Monday, December 26, 2011

Gotcha Day #4

Almost six years ago God confirmed His calling on our lives to adopt. We had looked and looked for days at a 8 x 10 picture that Jim and Donna Houston gave us. That photograph was of a precious little boy in Guatemala. We had NO intentions of was NEVER on our radar. Our family was set. God's family was not. He set the lonely in our family just as He says He will do. And, we felt it...strongly. It would NOT go away. So, we followed God's calling and set out on a ride that would change our lives.

Fast forward 23 months to December of 2007 when we walked into Eagle's Nest orphanage in the mountains of Guatemala. Sitting on the floor was the same little boy with the biggest brown eyes. One of the nannies was tying his shoe, and my heart burst at the seams. Everything I had done (copies of birth certificates, phone calls, doctor's visits, recommendations, meetings, raising money, etc) and every second we had to wait (almost 2 years) came flooding back. God spoke to me clearly and said, "I have pursued you the same way you have pursued this child." My heart was full. I KNEW the Father's love for me, and I rested in in.

I do not post the following pic because it flatters me in ANY does just the opposite. It shows the overwhelming love that God showed me that day. I was so overwhelmed with His love for me and the thought that He wanted me to love like that....Oh the joy and the responsibility!

That first year was hard, difficult and lonely. But, that was a previous blog....

Fast forward 4 years to the amazing Josiah Jett Turner who keeps us on our toes ALL the time. He is a precious gift from God. I do not remember the time before he was ours. He's our first son, and we adore him. Just this year he gave his life to Christ and is working through the discipleship material now to be baptized. About 6 weeks ago, he meandered up some stairs at Brook Hills and waited shyly outside of the office of Pastor Jim Houston. (Jim and Donna are the ones who first found Jett in Guatemala and were with us with we were united with our son.) In a way that only Jett can, he scooted into the office and gave Jim a big hug. Then, he said, "I have to ask you something." Jim said, "Of course, go ahead." And, with a huge smile on his face, Jett asked, "Since you found me in Guatemala, will you baptize me here?" It wasn't too hard to see the tears in Jim's eyes but they were a little blurry considering the tears in mine. Full circle had come...God was praised and is well with my soul.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

School is out....

With 5 children we often get asked questions about how we handle various life circumstances. One of those is school. Five is not so different than three now that we prioritize what it is that God wants us to teach our children.

It is not a neat, clean-cut schedule that works every day. In fact, no two days during a week look alike. And, God is teaching me patience and flexibility. I'm not so good at either of those...technically, I stink at both of them. I like order. I like a plan. I like a schedule. Label makers, new pencils, math games and school/office supply stores simply make me giddy. I admit it..I am a school geek. And, I like it.

But, not all of my kids are wired that way. I have five VERY different children when it comes to learning. One is an independent worker and needs little guidance. Another loves to discuss everything and shoots for grades of A+ on everything. A different child struggles with just following directions and sitting still for longer than 3 seconds but has a passion and trap mind for science (not my forte, by the way). Still another loves to hear words of affirmation when he gets something right and does a little happy dance each time he hears, "I am so proud of you." And finally there is one who does not like to be wrong but takes great pride in pointing out letters to anyone and everyone who will listen (including during the sermon at church).

So, in taking all of that into consideration, we made a plan for school for this year. And, within one week, we were adjusting that. So, we all made another plan....adjustment again. Another plan...another adjustment. By adjustment, I do mean that we crumpled up the schedule and threw it in the garbage and went back to the drawing board. I would have burned it, but since our house burned down 6 years ago, no one here is fond of the smell of smoke. So, we are now operating on our 4th schedule for the year, and it has been working fine for the past 16 weeks.

JT and I get up fairly early but not before one of our children who is the earliest riser in the house (she wants to get her shower/quiet time, etc in before the littles get up). We exercise, peruse emails and have our quiet times before we ever hear anyone stirring. After breakfast and Bible time with Dad, school starts around 8:00 (please KNOW that we aim for 8:00 but lately, we haven't been hitting that mark either).

At 8:00 my oldest daughter reads to the 2 youngest children which has been a HUGE blessing to me. It gives me time to work with Jett on reading and phonics as well as explain his tasks for the day. We are still working on getting his independent work done INDEPENDENTLY.... In addition, my second daughter takes the littles for about 20 minutes to work on counting and math. I teach the littles their letters (one a week) and follow up with games and books especially ones that deal with colors, shapes, numbers or letters. We thought that our goal for this year was to teach them all of their ABC's, sounds of the alphabet, how to write letters, counting to 20, cutting with scissors, coloring, shapes, and basic colors. That will be a GREAT year for 2 people who spoke a different language one year ago.

For me, sitting down with my children to actively engage them in games is NOT easy. It does not come naturally to me. But, God has shown me so much through investing my time and energy into playing. They LOVE it, and now, I'm starting to look forward to it as well.

So, here's the schedule:


Zeke could hear affirmation all day makes him smile (and me too).

Elly LOVES to get stickers when she does a great job. However, asking for stickers is not allowed.

Jett loves science and the more "hands-on" something is, the better.

Inevitably, someone has binoculars at some point during the day looking at deer in the backyard.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Where did the time go?

Kaitlyn, our resident photographer, takes a rare photo of herself. Hard to believe she's about to be 15!

Sweet Madison does a great job reading to her siblings. They adore her.

Sweet Elly loves to pick out her own clothes and show them off to everyone.

Zeke is still fighting for survival, but we are seeing regular glimpses of trust these days!

There are many decisions that we make daily that impact our family. For me one of those decisions is to blog or not. While I enjoy blogging, it is just not a priority with all of these people running around here. Even now I am surrounded by one child trying to convince me that she needs medicine ('cuz I'm still sick), one who is singing Jingle Bells while dancing, one who is peeling eggs for breakfast, another who is working through a math test, and the last one who is puny on the couch with a cold. They are my priority.

That is our/my life these days....making decisions that are best for all of us. We made so many mistakes when we brought Jett home even though we stayed home a lot. We still traveled too soon, had people over too soon, exposed him to too many new things right away, etc. We learned our lesson the hard way. And we have chosen, by God's grace and mercy, to walk the journey differently this time.

We have pretty much been homebodies with the exception of weekly excursions to church. While we have traveled for trips, we have severely limited that travel because of our children. We will fight for them to adjust and adjust well. We will sacrifice and give up and do whatever we need to do to make this a safe environment for them. We want them to trust us and to know that we have their best interests in mind.

Isn't that the same thing that God does for us? He advocates for our best..what is best for you and for me. Sometimes we don't like it or enjoy it or even understand it. But, we rest in knowing that He is Sovereign and He knows what is BEST...ALL the time! So I trust Him in this stage of life with the lonely, the isolation, the worry, the fears, the joys, the leaps of faith...all of it. And if I don't blog on a regular basis, no worries. My priorities are elsewhere.