Friday, May 15, 2015

How to be a blessing to a hosted orphan

The top bunk in the girls room is ready to be occupied this summer!
I am loving the feedback from many of our friends who think hosting an orphan with the goal of sharing Christ's love and connecting them with their forever family is a great idea.  We are so blessed to have this opportunity, as I (Tonya) stay at home with my kids, we have an extra bed, we have space in our vehicle, and we have the resources to sponsor and provide for an extra child for 5 weeks.
We want as many people as possible, who have a heart for orphans and evangelism, to have the opportunity to bless our "L" while she is here.  Blessing a host child (and indirectly, our family as well) can come in many forms.  Another seasoned host family has listed some ideas they have given their supporters that I thought were wonderful, and I'd like to share them with you, followed by a list of items "L" will need both while she's here and also to take back to her country with her.

1: Be a part of our prayer team.  We need prayer support!  If you want to be in a group that receives texts about specific prayer needs as we host "L", please let me know.
    a. Pray for "L"s salvation.  We are buying her a Bible in her language and will be trying to find as many opportunities as we can to communicate both verbally and by actions what the Gospel means to us.  Pray for creative ways for us, for understanding for her, and for the Holy Spirit to do an amazing work in her heart.
    b. Pray for "L"s adoption.  We still don't know for sure if "L" is adoptable or not.  There are many children who are hosted that easily get adopted after they return to their country after prospective families inquire of their government about them.  However, others are not allowed due to red tape and possible issues with the birth parents not relinquishing all of their parental rights, even if the orphan is considered a "social orphan" in the system.  Pray that if "L" is meant to be adopted, that this process will be simple and the family called to adopt her will be able to do so.
    c. Pray for our family structure.  We don't know yet how "L" will adapt to our family, or how our family will adapt to her.  There may be some rivalry, jealousy, frustration over communication issues, and disappointment if she is not the host sister the kids are expecting her to be.  Pray we will all learn from each other and show lots of grace with the changes we'll have to make as we adjust.
    d. Pray for our other pending adoption.  We have had our profile viewed by at least one birth mother recently, and were not picked.  We have peace in the process and know God's timing is best.  Pray for His perfect will to be done and for the heart of the birth mother who will choose us.  We don't want to be caught up in emotions over adopting another child while "L" is with us, but if the Lord so chooses to bring a daughter into our lives while she is here, we know He knows best! *I am forming a text group so let me know (if you haven't already) if you want to be added- this will be for private prayer requests regarding "L" while she is here

2: Provide a meal.  "L" has said she loves chicken and potatoes.  We have learned that kids from Eastern Europe love lots of fruit as well.  If you want to provide a meal for us, either by a gift card to Chicfila, KFC, or Zaxby's, or to bring something over one day to take the load off Tonya, it will be greatly appreciated!  You are welcome to eat with us when you drop it off as well, and get to know "L"!

3: Provide the gift of entertainment   "L" has said she likes to go out and have fun during the day, but stay at home in the evenings.  If you'd like to take her out to a movie on a Saturday afternoon, roller skating, bowling, come with us to the Discovery Park and pay for her pass, pay for her ticket to Venture River Water Park (we're going sometime in July with her and hope to go with a couple other host families in our area), any of these gifts would be a blessing!  We can't send her out with a family without either Kris or I accompanying her due to policy, but we'd love to work something out for you to love on her in the form of a fun outing.

4:Babysit our other kids.  Seriously, we'd LOVE to have some time alone with "L".  I'd love to take her shopping, get her hair and nails done, or just go get a sandwich with her on an afternoon every once and a while.  When all of our kids go with us together, she will not have any special alone time with her host parents.  She said in her interview that she's happy to be around younger kids, but we want to have special time with her when possible.  By babysitting our other four, you really are being a blessing to her and us!  *two families have come forward to volunteer, but we won't turn down more offers!

5: Just ask/show you care.  If you want to offer something not listed, please just ask.  There has been a great amount of care demonstrated already by our local friends, and we want all of you to be excited and in prayer for this special girl who God has brought into our lives.

6: Lastly, we need material items.  I've tried to compose a list of needed items and will check them off on this blog as the need is filled.  If it is just an item we'll need to borrow for the summer, I'll list it with (borrow) next to it.  As shared in our announcement blog post, please do not give "L" gifts in person without asking us first.  It will probably be OK, but we need to know what the item is and if it is allowed for her to return back with.  Bringing back a prohibited item (an Apple product, a frame with glass in it, expensive electronics, etc.) can really cause problems with the hosting program's relationship with the orphanages/governments involved.   Thanks for your sensitivity in this!

-gently used or new summer clothing, either size 8/10 or 10/12 (we don't know her size, but she will be 11 in June).  If you buy it, leave the tags on with a receipt so if it doesn't fit we can take her shopping and exchange it.  If you give it to us used, please label the tags with your initials so we can return it back to you if it is the wrong size so you can give the clothing to someone else.  Also, please make sure the clothing is modest for a tween!  In her culture, short shorts are not very appropriate.  Longer shorts and shirts with straps wider than spaghetti straps, no halter look or low back, etc. are acceptable.  Keep in mind skirt/dress length to be modest and to around the top of the knee or lower (assuming she is an average height for her age).  She has mentioned she would love a pink bedroom, so if you shop for something specific, keep in mind she probably likes pink clothes too! We have received items from two families with two other families committing to provide clothing items as well.  

-a bathing suit- must be conservative (no belly showing) 

-socks and underwear (4 pair of each)

-shoes, including flip flops, tennis shoes, dress sandals for church, and house shoes.  We honestly don't know what shoe size to get....if you have a daughter around 11 years old who is average that's a good place to start!

-hair accessories- she has long straight brown hair. (ties, bands, bows, etc)

-a girl's bike ,18" or 20"(borrow) (pending)

-a bike helmet (borrow)

-a back pack for travel/flying back

-hand towel/washcloth (for taking home)



-memory book/photo album


-good winter coat, scarf, gloves and hat (for taking home- her country has long, cold winters)

-low-cost jewelry, stationary, low-cost MP3 player (for taking home)

Thanks so much for your support of our "L"!  She will arrive June 26th and be staying until August 2nd.  We are excited and hope you are too!  Caring for orphans is something very special to our heart, and we pray by your involvement with "L"s time in our family, you will gain the same love and passion as well.


Friday, May 8, 2015

Have mercy on me, oh Lord! When your strong willed child is just like.... you.

He wanted to do the laundry...himself.
I was never told I was strong willed.  NEVER.  I thought those kind of kids were the rebellious ones, the trouble makers, the kids who were constantly getting grounded and were defiant with their parents in public.  I was always the A student, the best behaved little girl in class who never had to sit out during recess, and though I got lots of spankings for mostly sibling related offenses as a child, I was never labeled as a "problem child", at least to my face!
However, when I see one of my sons, I see me done all over again.  His stubborn determination, will to do it HIS way or else, and persistence to carry through every one of his plans whether they are allowed or not by his parents are a direct representation of his mom's genes.  I read somewhere that the child who is the most like us is the one we will have the most problems raising.  It can't be more true in my case.  This kid has caused me more anxiety, migraines, embarrassment, junk food binges and fits of rage than my other three kids put together!  In addition to the strong willed character, he is also hyperactive, highly emotional. and seems to have the characteristics of a child with ADHD.  When, out of curiosity, I recently took the test for adult ADHD, guess what?  Yep, just like my boy.
I asked my mom recently "Was I a strong-willed child?" and she laughed and said "Well yeah, of course you were!".
So how on earth did I turn out OK?  I look at this child and have thought many times "He's going to be the one I blow it on".  I really think that a lot.  I feel like I can't get control of him.  He repeats offenses over, and over, and over and probably outgrows bad behaviors before he's corrected enough to learn they aren't good ones!  For example, for 6 months this child at 3 1/2 years old would poop his pants, put the contents in the toilet and flush it, then clean up the evidence and change clothes.  The only way I knew what had happened was when I did laundry a few days later.  Why go through so much effort when you can just go to the toilet?!  He had control, that's why.  Then there's the period when he would climb all over the countertops by scaling them, starting at 12 months old (I have photos to prove it) just to investigate what food was up there.  He didn't want to ask because then he wouldn't have control.  He will only do work in school that fits his interests.  No bribe, reward, punishment, or praise will change his mind.  However, when he sets his mind to learn it, there's nothing he can't master.
When I read what I just typed, I shake my head.  That's me.  I'm raising a mini-me.  Alright, I don't think I've ever pooped my pants to have control, but you get the idea.  Let's not start any nasty rumors about me now.
So why does God want to punish me

Well, I think He's trying to teach me something.  Go figure.

When one strong willed person tries to lead another strong willed person, sparks fly.  It doesn't matter if one's a parent and the other's a child, they will butt heads constantly.
A strong willed person wants to be respected and given a choice.  When they feel boxed in and oppressed, unable to use their ideas, determination, and desires, they explode.  I think I've done that once or twice, or hmmm....maybe one hundred times?

I need to model to my son that no matter how strong willed I am, I must yield.  Yield to God, yield to my husband, yield to the authorities God has placed over me, and sometimes, when appropriate, even yield to his desires.  If his character is to become like Christ, He must learn that like Christ He must submit to his Father's will:

Philippians 2:5-8: Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross! 

Obedient to that is true submission.  Would I really lay down my desires to that degree?  If I want to be like Jesus, I must be willing to.

Our kids will only learn by the example put before them.  If I want my kid to turn out "right" I need to change my heart as well.  For those strong willed parents out there, I know.   It is stinking hard.  It is a battle of the heart versus the instinctive desire inherent within us to do it "our own way" (I have been labeled many a time as a girl who does just that!).  It is a battlefield that we must hand over to God so in turn, the precious ones He has entrusted to us will follow in our steps and do the same.

Those kids.  They always point out the worst in us.  But praise God- they are pointing us to more sanctification!