Nov 14, 2014

1 year with Joseph and what have i learned?

I still can not believe it's been one year that we have been sleeping under the same roof.  One year that we stepped onto that plane boarding Uganda to become a family of 7.

What a year it's been!

I stand in awe of the young man that Joseph is growing into. Watching the bond that Joseph and Brenda have melts my heart.  Hearing Brenda tease her big brother or him telling her stories about Uganda remind me of why we are on this journey.

As difficult as some days are, they are completely beautiful.  Hard but glorious.  Messy but redemptive.

What have i learned this year?

1.  I have learned that I have absolutely no idea what i'm doing as a parent most days.  What worked last month has already gone out the window this month.  We are truly a work in progress.

2.  My relationship with Micah is the single most important parenting tool i have.  We are a united front most days.  The kids find stability in that.  Life may be crazy and chaotic, but they know Dad will always back up what Mom says.  And vice versa.  The kids know that disrespect will NOT be tolerated in our home.  

3.  Despite artificially twinning my oldest and middle daughter, we have had no issues.  At all. I love to see the bond that my younger girls have.  They are truly best friends.

4.  Despite reading every adoption book out there, when an issue arises, i draw a blank.  

5.  This year has been very lonely.  Simply, people do not get the journey we are on.  It's hard to protect our family's privacy and share our challenges. 

6.  Brenda and Joseph's adoption journeys have been completely different.  
Different ages + different genders = different issues.  
Adopting a 7 year old was a piece of cake compared to a 12 year old.  A 7 year old little girl wants to sit and snuggle.  A 12 year old boy wants a fist bump.  

7.  I need to make an effort to praise my children more.  So often, i get caught up in what my children are not doing right.  I have learned genuine praise builds self esteem in all children.  Praise is Important to raising a confident child. I am a work in progress.  

8.  I love my children more than anything.  They bring me so much joy.  I love to watch them play and hear them laugh.  I love to watch their personalities unfold.  I love to see them grow and flourish. They truly are my greatest blessings from Jesus.

9.  My heart breaks for my children because i can't fix what breaks their hearts.  I can't fill the void in their life.  I will never replace their mother, nor do i want to.  I can simply pray for their hearts and for Jesus to fill in the gaps that i fail them.

10.  Prayer.  It is so important.  It's the glue that holds this family together.  

Oct 23, 2014

October Happenings

This Happened!  

After a bit of red tape, we have a passport!

My big kid twins.

My littlest man fractured his growth plate.

My little girl twins.

Sep 16, 2014

18 months....

Happy 8 months to Joseph and 18 months to Brenda this month!!  

I can honestly say we have settled into smooth sailing!  God is so so so Good!

Aug 17, 2014

Choosing Joy when i'm not feeling it.

The season of life that I am in now is not going to be my season of life forever.  These are the words that i find myself repeating on an hourly basis.  

Life just has a funny way of just happening.  

Adoption can put the vow "for better or for worse" to the test in a marriage. And that's FOR REAL!

So how do i weather this storm??? 

I must choose JOY even when i don't want to.

Joy in the midst of the uncertainty.  

Joy in the midst of what feels like an identity crises.

Joy when i want to bawl my eyes out.

Right now the season of my life is enjoying these moments that I am completely forced to trust in God's perfect timing. 

God’s plans are almost always different from our plans, but His plans are always perfect! 

I need to have the patience to wait on His timing instead of forcing my own.
I need to fully focus my energy on what THIS season of life is about, and when the seasons change I’ll work on whatever new purposes need to be accomplished.

After all...

We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can always control how we choose to respond.

Choose joy.

Jul 24, 2014

6/16 months home!

This month we celebrate Brenda being home 16 months and Joseph being home 6 months!

And i couldn't imagine our lives without them!  
Our gifts from God!

Jun 14, 2014

5 months home

We are at the 5 month mark and we have seen lots of progress over these last couple of months.  We still have lots of hard days, but i can honestly say we have equal good days to the difficult ones now.  

What have we learned these past couple of months?

Eye contact still does not come naturally.  Attachment comes hard for an older child.  Why would he want to look into our eyes?  He has no reason to trust us.  It's our job to prove that we are worthy of attaching too. I am constantly making an emphasis to tell both Brenda and Joseph to look in my eyes when we are talking.

Too many choices are a recipe for disaster.  Even though Joseph is technically 13, choices are difficult.  We keep it simple.  The less clothes he has to choose from, the less chance we will end up with a meltdown.  
We no longer ask the kids what they would like to eat.  We serve what we serve at mealtime.  They are not at a restaurant. The only choice they have is whether they want to eat or not, but they must all sit at the table.  

Kids need to feel like they are part of a team.  We are constantly stressing that we are teammates. We  must all help one another do chores.  Everyday we spend at least 45 minutes cleaning and doing chores.  On some days the older kids do more than the younger kids and no, it's not always fair.  

They whine and we have tears, but life isn't always fair.  I no longer worry about things being fair in our house.  The older kids stay up later than the younger ones and on most days they have more chores than the younger ones and someone is always crying, "It's Not Fair!!"

Language acquisition has been harder for Joseph than for Brenda.  He also has not lost his native tongue, but Brenda lost her ability to speak Rutooro within 2 months of being home.  

We opt to public school and we will have him repeat the 5th grade again.  Brenda is on grade level and will be moving to 3rd grade.  We have taken the approach to immerse our children into English with ESL support. Both are thriving at their own paces.

I stand in awe of how far we have come.  Brenda has been home for 15 months now and Joseph only 5.  It's nothing that we have done personally.  I'm holding on by a prayer most days.  I can read all of the adoption and parenting books out there, but only Jesus can heal the hole that fills their hearts.  

My prayer is constantly... please continue to heal their broken hearts Jesus, and give me the strength and wisdom  to parent them.

Apr 15, 2014

3 months home

We have been home 3 months now.  It's been 3 months of challenges.  3 months of finding a new routine as a family of 7.  

Three months of redemption slowly taking place.  

I never thought i'd be in this place.  A mom of 5 kids. Let alone a stay at home mom raising a blended family.  I simply never thought it was my calling.  

After all, i had different plans for my life in my younger years.

What have i learned in month 3?

That God secures, equips, and fortifies ME, making me fully capable of raising these kids, even with all of my imperfections.  

I fail every day.  I am short tempered, cranky...tired of the mundane.  Some days before we are even out the door, i'm counting down until bedtime.

However, God in His sovereign plan placed Joseph and Brenda into this crazy chaotic family. 

Do i have what it takes to bring them healing? Of course not.  

I have to relinquish control.  For example, Joseph is very behind in school.  Do i home school?  Do I advocate for him in the public school system?  How on earth will he catch up 5 grade levels? Do we hold him back?  Do we promote him to middle school?  So many questions without black and white answers.  

I have to realize that God is the Source and Sustainer of Joseph and Brenda.  

Not me.  

I have to trust that Jesus has a plan for all of my children AND Jesus will set things securely in order and prepare them for their callings.  I simply need to point them to the cross and show them love.  

The cross.  That's where redemption and transformation happens.

It's not about me or what i do.  I simply play a small part in this thing called life. Without the weight of the world on my shoulders, i can relish in my children, and let God be God.  

In 3 short months, we see glimpses of joy.  We see smiles.  We share laughs. 

And this month, we celebrate Joseph and Brenda's birthdays. We truly celebrate them and their lives.