Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring Break in Ohio

After a long, long drive, we finally made it down to southern Ohio where my parents live. It is beautiful down here in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. I enjoy the quiet and the slow pace of life and I sure needed a break from the normal.

Sunday, we enjoyed going to my parent's little church and watching their little choir sing an Easter cantata. They really did a wonderful job and I was happy the kids got to see my parents sing in the choir, as this is such a big part of their lives. I always crack up how little churches swarm to any visitors...we were officially greeted by two elders, one woman, and a wonderful little man who handed us home made bread and grape jam.

Monday found us faced with cold, rainy weather (very unlike spring break...and I hear it's gorgeous in Wisconsin), but it gave us the chance to do some indoor things. We spent the morning playing games. Well, my mom played games with the kids while I "worked" with George about his attitude. Overall, he has been okay, but we are in a new situation and he just doesn't have ANY social skills. If George is not greeted with his favorite breakfast item, he pouts. If George does not get his way about going outside, he cries...and pouts. If he does not get what he wants, he pouts. Walking into the grocery store, if he can't shut the van door, he pouts. And I have to admit that I am really, really at the end of my tolerance with the pouting.

I asked him this morning, "Is anything ever good enough for you? Do you see your siblings act this way? Do they constantly act like nothing is good enough?" I have seriously reached my limit with the pouting, whining and crying. When is it going to end?

Anyway - I digress. We ended up eating an early lunch and then rushing to the nearest little town, one that has a movie theater, to see How To Train Your Dragon. It was a really cute movie and it was fun being with all the kids just doing something fun like eating pop-corn, M&Ms and Sour Patch Kids! We all laughed and cheered and even worried together about the main characters. And when the movie was over, we clapped and said, "That was so good!"

The rain had stopped, and so the ever-present home schooling momma decided to stop at a Native American mound museum. We watched a short movie about the history of the mounds and then walked through a very small museum that housed items found in the mounds. Even though it was small, it was very interesting. We then took a walk around the 13 amazing mounds that were built thousands of years ago. I always enjoy an excuse to educate the kids!!

Back home, we rode bikes all over - I even took George and Isabel back into a long-forgotten road. My mom told me long ago when an atomic plant was being built here, they built these roads and lined them with trailers for the workers to live in. That was long ago and now the roads are completely empty, a little eerie, but I always enjoy a bike road down a deserted street letting my imagination run wild. I wonder where Eleanor gets her crazy imagination from?

After a good dinner, I find myself now sitting next to Isabel as she fills out a booklet from the museum today (more learning - yea!), all three boys are outside playing football, and Eleanor is settling in with a good book.

It's been a good start to spring break. I can't wait for some of my siblings to come for a visit! My brothers and sister have yet to meet George, and even though I am so nervous that George's bad attitude will rise it's ugly head, I am still anxious for my whole family to meet him.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Soccer

Yesterday was a big day for George. He officially started playing soccer. I carried my camera around all day, wanting to make sure I snapped a few pictures of this big day...but it was so darn cold yesterday! I think my brain froze and I totally forgot about the bulge in my pocket.

So..I will have to describe the day in words only.

We have been talking about soccer for a while now. George spent all fall watching Isabel play. We often played in the yard and Joe and I noticed how athletic George is. So, I signed him up for spring soccer here in town. Then, the coach called, welcoming George to the team. Then, I got him some cool socks, shin guards, and we discovered that Isabel's cleats from last year fit George perfectly. The whole time, George was guarded, and would often say, "I don't want to play soccer."

Yesterday, I picked up George from school and happily announced, "After dinner you have your first soccer practice!"

George replied, "I don't want to go." This was accompanied with a pout and a very sour attitude.

We got home and I said, "Hey Buddy! It's time to put on your new cool socks, shin guards and shoes!"

George replied, "I don't want to. They smell. The shoes hurt. The shin guards hurt. I don't want to go."

We piled in the car and I said, "George, we are almost there! I can't wait to meet your coach and see you play soccer!"

George replied, "I don't want to go. I don't like soccer."

Instead of getting frustrated with George, (Ok, I have to be totally honest and say I WAS getting annoyed), I realized this is his way of protecting himself. In reality, he was terrified. I was putting him into a totally new situation. I was pushing him toward a coach, a team and into a sport he has never officially played. I was asking him to wear things he has never worn and I was driving him off to a practice he has never experienced. He was scared. Instead of telling me how afraid he is, George puts up defenses. George defends his heart by being mean and nasty first. I am starting to pick up on these things.

When we got to the field I said, "George, I know you are scared. But I also know that you are going to be a great soccer player and I know you are going to have fun. It will be OK. I will be standing here the whole time watching you practice. It will be OK."

So, George ran off to meet his coach and his team. The coach had them run a few warm-up laps (it was about 35 degrees last night), and then immediately split them into teams and had them just scrimmage each other. George was a bit clueless at first. I got so nervous as I watched him put his head down and refuse to go after the ball. Very quietly, the coach walked over and must have given him an encouraging word. George put his head up and started to try. Then, a team mate (more about him later), walked over and showed George where to go.

Before I knew it, there was George racing down the field! He even scored 3 goals!!! The coach would ask, "Who scored that goal?" and the team would yell, "George did!"

By the end of practice, George was smiling and laughing and even talking a little. When the coach told them practice was over, George raced to me and said, "Momma...I love soccer. Soccer is fun!"

So...I want to tell you how good God is! The team mate I mentioned early...guess what? He is adopted from Haiti! George said, "He is my friend. His skin looks like mine!" So, of all the teams George could have been assigned to, he ends up on a team with a boy who was adopted from Haiti 2 years ago! And let me tell you, that boy is AMAZING at soccer. I talked to his dad most of the practice and he told me that his son used to play soccer every day in the orphanage - with a rock. And now that he has shoes and can kick a real soccer ball, he is so excited to play that the dad can't keep him away.

I told Joe, the coach is phyched to have these two adopted boys on his team!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Bathroom

I took a shower this morning at a different time; I usually listen to David Jeremiah each morning, and right now he is preaching on Revelation and I am so enjoying it! But, for some strange reason, my schedule was a bit off this morning and instead of Turning Point, Focus on the Family was on. Now that I write this...I am not even 100% positive it was FOF. Hmmmm.

Well, the point of the show, whatever it was, was about parenting. And, oh, how I need godly advice on parenting every day! I freely admit...I am stumbling along pretty clueless sometimes. So, someone asked the guest how to handle sibling arguments. The guest said, "Well, I put my kids who are arguing into the smallest, most boring room of the house for 15 minutes. The bathroom."

I chuckled. Then I wondered, "Should I try this?"

One of my goals as a mother is to raise children who love each other, get along and find themselves actually wanting to be with each other. My heart breaks when they tear each other down with their words or actions, so I am always on the look-out for a great parenting tip that deals directly with this issue.

And, praise God, I was given a chance about 6 hours later to try out the bathroom idea.

I had been watching George and Lincoln fight over a ball for about 20 minutes. I was getting dinner ready and could see them from my window. Lincoln had a ball. George wanted the ball. And I watched George chase Lincoln round and round the car. It was actually pretty hilarious; round and round and round, running as fast as they possible could. Then, the inevitable happened....George caught up to Lincoln. The ball is stripped from Lincoln's sure hands, the ball goes scrambling across the driveway and George ends up with the ball. Lincoln's cry could be heard about 3.7 miles away... I am sure of that!

They were both angry. Both crying (after Lincoln took a swipe at George and the ball). Both came stomping in the house. Clearly, no one was at fault; they were just being brothers...as usual. So...into the bathroom they go!

The looked at me as if I had a third eye-ball. There were no arguments...I told them both I would not listen to either one as they blammed the other. They had 10 minutes to hang in the bathroom with the goal of coming out no longer angry at each other. There were some more tears, some more protests, but I ignored them.

Then, something happened. About 6 minutes into the experiment, I heard the two of them simply talking to each other. I opened the door and they were intently looking at something that Lincoln broke (not good, I know, but it got them off of fighting). I asked them if they were ready to come out. George immediately said he was sorry. Lincoln said, "I forgive you." They started to walk out when I said, "Um...Lincoln? You have something to say, too."

Lincoln got the most sincere look on his face and said, "Georgie, I am sorry."

They hugged and ran out happy as can be...until the next time....

I think they went into that bathroom and could not escape each other, and in that close quarters, they both came together to investigate something. And in that moment, the anger was gone and they were simply brothers again. They realized that if they held the grudge, they would not have enjoyed that moment. They would have missed an opportunity to simply have fun. Being brothers is much better.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Needing a Break

I am part of a message board (isn't everyone who has adopted???). I find it so interesting that some other moms who adopted around the same time we did are experiencing so many of the same things in our older children.

Lying....that about tops the list. Negative attitude. The use of the words "always" and "never" used inappropriately (really....do I NEVER let you eat a snack?). The "baby cry" when the word no is heard. The mean, mean words when something doesn't go his way.

I am trying hard to not respond to the negative behavior. I have taken the stance of ignoring the behavior and it seems to work the best these days. If George wants to lie, whine, pout...he can go do that in his room all by himself. No one else wants to see it or hear it anymore. We are tired of the act.

Most days this method works well. It is like George is that 3 year old that pouts and whines at every turn. I have to remind myself to treat him like a 3 year old sometimes. Time-outs and loses of privileges work. But every now and then, I snap. I used to never snap. I am truly worn down from a year of whining and I fail to see the bigger picture some days.

Some days, George can say nothing nice or positive. He just stomps around the house in a sour mood. On those days, we talk a lot about how George is in control of himself. He can chose to make good decisions. He has the ability to decide to be happy. It never turns around right away, but I have become so used to George walking up to me, wrapping his arms around me and saying, "I am happy now."

I have to be honest, sometimes I get so irritated with that phrase. I want to say, "Oh - OK, so you've been a little terror to everyone for the past 4 hours, but now you've decided you are happy and we have to just drop everything and be happy with you!" But, that is exactly what we are called to do. Drop all our hurt feelings, our frustrations and our disappointments and be happy with George.

We continue to ride the roller coaster. Good weeks, great days, and then really bad weeks and horrible days. We are on the down side this week. I realize we are one month away from hitting that ONE YEAR mark. Yea - we have almost made it to one year!!! Maybe subconsciously, George is angry again, hurting again, confused again. Or maybe this is just the cycle of adoption; good followed by bad followed by good.

So, back to the board. Some other momma's are tired like me. Some experienced momma's suggested doing something out of the normal, get away together, change things up. And so...we are going to do just that. I am a bit nervous about leaving home for a week for the first time. Will George revert to old behavior? Will he be mean and nasty to new my family when he meets them? Will I be so stressed out that I can't relax at all?

Prayer. That is the answer here. I pray that this break from our routine will be a good one. I pray that the memories we make as a family will be good ones. I pray for laughter, fun, and good times. I pray that the enemy's tactics in George will disappear - no whining, no pouting, no mean words on this trip!

I think we all could use a break.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Momma...Why You Praying?

Tonight was home church with our dear group of friends. We haven't been to home church since September...life was simply getting in the way. But tonight, our calendar was set and we were looking forward to connecting with our friends.

There was much laughter. There was time of catching up and sharing praises and prayer requests. And there were lots and lots of kids running around. Between this group of friends, there are 26 kids (I think my math is correct) all under the age of 13. Now, all 26 kids were not there, in fact, there were only 4 families represented tonight. But there were still 14 children. And boy did they run, climb, hollar, whoop and dance!

The adults have become pretty adept and concentrating among the chaos and the general rule is keep talking even if a child comes in and needs something. We all help each other and we all look after everyone's kids. The church.

So, we shared our lives for a few hours and then it was time to pray. The kids had been running in and out of the house all night - even as the temperatures plummeted and it began to rain. But, of course, as we started to pray, they all came inside. What I want to share is their reaction to seeing 4 families of adults bowing their heads and praying out loud with each other: a respectful reverence. The kids saw us and all instantly stopped their question mid sentence or found an older kid to help with their coat. It struck me that these kids are used to seeing their parents praying together. What great message could we possibly give our children?

On our drive home, George asked, "Momma..Why you praying?" I realized that he had never really experienced that scene before. He has been around this group of families, but it was so early on in his life here that I think he did a combination of ignore us and not understand us. So, this time he was very curious.

"Why you pray together?" Well, we join together in prayer because we are like a family. We care about each other deeply and find it a privilege to pray with and for each other.

"What you pray about?" Well, we pray about everything. We prayed about specific prayer requests for sleep, for peace, for provision and even for our country.

"You pray for me?" Well, yes. We pray for all our children and our marriages.

"You love each other?" Yes, George, we do. This is the body of Christ.

I realized on the drive home that this is what I want my children to grow up seeing their parents doing. We laugh and we play together, but most importantly, we pray to a Father in heaven who delights in us and bend low to earth to hear us pray. And I pray my children will find a church family that they will pray with someday.

The Number is Up!

A friend got me the most amazing bag - it says 143 million across the front and I love it. Sometimes I get questions about what that number represents. I tell them that is the number of orphans in the world. Now, I think I need to take a permanent marker and cross out the number. There is now a new number. I was shocked. I wanted to scream, "No way! It can't be!" But, after I dug around for the source, I found it was true.

The number of orphans in the world is now 163 million. We have gained 20 million orphans. I say we on purpose. This is no longer a "their" problem...it is a "we" problem!

Do you understand that number? 20 million more orphans!

I have been trying to figure out how to adequately put 20 million children into perspective. Here is what I came up with: New York city has 8.2 million people; Los Angeles has 3.8 million - that gets us a little over half way there. Picture in you head every single living human being in the two larges cities in the United States being an orphaned child. We can add Chicago with 2.9 million. Not there yet, so we'll add every person living in Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonia, San Diego, and Dallas. We finally reach the number of 20 million.

And that number simple represents the additional 20 million orphans since the last number was determined! Try adding 143 million to that.

Or, we could talk about countries: Australia has 21 million people. That means 99% of the people living in Australia would be orphaned children. Or, we could take every person living in Greenland, Bermuda, Barbados, Tonga, Aruba, Belize, Botswana, Kosovo, Swaziland, Estonia, Panama, Uruguay, Lithuania, Albania, Ireland and Croatia. That would equal the 20 million NEW orphans.

Is this problem big enough yet to gain some attention? Is this problem serious enough to wake up churches to start focusing on orphan/foster care? And I mean FOCUS...not just give lip service to.

I go back to all the what ifs? What if.....only a quarter of Christians in the church would adopt a child? What do you think would change?

I will tell you...again...a child will be introduced to Jesus! A child would grow up knowing that God loved him/her so much that He brought him/her out of poverty and hopelessness into a family. I say it again and again, not every one is called to adopt. But more are called to adopt than do.

Oh, and the source of the new number is the December 2009 U.S. Government and Partners: Working Together on a Comprehensive, Coordinated and Effective Response to Highly Vulnerable Children report.

Spring




To my surprise, I found some beautiful signs of spring today as I walked about my yard. Of course, snow is supposed to come tomorrow - sigh. But for today, I will enjoy the knowledge that new life is right around the corner.

March Madness

GO BUCKEYES!!!!!

That's all I have for today :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

No Rest

Ephesians 4:26b, "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry."

I have to admit that in our family, the sun sometimes sets with anger still brewing. Sometimes, the kids go to bed angry because we made them go to bed "early". Sometimes, Joe and I go to bed angry at each other. Most times, we all agree that with a good night's sleep, we will be much better equipped to discuss our disagreement. I can say that most times the sun has risen, the anger is gone and resolution is found. But, we were always struck with the verse in Ephesians, because the first part of that verse says, "In your anger, do not sin." If I am being totally honest, I probably DO sin as I stew in my bed before falling asleep. I am sure some pretty mean thoughts go through my mind....and I know that is wrong.

That has all changed once George came into our family.

George WILL NOT go to sleep until he has reconciled with Joe and I. He refuses...flat out will not sleep.

This happened again last night. The kids have been staying up a bit because of daylight savings time...and the amazing weather around here. Also, they have been playing outside from the minute they get home to the minute I call them in. The result? Some very tired kids.

And I have learned that when George is physically tired, he actually gets pretty hyper. He just refuses to settle down when he gets over tired. I have never experienced that before with the other kids, so it took me a while to learn the cues and learn how to deal with it. Last night was one of the nights that George was a bit out of control. We said "no" to something, and he had a poor reaction; he stomped around the house for a while with his whinny cry. We told him to stop and so he screamed, ran into his room and slammed the door.

He was then put to bed and told goodnight. Simple as that.

Well, he was NOT happy and he cried and screamed for a while. He demanded that Lincoln have to go to bed, too. We tried to talk to him, but he would throw his comforter over his head and refuse to even listen to us. Again...this doesn't happy very often, but it is a typical reaction when George is very tired.

When it was bed time, we brought in Lincoln. George, of course, was still awake. We said our prayers and went to give hugs and kisses. George said, "No hug!"

I lost it. I have told George how much that has hurt me in the past. I have asked him to no longer use that tactic to hurt me. He had agreed. I was so angry now! So, I told him that I was angry...that he knew how much those words hurt me...and that I was sick of it. Yes, I probably over-reacted. I AM the adult and should have simply walked out saying, "That's your choice." But, I didn't.

At this point, Joe and I both settled in on the couches in the living room and were talking about our day when we could hear George crying and moaning in his bed. We ignored it. We could hear him tossing, turning, throwing covers around. He simply could not settle down.

Joe went into the room to tell him it was time to go to sleep. And in that moment, George said, "I have to tell Momma I am sorry." Joe let him out and he ran to me, threw himself onto me and told me he was sorry and that he wouldn't say "no hug" again. I told him I forgave him.

With a smile on his face, he immediately settled down and fell fast asleep.

This is a child who simply can not go to sleep with any anger between himself and his parents. His body will not settle and his mind will not shut off. But once there is reconciliation, he sleeps with a smile.

He continues to teach me how to live the way God wants me to.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

It's Fun To Get There


Things have really changed. I can't put my finger on the exact moment or the day, but something has certainly changed around our home. George has really settled in.


I wish this would have happened 11 months ago. Or at least, 9 months ago. But the reality is, it didn't really happen until around 1 month ago. Maybe it was George's birthday? Or maybe it was because we passed that anniversary of George being dropped off at the orphanage? Or maybe it is simply time.


I have learned so much over the past 11 months; I have grown more than I thought was possible at my age. I have been humbled, yet have experienced the love of God so deeply. I have been broken, yet have felt whole for the first time in my life. I have been depressed, yet have never felt more at peace. Only a life with God can bring those oxymoron's into complete harmony. And...adoption.


At breakfast yesterday, it was George and Isabel and I sitting at the table. Isabel suddenly said to me, "George is getting so handsome."


"Yes! I agree!"


But later, Joe and I were talking about this. George's physical appearance hasn't changed. Maybe he holds his head a little higher now. Maybe he makes eye contact more now. And he definitely has "fattened" up a big. But, generally, this is still the same boy we brought home 11 months ago. So, he has not changed.


What has changed is OUR HEARTS.....finally. I am sorry that I didn't feel this right away, but I have to be totally honest. I had a hard time even looking at George in the beginning. He has hurt me so badly, and when he looked at me, he had scorn in his eyes. So, as a result, I avoided looking at him as much as I could. I would tend to his needs, but I never stared at him the way moms do. When people would say, "Oh, he is so handsome," my reply was always, "Really? I don't see it."


But now, I stare into those gorgeous almond-shaped eyes. I smile every time I see his dimple pop out. I marvel at the beautiful shade of chocolate of his skin and think my skin is so pale in comparison. I play with his hair, stroke his face, and hold his hand...simply because I love him.


It was a journey, wasn't it? But it is fun to now see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Amazing Day

It was another beautiful day in Wisconsin! After church, the sun was warm, the snow all gone, the ground getting a little drier and so we all camped ourselves outside. Oh, we are an outdoors family! I was beginning to 'lose it' in our small house in the country, because we were doing too much small house and not enough country lately.

The kids raced into the house to change out of their church clothes and all put on short sleeves. Mind you, when I saw it was warm, it was about 51 degrees - ha! But, this is what happens in WI. The snow melt and suddenly, every one is outside...in short sleeves. So, Lincoln had his Brewer shirt one, the blue Corey Hart shirt that is in almost every picture of Lincoln from last summer. George pulled on an American pride shirt - complete with an eagle and the stars and stripes. And then the boys got to playing.

They pulled out the Tonka dump trucks and moved gravel all through-out our driveway. They drew chalk drawings of themselves all over the garage. They picked up tennis rackets (with no ball-mind you) and "played" tennis. They ran to the neighbors for some basketball. And they eventually ended up on the swing set.

Every where one went, the other was right behind. They even snuck into the back patio to clean their shoes after drawing with chalk on them. Then, they discovered how fun it would be to jump in the puddles them just made.

I can not even explain the joy I felt today, simply watching brothers be brothers. They had so much fun together. I realized that my kids have never really played like that before. Maybe because of the gender differences combined with the age differences...but I had never seen two brothers just being brothers together...all day. I am so happy for Lincoln. I am so happy for George. And the older three, were very happy that the two boys were having so much fun and not bother them!

I turned to Joe and said, "I have been waiting for this for so long! For the moment that everything felt so normal again. When having George wasn't something new anymore." This is now our 2nd spring. George knows where the bikes are and where the trucks are. He knows how to communicate with his brothers and his sisters. He also knows that Mom and Dad really like to read on Sunday afternoons and watch the kids play.

Then I thought...hmmmm...maybe a sister in between Eleanor and Isabel???

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Snow Is Finally Gone!

The kids got off the bus and Eleanor said, "Ah! It smells like spring!"

And what does spring mean for the Weldie family?

BASEBALL!!!

So, we all stopped whatever we were doing and raced outside to play some long-overdue baseball. Our neighbor's oldest (18 and a few months away from entering the Marines) came out to join us and brought some tennis balls. He pitched as Lincoln and George took turns batting. Lincoln hasn't missed a beat and I still think he is destined to play ball. George has a bit of a swat more than a swing, but he manages to hit the ball really hard. Harry and Eleanor cracked up as they sloshed around in the mud filled yard chasing balls and trying to beat Gunnar. Isabel was the official cheerleader, a role she pulls off way too naturally.

We just played. We didn't worry about muddy shoes, muddy pants or muddy sweatshirts - although I have quite a load of dirty, wet socks now! We just played our favorite game...baseball.

George couldn't be happier that the snow is finally gone. I wonder what was going on in his mind for this first winter. Did he wonder if this was it? He was now going to live in a cold, snow covered land? He would ask if we would ever go swimming again, and I think that was his way of wondering if it would ever get warm. I assured that it would...but could he really trust me when morning after morning he looked out the window and was greeted with snow?

Now he is seeing grass, and we played outside with just t-shirts and jeans. He asked if we could get his bike down from the rafters in the garage. Maybe...I think rain is coming, but I promised him it would be down soon.

Fast forward to tonight...AWANA pick up found me faced with a tremendous amount of fog. I was scared driving....it was that bad (and I am rarely a nervous driver!). Coming home was challenging on our street - as our street follows a major river. The fog was so bad I couldn't even see 10 yards in front of my car. The kids got scared. No street lights, no street lines made for a slow going ride home (life in the country).

When we finally got home and pulled into the garage, I let out a sigh.

"We're home."

"Momma. Are you OK? That was really scary." George said from the back seat. He was the only one to ask me if I was OK.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Thursday...

I want to tell you about my Thursday last week. I was given the great privilege of working with BASICS and Feed My Sheep - two groups of soldiers for Christ who get very little "praises of men" or recognition. But let me tell you..I see no greater people to serve with than these two groups.



BASICS stands for Brothers and Sisters In Christ Serving. That should say it all. This is a group of missionaries sent to Milwaukee. We lived "on the wall" before moving out the country and maybe that is why we jump at the chance to go back. Joe and I felt like Rahab in the wall of a sin-filled city. Right on the edge. And BASICS goes in...every day...to minister and love on the people who need it the most. I don't have enough time to share all the ways BASICS loves on the people of Milwaukee, but I will share one initiative they have: to cover the Milwaukee Public Schools in prayer!



There is one school in particular in need of great amounts of prayer: South Division High School. This is the most diverse high school in the MPS system, which has resulted in great gang activity. The enemy has had a stronghold in this school for decades. BASICS is now fighting back! And what cool thing did God do??? He put a God-fearing, Christ-following believer as principal! Praise God!



So, this principal invited BASICS to come down for a day and serve lunch to the teachers/staff.



This is where Feed My Sheep comes in. FMS is a food ministry based at our church. Bottom line: they feed God's sheep with healthy, wonderful food!



BASICS calls FMS and asks if they can cater a lunch for 200 teachers and staff at South Division High School. FMS says yes. BASICS puts out a call to volunteers to come down and help serve the food.



And Joe and I answered that call.



So...long introduction, but this how my Thursday began. I knew I was running low on gas (and money) and so after I dropped off the kids at school, I knew I HAD to spend my last $12 to put some gas in the car. That would give me enough to get to church, where I was meeting my Bible study leader (who went down with Joe and I), and then enough to get back home. The problem...I didn't make it to the gas station! Now, I am a 39 year old woman who has never run out of gas until this year! Now I have done it twice!



I was cutting the time close as it was, and now I found myself stranded on Highway F with no gas and 4 year old in tow. I knew there was a gas station about 1 mile up the road (I had hoped to make it there), so Lincoln and I started walking. Multiple cars zoomed by. Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! I was almost in tears as I thought about how I might not even make it to South Division at all. How would I buy a gas can AND enough gas to get me into town? I just didn't see how it would happen, so I was rehearsing in my mind what I would say to Joe and the rest of the gang.



Suddenly a car slowed down and woman shouted, "Do you need a ride?"



"Oh! Yes!"



I grabbed Lincoln and ran to her car. We sat down and the first thing out of her mouth was, "Do you believe in God?"



"Ummm..yes! I love Him!"



"Well, good...I thought you might think I was crazy, but God told me to pick you up. I drove by once and then God told me to turn around and pick you up."



This wonderful woman took me to the gas station and waited while I went inside to ask if they had a gas tank for sale. The woman behind the counter said, "Oh sweetie. I have a gas can out back with 2 gallons in it. Will that get your car here?"



When I told her it would indeed, she offered the gas for free!



The woman in the car drove me back to my car and waited as I put the 2 gallons in. Then she said, "Look, I would feel much better if I follow you to the gas station. I can be a little late to work."



"What is your name? I want to pray for you!" That was all I could think to say.



"Robbie. And I could use your prayers. I just got a divorce, my kids are sleeping on mattresses on the floor and I just picked up two recliners from the side of the road. That's all I have. My hours just got cut. I had to sell my washer and dryer and I could use your prayers. But...I know my God hears me!"



So, I put in my last $12 into the gas tank and puttered along to church. I dropped off Lincoln with a friend, who was gracious enough to watch him all day, and got to church about 20 minutes late to meet Lindy. We had only 10 minutes to get all the way downtown. I felt so bad.



Miraculously, we got to South Division High School only 1 minute late - not sure how that happened, but it did!



So, we get to the school. No door handles! None. No one can just walk into this school. A security guard saw us and opened a door that led right to a metal detector. "Are you with BASICS?"



We nodded.



"Oh, bless you! Come on in! We need you here today more than ever!"



We were told the story of what happened only 14 hours earlier. One of the brightest, most well behaved kids in the school suddenly went crazy. He almost gouged out the eyes of the guard standing before us. He had two black eyes that were very swollen. He hurt several other guards, as the strength of this boy had suddenly tripled. It took 5 guards and a taser gun to finally subdue him. The whole school was shaken. Believers said he had been demon possessed and that it happens often here. Knowing this, they were worried that BASICS would not come. We assured them, we serve a greater power!



The guard directed us to the second floor and said there would be a guard up there to let us onto the 2nd floor. Again, no door handles. We could only be let in from someone standing on the inside.



As we walked in, FMS was wheeling in the food. The BASICS director, Mark, instructed Lindy and I to start praying over each and every one of the tables in the faculty lunch room. We prayed, being totally led by the Spirit as we laid our hands on the tables and chairs and prayed that God would be present.



Soon, the teachers and staff started coming in for lunch. Imagine their surprise and shock at seeing a decorated room and smelling the aroma of fresh soups, salads and wraps. They were stunned! And then...we just loved on them. Joe ladled out soup, others served the salads and wraps. Lindy made sure everyone had a drink of their choice and my job was to sit with the teachers and talk to them. What a privilege that was!



Oh, these teachers all asked the same question, "Why are you here?"



"To thank you. To support you. To let you know that you are being prayed for."



We encouraged the teachers to fill out prayer request cards. They did! We gave them a treat and a "Love Letter From Your Father". We laughed. And many teachers left the room in tears.



At the end of the day, we had 75 prayer cards filled out. And I left a changed woman.



And I can't wait to go back.



The enemy tried to keep me away and God intervened. The enemy tried to keep BASICS and FMS away, but God-led soldiers persevered. Thank you, Jesus!



Please pray for Robbie, right now. Pray that God would bring her practical things: she really wants a couch or a bed for her to sleep on. Pray that God would encourage her and love her in a way that fills her to overflowing.



Please pray for South Division High School, right now. Pray that God would triumph over the darkness that has held that school for so long. Pray for protection of the guards, the teachers and the students. And pray for the principal, who is unashamed of his Savior and tells his staff every day that only Jesus can make a difference at that school.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Talking and Reading

That about sums up my past week. I have been doing lots of talking and lots of reading.

Talking: I have had the joy and the privilege to talk to several families this week about adoption and parenting. And I have to laugh, for I am no expert in either instance! But, God has blessed me with a big mouth - or I should say a talkative mouth (one in which I have tried desperately to silence more this past year!) and then He brought some people into my life with questions. It might be the huge amount of gray hair that has suddenly appeared. Or maybe it is just that Joe and I ARE getting older. Either way, I find myself enjoying talking to people who have questions about adoption and/or parenting.

Something popped up from my recent posts about George saying he was sorry. I had a couple of emails asking the same question and then a few "live" (phone calls) came in. Some people were amazed at how in-tune George is for a 7 year old to be able to recognize his shortcomings and then apologize. Yes - it is amazing! But!!!! Our children get to see apologies every day - and I mean every day! I mess up EVERY DAY! I yell too loud or I jump to conclusions or I have unrealistic expectations....and I mess up. And then, I feel compelled to go to my children and tell them how sorry I am for how I behaved. I ask for their forgiveness because, frankly, I need it.

I have apologized to George many, many, many times. I have let him tell me how I have hurt his heart. I listen as he tells me it made him angry how I didn't listen to him. I listens as he cries about feeling I love the other children more than him. And then, I humble myself and apologize because I am so sorry.

George apologized to me because I have had to apologized to him so many times! There is an abundance of grace and mercy in our house because we are such sinners....each and every one of us.

So, as I have been humbled to share my experiences with various people this week, I have felt God encouraging me to be totally honest. Parenting is hard work! Adoption is hard work! And if you don't have the grace and mercy of God in your home, I don't know how you will make it.

Reading: I felt compelled to pick up The Hole in the Gospel again. I read it about 5 months ago and admittedly didn't pay much attention to it. I was so consumed with the hard things of the adoption that I read it with a bitter heart and a bad attitude. But, now that I have experienced God's immense faithfulness to me and my family, I heard Him say, "Pick it up again. Read it again."

This time, I am pouring over each page, each paragraph, meditating on the words and asking God what He wants to teach me. I think one day this summer, our family will go one day without clean water. I want my children to know there is a greater church out there than the one we attend. I want my children to CARE about those in poverty, in hunger, in thirst. I think God is challenging me in how I raise my children with the knowledge of how the world is hurting. I do not want them to be "happy and carefree" where they have no idea what is beyond their comfortable house.

Internally I fight against my conservative upbringing juxtaposed with the idea of the "social gospel". There MUST be a balance between the two! On the way home from church yesterday (a 45 minute drive), Joe and I talked about what it means to show fruit...to have evidence of your relationship with Christ. The older kids listened intently and asked lots of questions. We MUST have evidence, fruit...the world needs to be able to look at us and see that we follow Christ. And what is that evidence? Is it dressing up on Sunday morning and driving out of the neighborhood for all your neighbors to see? It is putting a sign in your yard or a bumper sticker on your car? Yes.. it IS those things, but church, it is so much more!

As a family, we are now brainstorming ways in which each one of us can have more fruit. I'll let you know what we come up with.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Do You Really Think He is FOR Adoption?

I get tired of the enemy's tactics.

The agency Joe and I used to adopt George is now under investigation for "harvesting" children. This means they are accused of buying children who were not really orphans, or promising birth parents that their children would be sent to America to live in grand palaces and eventually send money back to them. In some cases, it is alleged that children would return to Ethiopia after complete their education.

I don't doubt that there is some corruption - there are several stories of adoptive parents who are today hurting because their children and the birth parents were misled somewhere along the line. I am sorry for their pain and I can't imagine what that would feel like!

But, the result of this has been division, distrust, and discouragement.

I have had a friend nervously ask if she should continue to trust a possible adoption of a beautiful child from Ethiopia.

God's heart is for the orphans to be cared for. When there is any misconduct, the entire system is put into question. While we bicker over what is best or good or not so good for the children, orphans continue to wait. We (man) have let the enemy get a hold of adoption - shame on us.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I Honestly Never Thought I Would Hear These Words...

I was cooking. George was hanging out with me in the kitchen. We started talking about Africa, a pretty common topic between the two of us these days.

"Momma? Georgie was so mean to Momma in Africa. Georgie wouldn't let Momma touch me. I am so sorry."

Lots of tears. Lots of hugs. Forgiveness.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

True Mourning

Yesterday, I saw George truly mourning...all day.

It started early in the morning. Something mean was said to George and he suddenly panicked. "Don't send me back to Africa!", he cried.

Of course, there is never a thought in our mind about this, but obviously, George has yet to truly understand this. He cried. Tears left salty white streaks down his chocolate brown cheeks. For the first time, I heard a guttural cry that comes from deep within.

Later that day, he got a letter from a friend from his orphanage. At first he smiled and he asked me a lot of questions: "Does T have a home?", "Did T leave Africa?", "Does T have a nice mommy and daddy?", and finally, "Can we drive to T's house?" Then, the mourning started again. George quietly snuck to his room, laid down down on his bed and mourned. Joe later asked me what I thought made him cry so much. I think he just misses his friend. I think he remember mornings of playing together in the warm sun, where there was a significant amount of freedom, and he simply missed that.

Finally, as we celebrated Isabel's birthday, the kids started asking questions about what they were like as babies and what they were like inside Momma's belly. For some reason, my kids LOVE to hear how they were so different, even while I was pregnant. I knew George was sitting right there and I knew this would be challenging for him, but I didn't want to squelch a wonderful conversation the whole family was having. So, I sensitively (and shortly) described each one of the kids and what they did in my belly. George put his head down and huge tears again streamed down his face. Eleanor noticed and quietly said, "Oh, Momma. George is really hurting." I rubbed his back and told him about how we chose him, how we flew across the world to bring him to our family. He looked up and said, "But, I want to be your baby."

Oh, how my heart aches. I DO wish I had George as a baby. He would know love and security and I would know him intimately. I know I have written this a lot lately, but this is what we are living with every day right now. I read all about how an adoptive parent will need to "regress" a child to a baby state, giving them things they missed. But George was different. I think he was loved by a mom, he was not in an institution at a young age. So, he resisted my touch and my love.

Now, he sees. And he wants THIS momma to be HIS momma. So, he wants to be cuddled, hugged, held, carried...and loved. I see this broken heart longing for healing. The fierce, fighting George is breaking down...he is letting down his guard. He is learning to trust us and to not fight us so much.

Oh, Georgie.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Isabel Turns 8!!



For Isabel's 8th birthday, she wanted to spend time with Mom. I am realizing that this middle child desperately longs to have quality time...and so I was happy to share a coffee and a hot cocoa with Isabel at a local java joint!


This has become our signature...we always take a close-up when we are alone together.

It was the perfect cup of cocoa.


Back home, after dinner, Isabel enjoyed her cookie-cake!




Here is Daddy's little girl...





who is 8 going on 15!




We got her an mp3 player so she could listen to her new CDs.


But, most importantly, we got her a new Bible, one that is no longer a "kid-Bible", but one that we pray will be her companion for the rest of her years with us.


Here is Isabel reading the inscription written by Mom.



And this is how we will see Isabel for the next few months....music a'flowing through her ears!













Turning A Corner...Cautiously

We are seeming to turn a corner these days...George is really changing...and so are we. In the past week, George has initiated many conversations about wanting to stay with us. As he laid in bed with me yesterday morning before church (one of my regular snuggle times with my kids), he said, "You stay with me forever." That is his way of making sure this is it...we are really a forever family.

Trust is being established as we meet his needs and even meet some of his wants (light-up shoes went a long way to tell him we loved him enough to get what he really wanted). He also said this weekend, "I can eat more and more and more. I can always have more." Interpretation: he is no longer hungry. We have asked him if he was hungry in Ethiopia and he replies, "One eat. One eat a day."

On Saturday morning, George came to me and said, "Africa a bad place. No shoes in Africa. No food in Africa. No school in Africa. I want to stay here." I tried to talk about how Africa is not a bad place and how Momma and Daddy thought is was wonderful! But, to this child, Africa at this point represents painful memories and life seems so much better here.

It is interesting to see how he is changing. For so long, I was threatened with daily shouts of how Georgie wanted to go back to Africa (he still doesn't say Ethiopia - where he is from is Africa). He would see pictures, videos or people from Africa and he would march out into the front yard and "wait" for someone to take him back. That is gone.

Oh, how much loss is wrapped up in adoption. At first, he lost his father. Then, he lost his mother. Then, he loses all he knows, his friends, his food, his weather. Then, he is faced with a healthy loss of that culture and people he loved as he tries to bond with his new family and his new culture. Either way, George loses something meaningful and good.

I think he is saying Africa is bad in order to protect his heart from this new round of great loss. I know at the same time, this is a positive step, a turning of a corner as we forge a genuine bond as a family. I had no idea it would take close to a year to even get near this point!

I have so much hope.