I hope you will visit my ministry website: http://ajourneyoffaith.net .
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Please join me in prayer this week, for our dear friends, the Pearson Family.
Mark and Lanae left today for the long trip to Ghana ... to bring home 3 precious children.
Please pray ...
... that they would be SAFE as they travel.
... that they would make all of their CONNECTING FLIGHTS.
... for God's PEACE and PROTECTION for their 5 older children at home.
... for a BLESSED meeting with their 3 new children.
... for an EXPEDITED processing of their I600 form. One of their children's health is failing due to heart problems, and they need to get her here asap. Children's Hospital in Seattle has agreed to provide free heart surgery when she gets home.
... for Comfort's HEALTH, that she would be healthy enough to make the trip home.
... for Brian, Josephine, and Comfort as they begin the BONDING process with their new mom and dad. (Brian and Josephine are siblings. Comfort has been at the same orphanage as the other two.)
We are also THANKING God for ...
... the financial provision for the adoption.
... the willingness of Children's Hospital to provide care for Comfort.
... the last minute provision of a free house to stay in in Accra.
... the work of a local Senator's office to get the I600 expedited at the U.S. Embassy.
Thank you so much, for joining me in prayer this week as I pray for Mark and Lanae and the children. I'll keep you posted when I hear of other prayer requests or praises.
Just a quick note to let you know that we are alive and well at the Big D house.
Gregg moved home Thursday night, so that we can have some extended time with him before he heads to Qatar. He will have a few extra days with us, and is now scheduled to leave on the 7th.
Sweet Cassie drove up from Oregon for the weekend, arriving at noon on Friday. She was also excited to spend some time with Gregg before he leaves.
Friday afternoon brought our high school track team's biggest event of the year ... the Twilight Meet, an invitational hosting 16 teams. So, the whole family headed to the track from 3:00-9:00. I worked in the Hospitality Room all night, along with a couple of other moms, as we baked pizza and served food and drinks to all of the coaches and workers for the meet. (I also baked 100+ of our favorite cookies for the Hospitality Room, because they were such a hit 2 years ago.) We can watch the meet from the room, so actually it's like having Box Seats in a warm comfy room, while everyone else survives 6 hours in the cold stadium stands. This is my 3rd year working in the Hospitality Room, and I figure that I'll probably be in charge the next 11 years as we will probably have kids running track at the high school for all of those years.
Josh and Ben both ran the 800 this week, and they both ran on the same 4x400 relay team. It's really fun having both boys on the same team: Josh as a Senior and Ben as a Freshman.
Everyone came home from the meet exhausted; but I spent a little time on the computer, and then Cassie and I decided to chat for awhile. We didn't pay attention to the time, at all, and soon discovered that it was 3:45 a.m. Oh dear! Sooo... fun to have chat time with my eldest daughter.
We slept in on Saturday. Had a video chat online with Carissa in Argentina. Took an afternoon nap. Went to church Saturday evening, and then had friends over for dessert.
Today, we headed out at 10:00 for the 150 mile drive to Grampa's house. Since he is 90 years old, we didn't want Gregg leaving the country without having some Grampa Time. First, we had lunch with some dear sweet friends of ours (that live by Grampa). After lunch we hopped onto their computer so that we could have another video chat with Carissa. It was so fun for her to be able to chat with the R family, also. They have been an "auntie" and "uncle" to our kids for over 15 years. Then, Cassie headed home to Oregon, before we went to Grampa's for dinner. We got home at 9:00 tonight, and everyone is quite tired after a busy weekend. It was a very long but fun day, as we always treasure the time we spend with the R family, and with sweet Grampa.
I know that my blogging pace has slowed down significantly the past couple of weeks, as I have been navigating so many difficult things. But, I believe that I am back on track; and I look forward to spending more time with you blogging friends in the coming weeks.
Hope you all had a blessed weekend!
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
breaking news ...
... of change headed this way
... of unexpected "good-byes" coming
... of a new job ... in a faraway land
After the breakup of Gregg's engagement in February, he's been restless ... struggling to know where he should be, and what he should now "do" with his life. He's had a part-time job for 4 months, but some weeks he'll work only 10 hours, and other weeks 30+. He's applied for MANY other jobs, but nothing has come through ... until today.
As we are preparing for Lindsey to be home soon ...
we found out today that Gregg will be leaving.
As Lindsey returns from 6 months overseas ...
Gregg will be leaving for 6 months overseas.
As Lindsey is looking forward to time at home ...
Gregg is ready for a new adventure.
As Jeremiah will be returning from the M.East in May ...
Gregg will be returning to the Middle East next week.
(Shortly after Gregg came home from the Middle East
last June, Jeremiah left for the Middle East in August.)
The revolving door at the Big D house is swinging again.
Usually we have plenty of time to plan for these good-byes.
This time we have 1 week to help him pack his bags.
Usually we are just as excited as the kids are
for the new adventure they are headed out on.
This time, I really don't want Gregg to leave.
(After 4.5 years in the army, we have enjoyed
having him home for the past 9 months.)
Usually I can plan when the next time is
that the family will all be together.
This time I have no idea.
(So much for hopes of a family picture any time soon.
August 2007 was the last time we had all 10 bio. kids
together, and we've added 3 kids since then.)
Oh yea ... where is he going???
Gregg is heading to Qatar, to work with a security firm.
His first contract is for 6 months,
but he hopes to renew the contract and stay longer.
He promised me it will be much safer than the 2.5 years
he spent in Iraq. (This is supposed to keep mama happy.)
He says we can talk on Skype,
just like I do with the other kids.
Gregg is excited.
Mama is excited to see Gregg excited.
Yes, Lord ...
... they are Your children.
... we have always encouraged them to
follow their dreams.
... we have introduced them to Your world,
through books and movies and family discussions.
... we trust You to take care of them while they are gone.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I had a good laugh this weekend, when I got an email from one of our "young adult adopted kids" (ie: the "big kids" that have been a part of our family for many years, without official adoptions taking place).
She was writing to share with me many of the ways that I have been an encouragement to her over the years. One area that she has struggled with is the area of how to set standards for what movies to watch or not to watch. So, she said ...
You know how people will say, "When watching a movie or tv show, ask yourself, 'Would I be willing to watch this if Jesus was sitting next to me?' " Well, that question has always seemed a bit too "abstract" for me. It's too easy to pretend He's not. However, I do tend to ask myself, "Would I be watching this if Laurel was sitting next to me?" Not to put you on a pedestal, but because I know that you have godly standards that I can (and should) adopt for myself.
Too sweet! Don't worry, I do NOT think of myself as anything like "up there with God", but I am glad that the young adults in my life do know that I have high standards, and that they do see the good in those standards, even if it's not always easy or fun to live by those same standards.
Monday, March 23, 2009
When I wrote the post Bloggers Anonymous, I promised that I would write a more serious post, about the same subject, at a later date.
Since the past week has brought so much deep reflection in other areas, I'm not yet up to going deep in the Internet Addiction topic. However, I just found a couple of posts that I think you would enjoy. Make sure to read the comments following both blog posts, as you will see that this is a very serious topic, and one that we each need to look at in our own lives, to see clearly where we fit.
Kimba has THIS to say about keeping our priorities right.
While I do spend quite a bit of time reading and writing blog posts, I do not believe that, for me, there are any serious changes that need to be made at this time. I am not neglecting my husband or my children. (Just look back at all of the Family Fun posts, to see what keeps me busy.) As a homeschooling mama, I could spend every single minute of every single day serving my family. But, I believe it is actually healthy for the whole family for mom to be able to have a little area of her life that is "just for me" ...
... It's okay to want to have friends.
... It's okay to use the internet for a creative outlet.
... It's wonderful to be able to minister to others
through this blogging world.
I also know that my addiction is NOT "out of hand". I can and do set boundaries for my internet usage.
When we were out of town this week, our cute little Inn had wireless internet in the room. I did take my laptop. I did check my emails a couple of times per day. (We did not have cell phone reception in the room, so we told the kids they could email us if needed.) Through my email, I was able to read the sweet comments that you all posted regarding my last, very difficult, post. But, I did NOT read all of your blogs. So sorry! I checked in on a couple of blogs where I knew the families were walking through difficult times (so that I could pray, if there were updates). However, I knew that I could catch up with the rest of you this week. (And, I've been home over 24 hours and I still haven't felt the need to check all of your blogs. You ARE important to me ... but I know that your blogs will still be here tomorrow and next week.)
Also, our family heads to the Christian Renewal Center in Oregon for several weeks per year. When we are there, we have no internet or cell phone service; and, it's WONDERFUL. I LOVE those weeks with no technology. While there is a coffee shop a 20 minute drive away (with wireless internet), I have never been there. (Alas, though, my adult children do pay it a visit once or twice per week ... so, maybe I haven't taught them very well in this area. But, I try to teach by example.)
I do want to mention, though, that while I do spend a bit of time in the blogging world, there are other places that I have made the conscious choice NOT to spend my time.
... I do NOT watch t.v., (except on the occasional weekend away with my dear hubby).
... I very rarely watch movies. (Maybe once a month, but usually not even that often.)
... I do NOT have a Facebook account (much to the disappointment of my adult children and many friends). I know this is something that I could get addicted to, and I believe that my time is much better spent ministering to others (and being ministered to) through the Blogging World.
... I have NEVER been on eBay. I've met a few women addicted to that.
... I used to check Craigslist every day, but haven't looked at it in months. If I NEED something, I'll take a look. But, I will NOT visit Craigslist just to see what "amazing deals" I can find.
... We do NOT have handheld video games, Play Station, wii, or X-Box in our home. All of these can be extreme "time wasters".
... Only 1 or 2 friends even know my cell phone number. It is used primarily for family communication. If my friends want to chat, they can either call me on my home number, or send me an email. I do NOT need to make myself available to every person every minute of every day.
... I do NOT text message family and friends. (I've sent less than 10 text messages in my life, and they were responses to family that texted me.) I believe that voice communications (actually TALKING to people) is MUCH preferable to texting. Yet, I know people that literally send thousands of text messages each month.
... I do NOT have an iPhone, so I canNOT check my emails throughout the day, wherever I happen to be. I do have an iPod Touch (which I got free with purchase of my computer); but, I do NOT take it with me so that I can access my emails from a coffee shop. Actually, I don't even know how; and I've never even connected to the internet with it. I just have a few songs on it, and I played Tetris on it during my 24+ hour trip to and from Argentina last September.
And, again, while I have tried to teach by example, my adult children do ... have iPhones and X-box; they do text message a LOT; they do have Facebook; and they sometimes watch television and movies that I wouldn't watch. But, the reality is that this just shows that we EACH need to seek the Lord for what He would want for each of our individual lives. I can teach by example, and share concerns if I have them, but each of my children has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and I must trust that He will now lead and guide them in these everyday decisions.
While I may be hanging out with my blogging friends a few hours per day ... for ME ... it's "okay". But, it wouldn't be "okay" if I was doing it in addition to all of the other above listed "addictions" that people can allow to control their lives.
I hope that each of you will take some time to really analyze the time that you spend and/or that your family spends on each of the listed areas, and seek the Lord to see if there are any changes that He wants you to make.
Do I have my priorities straight every day?
Should I spend more time on my
relationship with the Lord?
Should I get out and exercise more?
(However, this IS an area that can become an idol in some people's lives.)
Have I come a long ways since the days of my
Soap Opera addiction?
(As mentioned in my Bloggers Anonymous post?)
So, let me know ...
What are the areas of "addiction" that you struggle with?
What has the Lord taught you about those "addictions"?
What choices do you need to make, this week,
in order to get your priorities more in line
with the Lord's priority list for your life?
Thank you dear blogging friends, for ALL of your support after my last post.
I will write more tomorrow, but wanted you all to know that I'm doing much better.
My dear hubby came home for lunch on Friday and said, "I've arranged for Gregg to come stay with the kids for the weekend. So, find us a place to stay and let's take off for a few days."
We headed up to the mountains, through the blowing snow, and found the most wonderful Inn in Leavenworth (my most favorite get-away spot). It had the warmth and hospitality of a Bed & Breakfast, with the privacy of a hotel.
We had a beautiful room with a king bed, a cozy fireplace, wireless internet (so I could read all of your wonderful comments), a t.v. w/ a dvd & vhs player (and a large collection of movies to borrow downstairs).
We had a WONDERFUL weekend of rest, relaxation, good food, fun shopping (not buying ... but shopping), an amazing movie (I'll write a review) and just TIME ... to be away, to be together, to process, to pray, to talk, to be silent in our thoughts.
When I would begin to feel a bit guilty about spending any money for a get-away (although we got a great deal), I would just remind myself that a weekend in Leavenworth is much cheaper than therapy. So, I think I need to schedule these a bit more often.
Thanks again, for lifting me up with your support and prayers.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Do you ever wonder ...
... how people can misinterpret your thoughts or actions,
when they seem so clear to you?
... how people can misread your intentions,
which you believe you have accurately spelled out?
... how people can fail to see your heart?
Do you ever wonder ...
... how some people can see you so differently
than you see yourself?
... who you really are, if it is so easy for people to see
another side of you, that you just don't see?
... how people can judge you so quickly,
when they haven't taken the time to get to know you?
Do you ever wonder ...
... which picture is correct:
the picture that group #1 paints of you,
or the picture that group #2 paints of you?
... how one character attribute can be seen so differently:
group #1 sees it as a major character flaw, while
group #2 sees it as a major character strength?
Do you ever wonder ...
... how God sees you?
... who, exactly, God created you to be?
... if you've messed up the design that He created?
Do you ever wonder ...
... how you can possibly be
all that He wants you to be?
... how you can possibly be
all that other people want you to be?
... if the two sides are even compatible?
Have you ever had someone sit you down for "a chat" and proceed to tell you everything that they feel you've ever done wrong (and the picture they paint isn't very pretty) ... and then they finish by saying, "I'm so glad that I was able to share with you. Thanks for listening. I feel so much better now." (while you feel like you've just been kicked so hard you can't possibly get up).
I just had that happen for the 3rd time (yes, the third time) this year.
Every time ... I have sat and smiled ... for one hour, for two hours, for three hours ... as I felt like I was in the boxing ring, without any gloves.
Every time ... I have nothing to say. I have no defense. The accusations catch me so off guard that I can't imagine how the person could have ever come to such conclusions.
This time ... I'm down for the count ... I don't have the energy to get back up ... I never even signed up for the fight ... I never punched back ...
This time ... I just want to get out of the ring ... I want out of the spotlight ... I want to hibernate somewhere with my family, so that I can't be kicked any more ...
Lord, I'm down and out tonight. This fight was just one punch too many. I can't get back up, in my own strength.
I need you, Lord ...
... to show me who YOU want me to be.
... to help me not to listen
to the taunting voices of the enemy.
... to show me if there are any areas of pride
that I haven't seen.
... to help me not to judge,
as I know so well the pain of being judged.
... to show me who my friends are.
... to show me how to be a friend.
... to help me to be weak,
when I need to rely on Your strength.
... to help me to be strong,
when you want me to stand up and move on.
... to help me shine with Your light, and to
give You all the praise for what You have done
and what You still have to do in my life and
the life of my family.
Thank you Lord ...
... for my family that loves me,
and doesn't kick me when I'm down.
... for my husband who prays for me,
and tells me I am who God wants me to be.
(Obviously, everyone can use a little work here and
there; but Papa loves me and sees the good in me.)
... for my blogging friends that will "listen",
any time I need to share.
... for helping me pick myself up after the last
two knockdowns ... which gives me the confidence
to KNOW that you will pick me up this time, as well.
No ... we are NOT adding a baby to our family. While I would love to, I think we really are "done" now. I'll just keep playing with my Bible Study Babies that I get to take care of on Thursday mornings, until my children bless me with grandbabies (which, I know, they are looking forward to doing).
Awhile back, I received an email from a mama of 7 kids (ages 2-12). She would love to have another baby, but is concerned about how she is going to homeschool with a nursing baby and major lack of sleep. Not only is she concerned about the months following the arrival of new baby ... but she has difficult pregnancies, also, which result in a "very crabby mama".
Her question is ...
"How does a woman have her family grow and still be able to get things done?"
She says ...
"I am behind with the homeschooling now because of our adoptions. Throw a nursing baby into the mix, and a few kids with learning disabilities, and I am afraid we won't get anything done!"
Now ... instead of giving her my thoughts and ideas right now, I would like to ask YOU ... my faithful readers, for YOUR ADVICE. I would love it if you would leave a comment, or pop me an email with your advice for this sweet mama. Then, I will compile all of the answers and add my own thoughts in a follow-up post in a few days.
Thanks! I look forward to hearing from you. I know that I have many readers, with much wisdom, that follow my blog.
Oh ... you don't need to be a mama of 5 or 15, to answer. And, you don't need to be a homeschooling mom. But, those of you with some experience in either the large family arena or the homeschooling arena are highly encouraged to respond.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Today is the day ... it's been a full year now, since we brought the children home ...
... a year since they arrived in America.
... a year since they met all of their brothers and sisters.
... a year since they started homeschooling.
... a year since they began attending our church.
... a year since they started Bible Study Fellowship.
In many ways it's been a fun and exciting year ...
... as we have explored beaches and lakes and Mt. Baker.
... as we have visited the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle,
and Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC.
... as we have gone to Christian Renewal Center
in Oregon, 3 times.
... as they have met special friends,
and discovered special family traditions.
(The Allen Family and their cabin at the Hood Canal,
and George & Shirley and their cabin at Coeur d'Alene.)
... as we have now celebrated all 3 of their
"birthdays in America", along with
Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
... as we have learned how to do Yarn Braids,
and they have shared stories of Life in Ghana.
We've DONE a lot ... we've gone many PLACES ...
we've LEARNED a lot ... and it has been GOOD.
However, I would be remiss if I left out the fact that it has also been a very difficult year ...
... as we realized that we could never meet
the children's expectations of America.
... as we tried to teach them how to "Be Thankful".
... as we tried to blend the lives of six children,
two sibling groups, within a six year age span.
... as we tried to figure out how to make up for all
the "lost" years of schooling. Where do you begin,
with a 12 year old?
... as we tried to teach concepts that our other children
had learned during their preschool years.
... as we tried to explain Scripture to them.
... as we tried to teach them to be obedient,
and not to lie.
... as we tried to build their attachment, while trying
to understand our own attachment issues.
... as we tried to help our older children have healthy
relationships with the "new kids": not to baby them,
but not to expect too much, either.
... as we learned about racism, both the negative,
and the overly positive type.
So, it's been a year. We see growth in many areas. Yet, in many ways we expected to be further along on this journey by now. We know that we should be celebrating ... yet the journey ahead still looks overwhelming in so many ways.
... after weeks and weeks of trying to teach the children to tell time, they just "don't get it". Today, Jacob had a story problem that said, "The party started at 6:30 and ended at 8:30. How long was the party?" Jacob didn't come to ask for help, but Ben found him making tally marks on a piece of scratch paper. He was counting the minute marks on the clock and was going to end up with 120 tally marks, in order to know that the party was 120 minutes long. However, then he would have never known that 120 minutes equaled 2 hours. For the past 3 months, we have focused and focused and focused on "telling time". We have workbooks. We have videos. We have clocks all over the house. Any suggestions???
... sometimes Rachel can do her schoolwork so well. Other times, it seems she hasn't learned anything. (Not only here at home, but in her 2 years of schooling before she got here.) One day last week, Rachel told me, "I don't know minus." The next day, she said, "I don't know plus." Two days later, she said, "I don't know equal." Day after day after day, I teach her these things. We use workbooks. We use manipulatives. We use story problems. We use "every day life". Any suggestions???
... some days the children play so well, and we really feel like they have "made the transition". Other days, they definitely "take sides". The new kids on the block can really set out to make trouble for the old kids on the block. And, the old kids on the block aren't immune from the temptation of retaliation. Then you throw in the big kids ... some always take the sides of the "new kids", others tend to better see the perspective of the "old kids".
Now ... of course ... this is not every day or every week ... but it still happens. We always work through it, and we all learn and grow from it. But ... it is NOT easy. The Lord showed me early on in our transition period, that our situation was very similar to the blending of families when two divorced parents decide to marry. Rather than adopting 1 or 2 younger children into an already existing family ... we brought 2 compete sibling groups together, that were all the same age. As I've said many times, this can be GOOD. But, it can also be TOUGH.
Oh, I hope you hear my heart. I, truly, am not complaining. I count it a privilege that the Lord has given us these dear children to teach, to train, to raise as part of our family. But, somedays ... some weeks ... I'm just tired. And, this past week has certainly been "one of those weeks".
(I've had a very difficult week, in multiple areas of my life ... which brings me to a very melancholy place ... not a place of joyful celebrations. Which, in fact, is why I haven't blogged in a few days. I try to live by the motto: If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. So, I've been REALLY quiet for a few days.)
We continue to "run the marathon" that I have mentioned several times this past year. This week, we are climbing a hill, against the wind ... but, hopefully it won't be long before we are again on a smooth, flat stretch, running with the wind. Either way, we are running this race. We will not quit. We know this is the race the Lord has called us to. We know He is running right alongside us. So, we will ...
"... run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (We will) fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith ..." Hebrews 12:1-2
One of my blogging friends wrote a post today ... and the timing couldn't have been more perfect for me. (She didn't know she was writing it for ME, but God has a way of orchestrating those things.) You'll want to check out Our Walk By Faith, to read all of her "Experiences and Thoughts" about attachment; but, I'll give you a short synopsis.
Since, as the post above states, we are still dealing with transition/attachment issues every now and then, I found these thoughts very interesting.
"Most of the adoption literature focuses heavily on the child's attachment, while giving very little focus, or none at all, on the parents' attachment to the child. (Or, as in our case, the attachments between 13 siblings.) I am writing this post as I have had a chance to encourage and pray with others that recently adopted and are stunned by their own feelings, or lack of them.
I have been given the opportunity many times now to share with families some of the normal feelings and reactions parents experience. First of all, it is quite rare (although a wonderful blessing) to have instantaneous connection to your older child at placement (when they come home). That makes complete sense to me. If someone put a child on my lap at the church nursery and said this child was now mine, I certainly wouldn't be completely attached to him. It takes TIME. Second of all, attachment DOES come.
After I returned home and knew I was committed to these kids, but not completely attached to them, I did some searching on this subject. God graciously kept bringing adoptive moms of older kids into my path. Many, many adoptive moms of older kids have stated that it generally takes half the child's age to the child's age at adoption to feel fully attached. If you are adopting a 6 month old, 3-6 months is no time. If you are adopting a 5 year old, that time is significantly longer at 2-5 years. But remember, it is a continuum of attachment, not from unattached to fully attached in one moment."
What??!!! The part about how long it takes for families to attach to their older adopted children, was something I had never heard. I've been in contact with a LOT of adoptive moms, but this is not something that many talk about.
... we adopted Rachel at 6 years old,
which means it could take 3-6 years
for attachment to take place.
... we adopted Sarah at 9 years old,
which gives us 4.5 - 9 years for attachment.
... we adopted Jacob at 12 years old,
which means he could be 18-24 before we are attached.
While helpful in understanding why there is still so much difficulty in blending our families, this new information is a bit overwhelming (and even discouraging). We so want Jacob to attach to our family. We don't want to "just survive" the next 5 years, until he turns 18. Not only is Jacob the oldest, and thus could take the longest for attachment to take place, but he is also the furthest "behind": academically, physically, spiritually, emotionally. Sometimes it is just plain overwhelming to try to comprehend how we can possibly get him ready for adulthood, in just 5 years.
Again, I am not sharing these things to try to "put down" our precious children in any way. I want to protect them (by not sharing ever difficult trial we face with them); yet, at the same time, I want to be honest. I want to share that adopting older children is difficult. I don't want to portray any type of Fairy Tale Adoption.
But, while adopting older children is difficult, so is ...
... parenting 13 children.
... living on a very tight budget.
... homeschooling children with academic challenges.
... parenting 5 adult children, with 3 living overseas.
God has not promised us an easy life. God has promised that He will walk with us through each and every challenge that comes our way. He will give us wisdom for our life journey, and strength and energy to face every day.
Dear Lord, I really need your strength and energy today. I need your perspective, to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and to know that we WILL finish the race. I pray for each member of our precious family, that you will continue to knit our hearts together. Give us an extra dose of patience, compassion, and love for each other. Help us each to KNOW that this IS the life journey that you have called all of us to. And, Father, while the statistics show that it could take many more years before true attachment happens with our children, I pray that you will do a mighty miracle in our lives and help that transition to be faster and smoother than expected. Thank you Lord, for each and every one of our children. Thank you for the amazing things that you have already done in each of our lives. Thank you for all that we have learned in just this past year, and help us to seek your wisdom and strength for the years to come.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Last week, Elijah (age 7) and I were riding in the car, listening to a cd. Suddenly, I realized that he was singing along, word for word. And, this was not a children's song; this was Jeremy Camp.
Clear as day, from the back seat, I heard, "There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears."
Before he could continue I asked, "Do you know what that means?"
"Yes, that will be the day when Jesus comes back."
"When will that day be?"
I replied, "God hasn't told us when that day will be; but, on that day, Jesus will come back and He will take us all up to heaven ... every person that has given his life to Jesus."
"Have I done that?"
"Yes ... remember?"
"Oh ... I wrote my name in the Book of Life at church."
"Well ... it's not really writing your name in the book that matters."
We were almost home, so I didn't continue the discussion right then. But, this conversation brought up a concern I had had for many years. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, the Children's Pastor that we had for the past 7 years. However, I have often been concerned about the practice of explaining the gospel to children, and then having them come forward to physically write their names in a big, Book of Life. I always hoped that the children wouldn't think that by writing their name in a book, that they were some how earning their salvation. (I have also been concerned because I know that many children write their name over and over in the book, every time the gospel is presented. So, they obviously don't quite understand the full concept.)
* * * * *
About 4 days later, Elijah came into my room early one morning, to snuggle with me. After a few minutes he got very serious and asked,
"Are there two ways to get to heaven?"
"No. There is only one way. Why?"
"Well ... I thought there were two ways."
"And, what were those two ways?"
"I thought that you could either ask Jesus to forgive your sins, or you could sign the book of life."
I held him close, as I explained, "No. There is only one way to get to heaven. The only way to get to heaven is to ask Jesus to forgive your sins, and to live your life for Him."
He was crushed. His heart was heavy. While he didn't know this term, it was clear that he felt that he had been taught a false doctrine. He had believed what he had heard in children's ministry ... and now I was telling him that this was not true.
Quietly, Elijah told me that he couldn't remember the time that he had prayed with me and Papa, for Jesus to come into his life.
I asked if he would like to say the prayer again. "No." I asked if I could pray and he could repeat after me. "No." He was truly devastated by this new knowledge.
I held him close, and finally said, "Maybe we can talk to Papa about this after he gets home from work." "Okay."
* * * * *
That evening, after putting the other kids to bed, I told Papa that Elijah and I would like to talk to him. Elijah and I proceeded to both share about the conversations that we had had. We asked a few more questions, and Elijah did tell us that the new director of Children's Ministry had prayed a prayer for the children to repeat after her. This is good. But, somehow, he had still believed that it was the signature in the book, that bought him his salvation.
After awhile, I asked Elijah if he wanted Papa to pray, and he could repeat the prayer ... and, he agreed. This was followed by a very sweet prayer time with Papa and his youngest son.
While I am not at all upset with our Children's Ministry. They do a FANTASTIC job with the 500+ children that come through their doors. I am left wondering ... how can we (parents, volunteer helpers, children's pastors, etc...) do a better job of helping children to really understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Both Elijah (7) and Josiah (8) attend "big service" every week (along with all of our other children). They don't want to attend the Children's Program during the weekend services. They want to hear our Pastor's sermons, and "learn more about God", as they often tell me. While they are both still beginner readers, since they were each 5 they have followed along with the sermon outline, filling in the blanks (with words that they can't even read). But, they have each personally desired to be as involved in the service as they could possibly be. They want to learn. They want to grow.
I pray that the Lord will continue to open up the opportunities for these great discussions, and that we will always remember not to make things "too simple" for them. God can, and will, give these little ones much knowledge ... if we give them the opportunity to learn.
I encourage you ...
... don't expect your children NOT to listen.
... don't send them away to be with the little kids, if they want to be in "big service" with the adults. (At our church, there are very few young children that attend the main service. But, that doesn't stop us. We take a whole row of chairs, right up front, with our extra-large family. We LOVE worshipping and learning with our children.)
... do include your children of all ages in spiritual discussions. (Some of it they will understand, some of it they won't.)
... do continue these discussions (with family devotions) throughout the week, not just on Sunday.
... do NOT simplify the gospel so much, that it becomes a false doctrine. Even if that isn't your intention, try to think about how your children might perceive the words that you say and the actions that you encourage them to take.
The next day, Elijah drew us a picture, of Jesus on the cross. He wrote, "To Jesus. From Elijah." And, he taped the picture on the middle of my bedroom door. Then he asked,
"Can you leave that picture on your door forever?"
"Yes. So that you and dad will always know that I love God."
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Oh no ... I just found out that I have a serious disorder ... I have an addiction ...
"Hi. My name is Laurel. I'm addicted to blogging."
Seriously, I just read an article that gives, "3 Reasons Moms are Addicted to the Internet". And, this is serious stuff. This article has quotes from the "professionals" talking as if this is as serious as a drug or alcohol addiction. Now, I am sure there are some women that are completely over-the-top, but I do fit their profile.
Let's look at a few snippets of the article ...
" ... my Internet habit was slowly but surely crossing the line. Sometimes I found myself up into the wee hours of the morning, surfing the web while my family slept. I read the news, kept up with friends, and looked up answers to endless questions. I wrote my personal blog and read dozens of others, just for something to do."
Okay, readers, be honest now ... how many of you fit this profile? Yes ... I am an addict.
"These moms are contributing to the growing global addiction. There's a movement among psychiatrists to recognize Internet addiction as an official mental disorder (just like alcohol dependency). And a recent Stanford University national survey found that 14 percent of Internet users find it hard to stay away from it for several days at a time; 9 percent try to hide their "nonessential Internet use" from their loved ones; 8 percent admit they use the web as a way to escape problems."
If I am at home 24/7 with 7 of my kids, yes, I would find it hard to stay away from the Internet for several days at a time. Yes ... I am an addict.
"You're likely not the kind of addict that Moore has seen ... women who don't bathe and abuse drugs to help them stay "up" for more online time. You may have noticed, though, that going online has become an imposing part of your life, which, at least, means a load or two of laundry goes unwashed (and who cares about that?)"
Oh no ... I must be seriously addicted ... I have sat at the computer in my bathrobe (therefore, avoiding bathing). But, no, I am not abusing drugs. (Is Green Tea a drug? I'm addicted to that too.) Yes, I have probably neglected my laundry, too. But, there's always more, so why sweat it? Yes ... I am an addict.
"In addiction treatment, we talk about the fact that there's a void," says Moore. "Whatever that void may be ... whether it's emotional, spiritual, physical ... typically, we're trying to fill it." For many new moms, she says, that void is the isolation."
Yes, I admit it. I have a void in my life. I have the serious need to interact with people over the age of 15. I love my kids dearly, but I also need to interact with adults. So, yes ... I am an addict.
"Being a mom of young children can be very solitary," agrees Jay Parker, cofounder of Internet/Computer Addiction Services in Redmond, Washington. So, it's easy for them to turn online, he explains, to find other parents and create a world there where they are not alone. Once that world is created, it becomes an escape that moms may turn to whenever they're stressed, lonely, bored, or sad. In addiction, they become dependent on that escape."
I am so glad that a "professional" finally has realized that the career of motherhood can be very solitary. But .... WHY is it wrong for these lonely moms to find friendships online??? If we don't have stay-at-home moms next door, to share a cup of sugar with and chat over the white picket fence with ... because all of the women in the neighborhood are busy with their careers ... WHY is it a bad thing that we have found another way to find like-minded moms. (Yes, I realize some of my dearest blogging friends work full-time, so please don't be offended.) But, since I have not worked full-time this year, I have had much more time for my blogging. So, yes ... I am an addict.
Oh yes ... I was so excited to find out that there is an Internet/Computer Addiction Service in Redmond, WA. I'll make sure and pass the info. along to my husband, so that he'll know where to commit me when he finds me comatose on the keyboard. (Note to my big kids that read this ... you should probably make note of this resource, as I can't tell Papa about it. Remember, I must hide my "non-essential" Internet time from the man that I love.)
"If it were just an escape that moms were looking for, however, they could flip on the TV or pick up a book. But according to a recent Babytalk.com poll, more than double the amount of moms choose the computer over books or the boob tube during their babies' naps, showing that they're looking for something more than an escape: connection, yes, but also a way to express themselves."
Again ... WHY is this bad??? Ummm... the "boob tube" is a better escape? Because Soap Operas are so healthy??? Oh man ... confession time ... "Hi. My name is Laurel. I used to be addicted to Soap Operas. Now, I have transferred that addiction to my Blog." Yes ... I am an addict.
"I'm just a mother in real life, but online, I can be a whole person," says Ashley, a mom of 2 year old twins from Las Vegas, of her four-hour-a-day online habit."
This author sounds like she thinks Ashley should be committed to a treatment center and her children put in foster care. Come on ... I'm going to give Ashley the benefit of the doubt (which relieves some of my Addiction guilt), and believe that she is online during the kids' 2 hour afternoon nap, and again for 2 hours after they've gone to bed at night. Is there really a problem with this???
Did you notice where dear Ashley lives ... Las Vegas. Maybe she should head downtown, pop the babies into a double-stroller, and find some real addictions at the Casino. Would that be better?
Having personally been the mother of 2 year old twins ... I can understand her addiction. I can sympathize with her. When I had 6 children under 6 years old, I am sure that I would have been addicted to the Internet, if it had been invented. But, I had to suffice with my old "boob tube" Soap Operas. Did any of you see Luke & Laura's wedding on General Hospital? Yes ... I am an addict.
"Think you might be hooked? Try keeping a journal of how often you go online for a week. Then assess what you're missing out on when you do it ... sleep, family time, work? Also note in your journal what was going on each time you decided to sit down at the computer. Was it right after a fight with your husband? Were you bored? By figuring out the triggers that send you seeking refuge online, Moore says, you can come up with alternative activities that help you deal. If you're stressed, for example, you might take your baby out for a walk."
Moore also suggests making small weekly goals that get you involved with the real world: Join a playgroup or grab coffee with a friend. And if you can't control your habit on your own, talk to a therapist who deals with addiction."
Nope ... I'm not going to do it ... I am not going to keep a journal. (I'm a rebellious addict.) Yes ... I could be sleeping right now. No ... I don't use it as an excuse to get out of Family Time. (I LOVE Family Time.) No ... I am not missing out on work. Remember, I lost my job, which is why I now find myself "seeking refuge" online. Seeking Refuge??? Whatever!!!
Well, now ... I can't really find any playgroups for the 7-15 crowd. And, the kids are too big for McDonalds Playland. I do occasionally join the "real world" by grabbing coffee with a friend. But, is it really better for my family, for me to leave 7 children home alone, so that I can go have coffee with a friend, or for me to stay at home, and chat with friends online?
Nope ... I can't control the habit. And, nope ... I can't afford a therapist. Since I lost my job, which caused this addiction, I can't afford treatment at the Internet/Computer Addiction Service.
Looks like I'll have to create an online therapy outlet. Would anyone like to join "Bloggers Anonymous" with me? We could chat online everyday, just to make sure we're not spending too much time online, and to encourage each other not to be online. How's that sound?
Oh ... as for the "professionals". I have some therapy that I think they might benefit from. Why don't I trade places with them? I can go sit in their comfy offices, play on their computers, and chat with their business associates, while they come spend quality time with my kids (since I have neglected them due to my addiction). But, the only difference is ... we will make sure to unplug all technology while they spend a month at my house. No computer, no phone, no television. Just kids and books. Oh, and games. I'm sure my children will want to teach them Candyland and Yahtzee. And, they could bake cookies, too. I'm sure they'll enjoy it. But, if they get stressed, I can find a baby for them to take for a walk. They will feel so empowered by this experience that they will certainly choose to get rid of their own internet once they get home.
We got word this afternoon that Lindsey is safely back in Germany. Yea!
Thanks for all of your prayers, as we prayed for safety and for her to be able to get out of Bangladesh when they were on the verge of a civil war.
She has asked for prayer for a girl on her team, however. This girl lost her passport and was not able to return to Germany with the team. One of the leaders stayed behind with her, and they are in India, trying to work with the embassy to get a new passport. So, prayers appreciated for these two young ladies that are stuck in India. Thanks!
Only 5 more weeks until Lindsey is coming home. Yippee!!! We haven't seen her since September, and before that, she hadn't lived at home since last April. So, we are looking forward to having a big sister at home again.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
My sweet blogging friend, Pam, is celebrating her one year blogging anniversary with a whole week full of blog give-a-ways.
You might want to pop on over to her blog, I'm Gonna Miss This, to win ...
... a Coffee Mug and some Starbucks Coffee
... a fabulous Cookbook
... several different Beth Moore Bible Study items
When you visit Pam's blog ... just tell her I sent you. :)
I wanted to let you all know that the March edition of Serious.life Magazine is online today. And ... I am one of the featured writers. Yea! Not only do I have an adoption article published in this issue, but I have 3 pictures published in the photos section, and I also have a full-page ad for my ministry.
I am hoping to get a little ministry business through this avenue. If you want to help me out, you could give a little heads up on your blog, pointing people to my article in Serious.life. Thanks!
Serious.life magazine includes a lot of feature articles, photos, and blogging commentary. It has articles about interesting people, families, adoption, personal finance, spiritual life, humor, and all sorts of everyday life "stuff".
Serious.life magazine is published by Brent Riggs, an adoptive father with 7 children. Brent is a faith-walking believer, and he gives away a lot of ads for charities and ministries. This magazine truly is a ministry, and not just a business.
The subscription for Serious.life is FREE, and I know you'll enjoy it. So, take a minute to check it out today, and sign up to get future issues at: www.seriouslifemagazine.com
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post, here, that introduced you to the older half of our family. Today, I would like to introduce you to the younger half.
Benjamin (15) ... This young man has a servant's heart like I have never seen in a teenager. I KNOW God has amazing stuff planned for his life. Ben loves to run track and cross country, and he LOVES to do photography. He is about to get two business licenses, to start his own businesses. One will be a photography business, and he already has his first "shoot" lined up. The other will be a lawn care business, which he also has work lined up for. Ben is a hard-working, money-saving teen. Just after his 15th birthday, he had saved enough money to buy a $1,000 Nikon D80 camera.
Hosanna (12) ... This young lady jumped from "little kid" to "big kid" in the course of one month last spring. As the 3rd youngest of 10 bio. kids, she had always been a "little one". However, less than a month after bringing home 3 "littler" kids from Ghana, both of the at-home big sisters left (for Germany and Argentina). Suddenly, Hosanna was the oldest girl at home, and she was sharing her bedroom with two little sisters. Then, after Jeremiah headed to Jordan, Hosanna became the 3rd "big kid" at home, rather than the 3rd youngest. She stepped into the role of "big kid" very well, taking on much responsibility with the little ones and becoming an amazing Mama's Helper. This little lady can put on a full meal deal for all 10 of us at home ... no problem.
Jacob (13) ... While Jacob is a few months older than Hosanna, age-wise, he is definitely one of the "little kids" still. Not only is he very small for his age, but he has not yet caught up emotionally, academically or spiritually, either. However ... Jacob has come a long way since arriving here a year ago. Jacob is a hard worker, and he enjoys helping Ben on some of his lawn jobs. Jacob wants to learn, even though it is very difficult for him. And, Jacob loves to color and draw.
Sarah (10) ... is a very hard worker, and is always willing to help around the house. She has learned much from Hosanna this year. Sarah has a very gentle spirit, and gets along well with everyone. She is an amazing artist, with much talent for drawing. Sarah, too, has learned so much this year, and we look forward to helping her continue to mature in every area.
Josiah (8) ... is a sensitive young man, a deep thinker and a deep feeler. Josiah has always loved artwork, so he has really enjoyed having Sarah to work alongside. While Josiah can play quietly by himself for hours (building with Legos), he is also a very outside, athletic little guy. He loves to run, ride his bike, rollerblade, and build things in the backyard.
Rachel (7) ... is either very happy or very sad. You never have to wonder how Rachel is feeling. Overall, she is a fun and bubbly little girl, who LOVES her "virtual twin" Elijah. They are two peas in a pod ... full of life, energetic, and fearless. Rachel thinks she can do anything any of her older siblings can do, and she is not afraid to try.
Elijah (7) ... is cute, cuddly, fun, bubbly, goofy, fearless, and athletic. Elijah loves to play strategy board games (the ones meant for the 10 and above age group). He plays Settlers of Catan, Chess, The Farming Game. He also loves to play outside whenever the weather permits. And, "E" as he is often called, is our most computer savvy kid under age 15. Seriously, he was surfing the web when he was two years old. Elijah is also a very deep thinker when it comes to spiritual issues, and we have great conversations with him about our pastor's sermons each week. Elijah came face to face with God, twice, while he was in a coma when he was 3. So, he had a taste of heaven, and wants to learn all he can about the Lord.
I hope you have enjoyed getting to know our family a little better through these posts. If you'd like to know more, I encourage you to hop on over to my ministry website: http://ajourneyoffaith.net where you can visit our family page, find out more about each of us, and view a family slide show.
This is a continuation of the previous 2 posts ...
so you'll probably want to read them first.
As I read through the last 2 posts, I thought that maybe it would be a good idea to show a concrete example, of choosing which lens to see life through.
A Bad Situation
At the beginning of January, I was going through a very difficult time in many areas of my life.
#1 My husband had hurt me deeply, which had created a brick wall in our communication.
#2 I had had a conversation with my son and his fiance where I finally had to excuse myself saying, "I am going to leave now, because I don't want to say anything I will later regret." (Later explaining to my son that the situation with Papa had created very raw emotions, and that I was unable to communicate clearly at the time, without emotion.)
#3 After a whirlwind two months, with visits from Carissa (3 weeks), Cassie (10 days), and Jeremiah (1 month) ... I was physically exhausted. During the same two months, I had also gone on 3 out-of-town trips, and we had had other out-of-town guests as well. While I LOVED having the big kids home, and entertaining guests, I was just plain tired.
#4 After a very difficult fall of homeschooling, and a relaxing winter break, I didn't know if I was ready to jump back into the difficult homeschooling that lay ahead for the spring. Although I have homeschooled for 18 years, our new children have presented QUITE the challenges academically (as I've shared in other posts).
So, which lens did I choose to look through when I viewed the facts of the situation?
The "Poor Me" Lens
#1 My husband is so mean. I can't believe he did that to me. I don't deserve to be treated that way.
#2 My son's fiance is so wrong. I can't believe she's mad at me. I haven't done anything wrong.
#3 Why do I have to keep entertaining my children's guests? Why won't they just give me a break? I just wanted to rest all of Christmas vacation.
#4 My children are so dumb. I can't believe they don't understand what I'm trying to teach them.
The "Why me?" Lens
#1 Why did I marry such a jerk? Why is he treating me this way?
#2 Why are my son and his fiance fighting with me? What could I have possibly done wrong?
#3 Why did I ever want so many children? They just wear me out.
#4 Why did I possibly think I could adopt 3 new kids. Why didn't I get some that I didn't have to work so hard with?
The "It's All About Me" Lens
#1. Doesn't my husband realize how wonderful I am?
#2 Can't my son and his fiance see that I'm always right?
#3 Why can't I just plan my vacations around what I want to do?
#4 I think I'll just throw all of the kids into public school, so that I can do what I want to do with my days.
The "Help Me Lord" Lens
#1 Lord, I know that communication is a two-way street. Please show me how I can break down the brick wall that I've erected between me and Papa. Forgive me for the anger that I have held against Papa.
#2 Lord, I know that I have a lot to learn as a future mother-in-law. Please show me how to break down the wall between me and Heidi. Forgive me for "losing it" during what could have been a helpful conversation for all of us.
#3 Lord, thank you for ALL of my children, and ALL of their friends. Thank you for giving us a house big enough to host all of our kids' parties and overnight guests. Help me to show my kids how much I love them. Help me to get the rest that I need, so that I can enjoy my time with my children and with their friends.
#4 Lord, thank you for these 3 precious children from Africa. Thank you for their desire to learn. Please, Lord, give me wisdom in how to meet their academic needs. Give me the energy I need to meet the needs of all 7 of the children that I am teaching at home this year. Thank you for the opportunity that I have to teach my children. Thank you for the blessing of homeschooling the past 18 years.
Everyone of us has the choice to make, daily, about which lens we choose to look at our life through. In January, while I definitely had a few of the "poor me" thoughts, and the "why me" thoughts ... I CHOSE to focus on the "Help me Lord" perspective.
When I wrote the post on January 4th, about "running away from home" ... I chose not to "tell all", and "air my dirty laundry" ... I chose to tell you that I was "exhausted and at the end-of-my-rope physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually." I didn't "run away" in order to make my husband feel bad ... or to make my children feel bad ... I "ran away" because I knew that I needed time with the Lord, time to rest, to pray, to think, to plan. (Which is what I shared with you all on my blog.) I chose to focus on what I needed to do with the Lord, and what He needed to do in ME, rather than focusing on what I wished the Lord would do with my husband, my son's fiance, my children, etc...
As I said in my previous post ...
I am not responsible for other people's actions.
I am responsible for my reaction.
I hope that you will make the choice ... today, tomorrow, and next week, to CHOOSE the "Help Me Lord" perspective, when you face trials of all kinds.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. ... Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
James 1:2-6, 12