Monday, May 28, 2012

Porch Talk

I love summer time in North Carolina (well, it's summer enough with temperatures in the upper 80's and humidity making it's presence known even in the early morning).

Almost every morning, hubby and I awaken before any of the children. We get our cups of coffee and sit on the front porch to read our Bibles and talk a bit.

Those talks inevitably meander toward The Philippines.
We breathe in the scent of our blooming Magnolia tree and say "we're going to miss this smell".

We wave at the man who, in his 80s, never misses a day walking or bike riding past our house on the quiet cul-de-sac. We met him when our large rottweiler/lab mix broke free and went after him one day. She doesn't bite but he didn't know that.
"I'm going to miss seeing that old man" I sigh. "I hope whoever buys this house appreciates the front porch."

But I can't muster any real sadness.

We're going on the adventure of a lifetime. Our children will be by our sides. We go to a place we've been before and we know we love.

We understand there will be hard times, heartache and struggles.
We have those here, too. It's life and we're just people.

Today's porch talk included our little Ezekiel (who still sleeps in our room, much to the chagrin of perfect parents and baby whisperers) so he sits with his mango-peach juice box while we drink coffee and he reminds us, just by his presence, that God gives us good gifts in the most unexpected packages.

Ezekiel reminds us that taking a big scary leap of faith can result in unsurpassed joy. He is a walking illustration that what some call "burden", others call "blessing" and we relax.

We relax because our Heavenly Father has all things under His control. The same God who pricked our hearts to adopt a child with Down Syndrome and healed another child of Reactive Attachment Disorder is the very same one who is calling us away from this front porch and to the other side of the world.

HIM, we can trust. Oh, what we would have missed if we hadn't trusted!

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight".
Proverbs 3:5-6

The view from our front porch . . .

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Brass Tacks and Piles of Laundry

From time to time, I get notes from moms asking questions about "daily operations" in a family like ours. I have many friends with larger families than mine. Many friends who run their homes like well-oiled machines. I have learned a lot from these ladies.

Mostly I have learned that they hatched from pods dropped from another planet! A planet I am not familiar with. A place that mocks people with my organizational
challenges and steals my DNA to figure out what went awry.

But I picked up a few "tricks" along the way that I wanted to share with those of you who, like me, have fantasized about having a housekeeper, a cook and some sister wives to share my load . . . unattractive, celebate sister wives, of course!

Keep in mind that my family consists of two parents, FOUR teenagers, a ten year old and our little angel baby who has Down Syndrome. We have some unique blessings and challenges that might make some of what I'm sharing not so do-able in your house.

Used towels have been the bane of my existence for several years. Kids forget which towel was "theirs". Teens find it gross to use the towel that someone else has used to dry his "nether regions". Towels stacked atop one another on our measly towel bar start to get gamey in just one day.
For awhile I was washing a load of towels EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
And then the most obvious remedy jumped from the J hook at Wal Mart and into my cart.
OVER THE DOOR TOWEL HOOKS!!!! I love these things! I want to find the inventor and bake him a cake. With sprinkles.
Each bedroom door in our home is now graced by a towel hook. If there are three children in a room, there are three hooks. YOUR towel stays YOUR towel and is washed with your clothes on laundry day.
This plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face solution has revolutionized my life!
There you have it...

Books, papers, pencils, the protractor, the compass, CD ROMS and journals littered my shelves and tables. I tried assigning children a spot on the school shelf that would be their own. But notebooks slid, papers hung loose, pencils and pens rolled. I had to come up with a system to organize school items that was accessible to me for nightly grading and work assigning. For us, the crate system was a gift from above.
Each child has his/her own crate with a name sticker. That crate contains everything needed for school. On top of each stack of books in each crate is a post it note with my instructions. This method works perfectly for older children who do much of their work independently but it also serves to make our not-so-independent learner feel like a "big kid". His Explode the Code and math worksheet along with a box of crayons and pencils are in his crate and ready for daily use.

Some other tips that make our days run a little more smoothly and take some of the load off mom are:

Each child has a water bottle in the fridge with his name on it. This reduces the constant use of a new cup every time someone is thirsty.

I empty the dishwasher every morning and every able-bodied child has to rinse his dishes and put them in the dishwasher immediately after use. No dishes pile up in the sink.....Nirvana!

As much as my "green" friends might cringe, we use a lot of paper plates during the day... but we also double up little kids for baths so maybe that balances out our wastefulness with our eco-friendliness . . . no?

I have much to learn in terms of running this household efficiently but the items above have pulled me closer to that goal with a minimal amount of cost and effort.
These tricks have freed up some valuable time that I used to spend washing towles or chasing down math folders.

Now the big challenge is to USE that "found time" doing things that are worthwhile and not squander it with lazy or selfish pursuits.

And THAT'S another blog post altogether . . .

Saturday, May 12, 2012

I Want More!

I want more children. I don't think it's a secret.

I have six. And they are marvelous. Beautiful. Exceptional human beings for whom my public adoration has probably caused some measure of embarrassment. I don't care and I can't help myself.

But I want more children.

I pray that if my big kids are reading this, they don't for a moment think they are not enough. They are more than enough. Too much. I am ecstatic with my love for them and they are the reason I want to mother more children. They have made it such a joy and worthwhile challenge. It's all THEIR faults that I want more . . . . ha ha

But God divinely closed the "factory" years ago and chose not to reopen it despite our efforts to surgically accomplish this...
And I believe we are probably done adopting internationally.

So what's a mother to do?
How do I fulfill this God-given longing for more children in light of all that is happening in our family?

I go to my children rather than bringing them to me.

As we pray about and prepare for the mission field, the prospect of mothering countless additional children draws me like a moth to a flame!

The notion that I might just get to wrap my arms around a hurting child, kiss his wounds, tuck him in and cheer for his victories is almost enough to make me start packing now.

But this new opportunity to mother comes with a vicious twist.
These will not be my forever children. Just my "for a little whiles".
And I don't know how to do that yet.
How to pour heart and soul into a child and give him over to a new family.
Or back to an old one.

But I trust that He Who Calls is also He Who Equips and through Him, I can do all things.
That's what Philippians 4:13 says and I trust that word with my very life.

So as we set out to take our "forevers" to meet our "little whiles", it is with humble gratitude I say to my Heavenly Father THANK YOU for putting this crazy mothering fire in me. And thank you that it is not a hope deferred, making the heart sick.

Father, help me to learn to love the "Little Whiles"...
And to learn to give them back when it's time.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Slice of Life

I seriously need to update the pics on the sidebar. I was noticing that yesterday.
I'll get to it. It's on "THE LIST" . . .but for now, let me share some brand new pics of these gorgeous, funny, awesome people (and pets) God has given me:

We call these pics "Ghetto Wolf Lodge" . . . who needs 30 foot waterslides when you have a large tarp, a hose and some suave shampoo???

Our beautiful daughter!

Lem's 14th Birthday! That sweet kid let little brother blow out his candles!!!

Oldest son, his good friend/prom date (for the second year in a row) and our lovely daughter . . . aaaah to be young and carefree again . . .

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Big Giveaway

From Luke Chapter 9
23 And Jesus said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?"

I was purposefully misleading in titling this post. Many bloggers hold "giveaways" on their blogs. I've never hosted a giveaway. I'm not entirely sure of their purpose but I'm sure I'll give it a try at some point. It might be fun.

The scripture above is one that I heard many sermons on throughout my life as a Believer. I often wrestled with understanding this passage, and specifically verse 24. It says "whoever would save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it".

Weird, huh?

I always interpreted this scripture as saying "if anyone loves his life and tries to preserve it, God will kill him off early but whoever doesn't care about living a long life will get one". Ahhhhh . . . the doctrinal musings of a child . . .

I was completely off base in my interpretation and it was not until adulthood that I really understood, with some clarity, the purpose of this passage.

Jesus is telling us to give our lives away for the sake of His kingdom. He is telling us not to love life so much as to be attached to this world and unwilling to walk away from the things therein if He should request it. In light of our family's aim toward moving to The Philippines for ministry, this passage has taken on new vibrancy for me.

Not only am I not afraid of "losing my life" . . . I am aching to give it away! I'm literally burning inside to shake off the possessions, the comforts, the familiar, the safeguards, the predictability and the prosperity for a new thing.

Maybe that's how we know we are truly called and not just hopeful for an adventure. The fear has given way to another tide.

I am no longer afraid for my children and their safety. Nor for my own physical health.

It is slightly less hurtful to think about the family and friends that we will say "goodbye" to. Less but still present.

I am pained when I realize it may take months (or a year) for us to be boarding the plane. I wish it were sooner... And I hate to fly.

The best part of trying to give this life away is that I know even the very desire to do just that is from the Lord. It has nothing to do with our goodness as people, our clean living or Bible knowledge. It is just HIM, doing what He does best - using the weak, paltry, handicapped redeemed to do His work.

THIS is how onlookers will know any good thing that comes from our ministry is God and not people. "We are weak but He is strong" just like the song "Jesus Loves Me" conveys.

I know it will be hard and I idealize the "big giveaway" because I am writing about it from the starting line. I sit in my lovely air conditioned home, with a glass of sweet tea and a belly full of lunch, with my children all nearby and a spirit bolstered by a challenging sermon at Potter's Hand Bible Church this morning.

I am not sick. I am not sweltering. I have not been robbed recently or had to pray for funding to come in so we could eat, travel, serve or pay rent. I have not been double crossed by those who promised to help us nor have I been the subject of disparaging talk in places we had hoped to make inroads.

Those things are coming. You know how I know?

1 Peter 5:8
Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around seeking someone to devour.

THAT'S how I know.

Have you experienced The Big Giveaway in your own life? Was it through adoption? Missions? Opening your home to the needy? Supporting a ministry in a sacrificial way? Laying your life on the altar and truly, genuinely not caring much about the outcome as long as the will of God is the chief end?

I would love to hear from you! Private email. A phone call if we know each other in "real life". A comment on the blog or facebook if you're willing.

I am longing to hear from fellow Believers who took a leap with reckless abandon and landed where they knew God was pointing. Were the bitter parts REALLY made sweet along the way? It's rumored they are.

The Body of Christ . . . no place I'd rather be!

The people of God . . . my inspiration!