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    "If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what's said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference."
  • Consider the Cost

    "Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events." ~Winston Churchill
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    It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or whether the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; Whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again; Who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; Who, at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; And who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. It is far better to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight of life, knowing neither victory nor defeat. ~ Theodore Roosevelt
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    “We must carry on our work with patience. We must bear with many abuses and injuries from those to whom we seek to do good. When we have studied for them, and prayed for them, and exhorted them, and beseeched them with all earnestness and condescension, and given them what we are able, and tended them as if they had been our children, we must look that many of them will requite us with scorn and hatred and contempt, and account us their enemies, because we ‘tell them the truth.’ Now, we must endure all this patiently, and we must unweariedly hold on in doing good, ‘in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God, peradventure, will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.’ We have to deal with distracted men who will fly in the face of their physician, but we must not, therefore, neglect their cure. He is unworthy to be a physician, who will be driven away from a frenetic patient by foul words. Yet, alas, when sinners reproach and slander us for our love, and are more ready to spit in our faces, than to thank us for our advice, what heart-risings will there be, and how will the remnants of old Adam (pride and passion) struggle against the meekness and patience of the new man! And how sadly do many ministers come off under such trials!”
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Virginia Trip Travel Log #4

The last two days we focused on getting Jillian’s front room finished. We’d painted the deacons bench, nightstand, shelf, and corner bookshelf. We bought all the little do-dads that she needed to complete the look. We hung everything that needed hanging.

She went with the Old World Style, a look that I am rather fond of myself. Here are pictures of my last day when we pulled it all together. I have to say, I think I enjoyed the process as much as she did. Maybe some day we will go into interior decorating together. We have many similar interests, so it wouldn’t surprise me.

“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.”
Don Williams, Jr. (American Novelist and Poet, b.1968)

I definitely enjoyed the journey as much as the destination in this case. So often we will see “before and afters” published but not the “in-betweens” – the grunt work, so to speak. Yet, I just can’t show the in-betweens – check out the “before and afters” on Love My DIY Home. We finished Jillian’s front room the night before I left for home.

It was with a happy heart I drove home. I spent nearly three weeks away from home visiting family – many people helped me on my trip. My peeps not only gave me gas money, shelter, and fed me, but they cared for me in a way I never ever expected. I will never get used to being loved. It’s a malady I will always carry with me, I suppose, because of the difficult times I have experienced in the past. But that can’t be such a bad thing, can it – to feel so blessed each time love is shown, to be in awe of the moment, to choose to look back over and over to relive it because it is such a treasured memory? I think not. I hope it never changes for me. I love being loved. I love knowing that a handful of people in my life will love me no matter what. Wow.

Here are some more pics of my trip. Such a blessed person I am!

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I stayed with family in Ohio on the way home – such a fun family they are!  Though I traveled alone, I had the support of family, church family, and friends. God showed me His faithfulness by protecting me and giving me people in my life who care. Thank you everyone for giving me such a memorable 3 weeks!

29 Days and Counting…

Yesterday we began the 30 day count down to an empty nest.  It is a new chapter in our life. It is a new way of living. It frees us up to serve God to our fullest potential much more than the last 28 years that kept us in the small, confining box of parenthood. It is the beginning of solitude and hopefully a new glimpse at God and what He has in store for us now that we are to be given a new set of wings – wings that could possibly take us to a world not yet known to us.

Two of our boys are going off to work at PCC in Florida until they begin college in the fall. Our other boy is going on to Job Corps. We will not have a child in our home again that we are responsible for 24/7.  The clock will hold new meaning – it will no longer be my master and I its slave.   

In reflection, I feel blessed to have parented for 28 years some of the most challenging and interesting children I’ve ever met. They have brought blessings from God that most have never seen and a joy that could only have been described as a glimpse of God. The other side of this gold coin of parenthood forced us to taste bitter disappointments and sorrow of heart. These years have taught me patience and compassion, reliance on God and a better perspective on who people are and what the world is. They have prepared me for the next chapter in my life that has blank pages ready to be written upon.

I now will enjoy a lateral relationship with my children – the relationship of one adult to another. We can decide where and when, why and how much or how long.  No more discipline. No more school work. No more middle of the night puking, heated discussions or rides to and from.  No more gum in the carpet, scratched non-stick cookware or moldy food in containers left in backpacks. No more smelly boys bedrooms!

There will be more breakfasts out with friends, garage sales and Bible study. I’ll have the freedom to work at church, visit a sick friend or open a photo studio. I’ll be able to go to the book store and read for hours, keep a smaller house and be with my grandkids more. In 29 days I’ll be able to sleep in – I think I could sleep for a year without waking up!

I’ve been asked how I’m going to handle an empty nest after having had 15 children in my home over a 28 year span. They think I’m joking when I tell them that first I’m having a party and they’re invited, or they think I’m terrible for being overjoyed that my children are leaving. But they don’t understand that by choice I’ve been a servant  to 15 children with seldom a break or hope of solitude for 28 years. Though I have had many happy moments, I have had as many sad and lonely moments, if not more. My mind is a whirl with a chance to have new choices – how I am going to minister to others in a way I was never able to do before.

I am excited that the next 28 years might not be one of exhaustion and fear of what’s going to happen next or what phone call I might get. I am thrilled to think that no longer will I be judged or scorned because of what one or more of my children have done. No longer will I be looked at by my children as the keeper of the key that could unlock their prison of demands to do right, be responsible and work faithfully. In their eyes I will just be Mom, the one they used to live with that loves them and cheers them on. Those apron strings will be cut much to the joy of the one wearing it and the one who was tied to it. We might even get the scissors bronzed and mounted like a deer head!

Over the next 29 days I’m going to list one new thing I might try or do with my new found freedom. I might even decide to go bungee jumping – uh, well, probably not.  My next post is going to be a list of things I’m going to try or do once I have the freedom of an empty nest. If anyone has ideas or suggestions, leave a comment! I definitely think this is going to be fun – wanna come along?

Parenting is Your Highest Calling & Eight Other Myths

Have you every had a passionate belief that you couldn’t put into words? You knew it had a Biblical foundation, but for the life of you, you couldn’t nail it down or explain it well enough without making you sound like you were making excuses or justifying yourself? This book, Parenting is Your Hightest Calling & Eight Other Myths by Leslie Leyland Fields does a great job at explaining the ins and outs of parental responsibility and dispels the myths that are so prevalant in Christian society – myths that I ran into in my parenting experience. 

 She outlines 9 myths that many parents buy into that can cause grief and disappointment when their parenting experience doesn’t the bring the results they’d expected. As a mother of 15 children, 13 of whom are special needs adopted, I saw how the blame game is easily entered into by those who have a tendency to judge others, especially Christian leaders who take credit for their own children’s successes. It is my desire to see that parents are encouraged and loved, not expected to be perfect or to take on the responsibility that was only God’s to begin with.

Here are the 9 myths Leslie outlines in her book:

1. Having Children Makes You Happy and Fulfilled.
2. Nurturing Your Children Is Natural
3. Parenting Is your Highest Calling
4. Good Parenting Leads to Happy Children
5. If You Find Parenting Difficult, You Must Not Be Following the Right Plan
6. You Represent Jesus to Your Children
7. You Will Always Feel Unconditional love for Your Children
8. Successful Parents Produce Godly Children
9. God Approves of Only One Family Design

Her basic premise is that we as parents are required by God to be faithful, to follow His basic guidelines for holy living and endeavor to teach the same precepts to our children. That’s it. We are to leave the results up to Him. He is the one who will woo their hearts, call them to repentance and a life of service to Him. We can’t do that. Only God is able to take our children and make them into something He can use.

I have seen and experienced the extreme pressure from others to measure up as the perfect Christian parent – too often reminded that “if we do our job, our kids will turn out right”  and “if they stumble and fall it is ultimately our fault.”  This advice is given without the slightest bit of acknowledgement that God is the One who shapes the believer and determines their path in life.  In her book, Leslie reminds us of parents in the Bible who lived a faithful, godly life only to experience disappointment in their parenting experience. The business of parenting is hard enough. We certainly don’t need to be bogged down by misplaced condemnation. This is a very encouraging book and I recommend it to every parent.

Thank you Leslie, for sending it to me. I wish I’d read it years ago.

You can get this book at Amazon.com for $11.19 and Christianbook.com  for $10.99.

A Plea for Help From an Adoptive Parent

I have a friend on my adoptive parents Yahoo email group who is in dire need of a solution to her family problem. She’s in the place we were months ago with no solution in sight. She has one week. I am asking prayer for her and her family as well as any input you all might has as to a solution. Below is part of her story from her blog, Adoption Drama…The System. She lives in Michigan. The comment in red with brackets is mine.

Michigan’s Post-Adoption Support Fails Youth, Families, and the Community.

I am an adoptive mom and a professional in the foster care system. I cannot sit back and watch the post adopt system fail our children. The children that are in adoptive homes today and those awaiting adoption. At the time of adoption, some children qualify for Michigan’s Adoption Subsidy support – medical and/or financial support. The concept of this support is to provide adopted children and their families with the support they need to meet the needs of the adopted child that were present prior to adoption. These needs are considered prior to signing of the adoption document. A family has to option of submitting documentation after the adoption is finalized to add other conditions that were present before adoption but not diagnosed until after adoption. No where in any of the support, does it say there is a limit to how much they will cover for the qualified condition.

My son is 16. He came into foster care when he was 4 and adopted when he was 5. The conditions he lived in prior to adoption have had a lasting impact on who he is and how he operates in society. Its like he is miss-wired because of the abuse he suffered (prenatal drug exposure, severe physical abuse and neglect). His behaviors started around age 6 and became out of control at age 12. Things continued to escalate and he went for residential treatment at 14 1/2 years of age. Well in the first facility, things got worse and he acted out more, placing more people in danger. He was moved to another residential program and spent the last 1 1/2 years there. He’s completed their program but not without incident. Their program has not addressed all of his behaviors or needs, but has touched the tip of the iceberg.

FUNDING HAS STOPPED. Despite the fact that he has not addressed the initial needs that placed him at risk or a danger to himself or others, FUNDING HAS STOPPED. It doesn’t seem to matter that the need hasn’t stopped – the qualifying need that got him adoption subsidy. But all they can say is, “FUNDING HAS STOPPED.”

The reality is that if he makes any of the same choices he made prior to going to residential treatment, he will go to prison. The reality is that he has lived in a very structured program of 2 years and they are just open the door and send him on his way. No transition back into the community, even though programs exist to help him transition back and be successful. All this because FUNDING HAS STOPPED.

Where is the adoption subsidy support that is suppose to help him get the care to address the needs without a limit? Without a limit doesn’t align with “Funding has stopped.” Helping him be as successful as he can be given the past he was dealt, isn’t a part of their plan. Where are my son’s rights to care and treatment from adoption subsidy?

The transitional program costs money. If I had the money, I’d pay for it myself. I don’t have the kind of money the program costs. I want nothing more than for my son and the other adopted children in the same situation and the foster children with the same struggles that are waiting to be adopted to have a chance for a successful future. To be given the opportunity to use the “support” from adoption subsidy they were promised. As adoptive parents, if we don’t pick them up when funding ends even though the need has not, the state threatens to file CPS neglect charges on the parent. Yet, Adoption Subsidy it the one who is neglecting their need and the agreement to support the treatment of that need. [If we bring them home and a child is hurt, we will be charged with “failure to protect. This is a lose/lose situation for the adoptive families.]

Please help me help my son and others in the same situation. Our funding is scheduled to end on 3/19/2010. Coming home places me and the other children in the home at risk due to his violent and sexual behaviors. He has threatened to kill me and tried once before. I love my son dearly and want for him to have a chance of being successful. Home and back in the community is not where he belongs right now.

Do you know a FASD/RAD child?

Click here for a pdf that explains RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) and suggests how to deal with a child that may have attachment issues.

Click here for a pdf with some suggestions on how to handle a teen with FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder).

Note to family & friends: Read these to better understand some aspects of our family!

Adoption Disruption Article

Click here to read an article from the blog called “Welcome to My Brain.”  The article is about adoption disruption. It will give you a small idea of what some adoptive parents go through with difficult children – things most parents won’t share with you.

Pastors Falsely Arrested – Update

Email from Anna, Lisa’s friend about the Rodgerson and Burns family:

“Thank you so much for continuing to pray about this situation. There has not been a whole lot of change, but I’ll tell you what I know. Alethia is now being allowed to spend 8 hours at her parent’s house for 4 days during the week and then 4 hours a day for 3 days a week. Social workers drop in unannounced during these times to observe and report. This has been very hard to deal with considering the fact that the social workers twist things around to always put the parents in a bad light. For example……the social worker saw Elizabeth making homemade baby food for Alethia and asked her about it. Beth told them that it was more economical and healthier for the baby. In the social worker’s report they stated that the Burns cannot afford to buy food for Alethia…..they are trying to do anything they can to tear the family apart. Their next court date is Aug 3rd. Please pray that the prosecutor will have a change of heart and will either drop the charges or at least start being honest.

Aaron(my brother-in-law) will have his first court date Aug 3rd. He is planning on pleading not guilty and I think they will be asking for a “change of venue” –new judge and a different city. He is also going to ask for a quick and speedy trial (something he has a constitutional right to have). this way the lawyers can’t drag everything out for months and months wracking up legal fees. [FYI: if he was found guilty for the practicing law without a license charge the maximum penalty he would face is a $100 fine. It’s a petty thing but apparently worth putting him in jail over and making my sister pay $1000 to get him out]

My sister has been out of town with Daniel for a while so it’s a little harder to stay in touch with her to get updates, but when anything changes I will keep everyone posted. Thank you so much for your prayers “Prayer can only do what God can do”. Please keep praying!!!!!”