She Had a Dream. Or Was it a Nightmare?

It was an upscale venue, there were plush chairs lining the walls. The banquet table entertained and sustained a gathering of men and women laughing without a care in the world. These couples had their well dressed children nearby as they enjoyed family time with friends. There were other children too, children from China. These host children, specific individual souls, were gathered in the middle of the room where these families were engaging. What a brilliant and wonderful event to have families and orphans together for a meet and greet!

In the midst of this, at the heart of it, there was a problem. A dark, brooding problem.

They wouldn’t touch them.

This happy scene wasn’t happy at all, the families were along the outskirts of the room, the host children were separated from them. The families wouldn’t talk to, touch, or even look at the children. Mothers, previously laughing and eating, sternly yanked their children away. “No, no. We don’t talk to them.”

What a nightmare.

I haven’t always been all about orphan care, but I have always been about the care and keeping of children. I’ve always been about motherhood. While in highschool I set my heart and my life in order, lined up – for motherhood, for the care of children.

Sometimes, I’ll be walking by a child of mine and think – what if they were alone? This little human, one I know so well, one I love, WHAT IF they had NO ONE? I wonder if mine have what it takes, if they have enough fire and spunk in them to survive. I praise God they’ve never had to; they’ve always been known, always been loved.

There’s one thing I know, that I’m confident of: I am not special. My children are not special. My country is not special. There is nothing in me, my children or my country that are not completely and utterly undeserving of everything we’ve been blessed with. Family. Love. Care. We deserve, have a right to, have earned – NONE of this.

So, who am I to think that my child deserves a happy summer filled with laughter, swimming, popsicles, and FAMILY LOVE – more than these little faces before me? What inconvenience will it require from me that I am ABOVE? What small spark of hope might be planted in the heart of a child?

When I see my son walk around with the photo of another boy pasted onto his shirt in a plea to host him, when my daughter shares her dreams, when I see all my 7 rally around in a large campaign to explain how perfectly easy it would be for us to take in another child, or another several children… I’m in awe. These who do the extra work, who give things up – their things – to make another child comfortable… these kids, being the hands and feet of Jesus. These kids, who have seen it’s not so difficult or scary after all, that lending a hand – or a pair of socks – is not so difficult.

My daughter spoke of her dream in animated words until she faltered to a stop, “They wouldn’t touch them.” She continued her story in hushed tones, the weight of her words not lost on either of us. The question on her heart is my question too: how to reach the hearts of others, how to make them see? How to live it out before others in a way that will inspire action?

The stark reality is this: My daughter woke up from her nightmare; the kids she dreams about – don’t.

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Nightlight is searching for families in Kentucky and So. California to host these children for 3 weeks. They are awesome adoptable kids – watch the video to see for yourself! To receive a Hosting Packet with detailed info about the program, email your request to dana@nightlight.org.

Seen & Heard: 10 Apps I Use (Nearly) Everyday

I use my phone a lot, for a lot of things, there are many apps that I use everyday and I thought I would share them with you.

10 Android apps that I use everyday or nearly everyday:

Kindle – This is a must have in this household. This app is on all of our devices for reading and the kids also use this for many of their schoolbooks.

Feedly – I love this blog reader and switched to it when Google Reader went away. I use this to read all of the Gospel Coalition blogs, Tim Challies, Kevin DeYoung, etc. I also have some crafting, organizing and money saving blogs that feed here, but I don’t read them much right now. 🙂

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Amazon MP3 – I used to buy all my music on iTunes, but now everything is in the Amazon cloud. I use this in the house with my bluetooth player and in the car through auxiliary port. Many a calming moment provided here!

Facebook – For a while I deleted this one, I prefer to not make it easy to be distracted by Facebook. I finally just turned off notifications so that I wasn’t constantly being pulled back in.

Runkeeper – There are probably better running apps, but this one has kept all my runs and walks since I started running so I like to keep using it.  It is also tracking how many miles I’ve gone in my running shoes since I got those at about the same time! 🙂

Expensify – I love, love, LOVE this app. It’s probably not useful to anyone else, but it allows me to take a picture of receipts and turn in all of the items I purchase for the church.  This little app saves me a huge amount of time.  I’ve taught Katie Ann how to use it too, so when we are at the store I run the church purchase first and she records the purchase while I complete our personal order.  Once a month, I go online to their website and turn in all our expenses, quick and easy! YAY! (There was underground chatter about discontinuing the use of this program at church, much moaning and groaning came from me about this so I’m going to put in one more, I LOVE EXPENSIFY, just for good measure!)

Cartwheel – Oh my. I just discovered this app. It’s a terrible app for saving money because it makes shopping at Target like a game for me and I just want to go spend more so I can earn more dumb badges in Cartwheel.  All of that to say: I really like this fun app!

Goodreads – I had hoped that when Amazon bought Goodreads we would see some better cross-app integration, but alas – we have not.  Never the less, I do enjoy being able to go on my phone and update where I’m at in books and see what my friends (my daughter) are reading. This app helps keep me on track for my 2014 booklist.

YNAB – This is for the You Need A Budget budgeting program that we’re trying out.  It’s still not a perfect fit, but I like their app because you can see how much money you have in each category while you’re out and about spending money! This assumes you’ve updated your bank account and budget recently, which is something I TRY to do everyday, but I’m not always on top of it.  It’s a pretty app.

Path – I use Path a decent amount of time. I’d use it more if it’s notifications worked properly and I actually knew when I had new content. We use this privately for my parents and my siblings that have moved away. This is where all the pictures and topics that we don’t want everyone in the world’s 25 cents about. It works well for this, but like I said, I’d be closer to my family if it would tell me my niece or my brother posted.

One of my very favorite apps is my alarm clock. I don’t know if it’s the one that comes with my phone or what, but it just works great. Goes off every morning without fail! Go figure! 🙂 No, but really, it’s easy to set alarms and easy to use. You can even set it to make you do a puzzle in order to turn it off, ha ha!

I also use Brightest Flashlight, messaging program and navigation a lot, but those aren’t worth mentioning, except I just did.

One app that I do not use, but would love to is Gqueues. I use their website everyday, all day, to keep track off all the different things I’m doing. I just haven’t been able to bring myself to pay the $25.00 a year it takes to be able to use their app. The app would be the only reason I’d be upgrading, that’s a $25.00 app that expires! Yikes!

What are your favorite apps?

Happy Friday!

Seen & Heard: Random Phone Photos

wpid-0127141616.jpgThis guy got new glasses on Monday. Every time I looked at him, I laughed out loud. That made him self conscious, sorry about that. :/ The truth is, I love this guy and wouldn’t be the same woman without him.  I sometimes blame all of our issues on his wild passion for God, but ultimately I know that he seeks God wildly and I would be so frustrated with anything less. 🙂 Love you honey, and your new glasses too!

wpid-0127141652a.jpgWe went to the park, we’ve been stopping in at the park for an hour here and there more often these days. The poor 3 year old at the end of this clan hasn’t had enough park time and we all do better with some fresh air. These two brothers are discovering some commonality as one is finally old enough to engage in the pursuits of another. They still keep a safe distance, but they are finding their way. God works in all things.

wpid-0127141802a.jpgWe were having dinner and I was thinking what a blessing it is to have the entire family together at the table. This is a common occurrence these days, but I know it won’t always be the case. I took this to capture the normal moment of “dinnertime” and they all thought I was strange. That’s ok, they always think that.

wpid-0128141919a.jpgOn Tuesday night we celebrated this guy’s 7th birthday with my mom and no cousins.  It’s a new normal and we miss our cousins, but we are taking full advantage of having grandparents all to ourselves!!! 😛

wpid-0128141333.jpgThis guy wisely removes himself once a day to swing on the swings by himself. He’s done this everyday for years and years. It’s for all our good, I need to find my own swing – for the good of all!

wpid-0130140701a.jpgThe three middles successfully made it a night in their new tent. It’s so fitting that all of the gifts that Maury chose this year were things he could do with his brothers, he loves and adores them.

wpid-0129140933.jpgOur baby boy turned 7, he loves to make people laugh and he’s good at it. 🙂

 

wpid-0129141900b.jpgWe have great friends that come over every week for community group. It’s been neat to watch the kids bond and grow to love each other as they spend time week after week. Look at those guys back there standing right in front of the TV…!

 

wpid-0130141216a.jpgThis girl’s reading level is higher than mine was at her age, a book and a tree, is there anything better?

That’s a week in our life in random pictures. 🙂

Happy Friday!

A Light in the Darkness: Hope

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In the month of January, I light a candle every morning. It started as a thing on a list of to-dos. “Light a candle first thing in the morning” A reminder to be a light to this household; to remind this household to be a light. It turned out to be a shining light of hope and a light to my early morning reading in the dark.

I’m talking to a friend and she’s sharing how difficult life is, how it hasn’t changed the way she expected. My other friend encourages, she speaks the words clear, words of hope: “Yes, but the difference, now that you are in Christ, is that you are not without hope.”

You’ve encountered trials, but you are not without hope.

I see a man sitting near the street, in front of a gas station. He isn’t homeless, I can see that, his baseball cap and Seahawks shirt, his jeans and his bicycle with a wooden trailer attached don’t speak of rags or riches. He’s not homeless, he’s just down on his luck.

The empty water jugs in his make-shift trailer, a sign of his hope for income.

Where is his shining light of hope? Where does he find his peace?

I see it there in his hand, sitting there in front of that fueling station, cars humming past him on the busy Monday morning commute. The world around him is getting back to work, getting back to life – he’s trying to just make it by. Hope held in his hand.

I think of my own hope. I wonder how to keep this closeness, how to remain connected to the vine when the schedule is off, when the “quiet” times are drowned out by the loud ruckus of life.  So often, I’m trying to find the peace from without, forgetting that this Immanuel, this God with us, this Prince of peace, this God come to dwell in us, carries all the quiet my thirsty soul needs to survive.

In his hand he holds a ticket, his ticket of hope. He’s scratching this ticket, scratching, scratching, scratching. Methodically scratching away all his cares, laying all his hope right out on the side of the street.

Scratching for hope.

I drive on. Wondering about that man, wondering if those tickets brought disappointment, wondering if he has enough empty jugs to make ends meet. Wondering if all this scratching for hope is bringing him peace,

or just more emptiness.

I keep lighting my candle each morning, keep reminding myself to be a light, keep reminding myself of The Hope. I’m scratching at the idea that it’s not about setting aside times to be with God, it’s about abiding in the One who goes with me, even to the ends of the earth. I can scratch and claw for things that will fill these gaping holes, or

I can rest in hope of His glorious light.

Seen & Heard: How I Do It

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I was at the dentist yesterday so I had the typical deja vu experience of having conversations that seem original, but are played out anytime I go anywhere new. As soon as it’s discovered that I have 6 kids, the story is always the same.

“Wow! You look really great for having 6 kids!”

Thank you! I think? Is this some sort of backhanded compliment? No, they’re being friendly. Ok. Thank you!

Then comes the inevitable, “I don’t know how you do it!”

I laugh and smile and be polite. It’s really not so hard, but I have done my homework.

Here’s how I do it in 5 quick bullets. It doesn’t always work out pretty and different seasons have looked different, but this is how it works in our household.

  1. We have a routine – It’s not always followed strictly, but there’s a sense of what comes first and what comes next. Breakfast is generally at 8am, everyday, for years. You must come to breakfast dressed, boys don’t like to sleep in shirts and I don’t want to see your chest. Dressed. No exceptions. Breakfast, chores, school.
  2. Kids do chores – They begin having strict chores at the age of 4. We start small and train with an older child, but they do chores, they expect to do chores. Those systems where mom gobbles up your things? I have no idea what I’m supposed to do with those. The house has been divided up in chores and chore times and they get done. Many hands make the work light!
  3. Speak principle – Ok, this is silly, but I do like to say teaching phrases over and over. “Always be honest.” “Work hard, play hard,” “Many hands make the work light,” “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” They’re silly, but I know they’ll come into the minds of my children when they have a decision to make. There’s nothing more powerful than strategically playing Jedi mind tricks with your kids by getting into their heads.
  4. Stay home – We miss out on a lot of really great opportunities by not jumping on every one. We jump on very few. Ask any close friend of mine, not only do I not answer my phone, but I don’t go to places I don’t want to go.  This is my normal nature, but this is also very intentional. We live a busy life, we need to be ready and available to live that life and we won’t have energy to live well if we’re maxed out.
  5. Be flexible – How do I do it? By God’s grace! Every child, every situation, every season of life requires much prayer and much flexibility. I have children that I have to watch and monitor their level of stress and their needs to have time alone, if I miss the cues and we break the threshold of tolerance, we pay! There have been seasons where nothing is how I would like things to run, but it’s for the good of the household at the time so we went with it. Pray!

That’s how I do it. As the kids are getting older, I’m learning to rest and sit more, but I don’t’ have a lot of down time. Such is life. God has always been faithful and gracious to guide us each step of the way.

Happy Friday!

Seen & Heard: Navigating an Extrovert World

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There’s such a thing as being too introspective.

It’s called being a highschooler.

That’s how I’ve felt this week, like a highschooler. Every feeling, every thought, all my interactions have gone through the filter of feelings, attacked by my worldview, looked at from every angle. After going through this process, they’re plopped out in haphazard fashion to anyone who may be nearby.

It’s there. Leave it there. Don’t think about how you feel about it, just let that thing lie there!

I’m an introvert. Filtering and processing is what I do and it takes time.  My extroverted counterparts also filter and process, but their system works at lightening speed and rather than internalizing every encounter, they process it on a high level and carry on with life.

See what I’m doing? I’m being introspective about extroverts/introverts.

Some weeks, like this past one, I spend all my days living an extrovert’s life. Moving at the speed of life, no time to stop and process, lots of putting myself out there. The result is me trying to find a rock to hide under while also trying to discern why it is I need a rock so badly.

I share with my husband how tired I am of having to live in my weakness. Why can’t God give me something to do that I’m good at?! (I know, pride and God’s glory and all that, I never said I was being rational this week, I said I was being a highschooler.)

I shared with him, and he just looked at me. That was probably best, but terribly frustrating.

Maybe I just won’t share anything with you anymore.

Then, he said what is my favorite quote of the week: “No! Honey, don’t worry I have DEEP WELLS of emotion!”

Sure. that’s what we need, two of us feeling feelings. 🙂

Yeah, it was one of those weeks.

🙂 Now that I’ve filtered and processed it, I can laugh about it!

Happy Friday!

Seen and Heard: 3 Things in 3 Days

Three days into the New Year!

1.SOMETHING NEW: I learned something on New Years Eve, if you say you want to go to bed early, you should specify how early. A certain man in my home went to bed at 9:15 and that made me very discouraged.  I watched Monsters University and then headed to bed myself. Happy New Year! :/

2. SOMETHING BORROWED: I sent my husband on a personal retreat to pray and plan for the new year. He was there only ten minutes before he called and asked if I wanted to join him. 🙂  Our dear friends gifted him with a beautiful room that turned out to be an excellent workspace with plenty of room.  I sent along some good books for inspiration, a couple of personal notes and this list by Kevin DeYoung. The list has useful questions like this: “Have I done anything out of the ordinary to cherish and help my wife?”

While he’s gone I have the job of entertaining the teenagers after the youngers go to bed. They just sat there looking at me so I decided to learn how to play their game:

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3. SOMETHING READ: My 2014 book reading plan is in full force right now, I’m currently reading through a couple of great books and thought I’d share quotes from each, but there wasn’t really anything quotable in them, so here are some thoughts:

Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung: He sounds a lot like my husband. Driven, doing many things at once and not daunted by the many tasks coming at him at once. I figured it would be best to read this one at the beginning of the year in case it had something useful in it, rather than getting more Crazy Busy and then back tracking.

Clear Winter Nights by Trevin Wax: I have hopes for this book. I am skeptical that a writer of theology can write a good novel.  Is that terrible? I am. Skeptical I mean, but I’m probably terrible too. After reading part of the first chapter I went back and read all of the good reviews of this book just to remind myself that this is going to be great, really great!

The Church Planting Wife by Christine Hoover: I’ll be blogging on these next 2 chapters (5&6) as this continues to be a good book. This book, along with a study of Judges I’m doing, along with one other thing I can’t remember right now, all talked about full obedience to God without making a plan B out of fear. 3 (or maybe 2?) of the same messages in the same week,things that make you go: hmmmm.

Judges for You by Tim Keller: My sister and my husband both say if Tim Keller writes it, you should read it. I read his book Galatians for You and loved it, this one looks to be the same. I have only read the introduction, but I’m doing the study guide in preparation for our women’s study this February. This is good stuff. I bought a stack of books and poured and prayed over all of them and this one floated to the top.  I’m already learning from it as I shared in the previous section above. Tim Keller = Good Stuff

Systematic Theology by, Wayne Grudem: I read the 1st chapter this week, which means I’m ahead of my schedule! 🙂 This one is going to be good, I already know that. For the first chapter this was an application question that jumped at me:

What is likely to happen to a church or denomination that gives up learning systematic theology for a generation or longer?

Well… I have lived this. As a teen and young adult it made me very frustrated to be in a system that didn’t teach systematic theology. Not that I knew what that was, but I was always discouraged when older christians and pastors would talk about the apostles creed and various doxologies because they had been taught them in church as children. Here I was in a system that didn’t believe in teaching such things and yet I was surrounded by older christians who had benefited from systematic theology, catechisms, creeds, etc.  I didn’t know where to obtain such information, my parents were not saved as children and were also trained in the same system.  As I began to have my own children and sought to rectify this situation, I found the pertinent information very difficult to find.  It wasn’t until I reached beyond my borders, went into forbidden territory, that I found the information I had been seeking for a large part of my life. To be sure, there were a great many blessings that overshadow that portion of my experience, but that was what I experienced and how I answered that application question.

Al Mohler has a good article out today on reading books: Some Thoughts on the Reading of Books.

Ok. So that’s what I’ve been doing the past 3 days, a lot of planning, preparing, cleaning up… We’re back to school on Monday!

Happy Friday!