So Much To Be Thankful For

I always love the idea of blogging about thankfulness every day in November.  It never seems to get past that idea stage, though.  It would be an absolute piece of cake to find thirty things I am thankful for; the challenge would be choosing which thirty!  In any case, here a few of the biggies.

 I am so thankful for each one of these precious little ones.016 

And these two as well:

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And for an extended family full of people who love us and all of our crazy!

Why yes, that is my baby sitting on the counter!

Why yes, that is my baby sitting on the counter!

Training with Aunt Paigie for the family business :)

Training with Aunt Paigie for the family business 🙂

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Grandmom and her Tardis-like arm chair 🙂 (And yes, the boy is wearing pink PJs.  It was one of those nights when getting kids in PJs before leaving grandmom’s house trumped the desire for gender appropriate clothing. )

Pippa and Pop-pop (fake glasses compliments of Paige).

Pippa and Pop-pop (fake glasses compliments of Paige).

Trevor had to work tonight, which was kind of a bummer, but the kids were quick to remind me to be thankful that Daddy has his job, “so that he can make money for us!”  And we are!  And so thankful for him in general.  Life is so much sweeter when he’s home with us.

And above all, I am thankful for this:

In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace…

(Ephesians 1:5-7, ESV)

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

VBS and an All-Around Pretty Great Week

While this picture sort of says it all…

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it also sort of doesn’t.  VBS has definitely been the main attraction this week.  The kids can’t wait to go each day, and would just live in their blue T-shirts for the whole week if I’d let them.  But it doesn’t start until after dinner each night.  That has left us with our days free, and we have enjoyed filling them up!

We’ve enjoyed the company of two of the girls’ little friends this week while their mom worked some extra hours (plus Tuesday with sweet Maura, of course!).  Yesterday we got to spend time with a family member from out of state who hadn’t met Niko before.  And today, Pippa got to go to camp with her dearest little friend Rosie for the day.    She had a blast!

While Pippa was off on her adventure today, the rest of us piled in the van to run some very happy errands.

First, we stopped at our local school’s admin building to sign an agreement for them to provide Niko’s speech therapy starting in the Fall.  I cannot tell you what a huge answer to prayer this is!  We began the process of having Niko evaluated for services through our local school district back in January. He qualified for several different therapies and services, but once we got to that point in the process, things got a bit sticky.  At one point we were told flat-out “No”, that he would not receive any services unless we placed him in public school full-time.  But when we inquired about speech therapy only, God slowly began to open doors.  We really feel now that we have been given the absolute best possible outcome to what has been a long and at times very stressful process.  Niko will be receiving the speech therapy that he needs, but he does not have an IEP, which means, in layman’s terms, no-strings-attached as far as our homeschooling reporting goes.  We are praising God for nothing short of a complete 180 from the school district’s initial response to our request for services, and we look forward to working with them in September.

After that we stopped to pick up most of our 4th grade curriculum for next year.  Free of charge!  The kids and I had gone to a 4th of July picnic at the home of a family from my old church at while Trevor was visiting Delia.  Just before we left that day I noticed a very familiar-looking shelf-full of books.  It was exactly the collection of literature we had just read in school this year, right down to the color-coded stickers on the bindings.  “Oh,” I exclaimed.  You used Sonlight when your girls were little?”

“Yes, do you??” she replied excitedly.  When I told her we did, she immediately offered to lend us the books we needed for the coming year, explaining that her husband had been wanting her to donate them, but she had been praying for a family to bless with them. She loved them too much to part with them forever (and I sympathize with this sentiment completely!).  Another great provision from the Lord.  We will need to buy science curriculum and consumables, but this gift will cut our curriculum bill in half at least!

The other completely fabulous thing about this week is that Trevor has been off since Wednesday morning, and he doesn’t work again until Sunday night.  This, in theory, should happen every other week.  But between his trip and the overtime he’s had to work to make that trip possible, we’ve barely been able to catch our breath.  Now, after two days of having him home (and awake!) life is finally starting to feel normal again, and normal feels good.

Provision

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When I mentioned life taking a turn for the crazy last week, I didn’t mean to be cryptic.  I had every intention of sharing what’s been going on, it’s just taken me a little while to get to it.

When we moved to America six and a half years ago, we moved into my father’s basement.  We had no jobs, no insurance and two very small children.  We were utterly dependent on God’s provision, and provide He did.

About a month after we got here, Trevor got offered the very first job he interviewed for.  It was a tiny little biotech company that probably wasn’t going to make it, but it was a paycheck and insurance, and he took it with very little hesitation.

That job that we didn’t expect to go anywhere lasted for over six years, helped us buy our home and funded much of our first adoption.  Trevor spent most of the six years carpooling to work, which allowed us to be a one-vehicle family for the last several years.

It was, he told me recently, the best job he ever had.

This dear little company closed its doors for the last time on Easter Monday, leaving us wondering (albeit briefly) what God had next for us.

That night, Trevor spotted a job online that caught his eye.  It was in a field similar to what he was doing before, but it was night shifts.  Not something we had ever considered before, but an intriguing possibility.  He applied online that night, got called the next day for an interview on Thursday, and was offered the job on Friday.  Amazing!

One night during the lovely two-week staycation we had between Trevor’s two jobs, I came to bed right after reading this post which challenged me about praying specifically, and Trevor had a smirky little twinkle in his eye.  “What’s so funny?”  I asked him.

“I’m just thinking about how God answers prayer,” he said.

“Why?  What did you pray for?”

Trevor reminded me that he has been praying for years for a job that would allow him to be home with us more.  He had also been praying, since losing his job, that God would provide a way for us to be able to continue to get by with only one vehicle.  He just didn’t realize God would answer both those prayers by giving him a job working 12-hour night shifts three or four nights a week.  I was humbled almost to the point of tears to realize how intimately our God concerns Himself with the details of our lives.  (But knowing how much Trevor loves his sleep, I also know God must have a sense of humor!)

I’ll be writing more soon about specifically how God is providing for the needs of our adoption.  Stay tuned!

Resurrection Festivities: Part 2

I’m a bit behind on this!  Life took a turn for the crazy this week, but by God’s grace we’ve come out the other end already.  Here are the rest of our Easter celebrations, including the last three days of Amanda’s Sense of the Resurrection series.

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Day 8: The Sealed Tomb.  We opened it on Easter morning to find a message that read, “Jesus is Alive!”

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Day 9: the Bright and Shining Angel. This blingy decoration gave us a sense of the brilliance of God’s angel by the empty tomb.

 

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Day 10: reading about Jesus’ fish breakfast with His disciples after His resurrection.

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Fish for lunch!

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Making Reusrrection Cookies on Easter Eve, sans electric mixer! (Homeschoolers are such an inventive bunch, aren’t we?)

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Easter party at church.

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Egg-dying at Grandmom’s house.

 

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Our “Sealed Tomb”.

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Visiting Big Junie on Easter.

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Egg-hunting at Aunt Mary’s.

 

 

Hope you and your family had a joyful holiday too!

Resurrection Countdown

 

A quick calculation last week told me we’d be finishing school on May 24th if we kept trudging ahead as we have been, so I decided we could afford to take an Easter break this week.  (Spring break!  Woohoo!)  As Pippa was brainstorming fun craft ideas for our week off, I noticed a decided slant towards eggs and bunnies, so I ran to the Internet to seek counsel.

The first place I looked was my friend Amanda’s blog, knowing that she is passionate about sharing Jesus with her children and that she does it in a Pinterest-y, Etsy-ish kind of way that leaves her kids (and me) oohing and ahing.  She did not disappoint.

Last year, Amanda did a 10-day countdown to Easter called “Sense of the Resurrection”, linking each bit of the Easter story with a craft or activity focusing on one of the five senses.  We’re a little late to the party, but we have loved doing these activities.

I’ll admit when I first set out to do this, I imagined doing maybe 4 or 5 of my favorites and skipping the rest, saving them for days when we didn’t have much else going on, but my kids were having none of that.  They have been relentless in reminding me to do our Easter craft each day, and have not let me forget or skip even one!

Here are the activities we have done so far, linked to Amanda’s proper description of each.

Day 1: Mary’s Perfume (Annointing Oil)

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This was a great reminder of how costly our salvation was, and how following the Lord is worthy of even the greatest cost on our part.

Day 2: Unleavened (or, as Bea says, Unleventh) Bread

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Amanda, that recipe worked fine for us.  Maybe she tweaked it since you tried?

Day 3: Purple Robe

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So… I didn’t have cellophane… or purple tissue paper.  I first thought the blue looked kind of purple-y but not so much.  Then I thought a red heart would shine through the blue tissue paper and look purple.  Also not so much.  Anyway, my kids like glue, so it was all good.

Day 4: The Rooster Crows

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When we talked about Peter denying Christ, it was all about forgiveness and restoration.  Isn’t it just amazing that God can still use broken sinners like us to accomplish His purposes?

Day 5: Nails

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They really loved this one.  And got it, I think.

Day 6: Vinegar

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I made a hyssop branch and sponge.  What do you think?  Not bad, eh?

Day 7: Earthquake

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By way of application on this one we talked about all creation recognizing Jesus as God.  We remembered that Jesus said if the people didn’t praise him, even the rocks would cry out.  And I think they enjoyed throwing rocks around.  Especially the boy.

What are we doing tomorrow?  I don’t know yet!  But if you want to join us, visit Oh Amanda, March 2012 archives for more info.  It’s bound to be impressive!

 

How We Got Here AGAIN: Part 1

Thank you so much to anyone who actually managed to read last night’s post before this one and pray.  We are thankful today that we were able to get our fingerprints done this, and it even seemed like our fingerprints were in decent shape for once!  Tomorrow we will call the USCIS office and let them know that our prints should be in the system, and them we would hope to get our approval pretty quickly after that.  Please keep praying with us!

These past few weeks we have seen God’s hand in moving our process along faster than expected, and it has been a welcome change of pace from the early months of many patience-building delays.  It occurred to me in reflecting on this change of pace in our process that I never really shared here the story of how we came to this point (and so when I have written about the longness of this process, I probably just sounded whiny.  Sorry!)

Here is the beginning of our Little Lady’s story, and I will try to add to it when I can.  We met her in June 2011 when we first traveled to meet Niko.  She was just shy of 5 years old at the time, and she hardly left our sides as we spent our daily hours getting to know Niko.  I confess I only had eyes for my boy at the time, but she stole Trevor’s heart, and he knew from that first trip that she would someday be our daughter.

As the seven months passed until our second trip when Trevor and the big girls went back to pick Niko up, she faded a bit from my consciousness.  She flashed through my mind the night before they traveled, and on a whim I asked Trevor, “Are you still thinking of asking about R?”  He looked at me with matter-of-fact eyes, and simply answered, “Of course.”

And so it was that in our earliest weeks and months of adjusting to life with our new son last year, we were also looking at the medical file of another little blessing, and Trevor was ready to hop right back on a plane if he could….

Thankful Wednesday

If I had managed to do a post on Monday, I’d have been thankful for the safe arrival of my dear mother- and father-in-law from England for their first ever Thanksgiving!  It is, of course, someone else’s first Thanksgiving in this house as well.  He quickly got the hang of the classic handprint turkey this morning at the bookstore.  If only “My First Thanksgiving T-shirts came in sizes bigger than 12 months! 

And since I am likely not going to be getting online tomorrow (what with all the extra thankfulness and all), I will make my final thankfulness entry today.  Today I am thankful for a God who gives me what I don’t deserve and doesn’t give me what I do deserve.  As I look around at the precious faces that surround me each day, I know that I am blessed beyond measure.  And the truth is, I don’t deserve them.  Throughout Niko’s adoption process and again when he had his surgery, so many people seemed to comment about what amazing people we are.  You know what?  We’re not.  I live with myself, so I know I’m not.  I am sometimes impatient and harsh with my kids.  I am so often lazy and self-centered.  I am not at all amazing, but do I serve an amazing God.  I am thankful that He is gently and lovingly shaping me into what He wants me to be, and that in the meantime He has seen fit to nevertheless entrust me with these precious little souls to teach and guide.   He is so merciful, and so very good.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families!

Thankful Thursday

Okay, so it’s technically not Thursday anymore, but in anticipation of the fact that I’ve never been able to keep up the pace of being thankful for something every single day of November like some bloggers do, I’m taking this more relaxed approach.  Maybe I’ll do Mondays, too.  We’ll see.

Today, I’m counting this blessing:

 

Sweet Bea.  Today she was drawing a picture of Jesus.  Again.  Pippa draws horses, Romilly draws dragons, and Bea draws Bible stories.  Always.  And today Pippa asked her, “Bea, why are you always drawing Bible stories?”

Without a moment’s hesitation, she replied, “Because I just love Jesus.”

I don’t have any illusions that this means she’s on her way to becoming some kind of spiritual superstar (if there were such a thing!), but when so much of the small talk around our home lately has been about the latest American Girl Doll catalog (alright, how did they find us?  Who told them?!), this tenderhearted little comment was a breath of fresh air.  And she really meant it, too.

 

 

 

Sunday’s Coming!

Our pastor commented tonight at our Good Friday service that we sometimes feel we have to pretend to be sad on Good Friday and then be really happy on Easter.  (Umm, yeah.  I totally do that.  Why has it never occurred to me how silly that is?)

To the Christian who celebrates the resurrection every day, there is certainly still value in using today to reflect especially on Christ’s sacrifice, but what a joy to know what happened next!

As I think back to the first Good Friday and all the hopelessness and devastation that must have filled the hearts of Jesus’ followers and even of those who just wanted to believe He was the real deal, I just wish I could whisper to them, “Psst… wait till Sunday!”

Isn’t it great to know what’s coming?

*Awesome Easter craft: courtesy of Grandmom and her new found fascination with Pinterest. Why is my mom so much more technologically savvy than I am?