Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Pouring Out

     Sometimes my life just seems so surreal.  And I know this is just because God's plans have far superseded my own.  And I marvel at the things I am privileged to experience and be a part of....the love that I am allowed to experience, in ways different than any other.

     The questions have been coming steadily.....such a hunger to understand God and to know Him better.  Just last night I expressed to Luke how I felt my answers to be so inadequate....and her questions surprisingly challenging, regardless of any language barrier.  So much thought put into genuine.  Who is my real father, daddy or God?  Why can't I see Him?  I talk to Him but I can't hear Him.  Tonight as she waited for me to put the boys to bed she sat in her room reading her bible.  She had found a few pages at the very end that explained about salvation.  They didn't have an English translation so she explained to me as best she could what they said.  About asking God into your heart....saying sorry for the things you've done wrong and loving Him....forever.  She told me she prayed and asked Him into her heart...she loves Him....but is He in my heart now?  How is He in my heart?  Oh how precious are these conversations.....tonight especially.....and how my heart sings to hear her desire to know God.  And this was one of those nights where everything overflowed... and so much came pouring out.

     The people who came each summer to share about God with them....oh how much I hope each person who takes the time to spend with these children in orphanages and wherever else all over the world, no matter how short that time may be, knows that this time is not wasted...not in vain.  A friend praying, and teaching her to pray.  A bible shared amongst the children from the missionaries, and her desire to read it.  Just always knowing and believing God was there.  Always talking to Him, even when her friends did not understand or believe.  I am in awe of how much she is, and seems to have always been, her own person....despite what the people around her say, do, or how much they try to influence her.  The amount of lies and discouragement surrounding even having us as a family that she was willing to dismiss and look beyond to believe and have hope.  I cannot imagine the courage it has taken.  And I know I have a lot more to learn from this child.  This child who prays before lunch at her new school.....and comments that some kids look at her funny, but that's just silliness.  One who sees a girl by herself at school, seemingly nervous and in need of help, but feels like she doesn't have the words to do she asks her friend to help and soon a few classmates are reaching out.  So much much love for others because each person has value regardless of how others see them.

     And then the memories take a the hurtful things that tried to break her spirit.  The injustices, the pain......and so many times the "I don't understand why....."  Me either....I just don't understand, and I am so so sorry sweet girl.  She doesn't need to hear much more than that, just squeezes me tight, thanks me for being a good mama, and spills out some more.  Sometimes tears, sometimes a hint of anger...mostly just frustration and not understanding.....and then more love poured out on me.  And we can grieve together about the years we've missed, but then always look forward to forever....and this is always a focus, a comfort, a needed forever, mama forever, love...forever.  And I thank God that even when we had no idea what we were doing....who we were there for....that He had a perfect plan.  And in these moments, when I am reminded of how truly incredible this plan is...and how truly incredible this child is, I feel so undeserving....and really unqualified.  But isn't that the whole point?  That God would use some ordinary, unqualified, doubting people to demonstrate His power and His plans...and then allow us to experience so many blessings.  Not a perfect life...not easy.....but blessing upon blessing....and love in a way I've never experienced it before.

1 Corinthians 26Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Meet The McBride Family!

          March marks our second doTerra adoption fundraiser and I am so excited about the possibilities to help this family!  Below is a brief summary of their story, which can also be found here.

BLAKE for the McBride family — NC

McBrideAshton and Tony have been together for 6 years. They have 2 beautiful children and always knew adoption would be a part of their story. So when they made the decision to start the adoption process they thought it would take a long time and were open to several countries. They soon learned about “waiting children” and their life was changed. They had decided on a country and started the process to find their child and every time they visited Reece’s Rainbow, they were drawn to one particular little boy, listed online as “Blake”. The problem was this little boy, with beautiful curly brown hair and gorgeous brown eyes who captured their heart, was not in the country they thought they were adopting from. So for a while they kept looking. As time went by, they could not forget this little boy and continued praying that “his family” would find him and want him as badly as they did. After a few months, they knew they had to make the call to his agency to see if it was possible for them to qualify for his country and were elated to find out they qualified!
A few days after reviewing his file and prayerfully seeking direction, Ashton was contacted by a woman who was in Eastern Europe meeting her son. She shared her story of meeting this wonderful little boy with spina bifida, and how this little guy asked her if she knew where his mommy and daddy were. A few weeks later she went back to the orphanage and the nuns told him that the lady was going to America to find his mommy and daddy. This little boy put his hands together and prayed for his mama and daddy. This happened to be the same day Ashton and Tony asked to see his file. For them this was a sign that it was meant to be.
God has moved mountains and continues to show this family that this is the path they are supposed to be taking; this is the little boy that will change their world and brighten their days.
Every day that it takes them to get to his country is another day that he is losing hope that he will have a family. But he has a brother and sister and parents that love him so much! The McBride family hopes that they can continue to move through the process quickly and bring this amazing little boy home to so much love and happiness.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read their story, sharing their story and praying for them. Thank you so much for being a part of their journey and if you feel led; please make a tax deductible donation to help them bring their son, soon to be named Owen, home.
Please help them bring home their son where he will receive the therapies he needs and the love of a family he deserves.
         What is really exciting about this is that the family has just found out they have a $900 matching grant available to them!  So every dollar raised during this fundraiser will be doubled!  All of the profits from my doTerra store for the month of March will go towards this family's adoption and towards this matching if you've been wanting to place an order, now is the time!!  Here's a link to the fundraiser event, or you can check out my store here!  And if you plan to place an order, be sure to ask about ways to save!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Ever-Changing, Ever-Growing

First day!!

     Our little girl had her first day of fifth grade today.  The changes are happening so fast around here, I need to stop and process.....and write things down before I forget in the midst of the whirlwind.  Proverbs 16:9 defines my life time and again....."We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps."  I"ll never doubt that God called us to homeschool our kids, but I also do not doubt that for some, it may have been only for a season.  I never would have been purposeful in doing preschool with the boys, or prepared to start kindergarten with Caleb this year....and I certainly would have been much too overwhelmed to homeschool an eleven year old who spoke a different language than me and did not have much of the foundation needed in other areas, had we not felt the push to at least consider home schooling a few years ago.  And I can't imagine not having done so.

      We have been so blessed with the experiences we've shared together, and these first (almost) six months with Keira have been instrumental in getting to where we are now.  But the foundation has been laid.....the security and attachment....time to learn what it is to be family....time to push the limits and test our love....time to give and receive love that was missing for so long.....sure it'll never make up for all the lost years, but it's there.  It took time, though less than I expected, and we'll never be "done".....but it seems that almost overnight our little girl has begun to grow up.  The things that would have petrified her just a few short months ago, she is now requesting.  Changing bedrooms to the one a bit farther from ours.....the grown up room.....the one she'd never move into.  Growing out her bangs.....wanting to look more grown up.  Really growing into her role as big sister, lowering the expectations for little brothers and realizing the need for each child to be treated differently.....loved the same, but parented differently.  The frequent arguments and competition amongst them almost non-existent these days.  Understanding at a new level.  And then.....maybe the biggest surprise.....wanting to go to public school.  We could sense that she had begun to feel more secure....and in the midst of that, we could also sense some restlessness.....that something was missing for her, and I knew.

      Though I'd never want to speak for her, it seems that friendships were maybe the only positive aspect of living one's entire life in an institution.  And even then, there were struggles, but these friends were really family.  And for one who loves so strongly and has so much compassion for others, her closest friends were everything to her.  They are truly the reason she is here today.....the reason that she was willing to risk so much, go against what so many were telling her, and to boldly say yes to our family.  Because she trusted them above all others.  But in doing so, she struggles with that deep loss......the loss of those friendships that were her world.  And as she has begun to adjust and feel secure here in her new life, I think the wounds of that loss have resurfaced.  And she wonders if she'll have those close relationships again.....with others her age.....  We were at a play area over vacation and she met a boy....a bit younger, but seemingly close in age to her.....she had been a bit mopey that morning, but when she began to play and they ran around together, she came alive.  It's not that we keep her isolated and she has no friends, because she has made a few very sweet friends, and try out best to be involved in several activities throughout the week.  But I can't imagine having been around other kids 24/7 my entire life.....literally every second of the day and night....and then to spend most of my days with two toddlers.  They play wonderfully together and they all truly adore each other.....but she needs more.  When she first mentioned hesitantly about school, I wasn't sure she was serious.  But the more we talked, the more I realized that this is what she needs.  At least for now.  She is beside herself with excitement.  I know it will be good, for all of us really.....but it's still hard to let go.  Ultimately, I'm excited for her......and I'm excited to see how she impacts those around her, because I know she will.    

         I felt nervous this morning...I think more than she did.  It felt so surreal.  As we walked in amongst the other children, she eagerly took my hand....hugged and kissed me goodbye once inside, and walked to her classroom.  As I drove away, it was a replay of leaving Levi on his first day this year.....the tears came, seemingly out of nowhere, and wouldn't stop.  Love is crazy....I love these kids so much....I know she'll do great....I do believe it's where she needs to be....but boy is it a little empty around here today without her.  And the little worries...who will she sit with at lunch?  Will the other kids laugh if she says something wrong?  I know she'll be fine....but maybe I feel even more protective for a kiddo who didn't have someone looking out for her for so many years.....and here is where I'm reminded of where my trust needs to lie.

          And in the end....she had a great day!  So excited to share everything with was a special time for us as the boys napped and she spilled out everything about her day....sweet kids wanting to help her, caring teachers and so many new experiences.  I'm so happy for her!

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School time....really not sure where they learn these things!!

    With two in school, my mornings will be spent with my favorite four year old.  One on one attention is rare around here, but at this age, Caleb lovvesss his mommy so it really couldn't be a better time to treasure this opportunity.  In the midst of a meltdown a little while back, he declared that he wanted to lock he and I in his room...FOREVER.  I know it will be nice for us to do more little kid stuff again.....go back to MOPS and make story time a priority.  We'll keep up with kindergarten but in a freer way.

     It's really crazy how much this boy has grown and matured in the past few months.....I guess that's what happens when you have a big sister to look up to.  He has tried so hard to be her do whatever she does and keep up with her.  He has seemingly learned as much Russian as me, just hearing us speak it the first couple of months (and I've been trying to learn for what seems like forever!)....and he's...four.  He'll do the whole accent and everything.....and when it's just the two of them...he and at gymnastics.....he'll often explain things to her in our broken Russian/English way.  Her own little translator/helper.  He's learned so much about having to share and take think first and ask someone else what they'd prefer, before just pushing for his own way.  He'll stop and make a card for his sister or brother when they're not feeling well....because he's seen someone else do it time and again.

     There has been a lot of change for this boy in the past few years....good changes that have only helped to teach him valuable lessons and shape him into the sweet, confident, smart boy he is.  But in many ways, I think this time is needed.  He has no lack of love in his life, and certainly gets plenty of attention and opportunity.....but the focus for quite a while was on his little brother....early intervention coming 2-3 times a week (and always so sweetly incorporating him too, but still he was not the focus).....and then weeks away while we traveled....and a big sister, finally home, who required a lot of our time and attention....and I know I've said "just a second" and "yup, in a little bit" maybe too many times.  It's normal, I's good for the world not to revolve around me, I know.  But now it's his time...even for just a couple hours every morning....and I think it will be precious time together.  

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Real guitar on hold to play the Barbie guitar....always a character!

        And then there's Levi.....oh this boy!  One who is SO lovable and kisses to each child on the bus as he gets off....and then such a crazy man the next moment!  He sure has given us a run for our money!!  But oh what a blessing to watch each of these very different children learn and grow.  And this boy is surely learning and growing this year.  We keep hearing ourselves say "he's so big!!" as he surprises us more and more.  If I said he wasn't a bystander anymore before...I really mean it now.  He 100% wants to keep up with the big kids....though he still has his own distinct interests.  The words are coming more and more and it's so fun to watch as he eagerly tries to copy us and use the words he's learning.  Currently everything is "ew" and "yuck"'s either that or a resounding "MINE"!

       For almost two years we've had the same bedtime routine....reading a book and rocking him as we sing "Jesus Loves Me."  Recently he started wanting to peruse the bookshelf to pick different books each time and now he has started to request "star!!" (twinkle twinkle little star) and will say several of the words, while doing some motions with the song.  It sounds so simple, but for how long we've been working on these things, it's really incredible to be seeing this progress.  And to watch him coming into his own with so many preferences.....he's really found his voice, in more ways than one!

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          The days are sometimes slow, but boy do the months fly by, and with that have come so many constant changes that remind me to keep stopping and enjoying each moment.  I am so thankful for these precious gifts God has blessed us with and for the plan He had for our family!