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Saturday, November 24, 2012

30 Days of Thanks: Second Half :)

Here's the rest of the list:

16.  I am thankful for modern technologies/appliances.  I especially love my little laptop (an apple fan for years, I took a leap of faith and have been trying out the google chromebook, and it is surprisingly efficient for all of my needs right now as long as the internet is working), and my iPhone.  When nursing Jonah, all I have is one free hand, and when he's half asleep I can play on my phone.  It sounds trivial, but many days those nursing times are my only free times to sit down, and so a little facebook surfing, playing "Matching with Friends", checking out things on Etsy, pinterest, and BibleGateway, are all just so enjoyable from my little phone wherever I happen to be.  As far as technology/appliances that I really appreciate though, I also particularly love the internet with it's social media sight that allow me to keep in touch with so many friends and learn new things.  When I was teaching I loved the smart board/Promethean board in schools.  At home I am fond of the baby monitor, microwave, the refrigerator, the stove, dishwasher, the toilet (can you imagine outhouses or bedpans? Yuck!). For transportation our van is crazy useful.  I was amazed at Boston's public transportation technology, and I do love a good plane ride now and then! Yay for these technological inventions and conveniences!

17.  I am thankful for the beautiful contrast of a bright cornflower blue sky against the rich Autumn red and yellow leaves.  I am particularly impressed by God's creativity with season changes, and I do enjoy all of them, but the change from Summer to Autumn is by far my favorite.  I love the slight chill in the air, the smell of woodsmoke, the fiery colors on the trees, the sudden sweet lack of humidity, and the scarf and sweater wearing. Mmmmmmm Autumn. We took the kids to a state park the other day and it was so peaceful and beautiful and fresh feeling. This is not that park, but a picture of this beauty somewhere:

18.  I am thankful for those peaceful moments when all the kids and babies are asleep, either during nap times in the day when big kids are at school and we manage to get both babies asleep, or late at night. During the day time we spend this time cleaning, exercising, or cooking.  Sometimes John and I spend these times together, and sometimes one of us is already asleep.  At night, alone is solitary and quiet but together it is warm and cozy feeling. Either way, the brief child-less-ness is joyous.

19.  I am thankful for my feet not staying fat and swollen after Jonah was born.  This may sound silly, but when you go for about 3 months straight of ugly, fat, swollen feet and ankles, to return to your normal feet, you have a whole new appreciation for them!  I remember being so very happy when Jonah was about 5 days old and I looked down and saw my old feet had returned!  While the rest of me is a little slower to bounce back to all of it's pre-pregnancy looks, my feet bounced back like champs! I appreciate them so much more than I used to! Here is a video of me playing footsie with Jonah when he was 4 months old.  He seems to like my feet too. :) But really, you should watch his sweet little face. He has the cutest smile. He was totally worth the fat feet and everything else pregnancy brought.

20.  I am thankful for the huge kitchen here.  I have never had so much cabinet or counter space in my life! The island is so helpful! Now technically it's big because we could be cooking for a maximum of 16 people, but right now with our total of 5 big people to regularly cook for, it is very spacious.  The rest of this house has lots of perks, but the kitchen is the most useful. I have cooked more here in the last two months than I think I have in the last year, and this kitchen has made it a pleasant task.  My parents and brother Kris came down for Thanksgiving, and my mom and I cooked all day together in here and never got in each others' way, and used the two ovens and two microwaves constantly. John even came in and cooked the dressing and green bean casserole. Three cooks int he kitchen, and no space/room problems. It was so much fun! (I think I am allowed to post pictures of the house, but I am not certain, so I have to ask, and then will give you all lots of pics if I have permission!)

21. I am thankful for coffee.  I don't have to have it every day, and since I nurse I can only have one cup a day anyway, but it is a special treat for me.  I have recently tried to cut out all fructose corn syrup/corn syrup in general, so I have had to change what I put in my coffee, and I like it even more now!  It's like I can feel hot energy sinking down into my bones and getting me revved up. I used to put about 2 tablespoons of dry powdered creamer in my coffee, and now I use 2 teaspoons of liquid Vanilla syrup, just like the coffee shops! Even though the coffee is darker, it is sweet in a different way. :) A teaspoon of natural cane sugar and a dash of salt still cuts the bitterness! I even like the way  a smooth mug feels in my hands. I like mugs that have been given to me as gifts. My dear friend in Boston got us matching elephant mugs and I left them in Alabama on accident. I have to pick those up the next time we go home. I really want to drink coffee in them! This is one of my favorite mugs right now:

The color is more turquoise than blue though. My mom gave it to me for Christmas a few years ago. 

22.  I am thankful for God's faithful provision in our lives.  There have been times where money was tight, and we tried to budget more carefully, but we have never had to go without.  Just when we needed a job, God always put us right where He wanted us. I am so thankful that God has granted us so much financial peace. Now we are trying to be good stewards and are saving half of our income towards adoption.  Living on half our income has required some budgeting, but we are never in need.  We know that wherever our future adopted kids are going to come from, it will require a minimum of $10,000, so we need to have that ready. Speaking of adoption...

23.  I am thankful that God has called us to adopt, even though we have no idea when/where we will get our kids! We know we'd like two, and we think domestic, but we're not sure yet from where God will lead us adopt.  John was first called to adopt while on a mission trip in the Philippines.  He said "They throw away little girls like trash over there," and so he always really wanted an Asian baby girl.  I felt called to adopt when I found out about the AIDS epidemic in Africa leaving over 20 million children orphaned, and children raising children, because their parents died from this disease.  I always thought I'd get a baby from Africa.  Then God has used our foster kids to melt our hearts for domestic adoption when we thought we would get our last little baby girls.  God had other plans for them though, and our babies may not even be born yet.  So, that is why I say we don't really know yet, but I am thankful that we can pray and dream and prepare for them.  I am so thankful for friends who also have a heart and passion for orphans and adoption too!  I love keeping up with other peoples' amazing stories of adoption.  Here's one we've been really praying for a lot (and are getting so excited for!): Nathan and Kimberly Neely in Huntsville Then, I don't know these people but I enjoy reading their stories! Lots of cool adoption stories!

24.  I am thankful for food.  I really enjoy eating.   I think that's why I can't lose my last pounds of baby weight. I remember at school I'd tell my students every day before lunch that they should be so thankful for food because lots of children around the world don't get to eat lunch, and sometimes don't get to eat at all.  I have never had to go hungry, and it breaks my heart to hear of those who do right here in the USA and all across the world.  If you have internet service at home, chances are you haven't had to go hungry either, so please remember those people who don't get to have a Thanksgiving feast, and ask God how He'd like you to help.  On a less depressing note, I love food, and pinterest is making it worse.  I have been finding recipes on there like crazy and just trying a few a week.  Most recently, I tried Pumpkin Dump Cake (not too rich, almost light tasting) and Strawberry Pretzel Salad (traditional yumminess).  Both were a huge hit! I enjoy eating. Food tasted even better when I was pregnant too!

25.  I am thankful for laughter. I take great delight in laughing.  I like to laugh at John and Jonah, my crazy family, funny movies, and clean jokes. Even more than I enjoy laughing, I enjoy hearing babies laugh.  Jonah's little laugh is so sweet!  I like hearing my friends' babies laughing.  When I taught 1st grade, I loved making the kids all laugh.  I would read aloud in super silly voices to try to be as entertaining as possible.  I even watched a Profession Development video once that talked about how the brain works more efficiently, and students learn more when they are laughing and having a good time.  I then tried even harder to make them laugh. When I am sad or upset, I just want to watch a comedy. Laughter really is the best medicine! Can you imagine life without laughter? That's a sad thought! Here's a little Jonah laughter:

26.  I am thankful for round analog clocks.  I like to have a clock in most rooms in the house because I do not like to wear a watch.  I don't know if it's bad that I like to be constantly aware of time, or just shows how much time I spend thinking about time itself.  Ever since I began teaching, I started on a quest to try to fit more into each moment - at work and home.  During the school day you try to cram so much in that you get this new appreciation for time and minutes.  I would feel so guilty if I thought I had wasted the kids' time. Then I worked so much that first year, that I wanted to make the most of every moment I had off at home. Now I think of time mostly in reference to the babies - what time did he wake up last? When did they eat? Is it nap time yet? How long has he/she been asleep? Should I wake them up now? Do I have enough time to fit in a quick workout? How long have I been feeding him back here? Did I fall asleep? How long ago did we eat dinner? Is it somebody's bedtime yet? These are the reasons I look at the clock most of the time. However, I also find them to be pretty.  I think if I could pick a favorite shape, it would be the circle.  I like the perfect roundness.  I like big fat round clocks with pretty numbers. I do not like digital clocks much, they seem so technical and straight and sharp. I am thankful for the analog clock. Although, in some ways, it makes me sad to think of spending so much time thinking about time, time that we can never get back. How awesome is God that he lives outside of time? That blows my mind. Here's one of my favorite clocks in the house:

27. I am thankful for nature in general. I love to be outside in God's big beautiful creation. Growing up all over the world has allowed me different perspectives on this lovely planet. My earliest memories are from Germany, and specifically being up in 'Hitler's Hideout' and wanting to reach out and touch the clouds, and walking on "Volks marches" with my parents, sitting on my daddy's shoulders, being able to almost touch the trees as we walked through long paths of wooded, hilly land.  Then I remember the blazing dry heat and flatness of South Dakota in the Summer and the blizzards in October and throughout winter that let me make a million snow angels, snowmen, and just play out in that bright whiteness of sparkling snow.  Then the nature in England was very green.  It rained so much there that all the plants were always lush and pretty.  In Idaho the big expansive blue sky touched the ground on all sides because there were no trees. There was no humidity and the sky was always such a deep blue it instantly made me happy and calm.  It was mostly warm there, but even in the colder months the sky was clear and glorious.  Then living in Alabama and now Mississippi, both places have a lot of trees and grass.  Tennessee had some rolling hills up when we lived in Clarksville, although Memphis area was much more flat.  The south has taught me to appreciate the trees. My mom said she missed trees when we lived in Idaho, but I didn't because I was so enamored with the sky.  I think after the last decade in the south though, I would miss trees too.  I am so thankful for nature.  I love the sky, the trees, mountains, and water. Creeks, lakes, and the ocean are all so lovely and calming and peaceful. We have such a great Creator! I miss spending more time in outdoor activities.  I must work on that!

28. I am thankful for the five senses. I love the smell of wood smoke that reminds me of my Granny, and the way Jonah's hair smells after a bath.  I love the feel of warm water on cold hands or touching satin.  I love the limited sight that I have (and praise the Lord for contacts!) of all God has made. I love the taste of strawberries,  dark chocolate and a thousand other things. I love the sound of moving water and laughter and music. I would struggle if I lost one of these.  I jokingly like to say I'd give up taste so that I could lose weight, but I would really miss it. Food with texture only and no taste would be so disappointing. 
The teacher inside of me is feeling very visual tonight. :) 

29. I am thankful for my past. Of course there are things I regret, and things I wish I could go back and change, and do better.  However, I know that Romans 8:28 is so true in my life. God HAS worked all things together for my good.  All of my sins, my mistakes, my failures, have been used to lead me to where I am today.  I would not be interested in adoption, working as a house parent, married to John, mommy to precious Jonah, if it were not for the choices I made, both good and bad.

30.  I am thankful for this poem, which puts into perspective all the little things I did not think I was thankful for, but that I am when the author puts it this way. I hope it blesses you too! Let us all be thankful for our many blessings every single day!

Thankful For...
The mess to clean after a party because it means I have been surrounded by friends.

The taxes I pay because it means that I'm employed.The clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have enough to eat.My shadow that watches me work because it means I am out in the sunshine.A lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.All the complaining I hear about our government because it means we have freedom of speech.The space I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am capable of walking.My huge heating bill because it means I am warm.The lady behind me in church who sings off key because it means that I can hear.The piles of laundry and ironing because it means I have clothes to wear.Weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day because it means I have been productive.The alarm that goes off in the early morning hours because it means that I'm alive.Getting too much email bogs me down but at least I know I have friends who are thinking of me.Even though I clutch my blanket and growl when the alarm rings, I thank Thee Lord, that I can hear. There are many who are deaf.Even though I keep my eyes closed against the morning light as long as possible, I thank Thee Lord, that I can see. Many are blind.Even though I huddle in my bed and put off rising, I thank Thee Lord, that I have the strength to rise. There are many who are bedridden.Even though the first hour of my day is hectic, when socks are lost, toast is burned and tempers are short, I thank Thee Lord, for my family. There are many who are lonely.
Even though our breakfast table never looks like the pictures in magazines and the menu is at times unbalanced, I thank Thee Lord, for the food we have. There are many who are hungry; 

Even though the routine of my job often is hard, I thank Thee Lord, for the opportunity to work. There are many who have no job.

 Even though I grumble and bemoan my fate from day to day and wish my circumstances were not so modest, I thank Thee Lord, for life.

-- Author Unknown

Thursday, November 15, 2012

30 Days of Thanks: First Half

     I enjoy reading everyone's "30 Days of Thanks" posts on Facebook, but I knew I wouldn't get on every day, and I hate starting something but not finishing it correctly (like posting one thing every single day), so instead I am going to list all of mine here, while catching you up on our lives and thanking some people who are a little overdue. :) For some reason, I tend to be a little wordy, so in realizing how long this is, I am going to do half now, and half later. 

1.  I am so thankful for Jesus Christ sacrificing his life to pay for my sin.  I am so unworthy, undeserving of his all encompassing grace.  I am eternally grateful that through Him I am adopted as a child of God.  I enjoy reading his love letter, his handbook, the Bible, for inspiration on how to lead my life.  I wish I could share this relationship with everyone.  For those who don't believe, I can only hope that I plant seeds and live in such a way as to glorify God with my life.  Romans 12 is my favorite chapter of the Bible, especially the beginning: Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual[a] act of worship. Do not conformany longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.Romans 12

2.  I love my husband! I have never been more in love with or thankful for my husband.  This job has forced/blessed us with being able to spend almost every waking moment together. I realize this might be difficult for some couples, but it's only improving our marriage so far.  We have a daily quiet time where we read the Bible, a few devotions and pray together.  That's my favorite part of the day with him.  I admire him most when he prays.  The other day I heard John pray with a lady on the phone. At first I teared up with pride and gratitude and echoed his prayer in my head/heart.  Then I though, "That was so HOT!" He's also a wonderful father.  From being foster parents now to house parents, and having one of our own, I can truly say I know he is a great dad.  He has changed about 7,453 diapers, fed numerous babies disgusting looking baby food, cleaned up puke, poop, and all other bodily and food-related fluids in between, and rocked babies and children to sleep uncountable times.  He was such a champ during Jonah's birth to encourage me and patiently wait on our little miracle through that 24 hour delivery process.  He also manages to make a bald head look handsome, (I don't even think I would like him with hair), keeps sculpted calves year round, and makes me laugh all the time.  I'm not saying he's perfect at all, and we most definitely have our disagreements, but I don't feel it's very kind to share his faults publicly, so instead I will only say that like all humans, he Needs Jesus EVERY SINGLE DAY! I'm thankful God brought us together, and brought us to this point in our lives.
Our engagement picture, 4 years ago, wow!

3.  I love my baby Jonah G! Being a mommy is a huge blessing! Psalm 127:3-4: 
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
    the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
    are the children[a] of one's youth.
I think for the first 4 months straight I kept telling John and my family, "I love him so much more than I thought I would!" It is unexplainable how much I love him.  I mean, I always knew that I'd love my kids, but I had no idea how much! He is also far cuter than I expected.  I'm not quite sure why, but I was eagerly expecting a very shriveled, pale, semi-ugly little baby.  However, (and I don't think I am much biased) Jonah is one of the cutest babies I've ever seen! He gets more adorable every day.  I asked God for brown eyed babies because I just think brown eyes are so pretty.  Then God proved me wrong and taught me that ALL of his creations are beautiful when he gave my baby boy big blue eyes that look a lot like mine.  I have cried over Jonah so many times already that it amazes me.  For this baby I have had tears of utter joy, of gratitude, of something deeper than contentment, as well as tears of exhaustion and frustration, and even those tears of sorrowful fear when we had to take him to the hospital and it took a whole day for 3 doctors to come to the conclusion he had a whole lot of gas hurting his little belly.  I even cried during a particular moving scene on TV when a couple sent their child off to college, and I turned around in tears and told John, "I don't want Jonah to go off to college!" He laughed at me and said, "He's only 5 months old, babe!" Even though he's not perfect either, and is now in the grabbing-reaching-pulling Mommy's hair all the time phase (I scream and he laughs as he yanks a little handful of my hair Much harder than I anticipated), I love him.  I really love that kid. I am so thankful I get to be his mommy and watch him grow up every day. He can go to college if God calls him to, I guess.
25 weeks - he already had a big nose :) 

4.  I love my parents.  I am thankful that they raised me to love people no matter what their skin looks like, to love the Lord and find a good church home, to work hard at everything I do, and to stick by my family and friends even when times get tough.  I know they taught me a million other little things, like how to make omelettes, how to make my bed, and how to drive, but I think the most important thing they've taught me is how to express love.  Both of my parents are great about finding what makes me feel loved, and then building me up that way.  I can't count the times they've told me, "I love you. I'm proud of you."  This has made me try to find ways to express love to those who need it, (also known as humans), especially my family and students.  Now as an adult, my parents are even MORE helpful!  My mom came and helped us so many times in the last two years when we had kids and needed help.  The week after Jonah was born she stayed and helped out around the house, it was so nice.  She likes to joke about quitting her job as a school nurse to come and be a house parent with us, and I think that would be fabulous!  I really could happily live with her.  I'm so proud of them for being married for over 30 years.  They are inspirational people, and as I hope to glorify God with my life, I pray I also make them proud. Ephesians 6: 1-2: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”
On my wedding day

5. I am thankful for my grandparents.  My Granny Em was a courageous woman who battled breast cancer for 12 years.  She just went to be with the Lord when Jonah was 10 days old.  Her leaving earth is still very sad for me although I know she is pain free and living with the Lord now.  I will tell you all about her sometime later when I can maybe cry a little less while writing.   Granddaddy Jim (my grandfather) is still living and continues to be a Godly example for his children and grandchildren.  They always created a home for us when we were moving around and went back to Clarksville in between new bases.  They were a great example of life long marriage, to love and cherish in sickness and in health. I love and admire them so much! 

6.  I love John's family.  Some people have a lot of issues with their in-laws, and I am being honest when I say that we don't.  John and I both get along really well with each others' parents.  Nancy and Max always make me feel like I am right at home when we visit.  Stanley visits Jonah almost daily, and takes us out frequently.  They all love us and Jonah, and we enjoy spending time with them.  I know that it's really a rare blessing to have in-laws that I don't have much to complain about!
Nancy and Max aka Nana and Peepaw

Stanley aka PawPaw

7.  I am thankful for my true friends.  In elementary, middle, and high school, I struggled to make friends.  I never had more than one or two good friends everywhere we went.  I think I used to be shy.  Hahaha! That's funny now because after moving and going to so many schools, I was forced to come out of my shell and open up more, but it really didn't happen much until college.  I prayed and asked God for friends every time we moved, and he always gave me just a few.  Then one day my third year of college, I realized that I finally had quite a few real lady friends!  As I've moved and taught the last few years, I've made even more!  We've really enjoyed making couple friends too.  I've gone on trips to the beach and the mountains with friends. This once lonely girl now has plenty of people she can call, text, or send a message to whenever needed!  Thank you God for answering that prayer abundantly! I have too many friend pictures to post!

8.  I am so thankful for my time as a teacher. Although I am not teaching right now, I do fondly remember the students and parents of the three years/classes I had.  I loved teaching.  I do miss it sometimes right now, but I am certain we are doing what God wants us to, and I love getting to stay home with Jonah.  I love little kids so stinkin' much! I love helping them learn and making them feel valued and loved.  I also really loved getting to know other teachers.  I was so very blessed to meet lots of wonderful teachers at Barker's Mill Elementary in Clarksville and Farmington Elementary in Germantown (Memphis), who love students, and care about the kids learning.  I am thankful for celebrating holidays, season changes, birthdays, and all the fun and hectic moments in between.  I know some day in the future I will be a teacher again, and I do happily look forward to it. 
Honea Hive Calendar

9.  I am thankful for the time we spent in Memphis specifically, with John in seminary.  It may seem strange to the world right now that we went to Memphis so he could attend seminary, only for him to graduate and us become house parents, which does not require a seminary degree at all, but I feel like God has been directing our path.  He taught us so much there, and is using us here and preparing us for more ministry opportunities in the future.  We met many great people in Seminary housing, and developed friendships with people in housing and with our church family at Bartlett Baptist Church.  I didn't think I'd like working with John in youth ministry that much, but I loved it!  I really liked meeting some great teenagers who love the Lord and desired to learn more about him. I enjoyed being foster parents even though it was difficult raising kids who weren't ours and then saying good-bye.  I loved the school where I taught with a group of amazing teachers, faculty, and staff.  I enjoyed being less than ten minutes from about 100 restaurants, 2 Wal-Marts, 2 Targets, 2 Kroger's, Shelby Farms (huge outdoor walking/running/canoeing public park), Jonah's great pediatrician, our church, a large mall, and countless other shops and things to do. 
30 weeks pregnant with our 2 foster kids at the time, over at Bellevue.

10.  I'm thankful we weren't sick while we didn't have insurance! We could have paid for insurance from my last job if we had needed it for an emergency, but we chose to try to save $1700 and not use the insurance for the months of September-October.  If we had to go to a doctor or hospital or something we could have picked up the insurance if we needed it, so it wasn't like we didn't technically have it, we were just trying really hard NOT to use it so we wouldn't have to buy it.  Praise God - All 3 of us were healthy and fine! Yay for new insurance and Jonah's shots! Thank you Lord for helping us save money! Thank you for working this time for our good and not letting us get hurt! Romans 8:28 - And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose.

11.  I'm so thankful for printed words in books and literacy in general.  I love reading.  I particularly enjoy my Bible and especially using Bible Gateway to read verses in different translations to gain new meanings and understanding to Scripture. I also admire Oswald Chambers'  "My Utmost for His Highest"devotions which help us to daily gain perspective on our human condition.  The book Adopted for Life  clearly gave John and I a better framework for our beliefs on adoption instead of just clinging to James 1:27 and the Holy Spirit calling us toward it.  The book "On Becoming Babywise" has changed my life in reference to getting Jonah and other babies in our care to be on a healthy sleep schedule.  The one month we deviated constantly from Jonah's schedule and spoiled him rotten by letting him nurse to fall asleep, he began driving me crazy wanting to be fed all the time, taking short constant naps, and only sleeping 3-4 hours at a time at night. The very first day we put him back on a schedule he slept 7 hours straight.  Four days later he slept almost 9 hours straight.  If you have an infant you NEED that book! It's never too late to start.  I also enjoyed reading "The Shack""Redeeming Love", and countless children's books by Mo Willems, Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle, Max Lucado (his grown up stuff is good, but his Children's stuff is better!). I enjoy Shel Silverstein's poetry, and cried the first time I read "The Giving Tree" and have enjoyed and cried over so many more books!

12.  I am thankful for physical health pretty much my entire life.  I had such a healthy pregnancy, labor, and delivery.  I enjoy exercise (I actually pull out my old exercise DVDs from when I was an instructor and have a blast working out alone in my living room on days I don't feel like jogging to the end of the driveway and back).  I rarely get sick, and now that I'm not pregnant my immune system is back to functioning at maximum capacity! (I caught a ton of viruses when I was pregnant: 3 stomach bugs that had me throwing up multiple times then feeling weak for a few days, 3 colds that lasted at least 2 weeks each of sore throat, sinus pressure, and lots of snot, and I got fever blisters a few times, but other than that it was a super healthy pregnancy).  I have heard several recent sad stories of difficult pregnancies, traumatic labor experiences, and people who just generally suffer from one physical ailment or another - young people with constant migraines, all ages of people with cancer, and I have to stop and constantly go, "Thank you, God for my health. Please continue to keep us healthy." I have never even broken a bone.  God's angels kept me safe during a particularly bad car accident 2 years ago.  I feel like as long as I get about 7 hours of sleep I'm usually pretty good to go.  I am so thankful for my health which affords me the freedom to do many things. Speaking of freedom...

13.  I am thankful for living in these United States of America.  It's actually taken me a long time to say that.  I used to really resent good ole' USA just because I hated growing up the military lifestyle.  I blamed America for robbing me of my daddy so many times growing up, and having to move and lose friends and struggle to find new ones.  However, I realize now that it wasn't ever America, it was my father's choice to serve his country that way, and I'm proud of him for it.  I am thankful that we have the freedom to vote, no matter the outcome. We have the freedom to worship God publicly, and live in such a culturally diverse place. It is land of free, because of the brave. I only hope that continues to be true. 

14.  I am thankful for the Baptist Children's Village where we are employed! I am thankful for the vision they have to provide children with a loving home and parents. I am thankful for the people who built this cool house we live in! I am thankful for our boss, Mark, with whom we really get along well. I am thankful for the fact that I get to decorate! Although several of the Bible verses we hoped to get for the walls haven't come in yet, and so we are leaving several main walls blank to be able to apply the verses and decorate around them, we have hung a few things, and bought rugs, and a new bed. It is a little awkward to decorate a bedroom for parents and baby to share, but I am trying to make it cute (photos when it's finished).  I am really thankful that God chose to let us take on this responsibility of helping more hurting kids.  I don't think we were bad foster parents, but I know we could have been more patient, more loving, more gentle with our words, more generous with our time to all of the kids we had.  I pray our parenting skills are getting better as God continues to break our hearts for his children.  I am thankful that they are almost done hiring some more house parents to join us down here!  

15.  I am thankful for baby entertainment/support structures/toys.  We have several of these colorful safe places for Jonah and the other baby to play in when they don't need to be held or we just can't watch them constantly.   I am so glad we have a safe place to put them down where they are happily entertained in learning about the world around them!  These things have really improved our quality of life from the first few weeks when all we had were their high-chairs, and Jonah's bumbo, that the other baby could crawl out of anyway.  From these saucer things, to the bumbo, to the baby swings, to the baby beds, and big stuffed animals I can prop Jonah up with, I am so thankful we have things to put them down on!
The bouncy swing that hangs from any doorway is so very useful and portable!

I have SO MUCH to be thankful for! Thank you LORD!!!

1 Chronicles 16:8-12
Oh give thanks to the Lordcall upon his name;
    make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
    tell of all his wondrous works!
10 Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
11 Seek the Lord and his strength;
    seek his presence continually!
12 Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
    his miracles and the judgments he uttered,


Monday, November 5, 2012

Recent Conversations

Conversations heard recently around our new home:

     *In the evenings between John (J), the Older Kids (OKs) - don't think of them as too old, they are all in single digit school grades still, and I (me).  This is while the Younger Kids (YKs) are getting ready for bed or already in it.  We sit in the living room with the older kids, and although we sometimes watch TV, we often have long conversations like this:

OK: How do you know Jesus was alive after he died?
J: The Bible tells us, and there were over 500 witnesses.
OK: But where does it actually say he walked? Wasn't he just a ghost?
J: No, he was really alive again, back from the dead.
me: If he wasn't alive then there was no power in his death.
OK: Show me where then.
J: Bring me that Bible. (Pointing to one nearby) Let's see, Luke 24...(he reads the whole chapter out loud) Luke 24
OK: Hmmm. I don't know.
J: Well, that's how Thomas felt. (he flips over to John 20 and reads the whole chapter) John 20
OK: I just proved you wrong.
J: What?
OK: It doesn't say he got up.
J: It clearly just said that he walked, he ate food, and his disciples touched him! "Resurrected" means he got up!
OK: I proved you wrong.
J: Is something wrong with your hearing? We just read all about how he was alive.
OK (smug looking): Sure.

Very annoying/frustrating for us.  We are still praying that these kids' eyes would be open to the truth! Please pray for them to keep on asking questions and for their hearts and minds be open to receive the truth from Scripture, not just what people have told them, or what they hear from the world. Pray that the Holy Spirit would give us the right words to say at the right time to plant seeds and lead them toward Jesus.

     *This one is between one of the Younger Kids (YK) and I, when he didn't want to take a nap on a Saturday afternoon:

me: A nap will really make you feel better. I wish I could take a nap every day!
YK: Then why don't you?
me: Sometimes the babies don't take naps at the same time or we have to go do things and there is just no time for one. But today, you really need a nap because you're starting to get whiny.
YK (in a really whiny-borderline-crying voice): I'm nooooot whiiiiinnnniiiiiinnngggg. Uuuunnnnn.
me: That was whining.
YK: Nooooooooo.
me: Take a nap before you throw a temper tantrum and it'll be better for all of us.
YK: I don't waaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnttttt toooooo!
me: Ok, well it's not really a choice anymore, I was just trying to be nice. Don't come out of your room for the next hour or you will lose points on your score-sheet.
YK: AAaaaaaaaaaaa!

I shut the door on the crying.  YK fell asleep.

      *This one is heard throughout the day from different locations in the house between John (J) and Jonah Baby (JB), and it makes my heart melt while bringing a smile to my face.

J: I love you. I love you. I love you sooooooooooooooo much!
JB: Gghhhh cooo
J: You're my big boy. Yes you are. You're my big boy. I love you.
JB: Ehhhghghghg?
J (lifting baby high up in the air then bringing him down right in front of his face as he turns his face side to side really fast and makes the Donald Duck quacking noises): WaCghWaCghWaCghWaCgh!
JB:  (*Adorable little laugh)Ahe Ahe Ahe
J (repeats silly face wagging and quack jabbering): WaCgh Wacgh Wacgh
JB (*Getting louder with his laugh) Ahaa Ahaa Ahaa Ahaa Ahaa
J: Ah I love you.

Or John runs in and out of a room to get Jonah to laugh. See video:

     *This was at church, First Baptist Waynesboro, the funniest thing our pastor (P) has said so far.

P: Well, if you want to have church then you should come.  120 people voted to have church on Sunday nights, and we've never even come close to having 120 people come to church on a Sunday night, not even half of that!

     Then when some new people were coming up at invitation to join the church the pastor asked if anyone would "give a motion to accept them" and I said VERY LOUDLY,
"Yes!" and John puts his hand on my leg and says, "No. You're not a member. You can't do that!" LOL! Love it! I don't much care about church "membership" anyway.  The body of Christ doesn't have membership in my mind I guess. All welcome here!

     Then today a very very old man got up to pray/give invitation at the very end of the service, and this was word-for-word what he said in a nice grouchy gravely grating on his vocal cords sounding like the old dude on "Up" kind of voice:

"Today I want you to really thank thank thank thank thank God for allowing us to live in a country where we can come in worship him in his house like this.  I mean thank thank thank thank Him.  But also let us remember those troops who are out there makin' it happen. Thank thank thank thank thank God that they put their ass on the line every day to allow us to have freedoms like comin' to this very church. Thank thank thank thank thank God for this. Let us pray..."  Yeah. He said it. In church. On the microphone. Ahahahahaaa :)

     *This was in the Wal-mart parking lot a few weeks ago.

John: What if I rode on that? (referring to handicapped electric chair with large front basket)
me: Go ahead.
John: Ok then.
me: Well at least put the baby in your basket.
John: Why?
me: I don't know, you look less stupid maybe.
John: (dripping sarcasm) Yeah right.

See video:

     We really are enjoying our job. John described it to someone the other day like this: "In youth ministry, I would see kids maybe twice a week.  Here, I get to pour into the same few kids every single day through every aspect of their lives." However, sometimes we get tired.  Please join us in praying for some more House Parents.  They are in the process of hiring another set, and then they will live on the other side of the house and we will be able to get more kids and take more breaks. We are praying that they will be fully invested in this ministry for the right reasons. We are praying for wisdom and strength for them as they begin. We are praying that we would be able to develop a friendship with them, since we have to live and parent together.  Then with a set of Relief House Parents we could really work this the right way with everyone working 10 days on, 5 days off. Right now we worked 19 days on, 5 off, and we have worked 15 days on now and aren't sure when we'll get off again.  The kids aren't bad, we just sometimes need a little time away, and would like to see our families.

    We are getting used to life as House Parents! Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.  We miss our family and friends.  This is the most solitary I think we've ever had to live, way out in the country, almost an hour drive to a Target or a mall (between Meridian and Hattiesburg).  It's also the farthest we've ever lived from our families, but we're adjusting well.  Between phones, face time, and skype, the Nanas and Papas still get to see little man milestones.  Blessings to you all!