Once upon a time....

Flash back to 1999, we were a family of four. Happy in our new roomy house and comfortable in our ways. A few years later, the Lord blessed us with an additional little package, little boy #3. Now we were a family of five and sure that would be the end. As time moved on, so did we. The Lord used the time that passed to open our eyes to His will. Several years ago, Bob and I individually heard the call to adoption. It has been a long "pregnancy", but during this incubation time, the Lord has brought us to where He wants us to be. Spring 2010, we traveled to Ethiopia where two little angels were waiting for the Lord's timing - to become our children. Now we are home and can't imagine life any differently! What a blessing to be in His will.

Galatians 4:5 says "God sent Christ to buy freedom for us, who were slaves to the law, so that He could adopt us as his very own children." We are just following his model. A Perfect picture of salvation.

Friday, January 18, 2013

It's because of the people

Why Noonday Collection?  Why Fair Trade?  It's because of the people.  Three years ago, we welcomed two beautiful girls into our family.  We love our girls and would never trade having them in our lives.  Our family is more with them!  More complete, more fun, more... Loud!  Our family is wonderful!  But the circumstances that brought them to us were not wonderful.  

{common street scene}

 {typical living condition in the capital city}

They were born into a family in Ethiopia.  Somewhere along the line, their father passed away.  Their mother was making it as a single mom, which is saying something in Ethiopia!  Our older daughter's recollection is that their mother had a job and at one point they had a "house".  But somehow, at some time, their mother got sick.  This started a difficult spiral downward.  They knew she loved them, but her illness and the lack of access to sufficient medical care rendered her unable to work and therefore, she lost her job.  Ultimately, she had to make the very difficult decision to relinquish the girls to an orphanage.  This is where we came in...
 {My very American Hubby at the orphanage ~ Children without families}

We were approved and eventually brought the girls home to our family.  

So how does this story connect with Noonday Collection and fair trade?  There are mothers all over the world who desperately need access to medical care and want to provide for their children.  Many of them are taken advantage of, working in settings that are not safe, where they are not paid enough to support their families and they are mistreated.  Noonday Collection, and other Fair Trade/Fair Labor companies, strive to ensure that workers are treated fairly, paid a living wage, and treated with dignity!  I represent and support Noonday Collection because by doing so, I can affect change!  My purchases make it possible for artisans to have access to medical care and to keep their families together!

You can make a difference too!  Today, you can be a part of a Giveaway!  By doing so, you receive!  By purchasing Noonday Collection, you can be a part of their story!  

{In this giveaway, you can win this amazing "Scarf" a.k.a. Cowl}

Head over to Ambassador Tara Eichstedt's blog tomorrow for more Noonday Goodness ~ www.blessingsbytlcwithtlc.blogspot.com

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Moving means changes… lots of them!  We moved to a different state which meant finding new doctors, dentists, and vision specialists.  One kid getting glasses, four more getting check-ups!  We knew Alex needed an updated vision check and possibly a new prescription.  A few months back, his glasses had been “tweaked” and therefore didn’t fit “right”, which meant he just didn’t wear them.  At his vision exam, the truth came out… along with the natural consequences.  His vision had gotten worse in one eye due to the lack of correction.  In other words, the glasses which were made to correct his vision had not been utilized and his ability to see had deteriorated.  He ended up with a drastically different new prescription.

My vision is like that.  Not in a physical sense, but definitely in a spiritual sense.  When my spiritual vision gets “tweaked”, my vision deteriorates.  What in the world are you talking about, Audra?!  What is this spiritual vision?? 
~ Seeing beyond the physical.  Seeing the hurt in the eyes when someone says that they are “fine”. 

~ Seeing the wanting for affection in the overly rambunctious child. 

~ Looking into the eyes of a loved one and seeing the little flecks of color that went unnoticed for days….weeks….years!  Unnoticed because I haven’t taken the time to stop and LOOK! 

~ Finding a broken item, shattered on the floor and seeing the “broken” child who longs to reverse time and make it all better…but lashes out instead, with hurtful words and accusations. 

Sometimes I see with my head and not my heart.  The result?  Deterioration!  You know what I’m talking about.  That downward spiral into frustration and anger.  The stream of words flowing out of the mouth and into ears and hearts not equipped to handle such an onslaught.  Seeing only the physical, Only what is right in front of me, is evidence of vision that desperately needs correction!

Spiritual correction??? She’s off her rocker!  It’s not as hard, or weird, as it sounds.  God didn’t intend for us to go through life with blurry vision.  Running ragged, so hurried that we don’t see those around us …. frustration and anger…. you get the idea.  How do I achieve spiritual correction?? 
S L O W  D O W N….
(And the real clincher….)
The Greek word, eucharisteo, means Giving Thanks.  The root, charis, means grace.  But, it also holds the derivitave of charis, the Greek, chara, which means JOY!  Giving Thanks results in JOY!  Not happiness.  Happiness is fleeting, based on circumstance.  JOY represents a condition of the heart.  JOY is that glow that happens in the midst of ANY circumstance.  That ability to go on with a heart that has been reinforced with HIS strength. 

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks IN all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“WHOA!” you say.  What about the yucky stuff?  What about the hard times!  Death, pain, illness, hurt!  I recently went through a VERY long night with one of my children who was hurting and there was NOTHING I could do about it.  That night, I was struggling with this very verse.  I have been trying to be “thankful in all circumstances” and was really wrestling with the concept of being thankful for my child’s pain….  Then it hit me.  IN all circumstances!  …not FOR all circumstances.  I have heard and said this verse many times, but this lightbulb could have lit up the whole town!   Being a word-smith, I began to make my own expanded version….
Rejoice (in the LORD, recalling the blessings ALREADY given), PRAY, and
give thanks:
the circumstances!  THIS is God’s plan for you (He made it possible through Jesus)!
(The Audra Version! )

THAT I can do!  Let the thanking begin!  I have started my own list of thanks… (Thank you Ann VosKamp for sharing your journey in the book, One Thousand Gifts).  Need a challenge that will bring JOY and perspective?  Start your own list.  READ the book! 
Sometimes we need adjustments to help our human, fleshy eyes “see”.  It doesn’t come naturally and just as remembering to put on your physical glasses to physically see, we have to choose to put on our glasses of thankfulness and “see” with His eyes.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Jacket Makeover

The Jacket.  Bought on a sale.  Really liked it.  Washed it.  Wore it.  Washed it.  The arms kept getting shorter.  I’m short as it is, but this was getting annoying.  So, I put it in the GoodWill pile.  Then a while later, as the weather was fluctuating, I was pining for a vest…. Enter the Makeover thoughts….

I don’t mind giving away items so that someone else, with short arms, can make use of an item… but, I saw the potential in the jacket to become a vest!  It was really easy.  Really!  So, here goes!
Here’s the jacket:

Cut off the arms, on the arm side of the seam.  Give yourself enough of a space to be able to turn it under for a hem.  I left about an inch.

Find a thread that mostly matches the fabric.  The better the match, the less you (or anyone else) will be able to see your flaws.  J  Turn the hem in toward the inside of the jacket…um, vest.  Fold it so that the original seam is on the fold of the opening.  I folded mine twice because the fabric had a funky puffy filler that I didn’t want showing or “falling” out. 

Start at the arm-pit and sew around the arm hole.  Here’s a close up of one arm, finished.

Now here’s the finished vest.  I liked it so much that I also did this makeover to a blue jacket that I had bought at the same sale. 

Happy me!  Two vests to get me through this weird Colorado weather!  I can layer it with a long-sleeved shirt, add a scarf and I am good to go!

Monday, January 7, 2013

CrockPot Goodness!

I LOVE my CrockPot!  Why?  Lots of reasons, mostly, I love how the CrockPot frees me up to be with my family when they hit the door at the end of the day.  The food can be “almost ready” and I can be conversing with my family about their day and helping with homework and hugging my littles.  J 
So, what’s in the CrockPot today?  Campfired Sloppy Joes!  I can hardly stand the yummy smells!  Last year I picked up a CrockPot Brand cookbook at Kohl’s for a $5 Steal!  The book is titled, “Busy Family Recipes” and although we are (on purpose) NOT a busy family, I do like the fact the recipes are quick and yummy!   This is one of my favorites from that book. 
I take the time the day before to prepare the ingredients so that I can just dump and run.  However, if you have the time on the day of the meal, you can easily prepare this the same day you intend to eat it.  It only cooks on high for three hours.  OK, so here’s the recipe.  All Credit goes to CrockPot!  I have added my changes at the end.

Campfired Sloppy Joes
Brown Together:
1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
½ cup chopped sweet onion
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 large garlic clove

Mix in a small bowl:
½ cup ketchup
½ barbeque sauce
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder

1 can (8ounces) baked beans

BROWN the meat mixture.  Mix the sauce.  Toss in the baked beans.  Mix them together.  Put it in the CrockPot and cook on HIGH for 3 hours.  Serve on buns!

*** My alternations:  I use a mixture of lean ground beef and ground turkey and because it is convenient, I just use 2 pounds total.  I also roast my red bell peppers and then add them to the mixture before I put it in the CrockPot.  I LOVE roasted red pepper!  It is sooo easy and delicious!  How it took me this long to find this out, I will never know!  I add some green bell pepper, just because I like them and I typically double the garlic.  So, as you can see, it is pretty much a free-for-all!  You can make this recipe uniquely yours!

CAUTION:  If you add a significant amount of additional “chunks” to your mix, you will want to add some moisture also!  Just dump a little extra ketchup and bbq sauce to the mix.  

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Unseen

Unseen?  Sounds a bit like a new movie or book.  But books and movies aren't real.  Even if they are based on real events, they could never capture the Realness in its entirety.  They are reenactments, at best, of an event that occurred in another place or time.

1 Corinthians 2:9-10 states,

"no eye has seen, nor ear heard, 

nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him.  
These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit."

This past Monday night was New Year's Eve.  The kids were in bed before midnight, but my honey and I stayed up late... way too late...  We had heard that there is a crew that braves the wind, snow, and bitter cold to get to the top of Pikes Peak.  Their mission:  to set off fireworks from the Summit of Pikes Peak at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve.  We have a great view of the Peak from our back door and thought it would be pretty special to witness that event.  So, as our clock neared the fabled hour, we stood at the back door, wrapped in a blanket, watching, waiting, anticipating the display of splendor.
We could not see the adventurists that made that climb.  We did not witness the stacks of artistic explosives. We had no assurance of their arrival at the summit.  We had no guarantee that they would indeed fulfill their intent to entertain us.  In fact, we didn't even see any fireworks.  The cloud cover inhibited our view and as far as we know, they did indeed complete their quest... we think.
I was disappointed.  And tired!  So we went to bed.

God's a bit like that, but in a much better way.  1 Corinthians 2:9-10 says we cannot even IMAGINE what God has in store for us!  That's exciting!  I can't see Him working behind the curtain... or clouds... I don't see Him preparing the GREAT things that He has planned for me.  Life provides a LOT of clouds.  Busy-ness, schedules, family, work, drama, good, bad, money, lack of money, frustration, strife, health... clouds.  Faith is trusting even though you can't see!  Why?  Because what is seen is temporary and what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).  God warned Noah about things not yet seen, and Noah acted on Faith, building a boat... in a desert! (Hebrews 11:7).  We are assured that our Faith, believing in the unseen, will result in being filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy! (1 Peter 1:8).

So, although there often are clouds that blocking my view, I have Faith that God is working on the greatest display of all and that when He reveals his splendor, it will be more than I could ever ask or imagine.  Abundant, inexpressible and glorious joy will fill my heart!
In the meantime, I am thankful for the breaks in the clouds when I can see just a glimpse of his Glory.