Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Give Thanks

"Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among
the nations what he has done."
-1 Chronicles 16:8
Thanksgiving was a lot of fun. Brian's family and my parents were there. Here are some pictures:
The Moms
Brian and his sister

Brian's parents

This is an awesome Thanksgiving cake that my parents' neighbors from Mexico made for them. It's made with real fruit and it was amazing!

Grandma update: Thanks for praying for Grandma! She's home from the hospital (staying with my parents for now) and although she's still very weak, she's beginning to feel better.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Say a Prayer for Grandma

My grandmother hasn't been feeling well the last few days and went into the emergency room yesterday. Her potassium was critically low so they've been giving her potassium for the last couple of days and as long as she is able to take potassium supplements by mouth she should be able to go home tomorrow. If you think about it, say a little prayer for my grandmother and for my mother who has been at the hospital with her the last couple of days.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy Anniversary!!

101 Things things I love about my husband:

1. He helps me stay organized.
2. He takes me out to eat Qdoba.
3. He dances with me (even A-tuddy-ta!).
4. He vacuums because he knows it's my least favorite chore.
5. He pops me homemade popcorn.
6. He hangs out with me and my girlfriends.
7. He taught me the word "Polysack"
8. He can always find my sunglasses.
9. He "surprises" me with dinner every time I have a PTA meeting.
10. He prays with me.
11. He can tell when I'm upset and won't let leave me alone until I talk to him.
12. He has a heart for adoption.
13. He answers my questions about religion and politics.
14. He lets me order veggie pizza and picks off the peppers and onions.
15. He knows the capitals of all 50 states.
16. He washes and vacuums my car.
17. He let me get a dog.
18. He doesn't mind telling me he's sorry.
19. He always asks me how my day was.
20. He always wants to share what he's learning with me.
21. He knows the names of my friends at work.
22. He's honest.
23. He helps me find my keys when I lose them.
24. He thinks critically.
25. He takes care of our house.
26. He asks me about my kindergartners by name.
27. He helps me talk through my problems.
28. He loves his parents.
29. He spends time with my family.
30. He tells me the truth even if I don't really want to hear it.
31. He makes an effort with people.
32. He helps me to be a better teacher.
33. He helps me to be a better southerner.
34. He will always stop what he's doing to listen to me.
35. He helps people with their cars.
36. He's not afraid to commit.
37. He reminds me to pray about things.
38. He's strong.
39. He's generous.
40. He has an amazing memory.
41. He helps me to not care about with others think of me.
42. He makes my coffee in the morning.
43. He's willing to do anything he's asked to do at work without complaining.
44. He listens to my secrets and doesn't judge me.
45. He talks (and listens) to kids.
46. He's learning how to swim.
47. He knows all the one liners in Napoleon Dynamite (a little annoying--but funny)
48. He asked me to marry him on the day after Christmas.
49. He likes to run.
50. He takes me to eat seafood at the beach even though it's not his favorite.
51. He's making an effort to learn Spanish.
52. He remembers people's names.
53. He likes to have friends over.
54. He plays with me in the snow.
55. He likes to ride bikes.
56. He likes to learn new things.
57. He quotes funny movies.
58. He's loyal.
59. He prays for the children we will adopt someday.
60. He's not afraid of thunderstorms (because I am!)
61. He takes out the trash.
62. He cares about his family.
63. He's predictable.
64. He's spontaneous.
65. He likes to read.
66. He watches Discovery Health Channel documentaries with me.
67. He keeps me up on current events.
68. He puts my needs before his.
69. He has a heart for mens' ministry.
70. He gets me to dance.
71. He holds me accountable.
72. He is a hard worker.
73. He never turns down anyone in need.
74. He sings praise and worship songs in the shower.
75. He rides bikes with me even though I'm not as fast as he is.
76. He sings with me in the car.
77. He keeps the yard looking nice.
78. He always offers to help when someone is broken down.
79. He'll try anything once.
80. He talks to the kids in the neighborhood.
81. He won the geography bee in 97 and has the tee shirt to prove it.
82. He puts the sheet on the bed "upside down" because he knows I like it that way.
83. He has a heart for missions.
84. He makes friends with non-Christians.
85. He's trustworthy.
86. He loves the mountains.
87. He's compassionate.
88. He helped me teach Sunday school.
89. He's been honest with me from day one.
90. He reads the Bible with me.
91. He packs my lunch when I'm running late.
92. He was, is, and will be a great dad.
93. He looks up directions for me when I get lost.
94. He's sensitive to my needs.
95. He wears sweaters because he knows I like them.
96. He has a heart for the Hispanics in our community.
97. He cares about building relationships with people.
98. He watches chick-flicks with me.
99. He likes to have people over at our house.
100. He knows the names of all of my students.
101. He loves me as Christ loved the church.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Mr. and Mrs. Carpenter

I got a new sister-in-law this weekend! My little brother got married in Tennessee. It was a beautiful wedding and Kim was a beautiful bride. Unfortunately, I used my mom's camera for most of the weekend and she's still in Tennessee. Maybe I'll get some more pictures posted of the wedding when she gets home. In the meantime, here are a few good ones I did have:

Taken right accross the street from our hotel as soon as we arrived. We were in a little bit of shock as it was 70 when we left in NC and 40 and snowing when we arrived in TN four hours later! Beautiful view of the river!

Me and my "little" brother!

All dressed up!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Life Group, New Job, and Congrats!

Last night we had our first Monroe Life Group meeting. SO exciting! We've been in a wonderful life group in Matthews (which was such a blessing) but we really wanted to do something in the Monroe area so that we could be more involved in our local community. So we got together last night for dinner and discussed what we were interested in studying and decided on Romans.

Matt A. and Brian after Life Group
We also wanted to give a big congratulations to our friend Matt who is now a National Board Certified Teacher! For those of you not in the wonderful world of education, this is a HUGE accomplishment and we are just thrilled for him!

Matt C. and Tara

Finally, we have a praise report/prayer request. As most of you know, the housing market has taken a huge hit lately resulting in a lot of lost jobs (including my mother). Brian found out last Friday that his company would be making some changes that included him. He was transferred to the billing/accounting department and is also going to be doing some IT work. This is a praise report as his hours should be better and he feels that this job will better fit his gifts. But things could be crazy for him for the next month or so especially with being out of town (for the wedding) the first week of his new job. So if you think about it, say a little prayer for him. :-)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Announcement Regarding Adoption in Vietnam

I copied the following announcement from the US Embassy web page. Hats off to the US Embassy for doing all it can to ensure ethical adoptions. Let's pray that they are successful in finding ways to ensure that adoptions in Vietnam are ethical and are able to continue.

Announcement Regarding Adoption In Vietnam, November 2007

In recent months, US Embassy Hanoi and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Ho Chi Minh City have seen an increase in the number of irregularities appearing in orphan petitions and visa applications in Vietnam. This has resulted in a similar increase in the issuance of Notices of Intent to Deny.

The ongoing number of irregularities that we are currently seeing strongly indicates that the adoption process in Vietnam still lacks sufficient oversight and regulation. Specifically there is insufficient control of the so-called child finders and an inadequate regulation of the fees paid to individuals and institutions. Despite its stated intention to do so, Vietnam has yet to publish a schedule of fees. We are extremely concerned by reports of significant increases in the number of abandoned children since 2005, especially in the provinces of Phu Tho and Thai Nguyen.

We recognize that a decision to deny a petition is an extremely undesirable outcome for adopting parents and for children, who themselves may be the victims of unscrupulous agents. For this reason, we urge adoptive parents to be extremely diligent in reviewing qualifications and standards before selecting an adoption service provider. Unfortunately, as news stories and blogs often reveal, the glowing report of an adoptive parent who successfully “brought home” a child cannot be taken as evidence that the adoption was ethical or fully legal.

We at the Embassy have a legal responsibility to ensure the integrity of the adoption process when that process is part of the request for an immigrant visa. Moreover, we have an ethical responsibility to ensure that international adoptions include adequate safeguards for the rights of the children, birth parents, and adoptive parents throughout this process.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Intercountry adoptions signed by the U.S. and Vietnam in 2005 was the beginning of a step towards an intercountry adoption program that would meet international standards such as those established by the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions. That convention contains a number or protections and safeguards currently lacking in Vietnam. For that reason, we are urging the Government of Vietnam to push forward with its efforts to become a Hague partner.

The MOU was designed to increase transparency and reduce corruption, and came after a period when adoptions had been suspended in Vietnam because of significant problems involving corruption and “Baby buying.”

We continue to encourage the DIA to work with provincial authorities in Vietnam to improve the integrity of the adoption system. We recognize there may be legitimate questions concerning the DIA authority in these cases. Whatever the cause, to date we have seen little remedial action to address the problems. Even more important, we have seen little if any action to identify and prosecute those responsible for fraudulently documenting the abandonment of children, offering monetary inducements to families for relinquishing children, and offering children for international adoption without the consent of the birth parents.

We strongly endorse international adoption as an important option for Vietnamese children who do not have permanent families. We are deeply concerned, however, by confirmed cases of child selling, and by evidence that children are being released for adoption without the consent of the birth parents.

We are continuing to work with the Government of Vietnam to find ways to strengthen and improve accountability in the adoption system. We continue to urge Vietnam to pass a new, responsible, comprehensive law regulating adoptions, one that puts in place a process that protects the interests of all parties involved in and adoption and one that meets the standards of the Hague Convention. We look forward to the day when both of our countries are full participants in that convention.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Prayers for Vietnam Adoptions

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
--Philippians 4:6-7
A lot is going on right now in regards to adoption in Vietnam. Many provinces have been under investigation in Vietnam for baby-trafficing. As a result, some of the families from our agency have been "stuck" in Vietnam not sure whether or not they would be able to take their children home. Thankfully, all of our families have been cleared but things are still a little shaky. There have been questions about whether or not the Vietnam program will close again. Of course for the sake of the orphans our prayer is that adoptions in Vietnam will continue for as long as the need exists. I do have fears that the program will close without warning before we get home and I want to be wise in the decisions we are making. As of right now (mostly due to my level-headed husband) we are planning on hanging tight until we have more information. The above verse keeps playing through my mind and it has held so true in my life. While I don't always feel like I know what God's will is, I do. I know it is God's will for me to pray with thanksgiving and trust that the peace of God will guard my heart. Will you pray with us?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Awwww Shucks!

Today was our first kindergarten field trip of the year. We went to Awww Shucks corn maze in Marshville and it was a lot of fun! The kids got to go on a hayride, learn some facts about North Carolina, and of course go through the maze. I wish I could post some pictures of the kids (of course they had a blast!) but obviously can't for privacy reasons. But the teachers had fun too and I can post pictures of us! :-)

Who says overalls aren't figure-flattering!?!

Teacher: Boys and girls, you live in the state of North Carolina.

Student: Nuh-uh! I live in Monore!

Outside of the general store.

I was really sad when I realized I didn't have any pictures of Marie without the kids but I did find this one. It's not from the field trip but it's still really cute! We are standing outside of our classroom on a workday. The fact that we're dressed alike wasn't planned--honestly!

I love this lady! She's like a second mom to me! :-)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

National Adoption Month

"Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son."
--Ephesians 1:4-6 (The Message)

As I'm sure many of you know, November is National Adoption Awareness Month. As we enter into November, I am more excited than ever about adoption. I am so grateful that God has included adoption as a part of His plan. I am so grateful that God has adopted us as His sons and daughters and I am grateful that He is allowing us to adopt a little girl from Vietnam as our daughter. It's easy to think that adoption is only for someone infertile, someone older than you, younger than you, more financially stable than you--but if God has put the call to adopt on your heart, I would encourage you to pursue that call. After all, "you don't have to be a perfect person to be a perfect parent." :-)