Sunday, August 25, 2013

A look inside our family...Part IV

Now, for the final post in this series, we will reveal the most intimate part of our family.

As most of you can tell, we are believers in Jesus Christ.
Jesus was from eternity pass and is to eternity future.
He is God.
He is powerful.

His name is powerful! By speaking Jesus' name, we have witnessed our children wracked with fear from nightmares be calmed instantly and be able to return to sleep very quickly. We've seen our children--even while in Ch*na and before they spoke English--be calmed from fright and distress when we spoke the name of "Jesus" over them. We've personally witnessed healing at the name of Jesus. His name is powerful!

His blood is also powerful! Jesus' blood cleanses sins! Think about that. His blood. Our sins. Filth. Covered. Cleaned! With pure hearts left behind!

Our son used to be tormented by night terrors when we first brought him home from Ch*na. The night terrors were continual. There were nights Andrew would have multiple night terrors a night.
They. were. horrible!
They. were. terrifying!
And, they scared us as parents!

Each time Andrew would be screaming from the night terrors, we would go to his room and speak Jesus' name over him. He would quickly calm and go back to sleep.

This happened CONTINUALLY! Multiple times a night.

One day, after talking with my mom about the torment Andrew was suffering, she reminded me about how powerful Jesus' blood is. That night before Derek and I put Andrew to bed, we claimed the blood of Jesus over Andrew, his bed, his bedroom, our house, and our property. That night, Andrew was freed from night terrors! ALL night terrors! He has NEVER had another night terror! The blood of Jesus. More powerful than we can even imagine!

So, each day we pray for each person in our family this way:
1. In prayer we bind our body parts to Jesus. To bind something is to attach it very closely (think of duct taping or super-gluing something to another object).

Here's an example: "In Jesus' name, I bind my eyes to the eyes of Jesus, so that I may see through eyes of eternity, and thus see people the way You do, Jesus. I bind my heart to the heart of Jesus, so that I will love the way You do. I bind my will to the will of Jesus, so that I will submit to authority the way You would, Jesus...."

2. Where there is sin, in prayer we claim the blood of Jesus.
Example: "Father, I claim the blood of Jesus over my thoughts so that I will begin thinking about [situation/person] the way You would. I 'take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ'. I claim the blood of Jesus over my mouth so that I will only speak words that are true, kind, and loving...."

3. In prayer we put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:14-17).

4. In prayer we clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and love (Colossians 3:12-14).

So, does this daily commitment make us good or perfect?
No way!

We are weak.
We are sinful.
We are weak. (Did I mention that?)
We are completely imperfect.
BUT, with the power of Jesus, we are warriors ready for each day and what it holds in store for us.

We know the One Who is more powerful than we could ever imagine!
We know the One Who transforms the willing heart.

We have seen the marvelous transformation in our family--on a daily basis as we submit ourselves to Jesus.

The name above all names!

Friday, August 23, 2013

A look inside our family...Part III

We've been so busy lately, but I promised my readers this post, so here it is.

"Parents' Guidelines"

Derek and I have some rules that we follow as parents.
1. A promise must always be kept--even to our own hurt (Psalm 15:4b). Keeping one's word is of utmost importance.

We try to say, "If we can we will...." Or, "If you remind us before bedtime and we are able, we will...." For me personally, I like to keep plans a secret and spring the "surprise" on the children. Instead of saying, tomorrow we are going swimming/to the park/to have a picnic...I wait to see that we are all well, that it's not raining, and then I give a "Who wants to go to the zoo/beach/park today?!" I love to hear the cheers that follow.

However, this applies to punishments as well. Therefore, we are careful about punishments--to ensure they do not hurt or affect others, that they are truly doable in the moment, and that we will definitely follow through. In other words, we are careful that one child's punishment doesn't affect another child. (Like parents who threaten to leave the zoo/park/store/theater if the child's actions don't change. That would hurt or affect others.)

2. When giving chores or cleaning assignments, we give small tasks. Doable tasks. For instance, if the living room is a terrible mess from a huge fort that was built, we might say, "Ok, take all the clips off the sheets and blankets and put them away." One task. After that is done, we might say, "Good job! Now put all the animals back to your rooms." One thing to concentrate on at a time, rather than, "Clean the living room."

Derek and I often say to each other, "Inch by inch, it's a cinch; yard by yard it's very hard." We look for the "inch" and then praise the effort that was put into the effort.

In addition, we love Mary Poppin's "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down". We use it often. This might look like, "After you make your beds and brush your teeth, we'll read any library book you choose." Parents know what "sugar" will help their children learn structure and discipline.

But sometimes, it is literally sugar; like yesterday, when we went for vaccinations. After the children were finished they were rewarded with a trip to the candy counter at a store to buy something special. They forgot the pain and concentrated on the candy. J

3. We try to say "yes" as much as possible. Even if we can't do everything they'd like. For instance (and this just recently happened): Cherish asked me, "Can you play dolls with me?", but I knew I had to start dinner, so I said, "I'd like to play dolls with you, so please remind me as soon as dinner is over and the kitchen is cleaned up." Amazingly, I received help in the kitchen during clean-up from one little girl. J

4. "Do not exasperate". We touched on this in the last post, so that's all I'll say about this guideline for now.

5. We do not compare the children to one another. This is bigger than it might seem. (Our social worker pointed us to Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish before we adopted Andrew, and in the first two chapters, I saw what I had already begun doing wrong.) I was saying, "Cherish, because you are about to be a big sister, you should try to learn to ____." Nope. I put a stop to that. Instead of saying: "Because you are a big sister, you should be ____", we now say, "Because you are six-years-old, you should be ____." "Andrew, because you are three-years-old, lets try____." We do not say things like, "Why don't you like peas? Your brother likes them." Or, "Andrew, look how Cherish makes her bed so pretty! Can you try to make yours just as nice?" Nope. It's not about the other sibling. It's about the person being spoken to. We make it a point not set the children up to begin comparing each other--causing sibling rivalry. They are not in competition with one another.

We've learned that comparing children will drive them away from each other. Instead, we try to help them see the good and the positive in each other. We try to praise them a lot. In front of each other! (We now get to hear the same talk coming out of their mouths. J)

6. I submit to Derek as the leader of our family (Ephesians 5:22 and Colossians 3:18). Derek always asks my opinions time and time again, but the final say is his. Period.

Our pastor says, "Submission is not submission if you agree. That's called agreeing. Submission is when you disagree." It can be hard. But, peace comes through the process of leaving things in hubby's hands and trusting in a God Who is completely sovereign and good.

Submission of the wife to the husband is God's plan, and He will work things our for the good when His children follow His design for marriage.

The next post in this series will be the final one....

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Reading Contest

This summer I signed Cherish and Andrew up for our library's reading contest. It was simple. Online, log each book read and each week, if a child read even a portion of a book, he/she got prizes--like pencils, stickers, food coupons, etc.

The contest included all children--even infants. If an infant looked at a book while his mom/dad read the one-word-a-page book, it counted. (The library staff just wants children introduced to books so they can grow a love for reading.)

At the end of the summer, if a child read ten (10) books, he/she received a free new book to keep. My children were so excited to earn a free book!

So, we read.
And logged.
And read.
And logged.

I knew I only had to log 10 books per child, but I have "Type A" teacher qualities. Since I had started logging, I reasoned: Why not continue? I was curious how many books the children "read" in a summer.

Well, we received a phone call last week. It was on our answering machine. It was Saturday afternoon, and we didn't receive the message until Saturday evening.

BOTH children had won the "Top Reader" award for our city. BOTH children. We were all shocked! The children were invited to a ceremony to receive a metal. We didn't even know such a contest existed! The children began jumping up and down cheering.

At the ceremony, Cherish and Andrew were called up front (with some other children) to receive their metals. The lady in charge of our city's libraries explained that about 8,000 children had entered the contest. Fifteen (15) children were chosen as "Top Readers" in the "birth through 6-year-old" group and fifteen (15) children were chosen as "Top Readers" in the "7 through 12-year-old" group. Cherish and Andrew were two of the fifteen children in their age group chosen for the metals! AND, we didn't even know there was such a contest!

Cherish had read 147 books, and Andrew had "read" 114 books.

One day I snapped a picture of Cherish coming in from the car. She couldn't stop reading long enough to even get out of the car and come into the house! Walking while reading. She's my bookworm!

The celebration was held at our city's zoo, in one of their gathering "rooms". The children got to spend the day at the zoo, enjoy face painting, snow cones, crafts, etc.

They were both so excited!

So, how did these precious children begin to love books? I used to use the minutes after they woke up from nighttime and naps to snuggle with them and read them picture books. As babies, they associated books with snuggling and everything good. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Hope Update

This week we received an update on Hope! We were so excited to know more about her! In the updated picture of Hope, she is wearing the first dress we sent her. It is size 3. Thus, we are planning to pack size 4 clothing when we go to Ch*na to get her in October.

The update on Hope included stats:

She is 4-years-old and is about 1 inch taller than our 3-year-old son, Andrew. She weighs about 7½ pounds more than Andrew, and her feet are only about ½ an inch longer than Andrew's. She also has 20 teeth--the same as Andrew. (I love being able to compare, so I can visualize what she might look like next to her brother.)

I'll admit: We can hardly wait to get our arms around this little ball of sweetness!

Speaking of holding this little, sweet girl, we have some friends who went to visit their children yesterday. While they were at Hope's foster home visiting their children, they held Hope and took pictures of her. Here are some of the pictures they took:

We are grateful beyond comprehension for the kindness of these parents who went and cared to take pictures for us! And we are ever so grateful for the foster home director who invited these two families to visit and to take pictures!

We are overflowing with THANKFULNESS!
Thank You, Jesus, for caring about these little ones!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Hello, First Grader!

So, this past Monday we began school for the new school year. We've decided to homeschool Cherish, as there is a good chance we will be taking the children with us to Ch*na to get Hope. Thus, we started this week so that we won't necessarily need to take her books with us.

Here's Cherish on the first day of 1st Grade:

Yep, we implement electronics for reinforcement:

Here's her curriculum:
Each chapter is in a separate little booklet--which is wonderfully non-intimidating! Each subject has 13 booklets (called paces) for the school year.
Her 8 core subjects are:
Word Building
Literature and Creative Writing
Social Studies
Animal Science

In addition, we are reading through the Little House on the Prairie series--and loving it!

It's wonderful to have school at her desk, on the back porch, or outside. Today, we were outside. It's great to be out in nature while learning about sheep and pasture lands (Animal Science) and viewing the great big sky on the day she is learning about the three different kinds of cloud formations (Science).

In addition there is gym, art, etc. Today's gym? Swimming J. Yesterday's art class? Finger painting J. Yep, fun, fun, fun!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A busy finish to summer

So, our summer was very quiet without many outings--as previously discussed. However, the final week of summer was jam packed!

We had a visit from some cousins, hosted our church family's Power Up Club--the equivalent of a front yard Bible club, attended Power Surge--the ending party for Power Up Clubs, enjoyed a visit from our niece, had a get-together for my mom's birthday, and celebrated three children's birthdays! I'm telling you: it was a packed week!

A cousin sleeping over calls for a game of Twister:

Five days of Power Up Clubs gave the children in our neighborhood an opportunity to have fun, build relationships, and hear the Gospel:

At Power Surge:

Pure Sweetness arrived for a visit:

Get-together for mom's birthday:


With Aunt Jen:

 And, finally, zip-lining at the children's birthday party:

What a fantastic week we had with
our loving family,
precious church family,
and great friends!

We are blessed!