we have come to the end of month #1 of the year 2010 and i would be failing in my promise to proclaim God's faithfulness if i did not publicly acknowledge his incredible provisions for us this month. sometimes (okay, a lot of times) i wish that God would provide in one big massive lottery win. of course, that would require me playing the lottery......which i have thought about doing.....but have yet to follow through on.

but instead i truly believe he has us on the game board of small, faithful provision. every single month he pulls us through and i have to admit, it's sort of fun to watch (sort of. i think it would be really fun to watch myself accept a lottery check too.)

i do feel like i need to add a disclaimer. we don't live paycheck to paycheck as some would define it. we are not starving or wondering how the next bill is going to be paid. but we are actively trying to plan for our future (investments), be smart about building up a nest egg (savings), prepare for the unpredictable (life insurance and disability insurance), etc. so by the time all the money is divided up each month, there isn't much left. but i would never want anyone to think we are spending every last penny on the electricity and water.

anyway...given our division of money and wanting to be wise with our finances both in the present and in the future, each month presents us with an opportunity to trust God to see how he is going to provide for the unbudgeted expenses. whether it's a car repair, the dentist, family pictures, a trip for eric to perform a wedding, a family trip to D.C., whatever it is i have finally realized after 12 years of budgets that no matter what, each month there is going to be something. as much as we try to plan, it just seems like God has us in a place where we are forced to do our part to be frugal, and then watch him provide.

so here is the story of january.

#1. God provided an opportunity to babysit for a sweet friend. she paid me what she would have normally paid her childcare provider who was out of town. $65 for us!

#2. somehow we managed to spend less than $500 on groceries! God has provided a way for me to become more and more savvy at shopping with coupons and i think it is really helping our monthly grocery expenses. $100 saved!

#3. i had strep, which was a trip to the doctor. but no one else got it! so only one co-pay when we could have easily had 6. God provided by giving us good health! $125 we didn't have to spend!

#4. God provided for eric's plane fare for his final trip to minnesota before he graduates with his masters. we were able to pool miles and pay only $100 instead of close to $400 for his ticket. wow! close to $300 God kept us from having to spend.

#5. josiah and annaclaire needed to go to the dentist. God provided by giving us a free dentist visit for both of them. $150 saved!

#6. and last but not least...a couple of days ago our washer soaked the floor of our garage. after some investigation i figured out it wasn't the washer itself but the drainage pipes that were gushing water back into the garage as opposed to draining out wherever the heck they are supposed to drain. so eric borrowed a plumber's snake from a friend and worked for about an hour and voila! our washer is working wonderfully! so instead of paying out at least $150 for a plumber to come out, God provided a new friend of ours who had a snake and eric was able to fix the problem! thank you jesus!!!!

so i would say God is showing himself. sometimes it is hard to see amongst the checkbook figures that crowd my vision. but when i go back through and open my eyes, His hand is everywhere. and i should add, our church came out right on budget (actually over a little bit) and so we were given a very generous year-end bonus that helped us significantly. God is faithful to provide.

we ended 2009 in a decent hole due to several pretty large expenses we had the last quarter. but through God's provision of extra income and His provisions that kept us from having to spend, we have started 2010 just where we should be.

so where do we find ourselves now?

we have about $25,000 more in adoption expenses. none of that is due imminently. we are in a lull in terms of paying out money. that's the good news. the more challenging news is that after the lull the money comes due pretty much all at once. that will happen once we have a little girl that we have agreed to adopt and then when we travel.

we also have (i forgot about this until it was due this month...) the final semester of eric's masters program to pay for. our church has been unbelievably generous and paid for his program up until this point. but it is on our shoulders for this last semester. i made one payment of $1500 this month and another one will come due in a couple of months. ah yes, one of those unbudgeted expenses i was talking about!

so yes, i want to remind myself as much as i recount to you that God is providing for us! but if i am honest, it can also be overwhelming to look at what we still need to come out of this season debt-free. which is the prayer we are asking God to answer. we envision happy hearts as we fly to china free of financial burden. and we can bring home sarahjoy, who in all likelihood will require some significant medical care, to a home that has seen and tasted the goodness of God's faithfulness in the area of financial provision.

we continue to plead with God that he would give us grace in finances. and that he would show his power to provide, miraculously, through ways that we cannot even imagine. i can't wait to see. thanks for being an audience to the Almighty Jehovah Jireh.


speeding along

things are moving right along in this adoption journey. it is sort of weird how we went from 0 to 100 mph. all our preliminary paperwork has been sent off and now each day feels like christmas as i anxiously check the mail box to see if we have anything returned!

we had to get criminal checks in arizona, illinois, kentucky and virginia. hopefully eric isn't hiding anything from his past! oh wait, arizona doesn't make criminal records public - doesn't that make you feel safe? we had to send off our fingerprints to the FBI, just to make sure we aren't serial killers. and we have to list every dollar that belongs to our name, so we can see on paper just how absurd this journey is! we had to go to the doctor and get tested for hepatitis, HIV, TB, and some other stuff. and have the doctor sign that we have a normal life expectancy. never mind that he isn't exactly in charge of that kind of stuff. but we'll let that go. we have to sign a paper that says even though i am unemployed now i have the capability of getting a job based on my college degree. i am sure that a christian ministry degree would get a great job in this economy. and we had to have eric's boss sign that his chance of continued employment is excellent. so if eric does something stupid anytime soon, i'm holding gbc to that statement. we had to get passport pictures. the lady at wal-mart told me she couldn't do it because she had to go to lunch. so i went to rite-aid. much nicer and cleaner. and no one had to go to lunch. and i think passport pictures are worse than driver's license. have you ever seen a good passport picture? i didn't think so.

so we are moving right along. and God is leading the way. we have a peace beyond understanding that we are doing the right thing. not that it isn't really scary at times. just yesterday i was imagining another child in the mix and wondering what in the world that was going to look like...ayayayay. but i remember thinking that before micah and lydia both. i know it comes with the territory and i just have to keep walking and pray that God will give us the perfect child for our busy family.

we are continuing to pray for a miracle - that we would have a debt-free adoption. we are confident that this is the prayer God wants from us and so we are following his leading. i don't know how he is going to pull it off but it should be fun to watch! and we are working to do our part. cutting down on spending and trying to limit expenses. not that we have a ton of flexibility in our budget but i don't think God cares about how much - i think he just cares that we are doing our part. maybe i should play the lottery!

lydia asks every day when sarahjoy is coming home. i wish i had an answer for her.

please God, bring her home to us! her perfect little self belongs in our family. protect her until we see her. be preparing sarahjoy and us to be together, forever. and perform a miracle for us. we are waiting and anticipating.



not sure what to say here. once again, we have been the recipients of a wonderful $500 gift from a family that is so special to us and so not full of money. i am incredibly thankful. i just am in awe of God providing for us.

and at the same time, there is doubt that creeps in and reminds me that we are a long way from $30,000. the doubt screams to me that $1000 here and $1000 there is not even close to what we need. BUT I WILL NOT LET SATAN GET IN MY HEAD!

God is providing. and he is doing it in the exact way that i felt like he was telling me was going to happen - little by little, a bit at a time. and hear me loud and clear, we will take off from norfolk international airport and be in awe of his ability to do the miraculous.

so thank you to those who are praying and watching. i am hoping your faith is being as encouraged as mine.

and for those who are counting...$3,500 out of $30,000.