Sunday, October 31, 2010

I love fall.

Absolutely everything about fall.

Maybe it's because we live in Texas and fall means we finally have a reprieve from the heat.

Or maybe it's because there is nothing sweeter than sitting around a campfire with friends singing songs and roasting marshmallows.

And don't forget snuggling next to your honey on a hay rack ride, or sitting outside on the lawn just being silly with your teens.

Or maybe it's seeing the excitement in my kids eyes as they dress in their favorite costume.

So, that is exactly what we did- All.Weekend.Long.

Because, after all, you have to make the most of it while you can. :)

Oh and the coolest thing of all- the fall festival we went to- was an adoption fundraiser for this family.

Does it get any better than that?

image signature

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Adoption Story

I don't know if I have ever shared my adoption story with you all so I thought today maybe I should.

I was adopted at the age of 30 years old into the most amazing family ever.

Statistics show that I was the least likely to be adopted.

I was the child who had waited- far too long- to hear the good news.

I was the child who waited because I had one too many labels, made one too many mistakes, and was viewed as unlikely to succeed.

I was the child who most believed was not worthy of the risk...

not worthy of the effort...

and not worthy of the price.

I was the the child who most people would have never considered.

The child with scars, the child who was dirty, the child who didn't appear to have much potential.

But then one day they told me about The One who was able to see past all of that.

The One who loved me regardless of the mistakes I had made.

The One who saw what I could be- instead of what I was.

The One who thought I was worth it all- so much so that
He was willing to die for me.

The One who saw my worth.

The One who saw my potential.

The One who saw what I could be- if I was given a chance.

The One who never gave up on me.

I am so thankful for The One who paid the price for my adoption.

I know it was expensive.

I know it cost more than anyone could ever imagine.

I know it wasn't easy.

I know that it was painful, that it was hard and it was heart wrenching.

And I know I didn't deserve any of it.

But He came for me anyway...

Regardless of what others would say or think.

Regardless of all of the work that had to be done.

Regardless that there was no guarantee I would love Him back.

Regardless of the cost.

And today I am forever changed.

I am no longer alone, scared, scarred, overlooked and viewed as no one.

Today I am a child to the king~ precious, loved, forgiven, healed, whole.

All because of my adoption.

Adoption is the perfect picture of God's amazing grace and love.

It changes lives and saves souls.

Adoption is...

the heart of God.

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he[a] predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will~ Ephesians 1:4-5 NIV

image signature

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why homeschool- Part 2

Another question we have been getting a lot lately is what homeschool materials we are using. We are doing a program called Classical Conversations. Classical Conversations meets one time a week in a town close by with other homeschool children and parents. There we have an awesome tutor who 'teaches' the material we are learning for the week. My kids absolutely love going and being around the other children and I enjoy being around other cool homeschools moms as well. Kaden and Carson get to sit in the classroom with us and learn, however they cannot technically start until they are 4 years old. Havyn goes into the nursery room right across the hall. In class we also do a science experiment, art and right now they are learning to play the tin whistles (like a recorder). At home we review what we have learned at Classical Conversations as well as doing other things like reading, handwriting, math, Spanish, spelling, bible lessons, cooking and more. Aleigha and Mya wanted to show you what they are learning in Classical Conversations. :)

**After reading your sweet comments I do want you to know though that what the girls are doing is ALL Classical Conversations. I promise you that I didn't even know what they are learning before Classical Conversations and I am learning it right along with them now. ;0) It's amazing!

image signature

Monday, October 25, 2010

Why homeschooling

I have had many people ask me lately why we suddenly chose homeschooling after using public schools for the past 15 years. So, I thought I would share this part of our journey here.

Mya came home from Guatemala shortly before her 4th birthday. Basically we had a year and a half with her at home all day to build a solid, strong bond. While I know there is no way to determine how long a true bond can take, in my book that was not long enough.

When Mya began Kindergarten in the public school system she seemed to be doing wonderful. Every teacher told me how bright she was and how much all of the children liked her. Everything appeared to be going well- from the outside at least. But as her mother- I began to notice something quite different.

Out of respect for my children I will not share every detail of their story- because it is theirs to decide when and if to share. But what I will tell you is that in Mya's past there was pain, there was hurt, and there are deep scars that effect her self esteem daily.

In the classroom setting everyone saw Mya as the perfect child. Her peers loved her- because she was a master at knowing how to make people like her. All of the teachers and staff loved her because she went out of her way to please them. You see, she had learned how to survive and she had learned how to please- at all cost. She had learned how to behave to cause the least amount of anger. She had learned that by performing well others were happy with you, others like you- and they wouldn't walk away from you. She had learned how to play the part.

But on the inside those deep, painful scars remained...

By first grade the pressure started to effect other areas of her life. What we came to realize was that we were basically sending Mya off to school where she would spend 7 hours of her day exhausting herself trying to find her worth in everyone elses eyes. She often couldn't stay focused on learning because all of her effort went into trying to gain others approval-making sure everyone else thought she was good enough, funny enough, smart enough, or worthy enough.

Our decision to homeschool was determined through much prayer and much council from others. While we definitely had an attachment, it wasn't quite where it could have been and we needed to focus on that. Secondly, we wanted her to find her worth not in others eyes but through the eyes of the one who created her.

I have nothing at all against public schools. As I have stated before- our school system where we live is wonderful, as are the teachers. Many of them I consider friends. Having said that- in a public school, with a classroom full of students with many different needs- it is hard for one teacher to meet every need of every child. They are there to teach our children and they were doing their job. What Mya was lacking was a sense of security, trust, self esteem and value. We did not feel that it was her teachers job to provide that. Those things we felt had to come from her family.

At one point during trying to decide whether or not to homeschool a wise friend said to me "Amy, if your child is 18 years old and a whiz at math- but is broken, lost and hurting inside- would that do anyone any good? Or if your child is 18 years old and not the best at math but is a secure, happy, whole person with integrity and character-would you be okay with that?" I knew right then and there what our decision would be.

Skipping ahead several months now I have to say that I can laugh at how afraid I was to try homeschooling. It has been such a blessing to my family. Is it a lot of work? Um, yes-big time. But it is so worth every single second of it. While I still have no clue if I am doing everything 'right' -to be able to see my beautiful girl discover who she really is has been priceless. And on those days when her scars rear their ugly head- I now have the flexibility to sit down with her, listen to her concerns and walk with her through those dark places that once haunted her dreams.

I do not claim to be an expert of any kind and I realize that every child has different needs. I will even say I have heard some people suggest that putting children with attachment issues in public school is best. But regardless of the circumstances and regardless of the needs- I believe with my entire heart that when you adopt a child from a hard place you have to be ready, and be willing, you have to give or give up whatever it takes for them to become healthy, secure and all that God intended for them to be.

You have to do for them what the Lord did for us- love us as we are, see us as we can be- and give it all.
image signature

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The greatest kind of blessings

We have had an amazing past several days with all nine of my babies together under one roof. We love it when Travis gets to come home from college to visit. :) And to top that off- my parents from Illinois came to see us too. Nothing sweeter than being surrounded by those you love- I never want to take a minute of it for granted. We were sad today to see you leave but so thankful for the time we had with you. We love you all! Thank you for being in our lives.

image signature

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Adopted children and Daycare

Awhile back I had three different people ask me in about a weeks time if I would write a post on how I felt about adopting children and then putting them into daycare.

After much thought and prayer- this is what God showed me.

Obviously, I value being able to stay at home with my children or else I wouldn't be here. That doesn't come without effort and that doesn't come without a cost. There have been many times where I have looked around and wished (or coveted) what others 'have' materialistically that we do not have simply because I choose to stay home with my children and not work. There have been many times where I have felt 'less than' because I am not dressed up for work, I don't receive a pay check, and truthfully- not everyone sees 'my job' as valuable.

I have friends who work outside the home- and they too have expressed to me their cost of going to work. They often feel stressed out, overworked, guilty, and overwhelmed.

The point is-none of us live in a perfect world. None of us will live in the ideal situation all the time.
I am not a perfect parent- and some days I wish I had more resources, more help, and more creativity that a daycare setting might provide.
And my working friends will tell you there are things they wish were different in their lives too.

One of my greatest friends in the world is a pediatrician- with three adopted children. Her children go to daycare and they are doing fabulous. Their parents are devoted to them, their upbringing, their security, their happiness, their lives- and it is beautiful.

I have another wonderful friend who is a single mother of a little girl from Guatemala. Her daughter was in daycare when she came home and now goes to school. This mamas relationship with her daughter blows me away. They have an amazing bond and they do everything together. She has taught her daughter to be a giving, loving, smart little girl- and it is beautiful.

Both of these families are proof that children who are adopted into loving and devoted homes and go into daycare can thrive.

One reader told me she would love to adopt- but due to circumstance in their lives right now would not be able to stay at home with her child. She didn't know if adopting a child and putting them in daycare would be the best thing for a child. One thing I can say is- I would never let not being able to be a stay- at- home mom stop me from adopting if that is what God called me to do. First of all, God always knows best and He will supply for all of your needs when He calls you to do something- whether that be working it out so you can stay at home or providing a wonderful daycare and workers for your child. Secondly, what an orphan needs more than anything is a family. Whether that family works outside the home or not- they are still a family. They still love that child, take care of that child, teach that child, protect that child, nurture that child- and meet all of their needs. THAT is what truly matters.

I think a lot of times we waste so much time judging and criticizing each others ways that we miss out on so many chances to build each other up or help each other out. And in that wasted time of judging and criticizing- we accomplish less for God's kingdom- and Satan loves that.

None of us are perfect and none of us are going to- or have to- do everything the same way. Each of our lives are our own journey. They are not about perfection- but about relationship-loving people for who they are and where they are in their journey. It's about putting Him first and learning to love the way He does.
If you see a working parent and you are not- why don't you offer to make them a meal so that they have more time to spend with their child that night?

If you are a working parent and know a stay-at-home mom- offer to take their child to play at the park one Saturday so that mom is able to run errands.

Because none of us have perfect lives- it sure is nice to know we are not in this broken world alone.

1 Thessalonians 5:11. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up

image signature

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Some of you may have notice my lack of blog posts lately. For the past month or so our life plans had been turned upside down. I had done my best to try to hold things together and go through our days pretending everything was fine and dandy- but the truth was, inside we were hurting and afraid. It felt like our lives were crumbling around us. Our plans, our dreams- everything we had worked for seemed to be falling apart. Afraid of the unknowns, afraid we had heard God wrong- all we could do was cling to Jesus and wait.

I had spent a lot of time on my knees talking to God- and had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that we would walk whatever road He asked us to. And not only would we walk it- but regardless of the outcome we would praise Him through the storm. So, we began to do just that. Began to praise Him for our pain, began to trust Him even more with our entire lives and all of our plans. While we have always tried to do that- there was just something about facing a trial-and actually making the decision right then and there to PRAISE no matter what.

Through this trial, we began to see God in a whole different way and we began to see our lives in a totally different light. Each day seemed all the more precious. Each hug, each kiss, each moment seemed all the more sweeter. The petty things in life that used to bother us were no longer visible. The things in life that matter to us before- matter even more now.

A little over a month ago my husband, Todd, started feeling sick. A couple of us had colds and we just figured he caught a virus- as did the doctor when he went in about a week later. And, the week after that. Then at about day 19 days straight of fever, night sweats and fatigue I began to understand that something wasn't right. We headed back to the doctors once again- who promptly sent us to see an oncologist. For those of you who have been there- I have a whole new understanding. I have a whole new appreciate for our health and a whole new appreciate for life. When you are staring a diagnosis like that in the eye- it changes you. It puts things into perspective- where they should have been all along.

It was a long several weeks as we waiting out first blood test results and then additional testing of bone marrow and a pet scan. We waited and we prayed and we grew and we learned- things that we hope we never forget. As we sat in that doctors office fully expecting to hear the words leukemia- and fully expecting to be writing a blog post much differently than this one- we were once again blown away by our God.

Every test came back indicating there was no cancer- no leukemia. There had been every single sign there. Even the oncologist was baffled- and surprised at the results. Three doctors had seen the signs- and all had pointed to cancer. And yet here we were- all signs gone. All tests negative. A second chance at life.

As we walked out of that doctors office I couldn't help being blown away. God is still in the business of miracles- and the power of prayer is strong.

Several nights before Todd and I had been talking- trying to work our way through the unknowns. One thing we had noticed was that more often than not as we had shared what we were facing with others people seemed most concerned with single parenting nine children. While no, that wouldn't of course be my choice- that was not at all our biggest fear. As a matter of fact, Todd and I both agreed if we had to do it over again the only thing different we would do is adopt MORE. Our biggest fear was NOT leukemia, and our biggest fear is not single parenting nine children. Our biggest fear was simply not being able to do more with the days God has given us.

In church our pastor said something today that really hit me. He said, "the reason God left us here after we accepted him as our Lord and Savior was so that we could tell others about Him."
We exist -we live-so that we can tell others the good news. Yet that left me questioning- how many times have I let opportunities go by, how many times I have walked away from someone and not told them about my God? How many times have I made this life all about me- when really I am only here to tell others all about Him.

I don't know what the future holds- just like I didn't before the scare of leukemia entered our lives. But what I do know is that this confirmed our decision to GO more than ever. God willing, we are going. We are going to serve, we are going to love and we are going to TELL people about the one who we live for. The God of second chances, the God who saves, the God who heals and restores- the one true God.

If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. Matthew 10:39

image signature

Happy Birthday sweet boy!!!

4 years ago you came into this world under circumstances that were less than ideal.

But God...

God saw- and His heart broke-so He went to work.

He worked and He weaved and He brought forth a miracle in our lives- YOU.

Every day we have with you in our lives is a gift.

Through every smile, every laugh, every hug- we experience the blessing of you.

You, my precious son, have brought us more happiness than we could have ever imagined.

You, my precious son, have taught us more about life and loving than we ever thought possible.

You, my precious son, have made us aware of the presence of God more than ever before.

You, my precious son, are a gift to this world.

And we are humbled that God allowed us the privilege of loving you.

Happy 4th Birthday Kaden- we treasure you.

image signature

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It's all how you view it

I used to believe that success looked something like this...

or this...

or this...

But I had it all wrong.

Real success is found in the things that you cannot buy or sell- because you could never put a price on them.

Real success is found in the night time prayer of two little boys who are discovering the one who created them.

Real success is found in forgiveness of a friend.

Real success is found in the laughter of a baby who understands she is cherished.

Real success is found in the marriage that lasts throughout the years.

Real success is found in the smiling faces of children who are oblivious to hatred that occurrs between races.

Real success is found in the college student who discovers their future lies in Jesus.

Real success is found in the hug of a child who finally understands she is forever home.

Real success is found in His love.

For in Jesus, My love for you is revealed. John 17:26

image signature

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Until next year

Is it weird that I am sad it's over? Going to T4A, meeting so many amazing people who have influenced in my life in so many ways was almost surreal. I learned so much that I am still processing it all. IT WAS AMAZING and such a blessing- being there is going to help me be a better adoptive mama. :) Yet what I think blew me away the most was to be able to worship the one who it is truly all about along with so many others who share the same heart beat I do. To be able to look around the worship center and see hands raised, heads bowed and voices praising the one who created adoption- when He adopted us into His family. The one who was serious when He said "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." James 1:27

My family (minus a couple) with precious Christi and Andy from my beloved Lifesong for Orphans.
Me and my sweet, gorgeous Christi U who I absolutely adore!!

Me and precious blogger friend Jenn who is an amazing mama with even more kiddo's than me.

Julie, Tom Davis, Angel, Lorraine and I being star struck by Tom (I am sure he was impressed by our maturity). Tom Davis, Me and my Angel (BTW if you haven't read Tom's books you have not truly lived)

Me and Angel with adoptive moms, Suzanne and Gwen, founders of the cool 147 million orphan gear. Suzanne and Gwen are absolutely the cutest, sweetest things ever.

Me and the beautiful, incredible and hilarious Christine (we were missing you Leslie)

Me and my beautiful BFFs and roomies Lorraine and Angel. LOVE YOU GUYS and am so thankful for your friendship- and your hearts.

Awesome speaker Dave Gibbons- LOVED his passion for the least of these.

Adoptive daddy, Aaron Ivey leading worship- he rocked it!
Okay, if you missed it I am done now rubbing it in. ;0) But seriously, you do not want to miss it next year.
image signature