Friday, June 29, 2012


I have been thinking about this blog post for a couple days now.  

How am I loving?


I am overwhelmed.  God has been busy showing me the many ways I have been disobedient--in fact sinning--and I feel broken.  I am so thankful that there is hope is Christ today.  He conquered sin and death on the cross and it does not have power of me.  Yet another reason to feel overwhelmed.  Does that mean I am choosing to sin when I KNOW what God has done for me?!  I woke this morning after a restless night and puffy eyes to read this...

"You can never go beyond My Love and Care.  Remember that.  No evil can befall you.  Circumstances I bless and use must be the right ones for you.  But I know always that the first step is to lay your will before Me as an offering, ready that I shall do what is best, sure that, if you trust Me, what I do for you will be best.  Your second step is to be sure, and to tell me so, that I am Powerful enough to do everything ("The hearts of kings are in My rule and governance"), that no miracle is impossible with me ("With God all things are possible" and "I and My Father are one").  Then leave all with Me.  Glad to leave all your affairs in a Master Hand.  Sure of safety and protection.  Remember you cannot see the future.  I can.  You could not bear it.  So only little by little can I reveal it to you.  Accept My Will and it will bring you joy." -God Calling

Do a complete work in my heart, Lord.  I choose you!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

stains on my heart and area rug

My Love is not home again tonight.  Work travel.  I put together an easy meal of shell pasta with red sauce and spinach salad.  Our neighbors returned from their vacation to the beach with souvenir shirts for our kids.  So sweet.  Brother and Sister were sporting them proudly today.  Anticipating spaghetti stains, I told them to wait so I could take off their shirts before they ate.  We do things casual around here.  I stepped over to help Babydoll when Bundle Boy started to take off his shirt and accidentally flung his plate off the table splattering his shorts, chair cushion, area rug below the table and nearby wall with spaghetti sauce.  He was so so sorry.  I immediately started praying out loud for patience and self-control and grace toward my son whom He loves.  

It has been a few days of exhausting parenting around here.  Even consistent consequences haven't seemed to get to the heart issues.  I was hungry and tired and knew that everything within me was not ready for this situation.  He kept apologizing as I took off the rest of his clothes and of course told him it was ok (with a twinge of "I wish you would have waited for me to help you...but I know it was an accident" attitude).  I told him to go to the play room until I could clean up the mess.  He went willingly.  Babydoll got to town on her meal even though she doesn't seem to consistently like pasta.  As I started wetting and spraying and scrubbing the stains, I heard a still small voice whisper in my heart, "Is it more important to clean this area rug or feed your son?"  I stood up to fill a new plate of food being sure to pray out loud my thanks to God that we even have enough food for seconds.  My heart aches for the children who won't eat tonight.  I called in my boy and sat him at the other end of the table.  I got the cream colored seat cushion in the wash while they were eating and using resolve to treat the stain since we were out of laundry spray.  Mental note: add that to the list.  I grumbled as I saw that I had to make room in the washer by transferring a load to the dryer but then saying out loud more thanks when I saw Babydoll's bedding (she had taken off her diaper during nap and wet the bed in her sleep) and pillow needed to be ready for bed that night.  Better to see it then rather than while trying to put them to bed.  I came downstairs to two giggling kids messing around at the table not taking any words of mine serious enough to obey and doing everything but eating.  Dinner was cut short with food still on their plates.  I sent Babydoll to the bathroom and saw her shorts were wet.  She accidentally peed in her booster seat at the dinner table because...  Really?!?!  I herded my two precious gifts from God and said their goodnights at exactly 6:40pm after leaving them with a stack of books on each bed.  They did anything but sleep.  Two hours later and the sun still isn't down but I think they finally got tired of talking through their open doors to one another and drifted off to sleep.  I sat down to feed myself and my flesh and read this post from and God decided to feed my spirit. 


Why do I ever take a moment to put higher value in something that is not eternal?  Why do I let tired and hungry feelings dictate my words and actions?  

For the fruit of the Spirit [within me] is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Anything done by my own strength does not automatically spill out these traits.  Death to self makes Him alive and visible in life.  More surrendering and repentance to be done.

Monday, June 25, 2012

what am i waiting for?

"Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite. Or waiting around for Friday night or waiting perhaps for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil or a better break or a string of pearls or a pair of pants or a wig with curls or another chance. Everyone is just waiting." -Dr. Seuss

What am I waiting for?  This is the moment God has called me to live today.  Why do I think serving him in any other capacity than what this moment holds is more worth while?  I choose not to wait.  I choose to live for him today.  To be present with the Holy Spirit in the now and be used however best brings him glory.  Whatever I am waiting for may never come and then what?  What kind of life would this be?  One that stood in line waiting for my life to start?  I choose to live for Christ.  I choose to wait on him daily.  Not for some super spiritual calling but for whatever he has planned for me on this day.

"As I prompt you--act.  When you have no clear guidance, then go forward quietly along the path of duty I have set before you.  No fear, no panic, quietly doing your daily duty.  This attitude of faith will receive its reward, as surely as the acting upon My direct Guidance.  Rejoice in the sense of security that is yours." -God Calling

bum, bum, underwear

I have been thinking upon the Holy Spirit lately.  Trying to wrap my mind around his omnipresence and omniscience.  I have heard a particular passage of scripture three times recently.  It wasn't until Sunday morning when it was referenced in our pastor's sermon that I took notice and thought maybe there is something in there that applies to me.

Psalm 121:3-4 ESV

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

There is something so reassuring about realizing that God the Spirit is always with you.  You are never alone.  He NEVER sleeps.  He is with you wherever you are.  Not just on Sunday mornings.  Not just during a storm or trial or crisis.  Not just in the miracle of birth or adoption or healing.  He is with you every moment of every day and longs to be in dialogue with you.  If only we thought about his presence more.  Not only would it alter our behavior and words ("how would you act if Jesus were sitting there in the dark with you?") but it would radically alter our relationship with him.

The other day Bundle Boy asked me an interesting question.  
Him: Mom, is "bum, bum, underwear" pleasing to God?  
Me: (puzzled look on my face)  
Him:  It is the song [my friend] made up and sang the other day.  Do you think it pleases God if I sing it too?
Me:  What do you think?
Him: (shrugging his shoulders) I dunno.

That is when it hit me.  (insert "duh" moment from everyone else wondering why it took me so long)  My son looks to me to tell him how to live his life in a way that pleases God.  He sees me as the interpreter of all things that bring God glory.  Somehow he lost (or never developed) the concept that he could seek God directly if he ever wanted to know anything.  Apparently I was the judge of all things holy in his mind.

It got me thinking.  The only way that our children are going to learn at a young age to seek God's face is if we are doing it all the time.  If I am in dialogue with the Father in the little things.  Do I live in a way that acknowledges that God is always with me?  Am I telling my son "You can talk to God anytime" and then just praying with him at set times of day (ie. before meals, at bedtime, when there is a physical need)?  I want my kids to understand that God is omnipresent.  That He is just waiting to hear us talk to him at any moment.  Oh how I have neglected the Spirit in my life!  I have decided to change that and become a Babbling Prayer Mama.  What's that?  There isn't such a thing?  Well I have created one.  I am going to try talking to God out loud more often.  I want my kids to hear me singing praise and speaking thanks.  I want them to know that I seek God for strength and focus and discipline.  That I need help from the Holy Spirit on a minute by minute basis to be self-controlled and live in a way that pleases God and brings him glory.  Heck, I have no idea if "bum, bum, underwear" makes God smile.  But if Brother learns to ask him before saying and doing anything in this life, the Holy Spirit will give him a clearer answer.  God is the one our children should be living for anyway.  

I couldn't help but notice the two verses that came before the ones I shared above.

Psalm 121:1-2
 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

Isn't God amazing?!?!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

the fifth reynolds

Our dear friends are at it again.  Monica is en route as we speak to bring home her daughter S from Ethiopia.  Please pray that everything goes well with courts and paperwork and details so they can come home together as planned on Saturday the 23rd.  We live further away from the airport now than we did when she brought her two home early last year, but we hope to make the trip to join the welcome committee again.  There is something so powerful about seeing her sweet face on day one and then seeing how far God brings her in the future through the power of prayer.  If you think about it, please pray for Fred and their four other children back at home while Monica travels.  The newest (11 year old) addition will be an adjustment for everyone.  Praise God for placing his heart for adoption into the Reynolds family.  They aren't perfect but God is using them in a mighty way because they have made their very lives available to be used by Him and for His glory.  We are beyond blessed to know them well and be involved in this chapter of their lives.  Yay!  I can't wait to meet her!!!  You can follow their honest journey of growing their family through adoption here (with names changed for privacy).

this is the life (to share)

You know your children have not a care in the world when... it is 90 degrees outside and they have the option to get in the car and drive the 1.5 miles to the community pool where they spend the next 1.5 hours splashing around and chatting with new friends before returning to their air conditioned home to have a complete evening meal that fills their tummies and then each go off to their individual beds --and in fact rooms-- to sleep peacefully for the next 11 hours straight.  

You think I would mark this up as a good day.  But instead I think about the faces missing.  About how living this life just for us doesn't seem like enough.  I am so ready to share it.  We are richly blessed.

Monday, June 18, 2012

heart work in marriage

God has us in such sweet season right now.  One in which He is teaching us to depend solely on Him.  He has been showing us for awhile that we haven't really been going about this whole marriage thing the right way.  I mean, we had good motives.  We just weren't doing the hard work to make our marriage really shine for Jesus.  God has been particularly showing this to me lately probably because I grip so tightly to the way I think things should be.  It is time to peel back the fingers and give it to God.  I am working through Judy Rossi's book with our women's Bible study called Enhancing Your Marriage.  It is going to be a good one.

During nine years of marriage we have learned a thing or two.  After 3 1/2 years together before our wedding day, I felt like we were prepared for marriage.  We had been through the whole first year of our relationship without so much as a disagreement.  Then we survived the second year where we seemingly bickered about everything.  The third year we spent geographically separated.  We knew each other well and were ready to spend the rest of our lives together.  

Well lets just say courting and marriage are two different things.  I am pretty sure that My Love asked himself more than once, "What did I get myself into?" while we traipsed around Italy for our honeymoon during the hottest summer ever recorded.  Even though we had a long relationship before getting married, there was still more to learn about My Love and our growing relationship.  In the beginning, our problems were mostly surface issues.  Today we have come to realize that nine years later any problems boil down to matters of the heart.  What have I not fully surrendered to God inside my marriage?  At this point, we both know what that answers are individually (and they are different), it is just a matter of doing it.  Of dying to self daily and choosing to trust that God has a perfect design for our marriage that we are only halfway getting done on our own.  I hear him sweetly calling me to give up more.  To open my hands and submit to my Shepherd completely regarding the most important human relationship in my life.  Even though I know that there is still more work to be done in me, I call this season sweet because I know only fruitful growth will come out of it.  How could I possibly be anxious about that?  Any hard heart work is worth doing if it draws me closer to my Father.  Nine years of marriage to my best friend.  I am so thankful for the husband and Daddy to our kids God gave to me.  Pray for us.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

moments i'll miss someday

 books put away backwards by little hands
 dog bowls
 basket overflowing with dog toys
 shoe baskets by the back door
 step-up in front of the bathroom sink
 turtle potty seat
 displayed artwork and schoolwork
 alphabet magnet letters
 strawed cups on end tables
 trays of kiddo untensils
 brightly colored plasticware
 princess shoes by the front door
 bruised up shins and cute little piggies
 scratched up wood floors

 booster seat at the table
 fun placemats
 clothes and other items stacked on the bottom step to take upstairs
 school desks
 push cars
 abandoned shoes
 art bins
 learning our ABCs
 cape-wearing days
 tiny legs
 my favorite kissing birthmark spot
 the cluster of freckles that forms the "puppy paw"
 this face
 feet that barely touch the ground in kiddo chairs
 a guest bed filled with family laundry to be folded
 pirate driveway chalk art


Friday, June 15, 2012

homeschool update

Two years ago I am pretty sure homeschooling was completely out of the question. We knew many people who did it but really that was good for them but not for us. Little did we know God had other plans. And while I think about the same attitude we had previously while praying for friends going through the adoption process, God transformed our hearts on that topic too so be careful what you say is impossible. God has a way of asking you to surrender all of your "no way" areas of life to Him. 

As you know, we prayed about it and God confirmed in both our hearts that he wanted us to homeschool. Now what? I was doing some activities with Brother at home when he was interested and when I was motivated but really there were more gaps in my consistency than anything else. Brother got older. Sister got older. He started getting bored and thus chose to entertain himself by terrorizing Babydoll and driving me crazy. Rather than spending my entire day dealing with discipline issues (which I still seem to do), I decided to buckle down and start "researching" curriculum based on a few that people had mentioned to me. Once again, God confirmed in both of us which to pursue (note: I hope it happens that easily in the future) and it was like Christmas morning for me when the school stuff arrived in the mail. Now I was going to get really organized. We started the introduction unit before our trip back to visit family and I brought two units of course work to do while on the road which we didn't get to :). Once back home we hit the proverbial books and got us some structure. Brother LOVES it. It is fun and smart and he thrives just knowing that school comes after breakfast and then the rest of the day is a mystery. 

The funny thing is though that Satan is not loving it. He slithers his way into my mornings some days and places doubt and fear into what we have chosen to obey God in. I do not think homeschooling is for every parent or child. I do know that God has directed us down this path for our family and he is walking in it with us. But there are days when I completely lose it. I get frustrated and annoyed and question if I am going to totally give my kid a complex because he thinks he has to "do it right" so I can be self-controlled. He is four. We spend an hour or less a day doing "school" that is fun for him just so he can have some structure. He loves to learn and does so quicker than I do. I am not putting pressure on him or myself to move at any pace. But some days Satan makes me dream of a life spent with kid-free time and school buses and a clean house. I do not worry about socialization. I don't even question my ability to teach them well. I am excited about it really. I do believe that Babydoll will be a different kind of student than Bundle Boy but I am choosing not to worry about what that will look like now. She is two. She plays. When she helps glue the letter of the week on an envelope, Babydoll feels like she is doing school too and that is enough for me/her. 

Yesterday Brother was fidgeting with something in his desk while I was trying to give him instructions. His attention was repeatedly distracted. I had to keep repeating myself. I totally lost it and threw everything out of his desk (which contained blank papers, coloring books, and some little toy he was playing with). He was stunned. I was too. This little voice in my head said, "How can you do this? You aren't even technically homeschooling yet and you are losing control. You can't do this. He deserves better than you." Of course that was not the voice of truth. And although I still get very heartbroken WHENEVER I model a lack of self-control as a way to deal with the inconvenient, God continues to provide an opportunity for me to model something else(and to convict my heart). Several times a week I seek forgiveness from my children and we pray about it together. We all need a Savior. I am not a perfect parent, people. But God always shows up. 

Amongst the flying papers and feelings of frustration he continues to confirm that we are doing exactly what he wants us to be doing. I am not kidding. Today has been particularly supernatural. I think we are in unit five of the year. Every single week God has brought up the topic of our study in some other area of my life. While studying the sun and moon I heard countless songs and read in scripture references to the concepts. It caused me to further marvel at his creation. During leaf and apple weeks, I kept reading imagery about trees and vines in studies and while at the convention two out of the three sessions I sat in on brought up apples (which we were studying at the time). That is when I really started noticing God speaking to repeat himself. This week we are learning about nests. Last night during week two of our women's Bible study, the speaker shared how Eagles toss their eaglets out of their nests repeatedly so they can swoop down and catch them on their backs until one day they learn to fly (with scripture referenced). Two blog posts (which included scripture references as well) that I read today talked about birds and nests. A friend on facebook posted a photo of a robin's nest that they found under their deck. And while watching a Little Einstein's animated cartoon from the library during pizza night, they talked about eagles and their nests again. I laughed out loud when I heard it and I saw My Love smile from under his layers of blankets (he was out sick today hence the blogging). It doesn't make me feel like we chose the right curriculum really. It just confirms in our hearts that we are doing the right thing by obediently schooling our kids at home because that is what he has called for our particular family at this time. "Just keep doing what you are doing!" is how My Love interpreted it. It gives me confidence. It makes me cast out all doubt. Brother might be having fun and learning some new things here and there but I feel like God is revealing himself to me in a whole new way. Is it possible that homeschooling could be just as much about God's plan for my life as it is for my kids? We are moving forward not doing anything perfectly but trusting that God will continue to guide us as we put our trust in Him. Pray for me.

convention update

I spent all last Saturday at our statewide homeschool convention. I didn't exactly know what to expect. I had just heard that it would be overwhelming and yet very helpful. Thankfully I went with an open mind and feeling no pressure to come away with a commitment to any curriculum right away. Since I had been to the same location the week before, I had no problem driving the hour road trip to the convention facility. Registration check-in for day 3 of the event began at 7:30. I walked right up to no line. Most people had been involved in the convention since Thursday. The grounds were expansive and it took some time to figure out how to get around. There were two indoor bridges (hallways) that crossed major roads to get to other parts of the facility. Feeling no rush I made my way to the ballroom for the 8:30 start to the keynote speech. There were about 20 people in the room already and other event staff bustling about settling up. I walked up to find an aisle seat on the fourth row. The room was huge. I sat there for awhile going through the packets of information they had just given me and trying to figure out which sessions I wanted to attend throughout the day. Several minutes into my wait, a couple from our church walked by a few rows in front of me to find a seat. I called out the wife's name who I had spoken with several times before. They live in our neighborhood and have five or six kids that they just started homeschooling two years ago. We talked for awhile. I was so encouraged to have run into someone I knew so quickly. She took her seat some distance away with her husband who was already settled. As it got closer to 8:30 I looked behind me to see the auditorium filling up. I am not sure how many people fit into that room but they had 12,000 people registered to attend the state convention at some point during the weekend. There were definitely a few thousand sitting behind me. The convention was run by the Home Educators Association of Virginia (HEAV), an organization that I had just recently become familiar with. They do a lot in our state to fight for homeschool rights and the name of Jesus was said several time from the platform during this presentation. I am glad to be aware of their resource at this early stage of this process for me. A local state senator was present and sharing his desire to support issues that homeschoolers face. It was kind of empowering. In any case after a few more people spoke who are leaders in the HEAV organization, Tedd Tripp stood as the keynote speaker. I was really excited to hear him speak as his book Shepherding a Child's Heart is one of our favorite godly parenting books. We need to probably reread it for a third time. It turns out that he and his wife have been married 44 years and have 3 kids who they homeschooled and are now adults. A lot that he had to share was similar to what he writes in the book but still very encouraging. It gave me the motivation to remember why we choose to parent the way we do (addressing matters of the heart) even though it can be exhausting. I know God will bless our obedience in this area. He already is. I so enjoyed hearing all that Tedd Tripp had to say. He was quite funny too. Who knew? From there I went on to my first session which was called Homeschooling from the Beginning: What to do when your kids are young. The speaker was a little interesting. She was definitely one of those people who thinks public education is evil. I don't hold that same thought. But she did say a few things that stuck with me. She mentioned that they put emphasis discipling before academics. She brought up the very real experience of spiritual warfare and homeschooling. She talked about mental plateaus (which I would have never considered). She encouraged us that this was not the time to be buying books for our kids but to be reading books for us. We should be making decisions, setting priorities for our family and figuring out how we want to approach homeschooling. That took any of the pressure off. I really enjoy hearing what other people have learned through the years. One thing I have noticed is that most people are hesitant to tell you what curriculum they use or love (which I have come to appreciate and loathe). When you are first starting out you have no idea which direction is up and really the truth is there is no right way. Each person has to figure out what works best for their kids and for the teacher. But I do love hearing how people return curriculum that doesn't work. That because one child learns this way we had to choose a completely different style of schooling for him. Hearing how people navigate this world of homeschooling gives me hope that we will find our way too. I am not discouraged...yet. Anyway after that session I felt good about what we have been doing so far with Brother. He sure has made this start easy for me. Next was a 2 hour lunch break. I found my way to the gigantic exhibit hall where there were 350 homeschool vendors. 350?!?!?!? I know I walked around there like a deer in headlights. If I had come there with an agenda to find material for the next school year I would have probably gone into shock. Instead I just wandered, browsed. My eye caught a rather large exhibit from the company Brother is currently learning from. I was drawn to the familiar. On my way, I ran into (not literally) a woman from our church. She is the coordinator of our homeschool support group (I don't think that is the official name but I can't remember what the group is called) and was very kind to me from the get go. We chatted briefly. I started exploring the material from Brother's curriculum that I didn't purchase wondering if I should splurge when another girl from my church came up to me. We had talked at length at one of the group meetings and I had just learned the week before that she was to be my small group leader in the marriage Bible study that the women are doing (which I will write about later). I unloaded on her about the drama that had unfolded before my arrival (ie. weekend mix-up, fractured ulna, and seizure). Some people just have that listening spirit that makes me talk. I hardly know her. I am pretty sure she thinks I'm crazy but she never lets on, bless her heart. (Yes, I just said that. Deal with it. I live in the South now.) Anyway she encouraged me not to be overwhelmed by all the exhibits and sent me in the direction blindly of a credible publishing company she had bought resources from. After a little more wandering I ran into the teenage daughter of the group coordinator I had spoken to earlier. She walked out of her circle of friends toward me to ask if I went to her church. Sweet girl. By noon I had seen five familiar faces out of thousands of unknowns. How does God do that? I got a few texts from my dear friend in Tennessee that morning. One reminded me to eat lunch. You would think the fact that I was about to pass out would have clued me in but her note was just the nudge I needed to venture out on the ghetto streets of Richmond in search for the nearby Subway. Next year I am packing snacks and a sack lunch. So what was my take away from the exhibitors? There are endless resources out there for homeschooling. ENDLESS. Enough said. I felt very encouraged that when I return next year (with My Love) we will be able to come prepared with ideas and questions for all the vendors we are interested in. We will hopefully have a better idea in years to come of what exactly we are doing. I laughed at all the rolling cubes these women had with them. There were people there to do some major shopping. I think I came bagless on purpose. I'm cheap like that. But in the future I can see how this location would be the perfect place to explore curricula and resources for each child before deciding on buying. I can't wait to get more out of this part of the convention in the future. I followed the map on my phone to the sandwich shop when sitting along the sidewalk in the shade were 4 more people from our church. Our youth pastor and his wife and the leader of women's ministry and her husband (who I am sure has a title but I don't know what). Both women jumped from their seats to give me a hug and asked how I was doing. These women are heading up the Bible Study I am doing now and I look forward to getting to know them better. God used one of these particular couples to open our hearts to foster care and adoption. They are all really neat people. They warned me of the long lines at Subway when I said I was headed across the street and offered me a snack while I waited. Which of course I declined because that is what I do. I walked away further encouraged that God paved a way through this bustling convention center for me to connect with NINE different people from my new church family. Oh how he loves me! I ate my lunch and was fueled up for the next session which was called The Ultimate Planning Tools for Homeschool Moms. I was excited to hear this speaker who is an author (named Debra Bell) of a book I read about getting started with homeschooling. I didn't quite realize that the session was really her just walking through three planners that her publishers had created for homeschooling moms, students and teens, but it definitely seemed like something I would be interested in buying in the future for keeping life organized academically and spiritually. I was blessed that every session I sat in the speakers spoke about their relationship with God. What a community I am entering into!! She was really fun and down to earth and shared lots of stories about things she learned along the way of homeschooling her four kids who all learned very differently from one another. There were two more sessions left in the day that I was planning on staying for. One class was about Classical Conversations through High School and another was called Seeing the Big Picture of Homeschooling. Both sounded interesting but really my introverted body was ready to be home with my family and just process all that God had shown me in one day. So what was my take away from the sessions? The design of this convention will be a HUGE resource for our family in the future. We haven't really experienced a lot of the issues that most homeschool families run into just yet so most of the session titles did not apply to me. But I can see how they will in the future. Just a few of the specific session topics... *Know the Law: Notifying and Testing Demystified * Curriculum for hands-on, creative and gifted learners *Financial Aid *College Prep and the Homeschooled Student *Teach your child music *Math from a biblical worldview *Making American History Come Alive *How to cut your grocery bill in half *Planning field trips on the cheap *Homeschooling a houseful * ADHD, Dyslexia, learning disorders, and Asperger's: Overcoming these problems without drugs *Loving and Teaching the Difficult Child *Teaching and Evaluating Writing. I could go on. I share all of that to remind myself what an amazing encouragement and resource this experience will be in the future. My Love and I could totally take on several sessions individually during a long weekend and regroup for time to plan for the year ahead. The topics were numerous. 12 sessions over three days and 14 courses offered per session. So....that is 168 classes about homeschooling. Impossible for us to attend all of them but still a wide variety of topics to make us feel like we are not alone in this. You know, with at least 12,000 other people surrounding us in our state and all. I think I will stop abruptly now and continue in another post since the layout currently makes this text one long paragraph. In the end, the convention was a huge blessing for me. The kids had a great day with their Daddy even though Babydoll was fighting a fever back then. God knew exactly what he was doing while the Enemy was working hard to keep me from going. I made it there and God knocked my socks off. He is so good. Up next: Homeschool update post. Yes, there is more.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

fostering update

We are in an interesting place. We are exactly where God wants us to be but yet kind of homeless (in a big house). It is strange, like this funny kind of discontent for something more that God has planned for our lives. I keep finding myself reflecting on where God has brought us from and then thinking about where he is taking us. Somehow I settle in this nice peaceful place of unknown and not sure why I'm okay with that. Here is the deal. We were certified to become foster parents in our county in April. We took a trip to see family on the west side immediately after our training classes and homestudy were finished so we could be free to start the next chapter when we got home. We have received no phone calls for a placement but have been in email contact with the family coordinator periodically. So what does that mean? I'm not sure. My Love and I had a great conversation during our anniversary dinner about what we think God is doing in this season. Some things we do know... * He moved us to this house to be used for his glory. * We feel confident that he wants us to be foster parents in our particular county. * We feel comfortable with the age range we have selected to foster at this time in our lives although we are leaning more toward the older end of our scale. * We have some big changes coming up with My Love's career. * We are making strides with getting settled into homschooling. * We are starting to get plugged in with people from our church finally. * The kids have been a challenge to parent lately. So...all that said, we know God has us right where he wants us. We followed Him to his point and now he is asking us to wait. Perhaps he wants to get our lives in order (re: work, school, marriage, home) before more change comes. Although I don't worry about all of that, He knows what he is doing. Maybe I should be worried if it all happens at once. We also don't feel called to start "knocking down doors" to make it happen or to explore other counties or services. We have talked about adoption but do not feel a strong leading to pursue that route just yet. God has a plan for this time and we are waiting on him. He is working in our marriage. He is raising up a local support system around us (that we haven't had much of yet). He is allowing us to focus on parenting during this critical time when it seems like they both need godly instruction and correction with every breath. God is wise. He knows what he is doing. And if we have to keep waiting, we will do just that. He has proved himself faithful and unchanging and we trust him. In the mean time though he is growing in me a deeper desire to have more children in our family. The very thought of any future child of mine being out in the world at this moment makes me sick to want to get to them. But I wait. For God's perfect timing when we will meet them some day. We pray for them daily, the children we will hold and love. He is preparing us for a deeper calling for our lives and we will wait until His time is right to see what exactly that will look like. Pray for us.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

pink is her favorite color

And...what we thought was a fever (still lingering at day five) caused by teething was probably the two pink eyes she has been sporting in recent days. Sigh. Hope to be off to our fourth family visit to the doctor this month tomorrow. Have I mentioned that my daughter is a trooper yet? Babydoll doesn't let anything bring her down. Not even puffy eye lids. Good thing she loves pink!

Monday, June 11, 2012

of fractures and seizures and spiritual warfare

Clinic visit number two this week came on Thursday. Babydoll managed to fall out of her twin bed when she should have been sleeping on Wednesday. I heard a loud scream and found her lying on her right arm on the floor next to her bed. She could move her fingers and there was no external signs of injury. During the rest of the day and into the next morning, she would complain of "it still hurting" whenever she used her arm with pressure to climb up into a chair or make her way upstairs. I decided to take her in. The doctor ordered about 10 x-rays and Babydoll did AWESOME. There were more lollipops and stickers. Bundle Boy was now the one parked in the seat watching the action. 2 1/2 hours later and after everyone else had gone home, the doctor gave me a digital copy of her xrays and a referral to see the orthopedist on Monday morning at the nearest military hospital. He wrapped her tiny forearm up in gauze and declared she had a green stick fracture in her ulna. She didn't let the whole thing slow her down at all. My Love and I just felt so bad that we waited a whole day to get it checked out. We stopped for ice cream on our way home from the clinic (note: man, I sure do spoil my kids' dinner a lot). Sissy immediately got attention as people saw her little arm bandaged up. So that was Thursday. On Friday I started noticing that she had a low appetite and was a little sluggish. She went down for nap before lunch and didn't ask to eat when she woke up. By bedtime she went right to sleep with no fight. While My Love was putting Brother to bed in the room next door he heard her scream out in an all too familiar yelp. She was having her third febrile seizure of the year. This was the first time that it didn't happen in the middle of the night. Brother was a little confused and worried when My Love asked him to get me from downstairs. I closed the door behind us so brother couldn't see in. She was finished seizing by the time I was in there. Her lips and hands were purple. Her little fists were still clinched tight and she was in that non-responsive phase after an episode. She was burning up. We decided not to take her to the ER as we had done twice before. When she came-to I gave her some Motrin and she slipped back to sleep as she never fully woke up during the experience. The upside was that it would be extremely unlikely for her to have another one in the next 24 hours. That is when we would start freaking. Her fever read just over 99 degrees. Poor Babydoll. While My Love was still with her I had my good friend who was a nurse on the phone. She was hosting dinner guests but graciously took my call when she saw it was me at 8:30pm. My biggest worry was that the fever (and other symptoms that day) was triggered by something with the bone fracture. She didn't think they were related. That brought me peace. After hanging up the phone, I remembered that Babydoll had been chewing on her hands lately. Teething would once again explain loss of appetite and fever. After the dust settled My Love and I talked about how the next day would look for us. "This feels a lot like spiritual warfare to me!" I said. Somebody sure was trying hard for me not to go the the homeschool convention the next day. We decided that we would alternate tylenol and motrin so as to control her fever from spiking again. Sissy was in the very capable hands of her Daddy. I kissed her hot head goodnight and slept well knowing she was safe in His arms. Saturday morning I woke up at 5am to get ready for my day away. Babydoll was calling out for me at 5:30am. I gave her a drink of water and another dose of medicine. I was so thankful that God gave me that moment with her before my day began. She drifted off to sleep again quickly telling me she loved me with no memory of the experience she had the night before. I hit the road by 6am and the next adventure began. To be continued...

Saturday, June 9, 2012

shots and blood

We have been at the clinic a few times this week. The first time was so Brother could finally get his annual well-child check up. Everything went well. The doctor gave the kids lollipops (which is what they love most about him) and suggested that Brother get some shots after our visit. I had warned him of this very real possibility on our drive in. It has probably been a year or two since he had a vaccine last. And I think I recall the most recent one being a flu shot that I had him get before his sister so he could be brave for her turn (and so he wouldn't freak after watching her scream). We were about to come face to face with his first I-know-what-is-coming shot experience. It didn't matter that I told him that he was getting these shots so that it would keep him healthy. That it would only hurt for a brief moment and that God would heal it. He expected pain, agony. He was nervous. The tech who checked him in cringed when he saw that Brother was in fact getting FOUR shots at one time. Poor Bundle Boy. He was going to have to put on his brave face. Two women lined up their supplies prepared to simultaneously inject him with two and then two more. I had the pleasure of standing by his head and holding his arms down. Babydoll was lucky enough to sit by and watch the trauma unfold before her while she snacked on a cheese stick. Brother squint his eyes and tried to hold it together. I whispered encouraging words in his ear. They wiped his thighs with alcohol swabs and he asked if it was over yet. Not yet Lovey Bug. Then it happened. The sharp pain that made him let out a scream. He thrashed his legs. They stuck him again quickly and then it was done. He cried for about a minute and then was distracted by the stickers they gave him (and his sister) for being so brave. The nurse told me his leg on one side would probably bruise quickly because he jerked suddenly while the shot was being administered. It didn't really matter how many times I told him to remain really still, his body moved in reaction to what was happening to him. We started walking down the hall and I praised him like crazy before breaking the other news. On top of four shots, Brother's pediatrician ordered a lead test that would require his blood to be drawn. He took it rather well but did still opposed the idea. I mean, who wouldn't at least suggest not doing something that we know will cause pain? I sat down in the chair and my firstborn found comfort in my lap. Once again Babydoll took her place in the corner facing the scene. The nurse was really sweet and tried to ease the blow by chatting with him casually at first and then telling him exactly what she was going to do. Meanwhile a couple big field grade officers came and got blood drawn in the same room. They further modeled their patriotic bravery by encouraging a freckle faced red haired boy. I was thankful for their kind words. Attempt number one and the nurse couldn't get the needle into Brother's vein. I wasn't too surprised. The nurse really didn't want to keep trying for fear of traumatizing him so she came up with another method. She had planned to prick his finger and squeeze out drops of blood one at a time until she got enough for them to test. I trusted her experience. Like I did the time before, I held Brother in my arms and turned his head toward me and away from the direct cause of his pain. "Look at me!" I said. He cried with the prick but again the nurse was so reassuring. It didn't take long and he was looking around the room at posters on the walls and talking to other people coming in and out. That is when the real work began. She started squeezing his finger catching drop after drop and scraping it into a tiny tube. The mood was more pleasant now but Brother remained secure in the care of my arms. After several minutes it was almost like he had forgotten what was really happening to him. The process was tedious and draining but it was manageable. Another nurse came in after being asked to come help massage his finger. That is when they noticed. After 10 minutes of meticulously pinching out droplets of my son's blood both collected samples were of no use. They swirled the tubes in the air up toward the light and confirmed that they had both clotted and had to be thrown out. My very first thought was how much Blonde would probably die to be able to have such an inconvenience in her four year old son's regular doctor visits. Oh how we take things for granted! By this point we were in no hurry. They decided to try the vein in the other arm again but gave me the choice of whether to do it now or to come back another time. I decided to push forward so we didn't have to deal with this again for a long time. I turned his head toward me and started singing his newborn lullaby to him in a whisper. "You can cry, but please don't move. Be very still," I said. He let out a loud yelp and the ladies managed to pierce the vein. Five seconds later two tubes were full enough to do the routine tests they needed. The kiddos got more stickers and we were on our way. It didn't take long and the Lord brought my thoughts back to Him. There are chapters of our lives that bring pain. Some come in two swift jabs. It doesn't matter if we know if it is coming or not, we can't expect how it will really hurt. Our first instinct is to thrash and kick and for that it leaves a bruise. We question why anything good could come from something so sudden and even expectantly painful. We think good is wrapped up in lollipops and stickers. But what if we understood that the greater good is found in enduring that pain to prevent something much more harmful? Wouldn't we be more eager to sign up for the quick needle prick as opposed to the long drawn out "illness"? *NOTE: This is not a vaccine debate.* How safe we are in the lap of our Father, wrapped up in His arms. He whispers into our scared faces, "Look at me!" while gently tilting our chin toward his Word and away from the fading cares of the world. "You can cry, but please don't move. Be very still." The pain is real in our hearts. We know it is coming. But there is something about choosing to be still and trusting fully that God has a good and perfect plan for each of our lives. Some seasons of pain are brief. Others seem to linger for years like watching tiny drops of blood slowly filling a test tube. But both are spent in the Father's arms choosing to be still even while crying because our eyes are fixed on Him. Can you even imagine what our Heavenly Father felt when our Savior and Lord, his Son, spilled His blood for us? Overwhelmed.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

die to be in communion

Romans 12:1-2 NLT "And so, dear brothers and sisters,[a] I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.[b] 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." It must have been some time last year when I was stirred to read Romans 12 every day for a month. I didn't make it the whole 30 days though. Our Bible study leader had mentioned that he had done it years ago and was greatly encouraged by the challenge. God repeated the reference to Romans chapter 12 many times during the months that followed. I think during that time of reading Romans 12, I really started thinking for the first time about what it means to die to self and to make my life an offering to the Lord. I have gone through phases of discouragement lately. Well for some time really. You see, the closer I draw near to God the more I see my own dark, ugly heart. In light of his perfection, grace and unending love, I see mostly my own selfishness, ungratefulness and lack of submission. I try to die. I long to die. NOT physically of course. I truly want others to see God when they see me. There is a song on Christian radio that mentions how people can't see God because they are busy tripping over "me". Much of the time I am in the way of people really seeing God. Especially for those, like family, who know me well. The only way to show the lost world who God is to "die" first so they don't really see you at all. Everything in you should be like the moon reflecting who God is not you trying to shine (with no light source of your own) by your own strength. I have been puzzled because I am starting to believe that complete dying to self is an impossibility. What I mean is you will never one day "get there". No matter how much more humble/selfless/compassionate that you think you are than you used to be, there is still a layer of flesh that lives within you. Self will always be there trying to break free. That is why it has to be a daily sacrifice. It doesn't matter if I died yesterday and lived completely for Jesus not speaking a harsh word to my kids and putting the needs of my husband before my own. If today I demand my own way and refuse to submit to my Good Shepherd, all that my family (and the world for that matter) sees today is me. The daily surrendering can be just plain exhausting though. I have to choose to die every single morning and frankly most days that is not my first thought. Brother has been waking up in the night crying for some lost toy that fell out of his bed while sleeping lately. I end up launching from my room annoyed and loud and unloving toward his situation. Our flesh is always right there under the service trying to make us think that dying to self is an impossibility so why make wasted effort. The truth is God commands us to "give our bodies to [Him} because of all he has done for [us]". The way to truly worship Him is to be a living sacrifice daily. And maybe the point isn't to figure out how to really live by dying to self. Perhaps the very act of surrendering your life daily is really His was of bringing us to our knees in communion with him. There more I get to know him, the more I realize I need him every hour. On those days when dying to self seems impossible because it doesn't come naturally, just remember that it never really will. It isn't supposed to. It may get easier--to rely on Jesus for everything-- but the very act of dying goes against everything about living. That is why it is a sacrifice. I am so thankful that God doesn't leave me to my own selfishness. He desires to transform me into a new person by the renewal of my mind. I choose to take up my cross and follow him daily so that I might be in constant communion with my Savior and Lord. PS. Blogger still hates me but I press on.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

a long drive to nowhere

Note: Blogger made this post into one huge paragraph. Deal with it. Let me far does this story go back? Maybe March? I was able to fit in a homeschool group gathering at our church before taking the kiddos to a friend's birthday party. I talked to several women and got some ideas of how to get the ball rolling with homeschooling. Then we circled up so that people could ask questions of the group in order to get support and encouragement. I was the only one there who wasn't officially teaching my kids at that time. There was a wealth of knowledge and experience in that room and I am thankful for the resources God has put in my path during this chapter of our lives. After a couple of questions, I had to get up to leave to head to the party. They felt badly that I didn't get a chance to ask my question (which was probably going to be something really eloquent like "how in the world do I get started?!?!?!") so I gave a little speech as I got up to leave basically introducing myself and telling everyone that now that they know me they can be my friends. :) I also told them that we were training to become foster parents and felt God wanted us to get started on homeschooling sooner rather than later. The overwhelming answer was to go to the Virginia Homeschool Convention that was coming up in June. And wouldn't you know it but parents of a preschool-aged kid as their oldest child could attend for free. So when the registration opened online I signed up to attend. During the circle time several women mentioned the curriculum (while answering other questions) that I was interested in finding out more about. Needless to say it was a very fruitful time. Brother is thriving with the program I am doing with him now and I had planned on learning more during the upcoming convention for homeschooling. So...over the next month and a half I would get periodic emails about the convention. Tedd Tripp was to be the keynote speaker and there would be many other workshops offered during the three day convention. Since we have no childcare and my husband works weekdays, I only registered for Saturday (which was to start on Thursday). The location of the convention is about an hour away from our home in good traffic. Although some from our church were planning to spend the night in town, I was going just to make a day trip out of it. One thing the ladies in the support group said several times was that the convention would be overwhelming but it is where many of them found the curriculum and ideas they needed to get started with their families. As the convention date grew nearer, I kind of started trying to convince myself that I didn't really need to go. I wasn't going to be out any money since it was free for me and Brother was doing so well in the school structure I was already doing with him. I thought overwhelming me before he is officially in school might be too much. Plus I wasn't going with anyone so I really had no accountability, except My Love who pretty much never let me back out. :) Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. We were eating lunch at our local Chick-fil-A when Bundle Boy started asking every girl nearby to leave their meals and come play with him in the play place (the same one that Babydoll Sissy peed in a month ago). Eventually two girls came and another little boy. The five of them were playing so well together which isn't always the case in those places. Another Mom was particularly chatty with me and a grandfather in the room. So much so that I learned that she was also homeschooling her preschooler, grew up in our county and then returned after serving 17 years in the CIA, her daughter was about to turn five and was having a Veggie Tales birthday party and she was also registered for the homeschool convention but was apprehensive about going. She asked for my phone number and gave me hers. The kids were playing so well and we seemed to have so much in common (except for the secret government service thing) so I thought what the heck. Maybe we could get a playdate or two out of it. Several days went by. I didn't call. She didn't call. What is the etiquette for correspondence when being picked up in a fast food play place? Somehow I decided I would go to the convention after all. My Love kept encouraging me to attend. I actually like to drive places myself because then I feel like I can leave whenever I want to. I figured I would drive into town early, take in Tripp's message and then sit in on one or two workshops that I thought applied to me before browsing the exhibit hall. My Love was planning to have a much needed Daddy Day with the kiddos (which included no set plans) and I was looking forward to a day away myself. I woke up at 5am and hit the road by 6am with all the documents printed out I needed to navigate around the convention. The traffic was empty on that early Saturday morning. The music was playing loud and there wasn't anyone in the back seat telling me not to sing. I was enjoying the time to just hear from the Lord. I made it to the capital city in great time. They suggested 16 different parking structures and I made it easily into the first one I drove into. The city was dead. I decided to sit in my car for a while before wandering next door to the convention center to register (ie. pick up badges, etc) and then make the session at 8:30. At 7:15am, I called My Love to let him know I made it in good time. I hate driving in unknown cities with one way streets. It stresses me out. There was no anxiety during this trip though. I started looking through the papers I had brought and told My Love what my plan was for the day when I first noticed it. Thursday, June 7th. My eyes skirted to the top of the page. June 7th-9th. "What is today's date?" I asked My Love, realizing my error. "June 2nd," he said slowly. "Why?" In that moment I felt like an idiot. I actually said, "I am an idiot!" My Love was gracious to not agree with me on the phone and chuckled briefly before wishing me a safe trip back home and suggested I stop for a (decaf) coffee first. I was back home with the family by 8:30am (after paying $8 to sit in the parking structure for 10 minutes) and we had a whole Saturday before us to spend together. That drive home was a long one. Not in terms of time at all. There was still no traffic. It was just full of conversation in my head between me and the Lord. So many questions rushed over me. After that first "doh!" moment I really let it go. God had so many opportunities to let me notice the date between the end of March when I registered for the convention and the morning I printed out all the papers before hitting the road. He kept me from seeing it. I didn't see it. Somehow I got it in my head that the convention was on June 2nd and I couldn't see anything else. Then I thought of the process. I had to wonder if I had called the random girl from Chick-fil-A she would have shown me the error of my ways. I didn't call her. I could have asked any number of people at church if and when they were planning to go to the convention in an effort to drive with them or meet up with them there. I didn't bring it up at all. It gave me the ability to back out that way. No accountability equals an easy escape route. But then I had to consider what God had to do to actually get me on the road that morning. I went. I got in the car and drove to the city. But in the end I wasn't fully obeying. So what is my take away from my long drive south? Sometimes God shines light on the unknown path before you and then waits to see if you are willing to walk in it with Him. Are you going to walk the path eventually but only on your own terms? I will admit I have thought a few times this week that maybe I don't actually have to go to the convention AGAIN this Saturday. I mean, I learned the lesson. Maybe the actual convention attendance wasn't part of the process. But alas that wouldn't be fully obeying yet again would it? Funny how we can sometimes justify what it looks like to obey the Lord. We followed, Lord. We did the training to become foster parents. Now what? Maybe He just wanted to see if we would follow him into the unknown... Doubtful. But perhaps we have been busy telling the Lord how we will travel this journey with Him. So I guess I will be making a phone call this week to some random Chick-fil-A girl. If for no other reason but to encourage her to go and invite her to attend with me.

Monday, June 4, 2012

temporary post

I'm not sure why I haven't blogged much lately. I have several posts shuffling around in my head. I think I will share a few ideas so I don't forget. * foster parenting update * why die to self? * a long drive * four shots * nine years of marriage * convention