Friday, December 18, 2009

The Governor's Palace

While searching on the web about what to visit while in Williamsburg, I discovered that the week we were going to be there was homeschooler week which gave us significantly discounted tickets for the whole week and offered programs not normally available. One of those was visiting the Governor's palace. Since this was our "first week of school" I told the kids they better learn something. :)
I think they enjoyed it and Isaiah did pretty good as well.

Look they are all smiling and looking at the camera AT THE SAME TIME!
In the governor's garden going the wrong way! We had to turn around, even though Duane got a nice pic. Don't know how Ben was a head of us driving the stroller on the pebble drive. Hmmm! it just occurred to me, Maybe that is why the stroller wheels fell off a little later.
The governor's palace side entrance

Wanna know how many times it took to get this pic? 8
Ben on the air conditioned bus to our next stop, hmmm wonder if he can read?
Nathaniel sitting where he shouldn't -- read the sign behind him. He was getting teased
Yes i made them stand by the sign and we got a good pic despite Duane getting frustrated with me and the kids as it took breaking up fights and situating people where the sign could be seen. Say cheese!

Yankee Candle Factory

We headed out one afternoon to the Yankee Candle Factory and had a good time. We made candles, dipped candles, bought candles,bought candy at the candy store, goofed off in the toy store and dreamed as it snowed int he Christmas factory.

This was a pretty cool store. Christmas was everywhere and the little kids were mesmerized.
They even had one section where it snowed every 5 minutes. Seora loved this as real snowflakes drifted around her. You can always count on Seora, once cold weather hits to start wishing and dreaming of it to snow here in AL on Christmas.

Nathaniel and Andrew went off somewhere and we couldn't find them to take the picture so they are missing. (Maybe elves took them)
In the toy store, Isaiah tried on many hats. Here he is in the Birthday hat!
Then he became the king sitting on his rolling throne, with brother Ben pushing him around
Graham acting all goofy
Ben and I decided to make Candles! Shhhh! They are Christmas presents! (Family doesn't read this blog any way! :) )
I felt like I was in sand art class in VBS!!!!!
Lovely Ben!
Isaiah was interested in this when they popped out! Yikes! now it is only 6 days til Christmas. I need to be wrapping presents instead of blogging. oh well.

Little Miss Princess finally got her crown!
These two are double trouble
Isaiah got his head in on the knight in shining armor
WE had coupons for the kids to dip their candles for free
Allenni dips hers
Eli waited patiently. Well sort of.
The girls dipping theirs.
Some of them now hang on our Christmas tree. Andrew finishing up his candles

Williamsburg! BINGO!

WE had a great 4 bedroom Condo through our Wyndham Timeshare and one day while the other kids were out to play, The younger kids played Bingo while I fixed dinner.

They are listening intently to see if their number is called
Do I have it????

Sept. Trip to VA

In Sept. we had scheduled a trip to VA. Our first stop was 3 days at a Beyond Consequences Workshop in VA Beach and then on Williamsburg for a week. We were a little disappointed with the VA Beach Aquarium as half of it was closed to reconstruction. Compared to the Chattanooga Aquarium, it was a waste of money.

The seals were outside of the Aquarium and Isaiah did not know what to think. The other little kids were amazed
Daddy is taking the pic outside the Aquarium
Cool pic of a Manta Ray
It's time to pet the Manta Rays but not Isaiah. He was totally freaked out! He would start screaming and clawing at Maggie and if we even tried to get near the tank.
Ok, though Eli and Allenni loved the Chick filet cow, Isaiah DID NOT! This thing was out of water and could get him. Isaiah took off running and screaming in the Opposite direction! I finally caught him and had to hide his face in my chest to get past the cow!

Smile fishy
The girls and I. Maggie still had her braids. Seora was glad to have more females around
Awesome Ben, who just insisted on pushing the stroller. Fine with me!

My friend CB comes to visit - Late August

Well, I am definitely backtracking to catch up on what has gone on in the Carter family since we have been home for the last 4 months. It has been a whirlwind for sure and we have traveled more this year than we ever have. Our friend CB came over to visit us a few days after we got home.

Allenni is all about hair and CB is all game to let her fix it up while holding her son Jacob
Aha! beautiful! The 3D glasses made the doo! Ellie Hope is proud of her mama too!
Isaiah joined in the fun and brushed his hair.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Cakes

Hello friends and family,
A BIG Thank You to all of you who ordered Cakes from us at Thanksgiving!!! We were blessed and I hope you enjoyed the cakes. From the proceeds we were able to donate a significant portion to
1. The Trauma House(Feed His Lambs) in Uganda to buy Allenni and Andrew's friends back in Uganda some Christmas presents
2. To the Missionaries Scott and Brenda V. for a Christmas present
3. To John in Uganda, who Duane and I have helped put through Law school in Uganda and who was key in helping us secure passports for Allenni , Andrew and Isaiah as He marries his beautiful finace' this month.
4. As well as help pay some adoption expenses still owed our attorney in Uganda
SO THANK YOU!!! You have helped make a difference by your purchase.

So, We are doing Christmas baking and I wanted to send out the list so you could be thinking about what you wanted.
I will be out of country until Dec. 14th but please do send your orders by email to or leave a message on my phone at 256 710-2781. Orders will be available for pickup after Dec. 20.
A portion of these sales will be sent to
1. missionaries Jason and Sara Ann Ricketts who work in Thailand with young girls caught in the sex trade industry
2. and to Safe Harbor Orphanage in Nigeria where my dad has started an orphanage.
Many blessings and joy to you!
Melissa Carter

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Update from Carters and Thanksgiving Baking

Hi family and friends,
God has been faithful to complete what he started and we are so thankful this holiday season to be home with ALL of our kiddos!
Whew what a few months it has been! I cannot believe we have been home now for 2 months! What a whirlwind of activity.
For the most part, the kids have adjusted well. Of course, there has been the expected culture shock, the over stimulation of everything American and the getting used to living in a family structure. For those of us already living in this house, it has been the adjustment of adding three very active kids (can we say Whirlwinds) to our semi-quiet lifestyle. Personalities learning to live with each other, always having little ones rummage through your things if you leave a door open or things out, and the extra work of adding three new people to this family can wear and tear on you.
We all have had our days where we just break down and cry or feel overwhelmed.
I explained to the older kids, "This is a time of big adjustments for all of us, some days we handle with ease and some we don't but it is ok. It is like we are one big orchestra and at the moment we are all tuning our instruments and seeing how we work together and it doesn't at all sound pleasant but one day soon, we will find our song and we will all blend in harmony and it will be beautiful for the world to hear."
We know God has knitted this family together with all of our different skin tones and personalities and he makes no mistakes. He is faithful to sustain us and empower us if we keep our focus on him. Every one of our kids have been through so much hurt and trauma but God is faithful to continue heal their hearts and souls and draw them closer to himself.
Life has been so busy that I have not had time to blog much but have tried recently to work on some of the story from Africa and what's been going on in our life after Africa.
I decided to continue our African journey blog on
and start a new blog AFTER Africa at
I will be working on these blogs simultaneously so check both of them.

I am working on updating my website at where you can purchase prints, notecards, handmade jewelry, homemade bath salts, my homemade seasoning packets for dips and cooking, homemade pecan caramels and butter toffee and Melissa's Holiday Recipes on CD for Christmas presents and stocking stuffers.

I will also be offering three or four of my paintings as Christmas cards where you can send a unique Christmas card and raise awareness about orphans as well as benefit an orphan. So keep checking my website for info.

Also you can go to and order Adoption Christmas ornaments for your tree this year. There are many different designs to choose from. I will also be offering a limited number of signed ornaments from my website this year at

As November is National Adoption Month, the kids and I will be baking for the Thanksgiving holidays and a portion of the proceeds will go towards helping orphans or a family that is adopting. As most of you know I used to own my own bakery and catering business so baking is one of my favorite things to do.
We will be offering the following items for pickup on Tuesday the 24th and Wednesday 25th: Please call me at 256 757-6078 or 256 710-2781 or email me at with your order.
1. Italian Cream Cake - $18
2. Triple Strawberry Cake -$18
3. Chocolate Truffle Cake - $20
4. Pecan Pie Cake - $20
5 Gourmet Pumpkin Pie -$12
6. Pecan Pie - $15
7. Chocolate Pecan Pie- $15

Pecan pie Cake
Italian Cream Cake
Chocolate Truffle Cake

All Pies are 9 inch deep dish
All Cakes are 8 inch 3 layer
Cakes will be decorated similar as in photos but not exactly

Blessings to all of you as you begin this Holiday Season

Friday, October 30, 2009

I have another blog that covers the past two years......

I have another blog that covers the past two years and our adoption process of our three kids from Uganda.  Please refer to it to read that story by clicking here.
I have decided to continue Life After getting the kids home blogging here to make it easier as I am not finished blogging the trip to Africa. 

Abundant Life

We had a discussion the other night in our small group about the topic of Abundant Life. I wrote this note below after I got home and had thought about it some. I thought I would share it here on facebook to see what others thought.:

"I had some thoughts about our small group discussion this past Wednesday on abundant life. Though I didn't say anything in particular that night, I was listening and thinking and pondering what was said. Sometimes it is hard for me to verbalize what I am feeling/thinking until I have mulled over it some.

This is probably a given but I think that the abundant life Jesus talks about and that we deeply want has nothing to do with intellect, success, stuff, status, circumstances, what friends we have, earthly possessions or earthly happiness. It only has to do with knowing Jesus on a very personal level. When Jesus offered abundant life to people, he offered himself. Nothing else. The woman at the well- himself= living water. The demon possessed man- himself = sanity. The leper- himself = healing. The woman who poured the perfume on his feet- himself = wholeness. i could go on and on. Jesus IS the abundant life and when we have him, we therefore have abundant life.

I used to wonder how to know God. I would see people and think, wow they act like they really know God and Jesus personally. How do they get there? Can I get there? I want what they have. A relationship. Yes, I say I love God, but my words seem empty without feeling. I want to love Him but it is weird loving something I don't see or feel or experience. Maybe this relationship is only set aside for those in the ministry. I thought for me , that it was unattainable. But my heart was so intense on wanting to know if I could have it that I kept seeking. I simply asked God and told God. Can I know you really like that? His answer was yes!
I kept asking God to let me know him more. Let me know Jesus more and after a long Journey I realized one day that I was sensing God as real and that I truly deeply felt his love over me and I was truly and deeply feeling and giving that love back.

So I said all of that to say this, that to live the abundant life, there must be a personal relationship with the one who is abundant life. Jesus. Because if you are living arm in arm with Jesus then you are intertwined and locked into The Abundant Life. You hear his voice. You feel his touch, you see what he sees.

Which leads me into the question that Todd asked a few times, "so how do we minister to people who are going through stuff? How do we know what to say or do when we have never been in their shoes? " We do not have to have been in anyone's shoes to be able to minister to them because Jesus has already been in their shoes and suffered with them. If we are relationally linked to Jesus, then he will minister to them and we will only be the pathway that he used.
I think we as the church or christians have stressed over this too much. What can WE say or do to help this person? WE try to brainstorm or problem solve too much when the answer is pretty simple. WE can do nothing. Not one thing to help them. We can say words and give hugs but they are really earthly if they do not have the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in them. The hugs and touch are only temporarily comforting instead of life changing if they do not have abundant life in them.

Sure, sometimes God takes those who have been through things and have came out victorious and uses them mightily in His kingdom to help others in the same area, but he can also use a "raised in church gal" to help bring a drug addict to healing. But only if that "gal" has one vision, one goal, one mindset. One relationship. Jesus. If she is in Jesus and Jesus in her they are one and He is the source of THE LIFE. If that is the case, then they have to do nothing but be a vessel. They don't even have to speak. Jesus will speak volumes. His Presence will "ooze" out and spill out to be living water to that person, to be sanity to that person, to bring healing to that person, and to have that person become whole.
So no striving, or fretting is necessary. Jesus will take care of it. If we seek The Trinity only, we gain abundant Life and abundant life becomes the norm to us no matter where we are or who we are with or what our circumstances are. If we live Jesus and hear his voice, we live abundantly. We need to be the ones, that wherever we show up, an open heaven is there, Jesus is there and Abundant Life is there. Will we be willing to be the ones?"

My latest painting- Oct. 2009

Oct. 2009

This is my latest painting. The photo is not professional with the colors not exact and the photo cut off at the bottom but I just had to share.
The original is already sold but giclee prints will be available.

"Born in His Heart & Wrapped in His Arms"
As I was praying and asking God to give me a painting that would portray His heart about adoption and orphans, I started to see this painting come together in my mind. The more I pondered upon it the more I couldn't wait to get it sketched out and my brush into paint.
The painting is full of symbolism. The colors in the painting's background are bright and cheerful and cover the spectrum of the rainbow therefore illustrating the promises of God to the "least of these". If you look closely enough, you can see a map of the world in the background.
I added the adoptive parents in here because they are being the physical hands of God in this world by offering God's love to the child. The children represent various ethnic groups as well as babies, toddlers, older children and sibling groups. There are 14 children in here for a purpose. Fourteen in biblical interpretations symbolizes recreation, and spiritual perfection. Adoption recreates a family by other means than through birth. Spiritual perfection is demostrated on earth through adoption and gives us a picture of God's adoption of us all when the perfect gift was given to allow it. Everyone, including the adoptive parents, is engulfed in the heart of God. The dove implies that God is well pleased with those who look after His little children. The feather hidden in the heart, upper left is a reminder that we are in the shadow of His wings.
You could interpret that the arms wrapped around everyone are representative of the adoptive parents but in my mind they are not. They are in fact, the arms of God. The character traits of God as Father, Protector, Defender and Provider are represented by the masculine arm of God and the character traits of God as Mother, Caregiver, Nurturer and Healer are represented by the Feminine arm of God. They are entertwined, representing His complete perfection to be all these things.
-Melissa Carter
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