessert :)
So I have said before that farming season is hard. It's hard on my husband because he works at the post office, and farms, and tries his hardest to balance family life and stay connected with God. It's always tough....BUT it is also very rewarding. When we go out to the farm or even in our backyard to our little garden, I get this huge sense of pride. Watching Aaron and my dad work their tales off getting things ready, and then seeing those sprouts pop up out of the soil and then produce, what we think is the prettiest veggies you ever saw, it makes you so proud. It's rewarding. You also feel connected with God. It's a miracle that you can plant a tiny seed in the ground and watch it grow into a plant that produces beautiful fruit! Aaron would tell you that he has learned so much about God through farming.
Aaron goes to the Dallas market to sell our onions, squash, and okra, during wholesale hours. Me and the girls have tagged along a few times. Wholesale hours are when everyone else in the area is still in bed. In fact, Aaron sometimes never makes it to bed during harvest time on some nights. I'm not really quite sure how he does it....but it's a short season. Thursday nights and Friday mornings are the biggest times to be there to sell and buy. People from all over Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Florida truck in to buy and sell. All the dirt farmers each have their own spot and pull up their farm trucks full of their crop, that they all think is better than everyone else's there :)! They all pull down their talegates, set up their boxes on display and wait for people to shop with them. The times we have been has been fun. I love walking in between the rows of trucks looking at all the beautiful farm fresh Texas veggies and fruits. Me and the girls would all sit in the back of Aaron's pickup and chat with all the other dirt farmers as we all waited for customers. Being up there around all the farmers reminds me of growing up and working in my dad's grocery store, listening to the country station and helping the same kind of good ole hard working small town people that came in our store everyday. It takes me back a bit in a way....gives me back that good small town feeling.
One of the very best things about being a farmer's wife and daughter and having a mother and brother with a green thumb is the summertime meals. I never fry anything all year except in the summertime. We love fried okra and squash and green tomatoes! We also boil and make gumbo, bake, saute' it, and eat it raw, but nothing is better than fried! Here lately we have basically been living off the land in the fruit and veggie department and it is so good! Fresh lettuce, spinach, and swiss chard, green tomatoes, bell pepper and cucumber in our backyard, squash, zucchini and onions and beets from the farm, and super sweet blackberries, green beans, red potatoes, mustard greens and radishes from my mom's garden. We eat real good in the summer and get spoiled. Then when it's time to shop produce at the store again, it all looks old and not near as appetizing. If you don't already, go shop from your local farmer.... I guarantee you the quality is way better and you'll taste the love that was put into the crop :) Support your local farmer...."No Farmer, No Food..." or at least the healthy kind :)
We recently sent off our application to CHI and heard back from them yesterday. Our paperchase is now beginning! It truly is an overwhelming stack of paperwork, that we will just take one step at a time like everyone else that is adopting:) $3,000.00 is due right now, which thankfully we have raised $2200.00 of it!!!! Our next step is our homestudy. Another $3,000.00 will be due after the homestudy, which costs anywhere between $500.00 to $1500.00. We aren't worried. God will provide and the agency well understands that families need a little time in between phases to raise their money. Once we get past the homestudy and the fee that is due with it, we will be eligible to apply for grants. We are going to try to kick off our next phase fundraiser with the simple idea God gave us....spare change. So please, if you live by us and know us, feel free to fill a jar up with your spare or forgotten change that you have lying around your house or in between your carseats!
So 5 years ago on May 20th 2005, I gave birth to my sweet 8 lbs 5 oz Alyssa Joy! She lives up to her name because every single day she fills my life with so much joy! Alyssa is my mercy gifted and tender-hearted little sweetie, and she LOVES her momma! Everyday I feel so loved from this tiny little girl, whose love language is words of affirmation and physical touch, which I love, because she is always needing hugs and giving them to me and saying the sweetest things...but not in public :) She is the best big sister in the entire world. Her little "Aubsters" is her best buddy. She already prays like a champion for Jesus, and already has an amazing gift of compassion for others. Her understanding she already has about Jesus and who He is, amazes Aaron and I on a regular basis. She loves riding her bike, being outside, looking for bugs, playing with her cousins, trying on earrings, watching movies in bed with me and sis, going fishing with dad, making crafts, playing in cold water, and singing and dancing. She is constantly singing! She is all girl...loves her lipgloss and nails polished and already likes carrying a little purse. She loves fruit of any type, sandwiches, coffee flavored ice cream, cheese doritos, and bread. She doesn't care for juice, squash, mushrooms, sleeping alone, cleaning up, or wearing her hair down. This was such a big week for our big girl! She had her last day of preschool, graduated from preschool, and celebrated her 5th birthday at Bounce Town with friends and family! It was a fun week to say the least. She was so very excited all week long about her birthday and told me that she had an "awesome" day! Her dad took her to the donut shop that morning, and I let her choose her birthday dinner for that night. Her dinner of choice was pizza, cheese doritos, and coffee flavored icecream :) So random, and not too healthy, but I obliged and added some sliced cucumbers on the side for some nutrition :) I really need to start posting some of my favorite things this girl says to me every week. My favorite thing this week was when we were driving in the car one morning. We weren't talking, just driving and she randomly says to me... "Mom, when Jesus comes back to get us, do I have to pack my suitcase?" I then told her no, and she said to me..."Well, can I take my little purse? I really want to take my little purse." Then she went on and on convincing me why Jesus should let her take her purse. I love this girl with my whole heart and and so thankful everyday that I get to be her momma! She keeps me lauging!
So last night at 7:00 pm our cross fundraiser ended! It was a success! From the chipin widget on our blog and cash that people had given me, we were able to raise a little over $900.00! That's exciting! Thank you a million times over to all of you who chipped in to help bring our little man home! I pray that when he is home with us, and every time you look at him, you will know that you played a part in forever changing his life, and ours :) We are so grateful to you for that! So onto the winner....We put all the names in a bowl and let Alyssa randomly pick one, and she pulled out AMANDA CLAYTON!!!! Amanda was my best friend in high school. We were inseprable and got in to too much trouble together (hahaha!) but we always had a blast together. I recently had breakfast with her, and it was the first time I had seen her in over 7 years! It was so wonderful catching up. She is about to move into a new house she had built, so this cross will be perfect on her new wall :) Thank you Amanda for your generous donation and congratulations you are the winner!
So I have to say that God continues to blow me away with His persistent encouragement. I want to start off with a little story. It may be long, but it's a good one, so read on :) First I want to start off by saying again that this adoption isn't easy, and we have barely started. Although, we have had many wonderful contributions towards our adoption, the money is coming in slowly, and we haven't been able to get started as soon as we would have liked. We have this one amazing man that has been giving us a little something on a weekly basis. One day I wrote him a thank you message to let him know how much of an encouragement he was to us during this time. He replied back and said that we were an encouragement to him, and told us to "suffer well." I thought to myself...'Wow! What a profound statement." It just really stuck with me. To jump ahead a little, one night God gave me a dream.... He often speaks to me in dreams.....could be because I'm a little hard headed, or it could be that I am so busy with my family during the day, He feels as though He has my attention more in my dreams:) Whatever the reason, He speaks to me in dreams often. Anyway in this particular dream all it was, was me looking at this big water jug full of coins. That's it. End of dream, and I woke up. I thought to myself, 'Was that from you God, or was that just a random eating pizza before bed kind of dream?' Well, I forgot about it and went on with my normal day. We have been on a tight budget lately, and I wanted to go on a date with my husband, so I was trying to think of a thrifty way to be able to do that. I immediately thought of that dream, and I went and gathered up a pint size cup of coins and took it to coin star. That little pint size cup was $40.00. I couldn't believe it! Aaron reminded me of this big can of coins we had forgotten about and I started to go dip out of these coins for the grocery store. One day as I was doing this, I felt this really strong conviction, and I wondered why on earth would I be feeling conviction about spending my coins. Immediately in my mind's eye, I had a vision of that big water jug again filled with coins and it was sitting in the lobby at New Hope...our church! Then it clicked!!!!!! Oh my goodness. I was so excited God had given me the most simple idea to raise money for adoptions, not just ours, but others as well within our church. You know just in our can under our bed was $300.00 in coins. I felt God spoke to me and said just about everyone has forgotten coins around their house. Ask others to count their change too! I was so excited about this, that I went and shared it with my knitting friends. This particular night I was sharing, Kelly L. had brought a super sweet visitor with her....Jennifer from North Dakota ( could be South, but it was one of the Dakotas.) As I started to share the dream,...mind you, I hadn't shared the story or vision yet, and Jennifer just blurts out,"We have a big water jug set up in the lobby of our church for people to drop their spare change in to raise money for families that want to adopt. It's called 'Change for Change.'" I thought what on earth!!! I was shocked and amazed, and I then shared my dream and vision, and we all just laughed at the confirmation God had given us with the sweet girl from N or S Dakota. So random! coincidence you may say...I think not! That was way too random and right on! So to jump ahead a couple of weeks to this morning. I was in a little funk about the adoption. I started thinking well, the money isn't there for us to really get started, and I had this very small thought of maybe it wasn't the right time for us. On top of the finances, we are farmers, and this time of the year is so busy and stressful... so I have had too much on my mind. I guess you could say I was carrying too many worries and not giving them to the Lord. I knew better than that. We went on to church and our pastor was out of town, so our dear friend Steve Horvath brought an AMAZING word. I encourage you to go listen to it...www.newhopechristian.org. He talked about suffering as a Christian. The whole thing was amazing, but one of the things he said at the end was "suffer well." He said that God doesn't promise that this life lived for Him will be all rosy and easy, but through the times when it seems like He's not there, He SO is! And that we as followers of Jesus, are to praise Him in the hard times too, not just the good times. He said "suffer well." That phrase again!!!! The whole sermon was just awesome! I can't even try to paraphrase and ruin the perfect words God spoke through Steve, but Aaron and I both were crying. He reminded us that we weren't alone, but when we can't hold our arms up to God anymore, there are friends that will hold our arms up for us. It was such a sweet time! Courtney came over and held my arms up and prayed over me and someone was praying over Aaron, and we left feeling refreshed. As if that wasn't enough, at the end of the service, sweet Jennifer from N. or S Dakota and Kelly L. came over and said, "We made you something." and they handed me this jar that they had painted that said " Change for Change. Help change a child's life in Ethiopia forever." And they opened it up and had filled it with change. Oh! It was too much for my heart! These sweet people with the heart of Jesus, whom we barely know, said,"We love you, and just wanted to give this to you for your adoption." Again Aaron and I both were just boo hooing like little babies.
Let me just point out that each and every time I have ever doubted this adoption, God has been so very quick to bring encouragement to keep going. As I said before, just that morning, I had that tiny thought to myself that maybe this wasn't the right time for us, and BOOM! He gives us that incredible message from Steve and then that awesome "Change for Change gift."
I will say this again.....God overwhelms me with His sweet encouragement through His people. He is so good and has perfect timing. And I can say once again we are moving forward and sending in our application for the adoption tomorrow. Thank you thank you thank you a million times to all you precious people who have contributed towards this adoption. We love you and are so thankful! In the words of another friend "God wants this adoption for us more than we do." That is so clear! If you know and live near us, and feel led to give us your spare change, we now have a jar and are collecting, or start your own jar :)
Starting today I am raffling off this beautiful hand crafted cross made by my sweet husband, Aaron. Aaron first started making pine crosses for people as gifts while he was in college. In fact, this was my first gift he gave me while we were dating. Soon after we were married, he had the idea of making one out of some oak wood he found at his grandpa's farm in Oklahoma. The first one turned out so beautiful that we started to go on hunts for this kind of wood, and Aaron would make the crosses, and we gave them away to friends and family members for Christmas and birthdays. We like to find big oak trunks that have been hollowed out by ants living inside the trunks. The hollowed out trunks make for such an original looking rugged cross. Each one has been a one-of-a-kind, all a unique creation.
We are raffling the cross off to raise money for our Ethiopian adoption. Each raffle entry is $5.00 or you can buy 5 raffles for $20.00. The more you donate, the more your name will go in the drawing for the cross :)
We made the decision to adopt a baby boy from Ethiopia back at the beginning of this year. We are so very excited and can't wait to get started. Please invest in our adoption by purchasing 1 or 20 raffle tickets. It would really mean so much to us. We thank you in advance for helping us bring our son home. The raffle will run until Monday May 17th at 7:00 PM central time. Stay tuned to our blog for the big winner announcement!
To enter the raffle, donate below or by using the Chip In widget on my sidebar.
Aaron's dinner me and the girls made for him....chicken enchilladas and german chocolate cake....his request
So excited to sing Happy Birthday to daddy
The surprise party
Aaron's mom and dad and sisters
Handsome birthday boy and me :)
Enjoying his shrimp
Happy Birthday honey!
So last Saturday, me and Aaron's mom and dad pulled off a big surpise birthday party for Aaron's 30th birthday. We had it at the Fish Company Restaurant that is located in the Bass Pro Shops. We had reserved the patio so we had full view of the lake at sunset. 38 of our wonderful friends and family showed up to celebrate my wonderful man's day! We had a great time fellowshipping, enjoying our yummy fish and shrimp and the beautiful and delicious birthday cake Patty made for him :) He ended up getting a lot of gift cards to Bass Pro as well, so Aaron was a happy man! Thank you to all the people that showed up and made this night so memorable and special! I wanted to make a big deal out of the night, because I think he's a pretty big deal! Love my sweet husband!