Monday, June 18, 2012

Sleeping Beauties








Sweetly sleeping siblings. :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Finding Joy in Motherhood, Part 4: Love Your Children the Way GOD Loves You

Love your children the way God loves you.

“For God so loved the world that He GAVE…..”

“We love him because he first loved us….”

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us…..”

God loves you.

Those three simple words have changed the lives of countless millions. You see, with God, there’s no “because”. God doesn’t love us because we’ve earned it or because we deserve it. He just LOVES us! The entire plan of redemption is built on God’s LOVE.

We can find true joy in motherhood, not only by viewing your children the way GOD views them, and embracing motherhood as your full-time ministry, but also by loving your children the way God loves you.

Let me give you my definition of LOVE, based on what the Lord has shown me in my own life:

LOVE is the conscious choice of my will to act in the best interest of someone else, regardless of whether they deserve it or not, and without any thought of what I might gain in return.

Last year, we adopted a 14 year old orphan from China. Unlike giving birth to a baby, loving an older child as your own may not come as “naturally” to some. People asked us before and after her adoption if it was harder to love her and the answer is honestly NO.

You see, true love isn’t based simply on emotion. Emotions come and go. True love is based on commitment and a choice to act in the best interest of someone else. It was very obviously in Johanna’s best interest to be raised in a loving family, and we are so thankful that plenty of positive emotions have followed our decision to adopt her, but ladies, it isn’t about emotions! It’s about choosing to love, even when it’s really, really hard at times.

Perhaps you’re blessed with a very stubborn little one. Perhaps you have a teenager working through a rebellious time. Maybe you’re struggling under the pressures of life and you feel ready to explode if one more child tugs at your leg and says, “Mommy!”

Dear mothers, here’s where we can overcome and find true joy----CHOOSE to love, even when you don’t "feel" it.

Do the next “right” thing, whatever it may be.

Meet their needs, even when your own feel insurmountable.

Dig down deep, and love because it’s what God commands of us.

Do you want to know the best part of choosing to love, even when it’s hard? It’s amazing really.

Listen carefully, or you might miss it.


Really, it’s true! This can be applied to all areas of life, not just motherhood.

When you choose to love your husband, meeting his needs whether he deserves it or not, with no thought of what you might gain in return, you will start FEELING more love for him! When you choose to love your (insert whoever you’re having problems with, your friend, co-worker, sibling, in-laws, etc) meeting THEIR needs, whether they deserve it or not, with no thought of what you might gain in return, you will start FEELING more love for them.

God says to DO what’s right, not to FEEL what’s right.

Choose to love your children with the same beautiful, sacrificial love God has shown to you and you will find more joy in motherhood.

(Stay tuned for Part 5: Parent Your Children With Grace)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A little of this and a little of that.....

Every so often, when I download pictures from my camera's memory card, I find a handful of pictures I did not take. :) Nathaniel, it turns out, took the above picture. He caught me in a position I find myself often these days: face-to-face, working through a problem with a child, Johanna in this case. While I normally don't keep the pictures Nathaniel captures on my camera, I wouldn't have thought to take this picture and I'm glad I have it now.

A friend asked me about adopting out of birth order, essentially, what's the big deal? I've put alot of thought into what I think of the answer to that question---and it will be a blog post all its own when I'm done putting my feelings into words----but I will say this:

 Parenting is work. Adopted parenting is hard work. Adopted out-of-birth-order parenting is very hard work.

Like any good, hard work, the rewards are great. Dr. Purvis calls the rewards "pay dirt". I call them blessings. Tonight, when Johanna shared a blessing at the dinner table, she said, "I'm so thankful for Daddy and Mommy giving me a family who loves me." Call it what you will, pay dirt or blessings---either way, the rewards make the very hard work WORTHWHILE.

But, the season we're in, especially with Johanna, is very draining. I wake up every morning and try to embrace the challenges that come my way throughout the day. Some days I'm more successful than others, lol.

In other news, Brent starts a new job on Monday. We're all very excited for him as he's been hoping and praying for a new job for about a year!

I'm getting very excited about starting our new school year. We take off school in the spring and head "back to school" in the summer when it gets hot outside. We're going to be switching to My Father's World curriculum this year and I CAN'T WAIT to start back to a school schedule. So much of last year was simply survival mode.....this year, I hope to get much more accomplished. (Well, that's a bit vague, as we did accomplish alot this past year, just not as much "school" as usual, given the extra challenges we experienced.)

Last weekend, we volunteered at the local Special Olympics---so much fun!---and spent the remainder of Friday and all day Saturday at our state's Homeschool Conference. Some years, we try to get a babysitter so Brent and I can attend the workshops offered, then other years, we take all of the children so they can "experience" the fun of the conference. This was a take all of the children year. :) They did amazingly well for two super long days, and we all had a blast and arrived home exhausted (and with bags and bags of new books!)

Tomorrow, I'm going to post Part 4 of the Finding Joy in Motherhood Series. Then I'm hoping to tackle some more of YOUR questions from the Game Time post. And I've redone the girls' room and need to add that to the Home Tour. Oh, and I made the most fabulous cinnamon rolls and wanted to share the recipe with you all.

So, keep checking back (or follow my blog to receive updates!) and I'll chat with you all again soon!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Moment of Grace

Today, I experienced a moment of grace.

At the hands of my precious children.

We had to reschedule Eliana and Nathaniel's weekly violin lesson for this afternoon, due to illness last week. (Normally, we go on Thursday evening, and Brent watches the other 5 children at home.)

It was an uneventful morning, and, because I thought I was ahead of schedule a bit, I decided to deep-clean the boys' room before we left for town.

Well, it took me longer than I expected, and before I knew it, we needed to be out the door in 15 minutes.

I came out of the boys' room and started to panic. My clean-just-an-hour-before-house was in shambles. Cabinets were open, drinks and snacks were covering the countertops, toys were scattered on the floor and couches----and to top it off, someone had left the pantry door open.

You mean you don't know what it means when the pantry door gets left open???

In this case, it meant that two very sweet, adorable, mischievous two year old girls were having a blast playing in my 2 twenty-five lb bags of FLOUR. It was all over their clothes, their faces, and the floor.....

I felt like screaming.

Instead, like any good, godly mother (NOT), I started lecturing my children. I was overwhelmed, in a hurry, and frustrated about things that shouldn't really matter anyway.

But I lectured anyway. You know the type of lecture---the "Why did you guys make such a mess?" and "Why is Mommy the only one who cares about cleaning up?" kind of lecture.

I'm not proud of it. And the Holy Spirit started convicting me after a few minutes.

I sent the children to get buckled in the van and stayed in the house to pray. My heart was reminded of how inconsequential the toys and the crumbs and the FLOUR are in comparison to my children's hearts.

Oh, God, forgive me!

I got into the van and turned around to the children. "Mommy got angry just now, and it was sin. I didn't talk respectfully to you, and I hurt you with my words. I'm SO sorry. Will you forgive me?" I asked.

The GRACE that extended from these little people was amazing. "I forgive you, Mommy!" came from the smallest of children in the back of the van. "It's okay, Mommy! We'll try to help you more next time." from one of the older ones. The forgiveness was instant and unanimous.

Then Nathaniel (7) unbuckled and came to my side at the front of the van.

"Oh, Mommy, it's okay. We forgive you. And you know what? You're the most beautifullest person in the whole world to kiss." He kissed my cheek. I melted. :)

What struck me the most is the lesson I was reminded of today, in my moment of grace.

They didn't lecture me. They didn't tell me that "I'm sorry is good, but not doing it again is better."  They didn't say, "Well, I forgive you, but you know there must be consequences for your actions." They just forgave me with open arms.

There's a lesson there, for us Mommies, if we want to listen.

GOD forgives, with no strings attached.

Our children forgive, with no strings attached.

The question, then, is, do I???

May we learn, as we parent these gifts on loan from God, to extend the moments of grace our children so desparately need, forgiving, restoring, loving, accepting, embracing.

I'm so thankful my children have learned this lesson. Now if only I can be like them when I grow up......:)