Friday, March 29, 2013

Five Minute Friday: BROKEN



Joining in HERE - "So now on Fridays a group of people who love to throw caution to the wind and just write without worrying if it’s just right gather to share what five minutes buys them. Just five minutes."  This week's topic:  Broken


I was sixteen and a rookie at the steering wheel on that November morning in 1993.  I headed to school not knowing that the roads were covered with a layer of black ice.  The dangerous stuff that those of us living in the Arctic avoid driving on at all costs. 

It hadn't snowed that year, so my family wasn't yet on the lookout for icy roads.

source
A few miles and a few curves from my house, my little car began to head for the ditch after getting stuck in a rut on a corner where the road had no shoulder and my car was not able to maneuver the bend in the road.  There was no room for my car to breathe.

To avoid getting dumped in the ditch, I jerked the steering wheel back into my lane - over correcting, sending my car perpendicular to the oncoming school bus which dwarfed my little car.  In a splay of headlights and shock, my car was split in two right behind the front seats.  Exactly in two.

By the grace of God, and His cushioning hand, I was left 100% intact and 100% a believer.  I felt no impact.  Not even from the bus splitting my car, not even from the landing off the side of the road.   My car was broken.  I was not.  It was the first miracle I would witness.  I had a front row seat to the His goodness.   He literally has the whole world in His hands.  And that day, I felt like the world to Him.

And today, on Good Friday,  I celebrate how He is the world to me. 
 



Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Summit 9 is calling


The other night, I had a dream.  In it, a dear friend and I were discussing adoption.  She asked me if I thought we would ever adopt again.  Without blinking, I told her we would love to adopt again (true story.) 

With eyes as large as saucers, and mouth gaping open, she questioned, "Why??!!"

In my dream, I was still the mother of seven children.  It wasn't one of those dreams where things are a little off - like you knew it was weird, but in the dream it seemed perfectly normal to live on the top of the Golden Gate Bridge and eat fog all day. 

With a steady voice, and a quickened pulse, I answered, "Because children need families."

Then I woke up with that familiar ache inside.  That ache that can't be satisfied in an instant.  The one where you know you need to do something.  And now.  Because the need is so great.  Our ache for the fatherless began four years ago, after my sister and brother-in-law welcomed our beautiful 9 month old niece, Molly, home from Korea and into our family.  We began to search our hearts and wonder if we too should adopt. 

(Read our adoption stories HERE.)

We searched scripture, and learned more than we ever knew before about God's heart for adoption and the fatherless.  God is all about adoption.  God owns the largest adoption agency there is.  Except our adoption into His family doesn't require homestudies, dossiers, fundraising, lawyers, and fingerprints.  But it does come with a cost.  My adoption cost Jesus Christ a brutal death through crucifixion on a cross and the weight of the world's sin on His shoulders.  It was quite expensive for Him.  But my adoption was free for me.  And it's free for you. 

We learned that God's heart breaks and aches for the fatherless, and that we were to be like Him to children here on earth - welcoming them into our family.  Freely loving and welcoming at no cost to them.  Just free.  But to us there is a cost and there is sacrifice too.  But we press on, because it's what the Father has asked of us. 




Three years ago Jeremy and I, along with another like-minded couple, set out to form a ministry that would serve our community in the name of adoption, foster care, and orphan care in general.  We sought to educate and walk with families that were stepping out to welcome children.  The Defend Ministry was formed based on this verse:  Psalm 82:3 says,

"Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed."

Our first stop in learning to start and lead this ministry was to attend Summit 6, a conference put on by the Christian Alliance for Orphans.  We were so blessed to head to Minneapolis that spring of 2010, and soak up all that we could from well-known speakers and artists, and some new voices we'd not yet heard.  We were moved and eager to go back home to our families and community and bring some much needed help to them and to us. 

Our family was still waiting, and were aching to adopt.  We had not yet become an adoptive family, but were ready at a moment's notice - completed homestudy in hand,  should an opportunity arise.  Little did we know, that less than two months after arriving back home from the Summit, we'd hold our baby girl in our arms and call her ours.  Gabrielle was born as I was leaving for the conference in the very town we live, something that is so amazing for me to think about.  God was preparing me, even at the moment of her birth.  Had I known her, or about her, there was no way I'd be traveling across the country away from her.  But God knew her, and He knew what I needed to be her mama.  And that was attending CAFO's Summit that year. 


 
My good buddy Carly (left), and I heading back home from Summit 6 in our matchy-matchy new shirts!
 
This year, our group is making the cross-country trek again.  We're jazzed and thrilled!  The last three years for me has been a whirlwind, and I'm tired.  Since this picture was taken three years ago, I've become the mama to three more little ones who are now 2, 2, and 9 months.  And I'm tired.  Did I mention that?  Two babies came through adoption in June 2010 and June 2011, and one baby the old-fashioned way in June 2012. 

 
 
My life has been so occupied (and rightly so) in taking care of these little ones and daily caring for and teaching all of our kids that my passion and speaking out for the orphan has waned.  It's not really that the passion has left, it's just that the brainpower and time to think on it just isn't there.  Summit 9 is coming at the perfect time for me personally.  A weekend to sit, soak, and see is just what the Dr. ordered. 
 
So if you see a woman with seven unused arms wandering around with a huge smile on her face, you can be sure that's me. 
 
 
**I am writing this post as part of the Summit 9 Blogger Giveaway.
Check out all the details at www.summit9.org**





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Giveaway winners!


It's time to give away two headbands!

Thanks to randomnumbergenerator.com, we have comments #9 and #11 taking home headbands tonight!

Congratulations, to Nancy (winner of the red one) and ...they call me mommy... (winner of the paisley one.)  Thanks for entering, everyone... I hope to have more giveaways in the future for all of you friends!

I believe I have both of your email address from either the comments or your profile, so keep your eyes peeled for an email from me and a little package in the mail.  :) 



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Monday, March 25, 2013

Giveaway! Two headbands up for grabs!


**Giveaway still open - I'll keep the comments open for the giveaway until Wednesday night!  Hooray, we hit 100 likes quickly!** 

After I cut out the pieces for my new pillows a couple weeks ago, I saw that I had the perfect amount of material left over to make some sash headbands!  I saved one headband in each fabric for the girls and I, then I have two more to give away to you IF we make it to 100 likes on facebook! See the like button off to the right ====>  We're so close!

Just leave a comment to enter the giveaway, like the facebook page if you'd like, and I'll pick two random winners on Wednesday night (or as soon as we make it to 100)! 


Fun headbands just in time for spring and summer!


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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Five Minute Friday: REMEMBER

Joining in HERE - "So now on Fridays a group of people who love to throw caution to the wind and just write without worrying if it’s just right gather to share what five minutes buys them. Just five minutes."  This week's topic:  Remember. 


 
Summer of  2011 {Levi 10 months, Gabi 14 months)

Just five minutes... ready - GO

He came to us at 9.5 months of age.  He was adorable with black ducky feather hair that stuck up in all directions.  He hung off my hip, without the notion that he should hold on to me.  We were his fourth home in his short little life, fifth if you include his birthmother's womb - his very first home.  So I'm certain he didn't know how to hold on.  He didn't know what home was.  It always up and changed on him. 

But we knew, come rain or come lame, he was home.  We just had to convince him.  We had holding on lessons.  I showed him how he'd fall if he didn't hold on.  I gave myself holding on lessons too. 

And slowly, the dam broke and he was home.  His giggle came.  And now he holds on for dear life. 

Our Levi,  home for nearly two years.  Next month we come upon the one year anniversary of his adoption day in court.  It's been two years since Gabrielle's.  I remember and thank God for bringing us so far. 

STOP

 
April 2012 {Adoption Day!}



 
March 2013
 





Five Minute Friday


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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

homeschooling: you're you, I'm me

If you homeschool, chances are that going against the grain is part of your nature.  Eyebrow raises, puzzled looks, and the shaking of heads doesn't shake your resolve.  You've thoughtfully and prayerfully made this decision to teach them at home, wanting the best for your kids.  You aren't making a statement about their kids, just yours.   
 
 I've been realizing lately, that no matter how against the grain and free we feel we are, sometimes we're still stuck.  Stuck in the how-tos and should-dos, they-dos, and the fail-tos. 
 
 
 

 
We dive into homeschooling and think it has to look one way, or like everyone else's way.  She has her kids in art lessons.  Maybe I should too.  I'm depriving my little Monet the opportunity she deserves.  And they are involved in drama.  Maybe our kids are missing out, and will never thrive in life if they haven't stepped foot on a stage.  Oh, what have I done.  I'm ruining my children. 





 
 
 
 Did you dream about experiences you wanted to have with your kids when you started out on this journey?  Do those things.  Maybe it's sitting on the couch all cozy-like, with Nickel Creek playing in the background while you read Little House on the Prairie.  Or maybe that sounds drab. That's great!  We weren't meant to be the same - just because we like that sort of thing doesn't mean you have to as well.  You have permission to be you. 
 
What if your vision for you children's education was a 64 count box of brand-new Crayola crayons?  Would they be neon?  Glitter?  Skin-colors?  Primary?  Orignal? Gem tones?  Let's say you chose neon, and were passionate about neon.  You get excited planning, dreaming, reading, and buying - all centered around neon.  But then you looked around and all the people you know chose boxes that were the original multicolored box.  No one you know chose neon.  Would you begin to add a regular Red and a Green to your box and throw out Laser Lemon or Atomic Tangerine?  Sometimes we do that for fear of feeling unnatural or to blend in a bit.  But we don't need to. 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
Us women are unique. God made you unique. Therefore, your homeschool will be unique.  Thank goodness for that.

I may not understand your love for Atomic Tangerine, but I can respect it, and trust that you are doing what you feel is best for your family. And you may not understand my Wild Strawberry.

Why would an expression of what's in your heart come out looking like mine? And likewise?





As we're nearing the end of our 7th year as a homeschooling family (8 if you're counting preschool), I'm now comfortable in my homeschooling mom skin.  I even own homeschooling stretch marks.  Oh, how it has stretched me!  We do what suits us around here.  Our family is different in makeup and dynamic than any other family I know - so shouldn't our homeschooling makeup and dynamic follow suit? 


We've had three major problems crop up during this school year.  And I saw how badly we were in need of change.  It didn't matter what anyone else did in their homes - this is was we needed to do.  Or else mama was going to jump off the proverbial train.

 
 
 


Our problems were as follows:
  • We were trying to start school at 9:30 am like we  have through the years, except this year it was chaotic and headache inducing for me.  Our startup time was smack dab in the middle of Emmalie waking and needing to be fed, Gabi and Levi waking and needing breakfast, and me getting flustered because I couldn't be everything to everyone at the same time. 
  • In January, we moved Gabi and Levi into the bigger kids' rooms to sleep so Emmy could move out of our room.  It has been a wonderful change; but from 8:30 am until 4:00 pm, the big kids were not able to spend any time in their rooms due to being upstairs for breakfast and school, and then kept out of their rooms during toddler naptime after lunch.  They were seriously missing some room time.  And I was seriously needing some space. 
  • The other problem we were having was that it was cRaZy around that 9:30 am time slot.  The toddlers were fed and ready to whoop and holler and  Emmalie needed her mama - and mama needed to be starting things up with the bigger kids at the table.  It was loud.  It was nuts.  Sometimes I got loud.  And I went nuts. 
Here's how we solved our problem:

  • We kept 9:30 am as the standard to which all chores and breakfast were done and over with.  But the four bigger kids were then able to have one hour of free time down in their rooms.  During that time I hang out with the three youngest in the kitchen and living area.   Sometimes I return phone calls or get something done, or sometimes I just sit with them.  At 10:30 am, I put Emmalie down for her first nap and that's right when the kids arrive for school.  It's brilliant for us and is not a crazy time of day anymore.  It solved all three of our problems in one fell swoop. 

 We've thrown normal and expected out the window in exchange for sane and peaceful. And I like the view from here.




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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

tongue-tied and allergic to eggs {my poor baby}


Since Emmalie was born last June, she's had various issues with food.  I can't possibly go into all of her little seasons of being finicky, fussy, and downright mad here in this post - but I have always sensed something was off.  She's been at the bottommost percentage on the growth charts (today she weighed 13 lbs. 15 oz. at 9 months) and coupled with her issues with nursing and recent vomiting, I just knew something was up.  But she always checked out just fine.  Just a petite little thing.  And adorable. 

This week, two realizations have been made about the little Miss and food. 

Shortly after she turned 6 months, I tried a soft-boiled egg yolk as one of her first foods.  Emmy's  nurse practitioner recommended the book, Super Nutrition for Babies and it has loads of great information in it for not only babies, but toddlers and older kids too.  Anyways,  the book recommends soft-boiled egg yolk as a first food (rice cereal is known as a C.R.A.P food - seriously it's an acronym for ahem - bad for your baby foods - it turns right to sugar in their systems and it WAY constipates my baby girl.)  The third time I tried the egg yolk, Emmy threw it up about two hours later.  I thought that she was just a tad late in getting the stomach bug we all had just recovered from - but nevertheless, I didn't try another egg yolk for 3 months until I tried it again 2 days ago.  Again, she threw it up in a couple hours.  I finally had my doubts about eggs for her confirmed... a possible allergy! I just learned that most children who are allergic to eggs are allergic to the protein that's in the egg whites, but some react to the protein in the yolk.  The hard things is that I'd been eating eggs like a madwoman since I can't have grains, sugar, or dairy right now, and off course the egg was getting to Emmy through my milk.  EGGS!  How will I eat without eggs!  Well, I've made it two days on just meat, veggies, coconut milk, nuts, and fruit - I'm still alive, so I guess I'll be okay.  And I'm praying that Emmy's tummy and demeanor will change soon. 

I am sick to think of all of the eggs I've eaten, and the trouble I possibly caused her.  Poor baby. 

 
So that was realization number #1.
 
#2 was realized today at her 9 month well-baby visit today to do a weight check.  Last time she was in, I wondered about her tongue since it seemed sort of crowded under her tongue.  Our practitioner looked last visit, but didn't really see anything alarming.  But this time, she took another look - and was shocked at what she saw.  A tongue-tied baby.  It's when the tissue that connects the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth is too short and tight, causing the movement of the tongue to be restricted. She apologized and looked like she may tear up for not noticing it last time, since she remembered me mentioning it.  So we now have a referral to have her checked out by another Dr., since they didn't feel comfortable doing the "clip" in office with her being 9 months old.  So hopefully soon and as painlessly as possible, I'll have a happier and tongue-loosed baby!
 
It feels so good to have my God-given mama instinct confirmed by a real diagnosis. 
I'll be so interested to see if all of this helps our girl!! 
 
 
 
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Monday, March 18, 2013

how to spruce up your couch {DIY throw pillows}

 
What's a cheapskate sort of girl to do when her couch pillows are in serious need of sprucing up, and brand-new throw pillows cost an arm and a leg? 
 
I thought about the thrift store option, but the thought of other people's dead skin and things on my "new" pillows grossed me out... TMI?  This girl thinks about such things.  I'd been scouring clearance aisles for weeks looking for cheap pillows that could either be used the way they were, or be re-covered. 
 
 I finally found some on sale after Christmas, and received a giftcard to a local quilt store to buy some fabric to recover said pillows.  They were the perfect size and firmness - it took me two months of seeing the (not my style) new pillows gracing my couch for me to get the opportunity to sew the new covers.
 

 

4 clearance throw pillows at $7.49 each turned into...


 ...two red and two paisley covers.  Mission to spruce up the couches completed.  I love them. 
 
If you're curious, both fabrics are by Moda, and the one on the right is in the Urban Cowgirl line.  The name of the print on the left escapes me at the moment.  

 

 
If you're a seamstress, and want a tip:  I tried something new this time, and used fusible fleece on the wrong side of the fabric before sewing them together.  The covers are thick and firm feeling like they came right from the store this way.  I'll definitely do this again! 
 

 
Looking for a DIY Pillow Tutorial to help you on your way since I'm too busy to write you one?  This is exactly the way I did mine, minus the serger to sew the edges...  I didn't use directions, so I can't vouch for the correctness of them, but this will lead you in the right direction. 
 


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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Five Minute Friday: REST

Setting the timer for 5 minutes... ready...

GO

Alright, folks - my first attempt at a Five Minute Friday writing prompt.  Unedited and raw is the name of the game.  Of course REST would be the prompt for the week.  As I sit here at nearly 11:00pm with bleary eyes and contraband honey chocolate chip cookie dough sitting beside me in a bowl on the couch that I'm not supposed to be eating on my Dr. prescribed Paleo plan, I need rest.  After the hard winter I had mothering, I've been doing so well lately... handling things in a much more Amanda-ish manner.  Mostly patient and loving, and sometimes downright Pollyanna-style.  But today, I was feeling tired - not glad.  I was tired of noise and the constant pull in seven different directions.  My husband, who has been working on being unphased by all of this said as he looked out over the room filled with seven children all taking up residence in our living room, "Wow, it sure doesn't look like that many." 

To which I grumpily replied, "It does when all you hear is Mom, Mommy, Hey - Mom all day!" 

Oh, how in my heart I love the Mom, Mommy, and Hey - Moms that I hear.  It means they need me, they want to talk to me.  They love me.

He didn't say anything back, and I knew at that moment, that Pollyanna had left the building. 

I stepped out of the room to regroup, pray, and get my attitude on straight again. 

STOP




Goodness, five minutes sure goes by quickly when you're tongue-tied... or should I say, brain-blanked?  Anyways, what a fun challenge!  Jump in and join the fun over at Lisa-Jo Baker's space!


Five Minute Friday



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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Must-Reads for 2013


Today I'm sharing my must-reads booklist for 2013 with you - I've been drooling, dying, and anticipating reading these books...  I'm a non-fiction girl and feel that the limited time I have to read has got to be productive.  Here they are in no particular order:




 
I know that one of my friends reading this owns this book by Madeline L'Engle - this is your warning that I may be hounding you this year to borrow it. 





What books are on your must-read list this year, non-fiction or not? 




 

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

when you need to apologize and be forgiven

We're often wrong.  Way more than we like to admit.
 
 We're too harsh,
 too proud,
silent when we should be saying something,
we rush others,
we think words we would never say outloud,
we speak words that sting,
and we stretch the truth sometimes too. 

 
I don't think you and I need a list of possible wrongdoings to prove to ourselves how often we're wrong.  We know it in our hearts.
 

 
We all sin (Rom. 3:23) so that means we are all wrong sometimes. 
 
 Parents especially, think that because we have been given authority by God to parent the kids entrusted to us, that we can act however we want toward them in the name of frustration and discipline with no accountability.  It is correct to say that we have authority over our kids, but it is a fallacy to believe that we can ignore God's call for us to live at peace with everyone (our kids included), if we have a choice.
 
 
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
 
Romans 12:18
 
Our kids can't make us get angry.  They can't make us do anything, even pull our hair out.
 We choose to lose our temper.  We choose to hit snooze on our alarm clock too many times, therefore making us feel rushed before our feet even hit the floor in the morning. 
 
The art and act of an apology is sometimes ignored by us parents, and the population in general.
Chances are, is that if you aren't in the habit of apologizing to your kids or other people in your life for wronging them, then you probably aren't going to God and asking His forgiveness either. 
 
So often I go through my days, feeling guilty for how I've acted.  Apologies to those I love come easier these days, my walls of pride are slowly crumbling - and I apologize often - but it's that forgiveness that we should be seeking from our ever-loving God that is oft forgotten.  He seems far off - maybe it doesn't affect our moments like it would if our spouse is miffed because of the way we just snapped at them for putting the baby to bed the wrong way.  It goes easier for us if we humble ourselves, admit we were wrong, and ask for forgiveness.  We usually will see an immediate result. 
 
But we don't often view God's forgiveness the same way.  It feels distant.  The promise of something in the future maybe, but not for right now. 
 
 God is anything but far off.  If you ask Him to, He'll live IN you. 
You just can't get any closer than that. 
 
 
9 Help us, God our Savior,
for the glory of your name;
deliver us and forgive our sins
for your name’s sake.
 
Psalm 79:9
 
 
Sometimes we're confused.  Why should we ask for forgiveness of our sins?  Aren't we already forgiven as Christians, and praying for something that is already ours?  I love how Pastor John McArthur explains it:
 
The answer is that divine forgiveness has two aspects. One is the judicial forgiveness God grants as Judge. It's the forgiveness God purchased for you by Christ's atonement for your sin. That kind of forgiveness frees you from any threat of eternal condemnation. It is the forgiveness of justification. Such pardon is immediately complete-you'll never need to seek it again.
The other is a parental forgiveness God grants as your Father. He is grieved when His children sin. The forgiveness of justification takes care of judicial guilt, but it does not nullify His fatherly displeasure over your sin. He chastens those whom He loves, for their good (Heb. 12:5-11).

 
-- Judicial forgiveness deals with sin's penalty-parental forgiveness deals with sin's consequences.

-- Judicial forgiveness frees us from the condemnation of the righteous, omniscient Judge whom we have wronged-parental forgiveness sets things right with a grieving and displeased but loving Father
.
-- Judicial forgiveness provides an unshakeable standing before the throne of divine judgment-parental forgiveness deals with the state of our sanctification at any given moment and is dispensed from a throne of divine grace. So the forgiveness Christians are supposed to seek in their daily walk is not pardon from an angry Judge, but mercy from a grieved Father.

Yes, that makes much more sense. 

God will forgive us.  He will not withhold it from us.  Like a parent who forgives a wayward daughter, he is pleased to give it.  He isn't distant.  He's the furthest thing from far-off. 

 He's here, helping us teach our children these truths too.  Helping us carry out His calling for us.
We wrong often.  But daily, we're sanctified - growing more like Christ, and we pick ourselves up and take another step toward holiness. 

 
 
 
TheBetterMom.com


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