Friday, January 28, 2011

Some Great News

This is not by any means a formal announcement of anything official, but we did receive word today that Dima, the boy that we are interested in adopting, is still at the baby house and NOT in an institution!  That alone is just such wonderful news and answer to prayer.  I had been warned a little over a week ago that there was a good possibility that Dima had already been transferred.  Praise be to God!!!!

In the meantime please keep praying for Dima, for our family, and for the entire process that we are about to throw ourselves into.  Thank you!!

25 Years Ago Today

Our family resides in north central Florida and have seen several shuttle launches from our own front yard.  We have been awakened at odd hours of the night upon a shuttle's reentry back into our atmosphere.  When Eric was a small boy he went to Space Camp in Huntsville, AL and got to "fly" the shuttle on mock space mission.  If I remember his story about it, however, he crashed it.  Our boys have been to the Kennedy Space Center and love all things space.  They have a telescope and love to look at the moon and gaze at the stars.  So this morning as I was sipping my coffee and reading the news, there was that gentle reminder that 25 years ago today a brave group of men and women lost their lives in a tragic accident.

At the time I was only 8 years old, the age my oldest son is now.  I remember watching it live and being horrified at what I was witnessing- people dying before my very eyes!  That night I was afraid to go to sleep and I was so sad for everyone that saw the accident.  As a little girl I did not live in FL, rather, I lived in Pittsburgh, PA.  I had never had the privilege of seeing an actual launch until I was a grown woman.  So when I was little, shuttle launches in were something so much larger than life!  My grandfather lived in FL when I was a girl and I can remember thinking that he was so lucky because he could see the shuttle launches (or so I thought).  I grew up in a generation where every time the shuttle took off the world seemed to stand still and hold their breath.  Sadly the shuttle program is about to come to an end forever.

I have included a clip from CNN on the day that the Challenger exploded.  Do you remember where you were when this happened?




*You will want to disable the audio on the media player located on the bottom of this blog.


--Jenny

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I Just Wanna be a Sheep!

When I was pregnant with our oldest son, Jeremiah, a friend from church that we were attending at the time had worked on a recording project with the children's performer Brian Howard.  I was fortunate enough to hear some raw tracks from that project and was then given a final product as gift when Jeremiah was born.  The title of the CD is I Just Wanna be a Sheep and the title track became a fast favorite of mine.  The song has been stuck in my head as of late and so I figured I would go ahead and share that song with you all.  Enjoy!

*You will want to disable the media player at the bottom of the blog!  Just hit the 'pause' button.





--Jenny

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Overcoming Fears

I learned something from my son, Elijah, this morning and he is only 6 1/2.  Isn't it amazing when God uses our children to teach us a lesson?  When our hearts are receptive to hearing the Lord, He will speak to us in the most amazing ways.

So this morning's lesson.

My son, Elijah, has had an aversion to telling time since last May.  Sadly the poor kid had tripped over his own two feet on a field trip and ended up breaking his elbow and having pins put in.  He missed WEEKS of school and in that time had missed his lessons on telling time.  He could tell time, but it would take him a moment or two and if he could not figure it out right away he would get so upset with himself.  The more upset he would get the more he figured he just could not tell time.

So the new school year began and he would avoid clocks.  If they were on a math worksheet he would cry and refuse to even try to tell time.  It would make things so unpleasant for both of us so I decided to give clocks a rest for awhile.  Yesterday, however, clocks revisited Elijah's life.  He had a math worksheet with a bunch of clocks and he instantly broke down in tears.  He REFUSED to do any of the worksheet and the more I pressed for him to finish, the worse things became.  So I made a deal with him.  He could move on to other assignments as long as tomorrow (which is now today) we could just work on clocks.  He agreed.

This morning I had the boys do their reading while I had my coffee and I could tell Elijah was holding his breath to see if I had remembered our deal from yesterday.  He went into another room to read (he usually reads in the great room where I can see him) and did not come out after he finished his assigned reading.  I had to go in and get him.  As I expected he resisted a little but I also reminded him that he had given his word.  Elijah relented.  We got out my plethora of laminated flash cards and we cuddled on the sofa.  Now I did not go to school to be a teacher but my instinct was to just take it one step at a time so we started with just telling the hour (i.e. 12:00, 1:00, 2:00, etc...) and it went well.  We repeated that exercise.  Elijah's confidence got boosted a little.  He was ready to move onto the next step, telling time with minutes (12:30, 12:15, 12:45, etc...).  Once he mastered that he knew he could handle the next step!  And so on and so forth.  Before he knew it, he was telling time on any flashcard that I showed him!  And in all honesty it took about 45 minutes!  What a great triumph for Elijah.

So what is the lesson for momma in all of this?

As mothers we all feel that there is something that we cannot accomplish for whatever reason.  For me, at this point in time, it is that I feel as though we will not get  the adoption rolling let alone through process for one reason or another.  But if I just take things one little step at a time and try not to look at the whole picture and all that needs to be done, I can do it.  I just need to be calm and methodical.  I must also allow my Heavenly Father to lead me through each little step.  I may want to avoid certain aspects and may want to cry and pitch a fit, but it will not get us anywhere.  So......  One.  Step.  At.  A.  Time.  Elijah just proved it was possible!

--Jenny

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Motherhood is not for Wimps!

I would like to share a great poem penned by Nancy Campbell, founder of the ministry Above Rubies.  For over 30 years Nancy has encouraged wives and mothers to heed the call of wife and motherhood with a Godly perspective.  So without further ado, I share with you the poem Motherhood is not for Wimps!



Motherhood is not for wimps!


There are those who would spurn the vocation of mothers
And say of careers, it’s inferior to others,
I'll have to admit that it's not easy work,
It's relentless and from it you cannot shirk.
It takes all of your energy being a mother and wife,
Requiring daily commitment and a disciplined life,
It demands all your resources of patience and love,
Long-suffering and wisdom from the Father above.
It takes self-control and continual endurance,
It needs constant faith and great perseverance,
It means total sacrifice, forgetting your self,
Sometimes you think that you’re left on the shelf!
And what about time? It’s no longer yours,
It belongs to all those who come in your doors.
Claim your own rights? No, they're all gone too,
Like your right to sleep the whole night through!
It's not so easy to crawl into bed with a book
Or go off and dream in some quiet little nook.
It seems like you're totally losing your life
To be a good mother and a submissive wife.
But oh, faithful mother, please do not despair,
In God's perfect plan you do have a share,
To fulfil your destiny planned from creation
Which is to nurture children and BUILD A NATION!
You’re walking in the footsteps of Jesus your Lord
Who sacrificed all, His life He out-poured,
He didn't cling to His rights with selfish futility
He didn’t claim any privilege but walked in humility.
He gave up His life to save millions of others,
This principle works in the lives of all mothers,
When you lose your own life you'll find it again,
A rewarding life, without guilt or shame.
So lift up your head, embrace your calling so high,
You're in God's perfect will, there’s no reason to sigh!
You may often feel worthless - don't listen to this lie,
Your influence goes higher than the clouds in the
sky!
As you nurture and train your God-given seed,
As you sharpen these 'arrows' by word and by deed,
You shape the nation - you determine its course,
Your mothering’s not wasted, it’s a great mighty force!
As your children leave home and go into the world
The proof of your training will soon be unfurled
You’ll influence countries where you've never been,
And down the generations its effect will be seen.
Your work is so powerful, no wonder it's tough,
But God is behind you, He's the GOD WHO IS ENOUGH,
His strength and His wisdom He will give to you,
He stands by His promises which are totally true.
He'll always be with you right through to the end
As you follow His leading and deny the world's trend,
Each morning you wake, your strength He'll renew.
He'll fill your home with His presence and His
blessed peace too.
______________________


--Jenny

Our School Days

This is our first full year of homeschooling.  When the boys were younger I always worked with them- we learned our letters, numbers, colors, Bible stories, shapes, etc...  Then when Jeremiah hit K5 he went to a private Christian school where Eric taught science.  Jeremiah returned to said school for first grade.  Both years he did extremely well and we watched him just blossom in all of his subjects.  He really loves to learn and is a very independent learner.  Elijah only got one year at that school and that was his K5 year.  He, too, did well and enjoyed learning new things.  He is not so much an independent learner, but his big brother sure does cheer him on.  Then there is our Sammy.  He is only 4, so technically he would still be at home with me doing "preschool" at home.  The one thing I know for certain with this little monkey is that he needs to learn to sit long enough to actually do his work!

When Eric finished seminary he knew he was going into full-time ministry so we knew that we would be pulling the boys from their school.  We refuse to put our children into Florida public schools (they are awful!) so we knew that the best option was homeschooling.  I was thrilled as I love to be at home with my boys.  I love being involved in their learning and watching them grow each day!  Seriously, you could not pay me enough to be away from them!

So this year has been a roller coaster ride of success and failures. We have weeks where we just seem to be "on" and weeks where we are lucky if we get through everything we need to get through.  This week?  It has been an "on" week and for that I am grateful.  "Off" weeks can be depressing and discouraging for all parties involved!

We use the Abeka curriculum and so far I have been extremely pleased.  Their phonics and math are outstanding (for my boys, anyway!) and their readers are just the sweetest things ever.  The stories are emphasize Christian character and obedience.  We have supplemented with Answers in Genesis (Ken Ham) and Dr. Dino (Kent Hovind) for science since there is so real science in K4-2nd grades.  Our boys love to learn about dinosaurs, chemical reactions, and extreme weather and I am grateful that Eric has a science background!  We also allow our brains to take us on rabbit trails.  Sometimes a question will be asked about something they are learning, then another, and another, and before we know it, we have had a whole other lesson!  That is something children do not get in public OR private schools.  Their art and music are whatever I whip up and since I have a strong background in music I am able to teach basic theory and can introduce instruments and composers.  Art...well...I like art, but I am not a crafty person so we do the best we can.  As far as Physical Education the boys get that on a daily basis.  They play outside every afternoon, ride bikes, swim (when it is warm enough) and they like to jog with Eric.

A typical school day varies depending on what day of the week it is.  With Eric being a Minister, he takes Monday mornings off to be with us so we do not do school until Monday afternoons.  Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays we do school throughout the day and take our time allowing ourselves to enjoy the learning process.  Fridays we attempt to get everything completed in the morning so we can have an outing or something fun in the afternoons.  Friday evening we plug the Wii back in and allow the boys to play a little bit of their video games.  Saturdays are just like any other Saturday for a school aged child, but we limit the Wii and television and try to take advantage of Eric being home.  Usually it becomes family chore day when we all pitch in to clean and organize (if needed) or to run errands.  Sundays are work days for our family.  Eric is a Minister, so Sunday is his peak work day.  We are usually at church most of the day and the boys love to see their church friends and play with the toys at church.  And while Sundays are great, and we all love to be at church, by Sunday night we are all pretty exhausted and are thankful that we can sleep in a little on Monday morning.  Thus ends our week.

As for evaluation, our boys have been taking the Standford Achievement Test which is a standardized test that shows where a child is at academically.  Both Jeremiah and Elijah took the test at the private school they attended and they both did extremely well.  They scored off the charts in all areas and I look forward to seeing where they are at at the end of this year.  We do not keep a fancy portfolio though we do keep most of the worksheets that they do to make certain that they are indeed moving forward in their studies.

The beauty of homeschooling is that it looks different for each family.  What works for us may not works for others and vice versa.  For those of you that homeschool, what materials do you use and why?  I am always keen to know what other homeschooling families like.  With that, I must get back to my little Sammy.  He is working on mastering the lower case cursive 't'!

--Jenny

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Apple to Apples & Our Family's Addiction to Board Games

Our family LOVES to play board games.  If you could see our coat closet and the boys' closets you would know that we have an addiction- to board games.  Over the years we have accumulated probably close to 50 board games and by the condition of the boxes you can tell that they have been played over and over.  Eric has even made his own board game, pieces and all, called Battle Zone (a missionary board game)!

For a good long while my personal favorite game was Monopoly.  I have great memories of playing that game with my younger brother and we would drag the game out for days.  We would make our own rules just to keep the game going.

But I have a new favorite game- Apple to Apples.  Oh my goodness do we laugh when we play this game!!!  It is a game of comparisons and each player gets a turn to judge each round.  For instance, the topical card could be something like "Funny".  Out of the 7 cards you have in your hand you find a card that you could put down that fits the definition of "funny".  You can be silly with your answer or serious.  Unfortunately sometimes you just have to put down the best card that you have.  Your playing cards can be anything from people to places and everything in between.  Typically when we play with our game night friends from church we get pretty silly.

Last evening we allowed our oldest son, Jeremiah, to join in.  While most of the words were over his head, he did very well.  I think for his birthday we will get him Apples to Apples Junior.  There is even a Bible Edtion!  What we especially like about this game is that it is relatively easy to play and there are no pieces or dice involved, just cards.  When there are 8 people around your dinning room table it is easy to just have to keep track of cards.  Another aspect that we really like about the game is that it can spur really great discussions and you learn about each other.  So if your family is into games and you have yet to play Apple to Apples, our family gives it a two thumb's up!!

What board games do you and your families enjoy and why?

--Jenny

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Are You My Mother?

I am not the author of the words you are about to read, rather I copied them from the most recent entry from the Reece's Rainbow Blog.  I can, however, relate to the emotions of a mother that has answered the call to be the mother of one of these precious children.  Yes, I have had that wonderful shock of seeing Dima's picture for the first time, just knowing he was meant to be ours. I have cried at night thinking of that sweet face wanting to have him in our home where he will be safe and loved.  This past Christmas our family kept talking about how wonderful the next Christmas could be if we are able to bring Dima home before then- how one more smiling face will make our lives extra special.  What can YOU do to make a difference in the life of an orphan?

Are You My Mother?

Please?

Are you my mother?

Are you the mother who will gasp in shock when she sees my picture for the first time?  The one who will know that I am hers even though she has never held me or touched me?

Are you the one who will work around the clock to fill out endless piles of paper so you can adopt me?

The one who will plow through the house finding things to sell and who will sit up late into the night making crafts and baked goods so that I can come home?

The one who will beg for donations from every man, woman and child she meets so that she can raise the money to cover my adoption expenses?

Are you the one who will rush crazily around the house washing windows and vacuuming floors so that when the social worker arrives, the house will pass inspection?

The one who will cry and weep at night thinking about me over here?

The one who will mourn that I am not at her table and that I am not safe in bed at night in her house?

The one who won't be overwhelmed at my medical issues but will trust that God will help her care for me?

The one who can no longer look at other children without thinking about me and who is forever talking about me to everyone who will listen?

The one who wonders how big I am as she wanders through the stores, picking out outfits for my closet and imagining me inside those clothes?

The one who spends much of her time on her knees before the Lord praying over every single piece of paper that is needed for my adoption, that they will pass all the endless inspections required?

The one who panics that they are just not going to be able to raise the money needed to come get me?

The one who is having her faith stretched beyond all human understanding that God will provide everything she needs to bring me home?

The one who carries my picture around in her wallet?

The one who loves me even when I am not at my best?

The one who counts down the months, weeks, days and minutes until she can come get me?

The one who yells like she has gone mad when she receives the Golden Ticket that means my paperwork gets to cross the ocean to my country?

The one who waits with no patience for the date when she can come get me?

The one who cries out for protection for the ones she is leaving behind as she boards a plane to my country?

Please?

Are you my mother?

Are you the Mommy who longs to walk into my world, my room, my life and hold me close to your heart?

Are you my mother? Are you the Mommy I long for every single day of my life?

Please - Are you my mother?

I so very much want a mother.

I am lost without you.

*****

Please continue to pray for our family as we begin this crazy wonderful process of adopting a boy whose cry we heard.

--Jenny

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Beautiful Adoption Story

*You will want to scroll down to the bottom on the blog and turn off the music from the media player.

Now that our family is actively pursuing an adoption, in the afternoons I will sit down and read blogs of other families that have gone through the process or are farther along in the process than we are.  Yesterday I came across this video of a family that adopted a girl with Down's Syndrome through Reece's Rainbow and was so encouraged by their faith and perseverance.

The wife makes mention of a television show that she happened to see about the mental institutions of Serbia, which is what spurred her family into action.  I, too, have seen that show via Youtube and it is very disturbing to say the least.  It only strengthens my conviction to adopt our (and yes, I call him "ours") special little boy to give him a life of love, happiness, and meaning.  The boy that we want to adopt is 6 1/2 and on borrowed time.  Typically at about the age of 4 special needs children are taken from what they call the "baby house" and put into mental institutions where an alarming 70% perish in the first year from the trauma.  The mere thought of our little man being put into an institution almost makes me frantic inside.  As of now our precious boy is still in the baby house, but could be transferred at any time.

In the meantime seeing stories like this gives me hope.  I hope it blesses you as much as it blessed me.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Eric's Ordination Day

During yesterday's church service the Elders of our church ordained Eric as a Minster!  They asked both Eric and the congregation some questions and then did the laying on of hands.  We were so proud of Eric as he worked hard to become a Minister so he could fulfill the call that God has placed on his life.  Our family is also grateful to be part of such a tremendous church family that is growing in their faith and spiritual maturity.  

Anyway, here is Eric's ordination- enjoy!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Beginnings

Happy New Year!  2010 was certainly a year of growth and change for our family.  2011 is already proving to be a year full of growth and blessings and we are so excited for all that is ahead for us.

First, we began homeschooling our boys this past fall.  Thus far it is proving to be a wonderful endeavor and I am so thankful to be able to be at home with my boys every day.  Is it easy?  Hardly.  Homeschooling is a lifestyle that never stops as there is always a teachable moment.  That and teaching 3 boys, each in a different grade can be challenging for anyone.  But I love that my boys are flexible and enjoy learning.  Not to mention that they are all super smart!

Second, we had Eric home with us for 8 months as he applied to ministry positions all over the country.  He graduated from Seminary in August (with honors!) and was eager and ready to step into full-time ministry.  It was tough going through the entire process: the applications, the phone interviews, the surveys, the in person interviews, etc... but we did not have to go too far to find where God wanted our family.  Eric was recently hired as the Associate Minister at our home church, Southwest Christian Church!  We are so happy to be able to remain a part of such a wonderful church family that is growing and has so much going for it.  Our boys were especially happy as it had been their prayer all along that their Daddy would be able to work at their church.  It was weird the first day that Eric went into work for a whole day, but we regained the best part of our day and that is when Daddy comes home from work.  The boys like to hide and our dog, Jax, likes to run out and greet Daddy at the car.  It is also my favorite time of the day when I get my hug and kiss and get to serve Eric a nice supper.

Finally, we have decided to add one more to our family via the ministry of adoption.  We are still only in the very beginning stages and are in the process of committing to a special little boy, but with each day that passes, it brings us one day closer to bringing our special little man home.  We are hoping to adopt through a ministry called Reece's Rainbow.  This ministry places children with special needs with forever families.  The particular special need that we will be facing is Down's Syndrome, and the child is in Eastern Europe.  At this time I have nothing more to share but cannot wait until I can share more with you all.  Just know that this decision was not made in haste.  It is something that has weighed on our hearts since 2006 and this is not the first time we have investigated adoption.  The only difference this time is that we are actively pursuing a particular little boy in desperate need of a forever family.  Please pray for us as we begin the process!

In the meantime I look forward to sharing our journeys of the New Year with you!