Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mother Language: Speaking to the Heart of Your Internationally Adopted Child

"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart." ~Nelson Mandela

When we first adopted our son from Ethiopia in 2008, he spoke very, very little English.  While I often look back at those initial months and think to myself that language was not "that big a deal," the truth was.  It was everything initially.  The grace of it is, it worked.  It just did.  He understood our hearts more than our words at first, and God knit us together as a family...through charades in. every. sentence.  By me holding up objects trying to guess what he was talking about, by him learning by trial and error which word referred to the cover on his bed, and how if he said it another way we all gasped and called it "the S word."  Bless him.

When he first came home, I had such a learning curve.  And, while I didn't do it all "right," I did what I could.  Thankfully, there are some wonderful resources available to families who adopt older kids.  Because we want to reach our kids' hearts, not just train them in linguistics or simply teach them a new language.  (I can't go another moment without mentioning Simple Language for Adoptive Families.  GET IT.

In 1999, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)  launched an "International Mother Language Day" (IMLD) to be observed throughout the world each year on February 21. According to their website, "This celebration is designed to promote linguistic diversity and multilingual education, to highlight greater awareness of the importance of mother tongue education."

This is a photo of my son in 2008, days after he had come to his new home.  (The original post that goes with this photo is on my homeschool blog here.)  I remember this so clearly!  The book he is reading in the photo is one that I was able to find that was written in Amharic and English.  It was so helpful to him to have resources here, that he could pick up and look at, try to decipher, and feel like he was reading.   

  The book he is reading is Silly Mammo.  Such a cute story, a folktale from Ethiopia.  We adapted the story into a puppet show and performed it at his orphanage on our adoption trip, and since it was written in Amharic as well as English, I was able to read it in English and the orphanage director would read it in Amharic to the kids.  Such fun!  So, this book is a fun memory for us.  That was important to me.  My other kids had "storybook memories" or reading with us...I wanted those for him as well!  And, we were able to start that right in Ethiopia. 

We bought as many books as we could get our hands on, in Amharic as well as in English, that were (as far as I could ascertain, if they were in Amharic) well-written uplifting stories, quality illustrations, or folktales from his culture.  Many are listed on Amazon when you click on Silly Mammo.  Clickety-click around and see what you can find! And...if you find something, snag it.  I am realizing that many of the links in my sidebar are dead links now...things quickly become unavailable.  

It was super important to me, in those early months, to be able to teach him the Bible in his heart language.  Our experience in missions has been beneficial in that way, so I had some picture resources.  But one resource that we have used with great success in Ghana popped into my head one day before we went to bring him home: "The Jesus Film."  As it happens, there is a version of The Jesus Film for children, called "The Story of Jesus for Children," and it is available in Amharic on DVD from the site, or to watch online here. He watched that video over and over.  (Note:  He was 10 years old, and there is, of course, a crucifixion scene.  He could handle it, but for younger kids you might use discretion.), with its 600+ translations, is also another great resource.  We got him a small iPod at first, and just loaded it up with Amharic audio Bible, as well as Amharic praise music (available on great cd's in Addis, ask your translator or agency) and also available at  We did other things, like label the house, and other strategies.  SO much fun!

Four years later...his Amharic is gone.  He transitioned from Amharic/Charades/English, to Charades/English to...English.  I continue to speak it when I can, travel to Ethiopia every year, cook the food every week, play the music, invite Ethiopians into our home, get him around Ethiopians who speak it...everything a "culturally aware" adoptive parent is to do, and more.  But, as I have from the beginning, I am following his lead.  I am listening to his heart.  He doesn't want to speak it now, and that is another post for another day, but I completely understand why.  In the meantime, we still have our resources and our book memories.  And hopefully, when Amharic was his heart language, "Jesus" and "Family" was spoken into it loud and clear.

Blessings on your journey!

Monday, March 05, 2012

Menu Plan Monday & Celebrating FAMILY

Happy Monday!! I hope you had a fabulous weekend! The highlight of ours was our niece's 6th birthday party yesterday. We have a large extended family, and it is always so fun to get together and celebrate each other. That's exactly how it feels, too! Everyone stops what they are doing, comes home from activities early or misses something else, because
you are important enough to prioritize and celebrate. Everyone needs to know what that feels like, I think. In some tiny (or not-so-tiny) way, dinner is like that for me. I am celebrating my family. It's worth stopping what we are doing, leaving an activity immediately afterward, or even missing something else altogether, to get home for dinner. Our family is worth celebrating. Another day living in the same house is worth celebrating (for those days are fleeting, more than we realize!).

This is one of those weeks when we have something every evening. AND my husband will be traveling. AND at the end of it, two kids leave for a week and one comes home. Lots going on in our home! But if I prioritize and plan, one of those things going on is...dinner. :)

Here's what's cooking this week: fast and easy favorites!

Monday: Gingered Chicken Stir Fry
Tuesday: Panini's and Pasta (one of our favorite paninis is here.)
Wednesday: YOYO (you're on your own)
Thursday: Y'assa Wet (Ethiopian fish...quick and SO good)
Friday: Bar-B-Cups (A "send-off" favorite for my middle son, who leaves the next morning for a week of mission work in New Orleans. :)

To read more menus or to share yours, visit Laura at Organizing Junkie. Have a yummy week!

Monday, February 27, 2012

What's For Dinner? (And...What's Left Over?)

Happy Monday! I hope you had a refreshing weekend. I know I did! All my chicks were in the nest, so I had 5 place settings at my little kitchen table, and I didn't know where my cell phone was all weekend. No, it wasn't lost, it just wasn't right beside me like it always is when one of my family members is away. It was such a vacation for my mind! We enjoyed Ethiopian food on Friday night, butterscotch chip brownies, biscuits and gravy on Sunday morning...yum. The house smelled like home and felt like family.

You may notice that my menu board (pictured) looks backwards. That's because it is! The side I wrote on last week is turned around (and now says "Last" where the "This" used to be) and this week's menu is facing forward. It's handy! Because when we have lunches or YO YO nights and people are looking for leftovers, there's a handy list posted of what's left in the fridge, and if there's any question as to its age, we have something to go on! I like keeping my menu posted this way! Next week, I'll flip it around, erase the now-2-week-old menu and start over. Voila. I picked this one up at a cute boutique-y place a few years ago, but I just found this at Container Store which could work the same way with fun printed-out sheets of paper, or a pretty backdrop of scrapbook paper and dry-erase markers. Fun!

So, here's what we've got cookin' this week...

Tuesday: Meatball subs & pasta salad
Wednesday: Ethiopian food night: Tibs, lentils, yebesele dinich (potatoes with cabbage)
Thursday: YOYO (you're on your own)
Friday: Crock Pot French Onion Soup, Caesar salad

For my friends who love Ethiopian cooking, I'll post the Tibs recipe with pics after I make it. :)

For more menus visit Laura at Organizing Junkie. I hope you have a yummy week in your kitchen with the people you love!

Monday, February 20, 2012


I was so excited to attend the "Empowered to Connect" conference last weekend, sponsored by Show Hope and featuring Dr. Karyn Purvis. Amazing, amazing stuff! I want to "unpack" so many of these thoughts in future posts, but for now, here is what I "live tweeted" as I sat and tried to "drink from the fire hydrant" for two days!
  • Some parents are trying so hard to save our kids, we're drowning ourselves.
  • Recreate the developmental environment/process they missed.
  • Give teenagers the same thing you would give a just looks different.
  • Are any of us adopting/fostering a child that came from a "warm & fuzzy" beginning? (Uh. No.)
  • 12+ years old, "diagnosis du jour"= bipolar disorder
  • There are answers. Great answers. And it doesn't take a PHD to know them. -Dr. Karyn Purvis
  • The essence of connection is "I hear your voice, I feel your need, and when it's in my power I will say yes." Dr. Karyn Purvis
  • Nothing we do with our kids will matter if we don't FEEL where they have come from.
  • Don't ask him what he did wrong. Ask what he needs
  • Honored to be in a room with hundreds of parents who are on the front lines.
  • Next session: Understanding a Child's History &Its Impacts" Oh, my child's history absolutely breaks my heart. But I am willing to go there.
  • Capacity of the brain is based on early nurture.
  • You CAN redo infancy with older kids with respect.
  • Don't ever give up on your child. There's a "real boy or girl" in there. God's got a plan for them. Jer29:11 (words from an adoptee)
  • I can relate!! I am on the "journey of the wounded healer." God can heal and restore parents AND children.
  • It's not an easy journey. But it's a grace journey.
  • When we keep them close, the stories come out, healing occurs.
  • "When going back makes sense, you are going ahead." -W. Berry (I've got to deal with MY stuff.)
  • I have to ask myself "WHY does this bother me so much??" when my buttons get pushed.
  • Am I letting my past be an unwelcome guest in my parenting moments? Quit letting it intrude. Go back and make sense of it.
  • If I don't guide and lead the way in attachment, I'm putting a lot on a wounded child's shoulders.
  • There is no healing without "being with." Being THERE is not being WITH.
  • It's a rectangle conspiracy!! Rectangles are getting between the members of our families: iPods, TV's, phones, iPads...
  • My goal as a parent: "And they lived faithfully ever after."
  • "I didn't like who I had become." I SO appreciate Terri's transparency. Authenticity is KEY.
  • My life is a big puzzle, and God gives me pieces at different times. -Terri Coley
  • Teaching self-regulation using Nerf guns? My guys will totally go for this.
  • LOVING seeing all of the grandparents who are here. I want to be that Nana someday!
  • Hear it...hear it. Yes, that's me! I need spaced repetition of all this stuff! There is grace.
  • What will I DO with what I know? Jesus, help me implement what You're telling me.
  • James 1:27 calls us to enter into their lives. What a privilege!
  • Grieve the ideal child in your mind, and love the amazing child right in front of you.
  • A huge part of being a lifelong learner is UNlearning. My child is unique! Some of what I've been taught does not apply to him.
  • I always want to buy everything on the conference tables at these things. But my kids need food. Sigh.
  • If you adopt a child from an orphanage, you've got a survivor.
  • My authority is enhanced, not undermined, by sharing power with my child. When I share power I show it is mine to share
  • Our kids have come to us with a boatload of broken promises and a broken heart that goes with it.
  • Don't expect them to give you words twice if they figure out you're not listening.
  • I don't need an elephant gun for every infraction! Try not to break stride.
  • Up the levels of structure and nurture if the child is out of control. What if *I* feel out of control? Same approach, I am thinking.
  • Answering yes=nurture, no=structure Do we need both? Absolutely!
  • When does my God *ever* leave me alone to "cry it out" so I can "self soothe?" Never. Some parenting books get it WRONG.
  • FIRST "What do you need?" NOT "What did you do?" Misbehavior is goal-driven.
  • You may be prepared for a child from a hard place, but is your church's childcare? Churches need to be in it for the long haul.
  • "It's really hard work to bring a child the rest of the way home." Dr. Karyn Purvis
  • "It's ok to make a mistake. Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue."- Dr. Karyn Purvis.

Menu Plan Monday & Coming HOME!

For years, I set four places at our table. Then, I began setting five after our adoption three years ago. Our family felt "complete." Our relatively small kitchen table was full. This year, my daughter headed off to college and we've been back to four and I don't like it. I'm still not used to it. Well, this Friday, for the first time this semester, I get to set five places again and BOY is this momma ever looking forward to it!

I asked my sweet daughter what she wanted and she said "Ethiopian food!" For some reason, university cafeterias aren't serving much Ethiopian food...not sure why! It is so yummy! At our house ET food is on Wednesday nights and Friday nights are soup night, so I've gladly switched it this week! Friday night will be 5 place settings and no flatware. :) The rest of the week is filled old faithful favorites, so there will be a fridge full of "familiar" in case she goes digging for leftovers while she's home. The weekend will go quickly. But I hope it feels slow...

So here is our week in food:

Monday: crock pot roast, potatoes, roasted carrots
Tuesday: Fish Fillets Italiano, pasta, spinach salad (<--a lower fat version)
Wednesday: Taco Soup
Thursday: YO YO ("you're on your own")
Friday: crock pot Doro Wat, chickpeas, fosoleay

For more recipe ideas and weekly menus or to share yours, visit

I hope you have a blessed week, filled with things that fuel your passion and keep you in touch with those you love!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Feet Shod With The Gospel

The following post is an excerpt of one I wrote in May 2007, before my second trip to China. I remembered it this week as I pulled out my faithful mission trip companion, my "travel Bible." By God's grace, that sweet Bible and I have shared many more miles and trips together since I wrote about it that spring day 4 years ago.

In just a few days, I will be returning to Ethiopia with a God-assembled team of 8. There are no words to describe how excited I am, but the post below still seems to accurately capture my "pre-travel" emotions. Some things never change! Thankfully, our Great God never does, and His Word is as true as ever.

May 9, 2007

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" Romans 10:14-15

It is a time of preparation. I have never had a blog during my times of preparing for mission trips before, so I've never really written about what I do. With just over a week until our departure for China, I have been working all along on some of the "nuts and bolts" of what needs to be done- making lists, preparing materials for some of the work we will be doing, emailing the missionaries and team members. To be honest, I have not posted much about this at all, simply because I'm not sure what I should post. (I'm a bit nervous about posting about our work specifically, as I don't want to unwittingly post any information that might jeopardize what our missionaries on the ground there are doing.)

Generally speaking, I will be doing some training in the International Fellowship there that our missionaries are part of, as part of their Sunday School program. We will be having a Mexican food party for some teen "MK's" (missionary kids") who are are hard at work for the Lord, and could really use some Rotel dip and tacos! We will be speaking to college students in a university setting, as well as in a coffee house. We will be speaking and ministering in a house church. We will be visiting a Buddhist monastery and prayer walking the area. My daughter and the other teens on the team will be performing some puppet shows in schools. Mostly we will be on the ground and available to do whatever the Holy Spirit directs. It's an exciting time!

But, if I'm honest, it's also (for me) a time when fear and anxiety begins to settle upon me. I've always been a pretty "tightly wound" person, but I have been plagued with fear and worry to an unparalleled degree during our years of short term missions. Things I have never worried about before can become areas of paralyzing fear for me, and even manifest themselves physically. I have recognized this as a ploy of the enemy, and have (by God's grace) been able to press through and go anyway, but nevertheless it remains a battle, from the moment I commit to a trip, throughout my entire time on the field, and even weeks after I return. God has been unspeakably faithful to me and has used this to draw me closer to Himself, further my understanding of Him and strengthen me according to His Word.

Today, I thought I'd post about what I do to prepare for a mission trip spiritually. The weeks leading up to this trip have been incredibly busy for me in every area. Socially, we have had more than our usual amount of obligations. Our ministry work in Awana has been quite time consuming. We have lost a dear friend. We are trying to finish our school work. My son has a birthday 2 days before we leave. Our house is in disarray as we are still working to put it on the market. Busy, busy, busy. And, I believe that is no accident. The enemy would love it if I would get totally distracted with the "mechanics" of my life right now and neglect the spiritual preparation needed for this trip. This would leave me completely vulnerable and could render me useless in China. I must guard against that.

This week I'm sharpening "my sword." I have a thinline Bible that I travel with. It's not the Bible I usually use for church or study, but thinner and easier to carry in my backpack. Since it's not the one I always use, I find that I can't easily flip through it and find passages as quickly as I can in my other Bibles. This week, I am having my daily quiet times in my "travel Bible," reacquainting myself with it. How I loved pulling it off of the shelf! It was like seeing a dear friend and travel companion. It's got sand and dirt in the creases- sand from Mexico, dirt from Ghana. Business cards from China (with the cell phone numbers of our missionary friends) fell out as I opened it up. A quote from an African pastor is written on the front page, "The devil sometimes strikes when you are not at work. Let us not become complacent," it says. Good reminder. I have a small heart sticker stuck inside the front cover, a reminder of a devotional I did with the kids on our Ghana team one summer when I gave them all a sticker to remind us that according to 2 Chronicles 16:9, "the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His." He sees my heart, He will strongly support me! What a promise! I must go boldly, clutching that promise.

Inside the back cover of this Bible I have Scripture references written for key Gospel passages. In my jet-lagged state, with the language barrier and the stress of being in another culture, sometimes it's hard to recall when I'm sharing with someone. I have found it a big help to have them written down and the scriptures highlighted. I also have the Roman Road scriptures listed in order on the first page of Romans with the corresponding verses highlighted. I have been reading back through these key passages and preaching the gospel to myself (which I wrote about here). Not only is this solidifying the Gospel in my heart and mind, it is causing me to operate in His power. The Gospel is power! What a covering!

Something else I have been doing, is praying through my 31 Days of Praise and 31 Days of Power books and highlighting Scriptures pertaining to God's attributes... His absolute goodness, sovereignty, love... There are moments of intense oppression on airplanes, layovers, late nights in my hotel room, and walking through heavily oppressed areas where I need those scriptures at my fingertips. Again, in the stress of the moment I might not be able to find these passages, but locating and marking some of them ahead of time and reading and meditating on them before I go is an immeasurable help. And this week I have been finding Scriptures I've marked and prayed through, that have been a lifeline for me in the past. God is using them to remind me of His past sufficiency and the promise of it in the days and weeks to come. He is so, so good.

So, this is a little of what I've been up to in my preparations. To those of you who are praying for us... thank you. I have tears in my eyes just now thinking about it. You have no idea what a lifeline those prayers are to me. No idea. Thank you, thank you. May the blessing return to you a hundred fold.


Update: I just realized I didn't include something I added to my travel Bible, something I find SO helpful: a list of the "attributes of God" taped inside the back cover. If When I start to freak out, bam. I read it. THAT's who my God is. That's Who sent me. That's Who lives in me. That's Who you're dealing with, enemy. Take courage, heart.

You can find some lists here, here, here, the Bible! (Psalm 145. Bam.)

Thursday, August 04, 2011

"Don't Blink." [I didn't.]

In just a few short days, my sweet girl will be leaving for college. College. How did this happen so soon? I have often heard it said, "Don't blink! It goes by quickly!" Well, I'm here to say... I didn't. I never blinked once. I practically propped my eyes open with toothpicks! And... it still went by fast!
Her senior year went by in a flurry of activity, as I knew it would. Everything, and I mean everything, was SO fun! I soaked up all the details right along with her! Senior activities, last season of basketball, dances, prom, senior trip... what a blessing it has all been.

So, why am I writing this post? Well, first of all because I haven't blogged in ages. Second of all, to mark this season of change, and thirdly, for a brain dump. I got up this morning, preparing to "take on the day," readying the house for a family party for my mom's birthday today, going about my morning routine and then I remembered a dream I had last night. In my dream I was outside, sitting in a type of courtyard, and thinking about her leaving. I dreamed I just began to sob, and sob, and sob. I thought to myself, "Huh. I haven't done this yet. This feels pretty great! I have needed to do this." And then, just as quickly, I told myself, "You DON'T have time for this. What if someone sees you? You're making a spectacle of yourself. Cry later." And I stopped. I know it must have been a dream because in "real life" I can't just stop. And then I look horrible and have a headache for hours. In my dream I simply stopped, got up, and went on with it. Interesting.

Anyway, I wouldn't change a thing. Not one thing! She is going to the college of her choice, which is HUGE. Having homeschooled her since Kindergarten, I must say that's been one of my biggest prayers for her, that she would get into the college of her choice. She's planning to major in Nursing. She has registered for some amazing classes, gotten into a beautiful dorm, for which she has the cutest dorm decor ever and an amazing roommate. She just got a fabulous "new-to-her" car and is beyond excited about the season ahead. Most importantly, she has been listening to the podcasts from the college ministry at a church in her college town, and is ready to plug in to the ministry there. She actually met some of the students at the Passion Conference this year. Isn't God amazing? He has provided ALL these things. To HIM be the glory!

In the meantime, I will be back home, being a "boy mom." One with a driver's permit, and one who is playing tackle football. Lots of testosterone at my house! Lots of opportunities to be on my knees in prayer!

I'm still not blinking! Well, except for blinking back tears...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Crock Pot Doro Wat

I've posted before how much we enjoy Ethiopian cooking in our home. In fact, it's a weekly tradition! After we arrived home with our newly adopted 9-year-old son, we would make a point of taking him out for Ethiopian food, but it would be a $50-$75+ meal each time. On the heels of an adoption, and for a family of 5 living on one income, we quickly realized that was not an option very often! Additionally, it was important to me (and, I believe, for our son) for the distinct and wonderful smell of berebere and other Ethiopian spices to not simply remind him of Ethiopia or a restaurant... but of HOME. I have adapted many recipes but have only taken the time to post a couple. I have been terrible about blogging for the past couple of...years. The ones I have written about are here. I know there are many others making it better, but I've been asked how I do it, so I want to be sure and share. Sometimes I get more "gourmet" when I have time: freshly-chopped red onions, organic, fresh chicken marinated in lime juice, and cooking it in wine. But today I'm sharing what I make on a busy day. :)

As a busy mom, I utilize my crock pot multiple times per week. During the school year it is a huge time saver. In the summer there are just as many reasons to use it (not to mention "menu plan"!). So, why not for Ethiopian food?

Here is my Crock Pot Doro Wat. (In fact, my Ethiopian son just came in, lifted the lid of the crock pot and said "I don't think I can wait for dinner! I want some NOW!" :)


Crock Pot Doro Wat (Spicy Chicken Stew with Hard Boiled Egg)

1 bag boneless, skinless frozen chicken

1 bag frozen, chopped onion

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

4-6 tablespoons bere bere (if you're new or sensitive to spicy-ness, you may want to start with 2)

2 tablespoons margarine or butter

1 tablespoon cardamom

1/2 tablespoon garlic powder

1/2 tablespoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon black pepper

5-6 hardboiled eggs

sea salt to taste

Thaw the chicken, then stir all the ingredients together in the crock pot.
After about 5 hours on "low" setting, or whenever the chicken is cooked, use a fork to shred it into bite-sized pieces that will be easily picked up when eaten with injera.

Add a few hard boiled eggs which have been pierced with a fork. OR, you can slice them up. I don't want the whole thing to get too "eggy" so I just put them whole and we cut them when we serve it, or half them on our plates.
Today I added my version of Chickpea Paste ("But-etcha") My VERY simple version. I cooked some chickpeas over the weekend, but you can also use canned.
Once the chicken mixture is cooked, spoon some of the sauce into the chickpeas with a little water.
Use the Braun or the blender to mix it all up into a yummy and nutritious paste.

Tonight I also served it with "ayb" (cottage cheese... nice with spicy food, especially on a hot night) as well as some English peas. It turned out betam konjo!

Let me know how yours turns out, or post your modifications in the comments. I love learning how other people do it!


Monday, February 28, 2011

Calm in the Chaos

Minte and I watched a movie together... his long frame stretched out across the end of my bed, me leaning against the headboard with my legs tucked up under me, a cup of tea and my iPad on my lap. I watch things that stress me out now: war movies, "I-shouldn't-be-alive" documentaries, people catching wild hogs, fishing for Alaskan crab, or designing guns. Things my teen and pre-teen boys find interesting. I watch through my fingers or with one eye on a book about something more civilized... but I want to be with them. And watching their "stuff" with them gives us something to talk about and gives me a link into their world. I learned a long time ago that loving people is making what's important to them important to you. Which, in the case of pre-teen and teenaged boys involves things that shoot things, or save people, or explode.

This weekend it was an edited-for-television version of the movie, "The Guardian," about the US Coast Guard. I usually only watch movies where the pretty girl meets the pretty boy and they fall in love in a pretty story and live happily ever after... usually in Italy. This isn't that kind of movie. But I also realize that it came out in 2006, and this is 2011. So chances are you've seen it, and either from that or the movie poster at the left, you know that.

My first thought in this movie was WOW. I had no idea, really, what the Coast Guard involved. I realize this is as real a picture of the USCG as "Top Gun" was of the US Navy, but still. Wow. I have never really given thought to what the Coast Guard is required to do. So, thank you US Coast Guard! I never go in the ocean, and never on a small boat, but if I ever do I'll be so thankful for the USCG if I or anyone I love is ever in need of them. And I'll be thankful if they fish me out and I find myself looking into the face of someone who looks like Kevin Costner or Ashton Kutcher. But, [ahem] that's not the point of this post.

What inspired me to finally bust back onto my blog and post about a 5 year old non-pretty movie was a quote by Kevin Costner's character, Ben Randall, who is a seasoned Senior-something (I don't know my ranks) in the USCG, instructing Ashton Kutcher's character, Jake Fischer at the "A" School for new CG recruits. He tells him:

"The difference between you and the victim is the attitude with which you enter the water. You have to remain calm in the chaos."

And it hit me. That's what parenting teenagers is. That's what parenting a child who comes from hard places (like an adopted child) is.
As parents, we are the Coast Guard. We are helping our kids navigate and survive some difficult waters. Sometimes they get themselves into some choppy situations, or as in the case of some boaters, they are doing what is perfectly appropriate but storms just come upon them. We are the USCG, who flies in, enters their situation with them, gets in the water with them, swims with them... but with a different attitude. One of expertise, one of calm, one who sees the big picture. One with training, who's "been there done that."

What would happen if the Coast Guard swimmer jumped in and started freaking out along with the victim? Started flapping around grabbing at the victim, pulling him under, panicking? Then there would be more casualties. In fact, there is one scene where a husband and wife are drowning and the husband pushes his wife under to get to the basket first, to save himself. Can you imagine being in such a state that you would drown someone you love?

Unfortunately, I am prone to "flapping." I readily admit this! That's why this line in the movie stuck out to me this weekend. I must enter their lives as a calm influence amid the "chaos" of coming from a hard place to a new life across the sea (like my youngest), the teenage years (like my middle son), of graduating and launching into the world of college (like my daughter), ready to swim alongside them or offer them a line up if necessary. Not to flap around and panic about the waves. I have been trained for this. I have! I have a relationship with my Heavenly Father, who tells me all the things I need to know, I have the Holy Spirit living in me, ready to instruct me at any moment (and Whose fruit is self control), I need not panic, either inwardly or outwardly. I am the Coast Guard. I need to jump in, give a "thumbs up" and do what they need me to do.

"Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm."
Matthew 8:26

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Plan A

It's Orphan Sunday in many churches. There is a precious one in our home who NO LONGER bears the title of "orphan." But, by God's grace he's not the only one! God has graciously adopted ALL of us into His family. I pray we will all think about how, as His adopted children, we are to respond to orphans. WE are God's plan for orphans.

If you are His, YOU are His plan for them.

Plan A.

Friday, October 29, 2010

5 Months Later...

Whoa! Has it been 5 months since I last posted?? HOW can that be? I think I say that everytime I take an unintentional "blog break." As I always say... too busy livin' it to blog about it.
SO. The past 5 months has been quite blog-worthy though, had I taken the time to write!

June: We wrapped up a great school year. Also, we prepared to send our two oldest children to Ghana. It was a great month, our only month of "summer" as a family, really. We had fun packing and preparing, and just being together. I took the above photo of the kids in their mission fundraiser shirts, and would eventually stare holes in this photo while they were away.
July: A hard and wonderful month!! Bethany and Kyle, my now 17- and 14 year-old spent almost the entire month in Ghana, West Africa. It was hard because, well, it's always hard when all or part of us are so far away. It was hard because they (along with the rest of the team) got very, very sick on the trip. They saw some and did some hard things, and ALL to God's glory! They saw Him work, and had a front row seat to see some amazing things the Lord is doing in northern Ghana. I wish I would've blogged during that trip... Maybe I'll dig back through some of my thoughts another time. It was an amazing month!

While the older two were gone, we took Minte on a trip, too. We went to south Texas to visit family for a wedding and to take Minte to see Shamu (something he requested a few months ago). We invited one of his favorite people to go with us, his cousin. The boys had a wonderful time together! He also experienced his first Polish Catholic South Texas wedding... also a fun time!
We took another trip when the older two returned, this time to east Texas to the lake with family. A relaxing and wonderful time to reconnect with our amazing extended family and gear up for the beginning of another school year.

We have just wrapped up the first couple of months of school. Now with a senior, a freshman and a 6th grader. I officially have all high schoolers and a middle schooler! No more younger ones! Well, except my middle schooler is learning to read English. I neeeeed to blog on my homeschool blog about homeschooling ESL middle school....very fun and challenging! In the last few weeks our daughter has applied and been accepted into the college of her choice, yey! After being completely homeschooled... I always wondered if that would happen! Praise God!

So, it's been a wonderful 5 months, we are still here, still busy, still blessed. Since the advent of Facebook and Twitter, I just don't get on the blog as much, but I miss it. Thank you to all who have commented or emailed to check on us. I have lots of bloggy thoughts on any given week, but they just don't make it here. Perhaps I'll start being better about that! God is constantly teaching me SO much! Oh, and I'm planning to return to Ethiopia in January. Yey!! More on that later...

Happy Fall, Y'all!