Monday, January 31, 2011

I Can't Keep Up...

I feel like I'm in a perpetual state of catching up... :-) Ha ha... Anyways, here's a whiplash tour of the last week... (Below: James showing off his science project... he LOVES projects and figuring things out)
Victoria & I are enjoying homeschool together, though I'll admit, it's a little exhausting coupled with after school homework with my other four... However, it has been a sweet time of mutual learning... Twice a week, Victoria gets to participate with her friends in ESL... Mrs. Mayhall does a fabulous job...


Last week, the "chick band" assembled for the privilege of leading worship for TBC's women's conference... One of our rehearsal nights entailed a coffee break with a delicious piece of chocolate chip pie at Ann Marie's house... all of this prompted a little band geek chatter, which was quite entertaining... ha.
Lysa Terkeurst, of Proverbs 31 Ministries, shared powerful messages Friday and Saturday at the women's conference. It was a refreshing time together...

And exhausting... ha... Afterwards, I crashed on the porch with my silly pooch... I had a few minutes before Tony returned home with the kids from the last full day of Upward Basketball games....
Sunday, following a wonderful morning of worship and the Word, I had the best nap of my life. :-) Late Sunday afternoon, the kids pulled out the Twister game, while I...
decided to bake cookies... a treat from a busy week...
Happy Birthday Tony!
The kids and I decided to surprise him a day early with a special dinner, cake and presents. All I have to say, is I am the worst cake maker... I obviously have cake baking issues... ha... Here's the bottom layer of his childhood favorite cake memory: Strawberry cake with vanilla frosting...
There was a little redemption with the top layer...
Love this picture...

February 1st marks #34 for my hubby. Happy birthday, Sweet T!
(Below: he is showing off his game cards - slipped into his birthday card - from his childhood... back when "Big T" would try to beat his mom in Yahtzee:)

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Sometimes a Blur...

Sometimes my life feels like a blur... Yours? Sometimes I have to pull out my calendar and look back over the week to remember all that went on (ha ha)... As I type, the kids are having a 'movie slumber party' in the living room while papa is speaking at an adoption conference in Jackson... So, I'm attempting to catch up on a few emails. This week I started reading a book a friend let me borrow (thanks Shelby:-).

CordOf3Strands.jpg

http://www.bethelroadpublications.com/cordofthreestrands.htm

It is a story of the grace of God interwoven in the lives of a birth mom, an adoptive mom and their daughter. It speaks to my own heart connection to my children's birth mom... Sometimes I dream about her... grieve for her... so grateful she chose life... so overwhelmed to mother these precious five children... sometimes I look at my children and feel my heart grow even wider... just when I thought I couldn't love them anymore, I feel my heart even skip a beat... It is a beautiful thing to see them grow...

They have each come a long way... English acquisition is slow and sure... I couldn't resist sharing these two notes... Jana is such a sweetheart and often roams around the house singing songs to Jesus. She wrote the above down one morning: "We just love Jesus and Jesus is good. He loves us. He sees us. We love Jesus. The end." One Sunday morning, James (who has been the most disadvantaged - if you will - due to his age) tried his hardest to take notes during Tony's sermon. Precious. Sometimes he surprises me at how much he comprehends... He is empathetic... such a tender quality. We are focusing hard this semester on learning English by going to an after school reading tutor twice a week. This has already shown signs of progress... :-)
It has been a blessing to have Victoria home every day. I cannot tell you how much I'm learning through the 'home school experience' with her. We can see growth in beautiful ways. If you think about it, she has never had any time to herself? She was in a baby hospital by the time she was two years old... not to mention she has 3 older siblings and 1 younger. One on one time is priceless. We, the nontraditional family, are making up for that and I'm loving it. Here she is practicing some spelling words...
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Victoria is done with her school work well before it's time to pick up my other four from school. This allows more focused time on homework. I will confess, I hate homework... ha ha. We are working on it though. I feel much more focused this semester and working to meet each of their particular 'learning needs'. Slowly but surely. It is a joy. It is also a sanctifying process... ha ha. But, I need it. God is gracious, is He not?!.
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So, here is the next book I have on my nightstand to tackle. Thanks, Christy, for letting me borrow.
Interspersed with the aforementioned, I'm working on, as well as preparing for a few projects...

* First, I'm honored to participate in leading worship with some fabulous ladies (a.k.a. 'the chick band', as Tony calls us - ha) next weekend at Temple for a conference with Lysa Terkeurst. I look forward to an edifying and refreshing time together. Come join us! Please pray that our Abba Father would fill us anew... I could use some refreshing, how about you?

* Second, what seems like the 'never-ending recording project' should soon be coming to an end?!. I've been blessed by several musicians who have lent their talents to contribute to the original album. There are just a few things remaining to be completed before we can send it off to be mastered, mixed and/or packaged.... something like that. Please pray that God would continue to reign over this project... for everything to fall into place... and, as my friend Bessie back in Virginia said, that God would use it to draw people to Himself.

* Third, I'm excited to begin planning for our church to host the International Justice Mission's Senior VP of Education, Larry Martin, on the evening of February 13th at 6PM. He will be sharing about the issue of modern day slavery and human trafficking. He will be with us all day so I hope those of you who live in the region will go ahead and "save the date". There are many details to come but I wanted to go ahead and mention for planning and prayer. Please pray that God, again, would reign over all the details. I would personally love to see our region take a notable stand in the movement to end modern day slavery. It exists. It is evil. Our God is a God of Justice and as His children we are called to "seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan and plead the widow's cause" (Isaiah 1:17).

On a personal note, I'm grateful to all of you who take the time to read up on all my ramblings. Thanks also to those of you who at times walk up to me and say, "Hey, I'm one of your blog-stalkers." It is hilarious. Love it. Thanks for reading. Thanks even more so for those who pray for us. Too many times we take prayer for granted. It is foundational. I'm so thankful our God hears our prayers and He answers them.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Love Languages...

Over the Christmas holiday I did the online survey with each of my children to discover their love language, as described by Gary Chapman (Ph.D) & Ross Campbell (M.D.) in The Five Love Languages of Children. It was a fun one-on-one time with each of them, and I must say it has been insightful. It has helped me respond, guide and love each of them in ways that speak best to them as individuals. Love is the foundation. Here is a fun excerpt/reminder :-)...
"You may find it helpful to frequently remind yourself of some rather obvious things about your children:
1. They are children.
2. They will tend to act like children.
3. Much childish behavior is unpleasant.
4. If I do my part as a parent and love them, despite their childish behavior, they will mature and give up their childish ways.
5. If I love them only when they please me (conditional love), and if I express my love to them only at those times, they will not feel genuinely loved. This will damage their self image, make them feel insecure, and actually prevent them from moving into better self-control and more mature behavior. Therefore, their development and behavior is as much my responsibility as it is theirs.
6. If I love them only when they meet my requirements or expectations, they will feel incompetent and will believe it is pointless to do their best, since it is never enough. They will always be plagued by insecurity, anxiety, low self-esteem, and anger. To guard against this, I need to often remind myself of my responsibility for their total growth.

7. If I love them unconditionally, they will feel comfortable about themselves and will be able to control their anxiety and their behavior as they grow to adulthood.

Parenting is an incredible sanctifying work. I'm so grateful for God's grace and patience with me! I pray He would continue to grant me grace, patience, wisdom and ability to shadow His unconditional love that He has bestowed upon us to my precious children. We are having fun....

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day...

15 Signs of Human Trafficking
(learn more: www.PolarisProject.org)...

Working & Living Conditions...
1) is not free to leave or come and go as he or she wishes
2) is under 18 yrs and is providing commercial sex
3) is in commercial sex industry and has a pimp or manager
4) unpaid, paid very little or paid only through tips
5) recruited through false promises concerning nature of work

Behavior...
6) not allowed or able to speak for themselves - someone else insists on being present to translate
7) shows signs of physical or sexual abuse, restraint or torture
8) has few or no personal possessions
9) is fearful, anxious, submissive, tense, nervous
10) fearful or anxious about law enforcement

Working Conditions...
11) works excessively long or unusual hours
12) owes large debt and is unable to pay it off
13) not in control of his or her identification documents (passport/birth certificate)

Health...
14) appears malnourished and lacks health care
15) lack of knowledge of whereabouts and doesn't know what city he or she is in

"Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause." Isaiah 1:17

Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. In fact this entire month is set aside as awareness month. How will you get involved in combatting what is a growing problem in our world? Here are some places to start...

Visit:
Love146 to explore a list of social ministries & organizations actively addressing this issue


Attend:
Justice Coffee THIS Saturday (January 15th) at Temple Baptist Church (WC126) at 9:00 AM to learn more about the issue and discover practical ways to get involved...

"The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you."
Psalm 9:9-10

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Slightly Random, but a Post Nonetheless...

So, I'm a little all over the place this Saturday afternoon but wanted to get a Happy New Year post going before next week hits... :-) Here is a glimpse back at the night "Santa" visited... and by the way, Eyasu was absolutely adorable... the older four came running in the living room screaming with excitement while Eyasu wasn't quite sure what in the world was going on... precious....
I survived the flu and actually feel fairly rested after the 'forced rest' the flu induced, as well as our time in Virginia where mom and dad exercised their incredible gifts of generosity and hospitality...
The girls on Christmas Eve...
The boys on Christmas Eve...
Our handful - ha...
It is hard to believe another Christmas has come and gone. As I filled out our Christmas journal (thanks again Shellie Sims!) last night, it was amazing to reflect on God's abundant grace in 2010. God is good and ever patient with us. Again, it was a blessing to be able to visit with family and friends in Virginia over Christmas...

Upon our return Wednesday night, we hit the ground running... School began Thursday morning. I had to take Eyasu first thing to get his immunization update in order to stay in school. He did so well. His teacher, myself included, can not get over how much he has matured these past four months! He is very bright and doing well! When we dropped him off at school I worked to fill out withdrawal paperwork for Victoria. Yes, I have decided to home school her! As you can imagine, it is quite the challenge for our non-traditional family to get the quality one on one time each child needs. Following much prayer and counsel during the fall, it was clear home schooling was where God is leading us for this season. Victoria gets to go first. :-) I'm grateful to her school, their wonderful administration and her fabulous teachers, to stay connected in various ways. We've had two days and it has been great fun. My other four are all asking when it will be their turn, ha ha.

Continuing on Thursday afternoon came eye check ups for both James and Angela...
Good news on both: James does NOT need glasses & Angela's eyes are showing slight improvement from her previous visit - yay!
Here is my home-school - ee on a little pre-grocery shopping mother-daughter date to our favorite eatery - Mexican food!
Friday afternoon while the kids unwound and played together, I got our Christmas decorations down and packed up! What a unplanned blessing! I thought for sure it would be another week or so before I had the energy for that. Grateful it's done! Saturday (today) was a fun filled family day of Upward Basketball, which is really a blast despite being a long day for us. Looking forward to worshipping together with our Temple church family in the morning as Tony begins a series on the Gospel of Mark called "Follow Me" and then Sunday evening series on Micah 6:8 titled "Walk. Love. Act." Can't wait!

Next week the month really gets rolling with music rehearsals, justice advocacy projects all on top of our regular busy routines! So... that's the slightly random post with our weekend nutshell....

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."
Romans 15:13