Monday, August 27, 2012

Letters to Jesus

I have a notebook that I been writing prayers in lately. Cherish added two of her own:

Sweet prayers from a child's heart.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Faith Without Sight

These pictures are so common at our house,
that I haven't really taken notice of them lately.

Do you see our family?
There's Hope, Andrew, Cherish, mom, and dad.

I. am. pathetic.
to have eyes that have not been seeing.
There's our family.

I feel like I have been striving to bring Hope home for so many years, that I have been, um, well, striving lately.
Not the place to be.

These pictures are just two of tons that get produced at my house. To Cherish, Hope is in our family. Already.

We told Cherish years ago that she would have a little sister named Hope. So, she has complete faith that Hope will join us--in due time. Fully trusting that we will keep our word. The time frame doesn't matter. It has been spoken, thus, it's a done deal.

And, in some ways I feel the same way. I know Hope is our daughter, but I have been searching for her for so long, that the searching has become hard rather than exhilarating.

Five years ago, Derek and I prayed that God would give us the names of our first two daughters so that we could pray for them by name. Derek and I received the same message: Cherish and Hope.

We named our first daughter Cherish, and indeed, she was meant to be! China had named her "Ai Mei", which means "Love/Cherish Rose". Thus, we named her Cherish Rose. (What a perfect confirmation!)

On May 5, 2008, we actively began the paperwork to bring our daughter Hope home. However, God wanted to bless us with Andrew first. And what an immense blessing he has been/is! "Thank You, LORD!!!!"

So, for five years now we have been praying for Hope by name and holding her in our hearts. We love her and are so eager to bring her home.

I'll admit: the wait has been getting harder lately. Especially knowing the gift of a daughter is coming!

Each time Derek or I look through our agency's children's profiles (almost daily) or open a file, it's as if I am holding my breath--wondering if "today" I will see my daughter's face for the first time.

It has been a long journey to Hope. One that I feel has aged me.

Tonight, I want to have the faith of a child. Cherish has faith without sight. She is resting in the timing of her parents.

I know Hope will be our daughter. When? I. have. no. idea.

Is that going to make me come unglued? I choose not to let it.

Derek is the leader of our family. I am to follow him (Colossians 3:18). He--with the help of our Lord--will find Hope, and then I will know. I choose tonight to rest in the timing God has already laid our for us. He is sovereign. He is good. (Yep, I'm preaching to myself, because right now, my heart feels hurt, tired, and weak.)

I choose to have faith without sight.
I choose to wait with patience.
I choose to rest in God's timing.
I choose to rest in Derek's leadership.
I choose to wait quietly.

I choose to stop striving.
I choose to have faith--even without sight.

"Precious Hope, I will see you soon.
I am dreaming of the day I will hold you in my arms
and kiss your sweet, warm cheeks for the first time.
You will have a dadda, momma, sister, and brother
who will love you and treasure you completely.
God will bless us with one another.
Hold on, Sweetheart.
The wait is a little longer.
I love you!
I am praying for you."
Your momma

Friday, August 24, 2012

One of "those" moms!

OK. I admit it. I have become one of "those" moms. What am I referring to? I am now a home-school mom.

It seems that some people have a very negative opinion of moms who keep their children home and educate them. Actually, I have looked up to moms who can devote their time to such a calling and help their children to grow into bright, well-rounded youth and adults.

I've always felt called to teach. God put that gift within me. It's part of who I am. But, homeschooling? Nope. I never planned on that.

Through my education classes at college, I realized how much I did not/do not know and totally agreed (and still do) with the policy of continuing education for teachers. It.makes.perfect.sense. Period.

So, when Derek approached me about homeschooling Cherish, I was completely unsure. First of all, what if I "mess her up"? I can't sign up for continuing education classes, be a stay-at-home mom, be a serving wife, homemaker, teacher.... That's too many full-time jobs for me. Secondly, Derek and I have always talked about sending our children to school because of all the reasons we loved school--sports, the arts, music lessons, drama....

However, God has made Cherish so inquisitive. She constantly wants to learn something. There are times she cries from a hurt heart when I tell her she needs to play rather than to read or learn something.

(She learned how to add and subtract while she was just three years old. It was quite by accident--while Derek and I were at Lowe's looking at items for a remodeling job.)

This past summer, I made a point that Cherish would play--and play A LOT. We scheduled all kinds of play times and play dates for her. Which, I will say, she enjoyed.

I didn't let her pull out anything that resembled learning material. The most I agreed to was to read to her.

I began logging the books she asked me to read to her. In a two-month period of time, she had Derek or me read her 178 books. And one of those books was a novel! (This amount would have been higher if Derek and I had agreed to read to her every time she asked.)

If you can't tell: Cherish loves books!

So, Derek told me he wanted me to have a local university test Cherish before kindergarten. Thus, she was evaluated, and she was reading! READING! I didn't even know she could! Yes, read a few simple words but not read books! She was continually asking us to read to her, so we didn't think to ask her to try to read to us.

She read for the evaluator. Perfectly. Independently. I.was.shocked! Shocked I tell ya!

The evaluator consulted with me. Traditional kindergarten was out of the question. She thought homeschooling would be the best option for Cherish.

Derek and I are not one of those parents who want to push our children to advance as quickly as possible. So, we didn't want to put her into traditional school and bump her up grade-wise. So, we have decided to home school her. She is in kindergarten, and that is all she knows. However, the curriculum we are using is for first graders, and we've added Chinese and American Sign Language. She will also be in ballet and tap classes come September.

This is so strange for Derek and me. Let me tell ya! Derek and I were both in "special reading classes" in elementary school. Neither of us liked books. The world of books didn't open up for me, personally, until sixth grade--when my teacher read Treasures of the Snow to my class. (I can't believe I still remember that title.) All of a sudden, I realized the amazing world of books.

So, here we are taking one day at a time. Here's the teacher side of me (lesson planning):

However, Cherish can't seem to get enough of school. An 8:30 a.m. - 2:45 p.m. school day just doesn't seem like enough. She begs for more. She begs to do the next day's work--so she can always be ahead.

I admit again. I'm not sure what to do. I don't want to "burn her out". She's so thirsty for knowledge, and I am trying to make the learning fun--with games, experiments, etc. However, I know too much learning could "burn her out" for the future. I know an education is a marathon. Not a sprint.

So, Derek and I continue to consult one another. I know we are just beginning. (We just finished week two of kindergarten.) I want her to remember learning as fun and exciting, not hard, torturous, or boring.

One day at a time. We are finding our way.

So, what does the future hold? All I know is that I am homeschooling Cherish for kindergarten. I guess we'll figure out first grade later. Again, one day at a time....

I am so thankful for the home-school moms who have come alongside me to give me advice. Thank you, Michele, Denise, Donna, Kristi, Barbara, Stephanie, and Irma! Thanks for "blazing the trail"!

P.S. I think I'm gonna need a maid! Just sayin'!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

My Sweet Boy

I must give you a background on the following set of pictures. First of all, Andrew wears diapers. However, once in a while he likes to wear his Thomas-the-Tank-Engine ("Choo-Choo") underwear--which he will eventually grow into.

Andrew saw a New Testament laying on our hearth, and figured he needed it. This was all his idea:
No pockets?
No problem.

"You're OK with this, right?"
Mom: "Yep!"

Silly boy! =)

Power Up Clubs

About two weeks ago we had a bunch of children on our front yard to play and hear about Jesus. (The teens of our church reach out to the community by serving the children in this way.) Our job? Invite the children and be ready to have a blast!
Here's how it all started:
Cherish going door-to-door inviting the neighborhood children.
Might I add: in the extreme heat--without any complaints.
Day after day.
No complaints.
Just a "got to invite everyone" attitude.

Thank You, Lord, for such a precious, willing child!

Andrew couldn't always keep up.
Here he is in his stroller keeping cooler with a spray bottle and fan.

"Mom, ya comin'?"

And after all the inviting, the club began.
Here are some highlights:
(And, yep, that would be my girly-girl daughter in a long, white skirt.)

Little Andrew just "one of the guys".

Water Day:

 The unofficial club helper:

After a week of fun at our house (and 70+ other houses around our city), all the club members and their leaders met at the church for some fun and games:

A gigantic slip-n-slide:

What an amazing week it was!
We all had a fantastic time, but most importantly,  
many lives were changed for eternity!
Praise God!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

First-Time Experiences

This year, Cherish went to Vacation Bible School (VBS) for the first time. A church that is downtown in our city held a VBS about Creation and had dinosaur bones shipped in for the week. Cherish saw an ad for the VBS and requested to go. We agreed, and off she went. Since it took so long to get there, find parking, and drop her off at her class, we ended up staying for the entire time at the church--a five hour morning(!). However, the older ladies of the church decided to invite the moms and younger children who had come from a distance to stay at the church and have breakfast, fellowship together, and watch a video study on being moms. It turned out to be SO WONDERFUL!

Though the days could have been tough--especially with construction going on at our house--it was refreshing to go and be ministered to as a mom. Thus, Cherish, Andrew, and I all had something to do and thoroughly enjoyed our mornings!

Here are some of Cherish's new friends:

She is especially in love with this little girl:
Every time these two got together, it was hugging--with
face to face contact.
They. love. each. other!!!!!!
I wish you could see how Cherish glows when she's with this special friend!

Here's one of the dinosaur displays:
One of the activities for the children:
Cherish, Andrew, and I were completely loved on and cared for. We felt carried along and completely refreshed. What. a. great. week!!

Then, Andrew got to try his hand at painting for the first time. Notice he uses his left hand:

 My second left-handed child:

It has been so fun watching these two children grow in so many ways!
What. a. blessing. they. are!!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Independence Week

OK. So, it's been over a month since our last post. Life has been so full, fun, exciting, and well, under construction (literally--our house has been under construction). However, I will catch up...beginning now.

Let's begin with Independence week. Derek's family traveled into town, and we spend most of our waking moments with them. We got little sleep, but we had such a good time.

Here are some picture highlights:

Our Fourth of July celebration began with a parade:

Nanny decorated the bikes and the stroller:

Participants received ribbons:

 Fire engines joined the parade:

Ready to roll out:

Staying as cool as possible:

 This boom box followed us blaring patriotic music:
(I loved it!)

Miniture golfing:

Indoor golfing was much cooler!


The BEST way to cool down:

Cherish receiving a surprise kiss:

Jumping off the side:

Silly cousins:

We love our family!