Friday, April 29, 2011

Witness


Last week Eleanor wore our new Safe Families-Milwaukee t-shirt to school.

And Eleanor's very left-leaning, non-Christian teacher stopped her, read the scripture on the shirt and asked, "What does this mean?"

Guess what? This left-leaning, non-Christian teacher is now leading her class in a fundraiser to raise money for Safe Families -Milwaukee!

God works in mysterious ways!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Children

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Big Question

I know the question that is on everyone's lips: "How has the adoption of Anna affected George?"

Joe and I have always believed that adopting another child, especially from Africa, would be good for George. No longer would he be the only one adopted. No longer would he be the only one with brown skin and curly hair. And so, we have prayed for God to make a way for us to adopt from Africa again.

When Anna came home, all the kids were piled against the kitchen window staring out curiously awaiting what would come out of the car. All of them remembered the day, almost exactly two years ago, when George came home. Same scenario - my children peering out a window, anxious to welcome home their new brother. George went to a corner and screamed. Anna....she giggled, said hello to everyone and even gave a few hugs. Then, she took Isabel's hand and walked around the house. I could feel the huge sigh of relief from Eleanor and Harry. Eleanor later told me she was so scared that it would be like before - she was almost in shock at how different this was.

So, George, remembering how he acted, started to cry.

"I didn't act that way when I came home."

"We know, buddy. But, the past is the past. You have been forgiven and we don't look back on those days. We love you. You are our son and you have the chance to make today a good day."

He continued to cry. True remorse began to come out. And I think he was faced with what COULD have been. He saw a girl accept the love a family had to offer and he saw that girl warmly fall into everyone's arms. He saw a girl laugh and giggle. He saw a family smiling. And he was truly sorry.

This period lasted a few days and we worked through a lot with him, mainly telling him over and over again that he has been forgiven and there is no need to apologize anymore. I think he has truly accepted that forgiveness now.

Yesterday, the kids had the day off school and it was a beautiful spring day in Wisconsin. Sunshine and warm temperatures caused us to spend the entire day at the park. At one point, Anna banged her head against a metal bar and began to cry. Before I could even possibly get there, George was there comforting her and telling her, "Mom is coming."

Last night, after the kids had spent a few hours after dinner playing basketball and then King of the Hill (a truly funny sight to watch!), Lincoln, George and Anna all curled up next to me (I actually feel like I have triplets now - for all three act the same age) as we watched an inning of the Brewers game. George reached over and stroked Anna's arm. And then he quietly said to her, "Anna, I love you. I am going to be your big brother forever."

Monday, April 25, 2011

So...What Happened?


I would LOVE to tell you the amazing story of how God brought Anna into our family. I can't tell you much because this is an adoption from dissolution. That means that a family that had adopted Anna from Ghana decided they no longer wanted her.

Because this is a dissolution, several court proceedings have to take place before she is legally ours. The first family has to officially adopt her and then dissolve the adoption. Then, we will petition the court here in our county to officially adopt her, change her name to ours and make this her forever family.

I hope you understand that I can't tell you much about Anna or her first adoptive family until this is all over. Until then, I'll just give little updates here and there - and of course, I can talk all about the other 5!

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter! Easter was Anna's first day at church...well, she apparently went to a Roman Catholic church 2 or 3 times, but nothing like what she experienced yesterday. A huge celebration! Thousands of people cheering for our Lord and Savior! Needless to say, she liked it. And then she kept asking about Jesus the rest of the afternoon :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Winner!


I was surprised with being told I won a blogging award :) Thank you http://crazylifeofapreacherswife.blogspot.com/

There are rules that go along with this award and the first is for me to list 10 things about myself, so here goes...

1. I grew up in Columbus, OH and love the Buckeyes!

2. I moved a lot in the early years of my marriage. We left Ohio and lived in South Carolina, moved to central California and then moved to northern California, back to Ohio and then finally up to Wisconsin.

3. I have an amazing husband who I love more and more each year.

4. I have been blessed with 3 girls and 3 boys.

5. I have adopted a son from Ethiopia and a girl from Ghana.

6. I gave birth to 4 children naturally - and loved it!

7. I love Recees', Caramello, and Take 5!

8. Hillsong is my favorite CD right now - can't get enough worship these days. And..I was thrilled to find out they are coming to Milwaukee in June!

9. I love the Brewers, I am learning to like the Packers, but will never follow the Badgers!

10. I can't think of anything else to say :)

Now, I have to nominate some other blogs. So, here are the blogs I follow:

http://joyfullybusy.blogspot.com/
http://yearn4surrender.blogspot.com/
http://feet2ourfaith.blogspot.com/
http://aliciamariechristensen.blogspot.com/
http://www.beneaththeacaciatree.com/
http://solgosfamily.blogspot.com/
http://ethiopiascalling.blogspot.com/
http://bearcreekmeadows.blogspot.com/
http://buildingtheblocks.blogspot.com/

Life With 6 Kids!

In a word..... loud!

I say that as all six are crammed into the living room trying to play wii and shouting over the sounds of Mario Karts :)

There is just so much to say...and I don't even know where to start.

Joe and I have been overwhelmed with the support, love and encouragement we have received from so many people. We know that what we have done seems crazy to the world, but we are trying to live in God's economy. I will never forget driving in a car with my father talking about this amazing house with 6 bedrooms that I wanted to consider buying. I was going on and on about how beautiful it was and how perfect it would be for me when my father interrupted me, "Have you considered that you won't have the house of your dreams until you are in heaven?"

"Thanks! Just wanted to throw cold water on my dreams, huh?"

But...those words have never left my heart or mind. And it was if God was saying, "Traci, let go of what this world says is important. Get used to the fact that you will not have that house while you are on earth. Something better is being prepared for you."

Then, I read The Hole in the Gospel. Then I read Radical.

And then I knew, this life is NOT about how many toys we can buy or how many cars we can have or how many times we can go to Disneyworld or on a cruise...it's about DOING what God's word says. Too many Christians don't DO what God's word says, so when someone does, they look so weird to the world.

And yes...we have made the risky decision to bring another orphan into our family despite the fact that we don't have a stable business (although we are still believing it will recover some day!), we rent a home, our cars are old, and we don't have a 401K.

But, when Anna cried in my arms for two hours Wednesday night, just falling into my arms as I quietly rocked her, I KNEW this child deserved to feel the love of God more than I deserve a new car or a nice vacation. And then, when Anna fell into a peaceful sleep, and Joe and I prayed over her, we KNEW that despite what the world may think, taking this risk is what God has asked us to do.

Our adoption is more about obedience than it is about wanting to have 6 kids! God's word is not fuzzy about caring for orphans - it says DO IT! Adopting a child from a hard place is not easy. It is like living with a stranger right now and wondering how we are going to make it. But, God paved a way and we had a choice. Obviously, we said yes.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Introducing Anna


I know! I have so much to tell you and I just don't have time this morning - but here is a picture of the newest little Weldie.

Monday, April 18, 2011

My Little Sapling


Over the past two years, I have often turned to Hosea for comfort and encouragement. Sound weird? I mean, who would turn to an Old Testament book about a man whose wife is unfaithful? And what does that have to do with me?

I have often said that I can relate to Hosea because his wife, Gomer, did not love him. She turned her back on him daily and did unspeakable hurt to Hosea's heart. And did God tell Hosea he could end the marriage and walk away? NO. God insisted that Hosea stay true to Gomer, no matter what Gomer did or didn't do.

Can you see the connection now?

So, I have often quoted a passage from the end of Hosea.

I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them. I will be like the dew to Israel and he will blossom like a lily. Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots, his young shoots will grow. His splendor will be like an olive tree, his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon. Men will dwell again in his shade.

This is my prayer for George. God has brought healing through pouring His love into me and asking me to love George. God has caused my anger to turn away from him. Now...George is becoming my little cedar sapling!

How have things been lately? Bringing George home for schooling was THE BEST decision we have made in a long time. He is no longer around influences that cause him to imitate bad behavior. When we started home schooling, I heard the usual, "This is too hard." or "I can't do this." But, I pressed him, telling him how smart he is and that I knew he could do this. I saw him try to do the things he was getting away with in school, but those things are not acceptable in our house.

I am still using a very strict discipline strategy with George. Here is the line...if you cross it...you go to your room. One important piece I have learned on disciplining a child from a hard place is to NOT separate myself from the child during those "time-outs". It is crucial that George still be able to see me, hear me, talk with me....reinforcing that he is not being abandoned or left alone. So, George gets sent to his room and stays there with the door open. And when he cools off, he asks if he can come out and talk. He must say he is sorry and acknowledge what he has done. We then talk about better ways to deal with situations the next time they come around.

And then off he goes...usually with a smile and a skip.

I can't even begin to tell you how drastic the turn around has been. Now, in reality, it has been coming for a month or so. I don't know what caused the huge downfall in January and February. Maybe it was the painful anniversaries? Maybe it was the dreary days of winter? Maybe it was the exposure to such negative behaviors at school? Maybe it was a combination of all three factors creating the perfect storm.

The good that has come out of it has made the tornado worth it.

I believe George truly grieved.

I believe George really believes in his heart that we are never going to give up on him.

I believe George now sincerely loves this momma!

Every night, as I tuck George into bed, he has started saying something new, "Momma, I love you so much and I know I am going to be your son forever."

And then he kisses my cheek and says, "I am so happy now."

Sometimes he will get quiet and say, "Momma, there are more kids in Africa that need you."

And I answer, "I know."

Friday, April 15, 2011

Flower Power

Last night was the debut of my little musical stars. Here are some pictures from the night. Oh, and if you can't tell...it's set in the 70s...hey...I think my sister once owned that yellow dress!









Thursday, April 14, 2011

Therese's New Heart

Read about Therese's new heart here...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pray for Therese


Please pray for Therese today...she is having open heart surgery. You can read her story here...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Two Years


It was two years ago this week that we were getting ready to fly to Ethiopia to meet our new son. It has been an amazing two years. Two years of tremendous ups and downs.

Some moments I didn't think I would make it through.

Some moments I never wanted to end.

Some moments brought heart-wrenching pain.

Some moments brought tears of joy.

And at the end of the day....this little boy has been well worth it all!

Friday, April 8, 2011

How It's Going

I don't have a lot time these days....it is amazing how quickly my time is evaporated by home schooling the boys! But, I wanted to share that this week was a good one. I know, we are probably in a bit of a honeymoon phase, but George has responded wonderfully to our new way of school.

We are using My Father's World in the morning, teaching the boys some basics about our earth, the continents, different cultures and countries. I think children need to know their place in the world - meaning it is not the center! There is such a huge world out there and I want to teach all my children to care about others in the world. We are doing a couple of things in Science - environments/habitats but also doing a mini-unit on spring. I love taking our notebooks outside and letting the boys sketch what they are observing. We also are doing a lot of Bible study. I do devotionals with each boy individually and then we are working on some memory verses. After that, I am reading Matthew to the boys while they color pictures based on what we are reading.

An hour and a half of playing outside and lunch is followed by math, reading and writing.

The good news - George is a smart cookie!

And more good news - he has become extremely affectionate with me.

Having him home allows me to truly parent him - listening to everything he says, guiding him when he makes poor choices, disciplining immediately if need be. There is a sweet boy underneath the angry exterior and he is slowly starting to let that side win. We talk every day during our quiet time about the battle within him...the choice he has to make each minute about whether to be angry and mean or let love and peace win. It is hard for him...he wants to protect his heart. I know this.

This week, we have talked a lot about forgiveness and we prayed for George's Africa mommy. I am not sure if he really "got it", but after, he told me that he was so scared when his Africa mommy left. He said, "I thought she would come back...but she never did. I had food there and they gave me milk, but I still wanted my Africa mommy to come get me. I never saw her again. I forget what she looks like. But, did she really want me to have a new family? Did God really tell you and Daddy to go get me? That makes me happy now."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Scared

OK! I admit it! I am so scared.

The "other side" of my life right now is working diligently to get new legislation passed in the state of Wisconsin that would allow Safe Families to minister here. Basically, I have to convince 120-some legislators to CHANGE a law that has been in the books for decades. Yea...right!

Does God have a sense of humor or what? He asked this stay-at-home momma of 5 and a freshman Assemblyman to get this done. The most unlikely pair.

And believe me, as I walk through the halls of Madison, all the veteran legislators make me feel about an inch tall. I truly believe that MOST of our elected officials act like they care, but really they don't. They have come in with their ideology and are stubbornly holding their ground if someone from a different ideology wants to get something done. AB30, our bill, has NOTHING to do with partisan politics - yet - both sides are playing the game. And when this stay-at-home momma walks in and asks them to consider passing this bill, they look down their long noses and give me slight lip service, "I'll take a look at it." I follow up. And get nothing in return.

So, THIS is what I am trying to work WITH to pass a new law.

Seems impossible.

Tomorrow, several people, including myself, are going to sit before an Assembly Committee and urge them to pass this bill out of committee and send it to the entire Assembly for a vote. This is only ONE of a multi-step process to get a law passed. And God is continuing to tell me, "TRUST ME!"

And I am not. I can not, not matter how hard I try!

I want to line up the speakers and write their testimonies and plan their day.....

And now key speakers have become busy and canceled and I have seen no one's testimonies.....

And my flesh wants to worry. My mind has become consumed with questions of "Can I actually get this done?"

And God chuckles.

"No, Traci. YOU can't get this done! Can't you see that I have set you up against impossible odds? No one can say YOU did this. I want people to say, 'Look at what God has done!'"

This morning, The Lord led me to
Isaiah 30:15 "....in quietness and trust is your strength...."
and then 2 Corinthians 4:7 "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."

I could use all your prayers for this one, for we must call upon God to win this battle. This is one of many battles - some have already been fought and won, and some are still to be fought. For the Lord, who is faithful and righteous and just, I will keep fighting.

Monday, April 4, 2011

First Day

I know it has been a while since I have updated on how things are going here. The good news is we continue to move forward! The bad news is that we still have bad days...or, actually I should say bad moments. Thank God we have moved to bad moments! I can take bad moments.

We made some serious changes in our life over the past few weeks. Namely, we have expressed to George in very clear terms what behavior is and is not acceptable. When he does something that is not acceptable, I move quickly to address the situation. For George, this usually means a very simple conversation and being removed from the action and being sent to his room. I have learned to NOT shut the door - the goal is for him to NOT feel alone or neglected, but instead to know that what he has done is not acceptable and so he can't interact with us...he can still see us, hear us, and sometimes he even talks to us from his room.

In the beginning of this, he would stay in his room for hours. Now, we are down to minutes. He must do three things in order to "be restored": 1) he must say he is sorry, 2) he must say what he did that was unacceptable and then 3) he needs to tell us what he will do the next time instead of doing what was unacceptable. So, for instance, yesterday went something like this: "Mom, I am sorry. Will you forgive me? I shouldn't have thrown the game across the room. Next time, if I am angry that I couldn't figure out the game, I will come find you and ask for help."

We have also "removed" Joe from the equation a bit. George has bonded well with Joe and looks to Joe for everything. There were many times that George would not listen to my instructions, but when Joe would say the exact same thing, he would jump to action. This has actually happened naturally because Joe is working longer hours and on most Saturdays.

The result? Things are starting to level out! Praise God we are not having the tantrums of the past month and George is being very affectionate and loving toward me. This IS a MARATHON! That needs to be always in my mind - this is not an easy dash to the finish line and then we are done and have it all figured out. No way! This is a grueling, exhausting, gut-wrenching race that test ones endurance and stamina. I tell everyone we are about 1/3 of the way through the marathon - about 8 miles into the race! We have so far to go, but at least we are 8 miles in!

We made the big decision to bring George home and home school him. We used last week's spring break to ease into the idea and the practice of home schooling. It has helped so much to have Eleanor and Harry and Isabel share how much they LOVED home schooling. We had our first day today and it went very well. I am just starting each day in prayer because I have no idea how I am going to do anything these days!

Between simply being a wife to a busy husband, a mom to 5 kids, a woman fighting to get a ministry off the ground and now a home schooling mom - I just have to laugh and say, "No way!" Some people have asked me how am I going to do all of this? My honest answer is, "I have no clue!"

But I will tell you this, God made it clear to me that this is what George needs right now. And today, God reminded me that in order to follow him, I must deny myself....not once in some emotional moment..but DAILY. Deny my wants and my needs and my desires to serve someone else. Every day. I know God is asking me to pour even more into George's life at this moment - and so I am simply obeying. I don't know how it will work out - but I know that God is faithful.

Our first day went well...and just a minute ago, George came running in here to simply wrap his arms around me and give me a hug. And as I look out the window, I see blue skies breaking through the storm clouds. We will get there...I know it!