Thursday, April 30, 2009

Grateful, Thankful or Both?

While driving home from Albuquerque yesterday Dw read to me from a book he had been reading (and now I am reading also). It is called The Encore Church by Wayne Cordeiro. Wayne Cordeiro is a (very casual) yet personal friend of Dw's. He pastors a huge church in Honolulu in our denomination. He is one of the kindest and most sincere men Dw has ever met.

Anyway, in the book Wayne talks about having an attitude of gratefulness versus thankfulness. Here's what he said:
"We can either complain about what we do not have, or we can be grateful for what we have.

We have chosen the later.

Gratefulness differs from thankfulness. Of course, both are essential. But thankfulness can be defined as the cordial response to a favor done. It is the affirmation you give when things go your way. It is the reply to a gift or a promotion; it's the hooray after a blessing.

Gratefulness, however, is different. It can only be developed intentionally. It begins with a spirit. It's an attitude, a disposition that we carry whether or not things go our way. It's being content before any gifts are given. It's breathing a silent "thank you" regardless of what the circumstances are. It's the hallelujah with no guarantee of a blessing. It is the confidence to accept whatever God brings."

It really made me stop and think. The book touches on entitlement and how we can easily think we deserve this and that. Dw and I talked about it at length as I drove. We are committed to being known as ones who not only confidently finish the race but do so with a completely grateful and thankful heart.

These last few months have brought some incredible challenges to us as a family. It's not that the last 30 years have been carefree or without life's difficulties. It's just that there appears to have been no break from the significant challenges that have come our way recently.

BUT, for the record, inspite of all the challenges: Our family is committed to say: We WILL be content. We WILL say "thank you" regardless of what the challenges are. We WILL praise Him in the midst of the storm, and yes, we WILL continue to learn to thank Him for the storms.

I think I might want to change Thankful Thursday to Grateful Thursday or maybe a combination of both. I want to remind anyone who should stumble upon A Place Called Simplicity that there is one thing we must all do: "be content before any gifts are given; breathing "thank you" regardless of what the circumstances; saying "hallelujah" with no guarantee of a blessing; being confident to accept whatever God brings.....Gratefulness is our hearts before the blessing."

For starters this Grateful/Thankful Thursday I am so very Grateful that:

~ the Angel of the Lord encamps round about those who fear Him

~ that I once-upon-a-time got to live in a log home (I lived my lifelong dream for 19 months.)

~ scripture is full of promises of the Lord's provision to those who love Him and are obeying Him.

~ our son serves our country.

~ God's faithfulness spans from the beginning of time.

~ these present struggles/trials are no surprise to God.

~through the fire, the tumor, the casting, we will, Lord willing, look more like Him and truly Display His Splendor.

~ the Lord is ultimately in control of our insurance company.

A few minutes ago I was working here in the kitchen and I turned to Isaiah, who was sitting nearby, alone, in his wheelchair, while everyone else was off playing or working somewhere. I said, "Isaiah! What are you thankful for?" Without even blinking or pausing he said, "My casts, my wheelchair and YOU!" Our sweet little treasure boy....he gets it!!

For almost four years he sat in China waiting for his forever family. Now as the weather warms up he is in casts from top of leg to toe in an attempt to correct his obvious deformities. But what is our precious little boy grateful for? The very things that keep him bound. He puts most children and adults to shame!! I can say that, because really, he wasn't even with us until he was old enough to understand his handicap. We take absolutely no credit for his grateful heart. Gratefulness is indeed an attitude of the heart.
So what are you thankful and/or grateful for this Thursday?? Do tell!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Our Trip to Albuquerque Today

I could not climb into bed tonight without updating you, our here's a brief recap....

Just as planned we took off for Albuquerque at 3am. About a half hour into New Mexico I was sound asleep (good thing I wasn't driving, huh?). I woke up about 2 hours later long enough to reposition my pillow and sleep until about 7:15. I think I was definitely making up for some serious sleep deprivation. My hubby did such a good job driving! We were even early enough that we were able to sneak in a bit of breakfast at Cracker Barrel! Yippee Jesus!

The doctor was a wonderful blessing!! He was very kind, totally engaged and interested, thorough, very concerned and believe it or not he even has a daughter he and his wife adopted from China. How stinkin' cool is that?

He asked lots and lots of questions. It is such an answer to prayer that this is his expertise. He then sent Autumn for some more tests. Eventually Autumn was sent home with some equipment to do even some more testing while at home that she must bring with her to Albuquerque next Tuesday and at that time she will have yet some more testing.

The doctor needs to find out exactly what type of tumor it is. Interestingly enough, although Autumn has some very weird and unusual symptoms, the doctor seems to think that there is a strong likelihood that that is not the type of tumor, but that the tumor has grown big enough that it is blocking the brain from thinking things it normally thinks. (Yeah, I know it doesn't really make sense in vague terms - you're just gonna have to trust me on this one.)

Also, he kept her MRI (x-ray thingys) as he is going to consult with a Neurosurgeon about something very unusual that is showing up in Autumn's brain (besides the tumor in the pituitary) that is on the MRI that he is concerned about.


Even though we know nothing more than we did before we went, it is wonderful that someone who is an expert is "on it" and we are very comfortable with him and he is only 4 hours away from home! How grateful to the Lord we are!

We returned home at 6pm. I then turned around and headed back out the door to my Police Academy class at 6:30.

Thank you all for your prayers! We knew our friends were praying! Much love from our home to yours...xo

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Update on Isaiah and Autumn

Yesterday I drove, as planned to Greeley to have Isaiah recast. We left at 5:13am. The plan had been to head down from Greeley to where Jo (as in Joanne or JoJo) lives to spend the night. Joanne has been my dear friend since we were teenagers. She is my accountability partner and deeply loves the Lord. It is very fun that she is so "close" and it also works well when we need to head to the Denver area. I am always so refreshed when I spend time with my precious friend - whether we laugh our heads off or we cry together - she is a precious friend.

But the more I got to thinking about it, the more I knew that I could not let Dw and Autumn go to Albuquerque without me. I also knew that the babies need me home as much as possible to keep working on bonding/attachment.

So I drove like a madwoman straight to Greeley. We did a potty stop, a gas stop and a "to go" order for food. As we approached the Denver area there was six inches of snow on cars heading south. (What the heck? Could someone please notify the Denver weather man that it is the end of April??)

We got to the doctors early and they took us early. The doctor was encouraged by the progress that the casts made. He was, again, so very kind to Isaiah. When he was sawing the casts off Isaiah could not stop giggling. His giggle is contagious and soon everyone in the room was chuckling, over the noise of the saw. It was sweet.

The doc asked what his favorite color was and Isaiah didn't blue! So he is currently sporting baby blue casts! Our very own Little Boy Blue.

We then headed to the nearest Toys R Us that Graham had googled from home and texted me the directions to. Of course it had moved, but not to worry, there was one a few blocks away. Of course by now I had made so many turns that I was thoroughly lost and confused. The Lord truly directed me out of there and before long I was on the road home.

I had failed to mention (cause I knew he would tell me I was out of my mind) to Dw that I was heading straight back. So it was pretty fun that as he was stepping into his meeting last night he phoned me and said, "You almost at Jo's?" I said, "Ummm, no I'm almost on 285." He said, "NO YOU'RE NOT!" He went on to tell me how I fall asleep on short car rides and how I could never drive back and stay awake after already driving since 5:15 am.

Did I ever mention that I love when someone challenges me? (Maybe especially my husband - bless his heart!) Ohhhh reeeeeally???? I found a Starb*cks on 285 and got a Venti Quadruple Shot Iced Mocha and off we went.

I had to take the last hour and half super slow because of all the elk that are around but we pulled in just after midnight. Of course that quadruple shot was still working and I didn't fall asleep till after 2 am since my insides were quivering like crazy! =)

The babies were so happy to see me this morning. We have read books and played dollies and snuggled. So good to have mommy home and so good to have them in my arms.

Thank you for all your prayers. Dw, Autumn and I will be leaving at about 3 AM to head to the doctors in Albuquerque. The appointment is at 8:30 (I think). We will return tomorrow afternoon and I will update asap. xo

Friday, April 24, 2009

Walking a Mile in My Moccasins

"Carry each other's burdens..." Galatians 6:2

Where to begin?? I have been non-existant while I spent time grieving, sobbing, reading my Bible, and seeing what the Lord had to say to my heart. Probably almost every range of emotion was felt: sadness, anger, frustration, discouragement, fear, etc. No matter what - it is never, ever, ever easy when it is your child with a tumor in any part of their body - period.
And of course, being Autumn's parents we are privvy to things that no one else would know, nor should they know. A Place Called Simplicity welcomes all into our lives, but there will always be things that remain "just for us".

Anyway, I needed to remind the Lord of some things. It sorta went like this:

"Okay Lord, this is what the last few months have been from my perspective:

I went to Africa to bring home Elijah and Elizabeth.
Dw had to come to travel to Africa to sign some papers.
Christmas happened the week after I came home with our babies.
Our home was destroyed by fire.
The day after the fire Graham had to have emergency surgery to remove his appendix.
24 hours later our beloved black lab Lucy died as a result of surgery.
Not one thing familiar to us was left to remind us of anything - not even my Bible!
The following week our oldest son left for his second depl*yment with the Special F*rces Unit.
We lived in a hotel for 5 weeks while searching for a rental.
We celebrated Elijah, Isaiah and Graham's birthdays during those 5 weeks in the hotel.
I couldn't sleep - at all. I walked around in a fog - clearly dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Emma, Graham, Liberty and Isaiah all have signs of it too- some worse than others.
We started the inventory process and threw 3 HUGE dumpsters full of 30 years of memories away.
Three of our church staff had just given their notice (all good reasons to be going, but none the less, 3 positions that needed to be filled).
Moved into the rental but had to start to refill it with even basic essentials- ugh.
Dealing with the insurance adjustor and working on all the things that accompany a major fire.
The bonding process with Elijah and Elizabeth was interrupted with all the fire hoopla and one of them has been much slower with the bonding/attachment.
One of the 6 youngest had to go to a specialist and found that the specialist wanted to know if this child has other symptoms - because it might be linked to a "syndrome". HUH?
We began the casting process for our little Isaiah who has Arthrogryposis. (This involves 912 mile round trip each week.)
We found Autumn has a tumor.
And then we had the normal stuff that many have:
My car got hit and sustained some good damage.
Ballet lessons and worship team practices.
Sending our dossier paperwork so it could finally (!) go to Ch*na for Jubilee.
Our son-in-love lost his job.
Continuing my Police Academy Course that is required because I am a chaplain.
Pastoring a good size church.
Two productions for our kids: one thru the private school that they take drama classes at and
the other was the Passion that our church just did - lots of practices!
Two toddlers who are adjusting to life in a family.
Sickness passed around our family.
Toddlers. =)
Then Strep passed around our family.
Then Strep passed around our family AGAIN!
Two separate emails from our depl*yed son that said we needed to PRAY right then!
Toddlers. =)
One of my dearest friend's husband served her with papers and is being so yukky to her, my heart is grieving so much for her.
Dw's continued healing from his very extensive shoulder surgery.
Oh yeah, and toddlers.

Kind of funny that I felt like I needed to remind Him? Like He had forgotten!?!

BUT Then I needed to hear from Him. I asked Him two things: Now YOU remind me (again!) what it means to have "the joy of the Lord be my strength" AND that "Your grace is sufficient for me."

See, more than anything I want to get this right. I want to please Him with every area of my life. Actually I remember clearly when the house was on fire and the first sheriff had not yet even arrived, I was jumping (from anxiety no doubt and the single digit temperatures) around the driveway in my bathrobe and nightgown praying outloud saying, "Okay, Lord, I want to get this right. I want to only please you. I want to know how to deal with this. What do you want me to learn from this? How do you want me to respond to honor you? I want to only ever please you. I want to get this right."
Of course, it's a good thing He is God because I was bouncing and saying that outloud, so fast, over and over from the anxiousness of the moment that a normal person would have wondered what in the world I was saying - the stress of it all had me ramped up - to be sure!!
But my heart's cry throughout this life is to only, ever, 100% of the time, to please my Savior.

(Not to worry - I fall short plenty and definitely do not get it right all the time.)

But how could I really desire to do less?

HE IS the only, 100% of the time, faithful friend I have ever had.

He has been my Faithful Friend for 46 years. He has faithfully been: my comfort, my refuge, my deliverer, my promise giver, my promise keeper, my strength, my healer, my miracle giver, my sweet Savior, my protector, my need-meeter and my "talking friend" (He'll talk to me at any hour and I have never had a friend who will do that night after night!)

He is what I call MY Miracle-working, Mountain-moving, Awe-inspiring, Gasp-giving God. He ALONE is worthy of praise! NO. MATTER. WHAT!!!

I needed to take some time to grieve and try to begin to process this latest turn of events in our lives and to ask Him to remind me - pleeeease???

This is what He spoke to my heart:

"My joy is your strength, because you KNOW me. I have never left you. I am working behind the scenes on Autumn's behalf and all your behalf. I will show you some of the things that I am up to when the time comes. Trust me. I am going to use this for such good - you have no idea -and you could never figure it all out - because that's MY job! Although you are discouraged and distraught - have I EVER let you down? Have I? Have I ever left you? I am not about to! Remember all the times I have shown up BIG??!?!!! Remember Linny? (He then reminded me of things in Our Memorial Box and I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a Memorial Box dear friends.) And my grace is sufficient because all that I pour out on you and give is more than enough to carry you through.

I was comforted and encouraged and finally (!) the tears stopped.
It was so very evident that you, my bloggy friends were praying for me/us. Your prayers are deeply appreciated and clearly felt. If I could have each and everyone of you over for coffee I would. I would hug your neck and thank you personally. I would thank all of you who posted comments and dozens of you who wrote separate emails. Thank you for sharing our burden. Thank you for asking your friends and prayer groups to pray for us too.

By doing this, you really put yourself in our shoes and you really are carrying our burden. I like the phrase "walk a mile in my moccasins". When you walk a mile in our moccasins you are bearing our burdens and imagining what it would feel like for us. This is HUGE in being Christ's hands and feet. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! We are forever grateful for you, your prayers and your love.
Here's what we know so far about Autumn:

Almost all of these types of tumors are benign.
There are basically three types of tumors in the pituitary in the brain so we have to find out which type it is. There are usually three types of treatments: drugs, surgery or radiation.

I leave at 5:00 AM Monday to take Isaiah back to Greeley to be recast. The plan is to return by Tuesday night (Lord, please no more snowstorms!) Dw leaves Tuesday night to take Autumn to Albuquerque (4 hours one way) to see an endocrinologist who comes very highly recommended. Her appointment is scheduled for Wednesday. If she needs to see a neurosurgeon, there is one there that is also highly respected.

Thank you so much sweet friends! Our hearts are sobered and yet very thankful as we walk through this part of this season. We appreciate your prayers so much....With love from my heart and our home....xo

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Our Autumn - A Diagnosis

I am at a loss as to how to word this. Sunday Daddy flew with our Autumn - the only blue-eyed one of the bunch to Phoenix to meet with some doctors and have some more intricate testing done.
Autumn has been having symptoms for several months. Weird symptoms. Actually really weird symptoms. But as the mom, I hate to admit that I just never put it all together, with the trauma of the fire consuming most of my thoughts. Thankfully a kind doctor here,after hearing all the symptoms, said, "All these things are not normal." She ran some tests. When those came back positive she ran some more tests. She said we needed to get to a specialist.

Yesterday afternoon we learned that Autumn has a tumor in the pituitary part of her brain. Please continue to pray for Autumn and for us as her parents. Yes, we know that God is faithful and that this is no surprise to Him. BUT we are still very human and this is scary for Autumn, for us, for her siblings, and truthfully guys I am just weepy and overwhelmed. I never was too good at hitting a curve ball and between this and the fire.......
We know our bloggy friends will be praying and we thank you in advance. We desperately need them!
*This picture was taken when we were hunting for a Christmas tree in the National Forest this past December. It's one of my favorites of me and our precious blue-eyed baby girl. (And yes, that's what I call her all the time.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

True Story Tuesday - the stairwell

This week's True Story Tuesday takes us back about 10 years. Dw and I and our kids had just arrived at our annual district convention for our denomination. We were in Savannah, Georgia if I remember correctly.

I have mentioned before that I really am pretty shy. I love to be a stinkhead, but overall, no one would know that, unless they really know me. Dw on the other hand is Mr. Social. He wants to see everyone and talk to everyone. *sigh* I am quite used to it, knowing he just needs his people fix.

Well when we do things, we almost all the time, do them as a family, even things like district conventions or International conventions - we just love to be together. So here we were just having arrived at the hotel to spend the next few days. We had started to unpack and get settled when we realized that we had forgotten something in the car. Our room was at the end of the hallway near the staircase. Dw said, "I'll just run down the stairs and get blah-blah-blah."

As he left I turned to Abigail and said, "You want to go hide in the stairwell with me and jump out and scare daddy when he comes in?" She was game. We left Tyler in charge of the rest of the kids.

Abi and I headed to the stairwell and took our positions under the staircase tucked away from the view of the outside door.
Well we waited.
Minutes passed.
We waited some more.
More minutes passed.
We waited even more.
I said to Abi, "You know he ran into someone in the parking lot to chat....ugh." Finally Abi gave up, "I''m going back to the room." I said, "Well I'll wait just a few more minutes, he has to come soon, I mean, come on - how long can the guy talk to someone?"

I was crouched under the stairs and just knew that I knew that he was going to jump out of his skin - this was just going to be way, way, way too fun. =) All of a sudden I heard the outside door open and I could hardly stand it. I heard the footsteps just as they approached the staircase and I sprung up and out of my hiding place. I lunged at my husband and grabbed his belly clutching his cute little pooch with my one hand and simultaneously grabbed his back at the same time yelling, "GOTCHA!"
Only thing was that it wasn't my husband. It was some man, whom I have never seen before. That poor guy jumped out of his stinkin' skin and his eyes were the size of saucers. I graciously let go of my grip on his belly, giggling and mortified all rolled into one trying to explain, "Oh I'm so sorry, I thought you were my husband...." (I near wet my pants from the embarassment and I'm not sure he didn't near wet his from the trauma of it all.)

Poor gentleman scrambled out of there never smiling or laughing or even giving me a token "it's okay". He seemed like he was in shock.....and my guess is that he has probably never darkened a hotel staircase again.
True Story Tuesday is played compliments of my sweet friends, Rachel and Mr. Daddy. Go to their site and play along...everyone has some pretty funny or amazing stories out there.....I'd love to hear yours.....and heavens knows we could all use a good, clean hearty laugh....

Monday, April 20, 2009

Memorial Box Monday - Our Emma

Last week I was feeling so discouraged and overwhelmed that I skipped my Memorial Box Monday post. Tuesday wasn't any better. Then I wrote and shared my heart and you guys were unbelievable. Thank you for your unconditional support, love and prayers. I was humbled by all your kind words, actually a better word would be 'blown away' (okay, so that's two words). I was shocked and no, that's not a false humility...I really was truly struggling with it thank you from the bottom of my heart and thank you for giving me permission to continue to talk about the fire. And there is no doubt that I could tell that you guys started stepping up the prayers. I am forever grateful.

This Memorial Box Monday I have a story to tell from 1993. As a little backdrop......I always wanted a boatload of kids. A big boatload. I didn't care how they came: adoption, birth or dropped from the sky. Just a boatload. And for the record, I have been asked what a boatload is? My definition is this: When you look at a family picture and have a hard time quickly figuring out which is the mom and dad because of having to scan the sea of faces, that's what I call a boatload. And yes, we will, Lord willing, one day have a boatload. =)

Abi was born in 1983 after years and years of infertility. Over the next 10 years I was only able to conceive 4 times and each of those little ones left my womb prematurely. We named them Timothy, Andrea, Meghan and John. They get to live with Jesus and we are so thankful that we will see them one day. It was a long haul.

Inbetween Timothy, Andrea, Meghan and John we had years of infertility accompanied by tests, shots, surgeries...yeah, not so much fun. But through those 10 years the Lord graciously brought us Tyler and Autumn through the miracle of adoption. We were ecstatic!

Miraculously in 1992 we were pastoring our first church in Virginia and found that I was pregnant (again!). I ended up on complete bedrest and eventually we had on July 22nd, 1993 a baby girl named Emma Joy. We were ecstatic to now have four precious little ones! She arrived with a mass of black hair at 7 lbs. 1 oz. absolutely adorable - complete with huge dark eyes and petite bone structure.

When Emma was 5-1/2 weeks old I was emptying the dishwasher. She was nestled in my arms sleeping soundly. One by one I would lift a dish out and put it away while Emmy slept in my left arm. I was praying softly as I worked away. How gracious God had been to continue to fulfill His promises, "He makes the barren woman to be at home the joyful mother of children."

I remember looking down and kind of staring at her. Something didn't feel right. I went back to putting the dishes away one by one. I looked down again. Hmmm. What was it? I felt like something was wrong even though Emma was sleeping soundly in my arm. I kept working and after another minute or two looked down again . This time Emma was completely blue. She was the same color as a pair of faded blue jeans. I freaked out. I hoisted her with both hands up over my head and screamed, "Emma, Emma, what's wrong?" The quick movement allowed her to start breathing again.

We ended up in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the same hospital I had delivered Emma less than 6 weeks before. Test upon test finally revealed that Emma had Apnea and we were told that I "interrupted a SIDS incident". Many doctors told me that had I not been holding her she would no longer be with us. We were sent home with a heart monitor that she wore 24/7 for almost a year. She would often "forget to breath" and the machine would start blaring and we would have to gently shake her to help her remember. It was one of those years that was a defining moment in my life. Nothing mattered but the well-being of my baby girl and my other kids.

Hence, we have a little lead from the heart monitor in our Memorial Box reminding us that our Miracle-working, Mountain-moving, Awe-inspiring, Gasp-giving God had preserved and protected our precious gift. We will praise His name forever for allowing us to raise Emma. She is a delight to all who meet her: tender-hearted, gracious, a tad shy, loving Jesus most and wanting with all her heart to please Him. Emmy we love you! (And by the way, Emmy has a blog called Em On A Mission.)

To understand a Memorial Box, along with scripture that explains it, see this post. To be entered in the giveaway of a Memorial Box, please leave a comment mentioning it. (I am still hunting for one, can anyone spell f-r-u-s-t-r-a-t-e-d? But I am believing that it will be "worth the wait!")

Emma in Uganda....she refers to herself as "Emma - Ugandan at Heart" She intends to start an orphanage one day in Uganda working among the people she fell in love with many years ago....

The Sacrifice of Our American Heroes

You, my bloggy friends, know just how much I love and respect our military. Here's an up close and personal story about two of our personal heroes. *tears welling*

Over the years we have had many friends serve our great country and some of you bloggy friends are military wives (how I love and respect each of you! Thank you so much for your sacrifices!!)

Two of our family's personal heroes are my cousin and his wife. My cousin serves our country proudly and has for many, many years. He is a graduate of West Point. He is also currently deployed. He met his wife (who happens to have become a very close friend of mine) while she was also serving our country (although she has since "retired"). My cousin has a very high rank in the military, but chooses to do a job that puts him up close to danger on a regular basis.

Anyway, they, like many couples, have experienced infertility and loss. BUT God moved on their behalf and this past Friday they delivered their first baby - A beautiful baby boy, while my cousin watched via the computer, being as he is in the Middle East protecting our freedom.

In our society where the sacrifices of these heroes is often neglected, not recognized or even looked at with contempt I asked their permission to share with you my bloggy friends their hopes of reminding each of us of the sacrifices of those who love our country and, often, because of their duty they are not even able to be at the birth of their long-awaited first baby.

Meet my cousin, his wife and their first baby - a beautiful son....

S, J and now baby N, how we love you!! We miss you greatly and I pray that this summer, J, we can see you and meet little N. xo

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Questions and Answers - Part 1

A few weeks ago I asked if anyone had any questions, thinking it might be fun to answer them in a post. There were so many questions (both emailed privately and posted) that I thought I would do a part 1 and 2. It's not too late. If you have a question, feel free to email me or post a comment. I feel like I am having coffee with many of you... which is just way too fun!

Here goes:

Q. Why do I do an asterisk (*) in certain words?

I put an asterisk in words when I do not want them to be able to be google searched by creepy people. How's that for shooting straight? =)

For instance, there are people out there who might want to know that our son is in the Special Forc*s and anything he might be up we put an asterisk in the word and it won't come up in a google search. Even though I do not talk about specifics with our son, we have been told by people in the know that it is best to be very vague overall and downright tricky with the *. So if you see an * in a word, I just don't want it searched.

Q. How do you homeschool with so many different ages?

A. Very trickily I'd say. I am about to complete my 21st year homeschooling our kids. This is as good an opportunity as any to mention something. When I started homeschooling 21 years ago it was not a popular thing to do. People would frown and say, "You're gonna' what?" Followed by: "Is that legal?" And then perhaps the most famous question of all time: "What about socialization?"

When I first started homeschooling I did so because I couldn't imagine parting with my treasured possessions day after day for the rest of my life. Each of our kids has come home with alot of blood, sweat and tears - why would I want someone else to have the fun of spending the day with them? Not a chance!!

I also couldn't imagine sending my kids off for the day and having them come home after 6-8 hours away and me saying, "What did you do all day?" And then hearing them say, "Nothing." One word to account for hours and hours?? Yeah, not a chance.

We have lots of fun. When we do Bible we often have warm chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven. We talk about all kinds of things. Over the years it has evolved into a lifestyle and a conviction (although it really didn't start out that way).

My prayer is that I raise mighty warriors for Jesus Christ. If they should backslide, then I figure they will become "nice little Christians." I can't figure out how to raise mighty warriors for Jesus Christ without spending my days investing in their lives. To those who use the public schools or private schools - it's a personal decision between a parent and God. We have lots of fun who do it different ways.

I guess the best way to put it is that I am hopelessly addicted to my kids. I love spending any chance I can with them, and homeschooling gives me that opportunity.

When Abigail graduated I couldn't stop grinning. We had done it!! She had an academic scholarship to a private girls college (which she declined)....but we had successfully made it through. I am not a rocket scientist, Biblical scholar nor was I class valedictorian. I just love my kids and want to invest in them, so that prayerfully, they will become God-fearing, America-loving, passionate followers of Jesus Christ who are world changers.

So back to the original question: Truly, there have been years where I had a round kitchen table. Emma was 18 months old and Graham was a very colicky newborn. I put Abi, Tyler and Autumn around the table doing their work. I had toys in the center of the table that Emma would sit on the table and play with (kind of my own version of a people playpen). I would sit at the table and nurse Graham (who was happy to nurse all day long), moving around the table helping each kiddo one at a time, while Emma played in the center of the table. Good thing Graham doesn't read my blog or he would be completely grossed out that I said that about him.....LOL.

Now we have shifts that different older kids take breaks from their school work and play with the babies while I work with others on their subjects. We just make due....this season will sadly pass all too quickly.

Q. What cirriculum do we use?

A. We have tried several approaches over the years. My very most favoritest cirriculum of all is the years we did Unit Studies, such as Weav*r or Kon*s. They were so stinkin' fun. They are, no doubt, lots of work for mom, but so worth all the rewards of learning together.

Different years I have used the textbook approach with workbooks, video cirriculum, Unit studies and currently we have switched all together. All have worked well for that particular season.

But a year ago I was pretty tired and burned out. I needed a different approach and so after much prayer we switched to Switched On Scho*lhouse (also known as SOS). So Liberty, Emma and Graham all have their cirriculum on computers. The program generates what school work is due, when it is due and a grade. I do have to correct some things, but it is minimal. I don't have to lesson plan - the computer program does all that. (Can anyone out there say a hearty Yippee Jesus?)

SOS has been a welcomed relief. With the fire, it was so good that I was using this program. We took some time off and when the kids jumped back in, we just generated it to get what needed to be done in time for the school year to end.

I still would rather be doing a Unit study with all of them, but when a child gets in the upper grades, it needs to be supplemented anyway. I do hope that one day, when the babies are bigger (and our other ones yet to come home are home) I can go back to unit studies again. But we'll see.

As far as Math goes, I cannot say enough about Sax*n math. It is the best explained, incremental Math program I have ever seen. S*xon makes sense and to someone, like me, who wasn't all that great in Math, it is easy to help a child who is struggling. So if you are looking for a textbook Math program, I would highly recommend Sax*n from 4th grade on.
Q. Is there an update on Autumn?
A. Actually Sunday (today!) Autumn is flying with daddy to Phoenix to have more intricate testing done and meet with two specialists. We'll know more after that. The situation is very concerning and we thank you so much for your prayers!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Our Own Window Washer

Who me Mom? I would NEVER! Oh so busted!!!
Come on! Really, truly, I was just spying on you, cause for real Mom, that's just way too gross.......

Friday, April 17, 2009

Isaiah's First Casting - To Greeley, CO and Back

Thank you to each and everyone of you who prayed us to Greeley, CO and back. We put about 912 miles on the car, were in a snowstorm part of the way, icy roads a good portion (driving 28mph for about 3 hours), even got lost for 2 very l-o-n-g hours in downtown Denver, got Isaiah's legs cast and returned home 52 hours later. Whew!

Scenes from the trip.....(Being a pine-tree lover, I made Emma lean out in the snow and freezing temps and take some pictures for you my bloggy friends, who don't have the privilege of living in the mountains...)

Isaiah slept more than normal as we drove..I think it was the stress of what was about to happen. We had been telling Isaiah that we would find a T*ys R Us after he was cast for a special treat. The morning of the doctor's appointment Emma said to him, "Hey, today we get to go find a present at T*oys R Us." He said, "Ummm, I don't think I want a present." (Smart little guy and yes, he understood perfectly well what would have to come before the present!

I've seen alot of doctors in my 50 years. I don't know if I've ever met one as kind and gentle as Dr. Hatch. His "bedside manner" was unbelievable. He took his time. He asked Isaiah if he had any questions. Isaiah did. (It was so sweet and yes, he had come up with the question all on his own.) He answered Isaiah's question with great care. He gave Isaiah gloves to "help" as he did it. He hugged Isaiah when it was all done. Dr. Hatch's staff loved Isaiah. Even those not involved with his case came in for a peak (having heard how cute he is) at this tender hearted smiling little guy of ours.

On a sidenote and definitely the most exciting news of all.....Dr. Hatch looked at the x-rays of Isaiah's hands. For those who don't know or remember, Isaiah's hands are severely affected by the Arthrogryposis. A hand specialist had said (about a year ago) that there was no hope for his hands - which was earth shattering to Isaiah and us. Isaiah is so deeply troubled by his hands, it breaks our hearts.
Anyway, after Dr. Hatch looked at the x-rays, he said we should really seek another opinion from a different hand specialist because he felt there was something that quite possibly could be done to help Isaiah's hands. We were ecstatic at even the thought - his words gave us such hope!!
Thank you for all your prayers dear friends. We have to go back in 9 days to be recast again. This will go on for quite a few castings and then he will have surgery. Isaiah's attitude with the casts on is something that everyone could take a lesson from...including adults. He has not complained once. His smile is unending and he is a remarkable patient.
At the moment Dw is on his way to pick up a pediatric wheelchair in a neighboring city. Your continued prayers are greatly appreciated....and if you get to meet our little guy - you will agree - he is one very, very, very extra-special treasure - from the heart of God!! How blessed we are!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thankful Thursday with a Twist

Hello Everyone this is Dwight,

Yep, I'm backkkkkkk. I guess it takes Linny going to Uganda or Denver for me to write. She called me this morning and asked if I would write the Thankful Thursday post - I thought, does she really trust me in this task? You may remember last time I snuck on, I joked that she had me tied up in the crawl space so I could not post, but that was Jan. 13th, not too funny by the morning of the 14th!

So of course I tested her, I said can I say, "I'm thankful for...." and she said no! Bummer! So I'm thankful for alot of things I can't talk about on her blog, but I am thankful! :) Could this blog be my alter ego which can't be released from the pulpit.... then again, I pretty much give the unedited version there too!

Linny has actually asked me to write since the fire but I just didn't have the creative juices to write and I sure didn't feel very funny so I begged off. Now necessity forces me to come out of the writing closet. (No emergencies please Lord!)

Let me give you a short list of those I'm thankful for this morning:

1. You! You have been an incredible encouragement to our family. More than you could ever imagine. Your prayers yesterday when Linn put her heart on the blog were tremendous.

2. You! Your gifts and packages filled with surprises and thoughtfulness was tangible love in the mail!

2. You! You are a gift from God. He designed you with a purpose that will be fulfilled. He has planted dreams in your heart that will be met in his timing.

3. You! You who are adoptive parents or desire to be adoptive parents. You flow counter - culture to a self orriented society. You sacrifice time, money, lifestyles, and so much more to bring those kids into your home. Ohhh but the rewards are so wonderful!

4. You! As you worship the Lord you bring His Kingdom to earth and you are his precious son or daughter.

5. You! You are one of a kind! So enjoy it, thrill over it, goodness - exploit it!

6. Isaiah! Today is Isaiah's day. Today he begins the healing process. I'm still praying for a miracle on the way there. Linn says he's getting very quite and shutting down. I think it is beginning to hit him what he's about to go through - please pray!

7. It is said that the number 7 is the perfect number. So I reserve number 7 for my wonderful, awesome, gasp giving (in her humor), and beautiful wife. God picked her as my perfect mate. God knew what I needed and He gave me Linny Lee. I have been rewarded by God! The only question I have for her, which I ask her from time to time, is "What did you do wrong that you were penalized with me?" :) Have a wonder filled day!

She will never let me post again because I'm braggin on her, but you already know it!!!

PS: Weather is bad in Denver - please pray!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Being Authentic

I don't know exactly where to start....
I am struggling on many fronts, so I will just be authentic. My heart is heavy and since you guys are such awesome bloggy friends and prayer warriors maybe some of you will take a minute and lift some of these needs up in prayer. If I were to pretend that all is well I would feel like I was a fake. I don't want to ever be a fake. Ever.
My sweet bloggy friend Karin from Our Treasures from Afar, has a little girl named Kate. Kate had heart surgery yesterday. This type of heart surgery she had is a huge deal. Huge. If you hop onto her blog you will see by scrolling down a few posts just what the risks are.
Well yesterday after the surgery they were having trouble keeping little Kate's blood pressure where it should be. Now she has had a fever of 102 (although meds have taken it down a bit) but she is lethargic, which affects her blood pressure. This is cause for great concern with just having this very serious heart surgery. Kate was one of the little ones at Hope Foster Home with our Isaiah. Please pray with me that her fever will be gone and that her recovery will be complete and quick. We serve a Miracle-working, Mountain-moving, Awe-inspiring, Gasp-giving God who loves these once orphaned kids more than we can ever begin to grasp. Please join me in asking Him to move on little Kate's behalf, one more time. Please.
And really, truly, leaving Karin a comment would be such a God-sized boost for her. Could you possibly please do me that favor, could you? She would love to know where you are (country or state) that you are praying for her sweet baby girl.

On a different front, today is 3 months since our fire. Dw and I are both overwhelmed with all that means. We are thankful for God's faithfulness. We went together to the house last night. It felt eerie and creepy. I hated being there - which is also hard for me to grasp after it was once my beloved little log home.
The three bids from contractors have been submitted. The bids have to be for "fixing" the house and making it livable. The bids came in for more than what we even have the house insured for. Quite a bit more. And not one of the three contractors will guarantee getting the smoke smell out of the logs. Obviously, we don't want to live the rest of our lives with the smell to remind us of what happened. The insurance company has said that they want an engineer to come and see what he thinks. So we are waiting for them to bring an engineer in.
Dw and I each have a very powerful walk with God and have had this for many years. We get along really well and are each others best friend. BUT we both have been equally dumbfounded at how profoundly affected we both are by the fire and its aftermath. We have seen our share of tragedies and difficulties in life in the last 30 years. So we are frustrated that we have been so "hard hit" and wonder how people in less-than-optimal circumstances manage?
And then from a different angle...I wonder if you, my bloggy friends, will get tired of hearing me talk of the fire?
Yesterday our paper put that article about us on the front page.. Our town is very New Age and not really friendly to the message of Christ. At all. There is alot of witchcraft.
When we saw the picture of "Our God Reigns" taken from our loft, where Dw had etched it in the soot blackened walls on the front page we were completely shocked!! And yes, there is no doubt that the enemy of our souls was so very ticked off!! Our God does indeed reign. And from a spiritual standpoint, the acknowledgement of "Our God Reigns" on the front page, has huge spiritual significance.
We will continue to trust that the Lord is working behind the scenes to accomplish all that needs to be accomplished to bring glory to Him. We continue to pray that He will use the fire to make us individually more like him, our family more like Him, that He will use it to draw others to Him and that thru our very public story many, many orphans will find their forever families.
Tomorrow morning, about 6am I am leaving to drive to north of Denver to take Isaiah to a specialist for Arthrogryposis. It's almost 450 miles one way. He will begin (according to the email exchange with the doctor) a series of castings for his legs. Your prayers for our Isaiah would be appreciated. He is a treasure and our hearts are hurting at this next step.
And then lastly (or at least lastly for now) our daughter Autumn has been having some difficulties physically. The doctor has run some tests. Then the doctor ran some more tests. There is deep concern that something very serious is going on. She will be flying to see a specialist in the next few days and either Dw or I will accompany her. Your prayers would be deeply appreciated. Thank you friends. You guys are the best! xo

Monday, April 13, 2009

Some of the Beauty from the Ashes - May God be Glorified

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago meeting with a columnist from our local newspaper. He had heard we were an "interesting" family. We spent nearly two hours with John Peel and he was very kind and the interview went really well. Last week we met again, this time for pictures. We were tickled to introduce John to our kids. The entire time was actually really fun!

Of course, when you give an interview you never know quite how the article will be portrayed. But is very favorable!! The article with three pictures appeared in the newspaper this morning and we made the front page! Here is the article.

PS John even mentioned you, my bloggy friends in the article...he had checked out A Place Called Simplicity and even wondered where I got "Yippee Jesus" from? I explained that I am just not really a Praise the Lord kind of gal - sounding a little formal for my normal self....but needed something instead that expressed my ecstatic enthusiasm at what God has done in my life - hence I came up with Yippee Jesus!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter - From Our Home to Yours

From Our Home to Yours - Happy Easter!!!! What an AWESOME Easter - probably one of our best ever!! So very special and wonderful for so many was Elizabeth and Elijah's first Easter home; it was Isaiah's first Easter with Jesus in his heart; the church was packed beyond packed second service - standing room only! (First service was pretty full too.) Then after church we had some of our friends (44 in all) who have become our family over for dinner and to play. It was such a blast with these sweet friends (as it always is - they are some of the sweetest people in the land). Laughs, laughs and more laughs. Too fun!! I am so wound up it is almost midnight and I am posting....just too much of a blast that I hated for the day to end....

PS. Since freshly fallen snow was on the ground this morning I felt like I probably would be a heartless mom if I put the sundresses on the girls that I had dreamed of them we opted for a warmer look....*sigh* theory is: if I don't want to wear it - I doubt they would want to either; no matter just how darling they might look. For the record, if you live in a place where you are so warm already that you are wondering how you will ever survive summer.....yeah, I'm definitely not feeling your pain....

Dw welcomes people to our 'home' (our first time having
our family over since the fire)....

Elijah loves having his friends over....Max is his buddy...Max and his Mommy...
Courtney & Autumn
Liberty helping Ann make fruit tray appetizers......Ann sure knows how to do them up!Irma and DwOh, if only I could tell you all what we were laughing about....
you would laugh too..lean closer bloggy friends...I'll tell you...Pretending we are behaving....Irma, me and Tavvy

Ben, Destini, Elijah & Emmy
Saying Grace....
Some of the food...That Handsome Husband of Mine....

An Easter Egg hunt followed....Hunting all over our mountainy backyard for over 100 eggs hidden....Isaiah's favorite thing is "sugar" so.... an egg filled with candy?? Does it get any better than that?
Elizabeth loves the whole "hunt for eggs filled with candy thing"...

Cecelia & I Tavvy and Elizabeth Mercy
JD (Irma's husband) - he is a hoot!!
Grandma and Jeanette

Robin and Rob

Steve and Terry

Irma and I....

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Passion Play

This is the third year our church has been doing the Passion Play. It has been such a blessing. Each night hundreds of people have come and many have met Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.

The kids all have parts: Emma is the handmaiden of Pilot's wife. Graham is James (the disciple). Liberty is also a handmaiden and Isaiah is in some of the crowd scenes. Emma and Graham's parts are both speaking parts.

Isaiah walking with the disciple Matthew (Ben, a good friend of ours)

Palm ProcessionalLiberty on the far rightGraham (James) is fourth from the left in striped robeYippee Jesus!! HE'S ALIVE!!!! Tonight we will be, Lord willing, doing a live-feed broadcast of the production while it is being performed. If you are able to watch, here's the link: Passion Play at the River Church

7:00pm - Mountain Standard Time