Monday, June 30, 2008

A close encounter of the stripey kind!

Whew, well, I am just having to get this out before my heartrate comes down too much.

Oldest daughter came downstairs, saying she was hearing the chickens outside. Now, first of all, the eleven year old is supposed to be asleep at 10PM, and second of all, chickens go to sleep at dark and are absolutely quiet all night unless something gets at them. They are not night owls by any stretch. In fact, we teach them where we want them to roost by waiting until dark, then going around the barns, fences and other areas, sneaking up on sleeping chickens, grabbing them and carrying them into the henhouse. Typically it doesn't take more than a couple times of doing this for them to just go to the henhouse on their own before they start their nighttime snoozes.

Anyway, for them to be making noise, clucking and fussing in the dark is a very bad thing. Means something is out there. And given that we have lost nearly 30 birds this spring and summer, it may be that the predator is back! Grrrrr!!!! We have sighted a fox, so figured that the fox was back. Maybe this time we could get it. Of course, being the reformed city slickers that we are, we don't even own a gun. What I would give for one to get that varmint that keeps eating my lovely ladies!!

Well, hubby and I go charging out of the house, armed with flashlights and preparing to grab sticks or rocks and go after that thing. Well, I found the ducks out walking around, with a chicken, out by the trough. Not normal for this time of night. Then proceeded to hear the clucking and generally discomfort coming from the henhouse. I went charging in, thinking that I would find that red bandit in there after my hens, when I probably emitted the most idiotic sound I have ever made, as I backpedaled right out the door again, with a skunk in the beam of my flashlight, trying to find a way to climb up to get at a hen on a roost. It would have been hysterical if it wasn't so frustrating. How the heck do you get a skunk out of there without getting sprayed yourself?? Imagine for yourself Steve and I going back and forth through the door, trying to get the skunk out, convince to go, and not get really stinky in the process. It ended up involving rock throwing, herding the thing, and it finally snuck out while we were searching for a very, very LONG stick to push it around with.

The good news is that the skunk is gone and no one stinks. And none of my hens were eaten tonight, unlike last night when the skunk got one of my favorite banties, Midnight. And we think we may have found the holes that it got in, and got them closed up. But, this is only temporary. It is like the Terminator, "it will be back". So, tomorrow we will have to find some other ways to barricade the rascal out of the henhouse, and then sneak around at night and make sure that all the hens are locked away in the henhouse. Bummer.

It is too bad that there wasn't a video camera on two grown people hesitantly chasing this thing that was actually smaller than our cats (yeah, where were those barn cats and why didn't they scare it off? maybe they are too smart). Lots of squealing, yelling, using the most long distance methods of chasing off the thing. I should be terribly embarrassed. All I could think was that I really didn't want to get sprayed, not really just because it stinks (though I am sure it does), but mostly because I am tired and really just want to go to sleep, and messing with a shower and tomato juice would really not be on my top ten of things to do yet tonight. Isn't that sad?

Well, it is gone now. What an insane thing. Close encounters of the stripey (and smelly) kind.
Goodnight, and let's all pray for sleeping skunks, sleeping chickens, and hopefully a sleeping me soon. Morning comes very early!
May your night smell good!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ways to directly help!

Hi,
I am one of those people who just cannot stand the fact that I cannot seem to do things for those who really need help. I find it so totally frustrating that there are people out there for whom we so want to help, but it is nearly impossible to get help to them. If anyone knows of particular and local things, please let me know, as I am generally really stuck on this subject. But, on the other hand, there are a few really amazing people that have channels to get help directly where it is needed.

Check out this blog: feeding party

Or this:

hiv to home.

Of course I have an intrinsic interest in Ethiopia, but I am always on the lookout for good ways to serve. The world is too big, and the needs are too great, but we can somehow make a difference for a few. Wish I had a million dollars to fund towards something really amazing, but I just don't. Oh, well, I will do what I can with what I have!

Enjoy browsing and let God lead, even if it is just telling others about what others are doing. Spread the word, spread the word.

Love ya!
Christy

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A great quote...

To end the day on a more positive note, found this quote and just loved it:

"We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life. But those who make their journey home across time and miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us by God's very own hands."~Anonymous~

Never thought I'd be trying to say this

Today was a landmark day, a day when I was ushered into a view of the world that I did not ever want to have. Today was the day my youngest son was called a "n****r" on the soccer field by some grandpa. What had he done to deserve that? I guess be born black, be good at soccer, and be running by the man as he was playing the game with his team. I was so upset that I could not leave the kids playing the game in the well capable hands of friends (who also have a child on the team) while I ran one of the older kids to his soccer practice. I just couldn't stand to not be there if something else happened. I just had to be there.

We were prepared for this by our adoption agencies, by tons of books that we have read, but when it actually happens, you just kick into stunned mode and then mama bear mode. The two are not a good combination. Do you want to go over and punch that guy? Do you just try to get a coherent thought in your frozen brain?

I am afraid that my response was basically stupid where I said "That is MY SON you are talking about!". Thankfully other spectators heard it, and jumped in in outrage. Shortly the man moved way, way, WAY away from the sidelines. Unfortunately, the man should have been ejected from the field, but the coaches and referees also seemed to have the same problem I did, and it passed. I go between being irate, and being just numb, and then enormously sad.

Thank the Lord, the child in question did not appear to hear the phrase. Or if he did, he hasn't said anything as of yet. I will be watching and listening carefully. I am not sure that he would even know the word, and may just assume it is an English word he didn't know. I don't know how we will address this in the future. At this point we are going to work on pat phrases that we can give to stupid or awful comments. We need to have something we don't have to think about in that awful moment.

Why is it that people feel the need to be racist? And to say it to a child? I just don't get it. Why would you call a nine year old boy that?

Okay, I am just a muddle of a ton of emotions and cannot seem to put them into words at all. Where in the world does this make sense. I have to say, I am really looking forward to hearing how the league is going to handle this. I am on the email link and phone link so expect to hear soon. My wonderful friend (who also has adopted children from Ethiopia, and was there at the game, and much more intimidating than I was) called the league president before I was even back from another child's soccer practice.

Where in the world does racism against children make sense? I hope not here.

A great quote

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

- St. Francis of Assisi

Today for me that means putting the last of the huge hay delivery in the barn and closing off that area so rain (and horses) don't get into it. Ugh. We have been doing this for three days now, but today will be done. And then our wonderful friends who do the delivery with a huge, huge trailer let us know that the next shipment will be ready next week (we are stocking up as hay is available as the farmers are cutting and getting it put up). Good news and bad news. I think this means another 200 bales, this time they will be even heavier than the ones we just put up. These ranged up to 50 pounds and a few that were 70. Ugh. Good news, better quality and the growing season progresses, but... And that means the center section of another one of our outbuildings needs to be emptied - it literally hasn't been emptied since the 1950s or earlier (we have found items with dates on them buried under stuff in there. Most of it is junk, wood for the bonfire, crushed hobnailed boots, and things I just don't have a clue what they are. Yay, because I have been wanting to do this, bummer because it means it has to be done NOW, and what am I going to do with all this stuff???? I don't want to throw away or burn something that is of value, like the weird hand carved cover for some sort of barrel, that is who knows how old. So, I can't just have the kids go throw stuff out (plus, the way things are piled I don't want them climbing around in it!!!), so I have to be hands on out there - means no making of mozzarella cheese today!

On the up side, my cheesemaking kit came two days ago!!!! I am dying to get going as so far I have only been able to make cream cheese, more like a ricotta. Steve and I finally bit the bullet and got a kit to teach us how. I figure when I get good at this, then I can expand into more cheeses! But at least get some of the milk out of the refrigerator and into a more useful form than cat food! Our two goats are going great guns, and will only increase from here, so I need to be prepared. And we love cheese, so it is a good thing! Anyway, did you see that the date of arrival of the cheesemaking kit was the same day as the arrival of 300 bales of hay???? Hmmm. Not enough hours in the days! What is the old saying "make hay while the sun shines"? Well, we aren't making hay, but rain on my hay pile would be tragic! (It then molds and then the horses cannot have it - it gives all sorts of health problems. At least the goats could eat it, but still!!!)

So, if you could spare a prayer for all our muscles that we aren't used to using at quite this extreme level, it would be greatly appreciated!!!! LOL!

Have a great day, and keep doing what needs to be done, then what is possible and before you know it, the impossible is done!

Friday, June 20, 2008

We are so blessed!

Don't have a ton of time this AM, kids are up and moving, getting them on track and the day underway takes my time and attention, no matter how I try to make them more independent. Not to mention that we had one of our fun "diabetes mornings", so I am basically letting the kids veg a little (totally breaking the no TV before chores are done) as my stress comes down, and Kiley starts to feel better - she needs to take some time to physically feel better after a significant AM low. The joys of diabetes, even with excellent control, at least with kids! I am so glad that we are in a position where we can flex our days to deal with this. I think I would lose my mind if I had someone outside looking over my shoulder so I had to constantly explain to them why I managed it the way I did. I end up explaining a lot anyway, and that generally doesn't bother me, but when a stranger gives disapproving looks or rude whatever while I am managing a medical crisis, or calming down after one, that is frustrating. I just want to scream at them "you have no idea what we are dealing with here, and I don't have time to tell you, because if I do, one of us will be calling an ambulance, so leave me alone and let me take care of it, and don't look at me like I am some sort of horrible person". Okay, that was my vent, thank you very much for letting me empty my brain out. Whew, now it is gone.

Anyway, this post was supposed to be about telling you about this posting on another blog - from a medical missionary in Ethiopia. It makes a lot of things make sense, what I saw in Ethiopia, and my boys' viewpoints of some things!!! LOL!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Insight into Ethiopia

Check out this blog posting from a medical missionary in Ethiopia: owlhaven ethiopia

It reminds me so much of what we saw in Ethiopia - if you go down, I commented on there too. Just in case you were interested.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Cardboard Testimonies

I would encourage you to take less than ten minutes and watch this video.

It is so amazing and wonderful. A reminder that wherever we are, or have been, God can wants to bless us! He wants us restored to him, he loves us, no matter what.

What has God called us to?

You know, I never thought I would have something to say that I wanted to say to a ton of people, that I would ever desire to get up in front of however many people would listen to me, and speak my mind.

But, I really want to. First watch this YouTube video.

Okay, now here it is. Anyone who has listened to me before, and there may actually be very few, but it lets me get my mind together and speak what is on my heart. So, here it goes.

I want to speak out on the plight of the orphan. Around the world, here in the US, everywhere. I so desperately would open my home to another child, and another and another. I have lived it. I have fostered, lost children as they return, mended from the hurt, carry the scars. And it has brought me more and more steps towards all orphans, of all kinds, of all ages. I have done all the documents, been background checked so many times it is a joke, have clearance from homeland security (yeah, like a simple passionate housewife and mother is a security risk, but I have it!!!), have filled out piles and piles of documents (I HATE paperwork by the way, so if I can do it, anyone can - and thanks to my friends who stood alongside me as I did it and grumbled and kept me going when I thought I couldn't do one more thing), I have gotten so many things notarized I consider the notary at my bank a dear friend, I have gotten a passport (kicking and screaming all the way, there was no way I was leaving my children at home and going to another country), and actually got on a plane and left the US to go to Ethiopia for about a week. ...... And I would do it again in a heartbeat. I know that I have forgotten some of the pain, some of the agony, the awful wait, the fear that it wouldn't really happen, the worries and all of that. I shouldn't say that I have forgotten, but I have moved on. I have my two sons home and they have so integrated into the family and we are so blessed by them, I would do it in a heartbeat. I sit and hold my friend's hand as she struggles and cries with their very difficult adoption, and I would still go that road. I know the costs (and the miracle of provision) and I would do it again.

Here is part of the reason why: Christ adopted me. No questions, no what ifs, no counting of the cost. I watched the Passion of the Christ in the theatre with my husband and spent the entire bawling, as did that big huge guy next to me (dear hubby by the way). We sat and looked at each other after it ended, just shaken, as had to say, "What do we do with this?". It was the viceral reaction to what we had finally had brought home to us, what Christ did for us, what his message is, that we had to let it change our lives. Even more than we had allowed God to do before. We had to look at what we could do for those that God called us to. I continue to feel that.

And over and over, Christ speaks about the widow, the orphan, the fatherless. There were many verses quoted in the video you watched. I will at some point go back and quote them again. But at this point I have to empty my head to try to make my message and thoughts clear. If I don't somehow spill it out, well, it just won't.

Christ calls us to the "least of these" and says nothing about the cost to us. He does promise to bless us as we follow him. He is also very clear that we are to "take up our cross and follow him". We are to reach out to those who need us.

The orphan, there are so many, it is easy to look away. We live a life of ease, even when we have our worries. The fact that you are reading this, means that you have more than 95% of the world or more. I won't get started on that one, save that for later.

But, we need to reach out, to not count the cost, to be God's hands and feet. That is the message of the Gospel. Can I tell you how many people look strange at me with my rainbow of a pile of kids getting out of my "monster van" (as the kids call it). And I only have five kids. There is more to do. If I share with someone that I desire to adopt a child with special needs - oh, my goodness!!!! People have asked me if my children were exchange students, visiting for the summer, or whatever. I proudly introduce my sons and daughters.

God's heart is for adoption. He adopted us into his family, with our imperfections and all that meant that we didn't deserve it. Let me tell you, I never deserved to be adopted by the Creator of the Universe. And I am so grateful. God loves me. Just for me. And he loves you too. And the child on the other side of the world who needs you.

I have never in my life known that I was following God in the most profound way, as when we worked to adopt our sons. We did what was impossible - not because we did it, but because He did it. I saw more miracles in that ten months than I have ever seen or heard of in my entire life. God brought it about. Simply how we came to know of our children was a miracle (if you want to read that whole story it is still at www.caringbridge.org/visit/ethiopia2greenbay - go to the beginning of the journal and move forward). And I see the miracle every day. We are blessed. Our sons came to us at 8 and 12 and we could have all sorts of fun issues, but they are typical kids - fully kids with all that this means, but God has had such a hand on them! And if it had not gone that well, it still would have been a gift of God.

God desires us to be fully involved, not lukewarm (he says he will throw that out). I don't know what God has in mind for my family, where he is going to take us, but I hope to just be listening close enough to follow.

I will try to not be so emotional and have a better put together thought process for the next one!

Friday, June 6, 2008

A must read about abortion

Now, as most of you (if not all of you) who read my blog know, I love tons of kids! I would have many more in our household if we could, and we may yet. So, we have what many people consider a large family - five kids! Gasp! No biggie - okay, sometimes the laundry is, but really, how stressed can you get about that. Or if you do, like I do some days (like today, when the rain moved in and I had to pull all three loads in off the clothesline to finish drying in my horribly inefficient dryer), well, you have to step back and decide that it is crazy to let it make you nuts. So, I try to make a joke of it, enlist help of the kids, and just have a sense of humor. And to be grateful - at least it means that we have clothes to wear, family members to clothe and health enough that we are able to dirty clothes in activities.

Anyway, before I digress into silliness, back to the topic. I have a few blogs that I follow, that are inspiring to me, get me thinking, let me reach out, or just give me an excuse to sit for a couple minutes with a cup of coffee!!!!

I have found a new blog that I really like, and I found this post today (get this, I had been up for basically most of the last two nights with my daughter's diabetes struggles, snatching sleep in between her continuous blood glucose monitor alarming at me and then dealing with the issue, got her up to go babysit at a nearby friend's house at the ungodly hour of 7AM - God, could we have made mornings easier?, and then began my chores of laundry and getting the other kids going, followed by moving horses to another pasture, chasing down boys to chase down goat escape artists, and cutting really long grass around the house! I keep thinking it must be lunchtime, but nope, not yet.). It was very well written and had a great deal of resources and I would highly recommend you check it out.

I was just so torn up reading it, not just because I am so sad about abortion in general, but because I have several rather personal reasons to feel that way.

My eldest child was unexpected and I was unwed and in a bad situation when I discovered I was pregnant with him. My sin, my failing, and now I has subjected someone else to this! Well, I truly know that God used this to slap me upside the head and get me back on track and I quite often admit that my son probably saved my life, at the very least gave me motivation to make a better life! At that point, several folks, in very kind ways, discussed abortion with me. I know where they were coming from and their hearts. They did have good intentions. But I look back and think "what if I had done that?". I look at my lovely boy and know that I would have murdered him, and never gotten to know him. I knew at the time that it wasn't an option, I would not abort this child, and that I would get my act together, and get back with God. And God blessed that. Reason one.

We have been foster parents and though we still mourn for those children that we love that have moved on, for better or worse, and I know that they live. I think of my little E, her portrait still hangs on the wall, after two years of her being gone, and will never come down. As much as it pains me that I miss her, I am so grateful that her mother gave her life. In fact, her birthmother and I had a conversation in which she advocated that we still be able to be in E's life after she returned to her birthfather, as "you are her mother" (yes, coming from her birthmother!!!!). We looked at each other and she said that I did the job, and I responded that she blessed E with life. It still rings as one of the most surreal moments of my life. So, for those kids, that while they may be "unwanted" or in tough situations, they deserve life. There are families who will love them as we love E, people that strongly desire to care for them and help them have happy lives. What may be a bad situation today, may be a good one in a year. And how many amazing people have come from tough backgrounds and used that for good, to be extraordinary people? So many! How do you decide that something is "too hard"? How do we claim that right to decide this?

Next. Two of my children were adopted from a difficult situation, orphaned internationally and seemingly without hope. And they are the most lively, living in the moment kids. We are so very blessed to have them in our lives, to have them as our children. I am so glad that their mothers gave them life, and that we were able to continue that life, and that I know that they will grow up and go on to have a chance for good lives (they get to choose how they live it out, I will do my best to prepare them for it).

Another. I have one child with a chronic medical condition, one that can always place her life at risk, one that could very well shorten or affect her life. We battle it constantly. But with the wonderful miracles of modern medicine, she can live with this. A hundred years ago she would have been dead years ago. Now she will go on to have a full life, however always needing to address this issue. What if someone decided that a child living with diabetes was too hard? Would you chose to abort that child? It is hard. But it is lovely. How do you decide what is too hard? God has given us what he has for a reason. There is nothing too hard with God. He may only provide moment to moment, or day to day, but if you can work with him, it can be done. I have seen both my daughter and our family affect other folks as they watch us live with this and deal with this. We have a lot to offer, a lot of encouragement, a lot of practical things we can do. Would I choose for her to not have this disease? In a heartbeat! Would I sacrifice anything I could, including myself if I thought I could rid her of this? Without even having to think twice about it! But, what are we to learn through this, what is God teaching us, what is he strengthening her to do? I know that he has a purpose, and I know that he will use this for his glory, and I know that he does not have plans for our harm, but for our good, and I know that he loves my child so much more than I even do. So, yes, as the parent of a child with "issues", I would never choose to not have her here, or to save her from what she deals with (by aborting her instead).

And. We hope to be blessed with more natural children, but that will be up to God. If he chooses to allow me to conceive again, it will be entirely through his grace, and I have learned to accept that. But, folks will ask us: but what if another has this disease? Or: given your age, aren't you worried about the risks of birth defects? (By the way, I am 38) Personally, as much as I want a healthy baby, does that mean I would turn away a sick or "imperfect" one? Not at all. Again, God is soveriegn and has reasons. I know that we don't even want to do prenatal testing unless it is for something that we could do something about prior to birth, something that doctors could fix or whatever. I do not want to know if my child would have Down Syndrome or something else. There is nothing that I could do about that, and I want to welcome a child, not a syndrome. We still try to say that our child is a "child with diabetes rather than a diabetic child". If testing could show something that medication could help, or prenatal surgery could help - then I am all for it. Of course I would want to do that. But otherwise, nope. I will take what I am given, whatever it is (kinda feel like I am tempting fate or something by saying that publicly). I know that if I start rounding out, people will comment, we will get more stares, and I am sure someone will ask if we are done yet. They do already. NOPE. If God moves, he moves. That is it.

And another reason. I have been intensely following a little boy in Vietnam with special needs. He is four, and in a situation where he certainly isn't getting the care that would allow him to have the best life that he can. If you don't know, the situation with adoptions in Vietnam is precarious. At this point, it is unlikely that any children will be adopted out of there after September first. The window is closing for this young child (if you have any interest in him, contact me and I will get you in touch with the adoption agency!!!!). I don't know why, but from the moment I saw his face, I was so drawn to him. My heart just reached out to him, broke for him. And then to see his video, and scream at the screen - no, don't hold him like that, it makes it worse!! NO, please don't tie him into that chair where he will develop more abnormal movement patterns and spend his days!!! Please, let me show you how to hold him so he can get breath better, please let me hold him so he can get control of his trunk muscles and then maybe get his hands out of those fists. I can see just what I know needs to be done to help him move. And even with all that being done wrong for him, he has a huge smile, eyes that shine out at you, and is so smiley and interactive with people. AGGGHHHH!!!! I know what could be done for him here, what options he would have, and that no one could tell how far he might come with help. But he won't get that there. Anyway. In my heart, he feels like my son, but it isn't only my decision to make. I cannot do it alone. There are realities - like $1500 for another homestudy, $480 to immigration, and then travel (he is a promise child, so there are no agency fees). I don't have those funds today, but I fully believe that God could move things so that was available. He did with our other sons. Each time I think that the clock has run out, or that there is no way that something could happen, it does. But at this point, it isn't just my decision to make. Would there be mobility issues? Maybe. Would that be a problem in our two story house? Probably eventually, though could be managed while he is small. He also may do very well and it would be a moot point. Would our family and friends think we were nuts? Oh, most definitely! I am sure there would be many concerned conversations with the best of intentions. There are people who don't talk with us now because of the children we already adopted (different race, country, more kids, etc). Some in our church community would be less than helpful - I know that the preschool Sunday schools would not be a place that this child could go given certain issues. And I know that I can deal with that. It would raise people's hackles for us to have a "new" child and deal with a stroller or wheelchair on top of "what we already have". I get that. I know that it is more. That this child would exponentially add to the family. I also know that being stretched isn't a bad thing. It is too easy to look at the ones that look perfect or healthy, but leave behind those that don't. Sorry, but I am at a frustrating period and don't see an answer. And maybe God's answer is that my heart is opened, that it is stirred up. Okay, I get that too. But is this child any less valuable than those that aren't so challenging? Doesn't he deserve a family that can love him for who he is and what God made him to be? I have struggled with this situation for months and haven't seen a whole lot of progress, or at least not at the final stumbling block. But, each child deserves life. This child may not be perfect, but does that mean he has less value? Our society values the pretty, the cute, the athletic, the smart. That isn't what Christ calls us to do (a great read is by Tom Davis "Red Letters". Don't read it unless you want to be challenged and brought back to exactly what Christ said).

So, those are my personal reasons that abortion makes me sad. I would gladly take any of those "unwanted" home and raise them as my own. And to see them not given a chance at life.... It is murder plain and simple, done for convenience. We need to step up and help. Next time you see the unwed mom at church, doing her best to forge a better way, don't look down your nose at her, but smile. I have been on the receiving end of that look - condemned for my sins, flogged with them, even as Christ promised me that they were as far as the east is from the west, and as I tried to do the right thing. Help our the foster/adoptive families you know, help out the single mom, help someone. Ask the youth pastor if he/she knows any families that would be blessed by your son's outgrown clothes that you have no one to pass them to. Be nice. that is it.

I dunno, I think I just blew out all my possible steam for the day. Read the blog. Think about what you can do. Bless someone, somehow. Now, I am tired. I think I will make lunch, hug my kids, fold my laundry, read with the kids, and try to move on. I have wrung out all my sadness and angst for the day. Sorry I wasn't more entertaining.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Summertime is here! Protection??

As we are learning more about sun exposure, while watching ourselves and our kiddos living more of an outdoor lifestyle, I have become concerned about our sun exposure. But, it has all been so confusing!

Check this out: Sun Protection.

It did a wonderful job explaining the different acronyms and what it really means.

At least I now know what I am looking at when I am trying to evaluate whether we need something, whether it is helpful or if it is really beneficial enough!