Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dear Homeschool Momma

Before I write this let me preface it by saying: I am not an expert on this thing. I do not have it all figured out. I started my third year of homeschooling my kiddos just last week. I am writing this letter to myself before my first year of homeschooling. If I could by some means go back and give myself some advice here is what I would say. And I am writing this to myself today as well.  Some days I just need to hear this!

Dear Homeschool Momma,

1. Way to go.
This homeschool thing is scary and hardly anyone understands why you would choose to do this. You will have a lot of nay sayers and people who think you are making the wrong decision. Do it anyway! Do what you think is right because in the end you are the only person responsible for your life! And way to go! This is a hard choice to make and I am proud of you for having the guts to do it even though you are mostly scared to death.

2. This will be hard.
You know how you envision other homeschool families as having children who wake up, come downstairs well groomed and ready to begin reading. It doesn't work like that. You will struggle a lot to come up with ways to motivate yourself and these little people to do the tasks assigned to them. You will get behind on math. You will skip pages. You will have some days when at the end you are all crying. Because this is hard!

3. Just because it is hard does not mean you have failed. 
The first day when things are really hard you may think, "Thats it, I have failed. I cannot do this." Keep going. Find new ideas, new curriculum, new incentives or maybe just take a break for the day and have fun with your kids. You will not see the evidence of your kids learning right away. It may take weeks, or even months for some children to grasp new concepts. Stick with it. And you will see progress.

4. Connect with other Homeschool Mommas. 
You need a community of moms that you can run to when you have questions. Moms you can ask for advice. Moms you can just cry with when things are hard. Those moms will keep you sane and make you realize just how normal you are.

5. Take care of yourself.
You need to make sure you get enough sleep. You need to eat healthy meals, regularly. You need to make time to get exercise. (Even if it is just a walk.) You need to make time to get together with your friends. You need to make time for you to spend with your husband. You need to do these things. Do not wait for someone to make you. Do it now. You husband genuinely wants you to be happy and will gladly help you to take better care of yourself, if it is within his means. Ask him.

6. Make time for your husband. 
This deserves two mentions. Remember that handsome, fun, loving guy you were madly in love with and could not wait to marry. He is now yours. So take advantage of that. Make time for him. Plan date nights. Put the kids to bed early sometimes. Or just put the kids in front of a movie in their room and spend time alone together. Be intentional about this. He really is a great guy! And it will benefit you as well.

7. Relax and give yourself some grace. 
You will not spontaneously combust if your child does not know how to read by the end of 1st grade. It will happen. Just keep doing the right things and she will catch on. Its ok if you eat macaroni and cheese for dinner again. Its ok if your house is less clean than you want it to be. Relax and give yourself some grace. You are doing a good job. But you are not perfect. And your desire for perfectionism will only eat away at your relationships. You are going to fail a lot. And you may as well own up to that fact now. Rest in the grace and mercy God gives to you and allow Him to make something beautiful from your mistakes.

8. You are discipling!
You are the keeper of a lot of things. You are the teacher, chef, housekeeper, boo-boo kisser, back scratcher, bad dream rescuer and lots of other titles. But the important one is you are teaching a generation of young people what it means to live as followers of Christ. That is your goal. To raise them to Love the Lord their God with all their hearts and to love their neighbor as themselves. They could be rocket scientists but if they fail to grasp that area their life will be miserable!

9. Have Fun. 
It will be so tempting to cut out the extra fun stuff. It is messy and takes extra work. Do it anyway. The 20 minutes they spend making play-dough trees will be one of their favorite things they did all year. Enjoy them. It will go by in the blink of an eye.

10. Abide in Christ.
It is not enough to just say you believe in Him or to just say you trust Him. You need to daily live and move in Him.

John 15:4-5 (ESV)  "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."

Without Him working in you and your children none of the good things you are seeking will come to pass!

Now Go sister and Take a Nap!

Your slightly older and slightly wiser self

* As an addendum I would like to add this is by no means me saying if you send your kids to school you are not doing these things or do not need these things. I know that for some families homeschooling is not the best or even a viable option and to those mommas I applaud you. Some of my favorite mommies are PTO presidents and hard at work and involved in their kiddos schools. They bust their butts and are working just as hard at abiding in Christ. I think you are doing awesome work momma. I just have no experience in that area so I cannot speak to it. But please feel free to write your own blog post about that. I just may need it some day!

Friday, May 17, 2013

My crazy, God ordained, night!

    This week has been one of the toughest weeks since we began our international adoption. Nothing new or upsetting happened but my insides were a swirling mess. I have been feeling so defeated and down cast. I have been begging God to show himself to me because I felt so broken.

    This is what makes what happened tonight such a blessing. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt my God orchestrated every detail of this night to point  us to Himself and His faithfulness.

    I will start at the beginning. This afternoon around 3:00 I talked to Todd and he said he was most likely going to be working late. I decided not to start the dinner I had planned and make sandwiches or something for the girls and I instead. Around 5:00 he called and said plans changed and he was actually going to be home in a few minutes. A few minutes after he walked in the door he received a phone call from a friend of ours. This friend stores some of his things in our barn and wanted to know if we could drop something off to him in the next few minutes. It was kind of an emergency situation and he was not far away. So we all hopped in the car to drive the stuff over to him. Todd made the suggestion that we all eat at a pizza restaurant nearby. We had coupons for buy one get one free meals and would be out anyway.

    Here is the really cool part. We ate our meal at the pizza place and decided to go as a family into the arcade area. We walked into the arcade area and immediately a woman came up to us and commented about my shirt I was wearing. She said, "I have the same t-shirt." The shirt I was wearing was our fundraiser shirts that we sold to raise money for our adoption. I thought it was the coolest thing that someone I did not know had our shirt. So I introduced myself and told her that we were the family that was selling them to raise money for our adoption. She immediately teared up and said, "Oh my, your family has inspired my husband and I to adopt internationally." I was blown away. She shared how her and her husband have one child but have not been able to conceive another and after hearing our story they have decided to adopt internationally. We do not even know them. We continued to talk for a moment and then this is where the story gets even better. A man who was standing nearby with his sons said, "I am sorry to interrupt by I have to, my wife and I are in the process of adopting from Nicaragua. She is there now with our daughter. She has been there for two months. This has been a long process for us but I have to tell you that God cares about orphans. Our God is so faithful." My jaw literally was about to fall on the floor. And all of us continued to talk about how it was not where we had planned to be for dinner that night. But our God, who is faithful, put us all in that spot at that moment. And my heart knows that my God spoke directly to what I needed to hear from Him.

    My God is real! And He is faithful. This journey has been so much harder than I ever dared imagine. But God has been so much more faithful than I ever dreamed He would be.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


      It has been a while since I posted an update. So I thought I would let everyone know where we are. We have been submitted to court in DRC and are awaiting judgement. Once we receive our judgement we go through a 30 day wait period called CONA. If no immediate family members come forward to claim our little guy he will be officially our son in the eyes of the Congolese government. After CONA we will submit paperwork with the US Immigration Services and once they approve us we have a 3-6 month investigation period by the US Embassy in Congo. Once they approve everything we will be given the green light for travel and get to go pick up our little guy. So basically we do not know when he will be home. And with any international adoption there is always room for things to fall through and things to go wrong.

 To be real here. I have been "looking" at bedding for our little one. The moment we got the first phone call for our first referral I was already dreaming of a nursery. But after losing him and that huge heartbreak I am just really afraid to make concrete plans for this little guy. I seriously might be doing this little guy's nursery the week before we travel. (Ok, probably not.) I have been praying to God for more faith. More faith to trust Him even when the way does not look clear. And I think He has been granting that to me. But I also know that trusting in God means that sometimes things will not work out how I want and I need to trust Him even then. So I am wrestling with that. With how much of my apprehension is fear and how much is just plain wisdom. And to be truthful I have not gotten it all sorted out. This week God has been reminding me over and over through books and the Bible and my daily devotional that this is not supposed to all happen in my power and my strength. He is the one in control. My job is to trust Him and walk where He tells me to. He will fulfill the plans He has. I wish I was more faithful to believe that His plans are for my good. (Romans 8:28). But I admit I struggle with that.

    A couple years ago we were at a point in our adoption process where our agency (not the one we are with now) told us they may not approve us for the adoption because we did not have enough money in our bank account. I remember reading that email and feeling devastated. I cried and prayed and begged God for clarity. I was emotionally a wreck that day. I ended up taking a nap in the afternoon. I passed out from sheer emotional exhaustion and when I woke up this verse was pounding in my head.

2nd Corinthians 4:7 " But we have this treasure in Jars of Clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us." (NIV)

    God uses the broken, weak and humble things of this world to display His power. I am reminded more and more as this adoption progresses how truly weak I am. And I am learning more and more what a truly big and powerful God I serve.

    In the end, I am not sure if I will get to bring home the little baby boy I have grown to love. I am not sure if I will get to kiss his chocolate cheeks or see him in the baby boy clothes we have stored away. I am not sure if I will ever have another child fill our crib but I know my God is good and He can be trusted. So I am taking it day by day. Today is a good day. But tomorrow if you see me wallowing in the mud of doubt and tears, can you just give me a hug and offer a prayer for me? I am weak and I will have days like that!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

World Malaria Day

     I wrote this blog February 13th. At the time the emotions were so raw we were not ready to share it. But today is World Malaria Day and I thought it was a fitting day to share it. Before you read this please know it is not about our Nehemiah that we are currently pursuing for adoption.

   "About three weeks ago I answered a phone call that changed our lives. Our adoption facilitator told me about a little baby boy that was only a few weeks old. And asked if we would be interested in pursuing him for adoption. Of course my heart burst at the seams and I said, "yes." We were told the official paperwork would follow soon. About a week later, we learned our little guy was sick and had to be hospitalized. And we were put on hold from pursuing him until he was on the upswing.

    That was about two weeks ago. During that time we have fallen in love with this little guy. We have prayed for him. We have dreamed of bedroom colors and baby things. We have asked family and friends to pray for him. We have begged God to heal him and begged God to bring him into our family. These past few weeks have been hard. We have prayed for clarity. We have asked God to make clear what He wants for us. We have asked Him to have His way. And we have asked God to do what is best for this little guy. And today we have clarity. We were told today that we are not able to pursue this little guy for adoption. And he is still sick. The truth is he may not make it.

    And that idea breaks my heart. And we are still begging God to heal him. If you want to join us in praying for him please do so. But at this time we are not able to move forward with adopting him. The situation is out of our hands. But we know He is in the hands of God."

    We think that little guy probably had Malaria. We do not know for sure. But we believe so. We have also learned that since that time he has passed away.

   God was so gracious to our family. He gave us such peace the day we found out that little guy would not make it. And the same day we learned of his fate we accepted our referral of our Nehemiah. My heart was utterly broken at the loss of our first baby. I wept so hard for his little life. He was precious to us. And still is. I hope one day I get to see his face in heaven. We were blessed to be able to pray for him and want him, if only for a short time. And honestly I am thankful we were given the opportunity. Even if it meant my heart was broken.

Malaria is one of the top 3 child killers on the planet and it is treatable and even preventable.
Check out this website if you want to learn more. And for every person who watches the trailer to this HBO Film one child will receive Malaria treatment.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Follow the Leader

     Sunday we were surprisingly blessed with 65 degree weather. Living in Michigan, 65 degree weather is like heaven because we have been living around 30 degrees since November. Since we were so desperate for some outdoor activity we loaded the bikes and everyone up and headed to the park to ride the bike path.

    Daddy was the leader followed by the girls and I was bringing up the rear. As we would come to a part of the path that seemed impassable, one of the girls would start to get nervous and begin to whine a bit. Saying things like, "I can't do it."  I would talk to them calmly and say, "Yes, we can. Follow daddy. He will lead you. Just do exactly what he does." And then we would come up to the seemingly impassable area and said child would complete it. No problem.

    After repeating this a couple times I felt this gentle nudge in my heart. I am just like my girls. You see I have been looking ahead at some paths that seem insurmountable. There are some things, that I have been telling myself, I am not sure I can make it passed. Some parts of the road ahead look too rocky and too hard. And I have been wondering if I could make it through. It was as if God himself was whispering to me,  "Yes, we can. Follow daddy. He will lead you. Just do exactly what he does." I know something about the path that my kids do not factor into their thoughts. I would never leave them. Even if there was a portion of the path they could not physically handle, I would get off my bike and carry us all through it. The path is not important to me. But my children are. And I feel like he was whispering that truth to me. He won't abandon me. He cares for me more lovingly and perfectly than I care for my own children. Will I trust Him? Will I follow Him?

    What about you? Do you have some paths up ahead that look a little rough?