30 April 2009

Faithbooking

The book is 11 x 8.5 in size.

Glossy pictures.

Treasured memories.

For the longest time, I've been wanting to take parts of my blog and put it in a hardback book. I loved the idea of passing on something tangible to the girls so that they can reflect on all of the milestones and lessons learned along life's journey. Some women are great at scrapbooking and make wonderful family albums but since I'm not the scrapbooking type, I just kept prolonging the whole idea of it all. Faithbooking is something that was started by my friend and neighbor, Rhonda Anderson. She also happens to be the co-founder of the company, Creative Memories. For over 20 years, Creative Memories has been helping people preserve their cherished family memories. Rhonda describes faithbooking as, "Creating a testimony of words and pictures of your own personal faith story." Essentially, it is recording those times in your life when you've learned something valuable or when you have a "God moment."

Rhonda also believes there are 3 important reasons for faithbooking:

1. It becomes a tool when we can reflect on the power of our own stories to increase our faith.

2. It also teaches our children by allowing them to share in our stories and faith through our experiences.

3. It will help guide us to make better decisions for ourselves in the future.

In a way, I felt like my blog had become my faithbook. When I first started this blog almost 3 years ago, it began as a way for me to endure the long adoption process. I had no idea that I was going to continue with it once the girls got home. Now, looking back, this blog has become a living testimony. It's not only fun to go back and see how much the girls have grown, it's also neat to go back and experience what I was feeling during a particular season in my life and how the Lord was growing me.

With the addition of digital storybooks, Rhonda first offered to help me when I met her over two years ago. For me, making a digital scrapbook was the perfect solution. I have a gazillion pictures on my computer with stories that are already written. I am excited to say that I'm finally making progress!

I recently uploaded the software and design templates and I just finished making my first book! Before tackling my blog, I decided to get familiar with the software by first making a family vacation book. Since our Disney trip was fresh on my mind, I made a 37 page, fun and colorful memory book. It arrived in the mail yesterday and I couldn't be more pleased! Not because I did such a great job on it, simply because I can now visualize what my blog may look like. It's always been a little worrisome to me that one day, I could just wake up and everything could be wiped out from my computer. At least this way, I can preserve the important moments.

My next step is to break the blog into volumes, year by year. I plan to make two copies every year so that Faith and Grace will have their own books to pass down. The girls have already enjoyed recounting all of our fabulous Disney memories. So far, we've gone through the book twice today! Now that I sort of know what I'm doing, I've also come up with some creative ideas for different books in the future.

Thank you, Rhonda for all of your gentle patience, help, encouragement and support. I know the Lord placed you in my life for a reason. Thank you for helping me pass on my story, for many generations to come.

As an old proverb reminds us, the palest ink is better than the best memory.

26 April 2009

Give Me Your Eyes

If you listen to Christian radio at all, you can't help but have heard Brandon Heath's song, "Give Me Your Eyes." Besides having a catchy beat, the words to the song have been laying on my heart ever since I first heard it. Similar to other times when God is trying to speak to me, I initially felt moved and challenged by the lyrics but then decided to quickly brush it off. I wish I could say that every time God tries to get my attention in some way, I always listen and immediately obey but more often than not, I usually hesitate and sometimes, I even try to forget about it. In this case, I said to myself, "This feeling will probably go away." "Maybe someday later I will actually make time to do something about it." For two weeks, it became one of those things that I just couldn't escape.

Here are the words to the chorus....

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me your heart for the once forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see...

For much of my younger life, I prided myself on being compassion-less.
The popular athletic company mantra, "Just do it" pretty much summed up my whole attitude towards people and situations that warranted compassion.
For so long, compassion to me, seemed like it was merely an excuse for the weak and unmotivated. But thankfully, by the grace of God, I am not that unmerciful person anymore.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the prayer list that I made for my girls. Making that list actually forced me to deeply consider the attributes and characteristics that I want my daughters to have. And as I looked down that list of prayers, I also knew that my kids needed real life examples and training. The lyrics to this song challenged me to reach out and go beyond my comfort zone. It dared me to think of others first and extend compassion and kindness. All the while, showing my children what a real heart for service looks like. The song also challenged me to make a move today; not tomorrow or sometime in the future when it would be easier or more convenient. Surrender and pride are often two of the hardest things to let go of isn't it? Earlier this week, I decided to say yes to the Holy Spirit's gentle nudging. With the help of my church, I called an assisted living facility in our area and made arrangements to visit the residents with Faith and Grace (and lemon cupcakes) in tow. I prepared the girls the night before by explaining to them what we'd be doing and why it was important. On Friday morning, the girls woke up excited to meet some new friends. They even asked if they could bring their mini CD player so that they could dance for them.

When we arrived, we were met by Maria, one of the managers and main caretakers. She graciously gave us a tour of the grounds and then took us to each person's small apartment where we spent about an hour visiting with 20 residents. Grace and Faith had quite the system going. After saying hello and introducing ourselves, they would ask each person if they would like a lemon cupcake. To which every single person replied, "Yes, I'd love one!" Grace was in charge of the napkins and she would place a napkin in each person's lap. Then Faith would pick out just the right cupcake before placing it on the napkin. After chatting for a few minutes, we wished them a good day and thanked them for letting us come into their home. The girls were a delight, to say the least. It was neat to see each person's eyes light up as two little visitors were introduced. As we entered each of their homes, I couldn't help but realize that each one of them had a lifetime of stories tell. Although some folks were mobile, others were very old and could hardly move without assistance. Some were confined to their bed, others in wheelchairs. Many of them were simply sitting on their couches, watching TV. Maria informed us that some residents don't get any visitors at all. At one time, they may have been married but they didn't have any children or siblings.

Once we made all of our visits, I immediately asked if we could come again sometime. I told Maria that the girls were looking forward to dancing for everyone. She not only welcomed us back but she also said that she would let everyone know when we were planning to return so that they could all gather on the patio. We have decided to go back and visit once a month.
As the girls get older, they can incorporate other things like singing or story reading. After meeting these folks, I felt it was important that we see them again. I just know that there are many lessons to be learned by giving our time and serving others in this way. With the Lord's help, I was able to muster up the courage to get out of my own world for a just little while. It's amazing how God sweetly uses my children to teach me more about Him. Since actions speak louder than words, I knew that if I wanted my kids to have a heart like Jesus and learn how to serve others with joyful compassion, that it must begin with me. We live in such a self-centered world today don't we?
And things just seem to be getting worse. Faith and Grace are at the perfect age to start learning what it means to live for the Lord and to start thinking of others before themselves. On our way home, I was telling the the girls how proud I was of them. To which they replied, "And it makes Jesus happy!"
Yes, darling girls, it makes Jesus happy.

By the time I got home, there was an email from the director of the facility where we had just visited. He said that he was sorry he couldn't be there that morning to meet us. He was out taking one of the residents to a doctor's appointment. He informed me that Maria couldn't say enough about Faith and Grace and how much the residents enjoyed our visit. He welcomed us back anytime and said that he looked forward to meeting us in the future.

One thing that Morgan and I are looking forward to doing when the girls get older is taking family ministry trips. In particular, I'd love to visit orphanages around the world and give our time, support and resources where needed.

Thank you, Lord for the many ways you speak to me. Thank you for your grace and compassion on my life. Thank you for giving me Your eyes so that I can see others the way you do. And thank you Lord, for my sweet girls and the courage they give me to impact the world, little by little, for You.

"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:45

Click on the link below to see Brandon Heath's video, "Give Me Your Eyes," with complete lyrics. Who knows how God will speak to you through a song?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LrJTpfK0JI&annotation_id=annotation_680170&feature=iv

23 April 2009

photo shoot

Taking a stroll.

The new picture on the blog header.

All natural silliness.

Sisters!

Such demure little ones.

Sweet peas.

Their hanboks barely fit them anymore.

We cropped the bottom of the picture since their dresses were off the ground.

Aww...

L-o-v-e!

At the beginning of March, the girls had their 3 year-old pictures taken by my friend, Dana. We went to the beautiful LQ Resort and took advantage of all the pretty landscaping. Here are all of my favorites. At different times, the girls drew quite a crowd of people. I guess there's something about the fascination with twins? So much so that visitors of the resort started pulling out their cameras and taking pictures of them. Talk about paparazzi! I guess I shouldn't be too surprised since this has happened before in random places like the grocery store. It's just a little odd to me that someone would take a picture of my kids without knowing them or asking me. Some have even whipped out their cell phones to take a picture! I guess I'll just have to chalk it up to the cuteness factor.

In all of our busyness over the last month, I haven't sent out any of these pictures to our family members. If there are any that you would like in particular, please just let me know and I would be happy to send you a copy.

21 April 2009

A new computer!

The twins go hi-tech!

Now they have a laptop, just like mom.

This is one of the posts that I'm catching up on from last month. For their birthday, the girls received their very own computer from Uncle Ben, Auntie Lucy, Shawn and Christina. One of the first things they do every morning is sit at their table and go "online." It's not a real computer but it is an educational tool that helps them with letters, numbers, phonics and games. It even comes with a mouse that detaches. Thanks guys, they love it!

20 April 2009

spring into summer

They couldn't wait to get in!

Working on my tan. Well, sort of.

Their happy place.

Notice Faith is upside down with her feet out of the water.

Hitching a ride on dad.

Exploring underwater.

Looking for treasures.

Grace gets ready to jump from the spa to the pool.

Relaxing in the spa after a fun day swimming.

I don't know where the first part of this year went but we are already well into spring and quickly approaching the hot months of summer. It's already 100 degrees today! Call me crazy but I'm really looking forward to our desert summer. We got a little sneak preview this weekend when we decided to heat our pool to 86. Now that the girls are better swimmers, it makes pool time that much more fun. I'm also a big fan of eating outdoors, barbecuing, lazy afternoons, and spending time with family and friends.

This weekend was the perfect prelude!

18 April 2009

Welcome Levi!

Derek, Hailey, Levi and big sis, Vivien.

The girls are so happy to see Vivien.

All-aboard!

Choo-choo!

Crash!

Taking a snack break... Maddy, Viv, Cobi, Grace and Faith.

The new sandbox that Morgan got on Craig's list for $30 (retails for $80!).

They could spend hours in there.

Viv enjoys her lunch.

Faith.

Grace.

On Monday night, my friend Hailey gave birth to her son, Levi Abraham. It was a speedy labor and delivery. She started having contractions at 8:00 p.m. and he was born by 9:45. Thank God she made it to the hospital in time and that Derek was with her. Congratulations, guys! He is beautiful!

In order to give Hailey some rest, Vivien spent half the day with us on Thursday. The girls were so excited for her arrival that they got up at 6:15!
We kept busy in the morning by walking over to our neighborhood park where we met up with my friend Rhonda and her girls. After burning some energy, we came home to play in the sandbox and have lunch.

Since all 3 girls are just about the same age, I learned that having triplets wouldn't be all that much different than having twins. I think it would be much harder to have 3 kids that were different in age. Of course it helps when they are all well-behaved and love each other! Thanks for a fun day, Viv!

16 April 2009

Welcome Home, Trey!

Shannon and her new baby boy.

Trey Benton Duong

Josh, Shan, Trey and big brother, Teagan.

This post is a little overdue but we wanted to officially Welcome Home Trey! After spending almost two weeks in Vietnam, Josh and Shannon came home with their new son on March 20th. I'm so happy to say that Trey is doing well. He is healthy, happy, and adjusting nicely to his new family and home. Not to mention, he is super cute! We are so excited to be celebrating his first birthday next month. We've been capitalizing on this wonderful opportunity to speak to Grace and Faith about their own adoption story. It's funny to hear them giggle and laugh out loud when I tell them how surprised we were when God blessed us with not only one baby girl but TWO!

Congratulations, guys! The wait is finally over! We look forward to making lots of fun memories together in the future.

15 April 2009

Big Girls

Sleeping Beauties.

Ready for bed.

A beach cottage.

The girls are finally in "big girl" beds as of Monday. We decided to fore go converting their crib/toddler bed into a full size bed to leave more space for play in their room. Instead, we bought twin beds that convert into a bunk bed. I liked the idea of having the bunk bed option in a few years. We also changed the color of their furniture from honey wood to white in order to create more of a beach-like setting to match the casual beach mural on their walls. Morgan will paint the girls' dresser and mirror white and I am replacing their drawer knobs with some cute decorative ones. The girls wore their new princess jammies that Grandma and Grandpa got them for their birthday and oh my, did they look grown up! Once everything was set, I just took a moment to take it all in. Over the last couple of months, we have entered into another stage with the girls and their new beds serve as confirmation that they are indeed growing up. They are no longer babies but little girls with expansive vocabularies, sharp minds, and definite opinions. Lately, I've been looking at them even closer than I already do and realizing that this will be the smallest they will ever be again. Sometimes, I just breath in those hands, those feet, those toes, and that super soft skin that I can touch and smell all day long. I'm savoring each day and realizing that these precious moments are what makes up a lifetime of memories. If the last two years are any indication, I'll blink and they'll be 10! Time sure flies!

14 April 2009

Spring Break


Rich and Emily came to visit last week for Spring break. They actually stayed at the Desert Springs resort but we were able to meet up with them and have dinner one night. They enjoyed lounging by the pool, indulging at the spa, and of course, sleeping in. They also came over to the house before heading home and got their fix of the girls. Emily is 6 months along now and doing great. They have decided to patiently wait to find out the sex of their first child. I only wish that I could!

12 April 2009

Blessed Easter Day

Doubly blessed!

Getting ready to hunt for eggs.

Grace finds one in the bush.

Grandma helps Faith open her egg.

They would sweetly share the eggs they found.

Grace enjoying her jelly bean.

Faith's basket is almost full.

A lovely visit with Grandma and Grandpa.

Faith gets a boost from dad.

Little Miss Grace.

Later, we found them playing in dirt.

Relaxing with mom.

They also got their feet wet in the pool.

The pool was a chilly 72 degrees but they were still lovin' it.

Splashing each other is always fun!

What a glorious day it was! In fact, the entire weekend was so nice. Morgan didn't have to work on Good Friday so the long weekend was a treat for us. Grandma and Grandpa came over for brunch in the morning and the girls had an Easter egg hunt. The weather was in the low 80's and perfect for eating outdoors. I prepared two casseroles the day before so all I had to do was pop them in the oven today. I made my mother-in-law's Farmer's Casserole which has diced ham, potatoes, and pepper jack cheese and Paula Dean's French Toast Casserole which has no shortage of butter, cinnamon and pecans. I threw together a three berry salad this morning and presto! It was delicious and super easy! I love brunch. There's something about the casualness of it all. I also love the fact that the girls learned so much about our risen Savior this week. By the end of the week, the girls were saying, "Jesus died for my sins and now, He's alive!" As a Christian, our hope and future lies in the fact that the one true, blameless, lamb of God, did indeed conquer the grave and rose from the dead 3 days later. Easter Sunday was a joyous celebration and a sweet reminder of the power of the cross and the ultimate sacrifice that was made for us.

On Instagram

© Brave Soul. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.