Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Money $aving Mondays {No.2}

I'm behind on this post due to the 4th of July Holiday falling on Monday and spending quality time with family. I opted to post about adoption first since the article I read really brought up some feelings and I've been wanting to share the news with you all, so the timing of that post was perfect.

1) In cleaning out our parents' estate, I've found myself having to clean things in order to make them sparkle, whether we are selling them or keeping them. I had forgotten my mom started wrapping her silver in plastic wrap and storing in plastic bags. It sounds ridiculous but that silver has not tarnished and it has been wrapped for close to 20 years. Wrap your silver and eliminate as much air as possible as this is what tarnishes it. It will not tarnish. Wrap it after you wash it, and it dries ~ thoroughly.

2)If you prefer, you may store your silver in flannel bags that have been treated to prevent tarnish. Take these special cautions with silver or silverplate pieces: Rubber may corrode or permanently etch silver. Never leave silver in contact with rubber bands. Also, never leave silver with prolonged contact with the following: eggs, olives, salad dressings, sulfur, vinegar, fruit juices, and alcohol ~ including perfumes or colognes.

3) Gold jewelry has not been that big in the South for years, but it will make a comeback, I know. In the meantime, if you ran out of jewelry cleaner and some pieces need extra cleaning, below is a great recipe. Use caution with fashion jewelry as those costume pieces may just be glued together and this recipe may loosen the glue.
You will need:
1 tsp. mild dishwashing liquid
1 tsp. plain ammonia
1 quart water

Mix the above in a small bowl and get a soft toothbrush that is new or has been sanitized and will strictly be used for this purpose. Immerse the gold to be cleaned in the solution, then brush gently with the toothbrush to get into the cracks and crevices. Rinse in a bowl in lukewarm water and allow to dry. You can also rub with a chamois cloth to restore a lustrous shine.

4) To remove grease from gold (either from baking or automotive grease), simply dip the gold briefly in rubbing alcohol (at least 70% isopropyl), then wipe the grease off with a soft cloth. Rinse briefly in cool water and dry with a soft cloth. DO NOT DIP gemstones, pearls, or other non-gold items into alcohol.

5) Pearls are so extremely delicate and should be treated as such. I have a very long strand that was my mom's and I triple wrap it around my neck. After I wear it, I rub it gently with a soft cloth and store it in a safe place. You can wash pearls in a very mild solution of mild dishwashing liquid and warm water. Rinse them in cool water and allow them to dry. Diamond jewelry may also be routinely cleaned this way.

6) And speaking of polishing, let's not forget the furniture: Lemon Oil Furniture Polish. You will need 1 quart of Mineral Oil + 1 Tbsp. Lemon Oil. Add lemon oil into the bottle of mineral oil. Shake to mix. To use, wipe it on and wipe it off with a clean, soft cloth. Note: Oils are flammable. Avoid open flames and do not smoke!

Until next week, shine on!

These Children Are Our Responsibility: Foster Care Adoption » Adoption » Content —

This post today comes from an article I've read {I've only read a few hundred since fall 2010 on this subject} and I cry Is it because I am sad for these children or is it because my Heavenly Father has awakened my heart knowing that one day Mr. Fabulous and I may be blessed to adopt one or a sibling group of sisters? I say sisters because brother and sister cannot share a room in our 2-bedroom condo, the siblings will have to share a room until the real estate market stabilizes enough for us to move.

At first, the idea of adopting from foster care was a little daunting {read that as scary}. I had the same misconceptions about it that most people have, but I very quickly warmed up to it so much so that hotflashes would be in order here. These children are in foster care through no fault of their own and they deserve to know what love, stability, security, safety, and healthy boundaries look like. While I will never be their birth mother, I do feel God is birthing children in my heart every single day. I do not know what age they will be, what color hair they will have, what color eyes they will have, whether they will smile at us the first time they meet us or cower in fear because we are just another set of strangers to them. So many questions without answers, but I do know this: God knows who are our children are. That alone brings me comfort. He is keeping them safe, warm, loved, and fed until He times everything perfectly for His plan when our world meets their world and they become ours. Will I be mad at their parents for not taking care of them? I think I will be mad at any injustice done to them ~ abuse, neglect, abandonment, etc., but I will be grateful to their parents for giving them life, for that life {or those lives} will be a precious gift to us. That's part of the reason that if you look to the right of this blog, I have a widget that highlights children from the United States Foster Care System that are legally free for adoption. I'll wait while you go take a look... Did you see them? Those are the faces of the fatherless in our country. Not every face is represented here, but you get the idea. Did you see one that just captured your heart? Don't you want to find out how you go about adopting them? :)

The topic of adoption is not a new one for me. Being the youngest child of 4, with an age gap of 7.5 - 10 years between my three older siblings and I, I was begging my parents to have another child. When they said, "No. You are the icing on a 3-layer cake", I insisted they adopt. I had a great reason or two: So I would have a sibling to boss around, and so I would have one closer to my age that I could play with. Well, that never happened. And yes, I am close to my siblings {my sister is sandwiched between my brothers and they were born literally one year after the other}. By the time I came along, Mom had 3 helpers for me, not to mention "instant babysitters". My sister contemplated adoption and I wish she had taken the plunge and done so {Dear Sissy, it is never to late...}. I could be an auntie to one of my siblings' children {none of them have children}. I'm an auntie to Mr. Fabulous' nieces and I think they are wonderful; in fact, they will be great role models for our girls. :) Fast forward to my single-again days in my 30s prior to meeting Mr. Fabulous. While at a Stephen Curtis Chapman concert in December 2005, he mentioned Show Hope, and my friend Emily who was also single and longing for a family, purchased ornaments from Show Hope for every woman in our small group. It was at that concert when I prayed, "Lord, if I am not married by the time I'm 40, can I adopt?" I always assumed it would be a little girl from China. And God has gently pointed the way. From the time adoption entered our world last fall until now, every time we turned on the TV, we'd see a commercial, a newscast, a movie or a show, not just featuring children who were adopted, but children adopted from foster care or children in foster care. We even started laughing about it saying, "OK, Lord, we hear You." So, we attended two orientations in February of this year. One was from our local county regarding foster care and foster-adoptions, the other was from Focus on the Family and our eyes were wide open. We saw God's loving arms wrapped around each person in the stories we heard that day, and those stories were from every end of the foster care and adoption spectrum. And, we learned, you don't have to be perfect to be parents {Thank You, Lord, because I am perfect at being imperfect!}. I still remember at the end of the FOTF event, Mr. Fabulous looked at me and said, "I believe this is a ministry for us in some sort of way." Why yes, Mr. Fabulous, it is. It is redemption for those children and redemption for us. It is introducing those children to Jesus when they might have never had the opportunity to meet Him. It is pouring love into them and letting them know they are finally home. Back to China: the cost and regulations are keeping us from International adoption. I kept asking myself, "How can we adopt overseas when so many need homes here, in our own country?" I'm not condemning anyone adopting overseas as I feel some are called to do so. This was a personal question that came up for us. Believe me, I'd adopt every orphan if I could, but that's just not feasible or realistic.

I believe this one is so close to the Father's heart that He weeps for them. Thankfully, He is a Father to the fatherless... Psalm 68:5-6a (NIV): "5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. 6 God sets the lonely in families..." I don't just feel God places orphans (the lonely) in families, but I do believe with all my heart that He placed me in Mr. Fabulous' family. Many blessings have come from our being married. Both of my parents are deceased. In fact, the 10th anniversary of my mother's passing is this August and this year, I find myself missing her more than ever. Anyway, one of my prayers when I was single again, was for me to be close to my future husband's parents. God has answered that prayer. They are kind, loving, good, and most of all, a blessing. Seriously, I have the BEST In-Laws, but then, I'm a little biased. I would love to sit at my Mother-in-Law's feet in her kitchen and just take notes on how she does what she does. I can hear her laughing now as I type this because "she does not really have a system", she would say. I believe she does, she just might not realize it. She is an amazing cook and hostess, and she is always doing for and serving others.

I'm working on getting our house in order ~ literally. Our office is in the 2nd bedroom and that will have to be turned into a bedroom for our homestudies and for our children. Our sunroom will have to become our office. There are things I kept here that will need to go into our storage, and ideally, we'd love to pay off our debt. We've been on one income since our marriage as my industry was real estate and we know how well that has been going {sarcasm}. I feel like all of that ~ the minutia of it all ~ is standing in the way of the adoption process for us. I'm profoundly saddened by that every single day. So, I am humbly asking for your prayers. Pray the resources come in where we are financially able to adopt. Pray that the book I'm writing is a success because that could potentially pay off our debt, pray my brain gets an organized scheme going every day {in my professional life, I am highly organized; in my personal life, it is more sporadic} so I can move mountains to get our place where it needs to be. Pray we have peace about when to take the plunge and dive in, knowing God has our backs as well as our best interest at heart, and He knows our child{ren}. I'm forever humbled and grateful for your prayers.

There are many other scriptures I could leave you with to ponder. Again, this one is so close to the Father's heart. I do recommend reading two extraordinary books: Choosing to SEE by Mary Beth Chapman {I grew to love this woman in that book!} ~ you will need tissues. My Sister-In-Law read it while here for Christmas and kindly loaned it to me {little did she know!}. I would go to open it and quickly close it because I was crying before I ever cracked the book open. It was just that close to my heart. Needless to say, once I started reading it, I could not stop. The other book I recommend is: Fields of the Fatherless by Tom Davis. I read that one in about a day. Both are so poignant and right on target. They are on my list of favorites! And no, I'm not being paid for the shout out.

Finally, the article I linked within this post. Here it is without further adieu!

These Children are Our Responsibility: Foster Care Adoption » Adoption » Content —

Thank you for allowing me to share my heart today.