Our sweetie pies

Our sweetie pies

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

God's blessings and God's helpers

I am thankful that God gave me the children that he did. I have a friend on facebook that takes in foster children. He said that recently they were meeting their newest foster child. A 3 year old with Leukemia.

It made me stop and think about how many people don't want to deal with noisy kids or lots of homework or disciplining their children properly or getting help for their kids when they need help or adding a chronic disease to the family.

My mentor and I were talking the other day about how it was God's plan that I became a credentialed special education teacher. I am naturally a very compassionate person but also now I am educated as to what to look for in developing children and how to intervene when something developmentally doesn't seem right.

I was reading an article the other day about a woman that had preemie twins that had to stay in the NICU at the hospital for awhile after they were born. One of the twins did not survive. This woman now goes back to the NICU every Christmas and brings gifts for the moms with children in there and offers a sympathetic ear to the worn out moms.

This made me think of my trials. What we have been through in our lives and how my stories can encourage others. Not only did we have preemie twins in the NICU that thank goodness did survive, but then we also had a three year old in a body cast and then later on a daughter diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Not only have we survived one medical ordeal, we have survived several!

And now I think about our friend that is the foster father. He takes in so many chronically ill children that aren't wanted by their families. It makes me think, "what if my daughter had gone to another family?" "Would they have taken good care of her?" "Would they have wanted her?"

We have a neighbor that asked me one day if I was going to have any more children. She definitely didn't think it was a good idea. In her view, five was enough. I don't know if she has children or not. If she does, they are grown.

Does our society value children? Why are there so many abused and neglected children in our country? We have reliable electricity, clean drinking water, food pantries, free medical care available, free schools, free school lunches...

when I lived in India, I saw a love and respect for children of middle class families that I didn't see here in America. Children seemed to be treated as a joy not a bother. This is a generalization but I didn't see as much of the frustrated parents as I run into in Target in America, in India. A third world country that is supposedly behind America developmentally, yet I beg to differ. 120 degree weather in the summer and no reliable electricity, yet their children are well taken care of and loved. (middle class children)

Before I get pregnant, everytime, God has given me the name of the child that is to come. He has handpicked each child and tells me of who they are to be. There is a plan for each of my children, just as there is for every child that God creates.

Whether my child has speech delays, diabetes, a broken leg, a strong will, or a whiny day. My children, as all children, are gifts from God and I am thankful that my children's needs are still met and they are provided for in my home, no matter how much work is required or how tired I am.

God bless my friend that shows God's love to the children whose parents don't accept the challenge.

and now I need to go check on my daughter.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Two Rocks, a surf board, and a broken leg

Praise the LORD, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103:2-5

Today I was cleaning out my car by vacuuming inside the car and inside the trunk. I moved car seats and went through the glove box. When I came to the trunk, I moved my Trader Joe bags and the stroller and realized that the trunk also needed vacuuming. I first removed two large branches and leaves that had been collected months ago from a park. When everything had been moved, I spotted two polished rocks on the trunk floor. The rocks spoke to me and reminded me to take a moment to be thankful for all that God has done for us.

Earlier I had been praying for God to show me more items that I can sell on ebay for extra money. I was tired after all of our activities this week and just from today. I was completing work that needed to be done but hoping that God would surprise me with a blessing by the end of the day. Then I found those rocks. Hiding under the bags, the stroller, the sticks, the crumbs. Two shiny rocks that spoke as soon as they were exposed. "God has done something for you. God has blessed you. You have been in worse times and still God blessed you. Don't forget to see your blessings. "

Tonight, we sat down to watch the movie Soul Surfer again about the amazing Christian surfer Bethany Hamilton that lost an arm to a shark attack. I pulled up her website to see how old she was when she was attacked. She was thirteen. At the bottom of her website, in tiny print, was the scripture from Psalm 103, scrolling across the bottom of the page.

As we watched the movie, it reminded me of when we were called by my daughter's school. When our now six year old was just only three. She had been playing at recess at her preschool. She had lost her balance and fallen from the steps to the play structure. Her femur bone broke when she landed.

There is a scene in the movie where Bethany's mom takes her to the doctor weeks after her shark attack. Her bandages are finally removed and her stump of the amputated arm is finally exposed. Her mom stays strong while the doctor and Bethany look at the stump. Her mom steps outside and joins Bethany's dad. The dad finally asks how she (the mother) is doing. The mother finally cries and is held by the husband.

My daughter was dropped at school that morning and then later that day, I saw her again at the hospital. She was taken to the doctor by my husband and I had stayed home with our preemie twins. Our daughter was taken into surgery and then put into a body cast. She was then taken into a recovery room. My mom had come over to be with the twins, and our pastor met us as we had to hold our breath and walk into her bedside. The nurse took us close and then revealed her cast by pulling down her sheet.

That was the horrible moment. The guilt I felt as a mom that this could happen to my daughter. As I'm sure Bethany's mom felt or any other mom that has been through a tragedy with their child.

Three years later, our daughter is now a star soccer player. No evidence of a broken leg, three years ago. During that time, God taught our daughter courage.

Before she broke her leg, we read a devotional one day about how a lizard can lose a tail in order to preserve its life. The tail grows back. God was foreshadowing what was to come for our daughter. she learned that God can take care of her and she received many blessings during that time period. Our home nurse even volunteered to come over for free after our insurance wouldn't cover anymore visits. A collection was even take up for us for Christmas presents and giftcards as her cast was on through Christmas that year.

At the end of the movie, Bethany tells her dad, that the last wave that she rode "did count" even though the judges said that it didn't. Bethany realizes that surfing is no longer about winning and proving that she is the best. She realizes that how she lives her life and treats others is far more important. She surfed a great wave whether she was awarded points or not.

My daughter at age six already knows how precious her life is. She knows what its like to have to lay on a couch for two months and have to be carried from her bed to the couch and use a bed pan. She knows how to use a wheel chair. and now she has compassion for her three year old sister with diabetes.

Sometimes it takes reminders for us to value our lives and turn to God. We can learn this lesson at any age and the sooner we do, the more time we have to devote our lives to God.

Monday, August 1, 2011

River Rocks

The other day, I decided to clean the top of my cupboards in my kitchen. These shelves had been neglected for awhile and had gathered quite a bit of dust. I had mixing bowls displayed with hand puppets brought back with us from India. teapots and cookbooks.

I sprayed a dustcloth with cleaner and began to wipe. There was so much dust that little fluffs formed around the teapots and doll clothes as I wiped. This job required climbing on top of a kitchen chair to the kitchen counter to balance over the refrigerator to reach and grab each item and then redisplay.

After I finished dusting and sneezing and retrieving items and fending off small children that wanted to stand on kitchen counters too because "wow, how cool, that is!", I stepped back and admired my work. It looked clean but I knew it could be organized better. I began to ponder how to fix the ambiance of the kitchen. I had lots of interesting cookbooks with great photos but they couldn't be reached above the refrigerator. So I decided to display them better and in a more accessible place. I then removed some items that didn't really need to be displayed and took the puppets down for the kids to inspect and bring to life.

When I was done, I grabbed anyone that walked near the kitchen to show them my hard work. I wanted them to admire my arrangements and the new feel to our kitchen. "it feels like a cafe! right?!" I asked eagerly. looking for shared enthusiasm at my creativity.

With my new found arranging talents I decided that I had to make the counter top match. so I slowly cleaned the counter with a lavender scented cleaner and made sure that every appliance was purposefully sitting there. no loitering. when I had worked my way around to the end of the kitchen counter feeling confident that the counter top space equated the above shelving space, I was ready to rest and boil some water for fresh tea. But then I looked over by the phone. There was a large bowl of an assortment of rocks. "Why on earth do we have a large bowl of rocks sitting there?!" These had been gathered over a fifteen year period by my eldest daughter. and there they sat. Do we really need to keep these still?, I thought to myself. would anyone notice if I just scattered them to the backyard? probably.

so I left them sitting there.

The next day, we attended church. The sermon was about how Moses led the Israelites to safety out of Egypt to the promised land. These people saw miracle after miracle performed by God and yet once they were in the desert and thirsty, they began to complain and question if God was still with them. God parted an ocean for them to safely pass through, but they were now thirsty. God obviously didn't care about them anymore, or so they thought.

God did provide water and food and safety and some new rules and then finally allowed them to cross into their promised land. After traveling through the desert for forty years! All they had to do now was cross the River Jordan and they could relax and live and thrive and eat and multiply!

As they crossed through the River Jordan, God told Joshua, (whom was now leading Moses' people) to have twelve men to gather twelve stones from the River.

"Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, What do these stones mean? tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever. " Joshua 4:4-7

God reminded me through that large bowl of stones to not forget all that he has done for us. That bowl has been carried with us through several moves and now been passed down from our teenager to younger ones all the way down to our one year old. Our very children are testimonies as to what God has done for us. Our oldest was an only child for eleven years.

It's easy to get caught up in all of the dust or not having all of our needs met. But we must be able to step back in those times and look at the big picture. when I stopped dusting and stepped back, I suddenly noticed a large bowl of rocks that I had previously not seen. It has been sitting there for years now, but I dust around it. God used that bowl to remind me all that he has and will continue to do for our family.

I now want to sit down as a family with a sharpie marker and put keywords on each rock to trigger memories of different things that God has done for us. Then when we forget, we will easily be reminded that God was there, is there, and will be there. Even when we are thirsty or covered in dust.