Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Day I Marched My Kids to the Public School

They screamed, they begged, they pleaded with me not to do it.  My husband was angry.  I was depleted and numb.  He gave the final word, something that was in my head for several weeks but I couldn't bring myself to do.
"Take them to the public school and ask how they can get enrolled."
Tears rolled down cheeks.  One boy ran out the door with a stuffed animal and said he was running away (He never left the yard).  I told them to get in the van and we were going to ask lots of questions and they could see for themselves how the majority of their friends and people in our community are educated.  The public school.
We did the tour, got the talk, were handed materials for enrollment and I walked away with three less terrified, but also sullen boys, and a little 4 year old girl who had not a clue what was going on.
"What do you think?"  I asked them.  We talked about pros and cons and the kinds of changes they would face in their daily lives if they went.  We talked about how much Mommy and Daddy love them and that would never change.  We talked about what it was like to sit in a desk for 6 hours a day, and ride in a bus for an hour each way.
They cried some more.  They promised to change.  They pleaded with me to not do it.
What kind of a mom was I for doing this to my kids out of frustration with them?

Lets go back about a year.  I have three sons.  One is gifted with some dysgraphia.  One is dyslexic, slow working, yet very determined.  The third is strong willed with a serious case of ADHD.  My daughter is an eager beaver and very compliant at 4 years old.  We have a second daughter of an unknown age who God will bring to us in His timing. Teaching doesn't come naturally to me.  I studied to be an RN and a missionary, not an educator.  I also have ADD and can be easily distracted on a typical day. This does not make for a smooth day teaching all of them in their different levels, abilities and learning styles.  I often get migraines and force myself to teach through them when possible.
I've changed schedules, given rewards, made curriculum easier or harder, pushed or given breaks, you name it we've tried it.  Yet my kids often thought that obedience was optional.  They rushed through a subject and retained nothing, teased and taunted each other to the point of chaos, couldn't sit in a chair for 60 seconds without crawling on the floor and sneaking around with toys as I read a story, and whined about everything they thought was too hard or boring.

I had it.  I was so tired, so burned out, and I wanted an out.  If I couldn't teach these children effectively and it was causing such a strain on our family, then someone else could do it.  I'd hand them over to the school system to do it for me.  That's where most kids do school anyway, right?

Oh, the freedom I'd finally enjoy!
I could have time to volunteer at our local crisis pregnancy center and do ultrasounds again.
I could go back to being more involved in my church,  rejoin the hispanic ministry, get back in the choir, teach a class, be a part of the women's missions group and go to their meetings and outings, even have lunch and visits with people during the day!
I could have better meals cooked at dinner (no more school until 5:00) get everyone to their evening activities without rushing to wrap up study time, and have a neater and more organized home.
Oh, the money we'd save!  Between saving on curriculum, breakfast and lunch food, gas and field trips we'd save thousands a year!
Fewer migraines, better overall health from eating and resting better, and a chance to exercise whenever I chose!
I could even go back to working as a nurse part time and do what I studied to do 16 years ago.  Again, more income!  More missions trips for us!  More adoption money!  More opportunities!

To be free of homeschooling meant so many open doors for me and freedom to serve and work like I never could before!

These thoughts flooded my mind after that school tour, but as I thought more about it, everything seemed to come back to one thing.

All about me.
All about Mommy
All about what I could benefit out of this change.

What about the kids?
What about my number one calling in this season?

It's gut wrenching, y'all.  It's hard to face your selfishness.

So here I am, in our classroom.  It will remain our classroom for the time being.
We have changed things up.
The kids have more chores to help mommy.
Mommy has promised to be more focused in school and is eliminating distractions.
Mommy goes to bed earlier so she can wake up earlier and school time can start earlier.  An early start gets everything going in the right direction in the morning.
No more goals to finish curriculum this year.  It has been a pain.  A royal pain and pressure.
If we have something coming up and have to crunch to get work done, we limit the work.  Mommy doesn't need to get a migraine over a history lesson needing to be read before jumping in a van to go somewhere.
We are focusing a while on character building, respect and obedience more than knowledge acquisition.

This life is hard.  If you are a believer in Christ, you have been called to something.  It is likely not something that comes easily or naturally to you.  I'm learning more and more that God doesn't want our callings to be natural, because then we don't trust Him to carry us through the difficulties we face while following Him.  We get glory, not Him.
Momma out there who wants to throw in the towel for something that just seems more rational, more financially feasible, less demanding of your time and energy, don't do it.  Don't give in to the temptation of taking the easy way out.  Keep the course.  Satan comes to us as an angel of light.  He wants something to look attractive to us and lures us to places away from God's calling, trying to convince us it's the best way.  It's not.  If you find yourself inserting "Me", "I", "Mine", in all your reasons to quit, it's probably not of God.  It's focussed on you, not Him.

I entertained the thought of taking the easy road.  The temptation almost took me somewhere I know I would eventually regret going.
My kids, my calling, my heart.
God's glory for all of it.
Eternal joy knowing I fought the fight and finished the race well when I hand them their report cards as both their teacher and proud Mommy.

This post is not something that was easy to write.  For one, I know many people who are very supportive of public education, some for good reasons and some for not so good reasons.  I am not intending to offend or demean your choice to send your kids there.  This is a post about the struggle of my heart and calling and an attempt to encourage other mothers who may have similar struggles.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Get Some Bread or Give Some Bread and Support Our Orphan Hosting!

I've been trying to come up with an idea to get more awareness and support of orphan hosting going while generating income, and feel the Lord has given me this vision:

Get Some Bread


   Give Some Bread!

Bread is a staple to life.  We all love to eat it and enjoy it over the table.  Another staple to life is experiencing the love of a family.  In order to understand the love of God, we as humans created in His image need to experience that love in order to understand how God loves us.

I grew up in a home-based bakery.  When I was growing up my mom baked and sold bread, and I learned a thing or two about baking sourdough bread from her.  This is my third year selling bread, but this year it will be with a different purpose.

"L" Needs to Come Home Again!

I want to work this holiday season with a purpose: to earn the approximate $3,200.00 in fees it costs to bring "L" into our home this Christmas.  I can't think of a better reason to be baking.

So...You Want Some Bread?

Want to Give Some Bread Away to Someone in Need?

In the past I've had lots of inquiries by people out of the area to buy bread products.  Unfortunately it is difficult to ship freshly baked bread around the country, but you can give bread and help an orphan at the same time!  When you make a tax-deductible donation specifically for "L" on New Horizon's For Children's website,  I will then personally bake that dollar amount of bread. Depending on the week, I will deliver the bread to a need in my community.  It would be one of these places:

- a local church meal serving ministry
-a local prison outreach program
-a public nursing home facility
- a grocery-delivering ministry at Christmas
-OR I will deliver it myself to a needy family and personally have the chance to share the love of Christ and the Gospel message with them this Christmas season.  

This gives me a chance to minister to others, but YOU are supporting us while I do it!  It's a WIN-WIN!

The size of your gift will directly go to the quantity of loaves/pans of rolls that it would buy, no matter how small or large.  I can make 35 pans a day, so big donations mean a mini-van load of bread will be going out that week!

Please don't hesitate to share this page with others and direct them to my Facebook Page, Christmas From Scratch Baking Event, to see what's going on week by week in this bread-baking venture/ministry!

I will be giving step by step instructions on how to donate to New Horizons with "L"s code number so it will fund her hosting and you can receive a tax-deductible receipt for your support.  We will periodically be made aware of the total amount given for "L"s hosting and every donor's identity will be kept anonymous. 

****If you love sourdough bread and live locally, of course don't hesitate to order it for you and your family!  My prices will be the same as last year.

Here's an itemized list of items for sale:

Sourdough loaf of bread (typical loaf size): $7.00
Sourdough dinner rolls (pan of 8 regular or 12 mini-sized for making
finger sandwiches): $5.00
Sourdough cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing and optional pecans (pan of 8 regular or 12 mini-sized for bite-sized treats): $7.00 *****

I am so excited to see how this event will bless others, including those who are going to be giving and eating this bread!  I am also excited about the message of orphan hosting spreading to people and places where it otherwise wouldn't reach.  Orphan ministry is close to my heart, and so is sharing the love of Christ.  These two passions will go hand in hand this Christmas season!  Let's keep my oven baking all through October, November and December!

John 6:35:  Jesus replied, "I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never by hungry again.  Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Adoption is My Marathon, Not My 100 Yard Dash.

My 9 year old son Josiah has discovered he has a natural ability to run long distances.  He amazes me with his endurance and speed without tiring!  Since I ran track and cross country in high school, I thought I'd teach him a thing or two about stretching, breathing, pacing, strategies going uphill and downhill, how to pick off competitors in a race, etc.  I had an amazing coach in high school and still remember what he taught me.  Having 3 babies, getting a bad back at an early age, and not being able to get away from young children has held me back from running again, but Josiah's eagerness to run in 5K races has motivated me to be his coach and companion when he runs up and down the country roads by our home.
Today we ran our second 5K together.  The first 5K was a spur of the moment decision brought on by the coaxing of a good friend who wanted us to support her St. Jude fundraiser.  I was terribly out of shape but still gave it my all and finished with my pride intact.  Josiah got first for his age category without blinking.  After finishing I got a migraine headache and was out for the count for the remainder of the day.

Today's 5K was different.  We have spent 3 weeks running every weekday, keeping track of our pace, increasing distance every day to develop endurance, and we arrived at the race prepared.  However, I was more anxious.  I remembered what it was like to fight for my breath, to wince through the pain in my chest and to feel like I was passing out as I crossed the finish line.  While I knew we'd do better (he shaved 4 minutes off his time and I shaved 3 off mine) and I would have an easier time recovering, I still knew the reality of what it was going to be like.

I honestly don't enjoy running.  I'd rather be hiking a trail with a backpack, doing aerobics in my living room, or taking a swim in the pool for my exercise.  Running a set distance doesn't leave space for slowing down intensity (unless you want people to pass you), taking a break, grabbing a drink of water (unless you have stations along the way or run with your bottle) so it is harder on my body and requires more dedication and toughing it out.
As I've run I've had time to think about how this is a mirror image of our adoption journey.  We can see our race to the "finish" of taking home the daughter (or daughters) God is preparing for us as a sprint like some people have experienced.  Many parents I know have "fallen into" adoption.  They may not even have a home study ready yet, and a baby is offered to them.  They may have just put in their paperwork and get a call that a child is waiting for them.  I am so happy for those families.  They don't have to wait months or years to finally have their hopes and dreams come true.  They get to rush to a hospital or quickly make arrangements, grab supplies at Walmart, and come home with their child just as fast as they have found out about him/her.  It is a whirlwind of emotion and an adrenaline-pumping adventure.

For some reason God hasn't given our family a 100 yard dash adoption journey.  It took 11 1/2 months from start to finish to bring Anna Faith home.  While we were on a set time line and expected our journey to take that long, it still was an agonizing process and the months went by slowly as we waited through paperwork and approvals.  With this adoption, it is even more agonizing.  It has been 7 months now. We don't have to wait on paperwork, we don't wait on approvals, and there is no time line.  There is silence.  Complete and utter silence.  When we explored adopting "L" after hosting her, thinking this may be God's answer to the silence while waiting to adopt domestically, that was also a dead end, at least for several months.  Again, more silence.  She doesn't even communicate with us despite all our attempts to get her to do so.  Now that she is coming back for Christmas, we know decisions will be made after she leaves in January.  This may be followed by more silence or, if she is favorable to it, we can finally begin pursuing her adoption which would begin another long, agonizing international process.

Here's where I apply running to adoption:

-When I run, I must be in shape and know my limitations.  If I run longer than my body can take (like my first 5K in 20 years done from a spontaneous decision) it will damage my body.
Adoption: I must realize I am human. I am a sinner in need of grace.  Coming into the adoption process blindfolded, out of shape spiritually, and unprepared for the difficulties ahead is unwise.  It damages the heart and everyone involved.  We have had our hearts broken.  We have experienced rejection.  Now that we have learned how difficult this journey can be, we are stronger and more prepared to take on the challenges ahead.  Will we get injured again?  Most likely, yes.  But we will be prepared and prayed up more the next time it happens.

-When I run, I don't look back.  Looking back messes up my focus and slows me down.
 Adoption: Don't regret past decisions made.  Don't keep your eyes off the end.  God will complete what He has begun, and turning your eyes off it will only lead to discouragement and anxiety.

-When I run, I don't slow down.  I run a steady rhythm, only speeding up at the end so I can finish well.  This is what my coach taught me to do, as many runners slow down near the end and I can pick them off and finish even better.
Adoption:  Keep pushing, realizing it is a long journey.  Be patient, and know that the end will come when the timing is right.

-When I run, I focus on my breathing.  Getting the much needed oxygen to my muscles to keep me going is key to not wearing out.
Adoption:  My oxygen is my relationship with God.  Getting in His Word, claiming His promises, bringing my requests to Him daily, and asking for His grace to get through the discouraging and dark times are vital to continuing the adoption process.  Without His strength to go on, my "muscles" will give out and I'll stop running.  I'll want to give up and quit.

Maybe your race isn't an adoption journey.  Maybe it's cancer, a chronic illness, getting through school, a difficult relationship, preparing for ministry and not knowing when there will be a breakthrough and open door to walk into.
Not all of us are given 100 yard dashes.  We don't understand God's reasons, and even when we get to the finish line, we still may not understand why the race had to be so long and hard.
But God knows, and He can be trusted.
With His strength, we will endure.  We will finish.  We will complete the race.

Hebrews 12:1
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us