Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Everyday mission field

So, tonight I am writing to you from my littlest girls bedroom.  They are supposed to be settling down to sleep, and with all the newness in their lives as well as our own philosophy of parenting (more like attachment parenting than any other term I have heard) we sit with them, on the floor as they are in their beds, while they fall asleep.

Honestly, it is the same thing we did with our homegrown kiddos too.  Just feels better to us.  They know we are here, they are safe, and that it is time to sleep.  So, I sit on my laptop writing, or facebooking, or playing solitare, or even reading my Kindle (which I totally love, me, the non-gadget queen has now admitted that one of the best gifts my hubby ever gave me, except for my kids, and my ruby, is that Kindle.  I LOVE IT!!!).

Anyway, I don't sit still well, which you have noticed if you know me.  At least not while I still have some energy, and falling asleep on the hardwood floor, just doesn't seem like something I want to do!  So, I sit here and keep myself busy and remind the toddlers that it is time to go to sleep.

They do drop off, eventually.  Some days faster than others.  Today Kahsu did not take a good nap, so she is already asleep.  Azeb now has the upper respiratory thing we all had, and do is more restless, though a bit easier to manage as she has less energy!  I just gave her some oils to help her breathe better so I think she will rest well overall.  But she tends to toss and turn until she gives in to sleep.  She knows if she holds still for more than a minute she will be off to dreamland, and she just isn't ready to let go yet.  She certainly does live life to the fullest!!!

There are so many things on my mind tonight.  We are in such a stage of life.  We knew we would be, but the reality of living it out is always different than what you project.

Our eldest, Alex, is gone to Lifest, a Christian music festival - a couple cities away, until Sunday night.  The band he is in, Sanctify, is amazing and a great group of kids - in fact, can I just marry him off to their drummer, Ory, who I adore???  LOL!  Yeah, probably not, but it is a great group of kids.  The three guys and Ory.  Sanctify won the opportunity to be in the talent competition at Lifest - nine bands got to go, by popular vote, and this is huge around here.  We are so excited for him!  The opportunity this is, is unbelievable.  I cannot even put it into words.  I don't know what God is going to do with this, but I know amazing things are going to happen.  We shall see, but they are really moving forward in the music world.  Who knew when that five year old wanted to learn to play guitar, that this might be part of the result?  It is hard to imagine Alex being such an almost adult, and amazing opportunities opening up for him.  Isn't he still that tow headed toddler crawling all over?  Now the man is taller than me, has to bend down to hug me.  Yikes.

Zeri is talking about looking into the military, and will talk with recruiters from all the branches over the course of the summer.  He is just seventeen, and a junior this year, so has some time, but he is really looking into it.  I can see where it would be a great thing for him.  Scary and wonderful to talk about - yet another man-child who is taller than me.  They seem to keep doing that.  I cannot wait to see where life is going to take him!

Kiley just got the call that she has been accepted as a youth rider for a huge dressage barn in Illinois.  The woman who owns it, runs it, is one of her heroes.  We are just blown away.  She was nominated by her trainer, and accepted.  Right now we are trying to sort out how and when to get her down there and get things going.  Her diabetes adds challenges, but it is just one more thing we will problem solve for her so she can get where she wants to go in life.  This is huge.  As big as being accepted to college on full scholarship.  I cannot express it.  We are all stunned, excited, thrilled, scared and all that.  God has a plan for this child.  She works so hard, knows the value, and gets the most out of every experience.

Aman is working at his first job, at the same place Zeri works, and they work hard.  They work at a mink ranch down the road.  After seeing all the bites on my boys, even with all their protective gear, I no longer have any empathy for folks you don't like the use of fur.  Those animals are MEAN!!!!!  They both come home, stinking to high heaven, give me their work clothes, take intense showers and then are fit for human company.  I worked at the pickle factory for a while and this rivals that.  I remember working nights, and my mom would leave my bathrobe in the garage so I could change out there, leave my clothes out there and head for the showers.  This is just as bad.  Wow.  But the boys work hard, enjoy the results of hard work (and the paycheck) and the respect of their boss.  So it is all good. They really earn every penny!!!

I am glad that some of the kids are still a bit more low key.  Younger, more time at home, still checking life out.  Though now that they are twelve and thirteen, lots is going on for them too.  Ben and Solly are playing summer soccer and their team is undefeated. They help Kiley and I at the horse stable in order to earn their cellular phones.  So, four days a week they are cleaning stalls with us, hauling hay, sweeping up and what not.  They have learned a lot.  Solly is now taller than I am, and Ben is rapidly catching up - I can see him preparing for his growth spurt - he is just about ready to go straight up.  Zeri and Solly are about the same size now.  Alex is still taller, Aman is in the running with Zeri and Solly, and thankfully the girls have slowed for a bit.  Kiley is not quite as tall as me, and hasn't grown taller in the last six months. She is glad for that as she was afraid she was going to be nearly six feet like her aunt, but I think she is just about done.  Faith is ramping up her growing and may end up taller than me and her eldest sister, as she is only twelve.  Tsion is righ there with Faith but I have no idea where she is going height wise.  She certainly looks her age at thirteen and we are having a great time finding her fun and fashionable clothes that compliment her beauty.  I am glad that Faith, Tsion, Solly and Ben are still at home more often than not, and then change in dynamics is neat to see as they grow and their elder siblings are off on their own more.  Faith is our dog trainer (blue ribbons at fair with her dog, DeeDee), Tsion is our fashion girl, Ben is our funny boy, and Solly our gangly engergizer bunny.  I wonder what God has in store for them in the next few years?

Azeb and Kahsu are settling in well.  They are close in age, eleven months apart, closer than any toddlers we have ever had in our home, and the dynamics are interesting.  Right now they are competing for EVERYTHING! The favorite broom at the stable, every inch of Mommy's skin (seriously, who can touch more of Mommy at one time???), the favorite milk cup, and on and on.  And yet, then they turn and hug each other and tell each other "lub yu" while pretending to go "bye-bye".  It is exhausting and wonderful and maddening and great, and the best thing ever, and exhausting.....  I wouldn't change a thing except to add six more hours of uninterrupted sleep to every night.  I have to admit that when they nap, I sometimes do too, and it is down time for the other kids.  And yet to see my huge sons totally wrapped around their littlest sisters fingers, well, it is priceless. Tonight Zeri told us that he is total "toast" when Kahsu turns on her adorable smile -which she certainly does when she wants her way, or knows that she is just being over the top.  And Kiley is totally smitten with Azeb, which is amazing considering how crazy Azeb can make her.  And yet, when I am at the end of my rope, she is able to step in and love on her difficult little sister, in a very practical way.  God has a plan.

So, we are a family of twelve.  Ten children, parents very outnumbered.

I realized today as I was reading a great book on my Kindle - of course all I remember is that it is titled "Passport to Darkness" - and my Kindle is downstairs - remember, I am sitting in a dark room, getting my toddlers safely off to dreamland?  She talks about the calling to the mission field in SUDAN, yikes, of all places.  She is talking about taking that huge step, selling all they own, turning it all over to God.  She talked about walking that out, and for the first time in a long time, I could relate.  We have given up EVERYTHING for our mission.  Agree with us or not.  There were children who needed a family, God laid it out very clearly and we said "yes".

There is a cost.  It is huge.  We are working out refinancing our home, we are still repaying loans we took to bring out kids home, we are juggling so much, and still determined to make life happen as it should for each and every child that God has placed in our home.  We are NOT an  orphanage.  We are a FAMILY.  I have been wanting to talk to people who have said "yes".  Not about the saying "yes" part, but the daily living it out.  Some days, we feel alone and abandoned.  Really, who can relate to a family with TEN kids - very few.  We chose to add disabilities and challenges to our lives.  All God did was ask.  We said yes.  We aren't heroes, we aren't missionaries, we are just people living out the day to day of saying "yes" to God.  He didn't promise it would be easy, in fact, we were always very clear that He promised it would be hard.  And it is.  But it is beautiful.  Most times, some of the time, overall.  It is hard.

Foolishly, or not so foolishly, I had thought that I would be able to return to working on weekends to help make ends meet. That is NOT the case, given the girls needs.  That is okay, just a challenge.  Okay, right now a big challenge, but we have faith that God will see us through, and we keep doing each step that we can see.  I do see a private client, I am getting crafty, and boy am I getting good at feeding a family of twelve on about six hundred dollars a month!  We are creative, we juggle, we adjust.  It is what it is.  It is part of what God seems to have called us to.  Yes, some days I really, really want to hear that earth-shaking voice of God telling me that the Lottery is just around the corner or something, and yet the continual voice in my head keeps saying "write" and so I do.  I don't know how God is going to work it all out, but we do everything we can think of and more.  Someone mentioned to me today that we are on the mission field right where we live - every little thing to care for everyone, to love them, to be family - who knows what might have happened, and honestly, I cannot even go there in my mind as I look at my kids.

So, no, we aren't a recognized mission field, but maybe, just maybe, to God we are.  Maybe my mission field isn't washing the floor, but ministering day in and day out to the kids.  If these kids were still without families and in another country, would doing what I am doing with them be considered a mission field?  Yep.  So is it any different because they are now MY children?  Nope.

You have no idea how much I needed to realize that.  I love each and every one of my kids just as if they were birthed out of my own body and pain, and let me tell you, international adoption affected my own body and had enough pain of its own!!!  Some days I feel like I am just a mom, and odd mom, and no one can relate.  When we were striving so hard to bring the kids home, it was easier to explain.  Now it if feeding, clothing, teaching, nurturing, loving, and training up in the Lord.

We did say yes when God asked us.  We would not say no.  We have determined that, which is why, even though we cannot imagine adding to our family, we still won't say "never again".  See, we tried to do that after our third homegrown child was born, and we have come to see how time and growth changes that answer.  So, we won't say it.  Yes, we are tired and cannot imagine.  On the other hand, two of our kids are seventeen and em barking on their own lives in the next year or two, one the year after, and one two years after that.  And four two years after that.  Time changes many things.  So to try to see into the future, I just won't try to do again.

I do admit that I am one exhausted mama some days.  I am forty two - forty three on Saturday, and while I am very good at juggling things, I am not twenty five anymore.  On the other hand, I know that kids grow up, and need you in different ways, and that life can throw you amazing curves.  So, I am NOT going to try to put limits on God again.  Our family will be what He has ordained it to be.  It is our mission field in and of itself.  I need to view it as that some days, especially when I am "just the mom".  God called us, we said "yes", and we are here.  It is a mission, it is hard, it is beautiful, it is challenging, we are raising children for God.  And yes, I love them to death, even when they make me crazy!!!


"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11