Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Missions as Fasting by Michael Oh
Thanks, Lord for the PUSH!!!
at 9:40 PM
Monday, February 22, 2010
I've struggled today wondering if we can care for another child. Not only financially, but emotionally. I wonder if I can divide my attention one more time with another person who needs me. Even as I question, my internal spirit tells me - Yes, but only with God's help. So, I'm asking for His help. Help!
Last night, one of the boys shared a struggle that was deeply painful for him. After much coaxing and patience, he was finally able to verbalize his hurt. In hearing his words, I hurt. My heart crumbled. Holding onto my dear one, I recognized that another child could mean sharing more pain. At the end of our tear-filled conversation, Reid, our son, and I embraced in a family hug. What overwhelming JOY to help heal the hurt. How privileged I was to hear the heart of my child - to be a safe place. Yes, another child may mean some pain, but that is the risk of LOVE - and it's worth it.
In my autobiography, I had to write a short synopsis of each of our boys. As I weighed their personalities, I realized these four gifts are currently entrusted to our care. Here is my "take" on each son:
Mason: Our 13 year old son reminds me of Reid. He is sensitive to the needs of others, and beyond his years in maturity. Mason is a natural leader, gifted guitar player, bright student, and self-motivated. He adds love to our home through his willingness to sacrifice for his brothers. He’s offered to help us raise money for the adoption by mowing yards in the neighborhood. He is a giver!
Franklin: Our 11 year old son creates a spark of friendship with anyone he meets. He engages others by including them in his play. Franklin is gifted artistically, drives on the drums, exerts himself athletically, and school-smart. Franklin is our prankster, and brings lots of laughter to our home in with his antics. On the nights I find a love note on my pillow, I know the signature will be from Franklin.
Weston: Our 9 (almost 10) year old son gives a quiet peace with his presence. Although soft-spoken, his presence brings a calm assurance. Weston is extremely kind, an expert at anything electronic, engineer-minded, talented on the keyboard, and wonderful with younger children. Weston is willing to do anything asked of him with a joyful spirit. He helps me with anything remotely computerized!
Braden: Our 6 year old son keeps us smiling. Because of his older brothers, he thinks he is really much older than six. He is extremely active, aggressively tackling reading, learning the bass guitar, and the first to try new things. He is a risk-taker! Braden is vocal and will honestly tell you what is on his heart. Braden brings beauty to our life by noticing the blooming flowers, blowing wind, or the changing leaves.
This verse has ministered to me recently.
"From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more." Luke 12:48
As God continues to pull our hearts toward our child in Ghana, I recognize that when everything comes to fruition, God will be entrusting us with another child. God is calling us to give more of ourselves away - for an eternal plan. That God would choose to entrust us with another child? What an honor. It's a high and holy calling to raise a child, and it is challenging to do it in a way that honors God, especially in our culture.
As a friend told us last night, "A child needs love and discipline. However, if you must be heavier on one, always give more LOVE!" We are trying.
I pray we can raise all of our children in a way that pleases God - recognizing our many failures and inadequacies and trusting Him to fill in the gaps. We trust.
at 8:20 PM
Friday, February 19, 2010
This morning we had a super productive day home schooling. We learned five Latin prefixes (meanings and examples). We labeled three bodies of water, and four countries on our Africa maps. We added timeline cards #102, #103, and #104 (Jamestown, Mayflower, Pilgrims). The boys finished their Math, English, Science, etc... All of this was accomplished before 11:15! Whew! My teaching was fast-and-furious because I had to have Mason to his Destination Imagination Team practice time at 11:45. Go, go, go!
The boys and I loaded up in the van to head over to meet his team. Today was my day to assist the coach, so for three hours I helped whenever it was appropriate. (Cleaning up, asking people to listen, etc...) Franklin, Weston and Braden played outside during the practice. Mason's team is comprised of five boys and two girls. Although they are very talented, their time together is LOUD! At the end of the session, I had a headache coming on - BIG TIME!
The five of us loaded up back in the van for the drive back home. As we were pulling out of the driveway, Franklin stated, "It's such a beautiful day today!"
Ouch! That hurt! As soon as he said it, I realized because of my agenda for the day - I hadn't even noticed! Shame on me!
My eyes were opened, and I enjoyed the ride home with our precious boys! Cracking the windows, the cool breeze felt nice on my face. Lord, forgive me for not noticing the beauty. My life should not be about rushing to accomplish tasks, but savoring everything You give!
The rest of the day, I have forced myself to relax. It's nice to be at peace. I've laughed and been tickled by the antics of boys. (Perhaps part of my relaxed state has come from limiting my computer time. During Lent, I've chosen to only allow myself on after 1:00 pm and off before 9:30 pm. I realized my quiet times were suffering because of poor choices I was making with regards to my computer time.)
After I stopped to enjoy, these were some of the blessings God had waiting for me:
Weston learned a new magic trick today. My eyes couldn't keep up with his disappearing coin trick. Where did it go? Weston may be the next David Copperfield.
Upon arriving home from the DI meeting, the four brothers trekked up into the woods. Play, boys! Play! Evidently there is some nice moldable dark brown mud somewhere in the forest. A handmade pile of poop was left on the top of the toilet. Yes, it was! (Thank you, Mason!) To get him back, Reid and I placed it on a paper plate and served it to him at dinner. What goes around, comes around! Whoo-Hoo! Gotcha!
Braden helped make supper tonight. He cut up the pear. When he finished slicing it, he seriously asked if he could serve it on the red "You're Special Today" plate. Are you kidding me? Of course you can! Reid lifted him onto the counter so he could get it down himself!
During dinner, Franklin asked if we could have some "Blue Cord Chicken" soon. Blue Cord Chicken? Huh? What? O-o-o-h-h-h, you mean Chicken Cordon Bleu. Yes, sweetie, we can do that!
I LOVE MY FAMILY! LOVE 'EM, LOVE 'EM LOVE 'EM!
Adoption Update - We didn't make the goal for sending the paperwork today. Hopefully, early next week it will be on the way to the agencies. Please pray for Reid to have time to do his portion. He's worked late every night this week. Yuck! After being outside all day in the freezing cold, he's been exhausted. He's been working on reports from the job site at night, so his time has been limited. Unfortunately, he will be working tomorrow as well.
There's more I could say about it, but I'll hold my tongue. We are thankful he has a job. This is the Lord's provision for our family now, and we are grateful. Thank you! We would appreciate prayer for him to have the time he needs to complete his part of the paperwork. He needs some relief from work for the time to accomplish this.
Please pray Philippians 4:9 for us:
"And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."
I'd better go, it's almost 9:30. Love to everyone! I plan to enjoy the BEAUTIFUL day tomorrow! Hope you will also!
at 8:40 PM
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
This morning I spoke with a friend, B, who just returned from another African country with his daughter and his newly-adopted grand-daughter.
A few things B said to me reminded me of why we began this journey.
1.) There were eight other families traveling to this country to adopt children. Everyone of them stated their reason for going...God called them to do so. B said that was why every family in their travel group was adopting. I was awe-struck to hear this from him! As a previous football coach, B has a tough-guy exterior and rarely shows a spiritual side. He continued to share how God moved on the hearts of his fellow travelers. B's faith is not the same.
2.) My friend said he never could have imagined the poverty he saw in this country. This country is as poor as Ghana. Recently, our news coverage has been about the devastation in Haiti where the cost of living is approximately $2 per day for each person. Haiti is experiencing great trauma without the internal means to rebuild their country. Friends, they need our prayers.
The standard of living in Ghana, however, is less than $1 per day per person. (I believe it is about the same for the country B returned from. How about that for perspective on the McDonald's $1 menu?)
My friend said he realized his grand-daughter would have grown up in a grass mud hut with a dirt floor, never hoping for anything better. B said he really did not have any concept for the extreme impoverishment he witnessed.
3.) Every morning at 5:00 am the morning wake up call was the city loud speaker calling people to pray to Allah. It is the first of five prayers calls throughout the day! In researching this continent, hearing Mathiang's story, and studying history, it's evident that the primary religion in Africa is Islam.
This afternoon, I started our new read-aloud. It's called The Glorious Age of Africa. We are studying the geography and history. The first empire we are learning about is the, get this, GHANA EMPIRE! Seriously, I had no idea! Coincidence? I think not.
I'm grateful that God continues to point us in His direction. Small events in conversation, timing, etc... are evidence of his leading on this journey. We can not do it alone.
Please continue to pray our child home. I'm completing my autobiography tomorrow, and Reid is starting his. Our goal is to mail the home study application by Friday. Please pray for the time to complete everything!
at 4:30 PM
Monday, February 15, 2010
Franklin, I'm glad you like your new shirt. I know it's a not often you receive something new. Aren't you thankful I lifted the "collared shirt rule" so you could wear it to church?
at 11:25 AM
We're so proud of all of you! Your hard work paid off!
Sorry Mason, you still need to be studying for the state competition. Ugh! I know this is NOT what you wanted to hear!
You may be wondering what Weston, Braden and I did while they were gone... We prepared a special "Red and White" Valentine's dinner for them. They came home to candlelight and crystal on the table! (I wish I'd taken a picture...) We ended the day celebrating the LOVE within our family! Praise God!
at 10:32 AM
Friday, February 12, 2010
For those of you who do not know, Ansley is the friend who taught me about living life, about friendship, about sacrifice, and that if one knows the Lord, then dying is not the end - it's the beginning.
To Our Hearts Today
Oh Lord – May I ask
What would Ansley want today?
What would she want people to remember?
What would she want people to say?
I come before you to ask
What is to be done with her story?
Her prayer on her knees in the beginning
Was that her life be used for Your glory.
So what can be said
To comfort the hurting?
Those who don’t understand?
And those who are searching?
What would Ansley want, Lord
Can you tell me please?
I’ll stay here and wait to listen –
I’ll remain on my knees…
I ask you, dear child,
You knew her heart so well –
What do you think
That she would have you tell?
Oh, Lord, at the end of her journey
Which You carried her through
She would not wish this to be about herself
Her desire would be for all glory to go to You.
For whenever someone was touched
By her words or her prayer
It wasn’t herself she wanted them to see-
It was You Alone she longed to share.
She would comfort us and say,
“Don’t shed your tears for me
I am with my Lord and Savior
He has healed me completely!
To her beloved Todd and Colby
And to her precious daughter Gray
She would convey her great love for them
And remind them they will all be together again one day!
Ansley would say
To her family and friends
Always cling to Christ
Until your very end.
He will hold you
On any journey long
For we are so very weak
And our God, so very strong.
And, if there is anyone here
Who doesn’t know Christ
I want you to know Him
Let Him give you the Abundant Life!
For if you don’t know Jesus
You have the worst cancer of all
But one He will take away
If you will only heed His call.
Ansley would want people challenged
Your followers reaching for You higher
For everyone’s heart to be filled
With your all consuming fire!
She would gently beckon us
To soften our hearts and completely yield
To whatever God’s Will is for our lives
And to make that our mission field!
She would ask us to lift our hearts
To You, our voices raise
In a song about Your goodness
Giving You, Your worthy praise.
Is this it, dear Lord?
Are these words from her heart?
Oh yes, My child, it is –
For I have set her apart.
Her path of earthly suffering
Was never walked alone
Ansley has reached her final destination
At the feet of My glorious throne.
When she came before Me
And she beheld my face
She completely understood
My amazing grace.
And, as I placed her crown
Gently upon her head –
I thanked her for walking
Along the path where I had led.
Then I whispered in her ear
That this was the answer to her first prayer-
As she grew to love me more
As I peeled away the layers.
While she was on Earth
She was given an incredible story
I told her that her prayers were answered-
For it was all for My glory.
As she stood before me
I praised her for being My good and faithful One-
I gently touched her precious face
And told her, “Well done…well done.”
at 8:14 PM
Thursday, February 11, 2010
This photo was taken back in November. Sadly, on this day, their regular teacher, Mrs. Beebe, was absent. Her replacement was a crazy, strange woman named Mrs. Truly Tacky. (Does the outfit look familiar?) She had a weird accent didn't know anyone's name. Everyone was known by something they were wearing..."little boy in the red shirt," "little girl in the blue hat," etc... The students were given a timed writing prompt and asked to write a descriptive essay describing their substitute. It was a day to remember!
Yes, really, it was!
These names are so difficult – What will I write?
A poetic gift for Valentines Day – To make them feel bright?
Their names have several syllables – Some with three, Some two –
Rebekah or Madison – I can’t rhyme them, Can you?
But for Julia and her brother, Jacob Rook –
I suppose I could thank them for their reports on a book?!?
What about the girls, Chloe and Sarah?
Why can’t I have two other students named Zoe and Clara?
Montgomery McRetto? Anthony Stallone?
How can I rhyme them? Really, come on!?!
This rhyming is hard – And my writing is messy.
I need help. Oh please – I guess I’ll ask Jessie!
I could ask Caroline or Alonna or Sam –
They would know what to do in this rhyming jam!
Weston and Franklin will help me. After all, they’re my sons.
Wait ‘til I share this poem I’ve begun.
They’ll laugh at my rhymes. They’ll say I’m in a “real pickle.”
They’ll tell me I need help from the Rhyme King – Philip Brickle!
Oh, what should I do? There’s so much at stake –
The class will probably laugh at me… Especially Jake!
This is such a conundrum – I should probably call Will –
Oh dear! What should I do? My mind needs to stop and BE STILL!
But I can’t stop – Really, what if I slip?
If my rhyme scheme is off – I’ll be corrected by Chip!
The hour is late – I can’t dilly-dally.
I wish I had the poetic ease of sweet Emma Bali.
My time is up. This poem will have to do –
I just wish between the lines – They could read the “I love yous.”
This class has great potential – To change this wide world.
I pray they will live life with their faith unfurled.
It’s an honor to teach them. They all bring such joy –
I hope they’ll like this poem – Instead of a Valentine toy.
Precious Shurley 5 Class, As I’ve rehearsed –
I’ll close this poem with this short verse…
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I believe in each of you!
at 12:17 AM
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
at 10:40 PM
Thursday, February 4, 2010
[Our sledding time on Jan 9th was significant in moving us to take the step toward adoption. I hope to write more about "How We Got Here" later. Actually, it would be more correct to write "How We GOD Here." God's leading, we're following.]
Weston - "SMILEY" - His smile captures my heart! (The snowsuit Weston is wearing is a hand-me-down from my cousin who is now in his early 20s. It cracks me up that it's lasted that long. Mason and Franklin have enjoyed it as well!)
Mason - Always trying to make me laugh by being silly, silly, silly
Braden - Daring and not wanting to take time from sledding for a picture
Franklin - Steadfast and Strong
at 11:07 PM
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
We are trying to decide about spring sports. Franklin and Braden want to play baseball. Today Franklin said, "Mom, I want to play baseball but if it's between spending money on baseball or adoption...I want to adopt." He is a giver through and through. Precious, huh?
We need prayer for wisdom, discernment, strength, peace and provision. We know God will provide everything we need! Trusting, trusting, trusting...
at 10:01 PM
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
The next few posts were written last week. I waited to post them until I'd made a few phone calls, and during that time I decided to post our adoption journey on our family blog rather than starting a new one. This will be our journey as a family, and I'd like to record it as such. Thank you for walking alongside us as we take this ENORMOUS LEAP OF FAITH!
Originally Written January 29, 2010
Today we completed the 18 page application for Adoption. I met Reid in a parking lot where he "signed his signature" to the many dotted lines. Afterwards, I headed to the post office where it was sealed in an envelope and officially beginning the journey to the adoption agency. Oddly enough, the agency is in High Point, NC which is our previous hometown.
Upon returning home from the post office, I printed off the next step - the 51 page Home study application. Whew! I had no idea we would be completing so many forms, sharing so much personal information, obtaining so many verifications, finding original copies of certificates, etc... It seems like a lot of work, but we know it is more than worth it!
Tonight we told Omar and Lamar our plans. They are so excited about another "brother or sister" from Ghana. Omar said, "That is so cool!" I asked if their Mom, Anna, would help teach me to braid hair if we end up adopting a girl. I was assured she would be thrilled to walk me through it. We assured Omar and Lamar that our relationship with them would not change. Lamar seemed relieved to hear it. Honestly, I think the two of them have played a significant role in preparing our hearts for this decision. They have shown us that the only thing a child really needs is someone to love them. So, love, love, love...
This evening Reid did the devotion with all of the boys (Omar, Lamar, and ours). The scripture he read reminded us that God knew everything before time even began. He knew we would be making this step at this exact time. He knows.
Tonight there is a child in Ghana who has no idea that we are already praying for her/him. This child does not yet know that our hearts are already opening wide with love. This child does not realize there is a family waiting with open arms to receive her/him home. However, tonight in our devotion, Weston pointed out that "God is the one who knows which child will join our family." He knows.
Two Comments from Original Post from another blog site:
Comment from Kelly - We Want Tessert, left January 31, 2010
Robin! Congratulations!! How exciting and what a surprise! I will keep your family in my prayers. I can hear your dad's voice telling you to do what you need to do. You are surrounded by love and support----this will happen.
Comment from Becki - Party of Five, left January 31, 2010
WOW, WOW, and WOW!!!!!! Thank you so much for keeping me posted! I'm so excited for you! God is SO good, and start writing all these "little" things down of how He provides and how He confirms that you are walking the road He wants you to walk! That's my favorite part from Addie's adoption!! I'm sorry I've been "away", I am leading a team of 11 to Haiti on Monday. We are going to work in an orphanage that houses 75 children and is bringing in up to 300 displaced orphans! it was an "emergency team" that was put together, so life has been a whirlwind the past WEEK since I found out I was going!
Sorry for taking up such a long comment.
We need to connect again soon!
Love and congrats to YOU!
at 8:31 AM
As we begin this journey, my heart begins to pump rapidly when I think about the enormous cost of this endeavor. However, I trust God will provide every step of this journey...
The day we made the decision to adopt (Tuesday, 01/26/10), Braden, our 6 year old offered us all of his money to put toward the adoption. Therefore, we have a start of $72.36. (Ha-ha!) What an encouragement to already see the generous heart of our son! We are blessed.
Mason is planning to start a lawn-mowing business and he told us that he's decided to give his "tithe" to his father and me for ministry and adoption. My heart rejoices at his early recognition that his first fruits belong to the Lord! Of course, we will discuss the tithe should go to the church, but at 13 years old, his desire is to share! God love graciously abounds in Him!
Many of you know, Reid was gone for most of December working on a project at Three Mile Island, PA. He spent long, freezing-cold days away from his family during the Christmas Season. It was difficult. Well, yesterday, he received a little bonus for his work there. After taxes and with-holdings, he brought home $321.00! Whoo-Hoo! We laughed to realize that this will cover the initial application fee, which is being mailed TODAY! It's the perfect amount of money - in the perfect time! God will provide! Yes, we believe He will!
at 8:30 AM
Last night, Mason spent the night with a friend, so the other three decided to have a "brother slumber party" downstairs. Reid tip-toed toward the downstairs room wondering what he might find as the boys were preparing for bedtime. However, standing outside the door, his ears picked up a sweet surprise.
"Does anyone want to pray?" asked Franklin.
"I will," replied Weston. "Dear God, We pray for Mason at his friend's house and ask that he would have fun and you would keep him safe. We also pray for this adoption. Please bring this little child home to us."
Franklin continued, "And Lord, we pray that our new brother or sister would come to know Jesus. We pray that he or she will choose to follow You. Amen."
at 8:28 AM
Originally written Thursday, January 28, 2010
Reid and I have made the decision to pursue adoption from Ghana, Africa. The Lord began moving our hearts toward adoption over a year ago. We have been seeking God and praying, and it's with much fear and trembling that we are taking this step of faith. Yet, we KNOW this is God's desire from us, and we know the child is to come from Ghana. We have both been to Ghana on mission trips. Reid - twice, I - once. On Sunday, I had this overwhelming feeling that there is a little girl over there that is supposed to join our family. We step forward in faith, trusting God's plan. Please PRAY!
We spent Sunday afternoon (1-24-10) with Mathiang, and his friend from China, Yilong. I realized that, because of Mathiang in our life, our little family will consist of people from three nations. That is ONLY GOD!?! What a beautiful picture of HIM! I've been studying 1 Corinthians Chapter One. It's amazing how "God uses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise." I know this will seem foolish to many. Through our time with Omar and Lamar, we've realized that children simply need someone to love them, and not all of the trappings of this world. God continues to grow our family and press us on!
Yesterday, I shared with my Dad how God was stirring in our hearts. Expecting to hear all the reasons not to adopt from a foreign country or reasons not to adopt - period, I braced myself for what Dad was about to say. He looked me in the eye and said, "If it's something God is telling you to do Robin, you DO IT." We say, "Yes, Lord! Yes, Lord!"
All four boys are extremely excited. They are ecstatic that we are bringing a little one into our lives. Mathiang sent his smile through the phone line. Our families are excited about another child. (I feel like we've announced we are pregnant again!) It's been so encouraging!
Friends, we humbly ask for your prayer as we begin this journey.
And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation."
at 8:24 AM
Reid looks over, nods his head, and verifies what I have already seen.
Mason pulls up his shirt and begins checking his underarms for growing hair that he may have missed. He sees the budding growth and exclaims, "I'VE GOT PIT HAIR! ALRIGHT! I'VE GOT PIT HAIR!"
Ummm...yes, we have officially entered puberty!
at 8:17 AM