We had a very peaceful Christmas Day. This is the first Christmas in years there were no tantrums or tears. Granted the weeks leading up to Christmas did include that, including a not proud parenting moment when I announced Christmas was cancelled and I was taking down the tree.... Make me feel better tell me we have all had those days! However the actual Christmas Eve and Christmas Day went off without a hitch. I am thinking this morning about Keith, whom we have waited almost 4years to bring home. His birthday is this week, he will turn 14, he has missed another Christmas and another birthday and I have to say as much as we hold out hope, I have started to tuck away the fact that he may never come here. For the last few years we have hung up his special ornament each year and we will continue to, as he is our son in our hearts. Now onto the tasks God has given me for today...praying for no post Christmas meltdowns! Merry Christmas to all who may read this blog :)
Our adoption journey hasn't followed any path I planned. In so many ways that is the beauty of it. After AJ was born I wanted to adopt a newborn, I love those baby stages and it was what I knew and what I was comfortable with. I would read too many stories of kids with "issues" and the problems and things that seemed too hard. Then there was the pride I knew I was a good mom, I had 2 great kids who listened and were pretty well behaved. Then we finally got on "the list" to wait to be chosen by a birth mother. A few months passed many times we got a call that said they are considering your family and then another call saying sorry you were not chosen. We prayed Lord we will take any baby regardless of race, situation or handicap. God heard us and sent us 2 toddlers, then another toddler, preschooler and school age girl. During our wait we often said things we will not do....adopt an older child (did it), adopt out of birth order (did it), adopt an abused child (did it), adopt a child with emotional issues (did it times many only did know it at the time!) God brought us all the I can handle that situations and you know what....its not easy but its beautiful. This time of year while full of fun and joy is also sensory, emotional capacity overload for a few of our kids and usually ends with a lot of behavior issues, but each year I see them grow emotionally and mature and I see the real miracle of Christmas, that like them we are chosen by a God who loves to lavish us with more then we ask for. He gives us the energy to persevere when it seems your forgotten or lost. This year again we put on our persistant attitude, without Keith here and without Baby we wait for the one whom God has chosen for us. I have learned to not guess if it will be an infant or a teen, a boy or a girl. I don't know if we will always have 7 or if we will be parenting 10, 15 or 20 more. I know I will keep telling God we will take any little one that you will allow us to parent and he will keep the beautiful blessings flowing, because as we know, thats what a father does.
In a family like ours no matter how many bathrooms there are in a house there is still a line. I know some people wonder if by homeschooling they get the same experiences as public school kids....well if one way is learning to stand in line and wait then yes they do :) We tell the kids during the week that they have to be up for breakfast and family devotions by 7:45 dressed and with their bed made. So usually by 7:15 the lines form. You can imagine the lines 2 to 3 kids deep dancing around waiting to get in and then we have the notorious ones who take FOREVER. People here they are in there and quickly get in line for another bathroom. Many times I will yell reminders to keep the line moving. Ahhh the things they make our family unique :)
Its the time of year to reflect on thankfulness. We had a great family Thanksgiving. The new house was perfect because the kitchen and living room are attached and are big enough for us to all watch the Macy's day parade and cook! Last night I was laying in bed waiting to fall asleep and I was flipping through the channels and landed on Nightline. They were covering a story of 2 doctors who were working in Liberia at a hospital. I realized it was the hospital Zeke had been in shortly before we brought him home. I saw all the sick skinny babies that brought back memories of my 11lb baby being carried through the airport and put in my arms. He was so fragile, just recovering from Hep A. Anyone who knows Zeke now knows he is definitely not the small fragile type :) We actually say Zeke's bounce (like Tigger)! It made me reflect on just how thankful I am that we have hospitals, doctors and supplies. They commented that in Liberia there is 1 doctor per 100,000 people and in the US we have 1 doctor for every 200 people. We don't have to watch our children suffer with malaria or be told our newborn has a heart condition that could be cured if we had the surgery available. Liberia has one of the highest death rates for mothers in childbirth. I am not sure how God can use me in helping in that way, but I will be praying.
While I hoped this post would talk about our newest little girl settling into our home, it is not to be. I really don't know much details other then the person whom was to place her with us somehow lost or changed custody of her and decided to just leave us with the information, she is no longer available for adoption and her lawyer isn't talking either. I almost expected it as the woman went from calling multiple times a day and hurrying our lawyer to not returning calls or emails for days at a time. Having been through failed adoptions before, you kind of just know. Your heart hangs on, but your head readies itself. Its like when I miscarried our baby and my heart hung on when physically I knew the baby was slipping away. However unlike in the past I let myself feel sad for awhile, but was able to pick myself up. I realized how much a decision to add to our family 5 years ago has turned into our ministry. How I will not put a limit on how many children God will allow into our lives. Its not always easy, it can be frustrating at times. It has required sacrifice, but doesn't anything worth something? I have been blessed to be a missionary in my own home. God has brought the mission field to my dining room table. As I was at church one Sunday, I was praying about how to help the African orphans that tug at my heart. I started thinking what would it feel like to hold one of their little bony hands and let them know they are loved. I was interrupted by a little African boy putting his arms up for me to pick him up. As I picked up Zeke I realized how God worked, here in my arms was that mission field. He isn't the 11 lb bony baby I picked up in the airport, he is a 40 lb wild man, but he knows he is loved! He knows who Jesus is and he knows he has a future. So how can I ever turn away one of His children. What more value is my life then theirs. No they won't always come home, as we have known with numerous kids, but God knows who will walk through my door and we will always keep our door open.
I had a thought today as I was sitting in church. I was listening to the sermon and thinking about the New Testament and thinking, how easy it would be to have faith when Jesus was walking among people and you could see his miracles. I thought how foolish were those who swore they knew him and he couldn't be the Messiah, or how blind to see that this man was not an ordinary man trying to pull off a few tricks. Yet I stopped myself when I thought about it. How much more do we see the Holy Spirit among us today, through transformed lives that not only I have witnessed but have lived! How active the Holy Spirit is daily and yet we too can be foolish to call it coincidence, circumstance or unexplained. How quickly we write off the crazy idea that its all somehow of God. We are no different sometimes then those who would see Jesus restore sight to the blind right in front of them and yet still deny Him. How far we have come as a society in so many ways and yet how primitive are our understands of who He is.
I read another blog recently that sent me thinking. It talked about those time we are all guilty of throwing the little pity parties. You know the days where you say why me.....I swear some days its like the teen years never left my emotions. I can be known as a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I am guilty of the why me Lord prayers. You know the Lord I have ticked off all the religious boxes, I am not consciously breaking any major laws........why me.......why can't it just be easy. But this blog post asked.....why not me? Why shouldn't it be me? Why am I any more worthy of an easier road then anyone else? It really changed my perspective. Here I am asking a God who lifted me out of the thorns of sin unscathed into eternity, whose hands bled while saving me from the thorns I willingly walked into, why can't I have it easier....... Really what right do I have to expect and sometimes embarrassingly enough demand my way to a holy God who very well could have poured his wrath out on all humanity. Seriously have you been out of the house lately, have you noticed how humanity isn't always acting very holy? Ten minutes on the news is enough for a holy God to say shut down the people operation, they aren't interested in the life I have to offer. But thankfully he doesn't, he is infinitely more patient then I am. I have the blessing of knowing I have the Holy Spirit within me, in fact there is no one more built to withstand the hard times then one who can claim that. Why not me, why not take on the suffering or really its an injustice to call most of it suffering in comparison to others around the world. Why should I not taste a piece of what my Savior suffered for my sins. How can I fully appreciate the sacrifice at the cross if I can not withstand the small discomforts or larger suffering moments of life. It really has changed my perspective.
I used to be good at regularly blogging...maybe I am getting old or something. They seem to come in monthly updates now! School is going much smoother this year. Worked out many of the kinks last year and found a good routine, although I am always adjusting the schedule a bit. We seem to have not been able to avoid the back to school flu. I will blame it on a certain 4 year old who seemed to have brought this lovely virus to our home. He had it, I had it, my husband and daughter now have it. The good news is, it has given us plenty of home time to get things in order and get our routine cemented for the school year. Then there is our big news, if your on facebook with me you already know it, but we are going to be adding #8! As much as we would love for it to be our Keith whom we haven't yet given up on after 3 years, its our surprise. Her name is Zia Joy. She is 6 years old and we are just waiting for paperwork between states to bring her home. We are thrilled about our new addition! We weren't planning on adding a 6 year old daughter, but once I saw her little face I had that feeling in my heart. I look at waiting children a lot, but sometimes one of the faces stands out and I know I am to pursue the situation. Sometimes they don't pan out and I realize that it was another child to add to my prayer list but this time it was a good match and now our prayers are for the paperwork to go through supernaturally fast and be bringing her home forever. Not sure how it affects the name of this blog......perhaps since one is a teen she isn't a dwarf and adding in a new dwarf would keep us at 7 dwarfs....but what would that make her..... a gnome, an elf....not sure. Something to ponder while I wait for the call to bring her home!
We are starting our new school year next week. Last year being our first homeschooling year was a trial, I described it to some of our kids as our caterpillar year. We inched along trying this and that, dropping what wasn't working, overcoming obstacles... This summer we took a break (well most kids, some either wished to work ahead or had to catch up on what they were behind on before we started homeschooling). Every single child met all their goals this past year. I felt like I could breathe again. I think my biggest fear homeschooling was somehow I would end up with at least half a year behind and too many antisocial people :) However to my surprise (seriously I was surprised) I have 7 kids either up to grade level or beyond! I have kids who have friends, hobbies, interests and we haven't had a lot of trouble (from most). So I have named this year our butterfly year. We are going to burst forth from our summer cocoon and take off this school years with less worry that this whole homeschool thing works. Granted I know it will get stressful, so I am not being naive! Whats actually been stressful for me has been trying to figure out where I fit in when it comes to relating to others. I am definitely not an on the go mom, I really don't need to feel like I get out every day. Not that I am a total hermit :) I do enjoy visiting with friends or meeting up for lunches or coffee. I enjoy the occasional trip to the zoo or the park. However I have noticed that homeschooling parents are as diverse as public school parents. Some are involved in activities every day, whether its field trips or lessons. Some are very conservative and they don't do any tv or movies. I have a hard time finding my own place. Here's the confusing part, in my home I know what I think I should be doing, but I have this bad habit of comparing my situation to those around me. Then I feel guilty that I am not more like this one or that one, but to either extreme. Whenever I try to do what so and so did just for the sake of being "normal" or "better" I end up feeling stressed or annoyed and I cannot capture what looked so inviting about their ways. I have always said I am a "grass is greener" person. I am happiest being home caring for my family, having my little garden and my many meal preparations. I am most stressed when we have a full calendar and people need to be at this field at this time for this practice. I miss my family when we get too busy. I am not sure the point of this now......got kinda off track. Anywho so this is our butterfly year. I am hoping that God brings us some new family members this year! Not sure who or how, but its always in my heart :)
I had another birthday! I turned 33 this year and was quickly asked by my 7 year old son if cars were invented back then. My husband made dinner, my 13 year old made the cake and my sister and her family joined us for dinner. It was a special night! In fact my 6 year old daughter even decided to beatbox while they sang Happy Birthday! It got me thinking today how blessed I am. I really can't think of any other life I would rather be living. Some days are hard or sometimes I am guily of wanting more or less but over all I am a very blessed lady. I have no idea what this year will bring, not sure I want to. I have learned that sometimes not knowing is exactly what we need to depend on God. I know we will be homeschooling, this year will be a little easier knowing I have one year behind me! We are fully homestudy ready, but I have no idea if anyone will join our family. Once you get this big its harder to find people who have children to place who are open to bigger families. I hope by this time next year to have a garden in the back yard and maybe a pool!
Alex and I were doing a devotional book together and one of the questions asked if I wrote a book about our life what would I name it......so I said .....The People Zoo. So now true stories from our people zoo.................
One child actually decided to lick the toothpaste stuck on the inside of the sink.............EWWWW
Same child on an excited jaunt from the bathroom to the sprinklers outside deposited her clothes in a path leading down the hall.
Same child decided to pinch another child twice and then was told to go to time out, but to save time since she was in a chair on wheels, we just wheeled her to the time out spot.
A different child went to take a shower, only remembering pjs.........forgetting towels and undergarments, which I needed to deliver
While delivering said items, my husband had told a different smaller child that he was going to get his shower ready in a minute.....as we were about to move a dresser into another room, which moving that we notice a totally naked little one ready for his shower running through house to let us know!
Some families get jazzed about the unveiling of the latest vacation spot......no not us, the kids and I were all excited for the unveiling of the new chore chart for the new house (seriously some kids were super excited.)
This morning I awoke to a certain 4 year old walking quietly over to my bed to let me know he was up, why so quiet?? He found his older brothers baseball socks, had hiked up his pj pants and pulled them up to his thighs.
Ahhh its a glamorous life ;) Wouldn't trade it for anything!
I have been MIA because we have been moving. We are finally in our new house. Almost all the boxes are unpacked and we are settling in. The house is great. It has the greatest bathtub EVER. Its huge, so big I am pretty sure I could bring in a floaty or 2. The kids were great through the move helping clean and carry boxes. In someways having 7 kids makes big things easier, yard work, moving...... Its nice to have a place to set roots. We are going to be putting in a big garden in the back and starting a composting bin. Some of our children have trouble with transitions, even when moving within the same town. So this past week my days have been filled with lots of limit testing. I am though not gifted in decorating houses, so I have a few boxes left with pictures and things that I wander around the house with and then eventually return it to the box. It will find its place eventually! My favorite room in the house is our new homeschool room. I will post pictures soon!
I tend to view life that way. You know it looks small and distant and you see the familiar stuff you passed along the way. You can't see all the details and like the last sock in the hamper it is forgotten and memories are piled on top. I have lived a bit of the gypsy life the past few years. Well the past 12 years. We have moved almost 8 times in the last 12 years. (I say almost because in 3 weeks we will be making our 8th move). We have moved from MA to CT to NH to MA to TX to IL to TX......My original home is in MA (I did live a few years as a child in FL) but most of my growing up years I spent in Massachusetts. Its home and will always be home. I know the towns, the good beaches, where to get REAL ice cream (which doesn't exist in TX), the accents......... Living in Texas has awesome perks, the people are super kind, the ice doesn't stick to the roads for too long and the prices down here are a LOT lower :) Yet some days like today while I was watching coverage of some storms up in New England, I feel homesick. Homesick to understand by town name whats going on. Memories of working here, or living there. Where I met Randy, where we took Alex. I miss having lots of family around to visit and celebrate with. But then I also have to remind myself when we look back in the rear view mirror a lot of stuff is lost. For one I hated the winter. I like the snowstorm near Christmas, but other then that I feared driving in all that! The cost of living was so high Randy often traveled over an hour and for a few years 2 hours, just to get to work each way losing lots of family time. Lastly if I had stayed put and not followed my gypsy life I wouldn't have Caley, Riley, JD, Zeke and Hannah.....So yes I miss the past, but who knows what the future holds. Hopefully this next move is our last for a long long time, perhaps by then I will know my Texas geography better and have a new accent and give the kids a new hometown to look back on someday :) Sidenote...Texas isn't bigger in everything they don't have bigger ice cream cones then Massachusetts!
A little confession.......I don't care much for detail. I am a good enough type of personality. I can think of grandiose plans and come up with great ideas, but I lack the organization of brain to complete them. Its not I don't want to complete them, but I don't know what to do first or next or last for that matter :) I don't mind doing it when someone says first do this then that.....etc... Luckily the creator who made me also made a perfect partner in Randy. He is a details guy. If you need a spreadsheet he's got it. Some examples, we are moving soon. I wander around the house thinking about what to pack only to end up back on the couch with nothing complete. Although in my scatter brain, I did throw some laundry in, then washed the sink in the bathroom as I walked by and tossed some long lost legos back into a bedroom. Or if I do pack a box, everyone knows it, because I somehow manage to fit a whole bookshelf in a small now distended box that weighs somewhere near 250lbs. Yet Randy can get a bunch of boxes and in a few hours have them packed neatly and orderly. My idea of cleaning is going room to room dusting, then back sweeping or whatever. He can be in the kitchen for a long time focused until it shines and finally puts away my pile of not knowing what to do with it papers. Lets not get in to grocery carts, me shopping alone looks like a balance science experiment with the stupid toilet paper continuously falling off the bottom of the cart making the cart come to a screeching halt while I try not to catapult over it. He stops in each aisle to arrange it all so it fits in a way that makes it look like a lego structure with each piece clicking in neatly to the last. I used to envy his ability to focus for longer then 10 seconds, until he told me he needed me to think of the big stuff because his brain doesn't and then it gives him something to work on. I have had big dreams and we have worked to make many come true. See a perfect match! So now I will go back to aimlessly wandering around the house in attempts to find something to clean or pack.
The other night as I was laying down to go to sleep, I had a very vivid memory. Not sure why it came to mind, but I was remembering a particular night when I was pregnant with Alex. I was 26 weeks along and had started having contractions. They sent me to the hospital where they gave me some medication to stop the contractions, soon they realized it wasn't working and the contractions were still coming. They eventually transferred me to a bigger hospital in Boston where they had a NICU for babies this premature just in case. So fast forward a day they have me on a new medication magnesium sulfate...awful stuff! While on it I seemed to have aspirated and got fluid in my lungs the fluid increased greatly until it was in my lungs and around my heart, so they transferred me to the respiratory ICU. So here I am 6 months pregnant a non-re breather mask inflated on my face, crazy stockings on my legs that keep inflating, a maternity nurse next to my side 24 hours a day monitoring Alex in my womb. This night that I was thinking about was a scary night, I had fallen asleep when all of the sudden all sorts of beeping noise starts going. I realized I couldn't take a breath, at least not a very deep one. Nurses and doctors came running in and all I remember is total confusion people telling me to calm down adjusting this and that and putting stuff in my IV. I remember being scared for me, for my baby and for my family. Fast forward shortly after they told Randy I probably didn't have much longer and they plan was to take Alex by c-section if it came to that and try to save her at 26 weeks. Mind you I was 19 and Randy was 21. This wasn't quite the life we had planned. Something humbling about going from being a 19 year old girlfriend to a 19 year old asking said boyfriend to help with a bed pan. Anyway I was thinking about what it must have felt like for my parents, they sat in the waiting room and came in to visit and cheer me up. I can't imagine what its like to see your child with that going on. Miraculously, and I can say that because its what the doctor said, the fluid started to go away, they didn't know why or what had happened, but a few days later I was stable, still pregnant and ready to go home. I wasn't saved at the time,I had no relationship with Jesus. I was thinking this week about that very fact. I wasn't just a few moments from dying, I was also a few moments from being eternally separated from Jesus. I wasn't a bad person as some would describe, I was in sin, the very fact of being pregnant before marriage can attest to that. However God never says in His Word that we have to be decent or good enough for salvation. He actually agrees, yep we all sin, no one is immune. He already said that the wages of sin is death. Way before I sinned this was His way. I don't pretend to know the whys of His ways because He tells us His ways are higher then our ways, so it would be futile for me to rationalize it. I do know God is proven to be just, fair, righteous and since he can't contradict his nature, his ways are true. So back to my thinking. In my sin he saved my life. He had no obligation to save me that day, no obligation to save Alex. In fact weird enough when I woke up after that awful night, the song stuck in my head Love Lifted Me. It wasn't a song I listened to and I had no idea where it came from, but it played in my mind. A few years later I miscarried a baby and I begged God to save that baby, it didn't happen and then 2 weeks later I learned I was pregnant with AJ. At the end of that pregnancy at 34 weeks I developed HELLP syndrome a severe form of preeclampsia. Again my life was at risk and the only option was to deliver AJ, and at 4lbs 6ozsAJ was born. He was in the NICU with tubes in his throat, I was in my hospital bed sobbing feeling like I had let him down. The doctors said he might be in the hospital for up to 6 weeks. His stay ended up being 5 days. He grew, he breathed on his own and he ate, and we were able to bring him home. Again in my sin God had no obligation to heal me or him, but he choose too. Shortly after that my brother explained to me what Jesus meant when he said we must be born again of the spirit. I prayed to God confessed I was a sinner in need of a savior, that I couldn't do anything to "get" salvation, I couldn't earn it or create it. I needed Jesus to enter my life and accept what He did on the cross and turn from things I was doing and follow Him.
Why its all important. Jesus promises in the Bible that those whom call on Him for salvation can never be plucked from his hand. That His act of dying on the cross is the only way sin can be forgiven and the only way we have access to the Father. I am not making it up! Look in your Bible and see! God gave me a second and then a third chance to live. I have surrendered my life to the one who saved mine both physically and spiritually. I have had my eyes opened this week to the depth of my gratitude. He didn't have to save me, but he did. I hope I never lose sight of this and live my life as someone who has nothing else to live for but His purpose and I hope my story leads someone else to know Christ. I am always happy to answer any questions about what it means to follow God and what my faith is all about!
We have finished out our school year. One year of homeschooling behind us. It was kind of a rollar coaster this year. Some days I felt like it was working and other days I wistfully watched the school bus drive by. I did enjoy watching my kids finally grasp a concept and get excited about what we were learning about. It took time to get used to being the teacher and the mom, knowing when to let them work it out or when to help. Biggest accomplishments this year was getting Hannah caught up to grade level, she was severly behind. Getting JD, Riley and Caley reading and teaching Alex and AJ about amazing missionaries! My favorite thing this year was learning myself about the life George Mueller. We asked the kids what they wanted to do for next year. They all picked homeschooling again so we will once again picking out curriculum and getting ready for next year!
We also finally found a house to buy and we are closing mid June. This house has room for us to have a room specifically for homeschooling, which is fantastic! Its also close to our rental house, so nothing has to change (doctors, dentist, library....). With 7 kids this is a huge blessing! So in the next 4 weeks we gotta pack up and get to the new house. This will be our last move for a long long time, we choose carefully a house we can grow in and in an area we can put down real roots. After almost 12 years of marriage and too many moves, we have never done that!
For the past 9 years Randy and I have made one night a week date night. Having young children for the past 9 years and for many years little extra cash we created our date night. Usually Friday nights we order in (or make something we like that the kids don't....very frugal!) The kids get to eat leftovers from the week (again frugal!). We put the kids to bed, our kids when they are younger go to bed at 7. Now the older kids stay up till 9, but they are sent to the game room and allowed to watch a movie or tv, the only night its allowed. After that we either wait for the delivery man or make dinner. Sometimes we will rent a movie and pull up some tray tables to the couch or we will catch up on DVR shows. Other times we will pull out Scrabble or play cards while listening to music. It is how Randy learned that I am quite knowledgeable about the music of the 50s and 60s. I grew up with a mom who loved that music and I grew to love it too. Or we will switch to the 80s or 90s music and relive good memories, or make fun of each other for actually liking that song (cough Abba cough). Its a good time for us to remember that parenting is this season of our life, but our commitment we made at our wedding is forever. Its also good to do something fun and just hang out together. I highly suggest it for any couple or even single parent. Take a night any night but make it a regular thing!
I was treated to a paper crown, homemade necklace and multiple homemade cards. A feast of french toast and bacon was made for me and my sweet husband took all the kids to the playground so I could have some quiet time. It was one of those days I try to stop and take in all the memories. I know how quickly life changes, I know how blessed I am to be surrounded by my gaggle of kids. I know that despite the drama some days that all 7 kids love me and my husband is a true partner in my life. Someday they will all be grown up and maybe be moms of their own. I still plan on having as many as possible gather at my house, just like my mom did. There is always the conflicting emotions on this day though in my heart. My own mother died 8 years ago. She was a great mom and though I had my own kid dramas with her, she never gave up on me. Even when I walked in the door 19 and pregnant, she wasn't thrilled (at all....) but she stood by my decisions and loved me anyway. I wish I could have appreciated her more when she was here, I tear up just typing this. So many times in my quest to be independent I pushed her away. I miss the relationship we had. I lived at home until I was married at 20. I grew up her baby, I was never a big one to leave home. I was content sitting and playing scrabble or watching tv with my parents. Even after I moved out I would call my mom multiple times a day and we spent almost every weekend at my parents house. When I was pregnant with Alex and sitting in the respiratory ICU not knowing my or Alex's future, she walked in with a headband with big blinking red lights. She found them in the gift shop and just wanted to make me smile. She drove me to the hospital when I went into the labor (crazy through windy roads and tried to pass a truck!!!) She loved Randy like a mother. She was the first one to welcome us home with AJ, waiting at our little apartment with Alex having it all decorated with balloons for us. She watched Alex while I went back to college without complaining. Now I see mothers and daughters shopping (her favorite activity, but only if its clearance) and my heart aches. I hope someday I can be half as loving as she was! Happy Mothers Day!!
I have been pondering parenting lately. What I am doing right, what I am doing wrong...what works what doesn't...that sort of thing. I despise parenting books, I prefer to look towards people I know or people in history that have qualities in life or parenting that I find valuable. What I have seen is we are generation of parent guilters. Perhaps its the access to information that nags at us. A fifteen minute trip on the internet you can quickly find your child should be involved in sports, music, activities, but just enough and not too much and you should be firm but not too firm. You should give them freedom but too much damages. You should homeschool unless you want them to be normal is socialization in which you should send them to school except don't let them be bullied. You will see how testing in schools and big classes are hurting their education, but sheltering them in a homeschool environment doesn't allow them to achieve full potential. You will find that its damaging to not touch them, but it is damaging to hover. We don't want the roots to be too deep or the wings to be too wide........
I stopped and realized a few things. One parenting has taken on so many different forms in the past. Some generations had families working the farms, some years had kids who played in the streets till the sun went down, some years had wars raging around and fathers off to war. However we have survived.........generations after generations of people that have quirks, histories and pasts. Yet somehow we seem to think that the harder we try we somehow will overcome all history and figure out how to parent near perfect children, who somehow will avoid problems and mistakes. What we find is a generation of parents who carry guilt. If I had done this or that. If I had been home more or if I had left them alone. If I had given them this or not given so much. If I had pushed them harder or pushed them less. If we didn't truly believe parents could achieve "perfect" children through "perfect" parenting we wouldn't be intrigued by shows like "Worlds Strictest Parents" or "Supernanny". I myself fall in the trap of thinking if only I had or I would or I can........Truth be told, there is no secret no special formula no perfect method. No guru has the answers. If we want the answers it comes down to the same answer for every area of our lives, the Bible. I have learned through life that my responsibility is to living for Jesus and studying and following the Bible. Through that my children will get what they need from me. It won't look like your family or a neighbors family or a friends family but I can be confident our kids will all become adults who all know how to navigate life. For some it will seem easier, but it nary is for them on the inside. We all have to find our way, regardless of our parenting.
Side note......I do not condone bad parenting :) In that I mean abusive type! I just think parents need to drop the guilt and worry and realize that if we are truly giving our best to our children, our children will turn out OK in the end :)
Its been awesome for me to see AJ and JD's relationship develop over the past few months. AJ was so excited to be getting brothers when we adopted after having only 3 sisters to play with. Only to find out as new brothers do, that playing with a 3 and a 1 year old isn't always as you dreamed, they eat your legos, drool and generally break your stuff. But somehow I am seeing firsthand when brothers are then 7 and 10 the fun begins! They have spent countless hours in the backyard playing football, baseball and with nerf guns. JD is loving the individual attention of his brother and AJ is soaking up having someone to play the boy games with! No one stopping to make tea or trying to play catch in their fanciest dress..... I have to say I don't always get the way they play, only having been a sister all my life. Things like throwing each other onto the ground and turning a wagon into a tank where they are firing on invisible bad guys. Brothers are great and I am sure in 2 or 3 years it will be the 3 brothers out their tackling each other. Good times for the boys!
I have been such a blog slacker! I do love to blog but lately I find myself mentally checked out by 5pm. Therefore once I have a quiet few minutes in the night I am afraid all I can produce is some sort of buzzing noise, or at least thats what I am hearing in my brain. To get caught up, homeschooling is going well. Caley is reading at a 4th grade level (in 1st grade!), Hannah is caught up to grade level, she was almost a full year behind in August, Alex started 9th grade English (she is in 7th grade), AJ is pulling an A in 6th grade math in 5th grade, Riley is starting to read, JD has made awesome progress and is on grade level (last year he was behind with an aide with him all day). So academically its working. Caley, Riley JD and Zeke have memorized all the books of the Old Testament and are working on the New Testament. Here's the kicker I have spent this whole school year freaking out....thinking I am forgetting something or that they aren't listening or that they are falling behind. I have spent NUMEROUS days in Randy's office in tears because I can't get through to so and so or because of so and so's attitude. I think I ask him once a week are you sure God is asking this of us, because hoowee do I miss that big yellow bus! I am still watching my sweet nephews, until the end of May. We also are trying to buy a new house. We found a great house, perfect in so many ways, just waiting for the appraisal to come through (this may be a problem). And lastly the wonderful IRS is auditing our taxes. They implemented a new tax refund for adoptions (it used to be a credit). Now that its a refund we are due a huge chunk of money, however due to this they want receipts and proof of our adoptions........so we have 30 days (really 25 since its post marked a week ago) to get together cancelled checks and receipts for 5 adoption from 2006 and 2007! Wait till they see the pile we are sending! Really God is taking care of it all and I wish I could say I did life with grace........but really the IRS letter 2 days ago sent me in a torrent of tears and I know that the appraisal results could do the same. I am sure on a tough day next week I will swear homeschooling is just an evil ploy to ruin my life :) Yet just when I am ready to through up my hands and quit God sends me an angel, whether is Randy encouraging me, a kid saying mom PLEASE don't send us back to school, I LOVE being homeschooled, or a simple mommy don't go I will miss you as I head out for a 5 minute break at the grocery store. We all have stress, no one is immune, I am learning there is no way to avoid the mini occasional meltdowns and luckily Jesus is big enough to take my temper tantrums when I swear He forgot my situation. So life goes on, muddy floors, sticky fingers and hope for number 8 to come home from Liberia............I am hanging on to the hope my Savior promised.....Life in abundance !!
I was watching the chaos in Egypt yesterday and thinking about all the everyday people like me. The moms just trying to raise their kids, the women who had plans this week. Then suddenly their world changes, everything is uncertain. I started to think about how that would feel or what it would look like. It made me think about when the bible says not to worry about tomorrow. I always thought of that verse as speaking of not thinking about the future, dealing with today, as though preparing for the future shows a lack of faith. However yesterday I started looking at it in a new way. I live in an assumption that I will have tomorrow to do the laundry, hug my kids, teach them my values, cherish my husband and all the other things. We all do, just look at our calenders with lists of things we will do next week, next month, next year. Now we probably will get to all those things if God allows, but life is also full of unknowns. I started to think how crazy it is to be bored (which I am guilty of a lot!) God has blessed me with today, today to finish the laundry, to make the family dinner, to make a special cold day snack, to spend time with my kids and husband. I have no guarantees that either I will wake up tomorrow, that the world won't be changed tomorrow or some other event will alter the course of my life. Heck if the world collapses tomorrow I will be pretty relieved to have a clean house to hunker down in, a pantry full of food and clean clothes and blankets. Even as small as an injury, I will be glad when I had the chance I got that cleaning down, groceries bought, goodies baked....whatever it is. The point is we don't know if I will be able to do what I can do today tomorrow, if Randy will have a job indefinitely, if the world economy will stay stable, if we aren't a few years down the road from Egypt like crisis...........I do know that there are some Egyptians who are glad they took care of their homes and families while they could and those who are wishing they didn't spend so much timing doing something else last week, month or year. I have a new perspective. I am going to do as much as God has given me the ability to do today not because I have to worry about tomorrow, but because I can and so I don't have to worry about tomorrow.
I know who God wants me to be. He has been pretty clear throughout my life as to who I am. Yet I get frustrated with circumstances or begin to covet what I see in another person. I am definitely the grass is greener type person. I fall into the trap of thinking, maybe I should or I can or it seems to work for them so maybe I might.... Without remembering that the simple fact that we live in a fallen world is going to bring frustration, disappointment and brokenness. It seems as soon as I am where I feel God has called me in life, I feel restless and start to chase what I know I shouldn't. I know God has called me to be a wife and mother and to care for my home. He will bring blessings to others through that if I am obedient to Him. My mind starts to wander on ways to "help" God along....maybe I should send the kids to school so I can work......maybe I need to update the wardrobe and look more fashionable when I am out and about......maybe we need to stop growing our family so that we can have more time to ourselves...... Then I start to justify my thoughts, look at so and so it all seems good there, I went to public school and I am OK....... This weekend we started cleaning out our garage and getting rid of all sorts of stuff we haven't needed since the move. As I was going through papers from my childhood I was wondering why I saved half of it. Its not like I ever look at it except when we clean stuff out. This morning I am realizing that this is a picture of what I do...I take my past and carry it on my back silently...the closer I follow God the more I am at peace, but every once in awhile I "clean out" my pack and only saving the good memories I start to question where I am and what I am doing and then I find myself stuck spiritually and I find myself becoming a grumbler and a complainer. Thankfully God is gracious enough to wake me, do one of those snap out of it slaps! No my life may not look like the average American woman's life, I won't fit the mold, nor will my ideas of what a woman should be fit the mold......but God tells us that we shouldn't conform to the world. So I am today going to refocus on my family and my home. This time though hopefully I can recognize this pattern take off the backpack and toss it away! Stop romanticizing those things that God abhors and walk forward free to be the woman Christ has called me to be.
I got some mail today that got me thinking. It was innocent enough, just a paper flier suggesting I attended a Christian woman's conference. It included a whole host of women speakers who apparently have some good encouraging news for me that will help my walk with God. Now I am not being cynical, I believe greatly in sermons and love hearing people speak of God. Yet as I perused the flier more and more I noticed that under all this was the fee 139 dollars if I were to share a hotel room with 4 people, 319 dollars if I choose to go it alone. That of course does not include transportation to get there, food and incidentals. Perhaps its the frugal in me.........that doesn't sit right. I feel like if these women truly feel God has given them something important to tell the world, they should do just that....tell the world. I fail to find the bible story where they rented a center and charged money to hear the people tell the good news......... I realize people need to make a living, but is this reminiscent to anyone regarding a certain bible story where people were making money in the temple and Jesus tipped the tables? If these women know something important, if they are called to inspire other women shouldn't it not be limited to those who can afford it? And on that note, 300 is hundreds of times most of the worlds yearly wages.... Is this the best way to honor God and serve others? In the name of God can that be justified? Could it not be better spent on food for the hungry, clothes for the cold or bibles for the weary? But then again what do I know.....I haven't attended :)