Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Can a cookie change the world?


I worked with a lady once who told me this story.
When she was a little girl a friend invited her to VBS. She went because her friend told her they had cookies. Her friend was right, not only were there cookies, but the workers at VBS made it fun so she went all week. Then her friend moved and she never set foot in a church again during her childhood.
Fast forward to collage. She is a freshman in college. It's harder than she expected. More expensive than she expected. Her boyfriend broke up with her. Her mom moved in with a new boyfriend. Life was tough. She decided life was not worth it. She purchased sleeping pills and then decided that she would pack her stuff up so her mom would not have to do it. As she cleared her desk, she picked up the can that had always held her pencils. It had a pretty butterfly sticker on it she liked. She picked it up and turned it around and on the back it had another sticker that said "Jesus loves me". She remembered that she had made the little can in that VBS so long ago. As she looked at that sticker she wondered if it was true. She didn't remember much from that VBS, except that there were good cookies and it was fun. She remembered that one of her classmates went to church. She wasn't preachy or anything, but she said she could not attend a study group brunch on Sunday because she had church. She was a nice girl and was always kind to everyone. Her number was on the list for the study group. So my friend called this girl who came right over and answered all her questions about Jesus. By the time I met this woman she was a mom and wife. She volunteered and taught Sunday School. She told me once that she was only alive and saved by the Grace of God and the chain of people he put together. Had one link in that chain not done it's job, she might have been lost.
Note something the people in her chain, were all women. None of the women in that chain were clergy or missionaries. None did anything big. One baked cookies for VBS. One volunteered to work for a week at VBS and made it fun. One came up with a simple, inexpensive craft. One simply lived her faith. Add to that that someone in the congergation probably read that VBS needed cans, and took the time to wash out a can and bring it up to the church. Someone donated a few dollars to buy stickers. All little things really. All things that helped this woman who now does a lot to help others. There were people in my own life. The Sunday School teacher who held me in her lap as she told the story of the lost sheep and acted it out. She made the story come alive for me and made it personal. There was a lady in our church who when I was 14 and going to a leadership weekend retreat took me shopping and bought my first deoderant and some nice smelling shampoo (my family could only afford the bargain stuff we all shared) and a nightgown and robe set that made me feel like a princess. She told me someone had done something similar for her when she was young.
There was the friend who was the first "born again type Christian" to ask me what I beleived rather than to assume she knew. When my daughter had her first surgery, it was kind of a scary time for us. But when we checked into the hospital they gave her a little goodie bag of toys and a handmade baby quilt. (she was 14 months old at the time)That quilt was conforting. Knowing someone had cared enough to do this work for my child, even though they didn't know her. It made her stay better. When Paulina came home the ladies in my bible study were not only there at the airport seeing me off as I made my first trip out of the country alone, but when we got home half our church was there with banners and balloons and gifts. Waiting at home was a freshly cooked dinner. When I came back to bible study there was a shower. It was such a wonderful feeling.
So no matter what your gift, large or small, you can make a difference. Whether it's a cookie, a quilt, a smile, a cassarole, a shoulder for someone to lean on, a cash gift or a prayer. Any gift, when given to the glory of God will reap benefits that will astound you when you get to heaven and see the chain you were a part of and the results of that.

Monday, March 30, 2009

What Marceli has learned


Lately Marceli has been learning some tough lessons. He does seem to have actually learned this time and is trying to do better. That's a huge step for him.
Here are some things he learned:
1. When mom tells you not to race your power wheelchair through every puddle and not to peel the plastic off of your control panel she is not just being mean. This will short out your power chair and you will have to use your manual chair for a few days.
2. If you throw your library book across the floor and mom says no library books for two weeks, your teachers will back her up.
3. If you try to bend your glasses in half they will break and people will figure out it was not an accident. Especially when three kids in the same grade all break thier glasses during the same recess.
4. The two for one deal: if you get in trouble in school, you get in trouble at home. If you get in lots of trouble at school, you get in lots at home. You get grounded for two weeks if you get on red at school.
5. Threatening to never eat again will not make mom let you watch TV when you are grounded. If you don't eat all day though, you might have to take a nap to conserve your fuel.
6. If you play mean tricks on your friends. They will get mad and not play with you.
7. Mom talks to teacher and bus drivers and finds out when you tell lies.
8. Mom loves you even when you get into lots of trouble!

Mission trip pictures






Here are more pictures from the mission trip.

Spring break






Here are some pictures from Spring break. The big boys and Bob (the biggest boy) went on a mission trip with the church. They went to Galveston to help repair homes damaged by the hurricanes. Even though they were a while ago they are still rebuilding down there.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

My beautiful daughter






I may be just a little bit prejudiced, but I think my daughter is very beautiful. One day in dance class her teacher was playing around with her new camera. It was my daughter's private lesson and she was also trying on some of her costumes. The green top and gold shorts are part of a costume for one of her solos. I am sure after recital I will post a video! The tutu is for another costume. Anyway, Thank you Miss Mandy for these pictures they are great!

updates



Lets see it's been awhile since I posted.
Shiloh: He's at work now, but this morning he competed in UIL Science. There were only two sophmores on the team and they came in second and third of our schools team! I don't think he places overall, but he did really well considering he has not had all the classes they test on! Last week they had another Tennis tournament and Shiloh and his partner got third overall. Pretty good considering Shiloh has had very little time to practice lately as One act play practice is at the same time as Tennis practice. We saw the one act play at open house last week and I was impressed. They perform at contest Monday! So prayers for them to do thier best. A few of them are actually a little ambivilant about doing well. See the band leaves on a ski trip Wednesday. Shiloh paid for half of the trip on his own. IF the play does well and advances, then he (and a couple other members of the cast and crew) can't go on the ski trip because they would have to perform while the band is gone.
He is excited about the ski trip and about the concert the band will play in Colorado. The band did very well this year winning sweapstakes (means they took top scores in every contest!)Shiloh also got all ones on his solo at UIL (that is the best score)
Wesley and Paulina are busy getting ready for dance recital. Wesley is also doing track. Wesley competed in UIL earlier this year, getting all star cast in one act play, and placing in listening and dictionary skills and something else. (they did thiers months ago) Wesley and Paulina went to thier first clogging convention and loved it. Wesley is proving to be a very professional dancer, as he and his girlfriend broke up, but they are still doing a beautiful duet together and they are both doing a great job of not letting their personal life interfere with dance. Here are some pictures from the clogging convention. The man in the red shirt was thier favorite teacher. In the other picture they are with thier dance teacher Miss. Mandy who is wearing the scarf. Wesley is of course the only boy and Paulina the one not wearing a matching shirt (she could not find it) They had a great time.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hope is a fragile thing



I was painting another section of our family room today. (someday the whole room will get done, it's more than half way there now!) This time I had to do the corner where my collection of crosses is hanging. I had to take them all down. Move the bookcases(we are book addicts so there are bookcases in every room) and paint and them put everything back. Bob and the older boys are gone on a mission trip, and the little ones were begging to help. Well, I am not dumb enough to let them paint! So I gave them the job of dusting all the crosses. Naturally in the process one got broken, but we glued it back together. Interestingly, it was one that said "Hope", it was given to me last Easter my my neices. Now, I worry a lot about my neices for many reasons, but I have hope that they will turn out OK. Looking at that cross as it sat waiting for the glue to dry, I thought about what a fragile thing hope can be. I saw my daughter's face when it broke, the hope that she would be forgiven. Of course she was forgiven. She had that hope because she has made many mistakes in her life and been forgiven many times, as have I. My son on the other hand had a different reaction. His first reaction was to try to hide it, even though I was in the room. His second was to make sure I knew it was not his fault and he became angry. He seemed surprised at first to be forgiven, and then behaved as though it was expected. There is a difference between expectation and Hope. His reaction showed that he felt that he did not deserve any consequence. My daughter on the other hand who has lived in a family much longer, knew that she might deserve a consequence, but she also knew that her mother is often merciful. She also knew that sometimes she is forgiven AND has a consequence. She understands all this. So she had hope. My son does not hope for things very often. He has had a lot of dissapointment in his life that has taught him not to hope for anything. He is slowly learning that promises are kept by some people, that some people will not leave him. We are teaching him about God who has loved him all along and never left him. The God who arranged an incredible series of seeming co-incidences to bring him to our family. I occured to me even more that a cross that says hope is so fitting. Wihtout the cross we have no hope. Not only the obvious idea that we would have no hope of heaven, but what the cross also represents is that God loves us, He loved us enough to give up his son, that means he probably also loves us enough to take care of the smaller things in our lives. (it's all small compared to eternity!) If he didn't care what we did, or what happened to us, what would be the point in hoping for anything? My friend has a little girl who was in worse straights than my son. Her orphanage experience was far worse, but she never gave up hope. I am not sure what the difference was. Maybe that my son was alternatly spoiled and abused and hers was mostly just abused? I don't know, but God does. I also know that God is working in my son's heart and in her daughter's heart. Both children have a lot of physical issues to deal with, but I think God has great plans for both of them. They are both now in loving families, learning to trust and learning about the God that loves them so much. I can't wait to see what he does with them. I have great hopes for both of them. And as long as I keep my eyes on my Father, that hope is not fragile at all, but stronger than steel.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Why adoption?


I am often asked why we adopted. The usual follow up questions is why did you adopt kids with disabilities, weren't there any healthy kids? I am also asked why I did not adopt from foster care.
So here is the truth. I have always known I would adopt kids. When my siblings and I were younger we had those fisher price little people. Do you remember those? They were wood, and later plastic. The had cylindrical bodies and little balls for heads with plastic or painted on hair. No arms or legs. Well we had a bunch of these. We would set open books up to make rooms for our houses. I remember that my brother would always choose the dresser or a bookshelf, whatever was the highest point in the room and build his home on a mountain. He would have a mom and a dad and a boy child. My little sister would always have a mom and dad and a boy and a girl. I would take whatever was left over. This would include the broken ones, and often I would add bottle caps, rocks, washers, erasers or whatever else I could find. My brother would tell me I could not do that. I would explain that the rocks and bottle caps and such were adopted. I would then name all my "children" often I would have 20 I would also tell him the ages and which ones were twins. So as you can see adoption was something that was always in my heart. By the time we set out to adopt, we had three children in our home. My two bio boys and my baby sister (who was a teenager not a baby) We had a pastor doing mission work in Russia. He told me about the special needs orphanages. This broke my heart. My youngest brother was born with angelmans syndrome which left him very disabled and cost him his life. I loved my little brother very, very much. So we decided we would look into adopting from Russia. That story is posted elsewhere on this blog. Anyway, when things did not seem to be working, I contacted social services. I told them we already had a homestudy and wanted to adopt a child with special needs. I figured I had already done the baby thing and would leave the babies to those who had not yet gotten to have that joy. (not kidding here, I love babies)I wanted the kids no one else wanted. Social services informed me that they would not talk to me unless I was willing to take a child over the age of 7. Except that our homestudy specified we should adopt a child younger than our oldest bio son. He was only 5 or 6 at that time, so they would not even talk to us. Well, eventually we did adopt our daughter and later another son. They have made our family better and stronger. My boys have learned so much from them.

Look at the videos below, look at my daughter's smile at the end of her solo. Now I want you to realize that had we not adopted her, at the age of four she would have been sentanced to an asylum. Most kids don't live to be 16 there, because the strong ones get the food. The ones who do live are thrown out at 16 to make thier own way begging. She would not have gone to school or had proper medical care. My daughter is beautiful and talented. She is in fourth grade. The government does not support her in any way. We get no government money. Someone accused me of adopting my son for money. I want to know where this money is? We paid 3000.00 out of pocket for his wheelchair, we had to buy a van to haul the wheelchair, we have paid for counseling for him and other things. We get no money from the government. We have not applied for disablity or SSI for him. We expect to come up with the money for him to go to college and expect him to get a job just like our other children. Several other adoptive parents have also lately been subject to rude comments. I think this is sad. People just don't understand. My personal theory is that they feel guilty because there are millions of children in the world who need parents and they are not willing to step up to the plate. So to make themselves feel better they have to come up with a reason why adoption is a bad idea. It's sad really. With the downturn of the economy, our retirment fund may not be there when we retire. That money we invested may just be gone, just like that. However, the time, money and love we invested in our children will pay eternal dividends. I am so glad we chose to invest in a sure thing. LOVE

Dance

This was Paulina's very first solo. It was two years ago when she was 7.

Dance

This was 2007's jazz number with Paulina and Wes video

Dance

I was having pain issues and could not sleep. So I thought I would post some old dance videos. Something happened to last years, so I am posting a couple from 2007. This one should be ballet. Wesley is the only boy and Paulina is the smaller girl. This was the advanced class. video

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sad commentary on our world

I was sitting in the doctors office today with Paulina waiting and waiting. She was looking around the room and then asked me a question. She was dead serious. She wanted to know which corner we should go to if we were under lockdown. Lockdown?
Ok so we live in a very small town. People all know each other. There has never been an incident. Nevertheless in addition to the fire and tornado drills, the schools are now required to do "lockdown drills". The children learn to lock themselves in the room and hide in a corner that can't be seen from the window on the door. The gates from the playground are locked. All doors are locked. To get in someone has to buzz you in. To volunteer you have to have ID.
When I was a kid I had never heard of a lockdown, when I got older I only heard about it in connection with prison.
Everytime they have any of those drills she gets scared and has nightmares. It's a sad, sad commentary on this world that the schools have to be prisons, and that our kids have to be afraid.