Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Boy and His Horse - Spielberg style!

Have you heard of the new movie coming out on Christmas Day? It's called War Horse, and is the newest offering from Steven Spielberg. The movie is based on a children's novel of the same name by Michael Morpurgo, and centers on a young Englishman named Albert and a horse he names Joey. The two have a special bond and when Joey is sold to the army at the beginning of World War I, Albert sets out to find his friend.

I will the leave the professional reviews to, and give you the 'Mom Review' instead. I know that before I take my children to a movie, I am always interested in knowing some details that will help me decide if it is an appropriate movie for them to see. This movie is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of war violence, and I think that it is a well earned rating.

On the good side, we see example of heroism, bravery and courage. Friends who stand beside each other and enemies who learn that sometimes you need to lay down old feuds and work together. We see that even in the midst of the carnage and brutality of war, there is a place for compassion, for keeping promises and stepping out even when common sense would tell you to keep your head down. But I think that the underlying theme which stands out the most is the idea of self-sacrifice. In this day and time, where everything is so "Me" centered, it is very refreshing to see a movie that promotes doing for others, even if it costs you dearly.

Throughout the movie, we see little vignettes of Joey's life from his birth through the end of the war. I want to tell you about them all, but I also don't want to spoil the movie for you, so you are going to have to go see it yourself!

In the "Heads-Up" category, you should know there is a little language. God's name is never taken in vain, and my almost-ten-year-old missed the language altogether (it went right over her head)...she also missed all the war scenes, because I had her close her eyes! I really have to give it to Spielberg though...he was somehow able to portray the intensity of the battles, the horror and brutality of war without us having to see blood spurting or heads flying. For example, (spoiler warning) when two young men are shot for deserting the war, we see the scene in the moonlight, from the top of a windmill which has spinning blades. At the moment that the shots are fired, the blades cross the screen, so we hear the shot, but don't see the young men until after their bodies are on the ground, and again, it is from a distance.

In general, I think that the way the battle scenes in this movie are filmed makes this movie excellent for those studying WWI or WWII, for children who can handle viewing the intensity of battle. You get a good sense of what the trenches were like, what it was like to come up over the wall to charge the enemy positions, what No Man's Land was like, and what is was like behind the lines, where weapons were being moved into position and the dead and wounded were taken. There is a pretty intense scene (again, spoiler warning) where we see that the horses who are captured are forced to move the large artillery into position. It is mentioned that the animals usually only live for one month, and you see a pit where they are "buried", but it is an open pit and there are dead horses lying all around it.

This review feels a little disjointed to me, which I would like to apologize for now...I think that I am having a difficult time meshing the feel-good parts of the movie with the intensity of the war scenes...but I have to tell you that the overall feeling I had on leaving the theater was a happy glow. I know that my kids are not ready for this movie yet, but we will get the book and read it and we will buy the movie when it comes out. It is so good to see a movie like this which handles tough material and is made so well.

Thank you to Homeschool Movie Club, who put out the word on the screening tickets!! You guys rock!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Out of Egypt

I have said this before, so please forgive me for saying it again...but one of the things that I love the most about homeschooling is how my kids take what they learn and go DO something with it!

The Students - this will have to be the beginning of year pic, since I forgot to take one!

Take the last three weeks. We just finished studying Egypt. Pyramids and pharaohs and sphinxes, oh my! They became totally immersed in studying this long dead culture. They have built pyramids out of Legos, ziggurats out of left over cinder blocks and even included a sarcophagus with a 'mummified' pharaoh in the Lego pyramid.

The Lego Pyramid complete with sarcophagus and mummy.

Working on his ziggurat - pen and paper in hand

They were especially fascinated with the "fact" that the slaves used dolerite stone balls to hammer out tunnels in the pyramids, and to help smooth the sides. Now don't go slamming the kids! There are about as many theories for how the pyramids were built as there are archaeologists! But several of the movies we watched and books that we read had pics of these dolerite and so the kids have taken it to heart.

Dolerite in action

Today finds them out in the yard, meshing many of the things that we have learned over the last few weeks: sand, dolerites, working hard...enjoy the pics!

The Yard Boss - At least he THINKS he is in charge!

The REAL Yard Boss - oh so subtle she is!

Does not care who is in charge, as long as he can build!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Change His Life - Change Her Life - Change YOUR Life!

This is a loooong post! Might want to grab a cup of tea!

For the last year, as some of you know, my life has been kind of "ups-by-down", as my son used to say. Before that time, I was involved in MOPS, had started a homeschool co-op and had taken over leadership of a homeschool support group. I also watched different friends kids every week, giving them a chance for a breath of quiet air, or the ability to go to a doctors appointment without raising their blood pressure. Life was busy, but good, as I fed into my passions by ministering to moms and their kids.

Then it all started to change. I graduated from MOPS, had a year long bout of back pain and then back surgery, then we decided to move and along came all the chaos of getting the house showing ready. Because we were leaving, I passed on the homeschool group into capable hands, and our co-op decided to disband, as the kids were all getting older and getting school done with everyone was getting tougher.

This left me in a weird place. I was still doing the core thing that I believe God made me to do. Be the mom to these three delight(-fully crazy) kiddos, and the wife to my amazing hubby. I am still right where I want to be, schooling them at home, cooking, ironing...all the things that make up the life of a stay-at-home mom.

And yet, I still have this passion for children 'not my own' that will not go away. I found it again, or maybe just uncovered it from the midst of all the day-to-day junk that gets piled on it, when we were in Guatemala this summer on our sponsor tour with Compassion International.

I had known for years that Compassion had an advocacy program, but at the time it was not a good fit for me. However I learned on the trip to Guatemala that the parameters of the program had changed. Now the program is more fluid and an advocate is asked to use their time, talents and influence to make a greater impact for needy children.

From an online dictionary:
Noun: A person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.

From our 1950 Webster's Dictionary
ad'vo-cate, n. from the latin advocatus, one called to another.
one who defends, vindicates, or espouses a cause by argument; one who is friendly to; an upholder; a defender.

I can do that!! I can talk to people about the children I met on our trip, how their lives have been changed by the child development programs that Compassion offers. I can tell them about the smiling faces, the singing voices and the happy hearts that I personally experienced. I can tell people about the homes I visited and the abject poverty that the children live in - but also about the overwhelming love of Christ that I experienced in these homes.

And so, I became an Advocate. I love this "job" because I can do it anywhere! At the grocery store standing in line. At a park on a play date. At a 5K race where we are raising money to help girls leave the sex loosely quote the great Dr Seuss..."I can do it here. I can do it there. I can do it anywhere!"

So today I want to tell you about two children who need sponsors. They need a one-on-one connection with someone who will believe in them and encourage them to be all that God created them to be. They need a listening ear and a heart that will lift them up in prayer for their safety in the tough places where they live. They need you.

First, meet Britney. This kid has spunk - just look at her picture!

Britney lives in the Dominican Republic with her Mom and Dad. She makes beds and runs errands for her Mom. She has two siblings and her Dad is sometimes employed as a laborer. Most of the adults in her neighborhood are unemployed, but some work as domestics and earn about $88 per month. Britney loves to play dolls and play house - sound like any little girls you might know?

Britney needs a sponsor. Would you be that blessing in her life?

Now meet Julio.

Julio lives in Peru where the typical houses in his area are constructed of dirt floors, cement walls and tin roofs. He lives with his Mom and Dad and and helps out around the house by running errands. He has two siblings and his Dad is sometimes employed. He is in Kindergarten and loves to play cars, play ball and create art. Julio needs a sponsor. He is praying that he will get the letter that tells him "Julio! You have SPONSOR!" How do I know that? Because our new sponsor child was praying the same prayers as Julio, over her breakfast, the very same morning we met her!

Thanks for taking the time to read this lengthy post. These kids pictures are on my kitchen table, so I see them all day long, and I have been praying that God will bring forward a sponsor for each of them. Let me tell you, once you have sponsored a child, YOUR life will never be the same!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Educating the Right-Brain Child

I have been thinking a lot lately about my kid's education. I have not only been thinking about the "book" part of learning, but also about the heart part. The part which seems bigger to me than all the book part, which is this: What did God create my children to do? How has he gifted them and how am I furthering their learning so that they are equipped to step into His calling when the time comes?

These are pretty weighty thoughts. If my only goal was to make sure they all passed calculus and could write well, that they had a certain number of community service hours and knew how to manage money, then I think it would be pretty easy. After all, there are workbooks for most of that!

But we are talking about hearts here. Hearts and souls and lives that need to be shaped and molded for a higher purpose. This is VERY heavy!

It seems to me that with my boys, it has been a little easier to see their giftings and the ways their brains work. Maybe because they live life out loud - all the time!

Jalapeno at seven is an inventor all the way. He is always coming up with new ways to do things. New ways to make things work better or faster or just be more fun! He has a true heart of compassion for people. How they are feeling, what is going on with them, if they need anything. He is joy personified and feels everything so deeply, both joy and sorrow.

Pineapple has a math brain that scares me. He is six and without much tutoring on my part, he has a natural grasp of times tables, does double digit addition and subtraction in his head with out missing a beat and mastered the digital clock more than a year ago. He is a passionate leader, and thinks that everyone should follow him, because after all, he has worked out all the details and knows exactly how things should be done, and in what order!

Then there is my Sweet Girl, nine. I don't know why she is so tough for me to figure out, but I really struggle with knowing how I should educate her in all areas. Every task she has to do for school is followed by the words..."I hate_____". Not with a lot of emotion (most of the time), but I hate to hear those words when I have worked so hard to find the right fit for her in her curriculum.

Today, I asked her to write two lists for me. One list was all the things she "loves", the other, things she "likes". Here is her list, in her own words:

What I Love to do

1) I love to read.
2) I love to craft.
3) I love to use my tool box.
4) I love to listen to music
5) I love to write stories
6) I love to draw
7) I love to ride my bike
8) I love to ride my scooter
9) I love to run
10) I love to watch movies, Narnia

What I like to do

1) I like to swim
2) I like to swing
3) I like to build with blocks
4) I like to play with my Littlest Pet Shop
5) I like to draw with chalk
6) I like to go on nature walks
7) I like to play games and card games
8) I like to do
9) I like to play volleyball with my brothers
10) I like to play frisbee with the boys

Basic kid stuff here, no real surprises! If she could play and do crafts all day, her life would be "perfect"!

So for now, I continue to pray for her and about her. Asking the One who created her to give me guidance in how to raise her up in the way she should go...I would appreciate your prayers as well!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Whatcha Up To Lord?

We have had our house on the market for, oh, about six months. Over 80 showings, new sod, new carpet and multiple price reductions...and still not a single offer!

We have firmly believed (well pretty firmly) that everything was going to happen in God's timing. But getting and keeping a totally lived in house ready for strangers to see over 80 times has been exhausting!

We found out last night that we had finally received an offer (albeit a low one) can bet that my heart skipped a few beats and that my stomach felt like I was on the Scream Machine. My husband says: "We need to pray about this." I said: "I don't want to pray about this, I want to know what is going to happen!" And I meant it!

Then yesterday morning as I was praying and begging God for peace, I was reminded of a daily note I receive from Chuck Swindoll. He was talking about remembering the "pillars" we have put up in our lives. Times when God has met us and done amazing things in or through us. So I started to go through the extensive list of pillars in our life. When He met us in that tiny ultrasound room and we did not see the heart beat that had been there just days before. When I cried out to him while on a jury with a corrupt jury boss. When we bought this house. When Steve was out of work after 9/11 and we had $20 to our name. And as I remembered these monumental pillars and the many small ones that are scattered through our life, I was filled with such peace - you know the passes all understanding!

Fast forward to today. Even after receiving our offer, we had two showings yesterday. And today I received TWO showing requests. Both from people who have been here before. Both from realtors/buyers who know that we have a solid offer on the table. Both know they have a deadline of 5 tonight if they want our home to become theirs...

...will we have a bidding war, after so many months of uncertainty and wondering? I don't have any idea. But what I do know is that HE holds us gently in His hands, and that wherever we are tomorrow, it will be just where He wants us to be.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Very Interesting!

My church, Mile High Calvary, is doing a 90 Day Challenge, where we are reading through the whole Bible in 90 is a demanding regimen, but also doable, if you rearrange your priorities. I have decided to give up Facebook for the duration of the Challenge...and so far, it has been AWESOME!!!

Today is day Four, but I was reading ahead on Day 5 in Exodus. I was captivated by the midwives and what it says about them in the Bible...not many women are mentioned by name, so I am always curious as to why their names have passed through centuries.

Here is what Exodus says:

'Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of one was Shiphrah and the name of the other Puah; and he said, “When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.” But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive. So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this thing, and saved the male children alive?” And the midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them.”
Therefore God dealt well with the midwives, and the people multiplied and grew very mighty. And so it was, because the midwives feared God, that He provided households for them.
' 1:15-21 NKJV

The first thing I found interesting is the meaning of their names. Shiphrah is Hebrew and means 'fair, brightness or beauty'. Puah means "splendid". Wonderful names, don't you think? To be remembered for generations as 'fair' and 'splendid'? And it would seem that we know their names and a little about their character because they feared God and did not do as the Egyptians demanded, and for this God blessed them and provided households for them.

I also love that they had a sense of humor, even with the feared Egyptian king. “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them.” Wow! They were standing before Pharaoh - who, with a nod of his regal head, could have ended their lives...yet there they stood with a clever response, and because they feared God more than the man in front of them, their lives were changed forever!

I pray that if I am ever in a situation like that, one where 'fear of what could come' would overwhelm 'fear of He who created me', that I will remember this story and lean into the One who knew me before I was in my mother's womb.

What about you? Have you ever been in a situation where the wrong kind of fear threatened to change the course of YOUR life? What did you do?

P.S. You can get involved by signing up for youversion, a Bible site (also available as an app) that has the 90 program. I recommend signing up online, then downloading the app...seems to have worked better that way!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Calling all Compassion International Sponsors!!

To all of you who sponsor children around the world through Compassion International - I want to shout out a great big THANK YOU for what you are doing in the lives of your children! The help that you give your child/children through the monthly support you send is changing their lives and the lives of their families in very tangible ways.

We recently returned from a Compassion Sponsor tour to Guatemala and one of the things that impacted me the most was hearing how seldom sponsors write their children - and how DESPERATE the children are to hear from you! You can not imagine the joy that we saw on the faces of the children who do hear from their sponsors compared to the grief of the many more who do not. So don't stop your help when you send that vital support check each month - take five minutes and write your child a letter. Ask them about themselves. Tell them about yourself. Get to know them in a way that you have not done up to this point!

There are several ways to write your child. You can go the "old fashioned" pen and paper route, which is great, because then the child sees your handwriting. Many of the kids don't think that their sponsor is real (one child even suggested that his sponsor must be a robot, because he had never heard from him), so taking the time to hand write a letter and enclose a picture or two of you/your family will make you more real to your child.

In addition to that, you can go onto the Compassion website and write an email to your child. Not as personal, but hey - I think that if the choice is an email vs. not hearing from you, they will gladly take the email!!

If you have not signed up for an account on the Compassion website, please take a minute to do that. There are lots of great tips for what to write your child, the email function is there, you can make a quick donation for an upcoming birthday or tons of other fun stuff.

If you don't have a sponsor child, and would like to, you can go to the Compassion International website and get started right away. There are thousands of kids waiting to get that call "You have a SPONSOR!!" Not only will you change the life of a child, but your life will be changed as well! Click here

P.S. Just found out about this blog...all about writing your Compassion kids, tons of tips and tools - check it out!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Dolphin Tale - A Must See Family Movie - Finally!

I don't know about you, but I get awfully tired of hearing about the next new "family movie" only to find it full of potty talk, kids slamming all the adults, and rebellion out the wazoo! It is so rare that I can actually show my kids a new release at the theater without previewing it first, well, forget rare - it NEVER happens!

I recently heard about a new movie called Dolphin Tale, put out by Warner Brothers. I saw the trailer for Dolphin Tale while watching Winnie the Pooh with my kids. The story line immediately caught my attention, as it did all of my kids. I was further intrigued to read about the movie on the Homeschool Movie Club site ( ) in a review by Nathan Clarkson - this was the quote at the bottom of the short promo: "*also, you may be happy to know that there is no foul language, actors wear wetsuits and rash guards, and there are no romantic plots (no funny business :) and we have seen an early screening and would be happy to answer ANY question you may have about the movie". I was hooked! How often can you read a review about a family movie and get that kind of an endorsement?!

Last week, I saw a post on Facebook from Sally Clarkson, letting us know that "they" were looking for people who blog and are leaders to come and pre-screen Dolphin Tale. You can be sure that I dropped everything to get that email sent off, and sure enough, I was lucky enough to receive a coveted seat at the screening yesterday.

I cannot say enough positive things about this movie. First of all, it is in 'Real 3D" for me for two reasons: 1) I have not seen a 3D movie yet and 2) I just came back from snorkeling in Belize and the underwater scenes in! It was almost like being back in the water...almost!

I am not an expert on the social life of dolphins by any stretch of the imagination, so seeing "Winter" getting into all sorts of mischief before her accident may be totally inaccurate, but for me, it gave me a glimpse into the playful nature of this dolphin (Winter actually plays herself!).

I was also touched by the relationships of the people portrayed in the movie. Sawyer is obviously a child with a heavy load on his shoulders...and his relationship with his mom is so real! I could see myself saying some of the same things to my kids that she said to Sawyer on the way to the Marine Aquarium! And 'Hazel', I want her to be friends with Liyah! What an engaging child, full of spunk and life.

I also loved the "family forever" theme that ran throughout the movie. You saw it with Sawyer and his cousin Kyle as Kyle went out of his way to make sure his cousin knew that he was coming back and with how Sawyer went to see his cousin after the accident when his calls were not returned. Also with Lorraine (Sawyer's mom) and her sister, who lived across the street from each other and were always there to support one another when times were tough. You also saw it in Dr. Clay's family, in his daughter and his father. All of the people really cared about each other and even when things were tough, they stuck together and got through it, a good example to set in the world we live in where it is very common for people to run away from dealing with the hard things in life.

If I say anymore you won't need to see the I am just going to say - GO SEE IT!! It receives my highest movie rating of "I would pay full price to see it AGAIN at the theater" and this time I will be taking all the kids with me! I really think we need to let the movie industry know that we want more movies like this one!!

So, go see it and come back here and let me know what you think!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Guatemala, Day 2

Day one was spent in the airport, or in the air, so I am going to skip it except to say...what a nice room we had last night!

Day two started with us meeting in the lobby to ditch the bags we did not need to take to Quetzaltenango, where we will spend the next four days. The skies were gray and clouds wrapped around the mountains outside the hotel doors, but I must say that this lady was super happy to feel the cool breezes blowing through those doors!

Some of you know that our Compassion child in Kenya graduated last week, so we choose a new child, Aleena, here in Guatemala, and hopefully, we will be meeting her on Tuesday, and seeing her again on Friday!

We loaded onto three buses and headed SW into the mountains to the city of Quetzaltenango, which is the highest city in Central America, and also the second largest city in Guatemala.

We drove through some amazing mountains, lots of lush, green hills and farm land. We passed field after field of corn with little block houses nestled on the edegs and sevearal town markets, which were hopping on this busy Sunday morning.

The people, especially the women, in the countryside, were dressed in traditional native dress: colorful woven wrap skirts, equally colorfull tops and these cool belts. They have these beautiful woven blankets that they use for everything from slinging a baby on their backs, to wrapping up baskets of good to go to market. I am amazed at how many uses they have for those beautiful blankets!

We also passed three volcanos, and the the lake which is nestled at the base, Lake Atitlan, which is a pretty famous place here. I don't think we will get much closer than this, but it was beautiful!

Once we arrived at the hotel, we had an amazing lunch, took a short nap and then headed over to a local church for service and dinner. This church has a child sponsor program running and we were able to tour the classrooms, talk to the teachers and interact with some of the children. It was a most amazing time!

We were made to feel so welcome by the people of the church, where, by the way, I disovered that I am pretty darn tall! We received many hugs from most of the ladies, especially the ladies who work with the kids, and warm handshakes or hugs from the men. More than once, tiny little old women came up and gave me a big smile and a bigger hug...I really can't describe the feeling of being in a room full of people, where you don't understand much of what anyone was saying and yet feeling so welcome...just a taste of what Heaven might be like (without needing a translator)?

The children were the most fun, though, with their irrepressable energy and excitement. They all loved having their pictures taken, and really liked seeing them on the screen afterwards. Three little girls kept running up to me, giggling and laughing for their picture to be made, then dashing off again. So fun!

After an amazing dinner, (actually, amazing does not begin to describe the dinner!)we loaded the buses to head back to the hotel. Almost thought for a moment Steve and I were going to be left behind, when we got stuck behind a crowd who were waving good bye! With a loud "Con permisso!" the crowd parted and we dashed to the bus for a quick ride back to the hotel.

Off to bed now for a long sleep - we don't have to be anywhere til 9!

Interesting historical fact to note for today - the Guatemalan Futbol Team played their first ever World Cup game today! They lost (as expected - they did after all play the two time defending champions!), but it seems that all Guatemalans are super psyched that they finally made it to the Cup!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Waiting Patiently...or not!

Just when you get all wrapped up in your own self-absorption, a tragedy occurs. People's lives are changed forever and you realize how insignificant you really are in the scheme of things.

I recently made a time line on some large index cards that I taped together, end to end. I started about 3000 b.c. and came up to the present. When you see yourself as a little dot in the great expanse of time that has happened from when God created the Heavens and the Earth til now, you realize that you are not even a blip on the radar of time.

Except that my living or dying does matter to three little people and one amazing man.

For too long, I have been letting the tide batter me around like a clump of old sea weed on the edge of the ocean. I think it's high time I get up out of the surf, get on my feet and choose to live the life given to me. It is a good life. A blessed life. I have a husband who adores me, three healthy kids, a wonderful family and amazing friends.

Better yet, I serve an amazing God. A God who knew me before He created me in my mother's womb. A God who chose the time and place of my birth, the family into which I would be born and the time it would happen. He has numbered my days and yet, it is not all about me.

I think it's high time I get off my tail, get healthy and get on with this life. For there are so many in such great need.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

And Life Rolls On...

...and on. I spent 30 minutes in the bathroom this morning (I promise, this will NOT be TMI!) with a child on my lap who was losing it. Round and round he went with his circling arguments never getting anywhere, because we all know that going in circles never gets you any place you want to go.

"I tan't be twiet! I told you one million-one hundred tosuand times I don't know how to be twiet! I am TIRSTY!!! I am going to die of being tirsty! I will not be twiet betause I told you I tan't be twiet!!!"

On and on it goes. I was very calm as I sat with him in my arms. Praying for help. And he would not be quiet. I called Daddy, but he was in a meeting, so no help from that quarter.

I thought of all the people who look at my child and say (I have heard them) that all he needs is a good spanking. That we do not have control of our child. That he runs our house. That they would NEVER allow their child to act this way.

Guess what? Sometimes he is out of control....aren't YOU sometimes out of control too? Do you ever have emotions that you don't know what to do with, boiling up inside you and making you want to scream with frustration or anger? I know I do.

So how can we (me included here) expect a five year old that has been through what my five year old has been through in his short life to have it all together? To know how to act all the time and to do it well? I have not been through what he has been through and I don't act like I know I should!

So, back to this I sat there with him snuggled in my lap (for though his words were angry and his tone harsh, he was snuggled up to me for comfort) I just started to pray out loud for him. For God to use his strength to help people and not hurt them. I prayed for every part of him, his mind, his eyes, his ears, his heart, his feet - the whole of AJ - that God would use him for good things. That AJ would be willing to listen to God, to learn from Him and from Mommy and Daddy, so that he could be used by God for the purpose for which he was created. For while some may think that this child should never have been born, that he was an accident, I know the truth. God has a plan for this little man.

And after I finished praying, I helped him to pray. To ask God to help him. It was the sweetest moment...because as soon as I started praying for him, he stopped his arguing to listen. To listen to me speak words of love and affirmation over him. To hear me crying out to God on his behalf. It was not the way I had hoped to start my morning, and yet, if it happens this way every day, I will be honored to bring my child to the throne!

So, please don't judge him. He is a boy who needs your love and prayers. A boy who God knew before He created him in his mother's womb. A boy who will do mighty things for the Lord because he has the passion and determination to get it done.

I am honored to be this boy's Momma.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy Dance!!!

I am so happy right now, I could DANCE!!!! And I am not really a dancer...

I have been really focusing on AJ the last few days, making him a calendar and then making him a book with his "Plans". I talked to my friend Carrie, who learned this technique of making plans from a sensory program she had her son enrolled in. Basically, a Plan is something visual that you make for your child, that has all the steps required to do something...anything that needs to get done. It helps kids who can't necessarily keep it all in their minds or who let their emotions get in the way of their thinking. It also helps kids who need to know what is coming.

So here are a few pics from AJ's book. He decided to call it "Austin's 'Making Good Choices' Book":

Page One is a weekly schedule that says what time we are going to eat, when he gets up, what days and times he showers....'nothing' things to me, but things that have consistently caused problems for our day to day life. The morning is on the front of the page, and the afternoon and evening are on the back.

Page Two is his plan for getting up in the morning. I am sending him to bed with a little timer that has a clock on it and by his book, he knows what time to get up. Then he refers to his plan, and follows it step by step, til he gets to the end of the plan. I can't tell you how much more smoothly our mornings have been going, as we get this more firmly set into place.

There is also a plan for bedtime, and one for showers. It seems crazy to me to have to list out each little step - but hey, if it works, I am good!

We also have a consequences page and a page that (I hope) is going to help me teach him not to interrupt. We will see how it goes!

The last thing in the book is a few blank pages that I can write on with Vis-a-vis...for days like today...and hence, my reason for dancing!

This afternoon we took Sweet Girl to art and then made a quick grocery store run. Every 5 minutes I kept changing my plan for the afternoon. As time passed, AJ got more and more agitated and combative. We finally got home, and I sent them outside to play and he kept stealing anything that Jalapeno tried to play with and was basically terrorizing the back yard. I brought him in to put him in his room and he lost it. He started hitting me and screaming...all the behaviors we were seeing before we started with The Plan.

I grabbed him up and snuggled him in my lap so he could not hit me any more, and told him that I understood that he was disappointed about the changing plans but that hitting and screaming was not the way to deal with it. I had him apologize to me, which he readily did, his anger already gone. Then he and I got his book and sat down and I wrote out for him what was going to be happening for the rest of the day. I gave him the timer/clock and he very happily and calmly went down to the playroom until it was time to go get SG. Now, you must understand that in the past (as recently as Monday) an explosion like this would have lasted for 1-1 1/2 hours, with lots of consequences, time out and yelling...none of which either of us wants.

All of these happenings have really made me pay attention to my child this week. Yelling "knock it off!" from my chair in front of the computer just does not work with him (or the other kids either, to be honest), and though I am wondering how all this will look when we are in a bit more "normal life mode", seeing such quick results makes me want to stick with this, even if it is hard. I have hope again, that I will be able to take this child out in public without a scene every time we leave the van...hope!! It is a beautiful thing!

I am so thankful that God heard my cries for help and has given me tools to use that really help me to be a better mom to my child. I have hated the way I have been feeling toward him, and so appreciate this chance for a do-over! God is good...ALL the time!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


....things were a little better with my little man. If you read the preceding post, you know that we have had some rough times lately and over the course of our almost five years together...but today was an example of how things could be if I am willing to be less selfish, to put aside my to-do list and focus on this darling child God has given me.

As I cried and prayed my way home last night, after the horrible day I had with the little one, I felt like I really needed to focus more on what he was asking for and what he was needing (despite the way he was asking). He is only five, though he seems much older because of his mouth. But I realized that most of what I hear out of his mouth in both tone and words are things I have said, verbatim. Seems like that puts it all on me.

So last night, I stayed up and created a weekly calendar for him. In orange it has all the things that he has to do by himself, in blue, things he needs to know are coming (like showers), in green FOOD!! On the reverse side, we have consequences for his behaviors, and I kept it very simple, only three things we are working on...arguing, being disrespectful and hitting.

I also talked to him about the 'angry bees' in his tummy, and how they make him do things that he does not want to do. We came up with three things that he can do to help the bees be calm 1) sit with Mommy 2) hug Mommy 3) lie down in his bed with his blanket for 5 minutes. I explained it all to him this morning and he has referred to that "tayendar" all day long. To me, it is silly, to him, as my friend Lisa commented, the "knowledge is power".

And here is the amazing timeouts today - not one! And this for a kid who is in timeout a lot! Every time he headed in a direction that was not going to end well, I would talk to him about what was going on in his tummy and we would follow get the bees to quiet down.

Was it a perfect day - absolutely NOT! Was it a better day for he and I than we have had in months? YES!!! Without a doubt. He even happily went to bed 30 minutes before the other kids, after he got ready for bed with no fussing and he and I read a story together. Bedtime has always been bad for us, but tonight, I got a glimpse of what it could be like.

I read an article today by Sally Clarkson. She is someone who I really look up to as the kind of mom I want to be. She admits she is not perfect, that she has made lots of mistakes too, but the fact is, she loves her kids and she keeps trying. You can read it for yourself here: I would love to know what you think!

Easy or Right?

Have you ever thought (you can be honest here, we're all friends) that it would have been so much easier if each child the Lord gives us came with an instruction manual and a built in screen on their forehead that flashed the page number for the issue at hand? I have. Truly.

Picture it: Child number Two is melting down because s/he has to fold a few pieces of laundry. Their head is spinning round and round, fists and words are flying and a bright red number 44 flashes on the forehead. You whip your handy-dandy Child Number Two Manual out of your back pocket, flip to page 44 and Oila! The answer for all your woes. You calmly apply the wisdom you read there and Child Number Two acquiesces (that's a cool word, eh?!) and all is calm and peaceful again. Ahhhhh!!

There are many days when I have wished fervently that I had manuals and flashing forehead screens for my three delightful children. Days when I question the years and years I prayed for kids of my own. Days (like yesterday, since we are being honest) when I wish we already lived near my family and I could take that kid and drop him/her off for some Grampa time.

This then, is what I have learned over the last five years. If these darlings of mine had come with manuals, then I would not be relying on the One who gave them to me to raise for Him. You see, in His instruction manual, it says that He knew each of them before they grew in their mother's wombs. He knew the days allotted to reads like this:

"For You formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!" Psalm 139:13-17

So if the God who created them knew them, and "saw their substance, being yet unformed", and all their days are "written, when as yet there were none of them", then I am guessing that it is not a mistake that they are in my home. Not a mistake that He chose me to be the one who would help them to know Him and to become all that he created them to be. Not a mistake. Not a mistake. Not a mistake.

What I am learning is that I need to be spending time with the One who created them. That I need to be asking Him what to do when I reach that melt down point, and if I am doing it right, maybe the melt downs will lessen. That no book (no matter how wise the author) is going to give me all that I need for each of my children. Yes, I can glean ideas and be comforted by those with whom I share my mom heart, but truly the answers for this child and this situation are only going to come from the Creator of this child.

I challenge you to seek His face for your kid troubles. He will never let you down. See, He knew YOU in the secret place and your days are also written, and He is using this time with your kids to shape you and mold you too!! Thank God for that!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Divine Interruption

Yes, I know I stole the name for this blog post from my dear friend's blog ( but those words just keep running through my mind in the early hours of this new day.

You see, I am in the middle of a divine interruption. It is more of a cataclysm, really. The earth under my feet is roaring and shaking. But somehow, I am as calm and quiet as a child in it's mothers arms. I feel that "peace that passes all understanding" running through my veins. It is an awesome if not sometimes confusing feeling.

About six weeks ago, we felt God calling us to move back across the country to be closer to our family. We have always wanted to be by them, especially since we became parents, but never before have we felt this compelling urge to make it happen. In fact, I have often said that I would never leave this world I now call home, unless my family needed me back in hot, humid Georgia. Yes, I did say never, but not in the "Uh-uh, no way, I ain't going back there no more, no more, no more!", but more in the "I am happy here. Content. I love where we are and what my life has become." kind of way.

There are competing emotions to be sure. On one hand, I am thrilled that I am going to be within minutes of my sister and her family. And my parents are talking about moving up that way too, which would be just awesome! I will also be near my Georgia family, many of whom have known me since we first moved there when I was seven years old! But as I lay in bed tonight, wakened by these thoughts swirling through my mind, I suddenly realized that yes, they have known me most of my life, but they don't know the woman I have become, especially in the last five years since I became a mom.

The woman I am now has been shaped by a core of friends who know me like no one back home has had the chance to know me. They have helped me become the woman I am today and I am a better person for knowing them.

I could right this moment, at 4 am, call any one of them and say "I need you" and they would jump in their cars and be here as fast as they could. Not many people are that blessed, to be sure, to have such dear, true friends of the heart.

I am not really sure why God is calling me away from my Colorado sisters, what plans He has for us, what things are headed our way. But I do know this. God is good, all the time. The plans He has for us can not be improved upon. So while my heart aches and breaks as the the time for leaving gets closer and closer, I still know that the best place to be is in the center of His will for my life, there in the arms of my Father.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Today is the day....

...ever wondered if you could make a difference? Ever wondered how you would do it? There is so much horror in the world. So much pain, so many ways that we humans hurt each other. Today is the day when YOU could make the difference in the life of a child. You, making a decision right now can change the life of a child for all eternity. Will you accept the challenge or will you go about you day, drinking your fancy coffee, living your sheltered, comfy life? These are hard words. It is a hard reality for this precious child, as well as millions of others in our world. But right now, today, you can help change the life of THIS child.

Please, take a few minutes and read the story at this link, do what you can to help and then stand back and watch God work.

There is already more to this story. Evidence of God working in this child's life, in my life, in the life of a dear friend....there is more to this story, and I can't wait to tell you all about it!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Women of Purpose and Passion

It's been almost five years ago now, when I got the call that made me a mom. "I've got some kids here, I think you need to hear about. I think that you would be a good match for each other." And so began a journey that continues today. It has not always been an easy road to walk. I went through several months of depression as my dreams of what motherhood would be synced with the reality of what motherhood is. During those early days, I cried out to God to please, please, give me friends, Lord. Friends who are moms, who love you and love their husbands. Friends who are passionate about things that really matter.

Which brings us to today. Today I am surrounded by friends, women of purpose and passion, who love God, love their husbands, friends who are moms. God has answered my prayers beyond anything I could have imagined.

I have friends who are passionate about unborn life. Who despite their fears of loss of relationship, loss of family, took a stand when women they knew were poised on the brink of ending their child's life. Sometimes a miracle happened and life was saved, family was strengthened. Sometimes, things did not work out the way we had hoped, and friendships ended, life ended. Regardless, I know that our Father will say to both of my friends, "Well done,
Daughter. You did what I asked. I will take it from here."

I have friends who are passionate about women and children caught in the horror of the sex slave trade. These friends actively raise money and awareness to help the victims of this horrible 'business'. One of them almost single handedly put together a 5K race which raised $7500 to help an organization in Germany which helps women escape slavery.

I have several friends who are passionate about orphans and those who are abandoned because they don't match the image that society demands. In fact, many of the friends I now have are now pursuing or have plans to pursue adoption...which as you know, is near and dear to my own heart. One of these dear friends has a passion to adopt, but instead of forcing her husband to march to her plans, she has entrusted the whole thing to God, and while she waits on God and shows the utmost respect for her husband, she is helping to raise awareness and money for orphans with Down Syndrome in Russia. These monies will allow families who want to adopt these children, but who do not have the required $25,000, to do so...uniting forever a child without hope with a family who will love them always.

I also now have friends who are passionate about motherhood, about raising and educating their children to love and serve our mighty God. These women also face rejection and criticism, for in our world today, those are not often qualities that are highly valued. Many times my friends have lost relationships because they stand firm in their convictions. But they continue to walk the path God has put them on, despite the pain and loss that they experience.

Which brings me back to today. God is calling me out of this proving ground, out of this safe haven of women who are passionate about the same things as I am. Women who have helped shape and mold me into the woman, the mother that I am today. We are leaving Colorado soon. Moving back to be near our families. On one hand, I am filled with joy to be close to my parents and my sister and her family. To be able to raise my children with their cousins, for you see, this too has always been a dream of mine. On the other hand, I am having to leave my friends. These sisters of the heart. But God has proven Himself faithful. I have seen what He can do, of how bountifully he answers the longings of our hearts. So I walk forward in faith, in obedience, and with anticipation! For now, not only do I have these dear friends behind me, still loving and supporting me, but the anticipation of what is before me.