His Mercy

"His Mercies Are New Every Morning"

A Thought

In this life we can not always do great things. But we can do small things with great love.." :) Mother Teresa

Prayer Quote

“I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God- it changes me.”
― C. S. Lewis

Faith

I believe in the sun even when it's not shining. I believe in love even when I don't feel it. And I believe in God even when He is silent. (quote found on the wall of a concentration camp)

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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Discernment, Truth and Judgment


I have written about discernment on my blog a few times, but mostly about teaching our children to be discerning, regarding what they read or what they listen to.  I posted HERE and HERE on that topic. 
Today, I'd like to write about our own discernment.
Discernment means:
from the "free dictionary":The act or process of exhibiting keen insight and good judgment. 2. Keenness of insight and judgment. discernment

From GTY.org:
Biblical Discernment In its simplest definition, discernment is nothing more than the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong.

from Merriman Webster:
the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure

from dictionary reference.com:

the faculty of discerning; discrimination; acuteness of judgment and understanding

and finally from Vocabulary.com:
Discernment is the ability to make a smart judgment about something. If you're voting for Student Council President, you need to use discernment to pick the best candidate.

If you notice, discernment has a close relationship with judgment, based upon truth.
We make judgment calls all the time!  All of us do.  It gives a picture in mind of the Olympic rings. They are separate, yet blend together.

We judge if bananas are too ripe to purchase.  Will we eat them before they rot? 

We make judgment calls all the time regarding reading materials, movies, and even friends.
Is this somebody I want to spend time with?  Will this person effect my family is a positive way?
For instance, if a pedophile, just released from prison, who claims he has changed, were to knock on our door and ask to spend the night, we might want to be DISCERNING and say, no.

Is that making a JUDGMENT? Yes it is.  Is it judging a person directly, with the attitude of " you are lower than me you scumbag?"  No. it is not.  We can be kind and loving towards somebody, but also discern.

Does this type of discernment or judgment, put us up on a pedestal of self love and perfection, and place the lowly other person beneath the ground, into the ground and all judged to death?  No. And it had better not! We are all sinners and our standing before the Lord is ONLY because of His mercy and grace in our lives!  There is nothing we can earn.  Our best attempt at righteousness is as a dirty wrag, when held up to the Holiness of God.

If I were to say to that person.... "You know, I am happy that you have made some differences in your life.  Treat them with respect, talk about those differences, share with them, and then put them up in a hotel, where they could get a comfortable night's sleep, that would NOT be judging, but it would be discerning.
If an Alcoholic feels called to minister in Bars, or the pedophile called to minister in a "day care center", or somebody who struggles with stealing, to work as a teller at a bank, it seems it would be ok to question if that were God calling them.

There are all kinds of times that me make discerning, prayerful decisions in our conversations, and in our relationships.

Discernment is also a gift from the Lord, especially when raising our children.  There are times we must discern if an act of snottiness, was stress related, attachment related, hormone related (now that we have 4 teenage girls), or was it just a simple act of  disobedience?

It is HARD to discern sometimes, and many times after much prayer, calming our hearts down, and listening, the answer is right there before us.
The problems come for us as parents when many times behaviors look the same. 
Snottiness is snottiness! 


But is it?
No.

Just as we learn to distinguish, (discern) between a babies cries: Are they hungry? Are they wet?
Are they bored? Are they in pain?
We need to learn to discern and distinguish the root causes of our children's behaviors, and for that fact, the root causes of our own responses to those behaviors!  **** (see bottom of post)

Because sometimes, our reaction to their reaction can be a big ole' reaction that never ends!  OR it can be sorely mistaken, and we can wind up hurting relationships!

It is imperative that relationship remains connected and sought after, even in correction!  As parents, we must be able to share truth, with our children, and not crush them.  At the same time, sometimes our children can be crushed by insecurity, shame, lack of attachment, self judgment (the kind that is NOT true) and self hatred.
That makes it all the more important to break through those defenses to reach our children's hearts.
It will require vulnerability on our own part, sharing with them some snotty thing WE have done, and survived through a time of correction. :)

We can discern, how much a child is prepared for in the area of instruction and then gently stay within those boundaries!   Having a little at a time, with great support afterwards, lots of I care about you's and I love you's..... while keeping  them back in  a place of felt safety is so important!
And it works very well!

As time goes on, and our children have been home for a long time, their window of tolerance (<---- linked) can be wide open, and there is much room for us to relax more.  If When we mess up, it doesn't cause an end of the world catastrophic event under our roof!  We say we are sorry and life goes on.  :)


**** If we are unwilling to look at ourselves, or to admit that we are capable of great wrong, which all of us are, then it will be very hard to be discerning with our children.  We must remember those 3 fingers pointing right back at us, when correcting our children. 
If we are willing to be vulnerable and pour ourselves out to the Lord, or even find support groups to help us, we will be much better able to be in a place of discernment and proper judgment!
And then, we will be able to better parent our children who come from very difficult places!
Growth is hard.  But growth is Good!  The diamond in the rough is hard to get to, and takes much effort.
As parents, we must also be willing to receive correction, or learn new ways to parent. If we are too  proud, or if we don't receive somebody's attempt to help, even if the person isn't perfectly right, but instead dismiss their efforts as judgment... we won't grow.
When I was much younger and our oldest son was 10. I distinctly remember an older woman at our church taking me aside to give me her thought on a way I had corrected my son in public.
He had been told ahead of time not go go into our Sunday School class and get left over donuts. :)
But there he was, and I corrected him, instructing him to go and sit down in the church and wait for me.  It was that "authoratative voice thing"....
This woman was embarrassed for my son, because he was with his friends and all the kids did it!
She didn't know I had already told him.  Her words stung.  But she was RIGHT.  I embarrassed my son, and I am sure it was not her pleasure or determination to cause me pain.  She discerned and made a proper judgement and correctly sought to offer guidance.
I am thankful to her for that, even though it didn't feel so great at the time. Her intention was good.
And God used her in my life.
My guess is, there are a lot of diamonds out there undiscovered, because we are too proud to find them.... both in ourselves and in our children.

Let's choose to find the diamonds in the rough and bring them to a place of shining brightly!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Our Week

Well it was a very busy week around here!  Everybody had a successful first week of school.
Anna did very well adjusting to being in a large public high school. She likes all of her classes and teachers.  She especially likes the R.O.T.C. program!

Sarah and Alli enjoyed their first day at Co-Op, taking 3 classes each!  They were both stressed this a.m. before it started, because we have never done classes before.  After it was over, they were very happy!

Erika had her last day of volunteering at Texas Scottish Rite  Hospital for Children.  I am really liking the classes the girls are taking and how we have set up our schedule this year!

Looking forward to Monday being a Holiday! :)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Miracles DO Happen!

You may have read on Tina's and Adeye's blogs yesterday about the Higbie family. 
They are going to adopt THREE Teenagers!  But funds were not there, and they needed them fast.
The Body of Christ moved in an incredible way, and not only did they get the money needed for immediate needs, enough money came in to cover plane tickets and everything!  WOW!
Way to Go!
So, I have added them to my blog roll.  Can you join me in praying for this precious family, and praying these children home? 
They have invited all to share in their journey as they bring their children home.
Here is a link to Loving Recklessly, The Higbie's blog. :)

"MISTAKES"

The meaning of a word is very, very important.  It is not uncommon for words in our language to be misunderstood!  An example might be "effect" vs. "affect". 

Affect

In order to understand the correct situation in which to use the word affect or effect, the first thing one must do is have a clear understanding of what each word means. The word affect means to produce a change in something.

Effect

The word effect has a different meaning. Effect is defined as a result of something or the ability to bring about a result.


But when it comes to the word "mistake" the meaning is quite clear!

A mistake is a blunder, an error, and even an error in judgment, such as, I bought this dress but it is way to short!  Or  I made a calculation error and I have less money in the bank than I thought!

These are MISTAKES!  Yes, they are lapses in judgment, but there is no ill intent.


In the Trial of Hana Williams, whom I wrote about 2 years ago here, and then the use of TTUAC here
the statement was made that "we made a mistake". 
NO! A mistake was not made.  It was not a "mistake" to feed her frozen food instead of cooked.
It was not a "mistake" to put a lock on a closet door and force her to sleep inside there."
It was not a "mistake" to beat her.
It was not a "mistake" to beat her deaf brother.
It was not a "mistake" to make her stay outside, shower and toilet outside, and sleep in the barn.
It was not a "mistake" to keep the children separate from family celebrations like Christmas.
It was not a "mistake" to sit and watch her as she struggled for life.
It was not a "mistake" to STARVE.HER. TO. DEATH!

No.
It wasn't just "poor judgment" or "misguided judgment". 
No.

It was  a systematic, continual atmosphere of abuse... and then the other children were also put in the position of participation. 
During Hana's last hours on this earth, as she was staggering in the back yard, the mother gave Hana's brothers a switch to go and strike her with.
The children were then directed to LIE to social workers and investigators about where Hana slept and if she had been beaten. :(
It  was not a "mistake" to tell children to lie to authorities.

It was INTENTIONAL.

Now, did they intend for Hana to die?  I don't believe they did.  But honestly, how can the word "mistake" even be used.
Oops she died.  That was a mistake.
It so cheapens Hana's life.

How about we were HORRIBLY WRONG?  How about we are BOTH responsible?
Why even a trial?  Why not plead the truth? How about "We systematically MURDERED our daughter in the name of some sort of wacky- pseudo- parenting paradigm and we are TRULY sorry!"
"It doesn't matter if she were 12 or 20. We abused another human being, that we promised to love and cherish, until she died."
She is DEAD. There is a body in the ground.

There is forgiveness in Christ.  Yes, there is. And I do hope that the William's have sought that forgiveness.  But a sign of repentence would not be to defend your actions, accuse each other of being more at fault, or call your actions a "mistake".
Sin is more accurate.
Sins are transgressions against God, and against His Law.  We are ALL sinners. 
We are all in need of forgiveness.  I pray that the Williams find that forgiveness.

One of the saddest parts of this entire story, besides a family torn apart, and the death of Hana, is that this family, just like all families that adopt, had wonderful, GOOD intentions!
They wanted to do something for children.  They wanted to joyfully add to their family.
And something went tragically WRONG.  It was NOT the fault of Hana Williams.

If you are a future adoptive family, one of the very best things you can do while you wait, is get prepared for what is going to CHANGE.YOUR. LIVES. forever!
The process of bringing home children is a shock to the family AND even MORE SO to the child!
PREPARE YOURSELVES! 
Don't be the bride who worries about the fanciness and joy of the wedding and forgets to prepare for the marriage!
The LONG HAUL life of adoption can be wonderful! It can also be stressful! 
Deal with your own baggage before you bring your kids home!  I promise, you will have more to deal with after they arrive! :)
REACH OUT to the adoption community. DO NOT ISOLATE! And do NOT be in a group that speaks negatively about their children in disparaging ways!  Do NOT participate in "Misery Love Company" type groups.

Instead, find TRUE adoption support.  Seek out social workers, friends, friends of friends, and find families that are SUCCESSFUL.
LEARN FROM THEM! 
There are many blogs on my side bar to choose from that are successful with their children. They do not have magically easy children. Some deal with very difficult circumstances! 
Go to websites like  Empowered to Connect.  There is so much information there and it is wonderful!

There are also conventions to go to! There is one in Houston this month and in the Dallas area next month, both featuring Karyn Purvis!  It is 60 dollars for a COUPLE to attend for 2 full days of enrichment! 
That folks is a bargain!

The adoption community needs to pull together and make sure that not one more adopted child is murdered in the name of "discipline".  And even more, the adoption community needs to pull together and "Shout from the Rooftops", that adoption is a WONDERFUL THING... but you MUST BE PREPARED to FACE the MONSTER IN THE MIRROR! Yourself.
And then, you will be ready to be equipped to gently guide your adopted child to healing and wholeness.

Here is a link to the article that fueled this post.  Thank you to Hope Anne for posting it.
Here is a link to Hope Anne's blog.  I like to refer to Hope Anne as the creator of "skirt holding". :)
She is also located on my side bar blog roll.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Excitement Is In The Air!

I don't know if you have noticed.... But over at "No Greater Joy Mom" blog and Tina's Blog.... The Higbee family has been featured so that they can be funded to GET THEIR CHILDREN!  And the Lord has Provided Greatly! Above and beyond!  :)

We serve an AWESOME GOD!  And those of you who have donated... GOD BLESS YOU!
Three TEENAGERS are now going to have a FAMILY!

I LOVE ADOPTION!

KEEP FUNDING THIS FAMILY even if it is 10 dollars! They will need funds for food and lodging etc.! You can fun them HERE!

Catching Pictures..... :)

 Do We Have To?
 Somebody isn't cooperating!
 Do we have  to smile!


 That wasn't funny!
 Again???
 Ok, We'll try!

                                                     WE HAVE HOW MANY KIDS?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Our Anniversary :)

(our beach picture) :)
 It was a very special day, that we actually celebrated yesterday. :)
24 years ago, Mike became a husband for the first time, and a father of 4!  Yes, I was a "package deal".

Mike adopted all of our sons, except our oldest who was not allowed to be adopted, so he took joint managing conservatorship, which is as close to adoption as you can get. 

We have had a very full 24 years and love each other more each year.  We have had a lot of changes in our lives. Things have not always been easy.  They are not easy now.  Being small business owners is hard work!
But  we LOVE raising our girls together.  We love serving in our church together, and we love the Lord who brought us together!

Praise HIM for 24 good years!  May He grant us more. :)

School Days

 Today is Anna's first day of High School.  Today is the first time since 1992 that we have had a child in Public School.    It is going to be different, but we wish her well and know she will do great!
The rest of us will watch her leave on her bus.... and wait for her return, and in the mean time.... we will have our first day of school too! :)

I think she looks awesome! Everybody else? Well, somebody is still in P.J's. at 7:50 a.m.  We start at 8:30. :)

More pictures to come! :)
 Waiting for the Bus.... they were 3 minutes late. :)
video

And we started our school day again today too! :)  Here are my 3 students.



Miss Alli is the tallest now!

 And Miss Anna arrived home safe and sound with a big smile on her face,
and lots of paper work for me to sign. :)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Getting Ready for School

 Anna went first!



Joseph wearing Felix....LOL  Baby Sumo!


 I went next


 Next was Sarah

 Then Alli

 WOW.... Here come locks of love!




 And finally Erika


And Becca is still smiling! :)

When We Fail

Last week, Aus asked if I could post on failure.  As in, when we don't handle things perfectly.

I have had my mind of this, for several days, but with many distractions. :)   GOOD distractions!

But  back to thinking about this, it is good to reflect on our  own short comings and failures as parents.

But today, I'd like to reflect on how to rescue a situation when it is going the wrong direction.

I love "do overs" ! "Would you like to try that again?"  "Let's try that one over!"  "How about doing that over with a kind tone in your voice!"  There are a million different ways to suggest a do over....

With my little grandsons last week I simply spoke what I wanted them to say, and they repeated it back automatically.

But sometimes, we as adults need do overs too! 

When you find yourself in the midst of your own personal melt down.... do not despair! It is not too late to try it again!  And your children will not only pay attention, it can be used to a great advantage in their teaching! 

Our kids have a hard enough time understanding family life and what is expected, and I'm sure many times they feel that we do not hold ourselves to the same standards that we have for them!
"Why do you get to eat after dinner and I don't?"
"Why do you get to stay up late and I don't?"
"Why do you get to go to the movies and I don't?"
"Why can you have coffee and I can't?"
and more..... :)

Children coming into our homes as strangers, have to learn how to be children on top of learning how to exist in a family structure!

This can bring friction that can be frustrating for parents.  And sometimes as parents,  with our window of tolerance fully open in the morning time, and after having a long stressful day, find that window closing to a narrower and narrower tolerance are quite capable of our own mini meltdowns!
Our patience runs thin, and then.... bam.... Mr. or Mrs. Ugly pops out and we say something in a harsh tone, or without the patience we normally exhibit!

This can be turned into a teaching time for our kids in the most positive of ways IF we aren't too proud to apologize and admit our own short comings!  If you over react to a situation or lose your cool, be humble!
You can rescue yourself by saying, "Yikes! I think mom needs a do over! Don't you!"
You can infuse humor..... you can be serious and head to the rocking chair, but most of all, it is a time to PURSUE RELATIONSHIP!

Your child may respond negatively and spiral out of control by your own actions, because they are still fragile!  They may not be able to handle our flaws while they are still so vulnerable.
BUT.... if we face our own flaws and admit them to our kids, we can go a long way in teaching our children that relationship is more important to us than anything, and teach them that even with all our flaws and their flaws, relationship is of utmost importance!
This lets them know that when they make mistakes, they need our forgiveness too and they are not going to break if they admit they are wrong! 
They need to do "do overs" too and it isn't that hard! They will learn the difference between humility and humiliation! 
We all need to go to the Lord in prayer, asking for strength and mercy!  When our children see US go to the Lord for strength and ask for help... they will be inclined to do the same.
Being humble goes a long way in teaching our children that we can all make mistakes and still love each other.  And part of being human, includes our imperfections!

There is a part in "The Connected Child" book by Karyn Purvis that mentions how our mistakes can be turned into something good.  The children learn little by little that when we are hurt, or hurt others, that it is possible  repair that relationship and even make it stronger! 
Those little moments are turned into solid teaching time.... but don't make those moments an excuse for our own bad behavior!
There is a difference between getting stressed and just sloppy, or selfish parenting! 

We ALL need to ALWAYS strive to do our best, as unto the Lord, who gives us strength!
"I can do ALL things through Christ, who gives me strength!" Phil 4:13.

Support Group In Katy Texas

If you are an Pre adoptive, adoptive, or Foster Parent and live in the Houston Area of Texas, I will be speaking on August 8th at the Kick off meeting for fall,  at Orphan's Hope support group.

I am truly honored to be invited for this event! It is very exciting to be able to share with others!
The Location is:  Grace Fellowship UMC in Katy TX.  The Support group name is "Orphans Hope".

I am really looking forward to meeting and talking to everybody. What an honor. What an HONOR!
Now, to prepare! :)



This Last Week

Well, it has been a fun and busy week!
The Fontes' Family, stopped overnight once again on their way home.
In fact, they had to reassign seats in their van, because they brought home another child. :)

 Playing dolls
 Resting



 Playing Ninja with Sarah
 Relaxing

Joe and Becca moved into a new apartment, but we are going to babysit their piano for a while. :)
Here is Truman looking at a book with Alli.  Truman is 2, and quite the talker!  I took him with me to the hospital to pick Erika up from volunteering and had the attention of the entire lunch table with his charming smile and impressions of a pirate..... "I'm a pirate!" (with one eye closed) "I have a sword at home!" LOL


It was a week full of fun visits and rest during the hot days of Texas Summer.






 Getting aquainted with Uncle Joe.

 Aunt Alli making baby Felix laugh.
 Marcus making me laugh.

And good conversation.......

You Are Still Holy

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