Saturday, May 26, 2012

Pooh And Friends

One fine day, Pooh set out on Tigger's shoulders for an adventure through the woods.

Kanga came along too, to take some pictures of all her friends.

The woods were thick and green, as the friends bounced and hopped along.

They used all kinds of new muscles as they played and explored the afternoon away.

Until suddenly, Pooh felt a certain rumbling in his tummy and decided they all ought to head to Owl's home for a bit of honey (that's Pooh's favorite food you know).

The End.

These are the types of days we have lately:  we are full force into imaginative play, with Pooh Bear being at the top of the list of characters and friends to pretend to be and our days are full with narrative and being in character.  It's amazing how many times he can remember he is "Pooh Bear,please, not Caleb" but remembering to say please is nearly impossible!

Man in Training

Two weeks ago when we were watching the girls for the week, one of the girls told Caleb (who was whining) that he should act like a big boy.  His immediate come back was, "I'm not a big boy! I'M A MAN!!"

And that he is - a little man in training.  I find myself forgetting that way too often. I need to parent with this in mind.  We were recently gifted a copy of Voddie Baucham's "What He Must Be If He Wants To Marry My Daughter" and I have it on my "to read soon" list as a reminder of the values and lessons Caleb needs to be learning now (and in the next years) in order to grow into a man.

One of his recent "jobs" is to help daddy with garbage duty.  He doesn't do it all the time (many days we don't have time to wait for a two year old to carry the garbage down 3 flights of stairs and to the other end of the apartment complex) but when we have time, he does surprisingly well with carrying his bag of garbage right along side dad.

Makes me proud to see my little man in training! He takes his "jobs" very seriously and it is just so darn cute!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Donkey Goose

Anyone want to guess what animal belongs to these feet?

Here's a hint:  Caleb and I discovered a new section of the arboretum yesterday with some good friends that we hadn't explored before and turned out it had several birds and animals.

We called my mom and dad this morning and Caleb excitedly told them about his day and about seeing a "donkey goose" yesterday.  He tried to show them these pictures on my phone but didn't quite understand that we weren't on skype and they couldn't see what he was excitedly showing them.

It made me laugh that in not being able to remember the actual name, he came up with "donkey goose" because, now that he mentions it, Ostriches do kind of look like what a cross between a donkey and a goose might look like.  I love the life-perspective Littles provide.  And the laughs too.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


 Check out our Checklist, it is *finally* starting to feel like we are on the tail end of it!! 

After we complete this checklist, we just continue waiting for the final documents (like certified birth certificates and marriage certificates and background checks) to arrive in the mail and then we can close out our home study and finish up our Dossier! Then it's on to applying for the ability to adopt through the U.S.C.I.S!  Seriously feel like this document needs to be framed when it is all said and done. Or maybe burned.  That's still up for debate!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Tradition

Both my parents have always been there for me and supported me, been a huge source of support and love - it is one thing that I was reminded of a lot during my recent home study personal interview when asked about my family of origin and growing up years.  I was blessed to have supportive, caring, loving and committed parents. 

Dad and Mom on my wedding day - June 6, 2008

 My dad and I grew especially close during my college years, after a rough patch as a high school student.


During college, one special point of connection was a devotional that my dad bought me called "Spurgeon Morning and Evening."  Maybe you have heard of it? Maybe you enjoy it daily as well?  It is filled with a short devotional for each morning and each evening, written by Charles Spurgeon.  My dad gave me a copy in college and we both read it as a devotional and would occasionally email about what we enjoyed.  It's a tradition I have continued (off and on) since then.

This morning's section really encouraged me, here is part of what was written for May 22 Morning:

"By honor and dishonor, by evil report and by good report, by plenty and by poverty, by joy and by distress, by persecution and by peace - by all these things your spiritual life is maintained and by each of these you are helped on your way. Do not think, believer, that your sorrows are out of God's plan; they are necessary parts if it. 'Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom' Learn, then, to count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds."

Oh Let my trembling soul be still,
And trust Thy wise, Thy holy will!
I cannot, Lord, Thy purpose see,
Yet all is well since ruled by Thee.

What comforting words in times like these, what a solid Rock we can stand on regardless of circumstance.

Little Friends

Caleb continues to be our little extroverted social bug.  He is full of first born, take-charge qualities and loves to run around with all his little friends. From left to right pictured above are some of the kids in our small group (Caleb, Hannah, Sadie and McKenzie).  Caleb, Sadie and Hannah are all born within less than two weeks of each other!

Sadie and Caleb are absolutely bestest of buds (pictured above), complete with teary good byes after play dates and begging to see each other on a daily basis.

Family pic above plus Sadie and Hannah!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Home Study!

We had our home study this weekend! It was an intense whirlwind of a week and weekend but all in all we felt really good about the home study. We came away very encouraged, uplifted and informed.  We really enjoyed learning from our social worker and picking her brain about adoption, her experience, the process and bringing our next child into our family.  She was very sweet, helpful, patient and gave us a lot to think about, process, and plan for!  If you are considering adoption, please don't listen to those naysayers who talk about how scary it is or those blogs who obsess about it, our home study was far from scary and so far has been the most enjoyable part of our adoption process!

Thank you to all of your who sent support to help us cover much of this home study. It really means more than we know how to express in words.  Thank you.

Thank you to all  of you who prayed for us and sent supportive texts, calls, emails and facebook messages before, during and after!  It really meant a lot to us as well. Your prayers were answered big time!  The Lord even worked out "small" details like making sure our social worker was on the same bus to Songtan from the airport as some good friends of ours (the ones whose girls spent the week with us last week) and made sure they were able to help her get off at the right stop and even call us on their cell phone!  During my 1 on 1 interview with her at Tom N Toms, Jeremy Camp's "Trust in You" was playing in the coffee shop.  Seriously? What are the odds?  In Korea? English Jeremy Camp song playing, with perfect lyrics?

Caleb also did a great job.  He spent a lot of time being quiet and playing quietly while we talked and did training.  He was patient and warmed right up to Monica.  I couldn't have asked for things to go more smoothly or to enjoy our time with her as much as we did.  We are excited to continue working with her and see where the Lord takes this crazy ride!

Please continue to keep us and this new Houser Baby in your prayers.  If you find yourself suddenly blessed with extra financial blessing or would like to donate to our adoption, please check out our post on how to donate and what the funds will be used for!  We need our thermometer to reach about $10,000USD before we can complete the next step of our process.  Will you consider being part of our journey of adoption?  Thank you for sharing the word and also donating if you feel led to!

Happy Mother's Day!

Our Sunday was so jam-packed I forgot to take a Mother's Day picture until I was tucking him into bed for the night.  As I think about being a mommy to Caleb and having another on the way, I feel so blessed to be surrounded by great moms around me.  I have a wonderful example of motherhood and commitment from my own mom, I have an incredible mother-in-love, I have a "mentor mom" Stephanie here in Korea, I have my Grandmas, my sister-in-love Jeni and so many great "peer moms" here in Korea and back in the States.  To all of you who have (and continue) to help me on my mommy-journey:  Thank you.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Steve's Force Field

Someone please ask our social worker to be sure to check UNDER our couches, they'll be nice and clean!

"Photos cannot pick up the use of the "Force"! I had complete control of this situation!!"

On another note, apparently my husband is crazy because he has decided we are going to Everland on Friday as a family!  Under normal circumstances this would be really exciting (we have never been but it is one of the bigger family attractions in Seoul, complete with a zoo, safari, water park, rides, games and parades...maybe similar to a Disney World in the States? And we have an opportunity to go for FREE) but considering the week we are in, it seems a bit much....He seems to think it will be "stress relief" and equal Caleb getting a "good night's sleep." We shall see, people, we shall see.

Monday, May 14, 2012

What's in a Week?

cleaning out the office!

We would really value your prayers this week!  Here's what is on our "to do" list in the next 6 days:

- This weekend a social worker from Small World Adoption will fly in from China to do our Home Study!  A home study is a big part of an adoption process and is an evaluation by a certified social worker of you and your family and your readiness to adopt and add a child into your family.  It is a detailed report of you family that includes a comprehensive list of documents, observations and interviews.  You can read more about it here if you are interested!

- Deep clean, clean, clean!  Although having an impeccable home is NOT the point of a home study, it still feels like you want our home to be in great working order before it is evaluated!  We have had a number of "spring cleaning to do's" that we have wanted to tackle so we figured, what better time?  We also completely  moved our office into our bedroom so we would have an additional bedroom for our Houser "Baby" #2 when he/she comes into our family!  We are still a long way off (likely) from that event but it is good to have an extra room to show the social worker we have room and are ready for another.  In the mean time, we are all set with a spare bedroom for any of you who want to come visit us!!

- As a part of preparing for our home study and new child, we need to complete several online training courses as well as read several books.  Our goal is to completely finish all our online training by Friday so we can discuss it with our social worker and also be ready with questions for her.  I (Sarah) am almost finished but Steve is just starting, so he'll have a lot to tackle on it this week.

- What books are we reading?  We are working on "20 Things Adopted Children Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew" right now.  We are also planning to read "The Connected Child,"  "Attaching in Adoption," "Toddler Adoption" and "The Out of Sync Child."  These came highly recommended by our social worker and a friend of ours who is trained as a social worker and has worked in that capacity.  There are a lot of things we need to learn about the hurts and wounds that our child will have when they enter our family and also the unique challenges that a child coming from a background in an institution will have.  If you are interested in reading any of these with us and talking about them, we would love to!  Also, if you are family or close friends and would like to learn more about helping our new child adjust or the challenges we will be facing as a family, feel free to check any of these out at the library, we will need all the help and support we can get!  If you have adopted before, what books did you find most valuable or helpful? If you are in-process right now, what have you liked reading?

- We need to finish up some final documents and paperwork for our home study. We have been working on compiling this for over a month and are getting close to finishing our giant "to collect" list.  It is slow going but feels good to be checking some boxes off and be close to finishing.  Now, just be praying for expedited paperwork as we will begin the waiting process to receive most of it back (for instance, since I was born overseas and need a certified birth certificate there will be some added cost, waiting and patience involved in requesting it etc).

- We have several people we are meeting with this week to encourage and who encourage us, looking forward to some time spent with good friends Monday night and Wednesday morning and night, as well as a doula planning meeting Thursday night (In June we will be offering two childbirth education classes and have some planning to do for those)!

- Wednesday night youth group, 7pm and some times scheduled with students as well as normal office times and meetings.

- Steve will be preaching this weekend at Church and he is also speaking at Tres Dias up in Seoul on Saturday evening. Please pray for both of these important talks and that the Lord would guide him as he opens the word - that he would be faithful and that the Lord would use him.

- On Saturday our Church will have a booth at the International Center - we will be selling food items to raise money for our summer missions trip so I am helping prepare and bake food for the event this week.

- Friday and Saturday our social worker will be coming to Songtan to meet with us, teach us, interview us and inspect our home.  Please pray for stress levels and a good visit!  We are actually more excited than nervous for this - I think it will be a great time to learn from her and hopefully glean wisdom in this process. But there is a lot to do to prepare and it is still nerve wracking to have someone coming to investigate you as a family and your home.  I know we are a loving family, ready for this next child but STILL having someone come to investigate you definitely brings some anxiety.

- Training and Raising up Caleb.  Last week and this week we have had some very challenging times with Caleb.  He is struggling with getting easily frustrated, with being disrespectful in the way he talks to us and interacts with us and also with some aggression towards other kids (pushing, hitting and taking toys away from them).  This has really concerned us and we are working hard to be consistent, firm and loving that he may not act in these ways.  We really could use wisdom in how to handle and how to respond - as well as patience with him!  Where oh where has our sweet little boy gone? I miss him and want him back!!!

That's our week! Will you take a minute to pray for us now and will you continue in prayer for us as you think of it this week?  We need your prayers!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

It's not a Game Anymore

Guest Post by Steve

This adoption has got me thinking about my life and where God has led me these last 5 or so years:  I've gone from a kid who did not take school seriously enough (and almost lost my chance to finish college because of it) , to a married man with a son and another child on the way, living and serving in a Church in South Korea.

Constantly since my Junior Year of college, God has been placing me in situations that have told me "grow up now; you can't afford to fail".  I don't know how else to see it. God has been calling me to step up and become a man and stop treating life as a game.

First it was the wake-up call that I wasn't quite doing well enough in college to graduate. That certainly woke me up.

Next came my marriage to Sarah. God called me to step up and lead the woman of my dreams down the path of faith and life.

Then 1 1/2 years later he called me to lead a Son down the path of Manhood, prompting me to quickly begin figuring out what it takes to be a man myself (A search that continues as I seek to follow harder after Christ).

Nine months later God call me to leave everything behind, pack my family and move us to South Korea to minister to Youth in Songtan, South Korea. This was the first time I had ever flown overseas (I didn't even have a passport yet) and the first time that I had ever worked for a church.

And now God is calling us to do the tedious work of gathering official documentation and compiling a folder of every single detail of who we are, so that we can be approved for adoption. And after said folder is complete, God will call us to a certain child, in a certain country that we will travel to a foreign land to receive into our family.

Time and again, God has been calling me to wake up. The man that I am today is a man who has been built up and propped up only by the grace of God, through many experiences that woke me up out of my adolescent/lazy world.

With God's help I pulled my grades up and graduated college and have continued my education by enrolling in Reformed Theological Seminary. I am currently working on my M.Div.

Trusting God, I married Sarah and we have challenged each other, loved each other through some hard things and have pursued God together for almost 4 years. She is one of the greatest blessing that God has ever bestowed on me, and I am a better man because of it.

Thanks to God I am working on stepping up to be the father and example that my son Caleb needs. I am not perfect, and neither is Caleb, but he knows that I love him and that I am helping him learn to be a Godly man.

We put all of our hope in God when we moved to South Korea. We trusted that God would help us get to South Korea and flourish here. God has been more than faithful and helped me to lead my family through the hard transition. We still face challenges and hard days but the Lord has been faithful to provide people in our Church who love and care for us as well as family and friends back home who work hard to keep in touch.

Now facing international Adoption, with a pile of papers surrounding me and a wife who is beginning to notice how overwhelming this process is going to be; I am hearing the call again, "grow up now; you can't afford to fail".

Life is certainly not a game and my family clearly needs me now!

Lord bless these steps as I try to step up again to the task You have laid at hand and give me strength to lead my family down the path we believe you have chosen for us

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Tomorrow is Sunday again. Seems to happen weekly. Sundays used to be dreaded days for me when we first moved here.  Steve left early and I was left figuring out how to get myself and a little one ready for Church all by myself, we walked to Church by ourselves (usually with me carrying him) regardless of the cold weather or snow, and Church started at exactly nap time.  Steve seemed to be busy from early morning until late night and I resented it, as I adjusted to our new life, new ministry and new country.

I'm happy to say, the Lord has brought me a long way in the past year and half.  With an adjusted attitude and outlook, I've come to enjoy Sundays immensely (although they haven't slowed down one bit).

Here's what last Sunday looked like, to give you a glimpse into our lives:

6am - Wake up
7am - Showered, Dressed and Ready
8am - Students and volunteers over for pancake breakfast before Church
9am - Sunday School for me, Nursery for Caleb, Youth Group for Steve
10am- Check on nursery volunteers, welcome visitors, head to Church
12pm - Linger, fellowship, meet new visitors and close out nursery
12:30pm - lunch with students and/or friends
2pm - head home and tried (unsuccessfully) to put Caleb down for a nap. Friends came over and hung out, students were in and out.
3pm - headed to Church for Concert of Prayer (quarterly event at church) - it was a great time, if you live in Korea and missed it, I would highly recommend the next one!
5pm - Picnic with small group
7pm - Korean Church service (we have these every Sunday but I don't usually go. They are in Korean but translated into English. If you live in Korea and have never been, I'd highly recommend...last week the guest speaker was from the States so they wanted Americans to be in attendance, meaning we all went. It was total fail, Caleb was a basket case by 10pm but we survived).

Each Sunday comes with it's variations.  Some weeks we have orphanage, some weeks we have Leadership meetings, other weeks fellowship luncheons etc (and most weeks we do not have 10pm services that we go to) but all in all, this is what Sunday has come to look like for us.  It's full and it's rich and it's good. It's also busy and hectic and crazy. Sometimes it is stressful but mostly it is fun and filled with people who are dear to us.  But regardless, we would love your prayers on Sundays, as we seek to reach out as a family and serve in our Church, in our community and especially in the youth group.

If you have a pastor or youth pastor or worship leader, deacon or elder at your local Church who serves you each Sunday, don't forget to remember them in your prayers on Saturday nights and Sundays and remember to thank them.  It is something I never thought of before we started full time ministry.  I wish I had - there are a lot of hands that help to make Sunday a day of rest and soul-feeding!

May your Sunday be worship-filled and Blessed.  Wherever you are, enjoy Him.