Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ongoing Musings....

Well here is the one part of having a blog that I didn't really have with a website. An opportunity to more effectively post some of my musings, for what they are worth. My brain is crowded with thoughts and musings every day and night. Many of them I have written down, and many are still bouncing around inside my brain as I try to resolve them all. I will post some of these from time to time as I feel led or inspired to. Here is a thought for today:

I have often had people ask whether I thought it was right to go into debt in order to adopt. I do believe in debt free living. I do not exemplify it by any means, but I really do believe in the concept. I agree that debt is “bondage” and that the things God calls us to do He will provide the means to do them. I love seeing churches live this out and raise the money for their buildings and endeavors before putting the shovel to the dirt. And I am not a fan of student loans and other sources of debt.

On the other hand, think about this: Your teenage daughter goes on a mission trip to a third world country. She’s young, but she’s a wonderful, godly girl, going with a heart full of love for God, and the group she is going with is above reproach. She gets there fine, and all is well until a few days into the trip. You get a desperate call in the middle of the night. Through some horrible misunderstanding, she has been arrested and is being held in a third world prison. The conditions are horrifying, she is terrified and pleading with you to come and get her out of there. The bail is set at $20,000. Choose your answer:

A) We could borrow the money, honey, but I am just not sure if God would want us to go into debt to get you out of that place. We’ll pray about it and see what we can come up with. If God wants you free, He will make a way.
B) If we put together the money from your and your sisters’ college funds, I think we do have enough money, but honey, that’s for your future! And it wouldn’t be right to take money from your sisters’ college funds just to get you out of that place.
C) We have three times that much in our retirement fund, sweetie, but then what would your father and I do for retirement? Besides, did you know that there is a 10% penalty for taking out the money before retirement?
D) We’ll pray about this and ask God for a sign whether he wants us to come and get you or not. We’ll let you know.
E) Whatever it takes, we’ll be right there.

The Good Samaritan did not stop to consider the cost of helping the hurt man. He did not assess his injuries and decide whether it would take too much time, inconvenience, money, effort, or risk to himself. And if he was a family man, which he may well have been, it would have been money taken from his family to care for this man, time taken out of his trip, maybe even endangering himself, and who knows what other sacrifices were entailed in his just stopping to help. But he stopped without hesitation. And the story ends there, but I think after he left the man in the care of the innkeeper, he probably continued to stop, for the rest of his life, for any injured man, woman, or child that he came across. I don’t think it was a one time benevolent whim; I think it was his mindset. No, we cannot “save them all” unfortunately. And the Good Samaritan did not go on to make a life work of searching the highways and byways for wounded men. But he stopped for those in his path who needed help.

Who is in my path? In a society that doesn’t hesitate to go into debt for a home to live in or to fund higher educational pursuits, it is odd that saving someone’s life and having an influence on their eternal soul is what gives us pause. For the daughter in prison scenario, you may be countering in your head, “But that’s my daughter. That’s different. You’re talking about spending money to help someone who isn’t even my child.” To which I must counter back, “Are you sure about that?”

Monday, February 20, 2012

And it finally snowed!!

We finally got some snow! I think most of us North Carolinians had resigned ourselves to the fact that this mild winter was not going to give us any snow this year. Then we would joke that we would get a snowstorm in April. The days have been incredibly mild, and on Saturday I had gone running through our neighborhood seeing flowers blooming everywhere like it was a lovely spring day. And then Sunday... Snow!! And oh, the excitement in our house from the little ones. My favorite was Eden running down the hallway calling, "Thank you God for the SNOW!"

Pretzel had never seen snow before, and was pretty hilarious. She was first afraid to go out, which was no surprise seeing as she's pretty much afraid of everything. Then she went bounding out, biting at the snow, and trying to figure out what it was. We threw snowballs out, which she chased and picked up in her mouth and ate.

Hannah and Canaan having a snowball fight with the little ones.

Just look at those smiles!

Canaan with the kids under the trampoline.

Canaan with snow in his beard from a direct hit. Uh-oh!
Canaan and Hannah are the best big brother and sister in the world! They are so much fun. I wish I had had brothers and sisters when I was little! Well, I mean, I guess I did, but I mean, ones that play with you and like you and stuff. I love that my little ones have that!!

Hannah kicking snowballs that Maggie throws up to her.

Maggie with Pretzel. She loves this puppy.

Hannah gets a haircut once a year, whether she needs it or not. Such beautiful hair.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine's Day

Every Valentine's Day our tradition has been that I decorate the table with hearts and candy and leave a special something at each person's place at the table. Then I make something special for breakfast. Well, this year, to make a long story short, I just wasn't up to it. So I mentioned that I wasn't going to be doing anything like that this year, and didn't think much more about it until Valentine's morning when I came downstairs and saw the table all decorated....

...and gifts at each person's place -- even mine!!

Hannah had gone out and bought something special for each person, and had decorated everything. Canaan made an amazing breakfast, and Art went out to the local bakery and brought home donuts. Can you feel the love? I sure could!

this and that

Maggie in a beautiful dress my sister sent her for her birthday.


More evidence that Biscuit is getting her mojo back after losing Pickles. Someone new can never replace someone lost, but sometimes someone new can ease the pain and carve a new place of their own in your heart.

Ki-ki loves Pretzel. She chuckles and absolutely belly laughs playing with her. It's hard to believe that this is the same little girl who was terrified of the dogs a year ago. She is definitely not afraid of Pretzel. The trick is getting her to leave the puppy alone!

Maggie rigged up a rope tied to a tree branch. Pretzel loves to play with it and tug on it, and then Maggie will pull on it, and Pretzel will jump up and bite the middle of it and go flying in the air. It's hilarious to watch.

Homeschooling and other stuff

We are studying astronomy right now. We are using the Fulbright science series, based on the order of creation, therefore beginning with the universe. Here is our balloon solar system.

And an activity to illustrate how far the planets are from each other.

We just finished learning about the Netherlands, in which we read about Van Gogh, who was - you have to admit - a pretty weird dude. We all tried our hand at self portraits.

Maggie and Silas's finished products.

Art and I had a go at it as well.

Pretty girls with curly hair!

Pretzel is continuing to fit into the famiy. She is a sweet and energetic puppy. Canaan adores her (but not as much as his cat). Biscuit has finally realized that she is here to stay and has begun to accept her and play with her. She might even like her!

Blowing in Pretzel's face makes her crazy. Pretty funny.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hannah's Birthday

Well, after maintaining a website for so many years, this blogging thing is quite new to me. So here goes. We'll start with Hannah's 21st birthday.

When you run out of fingers and toes, you have to start borrowing some!

Now, I am used to posting lots of pictures on my website, and am wondering if I can post as many in this format. And do I have to wait to upload each photo? Well, I guess I will learn as I go along...

Very exciting to watch!!

Canaan got Hannah the new Zelda game and she was ecstatic.

Okay, seriously? I will have to post more photos tomorrow once I figure out how to do this more quickly.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Something New....

For several reasons, I have decided to try something new. I will be archiving our abarrelofbakers site, and replacing it with this blog. From what I can tell so far, this is going to be a more useful format for what I am trying to do.
And what exactly am I trying to do? Keeping up a website, or a blog, is not easy. It takes time, and sometimes money. It can be frustrating, and many times I have considered just not doing it at all. Then I think of the handful of people that I do do this for.
First, I do it for our family and friends. All of our extended family live far from us, as do many of our closest friends we have made over the years. These are not a whole lot of people, to be sure, but I know that the ones who do visit our website regularly, apparently want to keep doing so. This is a central, comparatively simple way to update everyone at once about what is going on in our lives.
Secondly, it is an easy way to tell those we meet along the way what we are about. Our family attracts attention, and we get a lot of questions. I often give out our website address for those who really want to know more. We are not that private, really, and as Christians, I don’t think we’re really supposed to be. We’re supposed to live our faith out loud and openly: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15) Does this make us vulnerable? Certainly! But have you heard of any earnest disciple of Christ who didn’t open themselves up to vulnerability? It opens us up to those who would want to criticize and discourage us (and they are many) and it is not lightly entered into. But we want people to know why we do what we do, and why we live how we live. Our prayer is that those who don’t understand, might begin to, and those who do understand, might not feel so alone, because face it, there aren’t many of us like this out there. We are consumed with knowing and following what is True, and giving glory to God.
I also openly advocate on this site for the causes that are dear to our hearts: adoption, orphans, creationism, family, marriage, homeschooling and others. I want to give encouragement and any advice I can from our experiences.
So I will share family photos and life happenings, along with my own musings, quotes, favorite books, lyrics and anything else I feel might help someone else. The goal of this site is, above all, to be a ministry. One of my favorite books is Katie Davis’s “Kisses From Katie”. I like what she wrote in the introduction to her book:
“I am writing on the chance that a glimpse into the life of my family and me, full of my stupidity and God’s grace, will remind you of this living, loving Christ, and what it means to serve Him. I am writing with the hope that as you cry and laugh with my family you will be encouraged that God still uses flawed human beings to change the world. And if He can use me, He can use you.”
And I hope you will be patient with me as my old, distracted, often interrupted brain tries to learn something new. Check back often as I learn to upload photos and other content. It may take me a while!