Sunday, November 9, 2014

Generation follows generation...

As I watched my daughter set up the table and the other kids who are part of the youth mission team at our church stand up and make a plea to the church to donate shoes for the souls for orphans project, I realized the importance of passing on what God has called us to do to the next generation not just in words but in actions.  She has not just heard but experienced the plight of orphaned children, Four of her siblings formerly lived in orphanages and 2 in a foster home.  She not only heard of children needing shoes, but watched her new sister and brother come home with flip flops held together with paperclips and watched me put ointment on the sores on their feet for months until they healed.  She saw the pictures of the excitement of the children in Bulgaria as they received the shoe boxes so many pack with treats for Christmas and heard her sister tell of how happy they were to receive them a week before and how hopeful she would be Christmas morning only to find year after year no presents on Christmas Day.  She has watched her father faithfully head out every Saturday morning and spend countless hours building Trusted World and she herself has gone out and handed food out to the men and women in need.  To her God's commands to serve the orphans, the reality of pure religion is not just words on a page, its not just a catalog that comes out at the holidays that shows pictures of hurting kids.  Its the people she loves and its the people she has watched transform through the little we had to share.  Its amazing to me because so many times I worried that the sacrifices we made in her life whether time, money or emotions in following God's calling in our lives would impact her.  It did, but in a way that gives me great joy.  She is standing in a church lobby today making sure as many children as she can possibly can will have a new pair of shoes.  She is touching the souls of children she will never meet, but she knows that they are valuable.  The Bible tells us to pass it on from generation to generation and so it fills me with such joy to see my children rise up to the occasion and stand in the gap for those who can not.  God has taught me through these 16 years of parenting, kids will learn love and will learn compassion if that is all they know...I will be the first to admit I go into life having no clue what I am doing, everyone who truly knows me knows this...  I have had a ton of ups and downs and many times I have questioned if I am really following God or really messing up what I have going :)  But as I watch my oldest daughter share her love for others and as I listen to our uniquely created family talk about their futures and realize they believe caring for others is just, what you do and have the realization that love is color blind, I begin to see a peek of what God has done despite me.  He has made this.......

Sunday, October 5, 2014


Years ago in my teenage years I was going through a hard time and questioning why God would allow something to happen and my father told me to read the book of Job in the Bible to see if I could find some answers.  I read it and not knowing the Lord it was confusing.  I was stuck on the unfairness of Job's life.  Fast forward a lot of joys and trials and growing with Jesus.  These past few months of dealing with the rheumatoid arthritis have been trying both physically and emotionally.  To go from someone who barely needed a Tylenol to someone who keeps going back to doctors to try new medications mixed with realizing this isn't going to end nor will I ever feel completely like I did before has been hard.  So much changed so fast and its like I am finally getting to a point after 6 months of figuring out what I am doing.  I have found myself very emotional this summer, crying at the drop of a hat, which is so unlike me!  So today I was sitting in church and I began to think of what things I personally have walked through and started to see a pattern of trust growing through the trials.  I thought of Job he lost his family, friends, health, financial security but he trusted God and God redeemed him.  I remembered how he had been sifted, done in order to change him to bring him closer to God, what Satan had meant for evil God had used for redemption.  I thought of the major sifting I have experienced, losing my mother, losing my fertility, walking through adoption and the issues that have come up, and now my health.  Every time I have hit a time of sifting I have learned to trust the Lord.  The loss of my mother taught me to cleave completely to my husband, the loss of my fertility taught me to lay down my idea of my "rights" and I was blessed with all the children I was meant to have, the adoption trials have taught me that none of us can walk alone and that often those difficult moments are what truly define family, and these health issues reminded me today that this life is temporary, I do not have this disease forever, I have it for a time and a purpose to one day be freed to live eternally with my creator.  So today I told the enemy he cannot win this battle, for it was already one a long time ago with my King on a hill.  I can be sifted, but all that will remain is the gold that Jesus gave me, the rest is temporary.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Why don't they listen!

Sometimes the things I see in my children's life that drive me crazy end up teaching me about my relationship with my heavenly father.  Just this morning I had 3 incidences in my house in which I said out loud if people just listened in the first place they wouldn't be in these situations.  Let me explain, see a certain child lost a shoe.  I tell the children to keep their shoes in a common closet so they don't get lost, but this child tends to kick off his shoes wherever he happens to be.  So he wanted to come to the store with me but he couldn't find his shoe and so he had to stay home, which made him annoyed with me for not waiting longer.  Another child has been going through a lying/stealing phase.  We have rules about both of these items that this child choose to ignore at the time.  Now their is consequences and the child is very upset with me because of this.  The third child has lost something that I have been clear for a long time to keep in a certain place, but because they choose to keep them some place else they have lost it and they are angry with me that I will not stop everything and look for it or buy them a new one.  See if I were to go back in each of their lives in a crazy time machine and each were to simply follow what I told them, the first would have shoes and have had a good trip to the store, the second would be enjoying a beautiful summer day and be in good graces with her parents and siblings and the third would have no concerns other then what they want to do and would have not acted disrespectfully to others.  In other words, when we do just exactly as we are told, life is much better.  As I sat in the car on the way to the store stewing over the ironic fact that every time a child chooses to disobey me, they end up angry with me I began to think about myself.  The times that I know I skirted the biblical way, or being honest totally disobeyed something I know is very clear about God's nature.  When I used the its no big deal excuse with God, or the I am not perfect idea to justify growing farther from who God created me to be I denied the truth about who God is.  Just like I know with my children, my Father knows with me.  He hates sin not only because of the action but because of the fall out.  Its not the moment of anger that does the most damage, its the feelings it leads too or its not the doing this one time that kills the soul, its the lingering thoughts and memories.  God knows life is happier when we live in his image.  When we live good, honest, humble lives not only is God honored and our testimony saved, but our lives are just calmer, more peaceful and more enjoyable.  Now if I could just remember this post the next time we are running late because a child can only find one shoe.......

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Mountain

I have been following the news about the Yazidi's in the mountains of Iraq.  Many are Christians who are being persecuted and killed.  These people are stuck on the side of a mountain in sweltering heat with no water and no food, knowing going back down means certain death for them and their families.  Most know that even if they convert to Islam they will be killed anyway.  Women have been abducted and sold as slaves.  This will literally be the hill that they are dying on.  The irony that our Savior dies on a hill for these people and now in his name they will find the same fate.  This will be a defining moment in history between the tragedies in Syria, Iraq, Israel, Gaza and Ukraine. This will be what the future generations read about in textbooks and think how did they allow this to happen, the same way I did when I read about the holocaust. I have read it and thought how did other countries go about their normal life while the Jews were in concentration camps?    Now here I am in this generation going about cleaning, cooking, watching tv, taking the kids swimming and going about life while these brothers and sisters in Christ are desperately clinging to life on the side of a mountain for the name of the Savior we share.  At church on Sunday as we sang the worship songs my mind drifted to the mothers on the mountains who are crying out the same name I sang.  I thought about my hills vs her mountain.  Yes God hears it all, but at that moment I saw the size of my hill in comparison and I prayed for her, I sang because she couldn't, my trust in Jesus and faith in my Savior grew because she is my living example of faith.  If faith can put you on the side of a mountain clinging to life while under terrorist threats and you still claim your God, then do I have to wonder if his words are true?  These people have shown the world that their God is bigger then their circumstance.  They understand that to live for Christ is good, but to die for Christ is even better.  Because they understand we are passing through, this is not eternal, this is temporary they are able to sit and wait.  Someday they will come down from that mountain and we will hear about the Corrie Ten Boom of the Yazidi's who prayed with those losing hope, we will hear about the Brother Andrew's who risked their lives on the mountain to bring the Gospel.  We will hear stories of how God worked a miracle and hear about the many who left this temporary home and are now with Jesus out of pain and fear, hearing our Savior say well done good and faithful servant.  It has taught me to keep my eyes on whats eternal, it has shown me the ultimate faith in the face of persecution, it has given me a great appreciation for my freedoms and has shown me how better to pray for the world.  What is your hill or your mountain, were you placed where you are in this time and place to show your faith boldly, to use your freedom to pray or give, to get the gospel to someone else, to carry another's burden, to ask for help

Monday, August 4, 2014


The other day I looked down at my hands and it made me think.  One of the ways the rheumatoid arthritis has effected me has been the changes I can see in my hands and fingers, not tremendously noticeable unless I point it out, except that I can't wear my wedding rings until I get them re-sized.  However as I looked at my hands I thought about all the things my hands have done, they have held my mother and fathers hand as I began life, they held the steering wheel as I learned how to drive, held the books as I stepped on campus for the first time, held the keys as we moved into our new home,  they hugged someone who was lonely, held the hand of someone dying, gently touched touched the faces of my newborn babies, fed those who were too young to sick to feed themselves, carried my adopted children home, wiped the tears of my kids when they were hurting, embraced my husband, graded the papers my children completed, folded the laundry and cooked the meals that keep the house moving, turned the pages of my Bible and folded them in prayer.

I don't know what the future holds and how my hands will hold up....but I pray I will use them to fix the veils on my daughters wedding days, use them to fix the tie on my sons', hold a grandchild or 12, clap at my children's graduations, wipe the tears as they move to their own homes.  So many days to embrace!  I challenge you especially on a long hard day when you feel like you haven't made much of a difference in life or when you feel like you are just "fillintheblank" and nothing special, take a look at your hands, what have your hands already accomplished, what more awaits them.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

What makes a family?

I love the impromptu moments in life.  Tonight I was sitting around with my kids and we got on the topic of childbirth (only the girls were with me).  I told them all the gory details of birth, the stuff only a momma can share, that from the looks of their frightened faces told me I may have shared too much....but better to be prepared someday!  Anyway after a lot of laughs we started talking about memories we had about the kids baby (or since a few weren't babies when we adopted them) little kid years.  All the poopy diaper disasters, the stories of ill timed vomit and the crazy dance moves only a preschooler can come up with had us all all roaring with laughter.  Its funny how the most mundane days become the best memories.  Its stuff only a family can share because we lived it.  Some of it would embarrass us if we told it to someone outside the clan, other things were had to be there moments, that others would not find half as hilarious as we do.  But mostly it reminded me why I am spending most of my adult life raising 8 kids from all over the world, because these the moments that make us.  Its the one's who remember the crazy thing you said or did, the chorus of "OH YEA!" when someone starts a story with do you remember when....   There is something special about people remembering the moments that defined us.  So many kids grow up in foster homes or institutions going from one caregiver to another, no one knows their story, or their story is a piecemeal work of an old picture or a fragment.  A family however remembers the cute stories, the messy stories, the crazy stories, the I am glad you survived that stories.  All of our kids will have a dad and a mom who will be crazy excited every time their lives change, crying as they graduate remembering seeing them struggle over that math problem or watching a wedding with anticipation as we remember the first dates.  A mom and dad who can't wait to squish the cheeks of the grand kids some day and share the memories of them to their children.  Talking over the memories I realized life is fun, crazy, messy, heartbreaking, and meant to be shared.  Family is who you make memories with, who loves you enough to laugh about the bodily fluid that landed on them or smiles when they think of your crazy past.  Sometimes its biological, sometimes its adopted, sometimes its the friend who did not officially move in but was there all the time, but its always who is present and witnessing the current to most likely laugh about later. Or maybe its just my strange bunch of humans that bless my life....because seriously some of our memories are kooky.....

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Memory Lane

Back to regular blogging :)  Today I got a surprise in the mail.  My father had sent a box filled with old pictures from my childhood and all sorts of old report cards, tooth fairy letters, Christmas lists I had written. I spent the afternoon walking down memory lane.  Somethings made me laugh, like my insistence to the tooth fairy that for my first tooth I wanted a Susan B Anthony coin, and then for my 5th tooth I wanted gum and 10 dollars.  Others made me tear up, like an old book my mother read to me all the time as a child that when I saw the pictures my eyes filled with tears. Even typing this I had to pause and go wipe away the tears.  I had so many memories flood me as I looked at the old pictures of me and my siblings and the early days of my marriage.  Why is it we only appreciate things after they have passed?  Or maybe its just me.  I remember during those days thinking everything was so normal or even dull or frustrating.  I used to live so close to my parents and siblings that we would get together for every holiday, weekend, bbq.  I would meet my sister at the park so our children could play.  I sat in my basement and sang songs with my brother. When anyone needed a sitter, family was just there.   It was all I had ever known and yet my heart was drawn to see the world and experience new things.  After my mom died part of me wanted to leave the painful memories and make new ones.  So we moved away 8 years ago.  I can see how great it was for me in many ways.  It made me take chances and learn how to be independent.  In some ways I look back and regret that I didn't stay, that I let those connections fall.  What I have learned though is no amount of close friendships can replace family, even if you argue or don't see eye to eye, family is family.  You have a red thread that passes through that binds you together forever (or maybe this is just the Italian in my family blood).  Even now I am guilty of missing the moment.  Held back by frustration or fears I neglect to think about 10 years down the road when we pull out the pictures how precious these days are.  I forget that those strong bonds my mom and I had through a book or a hug trumped any bad day.  That for my children I may make mistakes, they will make more but someday they will pull out a picture or a book and remember how much they loved.  I need to learn how to enjoy the moment and stop seeking the future and missing the past.  I think that for me living like this is much easier.  I am a deep feeler, I have a hard time shutting off my emotions unless I can box it out in my mind.  The hardest stuff I tuck deep away.  My dad use to describe me as a soda bottle, I keep stuff in and push it all down but sometimes when things get shaken up everything comes out.  I think its what makes me such an introvert. So anyway, I encourage everyone to stop today and look around and take it in.  These are the pictures in 10, 20 and 30 years you will look back on with nostalgia, make sure you enjoy them!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Change the WORLD part 8

In our world we see everything done to the extreme, we have xgames and extreme home makeovers.....somehow we have bought the lie that its not good unless its extreme.  Its an easy lie to buy, I do it all the time, I can't run a marathon, so really is going on a walk going to really matter??  I can't end world hunger, save all the children, fix the countries problems, is the little I can do really going to matter??  I am only good at one strange thing, how can I make any difference?  Here is where the lie is......YES YES YES you can change the world.  What we need is not some superhuman super hero to fly in and save the day, we need everyone doing what they do best to the best of their ability and they need to work together as a team instead of working side by side in competition. Still don't believe 1 person can change the world....George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa......Each of us has a story we have our personal world changers....people who along our journey stood by us, taught us something, guided us, loved us, carried us.....

Trusted World is committed to going and meeting people where they are whether its on the streets, in the homes, in a hut in Ethiopia or a suburban home in Allen, TX. It is bringing them immediate relief through food, water, clothing, aquaponics systems and medical equipment, while laying the foundation and creating real sustainable relationships with those they come in contact with.  It is not replicating working agencies, rather it is finding the source of the hardships through caring relationships and finding them the local resources or preparing them to pull themselves out of the situation to go on to be another world changer.  As a practical example Randy is not just handing out food to the homeless he is finding out why they are homeless. Sometimes its as simple as a lack of transportation for work that a bus pass can help.  Sometimes its the lack of information they have about local shelters or rehab centers.  Sometimes it is someone who truly feels like no one cares.  One thing I have learned from my life journey is every person needs to feel like they belong to something.  We as humans need to feel needed.  It is that drive to fulfill a need that often motivates us to do things that are difficult.  

Right now I want to encourage EVERYONE who reads this to join our awareness campaign, its easy!!  I encourage you to take a selfie of yourself (or if you are technically challenged like me have someone take your picture) holding up one finger (stick to the pointer finger people, G rated!) showing that 1 person has changed your life or that you have changed at least 1 persons life.  Show your belief that 1 can change the world.  Then post it to instagram or facebook and put #1canchangetheworld (and if you want to bug teenagers tell them its pound sign....1canchangetheworld) Here is my example ... 

And if your self conscious put a kid in the picture doing the same, that way it draws attention to their insane cuteness..... I encourage you, if you use facebook and a person who changed your world is also on facebook, to tag them and let them know in some way they are a world changer.  Also like us on facebook and visit the website

Lastly I encourage you to be a world changer everyday.  Smile at the person at the checkout, call that person on your mind, meet your neighbors, help someone with their groceries, get to know your kids friends, volunteer at a soup kitchen, coach a local sports team, take dinner to a person in need, give a family adopting your support, make dinner for the family and sit together and talk.  Still not sure it matters???  Go back to part one....this all began because a girl and a boy met and her mother baked him a birthday cake and her father helped him write a resume and taught him to tie a tie. This journey we are on involves me an introvert raising my kids to the best of my ability.  Now my oldest daughter is working and using part of her paycheck to support a child in another county.  When we pass on kindness and love its contagious and others want to do for others and this is the way we start to end the injustice in the world.  Get engaged in people's lives teach them what you know, stand with them when they are alone, be a real community. Stay tuned in the future....we are about to change the world!!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Change Part 7

We are coming up towards the end of this series, we moved from  Texas to northern IL and then back to Texas within 3 years.  When we moved back to Texas we joined up with a new church plant.  Part of the outreach they were doing was bringing food to the homeless.  For years while my passion had been orphans, Randy had been feeding the poor and homeless.  This was the perfect opportunity for him.  The food came from extra's from a food bank.  Basically when the office was closing Randy took the leftover bread, cakes, fruit, veggies or anything else that would go bad while it was closed and deliver to the local area where those in need gathered.  He and a team of people would fill up his car and drive it out every Saturday morning.  We collect grocery bags and then let the people choose the food they need or desire.  And so this began a few years ago and even when the church plant closed he had developed relationships with these people and continued to go out faithfully every Saturday with is team of guys.  Sometimes they bring bagged lunches or Christmas surprises.  Its awesome to see how he has learned these guys he serves names and stories. Sometimes they need a pair of shoes for their kids and Randy will go out and buy a pair for them.  No questions asked.  He remembers what its like to not have your basic needs met.  He knows what it is like to go to school in the free shirt that came with your parents cigarettes because it was all you had.  He knows that buying a pair of sneakers for a teenager can make a huge difference.

During this time I felt that familiar tug.  I had heard about a girl needing a new home.  She was newly adopted from India, but her adoptive parent was not able to handle her issues and we offered to readopt her.  We went to the lawyer and began the process, she was in another state and we waited a few weeks.  Suddenly we did not hear from her adoptive parent anymore and their lawyer did not return phone calls.  Our retainer with the lawyer was running low and we got a devastating phone call.  The adoptive mother had some issue with the adoption and she would not be placing her with us, she had turned her over to the foster care system.  Again I felt like I had been foolish for looking at life with rose colored glasses.  Then  I saw the face of a little 7 year old girl in Bulgaria with special needs in an email.  I went to Randy and said I feel like we have room for one more.  He agreed and we inquired on her.  The agency said they had found her a home but had we considered a teenager since they were so hard to place.  Only 1% of teenagers available for adoption will find a home.  They sent me the picture of a 12 year old girl.  One moment to make a decision.  Someone gave Randy a chance in his teens.  Someone gave me a chance in my teens.  It was time for us to bring home number 8. We went through a long 18 month process, but last year our newest daughter joined our family.  I went to Bulgaria to visit with her and then Randy and Alex went on a second trip to bring her home.  We didn't empty an orphanage, but we did empty a bed and one more child will grow up in the safety of a family.  Our social worker says we are blessed because her adjustment has been so good.  For us we see the ups and downs and yet we are encouraged because we see the growth in her and the development of security.  She knows she will never walk alone.  She knows she matters.  She knows she belongs.  No we are not the richest family or most fun.  As you get older you come to see all of that revolves around relationship.  Fun,happiness, sadness, boring days are all relative and short term. Relationships and knowing you belong to a community is what lasts. Its what you celebrate the good with and carry through the bad.  It is what makes life LIFE.

So here we are now. The thread you follow from a determined homeless teenager who meets a girl to a father of 8 from around the world spending his free time serving the poor in the community.  Yeah he is pretty special :)  He has now had the opportunity to merge what he has been doing for years with a new nonprofit.  This organization called Trusted World has Randy in charge of its domestic programs.  I wish everyone could have walked this journey with us.  It has been an amazing ride even when it drives me to my knees.  In the last part I will talk more about what we are doing now and how you can join our journey.

Change ... Part 6

We were now adjusting to life with 7 children.  I was fun to watch people's reaction.  Many people asked if we were a daycare center or summer camp.  I learned so much about scheduling... I had to, I was totally overrun with little humans.  We ran and still run our life on a tight schedule, things like meal times and bedtimes were nonnegotiable.  Randy and I were committed to making traditions for our family.  We believe strongly that families bond over traditions.  However having 7 kids meant cheap traditions, so we started a New Years Eve all day game day, we all made Christmas cookies together, we ate dinner as a family together every night.  Randy embraced fatherhood.  He is the fun dad.  He jokes and plays with all the kids.  While our children have their struggles (as we all do), one thing that was built was an intense loyalty to each other.  Some children's personalities mesh better with some then others, but I have no doubt that if anyone of my children needed something they would have the others around them.  As this was all happening my oldest daughter was starting to grow up.  She developed a deep passion for orphaned children.  She and her friends began selling friendship bracelets to raise money for a new orphanage to be built in Liberia.  She had developed Randy's determined spirit.  She knew where her dad had come from and she saw her siblings come home and the emotional and physical struggles they faced and instead of becoming bitter at sharing her parents, she developed the softest spirit.  In fact now as she gets ready to start her senior year of high school her goal is to go to college to become a deaf interpreter and an ABA therapist so that she can adopt some of the neediest special needs orphans from around the world and follow her parents footsteps of a CRAZY life :)  My oldest son has developed the strongest bond with all of his siblings.  He looks out for all of them.  He is about the only one can handle little brothers who want to wrestle constantly, his younger sisters look up to him and he shows them how to be treated by men.  I have no doubt that anyone messes with his little sisters they will face a pretty angry older brother :)  Sometimes people wonder how giving of themselves will affect their family.  From our experience, its not easy on the family some days.  There is always an easier path.  However nothing can replace experience and the more we experience when we give of ourselves strengthens our spirit and teaches our children and strengthens their spirit. I am not sure why we think life should be easy.  Life is never easy, even when we are sitting still.  Our lives are stories ready to be written.

Change Part 5

I spent a lot of time in prayer.  I doubted myself, my hopes, my God you name it.  I learned perseverance.  After a month I got a call and learned that 2 new boys were ready to be adopted.  They were brothers, 5 months old and 3.  Again my heart leaped!!  It was going to happen!  I saw their picture and I realized that 2 little African boys were going to be my sons.  We rearranged the beds, as now we had to put up a crib. A few weeks later I was talking to my friend who happened to be the agency director about a girl that was supposed to be adopted and the adoptive parent was unable to complete the adoption.  My heart broke as I thought about them telling a little 6 year old that she was not going to be adopted.  That the world forgot her.  My friend said unless....and I immediately finished with we can adopt her, we still have the extra bed!!  And so we were back on track to adopt 3 children.  Five months later Randy was in Liberia for a second time picking up our 2 boys and 1 girl.  We were now parents of children aged 8, 7, 6, 3, 3, 2 and 11 months old. Did it solve the orphan crisis in Africa?  If you ask our 3 African children, they would say it did for them. We went from 2 to 7 children in 2 years and life got CRAZY!!  I learned how to grocery shop with 4 kids under 4 hanging off the cart.  I found out that with 9 people you never make a single double or triple.  I learned that I was made to do this, I was so excited to tell anyone who would listen that if I can do this anyone can!! I have no special training or skills.  It was not however easy, many days I felt like I wanted to throw in the towel, Randy was my rock during that time.  I always thought about how he went from no family around him to never getting 5 minutes alone without a little one hanging off of him, or a wife craving adult interaction!  I watched him become the man I knew was inside many years ago.  The one who knew how to love deeper then most because he knew what it felt like to not have it in his life.  I watched each of my children go from timid strangers to sons and daughters, true sisters and brothers.  I saw how racial tensions are ridiculous because although we may have 2 races living under one roof, we all had the same feelings, desires and everything else.  I started to see the world completely different.  I wondered how many people I judged because of how they look or how they spoke and I was ashamed to admit how little diversity I had allowed in my life.  Now pictures of adoptable children didn't look like unnamed masses, they looked like my kids, they looked like one child at a time that could be helped.  A solution seemed possible and I would go nuts walking around seeing people with so much space at their table and so much to give who never gave a second thought to opening their home.  I knew for sure that if they met these kids or if this kid wandered onto their front yard they would not be turned away, the problem was, it is easy to ignore a problem when you don't experience it. I would later learn I wrongly believed I knew the BEST way a person can change the world.  I learned quickly that life with 7 children is hard, especially when your children have been through trauma.  When you adopt a child you sign up to walk alongside a hurting child, you feel their pain, you hold their hand, you struggle when they struggle, you realize that you don't have all the answers. However, I had seen with Randy that sometimes people don't need you have all the answers or all the tools to fix a problem, they just need someone to stand next to them and let them know they are not walking alone.  They need to know they matter and they belong to something bigger then themselves.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Change... Part 4

So we were now a family of 6.  At the time the kids were 7, 5, 2 and 1.  We were adjusting to our new normal when that year Randy was given two opportunities to travel with our church to Romania and then Liberia.  Neither of us had never left the United States.  I had for years researched the orphan crisis around the world.  I had focused primarily on Haiti and that was originally where I had wanted to adopt from, but we did not meet the criteria.  That year I watched Randy return from each trip with a totally new perspective on the world.  It was no longer a news story or something his wife talked endlessly on about.  He hugged the kids who had never known the outside of an institution, he took numerous photographs of children and adults who would crowd the camera.  I remember thinking how they so desperately seem to need to be remembered.  He had scene the depths of poverty and the smelled the reality many people in the world live within.  He came home from both trips and had to take sometime to readjust to everything he had known being turned upside down.  We knew their names, their stories and knew that their hopes and dreams mirrored many of our own.  They wanted a better future for their kids, they wanted to have real relationships, they wanted their lives to matter.  He traveled to Liberia in November of 2006, the girls had been home 10 months and that Christmas I felt that stirring in my heart to add one more baby.  Come January Randy agreed to pray about it.  The next morning I got a phone call from Liberia about a 2 year old boy that needed to be adopted.  We choose to move forward and push off the idea of a newborn.  A few weeks later we found out this boy had 2 older siblings.  We were offered a chance to either adopt all 3 or separate the youngest and adopt just him.  I knew immediately after seeing the bonds between my kids that we could never separate these kids.  They were all they had and I could not do that to them.  However when we though about the reality of 7 children, we were scared.  It seemed too much, they wouldn't fit in our car, our house and we had no idea how you support 7 children!  We discussed it before I had to take Alex to a cheerleading practice.  When I left we had decided we could not do that.  We had planned on calling the agency and letting them know that we could not separate them and therefore not adopt the boy.  I left home feeling defeated.  I felt like I had read so much about the crisis in Africa and I had heard Randy talk about it and saw the pictures and here I was with a clean house, plenty of food and a desire to be a mother and yet I didn't feel like I could wrap my mind around it all.  As I came back home I felt like the world's problems were too big for someone like me.  I was a young mom, I didn't finish college, I had no important job.  I was just a housewife.  I walked through the door and put the kids to bed and Randy said so I called the agency and I told them...... we will take them all......  My jaw dropped and my heart about burst!  I began to believe hey maybe a homeless kid and teenage mom can make a difference after all!!  We sold our house, sold our car, bought double and triple bunks and we began the endless paperwork. I was so excited to see that our dreams were coming true, we were going to bring home a 2, 5 and 8 year old.  Then we learned something very important, a desire to do something does not always look like what you think it will look like, sometimes its a journey, a hard journey.  We got a call and learned those 3 children had been removed from the orphanage by family and would not be able to be adopted.  We were heartbroken and crushed.  We looked at the empty van, the empty beds and we felt defeated.  I felt like I had been stupid to think that this would really happy, I felt naive and it truly rocked our world.  The agency said we could wait for another available child.  Sometimes doing the right thing hurts.

Change part 3

I promise all these posts are leading up to something :)  However sometimes I think people need to know the whole story to really understand things.  I see it a lot when we are in community or church or any other human gathering spot.  We hear things and learn about things and our own experiences, bias or lack of experience tends to skew our view of the situation, but once people open up and share their life and heart with others suddenly we see them and their situations in totally new ways.  So with that said.....

Randy and I got married in 1999.  We moved into our first apartment.  During the next 5 years we celebrated the birth of our son, a little preemie due to more pregnancy complications. We bought our first house, a scary old haunted house :)  We lost Randy's mother to alcohol related disease, we lost my mother to cancer, we moved another 2 times and thanks to my brother I found my faith.  By this point we were fumbling through growing up.  However we had a great support system of family and friends. When we lost our mothers, we never felt alone as those we loved surrounded us, and we always had each other.  For the first time in Randy's life when things got hard people stuck it out and our family stayed together.  We learned how life isn't meant to be done alone.  I needed him as much as he needed me.  Sure we could have done OK on our own, but we accomplished and enjoyed so much more because we combined our life, skills and experience and worked together.  

In the early 2000s we moved to Midland, TX....such a huge culture shock!! During this time Randy found his faith too.  For many years I knew I could have no more children, but I still had a burning desire to be a mother to many.  I had talked adoption and Randy had not thought it was a good idea. We had 2 awesome kids, life was just starting to get a little easier.  We still had financial struggles and he did not want think it was a good time to consider it.  In 2005 he came to me and said I have been being selfish, I think we should adopt.  I pretty much had him sign the papers the next morning :)  We began the process to adopt with a small amount of savings and huge amount of faith.  We decided to adopt 1 newborn.  In January of 2006 we got a call from our agency and learned about our 2 girls.  They said this never happens as we only place newborns, but we have 2 toddler sisters that are already in our foster care home, would you be interested. One moment to stick to our "plan" of a newborn.  One moment to decide if 2 girls should remain another week or longer in foster care.  One decision to the change the entire future for them and for us.  So we became a family of 6.  It was not a hard decision, once we looked at the 2 sweet girls in the referrel picture and saw 2 babies (they were 2 and 1) we knew that they were ours.  I think a big issue for people is we don't take time to look at faces.  Randy saw in my face the desperate desire to be a mother, it was what I felt like I was created to do.  We both looked at the sweet faces of our little girls and our "newborn plan" was instantly replaced with this new journey.  It is easy to pretend things are not our responsibility as other humans for things we do not cause, as long as we don't see the faces or meet the people involved.  Those who look into the faces of people who are desperately in need  feel compelled to respond.  

Friday, July 4, 2014

Change Part 2

So to pick up where I left off, Randy and I dated for a little over 2 years when I took a pregnancy test my sophomore year of college and learned I was going to be a mom.  My parents were not too happy at first to learn about this.  However in a few tense days my mother stopped me in the hallway outside my bedroom and I will never forget this moment, she said "a happy baby needs a happy mom".  From that moment on, that one boost of encouragement we embraced the pregnancy as a family.  One moment of my mother putting past her disappointment and my father setting aside his anger allowed Randy and I to begin our adventure of parenthood and have the support we needed to make it work.  As the mother of teens now, I can better comprehend the strength it took for both my parents to put aside their hopes and dreams for us and accept and embrace us where we were.  This was good timing because about  week later I begin vomiting constantly for the next 4 months.  I lost my internship, dropped out of school and lost 17lbs.  I was on home IV's to my fluids and vitamins.  I learned what a PIC line was and everyday my mother came and hooked me up (she was a nurse).  Randy found new work as a help desk guy which made a little more money.  Later in that pregnancy just as I was recovering from the sickness I went into preterm labor at 27 weeks.  They quickly gave me some medication and somehow I ended up with fluid in my lungs and around my heart, which sent me to respiratory ICU while still having contractions.  It got very serious.  At one point they told my family that me and my unborn daughter would only live another 30 minutes because the fluid was so intense around my heart and lungs.   A priest came in and gave me my last rites.  I remember being confused and tired and then I remember the ultrasound tech coming in a few minutes later and as she moved the wand she looked surprised.  The doctor said, I don't know what has happened but the fluid is almost gone.  She said I have to just write miracle on the paperwork because I have never seen this. I asked her here name and she said it was Alejandra, and so my baby's name was chosen that day and she became Alexandra. So 7 days later I went home still pregnant and on bed rest for the next 6 weeks until my baby girl was born. During that 7 days Randy never left the hospital, he stayed by my side, my parents brought him clothes and he ate hospital food with me.  One moment to run scared as a 20 year old man from a sick and pregnant girlfriend or one moment to stand by her side and protect and be responsible for me and my daughter.  One moment changed our worlds.  Over the next 5 years so much happened.  Shortly after my oldest daughter was born my mother discovered she had late stage ovarian cancer, Randy and I lived with her and my father for the first 18 months of my daughters life and then we got married and moved to our first apartment.  During that time my mother would tell me that God sent her Alex  at the very time she needed her.  She was the light in the darkness of that moment.  They would joke about being bald together and they shared a very close bond.  I would often times sit back and look at how life works, how every moment and every choice changes our future.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Change (a mini series)

I would like to take a few posts to talk about something very near and dear to my husband and his vision.....  19 years ago a girl met a boy.  The girl came from a good home, parents who were married my entire life who loved me and my siblings with everything they had.  My dad worked tremendously hard to set up me and my four siblings for a normal life.  We always had a home, food, entertainment and vacations.  I took this for granted and whined and disobeyed like most teens.  Then a fateful night I was driving around what we called the "Franklin 500" basically a parking lot where boys and girls would meet each other.  I was wearing a long Abraham Lincoln beard goofing off when I came upon a very tiny roller skate of a car...a geo metro.  It had 2 young men inside and we started talking to them eventually getting their phone numbers.  A few days later on a break from my job as a preschool aide, I nervously called this older guy ;)  He was all of 18 and I was 16 and so he came to pick me up on the first date wearing WAY too much cologne, but that night something special started.  So as we began to get to know each other I realized our lives were very different.  He had graduated high school the year before and was currently living with a friend's family.  He was technically homeless.  He was working as a security guard to make ends meet to pay for his car.  As we talked I learned his mother had divorced his step father and they had moved from their home.  However they left my husband behind at 16 to finish school in an abandoned house with no lights, water or anything else by himself.  So his senior year of high school he lived in this house cooking from a car battery contraption making sure to get to school and to his job at Burger King.  His determination was nothing like I had ever seen.  He had been abused, abandoned and neglected and yet he was the hardest working most caring guy I had ever met.  We began dating pretty immediately and I watched him save up and get an apartment with some friends and then another apartment.  I am not going to lie at 17 and a senior having a boyfriend with an apartment was super impressive :)  However we quickly learned that we were on a journey not a sprint to a "real" relationship.  At the time I was coming out of a difficult time and had been spending my weekends partying, experimenting with things I should not have been (keeping this the G version).  I quickly found out that my husband wanted none of that in his life.  I learned his childhood and adolescent had involved too much alcohol and drugs and he was not interested in a girlfriend into that.  I had to make a choice to leave the lifestyle I lived for the past few years for a boy I had only known for a few months.  Something inside me said he's worth it.  We had many struggles in our first few years, our lives had resulted in dealing with a lot of insecurities, jealousy and other problems we both dragged in.  However we stood by each other and stayed together, not ever breaking up or taking a break.  My parents loved him, he quickly became one of the family even staying at our house many nights (on a totally different floor!) even though he would say he NEVER lived with us :)  I watched my dad help him get a new car when his was repossessed and my Mom took the role of making him birthday cakes and giving him Christmas presents.  Don't get me wrong, he was no charity case, he was the reason their daughter had stopped partying, he picked me up at work every day and he always was helping out around the house.  I watched how one person made such an impact on my life, he gave me direction, confidence, made me feel beautiful and happy.  He taught me not to take my life for granted and how to stand by someone.  I watched how my dad, one man, gave Randy confidence by doing what he knew how to do, help him write a resume, learn to tie a tie, show him how to buy a car and NOT get ripped off.  I watched my mom do what she did best, she made him feel welcome, made private jokes with him, made sure he was well fed (she was Italian and we both gained a lot of weight those first years!).  I watched how 1 person began to change so much in the world..... to be continued

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Judge Not

I would have told you a long time ago I am not a judgmental person.  I thought I was pretty tolerant and I was pretty calm, and then as I grew older God has taught me over and over what it means to love like Jesus and to see the world through Jesus's eyes.  Usually it comes through letting me live through situations and making me the person that I would have judged.  A terrible car accident taught me not to judge that slow driver in front of me, and not to judge the person who just can't get on that amusement park ride.  A pregnancy at 19 taught me not to judge that young mom or that mother of that young mom, she choose to take responsibility for her actions and its not easy.  A pregnancy that nearly took my life taught me not to judge those who choose an abortion when their life depended on it, its not at all easy for a family or a mother to choose between her life and her child.  God was good and allowed my baby girl to be born without losing one of us, but it is not always the case.  Having a preemie baby in a NICU and a mother sick with cancer taught me not to judge people who act distracted, sometimes they have much bigger problems on their minds and you can not know what people are going through.  Realizing I could not have anymore children after 21 and losing my mother at 25 taught me not to judge the person who finds it hard to smile at the baby shower or during the Mother's Day church service.  They are not conceited or aloof, they are grieving.  Being a mother of 8 children from all different backgrounds has taught me not to judge those moms who are tired and overwhelmed, yes we wanted to be mothers, but sometimes it is the hardest thing we have ever done.  Watching my children struggle with dysfunctional pasts has taught me to not judge those whom we have not walked in their shoes.  Having a multi ethnic family has taught me to never judge a person by the outside, but wait and see what their hearts have to offer, but do not excuse an persons unflattering behavior because you are uncomfortable with their skin color.  Most often I have learned I have a chronic pain disease and I have learned not to judge the woman who doesn't bring a bible to church or avoids the handshakes or picnics, they are not antisocial, they are doing their hardest to do what they can.  I am growing and sometimes I cringe at the things I would think about others but I am thankful God is teaching me. I urge everyone to take a breath step back and be kind because we can't always see the whys in life and when we can be the smile, the hug, the understanding one, we are loving truly like Jesus.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I got moves like jagger.....I mean like nana

The past few weeks I have had a lot of changes around here!  Mostly with myself this time.  About a month ago I was doing some math work with my daughter when suddenly my pinky finger felt like I had jammed it.  I had not remembered hitting it on anything, but I tend to do that and forget.  So I just tried to forget about it, but within a day that whole hand swelled up, then my other hand swelled up.  At first I though I was going a big crazy.  To preface a few weeks before this I had a pain in my foot which had me limping for about 2 weeks which the doctor had said was probably tendinitis.  So back to the doctor I went and this time she looked at my hands and said OK, something is not right, I think we might be looking at a type of arthritis.  She referred me to a rheumatologist.  I came home and will admit cried to my husband as I was totally taken off guard and scared of what this means for the future.  I got on the internet and researched, meanwhile my hands were so weak I had trouble opening jars or doing simple things. I even kept dropping food as I would try to eat, although I suppose its a good weight loss plan as you watch your delicious muffin slide to the floor your dog is currently licking.....  Anyway fast forward a few weeks to today and I have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and sjogrens syndrome.  Woohoo...  As the doctor told me today I currently have swollen toes, fingers, ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and wrists.  Oh and the kicker you get so easily homeschooling 8 kids doesn't already do that AND they say avoid stress.....this as I come home and an unnamed child is stuck in a coat hanger....yes you read that right....a coat hanger....    So at first I did a lot of crying, scared of being a twisted lady in a wheelchair, but one morning at church I was singing and praising God and I lifted my hand only to realize my shoulder wasn't having that, and I thought if this is what God has called for my life then who am I to complain.  (disclaimer, I will complain to those I love a lot in a daily way, I mean I could drop a cookie or heaven forbid my coffee....) but in the scheme of life its just the hand I was dealt.  So if you see me limping, its not the latest dance moves or if I don't shake your hand don't take it personal as it feels like some sort of death grip when you hold it.  I am curious to see what God is doing in this part of my life. I thought my life was over when I was 21 and they told me I couldn't have children anymore.  I cried, pity partied, pleaded with God, tried to bargain with God and reality was, my lot in life ended up being greater then I could imagine, that notification that pregnancy would probably killed me drove me to traveling around the world and having the most unique crazy family that I wouldn't trade for anything.  So while I wouldn't wish for this disease, I am curious where it will lead and why.  Either way it has given me new perspective when I sing songs like I will follow you Lord, Lead my life......because you better be ready for God to take you up on that!

Monday, March 31, 2014

God The Father

I got thinking about this after my awesome husband shared his wisdom with me.  Its interesting how God choose to use the parent child relationship.  One thing I am learning is that the parent and the child see this relationship really differently.  To a younger child or adolescent the parent is something that you love deeply but often times try to run from, ignore, roll your eyes at or test.  You do this simply because you take for granted that you are loved and believe you will be forgiven.  The most important thing a child needs is to feel loved.  From the unique perspective of being a parent to birth and adopted children from various backgrounds, one thing doesn't change.  Every child needs to feel loved and secure in that love. As a parent you innately provide that love.  Its a love that you can not imagine as a child.  That love the child takes for granted is the very heart of the one giving it.  That child has no idea that reason the parent gets so excited, remorseful, nervous, tearful is because this kind of love is radical kind of love that scares the bejeebuz out of us. The funny paradox is this, the child can never quite figure out what the parent is looking for.  They think, they want us to do well, but then sob as we graduate and move out.  They talk about how they were so excited to find out we were joining the family and then we hear them say how many times do I have to tell you........To a child its mind boggling how you can possibly ground or be angry with someone you always couldn't wait to have.  Isn't that how we view God the Father, if he loves and created us, how can he have righteous anger?  How can he disapprove of what we do?  We are so comfortable that deep down he loves us anyway, we don't have deep conviction on our sins because its not "that" big a sin.  Then suddenly the child becomes the parent...and then we see....then it finally makes sense...  It is something that reaches the deepest part of our heart.  Something we have never experienced before, its a powerful feeling of sudden devotion, protection, heart melting love.  You cannot forget it, leave it, ignore it, its constantly in your mind. Suddenly everything you think, do  and perceive relates to this little person.  Your whole world is locked up in them.  They cannot be replaced.  So is the heart of our Father in Heaven.  Here is the difficult part.  The heights of all emotion good and bad are completely out of control within the parent.  You can be more proud than you have ever experienced and that person can bring you great disappointment. You want nothing but the very best for this child, but at the same time you want them to create their own path.  Your instinct is to step in and save them and tell them what you want them to do, but you also live to see them come to these conclusions on their own.  The reality is often confusion for child and parent.......

The child feels like the parent wants the child to be the smartest, kindest, most athletic, richest, most successful.......  Yet they do not realize the parent's do not seek these from the child.  Those are just results of choices the child makes in life or luck.  The parent's desire is to see the child return that genuine love that pours from the parents heart.  To make choices in life based off love, to know security and peace because they know they are loved.  To love others because they know true love.  And so it is with God.....he does not need us to the best prayer, most generous giver, strongest in faith....he wants us to return the love he gives us back to him.  To do the right thing because we are secure in his love.  To let our love for the one who loves us deepest direct every step in our lives and when we are weakest, to feel so loved we can collapse in his lap and get a hug.  Its so simple, return the love to the one who is love.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Maybe its time we learn from the kids....

We adults tend to believe we know better as we are more educated and have "lived" more and most of the time we do.  To my children who read my blog.....I DO KNOW WHATS BEST ;)  OK had to get that out of the way.  HOWEVER, here are some things I have observed that perhaps we adults could glean from....or at least attempt to try to remember how we did it.

1. Kids can argue one minute and the next be sitting together playing as best friends.  No keeping count of the transgressions.

2.  They can find fun in anything, outside they can turn a backyard into a campsite, inside their rooms become elaborate forts which they are content to sit in most of the day.

3.  Stop everything when something awesome happens, like a helicopter flew over or a new type of bird is in the yard and quickly run and tell anyone who will listen about what you love.

4.  Fancier is about the attitude not how it compares.  Going to get ice cream with a fabulous purse is just as exciting as attending the Oscars.  Also their is no need for the awesome accessory to match anything else.

5.  Comfort over fashion, do not wear what is itchy, scratchy, slows you down because its too big or is too tight you have an eternal wedgie

6.  Believing a new pair of sneakers can and will make you jump higher and run faster and so you do this sporadically throughout the day (who needs a gym!)

7.  As long as they want to play they are your friend and if you play it the next time you see each other you are best friends.  Character involves if your nice and treat me nice and in return I will be nice.

8.  Love deeply, even if its your blanket you can not live without.

9  Love what reminds you of who you love.  My son told me he loves sleeping in our bed because it smells like mom and dad and he feels safe.

10.  Tell someone your fears and let them hug you.

11. Believe you have enough and every time God sends another blessing act like you won the lottery.  As my children do when they find a penny on the sidewalk!

12.  Don't compare experiences, every time you celebrate, eat something or play a new game admit its the best day EVER!

13.  Don't miss life, stop and walk slowly and look out the window, look for buds in the spring and look for the first snowflakes in the winter.

14.  Don't get bog down by what could be unless its daydreaming how awesome its going to be.

15.  Act shocked when you hear about injustice in the world, because even though we know it happens....we should be shocked.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Hellos and goodbyes

Saying hello almost always means saying goodbye.  In life things change and the older I get the more it seems to happen in hyper speed.  Its a concept we grow accustomed to but never used to.  It starts early to say hello to school means learning to say goodbye to mom, saying hello to each new grade means saying goodbye to the your current teacher.  Saying hello to a new city means saying goodbye to the old and so we are stretched in our growth as every hello seems to be ever shadowed by a goodbye.  So it is in our adoption experiences.  We often focus on the side of adoption that says this child gets their forever family and this family gets their forever child.  This should be the focus as this is the beautiful part.  However we cannot ignore the shadow and pain that follows this of the goodbye.  For some it is the goodbye to a birth parent who for whatever reason has made this choice.  To a child the reason does not matter, it is still a goodbye.  For some it is the orphanage worker or friends that they say goodbye too.  Again the reason is good, they have a family, but the memories, traditions and routines are hard to forget. In all hello and goodbyes, time is a double edged sword. On one side you see a new routine and new tradition form and the hello becomes more comfortable and normal and settling, but at the same time the goodbye becomes like photographs.  You know the ones you pull out and say ohhh those were the good old days because you remember the good times and forget the sleepless nights. You remember the sweet moments and forget the hassles,  everyone seems kinder, gentler or more fun then reality actually supports.  Anytime a struggle comes up in the hello, you are drawn to over paint the past as some sort of strange perfection you gave up.  Its a temptation too great becuase the fear is the hello will not compare to the goodbye.  Yet somehow when a new hello comes along we see the current as our greatest days.  And so it goes and will continue to go, we will welcome the hellos, say the goodbyes and press on.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Music as intercession

Today as I was singing at church a thought struck me.  I love to sing, I love music, it just makes me happy.  I began to think about what we were singing and how sometimes the music is speaking to my situation at the moment.  I am a visual person, so often I tend to visualize things in my head as I sing.  Sometimes its a song of thankfulness and I run though pictures in my mind of things to be thankful for.  Sometimes its about Jesus himself and who he is and I picture him standing there in an open field.  However to be honest, sometimes I just sing and as Kip from Napoleon Dynamite said... "nothing comes to mind at the moment".  Today I was having one of those moments.  As I was singing one song I began to think how powerful those words would be to someone in prison for their faith, and so I pictured in my mind that person, and I sang as an intercessory prayer for them.  Another song came and I thought about the drug addict who has hit rock bottom and I pictured her and I sang as a prayer over her.  It was a pretty moving experience.  I have had times where I have been somewhere and an image of a person in distress has popped into my mind and I feel like I must stop where I am and pray for that person.  These are people I have never seen!  Anyway kinda kooky but a new perspective I learned about today :)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Time Keeps on Ticking..

I spent a long time the other day reading posts from a blog I used to have.  I hadn't read through it in years and it was awesome to remember.  Most of the posts are from what were our baby days.  Literally filled with 1,2 and 3 year olds and also our days when we were a new "big" family.  One post caught my attention because I was saying how strange it will be when I had teenagers and not babies.  Well I am here and it is not as strange as I once thought.  Although it is much more difficult to blog about everything in life, as I like to respect their privacy as they get older.  It got me thinking about life and how quickly it moves along and yet how endless the moments can seem.  Somehow I have yet to get a grasp on this whole time thing.  On one hand stages like giving up naps, potty training, learning to read, seemed in the moment to be endless... but when I look back, I can remember glimpses and it seems like it went by so quickly.  It seems I went from worrying about kindergarten to college in about 2 weeks. Randy and I were discussing the 10 year plan of life.  In 10 years my youngest will be 17 and my oldest 26 and while it seems like forever away I know I will see this in those days and say, it went by so fast.  It was a reminder of I need to guard my time and at the same time not wait to live.  When we grew from 2 to 7 children in 2 years, we were not "ready".  If we had waited to be "ready" we would still be waiting.  We had no idea how this would work 7 years ago and still we have no idea, but its working (some days better than others).  We didn't know that after bringing home 5 children we would have 2 cross country moves into 3 houses.  We didn't know how the sibling dynamics would work.  We didn't know we would adopt another teenager.  We didn't know if the funds would arrive.  But in that we saw and see God show up time and time again.  We were forced to rely on God because we had no idea what we were jumping into.  We just knew that God was calling us and that we needed to respond.  We weren't "Ready" we still are not "ready" for some things life throws at us.  So I encourage you to answer your call.  Whatever God is calling you to do, don't be afraid, jump in!  Let Him provide, let Him show you what He can do.  No your not ready, no everything isn't in perfect order, yes you will be tired some days and want to throw in the towel, but its OK.  All those people you look at and say if only, or when I, or we always plan to, or if I could.....they didn't think they could either, they didn't feel prepared, they were scared as all get up, but the difference is they jumped anyway.  Here are some old pictures I found :) If I had waited for perfect timing, I would have missed all of this.....

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

High School and College and Life OH MY!

As I watch my children navigate the teen years and observe the world, so much does not make sense to me. See perhaps I was naive as a teen or perhaps times really are different almost 20 years later, but eegads the stress people put on this age group is CRAZY!  I was an average student, I got decent grades.  I had no knowledge of AP, dual credit, IB.... we had honors and that was for the smart kids, of which I was not a part of :)  I was the worlds worst cheerleader (seriously Sue Heck style if you watch The Middle), I was on the track team for 1 season, but instead of running hid behind the shed near the track until laps were over and then talked with my friends in the weight room.  I got A's in some classes and a D in one or 2 (ahem Chemistry and Geometry).  I was pretty normal.  Like many of my friends we stressed about finals or midterms.  I didn't know their was a prep for the SAT, I just took it and while taking it worried that I had too many c's in a row colored in.  I worked after school about 15 hours a week in a daycare center and other then that I was a kid.  I enjoyed my life.  Now looking back and homeschooling my kids and looking at the school world I am floored by what these kids have on their plate.  I am sitting here trying to figure out why.  I feel like we parents and adults may have forgotten what life really is all about.  Do I want my children to go to college, of course!  I want them to find the path that makes them happy and gives them a future.  I do not think though that we should sacrifice our children's childhoods to make sure they get so ahead they feel they can not stumble.  I started college at a very expensive private college, my mother was employed their at the time and so I was able to attend for free.  Two years into that experience my mother no longer worked there and I transferred to a cheaper state school.  During that transition I had my first child and didn't finish my degree, but later enrolled in an online university (actually 2) to finish my degree.  In that experience I learned many things.  First, college is not the end all be all.  It took me 12 years to complete a bachelor's degree (long story, but I have almost enough credits for 2 degrees because of my change of majors).  I did not get a better education at the more expensive school.  Each place taught me something different, but I did get much better grades and gave much more effort when I started having to pay for my classes!  I learned that in those 12 years I changed my mind numerous times on what I wanted to major in, I found a love for learning when it was at my pace and my discretion.  I found out the important things in life were never my job, home, pay scale, or possessions. It was the fact that I married my best friend, that we enjoyed our life when we had little money and 2 kids, it was our decision to have this gynormous family, it was our decision to move across the country to try living someplace else.  I am not against this rigorous education programs and push for higher education, but I do think we step back and look at what we are teaching our children.  I feel like we need to step back take a breath and realize we probably all don't need to speak Latin and Greek, it is OK if we disliked the Odyssey (its super boring lets be honest), it is OK if your child is a C student, it is OK if they don't excel or want to excel in that sport or club or whatever will "look good on the college application"  Heck....crazy here it is OK if they choose to find their way in a non traditional way!  We as adults know the stress that we face as adults, no amount of stress in the teen years is going to take the adult stress away, it just changes its source.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I am

A follow up to yesterday's post.  So after all my over thinking I tend to then sway in my stance on who I am and what I stand for.  I find myself questioning the deeper question of who I am.  I am not one who enjoys conflict, and I have a heart that wants to make everything better for everyone. (I know...this is impossible) Due to this I want to be a people pleaser and so I am hesitant to say who I am in trepidation of people feeling like I am disagreeing with their choices, lifestyles, family choices...etc.  The truth is I have no strong beliefs that I someone know how to do it all the right way.  I even feel like as I am about to type this I must make a 1000 disclaimers on who I am not, to not offend or discourage another.  Deep is my list of I Am's

I am a Christian woman
I am a happy wife
I am a stay at home mom 
I am a homeschooling mom
I am a  writer
I am an optimist
I am a teenage mom and young bride
I am an adoptive momma
I am a big dreamer
I am a homebody

And exhale....... Its strange, why is it so hard to say who I am. It is not that I am embarrassed, I am proud of my life.  Its that in this day and age usually through the hidden identity of the internet, people can turn any I am into a controversy, a sinful thing, a problem, a reason to discourage another.  It is encouraging to see the list, its almost a way to re prioritize my mind.  If this is who I am, what am I going to do about this.  What in my life do I need to embrace and what do I need to let go?  Where should my focus be and where should I close the door because I am trying to live up to someone else's idea, expectation or approval?  I encourage you to make an I am list and share with me!!  We can be I am's together :)  No judging I promise! 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Over thinker!

I tend to be an over thinker..... even thinking of the word over thinker, I was over thinking what to call it.  Sometimes it has benefited me in a situation, but most of the time it becomes a hindrance. It can take me way too long to make a decision, I research and pray and research and ask and research and then I end up more confused and have to use 20,000 plus words with my husband to sort it out, and in the end just have to pick something and jump in.  And to my amazement life goes on....its taken me 35 years to figure this out, but no matter what we decide life goes on.  We spend months looking for the perfect houses, sorting out which house has which things we need, want.... Then we pick one, that closest to what works, but with its flaws and you know after a few weeks, the flaws are things we don't notice in life.  We have lived in small apartments to large houses and life goes on.  I watch my children navigate the teen years, so many choices....schools, colleges, careers, friendships, boyfriends and girlfriends and who is with who...  Its enough to remind me that I don't want to go back there :)  I remember those days, the excitement that anything is possible, mixed with the fear of making the wrong choices.  This over thinking would be behind my constant change of majors, I had enough credits for 2 bachelor degrees, but they were so scattered I only have one, but I have the bill for 2!!  Even or especially as a parent I want to do the best for my children, I want them to be successful, but dang it, those kids they have their own personalities, desires, idea of fun, senses of humor and so some days I am left, over thinking my parenting choices.  But I am learning that like all other situations in life, at some point you just pick one and life goes on.  So tonight it got me thinking, its a nice thing that life goes on, that we no matter how powerful we believe we are in the cosmos...can not make life not go on (even in death life goes on).  I like to see on Facebook how all my classmates have fared over these last 20 years.  There is something comforting seeing that everyone has found a path in life.  From the quiet mousy ones to the athletes, from nerd to popular, to grunge to preppy (yes I am a graduate of the 90s) they all found a way in life.  They all in some way have navigated the good and bad and life goes on.  It brought me comfort to know whatever path I or my kids choose, life will continue and we will find a new normal.  When I became a mom at 19 within a few months, life became normal. When we planned months for our wedding and got our first place, within a few months life became normal.  When we grew to have 2 and then 4 and then 7 and now 8 children, within a few months, life became normal.  When my husband and I lost our mothers and it seemed the pain would last, life became normal.  When we went from public school to homeschool, I was afraid to let the kids outside during school hours, but then over time life became normal.  So don't be afraid for what the future brings, or how you will manage or what to do, whatever you choose, life will go on, you will find a new normal.  The only real lasting decision we have to make is to choose to follow Jesus.  To choose to follow the one who sent his only son to take our sin away.  He has the rest in His hands.