Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Questions Before the Cross

Recently a Bible study I was doing asked what question we would have for Jesus if He were standing before us.  Truly, I would have a million, but I immediately thought of asking Him, "In light of everything (and since He's all-knowing, He knows exactly what this everything is) how then are believers to live here on earth?" 
"Jesus answered, 'My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.'” John 18:36

 Shortly before His death on the cross, Jesus said it Himself that His kingdom was not of this world.  And followers of Jesus are not either,
"they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. " John 17:14.

So, how then are we to live?  Should we fit in with the world?  Should we seclude ourselves from it?
"I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world." John 17:15-18

There it is, the answer, I believe.  We are not of the world, but Jesus sent us into the world.  And it's not easy to live out.  I struggle with leaning too far one way or the other.  Either falling into too much concern over trivial, worldly things, living too much like the rest of the world does, or I am doing okay living different than this world, but then failing at the "sent into the world" part.  But, it helps to keep this calling clear, at the forefront of my daily life as I engage with the world.  Not of, but sent into.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Anti-Easter Bunny

 "Mmmm, those Easter eggs full of candy sure do look good!"

"You have so many couldn't I just have one?  Please?  I asked nicely!"

A little while later. . .

"I most certainly DID NOT steal this Easter egg from a kid's basket.  I have no idea how in the world it ended up here in front of me!"

"Okay, I confess, I stole it!  I knew it was wrong, I even heard you tell me 'No' as I rooted around in the Easter basket, but I sniffed it out and this is one of the few eggs with chocolate in it instead of those silly temporary tatoos, and I have no self-control when it comes to chocolate!"


My kids went to two different Easter egg hunts on Saturday, and then they've been staging Easter egg hunts for each other around the backyard, so there have been plenty of eggs around.  Madeline, the dog, has stolen quite a few eggs that I've had to take back from her.  Since the Easter bunny hides the eggs and Madeline the dog steals them, I've been calling her the anti-Easter bunny!

Monday, March 25, 2013

He Is With You

 What would you say if I said, no matter what troubles you are facing, any really hard things you're walking through, that you are not alone?

A couple weeks ago, God kept presenting me with a particular Bible verse, meaning I came across it multiple times from different places all in a few days time.   Then I realized that this recent picture of my 6 year old daughter hand-in-hand with her daddy while facing tremendous waters, was a beautiful illustration of the verse!  God, our father, promises that when we pass through those waters (notice it does not say "if you pass through the waters" but "when"), He will be with us.  He's right there holding our hand!

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you."  Isaiah 43:2 (ESV translation)

-originally published April 3, 2012, but I needing reminding of this today-

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Children Waiting for Families

In my state of Texas there are over 4,000 children and youth in foster care waiting on adoptive families.

And there are roughly 25,000 churches in our state.

The math isn't hard. We can fix this!

Sure adoption is not easy, but so, so worth it!

I sat at an adoption-event lunch yesterday and heard a story about a boy that had aged-out of the foster care system at age 18 without ever being adopted although he had been eligible for adoption for several years. He joined the military and was deployed to Iraq. Upon arrival in Iraq the soldiers were all given one phone call to call their family back home and let them know they'd arrived safely. This young man had no family to call. He called his old caseworker. Thankfully she was there and answered the phone, but how sad that the boy didn't have someone that hadn't been paid to be a part of his life to call in that moment!  A mom or a dad.

If you are in the Houston-area, consider coming to this conference on April 27th.

If you are not in the area, check out to find out how you can make a difference!

Until every child has a family. . .

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Easy Way to Spruce Up Your Home

When we were doing some spring cleaning over the weekend, I took down all the screens off the downstairs windows that overlook our backyard to wash the windows.  

Once the windows were all sparkly and while the screens were still drying in the yard, my husband and I started talking about how great the windows looked both from the inside and outside of our home without the screens.  We decided we so rarely open those windows that we'd like to try life without the screens, so we put them in the garage instead of back on the windows.

And I'm loving it!!  The house seems clearer, less cluttered feeling, and the views out the windows are amazing!

It was an easy, quick, totally free thing to do to spruce up our home, but for some reason we've lived here 6 years and I've never thought of it before!

Find more Works for Me Wednesday here.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Spring is here!!

These flowers in front of our house are only pretty for about 3 weeks each year, so you better believe we enjoy them!  My foursome after church on St. Patrick's Day:

Saturday we did some spring cleaning of our back patio and trimming of trees and bushes.  The kids were all part of our work crew.  My 7 year old dressed herself that day and I have to applaud her sense of style whilst picking out a yard work outfit!  I have matching pink rainboots, no seriously, I do!

Speaking of dressing herself, after church on St. Patrick's Day she changed into play clothes and took the green theme of the holiday to a whole new level:

I loved her extra details of the green necklace and hairbow (the dog and messy kitchen in the background were totally planned for your viewing pleasure)!  The way she's rocking these outfits lately, I'm thinking I should let her start picking out my clothes!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sunny Days

 I knew the forecast was calling for rain at some points during our recent camping trip (thankfully it only ended up raining during the night) so I decided to pack all our clothes in Ziploc bags.  I even bought some of the new XXL Ziplocs only when I got them out of the package they were bigger than I even expected! Look, my 5 year old even fits in one!

The state park where we camped has a nature center with a super cute kids' entrance.  It reminded me of a doggie door for kids!

Want to know why my husband is holding Little Girl with both arms here:

Because she was fearless around that river and some of the hiking was treacherous with steep embankments and lots of large gnarly tree roots.  We just knew she'd fall in with how over-confident she was scurrying all over the place! She complained a lot about having to hold our hand until finally she decided she needed to "help Mommy not fall in", then she happily held my hand and bossed me around for the rest of the hike!

 We took a side-trip to Sea World.  This sea lion definitely has the right idea about how to spend a sunny afternoon!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Starting Fires

Anyone want to guess what's going on here:

My husband is teaching our boys how to use a magnifying glass aimed at the sun to make fire!

And they really did catch several leaves on fire!

Here's my 5 year old holding up a leaf he burned a hole in.  He said the hole was "shaped like Africa"!

This all led to me overhearing the hilarious quote from that 5 year old to his sisters when they were wondering why their brothers were not playing on the playground like they were,

"Don't worry about us, we're over here starting fires."

 As if that wasn't enough awesome, then he followed it up with:

"Girls can't do it, only boys can make fire."

Apparently camping brings us right back to caveman days!

By the way, did you notice how dirty his fingernails are in that picture?!!!  Disgusting!  And I can't even blame the lack of running water because there were showers with hot water a short walk away from our campsite.  I showered myself one night, but it all seemed like too much trouble to shower the kids, so we let them skip two nights of bathing.  Two nights after days of playing in the dirt!  It's good for the immune system, right?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Jelly and Marshmallow Sandwich

While camping I most certainly did not let my 7 year old daughter make and eat a jelly and marshmallow sandwich!

My excuse: it was our last day of camping and we were trying to eat up the remaining food and the rest of us were having peanut butter and jelly but that particular child is allergic to peanut butter and I felt bad when she asked what else besides jelly she could have on her sandwich and saw the mini-marshmallows left over from hot chocolate sitting on the table and I may have suggested she could put marshmallows on her sandwich! 

Find more Wordful Wednesday here.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tent Camping with Our 4 Kids

We survived, just barely, 3 days of tent camping with our 4 children!

There were s'mores and sleeping bags, hissy fits over THE BUGS, and a middle of the night storm that literally had my husband holding up the tent wall from the inside to keep it from blowing in (miraculously the kids slept through it)!  But, all in all good times!  Even I was helping discuss our next camping adventure on the way home!

And yes, I do brag a bit about us "tent-camping" with our children.  I have a friend who is RV camping with her kids this spring break and I may or may not have razzed her a bit saying, "RV camping is for sissies!"  But, really?  I must confess that in our tent my husband and I sleep on a double-decker air mattress that we plug into our SUV and inflate!  

Oh yes we do!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Two Mothers

Little Girl asked me recently, "Does everyone have a birth mother?"  

I winced a little on the inside over the pain of telling her that yes, everyone has a birth mother, it is just that many people get to grow up with that birth mother as their mother.  Instead I told her God loved her so much that he gave her two mothers, a birth mother and a forever mother, some people just have one mother.

Then today a dear lady, a bit of a second mother to me, sent me this poem she saw in the newspaper "Adoptive Children Are Product of Two Different Kinds of Love".  The poem is beautiful and so well captures the two mothers of our children who came to us via adoption.  You may need tissues!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Things I Want My Children To Know How To Do Before They Leave Home

I originally posted this list in January 2009, and I'm thinking on it again.  With a few more years of parenting under my belt, I'm more sure than ever that these things are important and also that in the day-to-day of parenting, sometimes it is really hard to focus on the big pictureI'm thinking of laminating the list and putting it somewhere I'll see often!

Things I want my children to know how to do before they leave home: 

1. Look to God for guidance, comfort, strength, joy, hope, love, and acceptance
2. Pray

3. Study their Bible 
4. Serve others 
5. Be a part of a family - sharing joys and hurts, fun and work; encouraging, supporting, and helping each other 
6. Sew on a button 
7. Load, unload, and start the dishwasher
8. Wash clothes
9. Change a tire
10. Exercise
11. Cook meals

12. Light a pilot light on the hot water heater and furnace
13. Feel compassion for hurting people.
14. Safely drive a car
15. Be responsible
16. Shop
17. Mow the grass and other basic yard maintenance
18. Make a bed
19. Clean a bathroom
20. Be considerate of others
21. Study
22. Set an alarm and get themselves up out of bed
23. Budget and track spending
24. Eat healthy
25. Overcome adversity
26. Hang pictures and shelves
27. Write a thank-you note
28. Clean out the refrigerator
29. Manage their anger
30. Set goals and create action plans
31. Tend a garden
32. Gracefully win and lose a game
33. Plan a vacation
34. Pack a bag
35. Pack a car
36. Resist temptation
37. Paint a room
38. Iron
39. Swim
40. Take notes
41. Care for a pet
42. Make a decision
43. Organize their things
44. Love someone that is hard to love
45. Apologize
46. Appreciate what they have
47. Come back home and visit their Momma!

You may laugh at something like #7, but I knew a guy who made it to college and thought the dishwasher detergent went in the Jet Dry hole! 

The list is long and can be a bit overwhelming; I pray for Divine Help! Having this list does keep things in perspective and works to keep me focused on the things that will matter in the long run!

Please leave a comment with your thoughts on this list! What have I left off? Anything I could remove from the list? I’d love to hear your perspective!

Find more Works for Me Wednesday here.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Wanna know what happens after you go to a parenting class?

Yesterday we attended our first of 9 sessions of Empowered to Connect Parent Training at a local church.  The training is specifically for adoptive and foster parents (generally who have had their child/children home at least 1 year) but it covers some amazing material that is absolutely applicable to biological children as well.

Here's a description of the course:

ETC Parent Training equips parents with a holistic understanding of their child’s needs and development while empowering them with the tools and strategies to effectively meet those needs, build trust, and help their child heal and grow. The training is taught from a Christian perspective and focuses on a wide range of topics and issues relevant to adoptive and foster parents, including helping parents understand the impact of their child’s history, what they themselves bring to the parent-child relationship, the fundamentals of attachment, the impact of fear, and the importance of meeting their child’s sensory processing, nutritional and other physiological needs. Ultimately, ETC Parent Training integrates this holistic understanding with the insights and skills parents need to effectively and consistently employ a balanced parenting approach that allows them to provide compassionate discipline that both connects and corrects.

I summarize all that and just refer to it as our "parenting class".

Exactly 1 hour after returning from said parenting class, three-fourths of my kids did this to our playroom:

I did NOT yell.  There was a casual, "Hey guys, what happened in here?"  To which they replied, "We are pretending it snowed!"  And then they had to clean it up (shredded Kleenex), which they did.

So I guess just signing up for parenting class and attending one session doesn't give us perfect children.  Maybe by week 9?

Find more Wordful Wednesday here.