Monday, May 24

God Shows Up at the Mall

So here is my first Memorial Box Monday post. This God story just took place yesterday, Sunday, May 24, 2010. Click here if you missed my post about what a Memorial Box is.

I took my girls to Crabtree mall yesterday because Anna needed a specific top for her dance concert and she had a H&M gift card from her birthday to spend.

As we were fighting the crowds of H&M, trying on shirts, and my head was thumping to the loud music, a lady in a hot pink shirt came up to me and gently touched my arm.

I do not remember exactly what she said. . which is exactly why it is so important to write these God stories down soon after they occur. The lady seemed nervous and stumbled over her words, but said something like:

"I was over there with you when you were looking at the t-shirts and something in my gut told me to give something to you. So I am going to give it to you and walk away. Is that ok? Now don't come after me."

I was kinda taken aback and did not know what to say so I just uttered "ok". I cannot remember if I smiled or not. I was thinking she was gonna give me a tract or perhaps the phone #/website to some business proposition. She grabbed my hand and put some paper in it. I stuck it in my pocket and walked towards my girls.

In the corner of H&M, I looked at what she had given me. . it was $100.

And I looked for the bright hot pink shirt because I WAS gonna go after her.

I was gonna tell her about this little boy in Ethiopia that we are adopting and how we were asking God to provide for the adoption expenses and the plane tickets and a 12 passenger van. And I was gonna tell her that I thought her "gut feeling" was God and tell her that God still speaks today (maybe this lady knew that and she just said "gut feeling" as not to scare me off. . I do not know). Oh I wanted to tell her lots; I wanted to invite her to go get a pretzel with me and my girls.

I could not find her, but right there in H&M, with tears in my eyes, I said outloud, "Thank you God!"

Thru a lady in a bright pink top who had a "gut feeling", God whisperd to me. . "See, I have not forgotten that you are on this adoption journey. I am right here with you. I hear your prayers. I am going to provide." He spoke encouragement to my soul.

And so a H&M logo will go in our Memorial Box to remind us that God can show up anywhere. . even at the mall.

For more God stories, click the box below:

What is a Memorial Box?

Linny over at one of my all time favorite blogs, A Place Called Simplicity has a Memorial Box. This is a box where she purposefully gathers symbols representing the times of God's faithfulness. Every Monday, Linny shares an item in her Memorial Box and tells "the story only God could write". And then she invites her readers to do the same.

Linny explains that "In the Old Testament (Joshua 4) God tells the Hebrew nation to build a Memorial of stones to remember what He had done. He goes on to say that everytime they see the stones they are to remember and tell their children the story of His faithfulness and then to tell their children's children. So why did God tell His people to do that? Just for fun? No!! He did it cause He knew how forgetful they would be and that they would need to constantly tell the story over and over to remember His faithfulness."

So I am joining in. Rob and I are in the process of transforming the firewood box in our stairwell into a memorial box. Rob, the kids and I are making a list of all the God stories in our lives and figuring out what item we want to get to represent them.

And I am gonna start recording these stories here every Monday because as Linny says,

when we actively remember God's faithfulness

in the past,

we see that the future

is under His control as well."

Stay tuned for my first Memorial Box Monday post. . . the story just happened yesterday.

Tuesday, May 18

Where We Are At: May 17

Here's where we are at in the adoption timeline:
  • We are currently waiting to receive our fingerprint appointment card from US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • We will then go to Durham, NC to to get fingerprinted. I am guessing this will be around June 15 or so.
  • A month after that (so around July 15), we should receive our I-171H in the mail. As soon as you we have that, we are ready for the referral of our son.
  • Then we send in our dossier (fancy word for lots and lots of notarized papers and copies) to be authenticated in Ethiopia.
  • Referral of our son
  • Receive Ethiopian court date and make travel plans. This is new, the Ethiopian govt now requires the parents to be there for this court date. This is new as of May 2010 so now we have to go to Ethiopia twice.
  • Travel to Ethiopia to meet our son and appear in court. Once we pass this court appointment, the child is ours and I can post pics for ya'll to see. (I think I am right about this).
  • Say Good-bye to our son. . I have already cried over this. I bawled hysterically when we had to leave Jonathan and he was a baby and did not comprehend that we were leaving and coming back much later. Jonathan was asleep in his bassinet when we left. I cannot imagine leaving a 4-8 year old. So we go back home and wait for an Embassy Appointment date to be given.
  • Travel to Ethiopia again and be reunited with our son. Get son's passport at Embassy appointment.
  • Return home with our son
And here's where I am at emotionally:

There's joy and excitement and anticipation, but there's also a heaviness and broken heartedness that makes me cry often.

To have all these emotions within the same day and try to process and pray thru them. . . at the same time that my 9 year old needs to be homeschooled, laundry needs to be put away, kids need to be picked up from school, and dinner needs to get on the table is . . . a lot. This is the hard part, not all that adoption paperwork, not all that running around town getting this form and that form filled out, not the money. This whirlwind of emotions, this having your heart become aware of things you weren't aware of (more on that later), that is what I am referring to when I say, "adoption isn't for wimps."

I pray daily that my son in Ethiopia. . that his heart would b
e filled with hope, that somehow supernaturally he would know that a mom and dad and 2 brothers and 2 sisters are waiting for him.

My prayer for me is that I would enjoy this ride and be strengthen and changed to be more like Jesus in the process. God loves my boy in Ethiopia more than I do.
God has already written this story.

Friday, May 14

God preparing Brooke

I have been praying that God would prepare each one of us for our time in Africa. Yes, each one of us.

My prayer is that God would provide plane tickets not just for Rob and me, but for the kids as well. I want them to go. For so many reasons (which is another post).

And so I am praying that God not only provides a way for all 6 of us to go to Africa, but that He also starts preparing us for what He is going to do in us and thru us while we are there.

And I think I am seeing a glimpse of this preparation in my Brooke. Remember this story of Brooke praying for our next door teenage neighbor's boyfriend. . even though she was scared?

Well, the story continues. Last Sunday. . .May 16th, 2010. . again documenting for me and Brooke. . .during worship Brooke felt like she heard God tell her that she was to pray for a lady that started with the letter E and had no kids.

Brooke wanted to tell Rob what she had heard, but then it was time to go to Sunday School.

When Brooke got to Sunday School, there was a new teacher assistant, Mrs. Emily. Brooke knew then that she was to pray for Mrs. Emily. . that this was the E lady God was talking about during worship.

After Sunday School was over, Brooke ran and found me and told me that she wanted to go pray for Mrs. Emily. Oh me, I think Mrs. Emily and I had had one conversation before and that is it.

But this was not about me, this was about nurturing this heart of prayer in my 9 year old. So we found Mrs. Emily.

I introduced ourselves and thanked her for teaching Brooke in Sunday School and told her that Brooke wanted to pray for her and could we?

Mrs. Emily said yes. Brooke took over so confidently and said, "Is there anything specific you want prayer for?"

And Emily shared something real and significant. Which so made me smile because by sharing something real. . Mrs. Emily showed me and Brooke that she believed that God does not put an age limit on when God can use a person or when suddenly someone can start hearing His voice. Oh how my heart smiled. Kids can so see thru when we are faking it or just doing it to not hurt their feelings. Mrs. Emily was sincere.

Brooke then asked, "Mom, do you want to go first or do you want me?"

Brooke prayed.

Emily cried.

And afterwards Brooke had to make sure Mrs. Emily did not have any kids so she just out of the blue asked her, "Do you have kids?" No surprise, she didn't. Brooke just looked at me and nodded her head and smiled.

Oh this is what I like about being a mom. . identifying what God is up too. . identifying those unique gifts He has placed in each one of my kids. . and then when I see the chance to water them and nurture them. . to jump at the chance.

I have a feeling Brooke is being prepared for some praying in Africa.

Wednesday, May 12

These are selling. . .

These are selling:

These are selling not because I am super talented or business savvy, but because God longs to bring home a little boy to his forever family.

The following blogs wrote about my paintings. The real reason I am listing these blogs is not for you, but for our boy.

One day, I will show our son this post and tell him, "See, God had it all planned. Look what He did. He totally made a way for you to come home. Look how He got the word out about Mom's paintings. Our God is soo cool. Look how he used paint and paper and crafts and couponing and blogs to bring us together. Our God is so creative!"

And then we can talk about what talents and gifts my son has and how he can let God use then for good purposes and big God things. Oh yes, that makes me smile! I have seen it over and over again. . skateboarding, craft shows, couponing, water bottles and bananas (more on that later), scrapbooking, blogging. . . all used to further His Kingdom.

Check out these shout outs:

Just A Girl

That We Might Be Adopted

A Place Called Simplicity

Throwing Our Arms Open Wide

Musically Pink

We Are That Family, this post too

Cleary Crew

Click here if you'd like to see lots of pictures of paintings I have done for families, to a page with all the details about how these paintings are made, and if interested, details on how to order one for your own home.

Wednesday, May 5

It's More than Just Art. . .

It's More than Just Art. . .
it's a Vision for Your Family

and it helps bring a little boy home from Ethiopia

If you have been in my home, you have seen the large whimsical art above my fireplace. Oh. .this is so much more than just decor; this is what the Soutters are all about; these are our priorities.

The sales of these one-of-a kind pieces of art helped to raise funds for our adoption of a little boy from Ethiopia. And due to the volume of orders I have currently, I am no longer taking orders. I have many orders to keep me creating until March 2011 and then our little boy comes home!! I am keeping this post up because one day I want to make all my posts into a book for our son. . for him to see how God was orchestrating his coming home. So if you came here from another link, thanks for your interest, but I am not taking orders or adding to my wait list. I am slowing down to wrap up current orders, prepare for our son, and then adjust, transition, and bond as a family of 7. Thanks for understanding.

Here is a painting I did for the Marble family:

Just tell me your colors. What colors make you smile?
Pink and brown made this gal smile. You can click on any of these pictures to view it larger.

Or you can send me photos of the room where you will hang this one-of-a-kind art. Here is a painting I did for a special family in Kansas after I saw pictures of their kitchen:

Tell me what color background you are thinking. a neutral like Cream or Tan/Khaki OR a bright cheerful color like this apple green.

Or perhaps a soft blue. I can do any color background you want.

Tell me your colors and I will then pick out the paint and paper and have you approve. This gal shared she wanted blues and khakis and some turquoise too because it was her favorite color.

Once colors are approved, you then get me a list of 20 things your family is about. I can give you a list to help you brainstorm.

Here is a painting I did for the family. I love that one of their "we do statements" is we do snuggles.

Each painting is a custom, unique piece just for your home. No two paintings are identical; this is truly one-of-a- kind art. What a reminder of your family's priorities and purpose!! This piece was made for a special family in California:

The paintings are dimensional. . the words "In This Home" and the house stands out from the canvas. The roof and door of the house are separate pieces and add even more dimension.

I love the button as the doorknob.

Three sizes are available:

A 24" wide by 18" tall painting is $75.

Here is a 24 by 18 painting that will hang in the Roe's homeschool room. I just need to put their 15-20 "we do" statements on it.

The next size I offer is 36" wide by 24" tall for $130. This was a birthday present from a hubby to his wife.

I also offer a huge, 48" wide by 36" tall pieces of art; this is the size of the painting in my living room for $240. Here is one of the large paintings I did for the Dickenson's, to hang in their dining room:

Contact me at susoutter at bellsouth dot net (use @ and .) and we can talk your colors, what your family is all about, and get started on your unique piece of art work right away.

And one more picture. Below is a painting I did for the Cleary family. Look how the door and windows match her dining room walls perfectly!

Click here to see what the Cleary family and others are saying about their paintings.

Please note that if you are not local (Raleigh, NC) and I have to ship your painting, shipping/handling charges will be added to the price of the painting. I will just add the exact amount that I am charged to ship it, plus the charge of the box. The 24 by 18 paintings average $17. The 36 by 24 painting are averaging around $22. And the largest 48 by 36 paintings are averaging $98 to ship.