Wednesday, December 30, 2009

An audio everyone should hear

I was emailing an old friend today and came across this link to send him and his wife. This is from an amazing woman, Kerry Hasenbalg, that I had the opportunity to hear speak at a Christian Alliance for Oprhans conference that I attended a few years ago. I could not find the video for the web - but I did find the audio. My Husband thinks it is so good that he wants to make copies and send it to everyone he knows and even put it on the windshields of cars for those he does not know.

Year in Review - being faithful

Well this has been a year of amazing change and growth. Over the past year our family has grown from five people to seven people. We have learned to love in the midst of great trial, stress and frustration. We have ultimately grown stronger as a family and in our relationship with our Lord Jesus.

This year we have gone through significant financial struggles, shut down a business, started another company, faithfully trusted God and moved across the country - knowing no one - but a few acquaintances, struggled making friends and relationships.

Now we are stronger than ever as a family, we love spending time together and are together ALL the time - as Bill now works from home. It has been such a blessing and I don't think I would change any of the trials we have been through. As some of you know - when we grow closer to God, the enemy attacks harder. Well, here we are heading into another year and that is just what he is doing. I realize I am being vague - but let's just say he is fighting hard again. I know this is him because we have been obedient, we have changed our personal priorities and as a result our marriage and family are stronger than ever and so is our relationship with God - all things that the enemy can't stand.

So I have been living faithfully - by that I mean not stressing out, trusting that our new company will pull through and all will be fine. Until just the other day. I found myself praying saying that I believe and trust you God, I know you can and will take care of us and all things work for your glory and for the good of those who believe in you. Then in the next breath I was asking him to please restore our business to where it was and beyond just a few short weeks ago.

Then I asked myself as I heard myself say these things - what kind of faith is that - really "I have faith - but could you do this please?" Ugh! I am sure some of you can relate - just put your own issues in the blank.

Anyway - new topic - The kids are all doing great - we are loving the Nashville area. We are excited about homeschool and I am really enjoying it far more than I ever thought I would - especially considering that I said I would never homeschool. We are in our second year of homeschool and I find myself looking forward and planning many more years with them.

We had a great Christmas - although different from what we are used to. It was relaxing and nice - the kids had a great time.

Madelyn is a great little fashion designer and has decided to make that her career (at least for now). Maraya is just about the happiest, most joyful child I have ever met - of course we are still working through a few issues - but with huge and constant improvement. Jackson is quite a character and loves to make people laugh. He beats to his own drum and loves his siblings. He tells me that I am his favorite thing in the whole world. Carter has a huge heart and is so encouraging - yesterday after getting home from being lost trying to find a doctor's office - he told me "I knew you could do it Mommy". Zoe is a sweet little girl and currently wants to be a "baby doctor" she loves to pretend to take babies out and make sure they are ok.

I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas. I am making a goal to update my blog more often.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Getting Settled

Well here I am months after my last post. In case you didn't know - we moved to Hendersonville, TN in mid August from Portland, OR. It will officially be seven weeks tomorrow that we arrived at our new home. I said I would never live in the south - but look at where God put me - and I have to say I am enjoying it - it is clearly where we are supposed to be.

Things are going well, kids are adjusting. I have to say though - making like minded friends is harder than I remember - for the kids and us grown ups. I forgot how much goes into investing in those kind of relationships and the time that it takes. Not to mention the fact that some think I am a little nuts when it comes to adoption and orphan care. Maddy needs a friend her age, Carter and Maraya are really wanting to meet some kids from Ethiopia and Zoe - well she wants China friends. Jack - he is doing well - he just rolls with it. I am plugging in where I can - but I find that as you get to know people - you may not be as like minded as you first thought -that makes it hard. Bill needs some guy friends, someone he can talk with, pray with, hang out with and just be a guy with.

I don't have pictures to share right now - but will as soon as I find my camera. Many things to put up - I probably won't post much text - but I will get birthday pictures and archery pictures up from before the move.

Will try to find the camera this weekend.

Today I am getting ready to teach my first class to 24 homeschool kids. Homeschool - something I never thought I would do - but I am enjoying it. Now the art class we are doing today - started out to be a few kids along with my five kids just doing some purposeful are projects - well it has grown to 24 kids - exciting - but oh my a little scary at the same time.

We will see how it goes - will try to find my camera and take pics.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

More Aquarium Pictures

The Oregon Coast Aquarium

On the 5th of July we met some dear friends at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. It was a lot of fun (it took a lot less time to get through the aquarium than I remembered). It was a long drive for a short visit - but time spent with friends is always treasured regardless of the distance.

I think our favorite thing was the Japanese Spider Crab - it can get to be 100 feet in it's span.

Of course all the kids loved the "passages of the deep" tunnel.

Here are pictures of all my precious kids and our friends.

4th of July - After the Fireworks

These are my favorite pictures!

More 4th of July pictures

I should probably tell you we were at Rock Away Beach.

My favorite line from that night came from Jackson to his Dad.

"Do you want to come sit with me Daddy, it is a really great view!"

4th of July and the Aquarium

This summer is full of fun, firsts and moving! We wanted to do as many fun things in Oregon as we could before we move to the great state of TN. We also wanted to make sure that Carter and Maraya got to experience things, like the beach, aquarium, the list goes on - I will post individual trips in the days to come.

This was the first 4th of July for them, and the first time in a long time that we did it at the beach.

We got there early to get a good spot, the kids played in the sand for at least four hours. Digging, making sand angels, covering themselves or each other with sand - they had a blast. They loved how the sand felt on their feet - and when we got home - boy we had sand in placed I didn't think possible!

More Date Night and Special Day Pictures

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Date Nights and Special Days

I think individual time with each child is so important to build a strong and close relationship with them. We had started having "date nights" with our children when we first brought Zoe home, about four years ago. Once a month, either Bill or I would take the other children out individually for some one on one time. This is not a "hit the arcade or spend a lot of money" kind of thing. This is truly to spend some quality time with each other, learning more about each child, their interests, their concerns, what is important to them, also it is a great way to model respectful behavior - manners, holding doors, etc.

Last summer we also started having "Special Days". This is a day when one child gets to have mommy and daddy all to themselves for an extra special thing that the child chooses. Those are truly wonderful times, and I learn so much more about my children and who they are becoming.

It is during these times that Zoe shares her fantasies about China and her China mom - something completely age appropriate and expected. I am so glad that she talks about it with me. Carter and Maraya, recently had their individual dates with us - they both talked about Ethiopia. Carter even asked me on his date "why you brought us here?" It was a good opportunity for me to hear more about his memories, what he misses, what he loves and his thoughts and feelings about America and his new family. Of course we always talk about his Ethiopia mom and how wonderful she was, as well as his uncle and brother that they both remember.

Jack - what a great kid he is. He is really becoming a wonderful big brother - patient, kind, helpful and loving. He is my nature boy - loves bugs, trees, animals, science. His perfect date is walking around a nature park and talking - gotta love it.

Maddy - What a beautiful girl - inside and out. We recently went to get her nails done and then to Clair's for some "fun shopping" as she likes to call it. She tried on hats, glasses, held up ear rings, etc - she looked great in everything. Yikes - my tall, beautiful, blond girl with green eyes and a tan that looks great in everything - I am very afraid of boys in her teen years!

Maraya - she is such a joy, fills me love, reminds me of what is important. She loves to try new things, isn't afraid of much at all and is always so happy. She loves it when I do her hair, or really just spend time with her. Her and Bill recently went to a park, then the rose garden then some ice cream - a wonderful time.

Carter - he is ALL BOY - no nature walks for him - give him cars and sports! I took him to pump it up recently - he bounced all over the place. I bounced a bit with him - until I picked him up in one of those things and hurt my back - oh well - it was better in time for me to go down the bouncy slide.

Zoe - She is my thoughtful, caring, sweet as pie girl who prays for everyone - then on the other hand does everything to cover herself and get someone else in trouble. She has come a long way though - typical sibling behavior. She just wants to cuddle and have time with either Bill or I. Her favorite place to go is the zoo and then out for Chinese food. I have a special surprise though - for her next date - I am taking her to the Chinese gardens then to Chinese dinner. She is very China focused right now.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

My Daughter - Broken, But so Beautiful and Inspiring

A few weeks ago Maraya was having a hard time - pushing her boundries - normal for any kid - but especially so for an adopted child. This was a good sign. She needed to realize that her Dad and I have set boundries for her - and they were solid - there was nothing about that or us that would change - this gives children such a sense of stability. Likewise though - she didn't really appreciate the dicipline factor when boundries were crossed (some things are universal).

Well, after being sent to her room a few times, to the corner a few time, etc - it was now evening and we were on our way to night church - where the kids do choir and then Royal Rangers/ Missionettes. All the kids love those activities - especially Maraya. But on the way to church she started talking about how she missed Ethiopia and her Ethiopia Mom. Now I believe that to be VERY true - I also know that when one is having a bad day - the grass is especially greener. I never take offense to these comments - infact, I encourage her to talk more about it. So I asked her - to tell me more. She said, "In Ethiopia, no go to room, no corner, etc". I asked her what did she do in Ethiopia. "In Hosanna (where she lived with her other Mom), we walk and feet are hurt, no socks, no shoes, Carter is piggyback on my Mom and everyone says No Thank You" I asked about her Dad - "He no nice - he hit my Mom and push us out of house". Now was this her real Dad - I don't know. From what I can gather from other conversations, her other Mom was either looking for food, shelter, work or a combination of the above and was consistently told no thank you. She continued to tell me that the floor was dirt and her other Mom had no pretty dress, just one broken dress (I assume that it was ripped).

All of this she told me in the car ride to church. Once we got to church - it was obvious that she was very sad. I asked her if she wanted to spend some time with me and go to class in a little while - she said yes. We took the others to class and found and empty room for her and I to sit in.

This is a very important time, as her and I had been butting heads for about the last four weeks prior to this. We both sat down - I asked her if she wanted me to hold her - she said yes (I held back tears). I asked her a series of questions - some of them were - Did she like it in America Yes very much, but I miss Ethiopia.
So normal - I can't imagine how it feels to be so happy on one hand be sad and grieving on the other hand. I asked her if she was happy - she said yes, she "I so love you". Holding back more tears - I asked her if she understood why she was in America. She said - very sad and trying not to cry "I don't know why". Oh - my heart dropped - how could she not know why - she is certainly old enough to know something I thought. I proceeded to ask her about the last time she remembered seeing her Ethiopia Mom - all she could say is that she give them food and takes care of us, then they couldn't find her. What exactly does all of that mean. I don't know. I know what I was told, and I know other options in the back of my mind that could also be true. Because I was told that both parents had passed, I chose to tell her that if her other Mommy could take care of them she really would, that she loved them very much. I explained that she got really sick and could not take care of them anymore. God knew that and of all the children in Ethiopia he chose her and her brother to come to our family and that I was so lucky and blessed that he did. I also told her that I am so glad that she loves her Ethiopia Mom so much and that it is good to love both her and I - that she is so blessed to have two Mommys that love her. I told her it was ok to cry and she sobbed in my arms - something I am sure she needed to do for a long time. I expect things like this to happen every so often.

That was a long story to get to this point. My daughter is broken, her heart hurts, it will heal - but will always have a scar - however, she is so beautiful inside and out - so inspiring. She has faith - like no one I know. As a child she KNOWS God, she LOVES God, talks and sings of him always - she has walked with bare feet in the rocks, with no food, she has seen devistation that most in America will never see, yet she is joyful. She has faith - not the kind of faith that we have when we have faith for only an area of our life, or a certain issue we are dealing with - she has faith for everything in her life - because she "gets it". She is always telling me that it is ok when something goes wrong and always reminds me that we can try again later or something equally fitting for the situation.

Why don't we have that kind of faith - think about it. She is inspiring - I hope to one day be more like her. I am happy to say that we are no longer butting heads and have bonded amazingly since this night.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hendersonville - God's Plan all along?

If you haven't heard, we are moving to TN this summer - Hendersonville to be exact. My Husband went out to visit different areas in March of this year - seeing as neither of us had ever been - it seemed prudent to at least check out the area - not that we have a lack of faith - we just wanted to know what we were signing up for. Now the areas that I gave him to check out were Franklin, Brentwood, Hendersonville, Mt Juliet and Lebannon - with my hopes for Franklin. Well - he really did like Franklin and began to look for a home there for us. After a few days though - he decided to check out some other areas. His first day in Hendersonville - he came across a house - and by the next day - he leased it. From what I can tell, it is a really nice house, in a quiet, newer neighborhood, just four blocks from the lake.

Now - what I just discovered this morning. God really has a sense of humor. Our youngest son, Carter was wearing a Bible camp shirt that came with him from Ethiopia. He got toothpaste all over it, so I asked him to go change. When he turned around, I noticed the writing on the back. I asked him to come closer - would you believe that it said First Baptist Church - Hendersonville!!

I just spoke with a very kind pastor from this church last week. It sounded like it might be too big for us, and one or two other things that would not be a good match for us, but now I feel like we have to at least check it out.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Milestones - Tears of Joy for a Mother

Adopting older children is so special and challenging in an entirely different way from adopting a baby.

Carter and Maraya did not have anyone to really turn to when they got hurt. So when they would get hurt here at home - they would not react as my other children do - running to me for comfort.

When we first came home - if I heard them crying I immediately ran to them to comfort and help them fix whatever the problem was. As time went on - I had to stop running to them. You see, at some point they need to choose to come to me for comfort. It was hard. I remember watching Maraya crying - usually not over something terribly big - a small scrape, or hurt feelings by a sibling - but she would just sit there and sob. When she was finished she would stand up, look around and then go about her business.

One day - at a park with friends she got hurt - again - nothing very big - but she came running to me crying and wanting a hug! This was so huge for me, as she chose to come to me for comfort - a big step in the bonding process. She hasn't stopped coming to me since.

Likewise, Carter would do his very best not to cry if he got hurt or was disciplined. You know that constant, can't catch your breath thing kids do when they are trying with all their might not to cry - Ya - that is what he would do. It was like he didn't feel safe letting it all go. This would be a big problem as he gets older and deals with his emotions if he can't even get it out now.

Well, one day he did a big thing that he admittedly knew was wrong. He was sent to his room and disciplined - and you guessed it - he tried not to cry. I left the room for a few minutes, really to see if he would cry by himself. He still would not. I entered the room, asked if he wanted to be held - he said yes. I held him tight and just told him over and over "It is ok to cry". He finally did and let it ALL OUT. He held on to me so tight - like a dam had been broken - he let everything out. He still holds back a little - but we just tell him it is ok to cry and hold him and he is fine. He is feeling safe with us - what a blessing.

I don't think they really understood what it meant to be comforted - They were likely too young to remember being really comforted by any family members - and with so many kids in the orphanage and transition house - it seems like they just figured out a way to deal with things on their own.

Don't we also do that sometimes with our Father - our God. Try to handle things on our own instead of running to him - but when we do run to him and let it all out it is always so much better.