Friday, August 31, 2012

She’s Twelve

Kalyn posted a great post about Noelani’s 1st Birthday home at her blog.
We are so grateful to the LORD for giving her to us.  She is relaxing a little more each week and finding her place in the family.  
Visit Kalyn’s blog to also see an adorable video of Noelani.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I Lost My Way

I have felt “something” in my heart for some time, but just wasn’t sure what “it” was.  I didn’t however, know that I had lost my way.  

I came across a post about Martyred Mothers today and was finding it an interesting post, kind of skimming over it quickly.  And then God stopped me in my tracks with the “something” that had been getting to me.

She wrote, “I’m not dismissing the fact that motherhood requires tremendous demands of patience, selflessness, lovingkindness and walking the way of the cross.  Those actions are supplied only through the supplying of the LORD’s mercy as He strengthens our hands to the task, so we must abide in the True Vine.  But, may we not live our lives as martyrs that have given up something great, and thinking that motherhood is only about sacrifice.  Sure there are some sacrifices.  But to be a mother is a precious gift and privilege never to be taken for granted.  Instead let’s walk in the JOY of the LORD, being grateful for His gift of children, that aren’t really even ours.”

I knew that the LORD was showing me that I had become a “martyred mother”.  I didn’t use to be that way, but somewhere along the way, I had let little thoughts and ideas began to color the way I looked at motherhood. (“Poor me” and all that.) 
I was challenged again to consider what is the purpose of parenting as a Christian.  “Our motives will determine our methods.” Kelly says at Generation Cedar.

I have always loved the truth that Jesus is our Shepherd, tending and caring for His flock.  And I have always embraced His words as a mother to “Feed my sheep”(John 21:17).
Read these words from Kelly at Generation Cedar,
"Of all the things that our children are–cute and cuddly, fun to watch, mess-makers and time-takers, they are our disciples. They were given to us to shepherd. And listen to this…before Jesus told Peter to “feed my sheep”, He questioned him: “Do you love Me”? In other words, “if you love Me, prove it by tending my lambs”. Just stop there and chew on that for a minute.
The reason we are so often prone to frustration is that first of all, lambs are foolish. That’s why they need tending. They do dumb things and they have no idea about the ravenous wolves. That’s why they need a shepherd. 

But if we don’t understand this role that God Himself has given us, then their foolishness becomes a source of irritation (“Why can’t they just do what they’re supposed to do!”) instead of a precious opportunity to lead, guide and protect them. Remember, “tending” takes time.

Yes, tending takes time.  Loving these precious children takes time.  And it is time that I reclaim the joy of mothering, and reject the lies that have become my burden.  Did you read that?  It’s not my children that have become my burden, but the lies and thoughts that I have listened to.  

 My desire is to love the LORD my God wholeheartedly.  My prayer has been “help me to seek first Your Kingdom, LORD, and Your righteousness in all areas of my life.”  I want to get rid of “the attitude”, and began to tend my little flock with love and faithfulness.  
“Father God, I ask forgiveness for my wrong attitudes towards the precious job you have given me to care for my family.  Forgive me for listening to lies and looking away from the truth in Your Word. Please fill be anew with Your Joy.  Thank you for showing me where I had lost my way.  Lead me instead in Your ways.  In Jesus Name, Amen."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

You Are Rich, Me Too

I know,
boy, do I know.  
Some of you struggle, and have some serious problems.  I cried before sleep last night as I let worry and fear get to me about some things that we can’t afford to fix. 
and I was reminded of just how much yet again today.

Please, go read Amy’s blog post right now.  And after you have read it, let’s us consider today how we might become more poor and remember the words of Jesus,
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Who Speaks English?

We just got home from a four day camping trip and there are 12 dirty children, 3 filthy dogs, 2 tired parents, and a trailer and van full of the things that make our small camping world go round.  
I was upstairs bathing some very dirty boys and needed something from the basement.  I stood at the top of the stairs and called down to the main level of the house hoping (praying) that I could get the attention of any of the children that I could hear “down there”.   No one answered and my frustration grew.   After calling turned to yelling, I finally, and with a touch of sarcasm, said “Is there ANYONE who speaks English that can hear me?”
Want to guess who came running?
My little Chinese daughter, who still does not know much English, came running to the bottom of the stairs asking in broken English, “What, what you need Momma?”
I wanted the lotion that was in the basement under a certain cabinet.  As I looked at her little helpful face, I considered how to communicate, in the English that she can understand, my dilemma, and really knew that I couldn’t.  So I asked her to tell Caresse that Momma needed her.  
As I went back to helping the boys, I laughed to myself.  Go figure, the one child who really can’t speak much English is the one who answered.  
I just thought this was cute!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bunk With The Beast

Yep, seven children (all these great pictures were taken by Kalyn),  and I enjoyed our Christmas gift from Steve’s family; we spent the night in the Denver Zoo.  It was so awesome and special.  There were several canvas tents set up and we stayed in one with another mother and her two children.  
We were able to see so much that the general public doesn’t see during normal hours. 

Our “village” home for the night.

Lot’s of fun learning opportunities!!

We got a tour of the animals kitchen, large walk in refrigerator, and the large walk in freezer.  She is showing us frozen blood for the vampire bats.

These are the baby flamingos, only 3 weeks old, being fed by momma. 

Fruit bats - aren’t they cute?

This elephant show was really special....
...he swam in the water, and “begged” for food.  It was really cute. 

Of course, treats;
and fun interaction.

Really cool fish,
and do you see the hidden seahorse?

Kalyn captured this really fun mirror reflection of this fish.

We enjoyed watching the lioness show us how she works with her trainers so that they can keep her healthy.

Amazing bird pictures (thanks Kalyn!!)

Fun, while we learn.

This orangoutang and I had a moment of “connecting”.  He just sat at stared at me for some time.  It was pretty cool.

This was a very special time with my older children.  I am so thankful to Steve’s family for this fun gift.  We will never forget it.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Hey ya'll!
I, Caresse, have now started my own blog! I hope to be selling some really sweet stuff on there as well as blogging about everyday life. You can check it out here.

Guess Where We Spent The Night?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I Had A Dream...

O.K., may be not happy, but puzzle pieces to the picture of raising my little N and C fell into place.  
I dreamed that I was being hurt (sorry, no details)...
and I WAS hurt, but I also had someone to go to for help, and in my dream I went there for help.
Then I woke up, and as is normal for me, I tried to go back to sleep to “change” the bad dream.  
Around 4:30, I woke up, not remembering my dream, but my heart was heavy about an issue with N.  She “hurts” our dog and insects at times ... nothing serious, but still, it has upset us.  At first I thought she just needs to learn to be kind and soft.  However, I think there is more.  Backing up a touch, she described in signs and what little English she understands how children often hurt each other in the orphanage - kicking, hitting, etc..
I read a little in some of my “adoption books”, prayed, and then went back to sleep.  
I forgot about the dream, and the feelings from the night when I got up an hour later.  I went on with my day.
At nap time, I was laying there waiting for the baby to go to sleep so that I could get up and do some things, and in my resting, but not asleep place I felt that the LORD started to speak to me and give me a better picture of what my Noelani and Clive have come through.  They’re actions (bad) will give me clues to what they have experienced.  And for just a second the LORD showed me what it felt like for my precious children to be hurt and have NO ONE in the present that they could go to for help.  I cried, and I knew that I had never had to walk that road of aloneness.  Things have been hard, but I was never completely abandoned or alone as they were.  
I have never been kicked or hit and had NO ONE to help me or protect me.  
I am trying desperately to understand, not for the sake of knowledge or emotionalism, but with the prayer for my children to be healed, and for the wisdom to help them.
Last night I had a dream,
and today I have cried.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Had To Laugh

I had to laugh when I saw these pictures that Kalyn took.  She is really getting some fun pictures of the children!!!
I thought you might like to laugh along with us.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

My Thoughts On Her

We saw a picture of a precious little girl in China who had a heart breaking story.  She had grown up in an orphanage for 11 years with a special need that made talking difficult for her - cleft lip/cleft palette.  She had seen other friends leave to finally go “home” to a family.  Her turn came, but then things happened and she went back to the orphanage instead home to a family.  I was so sad for this little girl and what she had gone through in her short life.  We advocated for her and prayed for her to find her family.  In a surprising twist to her story, God had chosen her family and soon I was on my way to China to bring home our new son AND her.  God gave us the name Noelani for for our new daughter.  We now call her Noelani Rose, because she wanted a middle name like everyone else in the family.  
How is she doing now, after 8 months with her new family?  My thoughts flow from “great” to “hard” all at the same time.  I read a blog written by a young lady who lives and works with orphans in China.  She wrote about how the little motherless and fatherless children that she serves and cares for have learned very well “how” to be orphans.  They have learned how to steal, lie, get attention, hide their fears, avoid trouble or fight if needed.  They have learned to rely on themselves, and expect nothing.  Decisions are made for them, and so in an effort to gain “felt safety” they learn to control what they can.  Bad behavior covers up fears and weaknesses.  And even though, in many instances, wonderful people who work in the orphanages have daily sought to care for these little ones, some where in the back of the child’s mind, that boy or girl still knows that ultimately they are alone and belong to no one. 

I have seen many of these things in Noelani (and Clive in different ways).  She IS good at being a orphan.  Ofter all, it is all she has ever known.  Only now, she is suppose to be a part of a family.  I have given them time to adjust and learn, and they have - some.  And yet I also see the struggle she probably doesn’t even notice ... the one in her heart.  She NEEDS to be loved and belong but pulls away.  She NEEDS to laugh and play like a little child, but falls back into her old patterns of being a “little adult” like she was in the orphanage.  She NEEDS to trust, but puts up walls.  She NEEDS to belong, but isn’t sure what that looks like.  She NEEDS to talk, but she’s trying to learn a new language and she gets tired and goes off alone to avoid the work of it all. 
She really does struggle to say words.  She is learning English very well, but she has “sloppy” habits of speech (probably picked up very early in life as she learned to work with her cleft lip/cleft palette).  She is hard to understand and it takes work for both parties.  
As I watch my little Noelani struggle to learn the many things that she is trying to learn, I hurt for her.  I can’t even imagine ... yet, I know that this is her story and God’s adventure for her.  Her story is how she is becoming a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, and a niece; an American and ultimately God’s little lamb who is not longer lost and alone.  
This last week she used her learned behavior of deception, lying and aloneness to ring up a nasty little phone bill of texts.  Texts sent to anyone she could find in my phone.  It has been going on for quite some time.  I had been giving her “freedom” to play alone in the school room at certain times of the day, with me just in the next room.  She also got up early knowing that Steve was in the basement exercising, and she must have snuck in some late nights as well.  We have also caught her at other times sneaking on the computer or the iPad.  A few months ago she and Clive were in trouble.  She (the older one - that’s how they operate in an orphanage), had Clive, the younger one, steal candy from the pantry.  We found scraps of trash buried in the sand and thrown in the window well.  She laid all the blame on Clive, who was to afraid to tell us that he had an accomplice.  Because the little ones learn to be afraid of the older one in the orphanage.  Truth finally came out.
However, this latest one really got us to thinking that we needed to  “shrink” her world if we were really going to help her learn to be in a family.  
So instead of giving her privileges that she is not ready for, we are working more to keep her close, teach her to ask, to listen, to play WITH us and her brothers and sisters; to BE with us.  Not as punishment, but much like I would with a newborn.  I would never leave a newborn alone, or not watch my one year old.  I would also be within eye sight of my two year old ready to correct and train.  
I guess that I thought she would mostly “learn” to be in a family by being around us, which is what Clive seems to be doing to a larger degree.  But it seems that we are going to have to “force” her to work at it a little bit more.  I understand really.  It’s easier to go off by herself and not try, but it’s not good.  My heart breaks when she “goes” off by herself.  Dandy noticed it when we were on vacation at the lake.  And it broke his heart.  She would try to talk to him, but he just couldn’t understand her, so she would finally just go stand outside alone.  We would bring her in with us, but she had already chosen to withdraw.  It was easier that way. Poor baby.  I pray that the LORD shows us how to parent her right now.  She really is an amazing little person - sweet, helpful, joyful, happy, silly, tender and loving.  
These river pictures taken last month when we went camping tell a story ... are you seeing it?  Go back up four pictures.  See her sitting in the background by herself.  She kept saying that she would hold the dogs, and I would ask her to come play in the river with us.  She kept refusing.  I finally convinced her to at least put her feet in.  I wanted her to experience being a child, a free and protected child.  She did, reluctantly.  And then her brothers began to play with her and show her how to “sit” in the river.  
Do you see it?  Pure childhood joy and laughter.  
Learning to be with a family, to laugh, to play, to trust and to speak, knowing that we care about what she has to say.  And even if it is hard for us to understand her, and it is hard for her to say the words, she does have a voice, and she has a story to tell.
I read the below verse this morning, and I think how I didn’t know “how” to be in Gods family at first, but Christ welcomed me anyway.  And we now will continue to welcome this little daughter into our family, and pray ...
pray for her to find her way,
and thank the LORD that He showed us the way, and will now show her.  

“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Romans. 15:7

“God of endurance and encouragement, I pray that you would grant us as a family to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together we may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”  Romans 15”5-6
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