2 Corinthians 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Caring for Orphans

** I struggled with writing this post.... Please read this with an open heart and an open mind... I'm not judging anyone... I'm simply sharing my heart... **
Psalm 68:5, 6a "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.  God sets the lonely in families..."

James 1:27  "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." 

I saw this picture on Facebook today from Hope for Orphans....(http://www.hopefororphans.org/Display.asp?Page=home)

Look at those statistics again.... 2 BILLION Christians.... 132 MILLION orphans...

I suppose on one hand, reading that could make me think that there are plenty of other Christians in this world who can care for orphans and that I don't have to do anything.

On the other hand, this could make me really consider what my role is in caring for orphans.

I do want to say that I do NOT think that every Christian should adopt.  For some it is simply not possible due to a number of reasons.  But that does not prevent us from caring for orphans in some way.  There are other ways to help besides adoption.

  • Foster care
  • Respite care (short term care for foster children)
  • Orphan hosting
  • Giving money so others can adopt, even if it's only a little bit
  • Pray

I think sometimes we as Christians pray and call it a day, when there's more we could be doing.  

Do you have a friend who is adopting and you could give of your excess to help?  Or is God asking you to sacrifice something so that your friend (or maybe even a complete stranger) can adopt?

We are sometimes so over-committed that we have no time to give to host an orphan for 5 weeks over the summer or Christmas holiday.  I understand that some families have work commitments that wouldn't make this possible.  I'm also not saying that option is for everyone, but it's an option that many people don't know is even available.

If God IS calling you to adopt, do your research!  Sure, adoption is a wonderful thing.  It is a parallel to how we as Christians have been adopted by God into His family.  But it's not an easy road.  Many children available for adoption, both from foreign countries and through US foster care, have needs that we might not be aware of until they move into our home.  We need to consider how this will impact our family, both positively and negatively.

God does give us good things to enjoy.... Vacations, nice houses, cars, sports, shopping.... These are not bad things!  But are our hearts and lives occupied in pursuing these things that we have no time or resources left to care for orphans?

I strongly believe that there are many Christians that would adopt if finances allowed them.

I strongly believe there are Christians who have the resources to provide for others to adopt.

I strongly believe there are other Christians who could provide free childcare so that those who are called to foster children could attend the many hours of required training.

I strongly believe that many of us could give up something in our budget to give to a family who is adopting.

I strongly believe that there are some who have talents that could be used for orphans, whether on mission trips, adoption fundraisers or orphan advocacy.

There is something that each of us can give.  It might be a lot, or it might be a little.  What can YOU give to provide for the care of orphans?

Here are some resources if you are interested in learning more about orphan care....



Monday, May 21, 2012

Another Weekend Visit....

I really shouldn't complain....

These frequent weekend visits are a great introduction into what our family is going to be in just a few short weeks....

But the driving to our meeting spot to pick up and drop off is wearing me out.  It's just about a 2 hour drive each way so it ends up being a 5 hour round trip ordeal when you add in a bathroom break and waiting on the other people to arrive.  So, for every visit, we spend 10 hours in transportation.... And entire day of the week...

We thankfully only have to do this 3-4 more times before move in day.  Any more than that and I think I'd be worn out.  We've already made that trip 11 times....

On a lighter note, I've driven this route so often that I think I could do it in my sleep... But I won't try that.

This weekend's visit was short (less than 48 hours) but fun... We got home close to dinner time on Friday and my husband was halfway through a 12 hour off duty job so we hung out and had an easy dinner.  "The boy" slept well that night, as he always does the first night of a visit.  Saturday ended up being what we imagine is a typical Saturday for most families (with my husband's line of work he has worked half of the Saturdays of the last 16 years so we don't have very many "typical" family Saturdays....) .  We visited a local farm and saw some cows, lots of chickens and a few big, fat pigs.  We bought some bacon, ground beef and Chirizo sausage to try.  Then we ate lunch out and headed to a friend's office to help him and his boys pack up the last of his books so that he could move offices.  I've never seen so many books in my life!  There were just about 150 boxes of books in one office!  WOW!  Then we made a side trip to buy a skirt for me and my daughter and then on to a friend's high school graduation party.  What a fun and full day, and beautiful weather too!  Sunday we went to church and then it was time for the drop off after the weekend visit.

We have another upcoming weekend visit scheduled and then an almost 2 week visit in June before his move in date in early July.  It will be here before we know it.  There is so much to do between now and then... I have to get the next homeschool year planned for my 2 teens, we need to get our bonus room ready in case one of the teens needs to move upstairs ("the boy" doesn't always sleep well and my teen son needs sleep....), and we have several other things planned that I won't blog about until after they happen.  Even though there is a lot to do, it will help time go quickly and before we know it, our family will grow to 5!

Monday, May 14, 2012

National Police Week

This week is National Police Week.  What started in 1962 with a proclamation from President Kennedy grew in 1982 to include a Memorial Service.  The commemoration now draws 25,000-40,000 LEO's, family and friends to Washington, DC to honor law enforcement as well as to remember those who lost their lives the previous year while performing their duties.

File:National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Lion.JPG
The National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial Wall... Very moving!

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in downtown DC holds the names of the 19,000+ officers that have died in the line of duty.  My family and I had the honor of visiting this memorial several years ago during a trip to the area.  It was particularly important to make that stop because during the previous year, 3 deputies from my husband's department had died in the line of duty- 2 in car accidents and 1 who was murdered.  It was a moving experience, to see all of those names, but particularly to see the names of people that you knew, had met and had worked with.... I don't ever want to have to return to view more names of LEO's that we knew, but I realize that is a possibility in this line of work.

When I look back at the statistics for the past 5 years for LEO line of duty deaths, it's like a roller coaster:
2007- 201
2008- 151
2009- 138
2010- 163
2011- 166
2012- 36 (year to date...unfortunately there will be more to add by the end of the year....)

What the statistics don't show is that many of the line of duty deaths in recent years have been ambushes and premeditated murder of LEO's simply because they are LEO's.....  That is disheartening to me.  It's not in the front of my mind every day because I don't believe you can function well that way... But it is often in the back of my mind, reminding me just how fragile life can be.

So many of my friends are so very supportive of my husband's job.  They thank him (and others they know and see) for doing their job.  It might be hard for some to believe or understand, though, just how hated law enforcement is by the general community and also by the media, who is quick to report the bad (or what they perceive is the bad) but rarely reports the good.

My husband, and very few if any LEO's for that matter, does not do this job for the recognition.  He doesn't expect to be thanked by the community at the end of his shift.  He realizes that the same person who calls him for help might be the one he actually takes to jail that night.  He's been lied about (countless times....thank God for the dash cam that busts those liars!), threatened, assaulted, stalked, someone tried to run him over with their car, he's held a dying man in his arms, and seen death in ways no one would ever choose to see.  He does his job because he loves it.  And he does it never once expecting to be appreciated by the community.

I don't know of any other profession where people make such generalizations due to a small percentage who have done wrong.  We never (nor should we) hear "All teachers are bad" because we hear of the few who have broken trust in various ways, some even committing crimes.  We never hear "All doctors are bad" because of one who doesn't perform his job ethically.  But we routinely hear that ALL cops are bad, because there are those few who are doing wrong.... That is what makes this job so hard for both the LEO and their families....Hearing those generalities when you know your loved one is in the vast majority of those who do this job well! 

So, this week as we celebrate Law Enforcement, make it your goal to go out of your way to thank an LEO in your community.  You don't have to bake them cookies (in fact, many won't accept that as you can imagine people in that line of work wouldn't want to accept homemade goods from someone they don't know!), but a simple "thank you" will be enough to make their day.  They may not have heard those words outside their home in weeks or longer.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Homeschool Post

I looked at the banner under my blog name recently and noticed how it said this is a blog about life, homeschool and adoption.

I think I've blogged quite a few times about adoption as well as about our life in general.  But I haven't done a single post on Homeschool.  Well, I've mentioned homeschooling in maybe 2 posts, but I've never dedicated an entire post to homeschooling.

Why?  I'm not sure.  It can sometimes be a touchy subject and part of me just doesn't want to offend someone.  

I don't think homeschooling is for everyone.  And honestly, I don't care if a family homeschools or not.  I'm only responsible for my decisions and the decision to homeschool has worked very well for our family.

That doesn't mean every day we homeschool is a good day.  There are quite a few days when I wonder what in the world we are doing.  But most days, I am thankful that we made the decision to homeschool.

As a result of homeschooling, our family is closer.  Because of my husband's weird work schedule, if my kids were in a public, private or charter school there would be days on end where they wouldn't get to see their dad.  By the time they would get home from school, he'd be getting ready for work.   So, it works for us due to the flexibility in scheduling.

As a result of homeschooling, my kids are close friends.  I'm not at all saying that this isn't possible unless you homeschool, as my kids have always been close.  But now they are both teens and they are still good friends because they spent a lot of time together and really know and enjoy each other.

As a result of homeschooling, we as parents really enjoy our teens.  I've posted before that my kids are "weird" but that I like they are different from what we call the "normal" teen.  We laugh together, we frustrate each other and we learn together.  We do enjoy our time apart, but we also enjoy our time together.

Homeschooling works for our family.  It doesn't work for everyone and that's just fine by me.

This coming month is our state's annual Homeschool Conference.  I'm looking forward to creating my color coded schedule of who is going to what session as well as my list of books to buy.  I'm looking forward to spending time with other friends that I know are going.  I'm looking forward to finishing another year and planning for the upcoming one.

So, while I may not blog regularly about homeschooling, it is a huge part of our life.  While it's not easy, for us it's been worth it!


Friday, May 4, 2012

Update on 2012 Goals

The other day, I was looking back through past blog posts and came across what is now the most viewed post I've written.  It was my list of goals for 2012.

So that got me a little nervous.... I put that list out there for accountability and now I feel that I'll have to report at the end of the year how I did.  I do hope that at least one person who has read that post will actually ask me how I did with my goals.

So, I thought that since we are a third of the way through the year, I'd do a little self-check on how I'm progressing so far with my list of goals.....

1. Read through the Bible in a year:  I'm on track with this!  There have been days I've fallen behind, but I've always been able to catch back up.  It has been very interesting reading the Bible this way.  I look forward to the books that I have never read as well as those I've read many times.  A-

2. Read more:  While I haven't completed all the books on my original list to read, I have been reading.... "The Excellent Wife" with the woman I am mentoring, "Authentic Spiritual Mentoring" and "I Love a Cop".  It's taking me longer than usual to get through books these days, so I need to be more deliberate in actually scheduling reading time and then following through on the reading instead of watching another rerun of "Law and Order" or being on Facebook.  B

3. Exercise:  I have done HORRIBLY at this goal.  For about 4 weeks in January and February, I had a regular workout routine and did great.  Since then, we've eaten out more (LOTS of time on the road!) and I've not made it a priority.  But with my son starting his training for fall soccer and my husband wanting to get back into running, I guess I'll have some motivation to get moving as well....  And "perfect" timing too- right as the heat of the season is starting!  :(  D

4. Marriage and Family:  I had several sub-goals in this category...  Monthly date nights have gone well, although we truly didn't have time for one in April.... It's the time of year to start making changes relating to Homeschool with the planning time for the coming school year approaching.  I see a few minor changes on the horizon for the kids' school, which will add to an already crazy schedule.  We haven't had our Family Game Nights, so it's time to start those up again!  It's just been hard with my husband's schedule and visits from "the boy", who is not a game night kind of kid.  Excuses, excuses, I know!  We have been listening to a book or 2 on CD, so we have success in that area!  And now that a friend gave us a basketball goal, we've spent more time outdoors as a family.  B-

5. Ministry:  I've done horribly in one of my mentoring relationships and pretty well in the other.  The latter was in a crisis, so I had to devote more time to that one.  I will have to work harder with the former relationship, although we have talked and she understands!  The LEOW ministry has gotten off the ground but is slow moving, both due to the time I can put into it and the response from the wives.  But, I'm not about numbers so I will wait on God's timing in this area.  For the family mission trip, we sadly decided we can't go this year.  The timing is bad with "the boy's" permanent transition to our home and we still owe some money for the guys' Ukraine trip, so we're hoping it works better to go next year!  We're just thankful our church has this opportunity!  B+

So, overall I'd say I've done ok with my goals so far.  It was good to do an assessment to see where I need to improve so I can put a plan in place (can you tell I'm a planner?!) and start back to working towards these goals!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Why Budget?

For some people, the very thought of the household budget makes them nervous.  But for me, I enjoy it.  In fact, I can usually complete our monthly budget in 10 minutes.

When we were first married, a monthly budget was an absolute necessity.  We were (and still are) a single income home with my husband working in law enforcement so you can imagine the sometimes meager amount we had to work with each month.

Fast forward 16 years and I honestly think budgeting is still a necessity for us.  Even though we are more flexible in how we budget and several of the category amounts have increased, I still like knowing what we spend in each category and how much we are able to put in savings each month.

I feel like we are somewhere in the middle of spending for our salary..... We have very basic cable, our home phone is dirt cheap, and we have no loans or credit card debt.  However, we have 4 cell phones (including two smartphones), a date night category (for my husband & the kids as well as for my husband & me!), two growing teens (clothes and food!) and are about to add a 3rd child to the family (more clothes and food!).   

I'm a firm believer that no matter what your income is, whether small or large, you need a budget.  There is no other way to know how your money is spent each month.  By creating a household budget, you know where you are wasting money, where you can cut back and where you are not spending enough.  You'll be able to save more and pay off debt.  

I know some people just don't enjoy creating a budget.  It is hard for me to motivate people to start budgeting.  I know the end result is worth the hassle of budgeting, but it is hard to get others to see that when it's simply something they don't enjoy doing......

This evening, I have the opportunity to talk to a group of women at the church we used to attend about budgeting and money saving tips.  It is my goal that the women take what they learn tonight and put even just one idea into practice in their homes and see if it is helpful in saving money.

I'm looking forward to tonight.... To seeing some familiar faces... To sharing a few things I've learned over the years... To facilitate questions and other ideas... And to share something that I am passionate about, no matter how weird that sounds to other people!  ;)