I hope you will visit my ministry website: http://ajourneyoffaith.net .
Monday, May 11, 2009
Skype gave me the most wonderful Mother's Day present ... an AMAZING, God-ordained, two hour chat with my family.
I logged on to Skype and saw that Jeremiah (in Amman, Jordan) was online. After just chatting for a minute or two, Cassie (in Oregon) got online, and we added her to a Conference Call Instant Message Chat. Within a few more minutes, Gregg, Lindsey, and Papa all jumped online at home. And, amazingly, a few minutes later, Carissa (in Argentina) got online. We had 7 people, on 7 computers, in 4 time zones, 4 continents and 2 states that all "happened" to get online at the same time? And, we could all instant message in one conversation? Wow God!!!
We chatted about a lot of random stuff for the first half hour. I was just getting used to this whole Instant Message thing. I love my email and my blog, but I don't really do the instant message or text thing.
After about 30 minutes, Carissa had to say good-bye for awhile (sad!), but the Lord then turned our conversation to some amazing spiritual things that are happening individually and as a family. We shared dreams and visions for our lives and for our family. The Lord brought clarity and bonding like we haven't seen before (with kids living all over the world the past 5 years).
I can't share details right now, but I would ask that you pray for our family as we are seeking the Lord diligently for clear direction in some major decision making. Four of us have been reading Crazy Love, and we want to live our lives radically for the Lord. (We've always been known as the radical bunch ... but we could get even more radical.)
We are passionately in LOVE with the LORD, and we want to SEEK HIM ... SERVE HIM ... and SHARE about HIM in each and every way that He calls us to. We want to know His will for each of us individually, and for our family as a whole. We believe He has called us to do MORE than we can even imagine.
Praising the Lord for the gift of Skype ... the gift of instant messaging ... and the GIFT of an AMAZING family, which is more than I could ever have imagined!!!
After a quick trip to the Embassy this morning, to turn in the missing piece of paperwork, we were off for a shopping day. What an experience it was! Neither Lanae nor I had visited the Medina Market on our first trips to Accra. This is definitely where the action is. The Supermarkets in Accra are for the foreigners ... THIS is where the locals shop.
While we did purchase a couple of things,
we mainly "window shopped" (without any windows).
This is common, every day traffic.
People in Ghana don't care much for lanes.
Yes, the green car is driving right at us.
No, we haven't been hit yet.
Yes, our taxi driver maneuvered to the right of the first car,
and then in-between the cars.
The Medina Market
Grains and Flour
This was NOT for dinner tonight.
Little Red Peppers
And, a simply adorable little market girl.
Lanae, Comfort, and our friend, Daniel.
Daniel has adopted us as his new moms,
and we are BLESSED by his daily guidance.
The pure kind, from "up North".
(This is, actually, what brought about this shopping trip.
We needed some to bring home for the kids.)
Our Favorite ... Fish
Lanae did NOT buy some for dinner.
But we now know where our chef
probably got last night's dinner.
The Art Centre
My favorite shopping place
from our first trip.
A Beautiful Drum
Bought for a friend's son.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Our Mother's Day Dinner
Lanae was so excited for her dinner.
She even encouraged me to order it.
Then, when she saw the head and insides,
she fed it to Comfort.
I enjoyed my Beef Stroganoff and Fried Rice.
It almost felt like I was in California,
when I sat outside to read today.
I LOVE the Palm Trees and green grass;
all I was missing was a swimming pool.
When you have a roadside Vacant Lot ...
there is no need for a Furniture Store.
It is actually VERY beautiful, handmade furniture.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
This is a difficult post to write. There are so many perspectives that our time at the hospital can be viewed from.
There were many trained workers (doctors, nurses, assistants) at the hospital, doing the best they could do, in the work situation they find themselves in. I was left wondering if they have any idea of what they are missing ... what a "modern hospital" could offer the people of Accra. Do they not know that a more sterile environment would mean more successes with their ill patients? Do they not have water, to wash the sheets? Or, do they not have enough sheets to change them between patients?
This is a very large hospital, with many buildings. We were in the "Children's Ward".
We entered the building to a room FULL of young moms and babies. Babies, babies, everywhere. I had to wonder if they have a specific day and time set aside that people bring their babies. Most of the children that morning were under 2 years old, with a few sporadic sick older children coming in, also.
After we had only been there a few minutes, a woman walked up to the nurse's desk and unwrapped a towel in her arms. In that towel, was the tiniest baby I had ever seen. (And, I've seen a LOT of babies over the years.) Seriously, this baby had to weigh less than 3 pounds. Lanae and I just stared for a minute ... deeply touched by the sadness of the situation. In "our world" this child would be in an incubator in P.I.C.U. ... here, he was wrapped in a dirty towel, in a dirty hospital room. Would he survive?
We quickly found out that this child was not a rare case ... over the course of the next 10-15 minutes, we watched 5 more mommies unwrap their tiny, tiny babies to get weighed by the nurses. Does anyone know what the Ghanaian weight measurement would be in, and how that would be equivalent to U.S. pounds? I chatted with one mother later, and she said her daughter was 1.98 . (Actually, I guess it could be pounds. They were soo... tiny.)
We wondered what causes so many premature births. Then we realized that they might not even be premature. Maybe they are so small from lack of prenatal nutrition for their mommies, or lack of nutrition after they were born. All of the mommies were nursing their babies. But, if the mommy isn't healthy, than she can't produce enough milk for her baby. How can we help these babies?
While we were deeply saddened by the situation of the tiniest babies, there were also lighter moments ... moments shared with a smile and laughter between the young Ghanaian women and the old, white "Obruni" mama. The women were all taking their turns getting their little ones weighed. They had to be ready to weigh them as soon as it was their turn. So, they had to strip their children naked and wrap them in towels or blankets until it was their turn (so that they wouldn't waste time taking off their diapers when it was time to get weighed). One woman carried her, probably about 1 1/2 year old, son up to the desk ... put him on the scale ... and he started "urinating" (Ghanaians always use the proper word). She quickly grabbed him off the scale (so that the nurses and their piles of paperwork wouldn't get wet) and just stood there in the middle of the room, holding him at arms' length, with him peeing and peeing all over the floor. All the mommies in the room smiled and laughed, each knowing that it could have been their child. The next few women just straddled the puddle while getting their children weighed. Then the head nurse came around the desk and squirted a bit of detergent on the puddle. Awhile later, a young man came with a mop.
Observations from the waiting room ...
There is no air conditioning ... but I found myself realizing that the patients must be thankful that there is at least electricity.
The doors and windows are open, to circulate the air ... but I was saddened by the fact that this allows more flies and mosquitoes to enter, bringing with them more disease.
There were large fans, cooling the air ... but I had to wonder if they also move the germs around, causing yet more illness.
There are no answers for these problems. As I said, they are doing the very best they can, within their circumstances.
There was a young girl (maybe age 8-10) brought in ... carried limply in the arms of her father. She couldn't even stand to be weighed. Her father had to get on the scale with her in his arms, then hand her to someone else to hold, while he was weighed by himself (in order to subtract the difference). We had to wonder ... where is the Emergency Room? Where are the beds to lay her on? No one was in a panic. They didn't seem to see the "emergency" of it. But, maybe this is what they see everyday? Maybe they already know that she won't survive? Maybe there aren't any beds available in the Sick Room? (We didn't see her later, in the Sick Room. Was she sent home to die? We had to wonder ...)
Observations from the Exam Room ...
Two large, old wooden desks in the middle of the room ... for patients and doctors. I realized that with the way the chairs are set up, they could have 1 doctor on each side of the desk, talking to their own patient in chairs placed next to the desk. Doctors sharing a small desk? Unheard of in "our world" ... yet, I am sure that they are thankful to have a desk.
A couple of curtains hanging from a frame made of metal bars, to shield the one bed in the room. Lanae and I cringed as Comfort lay down on the dirty, wrinkled sheet that was hanging 1/2 way off the bed. Please Lord, don't let this hospital trip bring illness to Comfort. (We were soo... thankful for all of the shots that we have had for our travels.)
Later, the 2nd intern (?) examined Comfort right at the desk in the middle of the room. She just pulled her dress up to listen to her heart. Maybe she realized that it was better to be a bit immodest, than to lay on the dirty bed.
Observations from the Sick Room ...
(which we had to walk through to get to the Lab Room)
This was the most heart-breaking room of all. It was a very crowded room, filled with beds and family members standing next to their sick children.
We wanted to hold our breaths ... not knowing how many diseases were represented here. Instead ... we prayed.
There was a child with oxygen tubes ... and babies with I.V.'s
We had to wonder if any of these children would make it home.
Observations from the Lab
The doctor decided that he wanted some lab work done on Comfort. Comfort didn't like that idea. She kicked the lab tech. and cried LOUDLY (for which she was reprimanded by the lab tech.) Lanae just thought, "She's a spunky one."
The room was crowded, so our driver and I were asked to return to the waiting room. I had followed, on purpose, because I wanted to see all that I could see. So, I was glad that I got a peek, but glad also to be able to leave the Sick Room area.
Lanae made sure that they used a clean needle for Comfort. Yet she was surprised when the lab tech. didn't even wear gloves for the blood draw. Aren't they concerned about AIDS? Don't they know that a pair of gloves could save their lives? Can't they afford gloves? Should I buy them a case if gloves? Would they wear them if I did?
It was sad to see the conditions of this hospital, compare to what we are spoiled by in the U.S. However, I often realized throughout the day, that there are many Ghanaians who cannot even afford, nor travel to a hospital. So, the people we saw were actually the more privileged of the people in Ghana.
I don't have pity for the people here. I have great respect for them. They are a beautiful people, in a beautiful country. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to come again ... and to see yet another side of the living conditions here in Africa.
At the same time, I am always left wondering ... How can I help? What can I do? Where would my limited money be most useful? Most appreciated? My heart is to give ... to help ... to teach ... to assist ...
My last paragraph says that I have "limited money". I'm embarrassed that I even wrote that. I am so very wealthy compared to the people here. Should I live on granola bars for a week (and my free hotel breakfast), and give what's in my wallet to the people I meet? Seriously, I am praying for guidance. I want to step out in faith. I want to go where God leads. I want to give in a sacrificial way.
Please pray with me ... that the Lord would guide my giving this week, and that the Lord would guide my spending. And ... if you want to give me a little that I can give to others ... just let me know. I am so thankful that the Lord brought me here to help Lanae and Comfort ... but I want to do more. Would you like to join me? Would you like to chip in $10 to help those that the Lord leads me to here in Ghana? About 150 people read my blog every day ... can you imagine what the Lord could do with $1500? (Just $10 per person.) Let me know your thoughts ...
I know you all are waiting to hear about sweet Comfort ...
First of all, Comfort is doing VERY well. Last week, she had several incidences where she was close to death. She had a wonderful, American pediatric nurse caring for her at the orphanage, but her situation was critical. This week, she has her mommy with her ... and she has made an amazing recovery from "critical" to "serious". It really shows the affect that our mental state has on our physical body. When she was losing hope that her mommy would come back and take her to America, it affected her physically. (The mental state of a "broken heart" can certainly affect a body that already has the physical state of a broken heart.) This week, not only does she not have any swelling in her body, nor has she had any chest pain since we arrived, but her arms and legs are warm today. (They have been cold for a long time, due to lack of blood circulation.) We are Praising Jesus ... for a mommy's love ... and for His healing power.
Because Comfort had had her last scary episode on Tuesday of this week, Lanae had arranged for her to see a cardiologist at the local hospital, as soon as we arrived. So, even though she was feeling better, we took her to the hospital to make sure that there weren't any problems that we weren't aware of.
Even though we had an appointment, it took us about 3 hours before we actually met the doctor. During that time, several younger professionals (interns or residents?) spent time with Comfort. Each of them wanted to check her out thoroughly. We quickly figured out that because she already had a diagnosis from an American Pediatric Cardiologist, that Comfort was a good training tool for these young docs. They could listen to her heart, hear the differences from a healthy heart, and learn what the diagnosis would be for this type of heart problem, if they are to hear it in another patient later on. They were both very nice, very professional, and always gentle with Comfort.
We spent a little time with the Doctor, and he was very pleased to see how she was doing. He had been contacted by the very concerned American doctor, after the reports of her condition earlier in the week. While there was nothing that he felt needed to be done for Comfort at this time, he did give Lanae his personal cell phone number ... which will be invaluable if Comfort does take a turn for the worse before we can get her home.
While it was quite a drive out to the hospital, and while we did have to sit for several hours waiting for the doctor, our time at the hospital was quite a eye-opener for both Lanae and me. I'll share more about that in my next post ...
Thank you for all of your prayers for Comfort. We have told her that many people in America are praying for her.
We are REJOICING for this wonderful hotel we are staying at. We have AIR CONDITIONING ... WARM WATER ... and INTERNET. Woo hoo!
Last year, we stayed at a very nice Guest House, but we had to pay extra for the air conditioning (so it was rarely used) ... we took cold showers ... and we had sporadic internet.
I slept a full 8 hours last night, whereas last year we would lay awake for hours, dripping with sweat. In my month here last year, I NEVER got more than 4 or 5 hours of sleep at night. What a difference that will make this time.
And, a warm shower in the morning. You can't believe what a treat that is. Oh yes ... Comfort also got to take her very first bubble bath last night. What fun!
Contrary to the hotel's brochure ... we DO have to pay extra for the internet, but it is working much better than the connection we had last year at the Guest House. So, we are thankful.
Also ... this hotel has FREE airport pickup and drop-off. I figure that my internet costs would have been paid to taxi fees ... so I won't complain.
And ... they have a FREE "American Breakfast" every morning. Now, it's not quite what the brochure advertises ... but it is food, and it is free.
Guess what the name of our hotel is? It used to be the Town & Country Plaza ... but this year it changed names to the "Hotel Obama". Too funny!
We LOVE the location of the hotel, as it is just down the street from Shop-Rite, our favorite Grocery Store, and my favorite "Market" (for all of the fun arts & crafts stuff). I'm hoping to do some shopping today. I brought a BIG suitcase so that I could bring home a drum for a dear friend's son.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Yesterday, as we pondered our options for the day, we knew that we needed to file the I600 form. However, we didn't quite know the best way to go about it. Do we just go to the Embassy, and face the likelihood that the guards will turn us away and tell us to come back when we have an appointment? Or, do we call and try to make an appointment, with the likelihood that we will be told to come in next week sometime? We also know that if we call, there will be the likelihood that we will be transferred to a voicemail, and our message will likely never be returned. (All of the above were the things we faced over and over when we were here a year ago. If you haven't yet read about our 6 week process to get the I600 approved, pop back to Feb. and March 2008.)
Well, we went to the Embassy ...
and God opened doors.
It was AMAZING ...
the people that God led to help us.
We filed the I600 and they started processing it immediately. A couple of hours later, we got a phone call asking us to get one more piece of paperwork from the orphanage. We phoned the orphanage director, and he told us he would try to get it from the social welfare office. Hopefully, we will be able to file this one paper on Monday and get approved on Tuesday. They are really trying to expedite things so that we can get Comfort home for her heart surgery.
After the I600 is approved, we need to take the children for a medical appointment, and then make an appt. to get their visas. Please pray that each step of this process will go smoothly, and that we can bring the children home at the end of next week. We were so blessed to watch the Lord work yesterday, and KNOW that His hand is upon our process.
Oops! Just noticed that I never posted this yesterday ...
For those of you who have not traveled internationally (and driving to Canada doesn't count), I thought I would give you a little peak at what Jet Lag looks like.
This is the timeline in Pacific Standard Time:
9:30 am - leave home
eat mocha and muffin on drive to Seattle
2:00 pm - lunch in Seattle airport
7:00 pm - dinner on flight to Frankfurt
everyone else is sleeping ... but we aren't tired ...
midnight - breakfast
(it's light out and the flight attendants
are saying "Good Morning")
3:00 am - depart Frankfurt (we haven't slept yet)
3:45 am - lunch time (I had just fallen asleep.)
7:00 am - dinner time
(the smell almost made me vomit.
all I wanted to do is sleep)
9:00 am - after a couple hours of sleep
(with many interruptions)
I get up and eat the cold "dinner"
from 3 hours ago.
10:00 am - Arrive in Accra.
2:00-4:00 pm - I sleep
(It is 9-11pm here, but "naptime"
After a couple more fitful bouts of sleep, I finally get up at 2:30am (Accra time) ... read the Bible ... go back to bed at 4:00 am ... pray for a couple of hours ... and get up at 6:00 am. By 7:00 I am finally tired (because it is midnight back home), but we must get started on our day.
Long day ... much accomplished ... nap from 4:30-6:30 in the afternoon ... and then go to bed at 10:00 and slept 8 hours. Yea!
This jet-lag turnaround actually went very well.
I've always dreamed of a European vacation.
So, I thought it would be fun to fly Lufthansa
this time, rather than Delta.
Since Lindsey lived in Germany for a good part
of the past 6 months, I thought it would be nice
to get a little glimpse of the country she loves.
Well ... I got a little, tiny glimpse.
I had a 10 minute European vacation,
just enough time to walk briskly through
the Frankfurt Airport.
We did have a pretty good view through the windows,
as we approached Frankfurt. We saw a lot of bright
yellow fields. Lindsey ... are those daffodils? or what?
When we finally landed, got off the plane, and rode a
bus to the terminal, our next flight was already boarding.
So, we walked quickly from one end of the terminal
to the other far end ... and off we were to Africa.
On the way home, we will probably have a 5 hour layover
in Frankfurt. So, we will have enough time to eat some
German chocolate, and the yummy soft pretzels that
Lanae has told me about.
Oh well ... so much for Europe.
We are looking forward to the coming days here in Africa.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
We made it to our hotel in Accra, Ghana ...
26 hours after I left home.
It was a looong journey ...
but we are glad to be here.
It was so different arriving this time ...
... nothing is strange and different.
... everything is familiar.
... I don't even notice the smells,
that were so bothersome last time.
... the traffic didn't scare me.
... I have such a love for the Ghanaian people.
... I look at the young adult men, and wonder
what Jacob will look like when he is older.
... I sat by 7 year old twin girls on the plane,
and saw a lot of little Rachel in them.
We have Comfort with us tonight.
She was brought to Accra to be here when we arrived.
We will go out to the orphanage tomorrow,
to pick up Brian and Josephine.
Thanks so much for ALL of your prayers!
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
I just found out ...
Lanae and I are leaving for Ghana tomorrow.
I have 16 hours to pack.
(We thought we were leaving on Saturday.)
Please continue your prayers for Comfort (age 8).
She has taken a turn for the worse this week,
with chest pains.
Please pray for ...
... healing for Comfort
... travel mercies for me and Lanae
(Seattle - Frankfurt - Nigeria - Ghana)
... wisdom as we seek health care in Accra
(to stabilize her enough to make the trip home)
... QUICK paperwork processing
Thanks! Next update ... from Ghana.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Sunshine & Beaches & Kids
We enjoyed a picnic at the beach today,
with my sweet friend, Linda, and her boys.
I am thanking the Lord for a relaxing day ...
... Bible Study babies this morning.
... picnic at the beach this afternoon.
... out to dinner with my dear husband.
... a walk at the park after dinner.
... small group: sharing and prayer.
As I am heading into a time of CRAZINESS ...
... Hosanna and I off to another homeschool
convention in Eastern Wa. tomorrow - Saturday.
... a track meet for Josh in E. WA on the way
home from the convention.
... arriving home LATE Saturday night.
... a prayer time with Mark & Lanae on Sunday.
... kids' dentist appts. Monday morning.
... and ... OFF TO AFRICA next week. Woo hoo!!!
Praying for sweet Comfort tonight ...
... for health.
... for strength (physical and emotional)
... for peace that her mommy is on the way.
... for hope that she WILL get to America
to see her doctors that are waiting for her.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Long story ...
More details tomorrow ...
I had to get passport photos today ...
I had to FedEx my passport to New York today ...
I emailed several hotels and guest houses today ...
Yes ... I am going on a trip ...
I am ... GOING TO GHANA ...
When? Oh ... NEXT WEEK ...
Have I been praying that God would USE ME?
Have I been praying that God would STRETCH ME?
Have I been trusting God for MIRACLES?
Remember a couple of weeks ago, I asked for prayer for Mark & Lanae, as they traveled to Ghana to bring home their children. Then, I updated the prayer request by telling you that they had to come home without the children. Well ... Lanae and I are headed to Ghana to PRAYERFULLY ... Bring Those Children Home.
Biggest Prayer Request tonight ...
Pray for Comfort's health. She is just 6 years old and in need of heart surgery as soon as possible. There is an American woman at the orphanage this week, who "happens" to be a pediatric nurse. She phoned Lanae today and said, "Comfort is not doing well." So, PLEASE pray for Comfort ... that the Lord would bring healing and that the Lord would keep her healthy until we can get her home and to Children's Hospital in Seattle.
Biggest Praise Report tonight ...
Someone that Mark and Lanae knows has offered to pay for my plane ticket. (Just in case you were wondering how I could possibly be making travel plans to Africa, when I have been praying to buy shoes and school books for my kids.)
More prayer requests to come.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Sarah had a Hair Day today, and this time she asked for short braids. I really like the longer ones, but there is one big bonus to shorter braids ...
... a MUCH shorter Hair Day. Only about 6-7 hours today.
Since people often asks how
long Sarah's natural hair is ...
we took this pic.
Almost 1/2 Done
Monday, April 27, 2009
Today, I found a theme as I read some of my regular daily blogs. And, those blogs had links to other blogs with the same theme. The theme: R.A.D. - Reactive Attachment Disorder.
I am not one that likes to label children, especially since those labels often lead to, what I believe to be, unneccesary medical interventions (ie: drug the kids so that they'll behave better). I also get frustrated when labels are used to excuse negative behavior, without any attempt at behavior modification. Yes, labels may be able to help identify and explain a child's behavior; but I do not believe they should be used to excuse and allow the negative behavior patterns to continue. Now, don't think I just happen to be a mom that has children without any issues ... I have one child that was labeled ADHD, and others (along with my dear husband) that would be given that label if we asked for a label.
I was pleased to see that today's blog posts tended to agree with the opinion of not labeling ... but, rather, explaining behavior patterns. I especially liked what Laura Mouro's blog had to say about this particular label:
"In my opinion, RAD is not a "disorder" that an adopted child either gets or does not get diagnosed with. I think that the symptoms descriptive of RAD are a reaction that every adopted child has to some degree. Now, some obviously have RAD to a greater degree than others. But, honestly, can an (older) child (non-infant) go through what an adoptive child goes through and not have signs and symptoms of RAD?"
Here are a few links to some of Laura's posts:
I also found Christine's blog, and this post ...
I am always learning from my sweet bloggy friend Donna, as she researches educational delays and brain development. Today she wrote about ...
And then there is my email and bloggy friend, Kristin. She, too, touched on this topic today (and had links which led me to Christine and Laura). Today's post was about ...
Jim and I were harshly criticized before we brought our children home, because we had not read every possible book nor taken every possible class to learn about attachment disorders. We had read some, and we had spoken with several adoptive parents about their transitions (including having CLOSE friends who have dealt with severe attachment issues, and have adopted 3 older children over the past 8 years). Our perspective was NOT that we didn't expect to encounter any attachment issues with our children; our perspective was that we didn't want to dwell on every "what if?" situation. As we have parented for the past 25 years, we have encountered MANY very difficult parenting situations (especially in the teen years). While we did read a lot of parenting books, we did not focus on all of the books that told us how horrible the teen years could be. Our focus has always been to parent from a positive perspective, and then to seek the Lord (and, professionals if need be) when the negative situations occur (which they most certainly will). The week that we left for Africa, to bring our children home, our little local weekly newspaper printed an article about several families in our community who were adopting from Ghana. The paper quoted this parenting perspective ... and we were lambasted. Months later, this one sentence quote was still being repeated as an example of our family "not being prepared for our adoption". In truth, we were prepared ... just not in the same way that other families might prepare.
While in Africa, we were observed telling our children, "In America ... this is how we do things and this is why we do things." Those observing us felt, again, that this was NOT how to parent adopted children. So, once again ... we were criticized harshly ... and those accusations followed us home.
Why am I bringing up those situations today?
We did not change the way we set out to parent.
We did not go out and seek more "professional training" ...
but, rather, we sought the Lord for His wisdom.
We did not stop giving direction ... and teaching the
children what life was going to be like at the Big D
house in America.
We did not completely change the lifestyle of the Big D
family in order to accommodate the new children.
(Yes, accommodations were made; but life did not
suddenly need to change drastically.)
We did not stop setting boundaries for our new children;
as we felt that boundaries were critically important.
And ... today ... after reading all of the above blog posts ... I finally felt like these women would approve if they saw how we are parenting. We, obviously, haven't chosen our method of parenting in order to please others (since we are so often criticized), but it was nice to know that we are parenting like a lot of other newly adoptive parents of children from Africa; and that our parenting style has been effective/successful.
We haven't encountered anywhere near the trauma that many families encounter. Some of that is definitely because different children have different levels of attachment issues. However, I believe that a lot of it is also because we had a plan ... we were prepared ... we did set guidelines ... and we didn't allow the new children to take control of our household when they arrived. We set boundaries right from day 1, and we had consequences when those boundaries were ignored.
Three months before we went to Africa, we were at a business conference in another part of the state, and we went to visit a family that we had met through their blog. They had adopted multiple children from multiple countries over the course of several years. What we found was a living situation that I KNEW would send me over the edge ... a completely out of control household, with a completely distraught/worn-out/frustrated mom. We spent 2 hours with this family and left saying, "What are we getting ourselves into?" Their perspective was that, any and every adopted child would be out of control and there was nothing you could do about it (as the parent). They literally told us that we needed to expect our house to be destroyed ... furniture, carpets, appliances, etc... And, they gave us example after example of the things their children had done. The mom even told me of a book that I needed to read. (She buys them by the case, to hand out to newly adopting parents.) To be honest, I wasn't about to buy the book, if this was going to be the outcome of the parenting advice. We didn't need to "get training" to find out about R.A.D. ... we had seen it up close.
At the same time, we had very dear friends walking through a nightmare foster/adopt situation that had to be terminated after multiple police encounters. Again, we saw R.A.D. up close and personal, and we did not agree at all with the "parenting advice" that our friends were receiving from the "professionals".
So ... had we gone through a lot of "training" before we brought our children home? Not in the professional sense of the word ... but we had been trained. We had looked closely at both of these situations. We had discussed them thoroughly and talked through how we would approach each one. Then, we proceeded to seek the Lord as we faced each new situation with our children.
Our children have been home for 13 months. They haven't destroyed our house. We haven't had to call the police. They are polite, generally obedient, loving and kind. This past year hasn't been easy ... but we know it could have been much worse.
Do our children have R.A.D.? Like Laura, I don't see it as a disorder. Yes, it has taken my children time to attach. Are they fully attached? No. Can you imagine trying to figure out how to "attach" to a new mom and dad and 10 new siblings, while at the same time trying to figure out how to just "live life" in America??? Do our children KNOW that we love them, and that we will NEVER leave them? Absolutely. Do we know that our children love us? You bet ... even when those pesky symptoms of R.A.D. are showing their ugly head.
I learned a few things from today's blog posts ... but most of all they just confirmed what we are already doing. However, the best thing I discovered about the posts I read today, was that I finally had something to show our older children ... a way to explain to them that the issues we deal with with Jacob, Sarah, and Rachel are typical ... and that the way mom and dad have responded to the frustrating situations really is the best way (even when it doesn't make logical sense ... because R.A.D. is not logical). I actually copied all of the above blog posts onto a Word document, and printed them ... so that each of the older 5 children living at home can read them this week. I look forward to the discussions that will take place after they all have a better understanding of R.A.D., and how/why it affects their young siblings.
Now ... you 3 big kids that live out of state and oversees ... I hope you'll pop onto the above links and read them, too. It will help you to understand what exactly mama has been trying to explain to you in our regular skype or phone conversations. And, you'll see that it is not only your little siblings that create these most frustrating daily situations for their parents.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Future Track Stars
Elijah, Rachel, & Josiah decided
that they wanted to learn to hurdle.
Sarah decided to join them.
Friday, April 24, 2009
The other day, I wrote a post about What Do I Have To Do To Get To Heaven? I had us look at two opposing perspectives on Christianity.
#1 How much do I need to do,
in order to make it to heaven?
What do I have to give up,
in order to not spend eternity in hell?
#2 What more can I do,
in order to please Him?
What else can I give up,
in order to serve Him better?
I finished the post by saying ...
My focus is not on how close I can get to hell,
without getting burned.
My focus is on how close I can get to heaven,
while still living life on this earth.
Today, I would like to take a closer look at some specific situations that those two perspectives might come into play. Which side of each of these conversations would you be on?
Two Teenage Girls (or young adults)
talking about their boyfriends ...
I told my boyfriend we can do anything except,
"go all the way".
I told my boyfriend that I want to stay
pure for my future husband.
How far can we go and still be "pure"?
How pure does the Lord want us to be
for our future husbands? How pure would
our future husbands like us to be?
"Flee from sexual immorality. ... Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? ... Therefore honor God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:18-20
Overwhelmed Mommies ...
I'm so FRUSTRATED. I don't think there's anything
wrong with using a few bad words.
I want to honor the Lord with my words,
even when I'm frustrated?
But ... at least I didn't use the Lord's name in vain.
And ... I don't use the "F word".
I don't want my words to even show a hint
of disrespect or dishonor.
"If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this ... to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:26-27
Young ladies getting dressed for a blind date ...
What can I wear so that he will really take notice?
I want to honor the Lord with my attire?
I've worked so hard to keep my body looking good,
I'm proud to show it off.
I want to look nice, yet not distract this young man's
attention away from getting to know me
(by focusing on my body instead of the conversation)?
"I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety ... appropriate for women who profess to worship God." 1 Timothy 2:9-10
Teens picking a movie to go to on Friday night.
We need to go see this one because
EVERYONE says it's great.
Why is it rated PG13?
It only has bad words and a little violence,
there's no sex in it.
I want to keep my mind focused on things
that are pure and holy.
But it's just entertainment.
Would the Lord be laughing with us?
"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things." Philippians 4:8
I hope that this post has encouraged you
to see which perspective you usually use.
I hope it has encouraged you to do the RIGHT thing ...
even if your peers are pulling you in the opposite direction.
I hope this post has encouraged you to always want
God's very BEST for your life, rather than just trying to
do the minimal amount of "good works" to get by.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren ... do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 12:1-2
"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. ... Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as theses: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips." Colossians 3:1-8
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Hosanna and I are off to spend the weekend together. What fun!
We have never had a weekend away, and, financially speaking, this is certainly not a time that we would plan one. However, we are not going to go spend money this weekend ... we are going to go earn money this weekend. Yes ... we have a job to do.
I have been hired by a curriculum company to be their sales representative at 3 homeschool conferences in the next 2 months. And, since I am doing the first 2 conferences by myself, they said it would be fine for me to bring Hosanna as a helper. (She is a GREAT helper, and I couldn't really imagine doing a conference all by myself.)
This weekend, we get to work at a conference in the Seattle area on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. So, we get to stay at a nice hotel and eat at restaurants (VERY fun for mommy/daughter time).
Next weekend, we get to spend Friday and Saturday at a conference in Eastern Washington. (And, we'll stay with a homeschooling family that lives in a "historic home".) Then, in June, I get to work a BIG convention down in Puyallup, where I lived for 10 years (which is REALLY fun because I get to see many of my old homeschooling friends).
I am PRAISING the Lord for ...
... financial provision.
... mommy/daughter time.
... big kids at home to take care of
little kids while mommy is gone.
(What a blessing that Gregg and
Lindsey both happen to be home.)
I am PRAYING for ...
... energy to do all the work that needs to be done.
Friday is an 11 hour day in the vendor booth.
... a BLESSED time with precious Hosanna.
Such a rarity ... but so necessary right now,
as she is about to enter her teen years.
... things to go smoothly at home, while mama is gone.
While all of the big kids are fully capable, there
are still a LOT of personalities to work with.
I am sure that pictures of high school track meets are not very exciting for most of you. However, since one of the most wonderful uses of this blog is for us to share out daily lives with all of our young adults that are living overseas and in other states ... they LIKE to see pictures of their little brothers running.
For those of you that aren't excited about more track pictures, I thought I would start off with a picture taken from the meet today. Yes, basically, Mt. Baker is in our backyard. This is the view from where we were sitting, in the stands, to watch the boys run.
Ben ran the 800m.
Josh ran the 800m.
Both boys ran the 4 x 400m Relay.
And, Josh ran the 1600m. (mile).
But, mama didn't take any pics of that race.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
A week ago, I asked you to pray for my bloggy friend, Linny, as she and her family faced unknown medical issues with one of their 10 children.
Today ... this precious family really needs our prayers ... as their 18 year old daughter, Autumn, has been diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Please pray ...
... for Autumn, that the Lord would give her peace
and that she would be able to FULLY trust in HIM,
as she walks through this difficult time.
... for Linny & Dwight, for strength as they face the
unknowns, and for wisdom as they help all of the
little kids understand what is happening.
... for the doctors, for wisdom as to how to proceed.
For knowledge as to when to be aggressive and
when to wait.
On top of this huge trial that just took them by surprise ...
... they brought home 2 precious little ones
from Africa in December.
... they lost everything in a house fire in January.
... their church (DW is the pastor) is in the midst of
huge staff changes. (3 of 5 pastors leaving)
... last week they started the process of leg castings
for their adopted son with arthrogryposis
(a very serious condition). Linny had to take Isaiah
to Denver (450 miles each way) for the casting, and
the trip will need to be repeated every 10 days or so,
Thanks for joining me in prayer for Linny and her precious
family, as they walk this VERY difficult life journey right
now. I hope you'll stop by her blog to give her a note of
I had this totally random pondering last night ...
We often treat God like the Family Doctor. Yes, we have a "relationship" with him. But, we may only check in with him once a year or so. We know we can call him in an emergency ... but we certainly don't want to pay his fees on a daily basis. He's a "nice guy" ... but we're not going to let him tell us how to live our lives (even if our unhealthy lifestyles could cut our lives short). We know it is good to have a Family Doctor, but we have no need to see him more regularly.
If you recognize that your relationship with the Lord is as casual as your relationship with your family doctor ... I would encourage you to read, "Crazy Love". Christ has already paid your fees, and He wants to meet with you daily.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Crazy Love - page 61
"The very fact that a holy, eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, merciful, and just God loves you and me is nothing short of astonishing.
The wildest part is that Jesus doesn't have to love us. His being is utterly complete and perfect, apart from humanity. He doesn't need me or you. Yet He wants us, chooses us, even considers us His inheritance (Eph. 1:18). The greatest knowledge we can ever have is knowing God treasures us.
That really is amazing beyond description. The holy Creator sees you as His "glorious inheritance".
The irony is that while God doesn't need us but still wants us, we desperately need God but don't really want Him most of the time. He treasures us and anticipates our departure from this earth to be with Him ... and we wonder, indifferently, how much we have to do for Him to get by."
Do you ever think ... "How much do I need to do,
in order to make it to heaven?"
and ... "What do I have to give up,
in order to not spend eternity in hell?"
Or, do you think ... "What more can I do,
in order to please Him?"
and ... "What else can I give up,
in order to serve Him better?"
While both sets of questions focus on what we might need to do and what we might need to give up ... the perspective is completely different.
Sadly, many people see their Christian lives as a set of rules, and a few flexible boundary lines that they need to live within, in order to make it to heaven.
However, the holy God of the universe wants our hearts, our love, our lives. God did not create His commandments in order to bring himself pleasure ... He created rules, guidelines, and boundary lines because He wants what is BEST for us ... for you and me.
If we TRULY love the Lord with all of our hearts, our souls, our mind, and our strength ... than we will WANT to live our lives as fully pleasing unto Him. Our hearts' desire will be to love Him, to serve Him, to show Him all honor and glory with our lives.
If you are married ...
... do you love your husband because
you read a book that told you to?
... do you serve him because you signed
a wedding vow promising you would?
... do you do just enough for your marriage,
that you hope he won't file for divorce?
... do you talk politely to him when he is home,
but bad mouth him when he is gone?
... if others ask you about him, do you mumble
something about "Yea, I love him."
... do you tell all of your friends what an
amazing man he is?
... do you get excited when you know he
will be home in a few minutes?
... do you like to cook his favorite meal,
just because he likes it?
... are you excited to talk to him every day,
and sleep in the comfort of his love every night?
Can you even comprehend that the Creator of the Universe ... loves you even more than your husband (or your mother & father) does? Don't you think that He should be able to expect even more from you than your husband expects of you?
If you TRULY love the Lord Jesus Christ, then ...
... you will be excited to
tell all your friends about Him.
... you will look forward to
spending time with Him every day.
... you will look for ways to do
the things He has asked you to do,
and you will WANT to do those things.
... you will spend time with him before bed,
and you will sleep in the comfort of His love.
I LOVE the LORD!!!
I WANT to serve HIM.
I DESIRE to do HIS will.
I can't help myself ...
I TALK about Christ, my first love ...
ALL the time.
I don't see life as a set of rules that have to be followed.
I walk through life actively seeking to KNOW His guidelines,
because I know they are His BEST for me and my family.
I NEVER think ...
"Can I still get to heaven if I do such and such?" Never!
My focus is NOT on how close I can get to hell,
without getting burned.
My focus is on how close I can get to heaven,
while still living life on this earth.