I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Rom 12:1-2

Thursday, June 30, 2011

FB Note from June 26, 2010: True Confessions--five month adoption update

In some ways I can hardly believe that Super T has been home for five months already, in other ways it seems like he has always been here. One thing is for sure, I don't know what we'd do without him. He is my awesome little dude. I mostly just want to brag about how far he has come, how comfortable he is in his new family now, and how thrilled we are with him, but first, I have to come clean with two confessions.

First of all, the LOVE...it came gradually for me. It wasn't until Super T had been home for about three months that I felt like I FULLY loved him as my son. Of course, even before I met him, I was in love with his picture, but a picture and a real little boy with real (and sometimes annoying) actions are two totally different things. The first month, I probably felt like I loved him about 50% of the time (usually when he was being cute, funny, or cuddly.) It was pretty tough to act loving when he would wake up super early in the morning or test my discipline or do some of the behaviors that I later figured out had to do with his sensory issues. Oddly enough some of the most irritating things were also the most heartbreaking, like rocking himself to sleep. Somehow, through time spent together and prayer, all the rest of the love crept right in. Now I can hardly imagine that I felt that way, but I know I did, and it was challenging. All the more reason to lean on God. Today I love Super T so deeply that I really don't think I could differentiate between my love for him and LOTL and Little Pud. In fact, the other night I was just so overwhelmed with love for the little guy...it was really amazing to think that he was a stranger just 5 months ago.

My second true confession involves my first impression of Super T on the list that the agency sent me. For the rest of the story see my note from Oct. 28 [published on this blog on June 26.] One thing I haven't told anyone is that, because my printer was running out of ink, I actually misread his description that night that I first felt drawn to the 8 1/2 year old boy with Down syndrome. There was just some very basic information and a very brief description. I thought the description said "can READ single words and phrases" but what it really said was "can REPEAT single words and phrases." My actual thought process was "Well, he is learning to read...Little Pud doesn't know how to read yet, so how bad can it be." I am ashamed to say that my initial impression was that he was very high functioning and that mattered to me (I was initially not open to Down syndrome as a special need.) By the next day, when I read the list on the computer and realized my mistake, I already KNEW he was the child for me. God had so strongly placed him in my heart that there was no turning back. The truth is Super T would not be classified as "high-functioning," but it doesn't matter to me any more. I have always placed WAY too much stock in intelligence and now I am finding out that it is NOT the most important thing. The joke is on me, though, because (BRAG ALERT) Tim is NOW reading...14 different individual words and a book I made for him with SENTENCES in it. He is a very quick learner and has just blossomed.

I could go on and on about how Super T has blossomed and the things he does now that he didn't before and how he memorizes scripture and how he has so much fun with LOTL and Little Pud and his fabulous sense of humor and all the signs he has learned and how he initiates so much communication, but I won't bore you any more. The one thought that really troubles me is the thought of so many orphans (with Down syndrome and without) in orphanages all over the world. If Super T, who was in a wonderful home with incredible house parents who truly loved him, in a first world country with great medical care, in a great school with teachers who doted on him, has grown and learned and blossomed so much in his own forever family; what might be the potential of these other children...many whom will be put in an asylum for life if they are not adopted by age four or five...many who will actually die because of lack of care. What about those children?

Adoption is hard. It can be much much MUCH harder than it has been in our family. But it is worth it. It is so worth it.

[It is interesting to re-read this almost exactly a year after it was written. Super T has now been home for a year and five months. He is amazing and such a source of joy in our lives.]

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

FB Note from April 26, 2010: Adoption-Being Real: Three month update

Not that I am not real other times, in fact the real me tends to be quite upbeat and optimistic and, of course, what I like to share with others tends to be happy, too. The truth is that my life is great. I am thrilled to be fulfilling a dream of mine and what I believe is part of God’s plan for my life. Super T is adjusting very well, and we are all happy. I could write a really upbeat and happy post (and hopefully will soon, telling some of the progress we have made), but I wanted to highlight a difficulty or two for people who are interested in adoption or just whoever is curious and wants a glimpse into our lives. I wanted to write about this after the first month, but wasn’t sure I was confident enough in the good to tell of the not-so-good (not to mention lack of time!)

Super T has adjusted amazingly quickly and well. We have had NO major problems, but this adjustment period has still been quite challenging in many ways. I find myself with so much empathy for people who do have major issues in their adoptions. The truth is, I spent the first month he was home, thinking thoughts like, “I don’t regret doing this…Super T belongs in our family, but this is HARD, and adoption is NOT for everyone.”

Super T has some sensory issues that I didn’t expect (although I probably should have since he spent almost his first two years in the hospital.) It was rather overwhelming and frightening to realize this, but I am so blessed to have friends who have walked this road before and have been a huge encouragement to me and great resources. Fortunately his issues are really relatively minor and now I have some tools to deal with them, but it is a pretty constant issue in our lives (although definitely manageable.)

CONSTANT is the word I would use to describe my life right now. It is good, but it is so constant. There is always one (or two or three) child(ren) who need something from me. I have only sat through one church service in the last three months (although I think I will be able to leave Super T in his class soon…I have been going to his class with him to help him get used to it.) I have to go to bed shortly after the children do, so I can get up before them because, although Super T in many ways is like a preschooler, his body is 9 years old, so he doesn’t need as much sleep as I wish he needed. Weekends were a real adjustment (for me.) Super T doesn’t understand why I would want a break therefore there is no such thing as a lazy weekend.

It truly is three steps forward and one step back. We have had such huge progress in several areas over the last few weeks (speech/sign, playing, security, etc.). It is easy to think that the progress will continue at that pace, then you have a step-back day (last Monday was one) and feel like you are starting all over again (which you are not, but you have to encourage yourself through it.) It can be tricky to realize that this seemingly well-adjusted child just 3 months ago had everything in his life change and now he wonders if this new thing (camping trip, change in seating at meal-time, unexpected guest, etc.) is going to change everything again. Sometimes it doesn’t phase my boy, but other times he really is affected by a seemingly small change. Flexibility is key. I have to not be so attached to my schedule that I am not willing to take the time to comfort him and get him through it. This can make it challenging to complete the best laid plans.

Seven years ago I experienced a year of firsts without Michael…each one brought its own variety of pain and often smiles through tears. I’d have to say that experiencing “firsts” with Super T has been strangely similar. My heart grieves that at age 9 he experienced his first Easter with his family and that he will be 10 when he has his first Christmas with us. All the little firsts are fun, interesting, and/or painful, too: first snow, first pizza night, first time to our church, first popcorn night, first annual spring Woodward park visit, first trip to the zoo, first Turkey Mountain hike, first time to play in the mud, first camping trip, first time to meet his grandma, etc…and then there are the other firsts…like the first time Super T fell asleep without rocking himself…cuddled up to me.

The good FAR, FAR outweighs the bad, but I wanted to let others in on a bit of the reality of the first months with an adopted child, even when things are going great. Two huge benefits I have seen in my own life (not even counting the huge blessing Super T himself is) are that I am becoming more efficient and more fun…efficient and fun…two words I never would have used in the past to describe myself...all thanks to my sweet boy.

[Super T has now been home for a year and a half. He has completely adjusted into our family and so have we. Everything is going GREAT. I just wanted to transfer these notes from Facebook.]

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

FB Note from Feb. 27, 2010: Adoption update--home one month

Super T has been home for just over one month now [he came home Jan. 26, 2010, so as of today it has been a year and a half, but I wanted to transfer all of this from FB] He has made an amazingly smooth transition, for which I am so grateful. Every day I am so blessed to be able to kiss him and hug him and see him settle into our family. So far this adoption experience has just been so wonderful--not perfect by any means, Super T and I have definitely butted heads more than a few times-- but truly wonderful.

My heart is full of things I would like to say, but my time is so limited these days that I haven't been able to organize my thoughts or write them out. I had faithfully journaled my adoption experience up to the second day in Hong Kong, but I haven't picked it back up yet. We are just living life one day at a time. Super T is learning so quickly. I am just amazed. He is really picking up sign language (we are getting the Signing Times DVD's from the library) and his speech is coming along with the signs. He is watching LOTL and Little Pud more and more and learning so much from them. He LOVES the trampoline, playing in water (summer will be fun!), and eating ice cream. He also enjoys playing ball, listening to music, cooking with mom, eating almost anything, and cuddling. One thing that surprised me about him was that he doesn't really play with toys. I think that one factor is that he is much more interested in "real" things than toys (other factors are not quite so positive); however, he is learning about play from watching his brother and sister AND enjoying doing "real" things with mom. He is quite mechanical and is interested in how things work, and he is a wonderful imitator. Super T also has a great sense of humor and can be quite the tease (his latest is to call me "Grand-mama.") Attachment (a BIG deal in adoptions) is also really going well. I think Super T is really starting to feel comfortable and safe in our family and our home and like he "belongs" with us (which he does!) He is always hugging me, wanting to sit on my lap, and generally being a snuggly little boy. LOTL and Little Pud are really wonderful with Super T, and Super T really enjoys them. He makes us all smile, laugh, and appreciate life more.

For me the most difficult thing has been how "constant" it is to be Super T's mommy. I knew it was coming and asked for it, but it was hard to anticipate how much change it would be to go from being mom and homeschooling two relatively self-sufficient kids to doing all that with those two plus a special needs child. Down time is very rare, but we are getting into a routine and Super T really is a pretty "easy" child, which definitely helps. One good thing is that I am getting more exercise these days with all the trampolining! I definitely am not complaining, though. My life is wonderful. I am so blessed to be the mom of three amazing children!

Monday, June 27, 2011

FB Note from Oct 29, 2009: My scriptures for 2009: Addendum to Part 6

God led me to this passage on Dec. 29, 2008 and this has been my theme passage for this year. It is especially cool because the chapter begins, "Listen to Me, O islands, And pay attention, you peoples from afar." Hong Kong is an island far away. I feel like this passage was written over 2000 years ago specifically for me! (And yes, I do know it is actually Messianic, so don't bother correcting me with context.)

Isaiah 49:20-23 (New American Standard Bible) [comments in brackets are mine]

The children of whom you were bereaved [I truly felt bereaved of my planned big family] will yet say in your ears, 'The place is too cramped for me; Make room for me that I may live here.' [anyone who has been to my less-than-1000-sqare-foot house can see the relevance]

Then you will say in your heart, 'Who has begotten these for me, Since I have been bereaved of my children, And am barren, an exile and a wanderer? [after Michael's death I truly felt like an exile...in fact my go-to verses for months were Jer. 29:4-7--God's directions to the exiles to Babylon.]

And who has reared these? Behold, I was left alone; From where did these come?' [obviously with adoption the child comes from outside your own body...this is still a mystery to me, but I know Super T is my son, and I have heard from so many other adoptive families about how they all belonged together even though they don't share genetic material.]

Thus says the Lord God, "Behold, I will lift up My hand to the nations,[this gives me chills--my child is coming from another nation] And set up My standard to the peoples; And they will bring your sons in their bosom, And your daughters will be carried on their shoulders. [Plurals! Be still my beating heart!] And kings will be your guardians, And their princesses your nurses. [the Hong Kong government has done a wonderful job taking care of Super T] They will bow down to you with their faces to the earth, and lick the dust of your feet; And you will know that I am the Lord; Those who hopefully wait for Me will not be put to shame." [Such encouragement that this truly will come to pass; ALL the glory goes to the LORD!]

Sunday, June 26, 2011

FB Note from Oct 28, 2009: My story...Part 6 Super T

How do I keep this brief? I have two journals almost completely full of adoption stuff and Super T isn't even home yet. [He came home in Jan. 2010.] The journals have been wonderful ways to remind myself of God's faithfulness, to remind myself of what He has told me, to remind myself not to get sidetracked or worried...do you see the pattern here? They have been invaluable in those moments of confusion, decision, and impatience. Much of what I have written in the journals are scriptures that spoke to me at the moment of scribing them. You would be amazed at the number of scriptures that speak of adoption both directly and indirectly.

When God dropped it into my spirit to adopt from Hong Kong, I got very excited. I had researched HK adoption in my period of adoption research a couple of years before (back before I was content...see part 5.) I knew that HK was VERY economical, as far as adoptions go; that they accept single mothers; and that it was a special needs-only program. Now special needs has a very wide interpretation in adoptions, but all HK special needs available for international adoption are moderate to severe; no minor or correctable needs are typically available.

I felt from the very first that God had a specific child for our family and the child was a boy between the ages of LOTL and Little Pud. My homestudy agency has a policy against changing the birth order, therefore only would approve me for a child ages 6 and under (I had to even request this concession...originally my social worker had written age 4 and under because Lilly was 5 1/2 when my homestudy was done, but I knew she would be 6 by the time my new child came home.) There was a form (actually 2 or 3) that I had to fill out that specified the special needs I was "accepting" of. I was very drawn toward blindness and cerebral palsy and was accepting of most physical special needs, but not mental ones. I really felt that the child would not have Down syndrome (a high percentage of children adopted from HK have DS ). I am not entirely sure why I felt that way...I have a several theories and it probably is a combination of those theories and maybe some I haven't even thought of yet. I have a couple of friends who have adopted children with DS and the kids have been tremedous blessings to them and to me.

I started the adoption paperwork early in the fall of 2008. My home study was finished in February 2009 and was sent to Hong Kong and U.S. immigration. The gory details and dates are interesting only to other people "in process," but suffice it to say, there is a LOT of waiting. Unless you have been through this or something similar, you cannot imagine the mental energy expended during the waiting periods...also known as opportunities to learn to trust God in all things.

The rules have changed recently and I was not able to find out information on individual children until my immigration paperwork had been approved. I received my immigration approval in the mail on April 11, 2009, almost exactly 6 years after Michael passed away. According to my placing agency (in CA) there were no children available that met my criteria so I had to wait some more (actually there was one little boy, but I just knew that he wasn't the one for my family.) On April 30, my worker, I'll call her W, told me she had just received an updated list of available children from the agency in HK. Would I like to see it? Ummm...YES!!!!!

Upon receiving the e-mailed file with very basic information (date of birth, gender, major diagnosis, a two sentence or so description) I quickly perused, not even looking at anyone born before 2003 or girls or with DS. I was very disappointed that my son was not there. Later that night when I had more time, I thoroughly read all the entries (23 children). One child absolutely leaped off the page at me...but he didn't fit my "requirements." He was 8 1/2 years old and he had Down syndrome. I did some internet research that night to get up to speed on raising a child with DS and prayed prayed prayed. I decided that if I still felt that way in the morning that I would ask for more information on him. Well, I still felt that way in the morning, so I asked and W sent me his latest child study. I immediately knew he was my child...even before seeing his picture. It was a bonus that he is so cute! This was on a Friday, so I had all weekend to pray about it while waiting for more info that W had requested from HK. The knowing that Super T was my child just got stronger and stronger.

There is so so much more I could write (2 journals worth!), but to make a long long story short, I had to contact my social worker and convince my home study agency to approve me (against their rules) for a child up to age 10. She also had to include DS as an acceptable special need. I am so thankful for favor (and for the fact that Super T is very tiny and Little Pud is large for her age--he will really be the "little" brother.) By mid-June I had my amendment and new immigration approval and everything was in the court of the HK adoption unit. I was notified that they had officially matched me with Super T on October 8, and now I am waiting for U.S. immigration approval, which I expect to receive this week. I am believing to bring Super T home before Christmas. [He came home Jan. 26, 2010.]

I am learning so much about trusting God, hearing His voice, the value of worship, God's love for the orphans and widows, and so much more. It is not easy, but God's grace sustains me. It is shocking just how much I can love someone I have never met in person. In my heart, he has been my son since May. I could not possibly be more excited about adopting Super T. Sometimes it is hard to sleep at night because I am so excited about him. LOTL and Little Pud are very excited as well, and already consider him their brother.

I really appreciate all the support I have received from my friends and family. People have been so wonderfully supportive! I know adopting an "older" child with Down syndrome is not an easy thing for some people to understand, but I feel wonderfully blessed to be called to do this. Super T is not the one who is benefiting the most...I think I am.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

FB Note from Oct 25, 2009: My story...Part 5 The Surprise

After studying the Bible and finding out more about God's view of widows, I became more confident in seeing Him fill the roles left vacant by Michael's death. It brought a wonderful contentment and happiness. I remember saying one day, "I hope nothing changes because I am so happy right now." I should have know right then that change was coming!

Who do you think I was studying about along with learning about God's provision for widows? THE FATHERLESS! The vast majority of verses that speak of widows also speak of the orphan or fatherless (depending on the translation.) I always interpreted that as including LOTL and Little Pud [see About Me for explanation], which it does, but there was so much more that was getting down into my mind and spirit. One day in the early summer of 2008, BAM! into my heart dropped the thought, "I am supposed to adopt from Hong Kong." This was out of the clear blue. I knew it wasn't my own thought. It was from God. I took some time and prayed, but it didn't go away, so I started the process to adopt from Hong Kong.

A bit more background: Michael and I had always planned on adopting sometime. We wanted "a lot" of kids. We always said "at least 4," but the truth was we really wanted 6 (or maybe even more.) After I made it through the first year or so of grief for my husband, my bigger struggle was my grief for the children I would never have. At first I thought that maybe I would get remarried and have more children that way. At one point a few years ago I did extensive research into adoption as a single mother, but I just knew that wasn't for me at that time (much to my sadness, because I really wanted to adopt.) FINALLY, gradually, I became completely content with the two wonderful gifts I had been given (not that I wasn't thankful for them before--I enjoyed them so much that I wanted more.) That contentment and my widow/orphan Bible study both came about a year or so before the mandate to adopt suddenly appeared.

I thought this might be my last post, but it is getting too long, so Super T's adoption story will have to wait for next time.

Friday, June 24, 2011

FB Note from Oct 4, 2009: My story...Part 4

As a widow with two young children, I had been placed in a situation where I could not possibly succeed and thrive on my own. Most of my life that had not been the case. I had been blessed with the intelligence, disposition, and talents that made my way through school a breeze, gave me a successful and fulfilling career, and a good family life. Other than a few snags (mostly outlined in parts one and two, and in which areas I had learned to rely on God), my life had pretty much been as easy as can be. Oh, sure, I had my moments and difficulties, but I nearly always had the ability to solve my problems in my own strength. That is not to say I didn't have a good relationship with God. I did. I just didn't feel the need to rely on Him for my daily strength. He was a wonderful add-on to my life; an important part, but not the only part. In fact, being married had actually decreased my dependence on God. Honestly, Michael had become my all-in-all; and Jesus was someone we taught our kids about and someone we worshiped on Sundays. When Michael died, all that crumbled. If I was going to make it, I had to look to God. I knew all the intelligence in the world wouldn't solve this one. Athletic talent would be no help. Even interpersonal skills wouldn't do it. I saw that I had to turn to God. Since I have already talked about this in part 3b I won't go into the details her, but instead will talk about some of the results.

I firmly believe that God has a special plan and purpose for each person's life. I also believe that He give us gifts and talents to use for Him. HOWEVER, often those gifts and talents lead us to rely on them instead of the Giver of the gifts. Those very gifts from God can make it difficult to feel the need to rely on God. Many of the smartest and most talented people are also the most miserable. They are trying to do it themselves. And some of the most unlikely people are happy, fulfilled, and successful because they know they can't do it themselves.

Almost exactly two years after Michael died, God called me to switch churches. At the time I didn't know why, and I really liked my old church; I just knew that was what I was supposed to do. At the new church there was a focus on purpose. I took a class about finding your purpose and boiled my purposed down to two words: Educate and Encourage. Okay, no huge surprise there. I also met two other young widows who were homeschooling their children. What? You mean I am not the only one? Hmmmm...

Meanwhile I was wishing I could find a Bible study where you actually sat down and studied the Bible (instead of preaching/dvd with discussion.) I felt the Lord speak to me that I could study His word on my own. WHAT? I never went to Bible school. I have never had a class that told me how to do that (actually I did, but Mr. Korver's 10th grade Bible class was a LONG time ago.) People don't STUDY the Bible on their own. Pastors do that (it's their job!), but regular people like me have "quiet time" or "devotions." Nevertheless, I knew I was supposed to study my Bible. I borrowed my mom and dad's concordance (they went to Bible school and had the credentials to "study") and using the concordance and a dictionary started studying. The Lord led me to look up the word "widow" in the concordance. I looked up all the scriptures with the word "widow" in them and hand wrote out most of them. It was slow, tedious work, but exciting too, in a strange way. I found myself getting up early to have more time to study. Sometimes I would break out my Bible in the afternoon or evening to get some more time in. What did I discover? More than I bargained for. First and foremost: in order to get the MOST out of the Bible you have to STUDY it for yourself instead of relying on others to do it for you. Let me say that again: you have to STUDY the Bible for yourself instead of relying on others to do it for you! I feel like I cannot say it enough. It is VITAL! I also learned about God's amazing care for widows. I can trust in Him because He cares for me and has said it over and over and over in His Word. It is a theme that runs throughout the whole Bible and now is imbedded deep in my heart.

The "more than I bargained for" will have to wait for part 5. Stay tuned...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

FB Note from Sept 13, 2009: My story...Part 3b

I admit it. I yelled at the doctor. "YOU MEAN I AM 8 MONTHS PREGNANT; I HAVE A TODDLER; AND AM A WIDOW??!?!?" The poor doc. He had tried so hard. Michael and he were the same age, and he was visibly shaken by the whole thing. My mom and I went in to see the body. Michael was not there, just his shell, but it was a precious shell. One I loved.

I remember three main things about the minutes following this: 1.) the single worst moment of my life: when I had to call my father and mother-in-law to tell them their son was dead; 2.) the HUGE outpouring of love from friends--showing up when I needed them most; and 3.) the DECISION I made then and there in that emergency room to NOT let the devil win and to anticipate God's good plans for my life and the lives of my children.

The next days, weeks, months were not easy by any standard. I remember and appreciate the friends, family, and complete strangers who helped me out. I felt like I had been put on the fast-track to learn to trust in God. Suddenly my self-sufficiency was no where to be found. I learned to accept help, to accept gifts, to accept people asking me all kinds of personal questions. In today's world these are all difficult things to do. They make you vulnerable. But I saw amazing things happen: I got out of debt (a MIRACLE!); I reconnected with friends I hadn't talked to in years (and found that some of them had shared deep grief also); I developed sympathy for every person going through a tough time, realizing that for them, it meant everything even if their loss paled in comparison to mine; I saw the walls that kept me a "very private person" crumble; I learned just how much control I have over my thoughts and therefore my emotions.

Grief. If there is anything I have learned in the past few years, it is how different people grieve differently. I think that is necessary and good. There should not be a timeline. But by God's grace (and I do mean that; it is not just an expression), He helped me through my grief and I learned some principles that are useful in many areas of life. First: Don't run from it. Relive the memories. Cry about the things you miss. It is okay to be sad. Second: Don't wallow. There is a difference between grieving and wallowing and I could usually tell when I slipped into the "feeling sorry for myself" mode. I learned to take my thoughts captive and just not go there. Third: Fill your mind with the good as much as possible. I spent months listening to Keith Green music. Unlike almost everyone I know, I typically prefer listening to talking or silence as opposed to music, but not during this season of my life. The music really helped (it was Michael's favorite.)

God led me to a verse for this season of my life. Many people are familiar with Jeremiah 29:11, but my verses were Jer. 29:4-7.

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, 'Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens, and eat their produce. Take wives and becomes the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. And seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.'

I read this every day for months. I felt like an exile. Like all I had planned in my life had come crashing down. I missed my best friend. As these words sank in, I found direction to live my life. I needed to continue living: play with my children, teach them, cook, garden, clean house. Michael was not coming back, but I would see him one day. One day I will no longer be an exile, but will go to my true Home. Michael is there and is more truly himself now than he ever was here on earth. I look forward to seeing him that fine day; but oh, so much more than that, I look forward to seeing my Jesus, face to face.


Updated 7/12/2011

The giveaway I posted about here has been cancelled, and we will not be receiving an iPad from Marissa's Bunny. If you are interested in the situation, just google. There is lots of info in lots of places (some if it of questionable intent and accuracy.) I do not agree with the angle that some people have taken, but there are also people who are making lemonade out of these lemons.

I am thankful that I do not look to people as my source or I would be very discouraged. Instead read my Choices and Trust post. My hope is in the Lord, who made heaven and earth. I have no doubt at all that Super T will receive an iPad. I don't know where it will come from directly, but ultimately it comes from God.

I will leave this post up in its entirety.

Original post from 6/23/11:

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring exciting special-needs iPad news!

A while ago I hopped over to Marissa's Bunny and entered Super T in a merit-based special-needs iPad giveaway. He won one of the 40 iPad's they gave away! With the iPad came $500 (yes, you read that right: $500!!!) of iPad apps of my choice (some of the therapeutic apps are quite expensive, but even with those, we still got a LOT of apps!) the iPad is going to be a game-changer for this little boy. I am very VERY excited to receive it (should be getting it Monday) and see how it changes his communication, reading skills, level of engagement, and so many other things...not to mention his music (which he LOVES)!

Marissa's dad has it on his heart to help the special needs community. His bosses have an aggressive over-matching program for any money that is raised on the blog. Right now Marissa's Bunny is in the middle of another special-needs iPad giveaway (click here for how to enter). They currently have 15 iPads to give away, but IF they can raise a total of $1000 on the chip-in the bosses will provide 5 more iPads PLUS $500 worth of apps to each recipient. Read about it here (and also about why it is just amazing that Marissa's dad has the time or heart to think about the rest of us--his plate is more than full right now.)

So, if you have a special needs child apply for the giveaway and whether or not you have a special needs child, consider donating to the chip in (on the sidebar of this page). Seriously, the iPad is the most amazing tool for special needs individuals that has come out in a long time...maybe ever.

Now, back to the FB posts...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

FB Note from Sept 13, 2009: My story...Part 3a

WARNING: If you were close to my husband or have had someone close to you die, you may not want to read this.

Thursday, April 10, 2003...the single worst day of my life. All day Wednesday Michael had been sick with flu-like symptoms...throwing up and general misery, but nothing extraordinary. I was a good wife. Kept fluids going into him, encouraged, cleaned up. I'll be honest, there was a bit of resentment. You see, I was 8 months pregnant with our second child and had a toddler, so taking care of a sick husband was not exactly fun. I took consolation in the thought that he would have plenty to do taking care of me when the baby was born. On Wednesday, Michael's sister called, but I told her he was sick and couldn't talk...regret. Wednesday night I had to run to the drug store to get something for Michael and picked up a pint of Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Brownie. I sat on the couch and ate the whole pint while the rest of the house slept. I thought Michael was recovering. He had eaten sugar free Jello and some broth and was keeping them down. He was sleeping and I figured he would sleep it off and be all better the next day. I slept on the couch.

When I woke up around 5, I went in to check on Michael. He was still asleep. I noticed that his insulin pump (he had Type 1 diabetes, diagnosed while we were engaged) had come out. Uh-oh. I shook him to wake him up to take his blood sugar and reinsert the pump catheter, but he wouldn't wake up. Try harder. Shake him more. He kind of wakes up, even sits up, but is not coherent. Threaten him with the ER if he doesn't test his blood sugar and take a shot. He can't do it. Try not to panic. Call my dad. Dad comes to stay with LOTL (2 1/2 years old and still sleeping.) Tell Michael he has to walk to the car. Dad and I are on either side of him helping him walk. When we get to the car he totally collaspes. A passerby helps us get him in. The whole way to the hospital I am praying and keep looking over at my husband. He is unconscious, but breathing. It is going to be okay. We are almost there. I get him into the Southcrest ER. I don't know it at the time, but as soon as they wheel him away from me, he codes. That was the end. The doctor worked on him for an hour, but he was already gone.

As I write this, my hands are sweating and shaking, my heart is racing. I can hardly believe that over 6 years later I still feel the nerves of the day. My eyes are dry, however. I know how it turns out.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

FB Note from Sept. 5, 2009: My story...Part 2

If you missed part 1, you can read it here. Twenty-eight years down, ten to go. Lest you think I only learned one major lesson during those first twenty eight years, that was not the case at all. It is just that that one particular lesson was one of the few that actually produced enough disequilibrium to change my thinking. One reason that I had few of these types of lessons was that the teaching and beliefs I developed as a child, teen, and young adult were actually quite sound. More clarifying changes in thinking were (and are) to come, but I am so very thankful for the firm foundation I developed (not on my own, of course) during those early years. I am so fortunate that I have really required a minimum of "unlearning" bad stuff and more just deepening, developing, enhancing, and taking ownership of the good stuff.

The next two big lessons that came my way were both lessons of trust. Our first year or so of marriage Michael and I were financially what I call "early-married-stupid." In other words we spent a lot of money we didn't have on things we didn't really need and dug ourselves a sizable hole of credit card debt. When we moved back to my home state, we started a business (complete with a $25,000 business loan) which failed within a couple of years. When LOTL [see sidebar for description of my "anonimizing" names for my kiddos] was a baby, cutoff notices and phone calls from bill collectors had become a regular part of our stressed-out lives. During that time I learned to truly trust God in my time of need (His grace is sufficient, even when we got ourselves into the mess); and we never had a utility cut off (repeatedly the money came miraculously in the nick of time), we always could pay the rent, and we always had food on the table (lots of beans and rice and mac and cheese.) During this time we had repented of our stupidity, read _The Complete Tightwad Gazette_ and _Financial Peace_, became very frugal, and watched God provide. Our debt was HUGE, but He helped us get a plan and begin digging ourselves out, step-by-step. Truly our "poverty days" made a huge impact on me...both how I view money and how I view God. It is never a question to me any more whether or not He will provide; AND I don't get myself into messes, THEREFORE I have money to give with no worries or fear.

The second lesson on trust was actually worse that those stress-filled years of not-quite-making-it. In fact I don't know that it was much of a lesson at all as a blow to everything I thought I knew. A person I had known for many many years, worked with, and had trusted as a "good Christian," was arrested for doing the unthinkable. At first I vehemently defended him, not believing the charges; but when it became clear that the charges were true, my world shattered. If he could do this horror, anyone could be capable of doing any evil. No one, other than myself, was worthy of my trust. I was dazed. I was disillusioned. I grieved. Slowly, I came to realize that there was One whom I could still trust. Yes, He was the only One. But more than just trusting Him alone and living a life of mistrust and suspicion with those around me, I could trust Him to show me hidden things that needed to be revealed in the moment I needed them. I did not need to rely on my own ability to protect my toddler son from all the evil in the world. What I did need to do was be sensitive to God's voice, trust it, and be willing to act on it.

Part 3 coming soon...

Monday, June 20, 2011

FB Note from Aug. 31, 2009: My story...Part 1

I don't blog. I don't intend to blog. [Ha! Ha! We see how that turned out.] However, I do have a thing or two to say; and I would like to chronicle a bit of my story before Super T [my adopted son who I brought home in Jan 2010] comes home and life gets too busy.

I have been a Christian all my life. In fact, I have been a "good" Christian all my life. I have never done anything most people would consider "really wrong." I went to a Christian school, went to a Christian university, returned to teach in the same Christian school I graduated from, and all-in-all had a very nice and fulfilling life. I enjoyed my job, enjoyed my church, had good friends and family, read my Bible, and was happy. No complaints, for the most part.

In 1998 I got married to Michael, a long-time friend; and we moved to Maryland. Those 10 months in MD were the beginning of my clarity about God that would take several more years to fully develop (and is still in process.) You see, good churches were not on every corner in our new state; and Michael finally got tired of the church hunt and decided that we were just not going to go to church until we moved back to my home state (which we though was going to be sooner than it ended up being.) The feelings this decision evoked shocked me. I discovered that I really equated my church attendance with my relationship with God. Those months helped me get a correct perspective: my relationship with God is not dependent on my church attendance. Of course, after we moved back, I was thrilled to be in a wonderful church again, but those 10 months without a church home made a profound impact on me.

stay tuned for Part 2...

Disclaimer: Church attendance is important and a much more involved issue than I have time to discuss here, but the simple fact of the matter is that my personal relationship with God does not DEPEND on my church attendance, and God does not accept me because of my church attendance or reject me if I don't attend. If you had asked me those questions before that 10 months, I would have given the correct answers, but when I experienced it I found out that my real beliefs were different and wrong.

Transferring some Facebook Notes

When I originally got on Facebook (after much reluctance) I wrote a few "notes" there because I had no intention of ever blogging. I decided that I should transfer most of those notes to this blog, now that I actually have one. For those of you that are my FB friends, these are all repeats so don't feel like you have to reread or comment. I'll try to post the date I originally published them on FB. Most are autobiographical in nature. I will likely change names (at least remove last names), but otherwise these will stay essentially the same (I sure don't have time to edit.)

I hope/plan to have some new and exciting posts about education in the near future, but it will likely be at least mid-July before they are up.