Monday, September 27, 2010
So, topic of the day: banned books.
What do you think about books being banned?
Here is a list of some of the books that have been banned in the United States. I have to admit, after I scanned the list I was shocked. But enough of my opinion..... I'd love to hear your's!
*Important note!* I did NOT read the author of this lists little article he wrote before the list. I just scrolled down to the list and scanned over it. So, I have no earthly idea what his opinion is on banned books. I am in no way agreeing, disagreeing, or promoting his viewpoint in any way shape or form.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Her name is Carrie and, oh, how she has been a God send. Carrie's sister, Amy, and I went to college together at ETBU(East Texas Baptist University, for you non-Texans). We are from the same area and met through a mutual friend on move-in day our freshman year. We lived on the same dorm, on the same side of the same hall, with only one room in between us. Needless to say, we became good friends. Amy, her roommate, me, and my roommate all had the same 8am class on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Old Testament 1. The four of us always made the hike from our dorm to the religion building together. We sat together. Studied together. Got in trouble together. But that's another story...
Amy was quite a morning person, while I, on the other hand, was not. Amy was always chipper and talkative as we walked, while I was lucky if my baseball cap even remotely matched my sweatshirt. After college, Amy and I ended up moving back to the same area and her husband is the youth minister at one of our local churches. I still see her from time to time and in fact, our daughters are in the same dance class this year.
By now you are probably wondering how Carrie even fits in to this equation and why I even brought her up in the first place....so I'll tell you. I knew that Carrie had adopted her daughter, so I asked Amy if it she thought it would be ok to email Carrie and ask her some questions. She said absolutely! Being that she is Amy's sister, I knew that Carrie would be a sweetheart, and boy was I right! She has been extremely sweet and helpful! But besides being a sweetheart, we have discovered that we have alot in common! Carrie loves the Lord, homeschools, has a precious daughter that she adopted from China, and has lost a child. In fact, our little ones are buried in the same cemetary, only a few rows apart. Pretty amazing, right?!
After reveling her her amazingness(taking artistic liberty with the word because it just fits), I thought that I couldn't keep her all to myself and I just had to share her with you all. Some of you locals might actually know her already. Her blog is totally artsy and cute, and she is an excellent photographer. She blogs mostly about homeschooling, but there is plenty of other topics blogged about which she blogs about for you non-homeschooling folks, such as losing a child, adoption, and loving the Lord. You should really go check her out at Live, Learn, and Love.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
In the 2 1/2 months from when we knew FOR SURE that the Lord had called us to adopt, and the time we announced it, God had been so good to place godly adoption vetrans in our life to provide wisdom and encouragement. The first few came mear days after we surrendered to the call to adopt. The Lord is so good to know that in spite of our willing spirit, our flesh can be so weak in the face of what seems virtually impossible. He lovingly provides the tangible encouragement of those who have walked this road before us. Isn't God good?!
Choosing what agency to use is the next step in our adoption process. Our desire is that every aspect of our adoption journey be bathed in prayer and guided by the Holy Spirit. We covet your prayers. I know that God hears the prayers of his people and is ready to act on their behalf. I sit and wonder at all the amazing things the Lord has done and the ever more amazing things that are yet to be done. Kind of exciting, right?!
We would love it if you would commit to cry out to the Lord daily on our behalf. If you could devote just 2-3 minutes of your day to ask the Lord that he will give us wisdom and open the right doors, I will be forever in debted to you. Prayer works! In his book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, Jim Cymbala says, "The more we pray, the more we sense our need to pray. And the more we sense a need to pray, the more we want to pray."
The prayer request of the week:
That the Lord will give us wisdom in choosing what agency/avenue to use for our adoption.
This is the next step in order for us to move forward, but it is also one of the most important steps. It will determine what kind of adoption we will be doing: international, domestic, foster, etc. Once this is decided we will be ready to hit the ground running! I will definitely keep you posted throughout the week. Thank you so much, in advance, for all your prayers!
Though we didn't get every single thing on every single list marked off, it's still ok. Though my initial reaction, when I saw a foot coming through my ceiling, was to immediately stress out, I chose to laugh instead. It may have been wild, borderline maniacal laughter, but it was laughter, none the less.
Week 3 and 4 we kind of fell off the wagon. We did Bible and phonics/reading/spelling everyday, but the other subjects were kind of hit and miss. Part of the reason for our decline these weeks were exhaustion on my part from repeated rough nights with a teething baby. Our day runs so much smoother when I am able to get up and get going before the kids get up. Getting up every hour alternating between a fussy baby and a 3 1/2 year old that likes to climb in bed with Mama and Daddy makes for a very tired teacher come 6:00am. But then chosing to sleep in those few extra minutes,(Ray is usually up around 6:30am, so it is litterally only 30 minutes or more that I get to sleep in), throws a kink in our day that is hard to get back on top of. I am committing to get up when the alarm goes off this next week, regardless of what kind of night I had the night before. I'll let you know how that goes.
Now here is a little background on where we are at in Luke's 2nd grade schooling. The subject the Luke has struggled with since we began homeschooling has overwhelmingly been phonics. In kindergarten he struggled with phonics and math. He just was not ready for school. I stressed for the first few months, and then I just let it go and took it very laid back the rest of the year. I'd love to say that I let it go because I had the wise homeschool mothering mentality that says, "he's just not ready he'll pick it up later and everything will be fine". That was not my mentality at all. I was pretty stressed about it, but I chose to let it go because of how much is was frustrating the both of us. Then first grade came along. We started back trudging through the phonics and math. Math was going better, but neither subject was like "flipping a light switch" like I had hoped. A couple of months into his first grade year we switched his math. I started him on kindergarten Saxon and thought, "What the heck? It's not like we were getting anywhere with the other stuff, this can't hurt." It was then we had our light switch moment! He breezed through Saxon's K math in a matter of about 2 1/2-3 months. I was in homeschool mom heaven! When we finished that we went right in to Saxon 1 math without missing a beat. I originally intended to do math with him all summer, so that he would be ready to start Saxon 2 in September, but that didn't end up happening. So we are still in first grade math, but it is going very well and I'm officially un-stressed about the math area of our schooling. Now phonics on the other hand....
We still haven't quite had our lightswitch moment in phonics and reading yet. Inspite of that, things are going much better in that area too. Slow, but steady improvements. It took us all of kindergarten and first grade to do kindergarten phonics. We use ABeka and it is perfect for Luke because it moves at a slow pace with lots of repetition. We are officially in first grade phonics now, but is moving right along. We get an average of 2-3 lessons done most days. I don't know how long we will keep this pace up, but I'm going to go with it as long as he is able to. My brother has some learning difficulties, especially in the area of reading that are very similar to Luke's difficulties. And today, at the age of 26, he is an avid reader who reads classic literature for fun. So while a little part of my does stress and worry a bit over his struggles with reading, I am much more relaxed than I was a couple of years ago. I have also had the extreme blessing of being a part of a large homeschool co-op that is full of seasoned, wise, laid back homeschool moms. They were a huge encouragement to me with their personal testimonies of different struggles that their children have gone through....and come out fine! God used them to help me chill out a little bit and not sweat the small stuff so much.
I'll admit, adoption has definitely been the dominating subject around the Carlin house(and in my blog posts as well), but while that is a HUGE facet of our life right now, it isn't the only one. I've got some post coming up on interesting topics other than adoption. Like schedules and making your own baby food. (insert maniacal laughter. Even better, insert maniacal laughter over a photo of me sporting a bun and a denim jumper, stirring a pot of mysterious looking "baby food", with Luke and Ray playing violins in the background. True homeschool style. Muahhahahahahahahaha!)
Friday, September 17, 2010
Five years. Wow. And it has been quite a ride! We have been through things in the past five years that I hoped and prayed that I would never have to go through in life. Yet we did it together, and with God's help, we survived. We have been through so many tough times, but I can truly say that it has only brought us closer to one another. I've read several different statistics about couples who lose a child, and the overwhelming majority end up getting divorced. I can humbly say, that Josh and I will not be that couple. We're the couple who sticks it out. Even when it's hard. Even when it hurts. Even when life doesn't turn out like the fairy tale you always thought it would.
It's in those hard times that we chose to love. And now we are reaping the benefits of that choice. Now, more than ever, he's still my best friend. I truly enjoy his company. (Except when he over-drafts with the debit card to buy a sprite at the corner store when we have a perfectly good 7-up in the fridge at home. Those times I could strangle him. But the rest of the time, he's my BFF.)
Do I think that things will always be perfect from here on out? Um, heck no. If you hang around me long enough, you'll find that I can throw a hissy fit that can spoil even the most patient man in the worlds good mood.(See above example.)
I know that five years is only a drop in the bucket of our married life. But I do know that we've got what it takes to weather any of the storms of life that lay ahead. Following the Lord is an exciting adventure and I can't even begin to imagine where we will be five years from now. But whereever that is, we'll be together. Side by side. Serving the Lord together.
I could go on and on...but I won't. I think that I'll go snuggle up on the couch and watch a movie with my husband. Happy 5th anniversary, Josh!
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
We are open to whatever God brings our way, and as we have already learned, you NEVER know what that might be. But our heart is with orphans with special needs. The term "Special Needs" covers a vast array of criteria that classifies a child as having special needs. Of course, it means any child with a physical or mental handicap,(that is probably typically what people think of a "special needs"), but it also covers siblings, miniorities, emotional issues, and even healthy children over a certain age. (The age that classifies a child as special needs varries from different adoption agencies, countries, and races, and is anywhere from being over the age of 2 to being over the age of 5.) Our heart is with orphans with special needs because they are the group that people are least likely to adopt. Many of them age out of the system and end up being adults that never had the opportunity to experience love and a family.
"Aging out of the system" is a merciful way of being rejected as not being good enough and worthy enough to be a part of a family and be loved. In some countries, predominately countries in Eastern Europe, children with profound special needs who are not adopted by age 4-5 are placed in mental institutions where they live out the rest of their life usually drugged and tied to a bed. Grown men and women in beds the size of cribs. But why would they need a bigger bed when they are the size of small children? Most die within the first few years of being institutionalized, usually from malnourishment and dehydration.
That being said, our heart is with orphans with special needs. Whether that special need is a physical or mental handicap, or something as simple as having the wrong skin color or being the wrong age to be considered "adoptable". They are just as much humans who are worthy of love and a family as you and I are. Jesus died for them. Oh, how it must break his heart to see the way they are cast aside as garbage! I firmly believe that every single orphan deserves the chance to be loved by a family and know about Jesus. Since there are about 147 MILLION orphans in the world, I definitely can't adopt them all, but I can make a difference in the life of at least one. (Although, Josh did say that he doesn't foresee this being just a one time thing for our family.)
Besides special needs, we also want to adopt a waiting child. A waiting child simply means that it is an orphan that is waiting to be adopted. Their parental rights have already been terminated and they are leagally available to be adopted. We aren't the ones waiting for a child with certain age, gender, or health requirements to become available. Instead we want to adopt a child who is waiting. Waiting for a family. Waiting to be loved. Waiting to hear about Jesus and what he did for them. At this very moment, there are thousands upon thousands of waiting children. Children who wait day after day for the love of a forever family. Doesn't seem fair, does it?
God is good though. He will provide a way where there seems to be no way. Early yesterday morning Josh was driving to work. We had been up late earlier that night, with the burden for orphans on both our heart. It seems so impossible at times, in our faulty limited human thinking. 3am found Josh driving to work, in the fog, with a burden still on his heart. He was fervently praying as he drove to work. He cried out to the Lord, "We hear theri cries and can't get to them! But YOU can get us there!" No sooner than the words had left his mouth, he saw a shooting star right in front of him!
The Lord is good to encourage us just when we need him the most. To remind us that he is listening and that he will be faithful to make a way where there seems to be no way.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
"Lord, I know what you've clearly asked us to do and I am so willing to do that, but there are some things that you need to provide for us first, so that we will be able to do what you've asked us to do. Please, hurry and provide those things for us because I am so ready to walk by faith in the direction you've called us."
"Then just do it. Walk by faith."
"I'm trying! You know I'm trying. I'm trusting you to provide and as soon as you do I will be all over doing what you asked. So, please, Lord, provide what we need so that I can show you how much I trust you. I am so willing. I'm committed. I'm ready."
"Then walk by faith."
I'm TRYING. You haven't provided what we need to move forward. I trust that you will and I'm waiting on you-" "Waiting on me to do what?"
"Provide! So that I can walk by faith!"
Since none of you were privy to this conversation I feel that I need to interject here. It may sound as if I am being sassy with the Lord, but I am honestly speaking to him from the place of an exasperated child that is just not getting it. In my opinion, I thought we were having one of those conversation were the parent just isn't getting what the child is asking, but actually it was the other way around. It also may sound like the Lord is being somewhat antagonistic towards me, when that was not at all the case either. His voice was so soft and gentle as he was trying to help me understand.)
*sigh* "Provided what we need so that we can obey you!"
"That sounds more like waiting in faith, not walking in faith."
This was kind of a "duh" moment for me.
"I asked you to walk by faith. How would that be walking by faith if I provide everything you need to complete the task I've asked you to complete before you even start?"
"Well....I guess it isn't...."
"How much faith does it take to do something if I give you everything you need to do it up front?"
"Not much, I don't guess."
"So what do you want me to do?"
Dumb, dumb, dumb question, I know. But sometimes I can be a dumb-dumb. I guess I need to show my children a little more grace when they repeatedly ask me the same thing over and over that I have already explained to them. As I'm sure you can guess, he said,
"Walk by faith."
I tried to think of every excuse as to why I couldn't do that, or how I was already doing that, but they all sounded pretty dumb when you keep in mind that I am talking to GOD.
"Don't you trust me?"
"Well of course I trust you."
"Don't you believe that I am going to take care of you, my child, and that I will provide everything you need to be able to do what I've asked you to do?"
"Of course I do."
"Haven't I already blessed you for having a heart that is willing to obey me?"
"Yes, Lord, you have! So much! Thank you for the wonderful, Godly, wise women that you have placed in my life as encouragement and confimation."
"Then what is the problem?"
"God, people are going to think that we are straight up crazy if we take the next step down this path without you providing some things first. Seriously!"
Yes, I really say "seriously" to God.
"Oh, so now your obedience is based on what other people think?"
"Doesn't it only matter what I think?"
"Yes. You are right."
I just love how the Lord is silent and gives me time to mull things for a minute. He's always so gentle. Even when I. just. don't. get it.
"Ok. So what do you want me to do?"
"Walk by faith. Step out and take the next step so that I can provide. Let me take care of you. Just trust me."
I sigh. A literal, audible, out loud, deep sigh.
"Ok, Lord. I'll take the next step."
And so our adoption journey begins....
Monday, September 13, 2010
God is good. So good. He is so very faithful to his children. We don't have to earn his faithfulness. If that were the case, the Lord would have given up on me a long time ago. Luckily, his faithfulness is not dependant on my performance either. Nor is his faithfulness to us dependant on our faithfulness to him.
He is faithful to us not because of who we are, but because of who he is. That is just a part of who he is. Faithful.
But, when we choose to be faithful to him and his word, we have the opportunity to reap the benefit of the blessings that he has been waiting to lavish on us.
In the past few months, God has been leading our family in a new direction. New paths can bring with it a mixture of emotions. Fear, excitement, curiosity, anxiety, and joy, just to name a few. This new direction for our family is no different. Inspite of the mixture of emotions, God has been so very faithful to us as we have chosen to walk by faith in the direction he has called us. It amazes me the blessings the Lord pours on his children just because we chose to obey him. Don't get me wrong. I'm not going all Joel Osteen on you, claiming monitary blessings in exchange for obedience to the Father. I do believe that the Lord does give monitary blessings at times. But the majority of the time, the gifts he is waiting to give us are so much more than what the world sees as the blessings we should desire....health, wealth, and happiness.
I am utterly amazed on almost a daily basis at the ways to Lord has blessed an encouraged our family as we have begun our journey of obedience. He has placed, and is continuing to place, beautiful jewels of support and kindred spirits in our lives. He is continually bringing the encouragment of other sisters in Christ who have walked, or are walking, the same walk of faith he has called us to. Oh, the blessing of being obedient to him! I feel as though he had a literal storehouse of blessing that he was waiting to pour out on my life. All I had to do was say, "Yes, Father. I will obey and do what you have asked me to do." And voila!, he opened the floodgates! It as though he said, "Oh, my precious child! I have just been waiting to give you these treasures! I am so glad that you have chosen to trust and obey!"
There are reasons why I am not at liberty to share what the Lord has commanded us to do at this moment in time. But I promise, as soon as I am I will shout it from the mountaintops! Even though I can't give exact details of how the Father is working in our family, I can encourage you to follow the Lord in obediance, no matter what it is he is asking of you. I promise that he has blessings just waiting to pour out on your life when you chose to follow him whole-heartedly.