Monday, March 30, 2009

Piercing The Heart... has just been a day of heart piercing lessons. Of course, I went on a Women's Retreat this weekend. It was called Soul Refill and I needed it! It was a wonderful weekend, so I should have known to expect this, but I was completely unprepared for what Abby threw my way today...

It started at breakfast this morning... It is our routine to read a book while she eats breakfast each morning. This morning the book was about a Koala mommy who told her Koala baby, "I love you, I really do." I thought it would be a great opportunity to use the book to teach about what mommy's do with their each page I would draw a parallel to how I love her and Mackenzie.

At then end of the book, she gave me a really angry look and said, "Why you say that so much?" I was so shocked so I asked very gently, "I'm sorry, what did you say?" This time she wouldn't make eye contact with me, and the fierce challenge of her attitude was gone, but she repeated the question, "Why you say that so much?" "Because I do Abby...just because I do."

And then as she prepared herself to be hugged, she reminded me once again that I couldn't give her a's always only the top of her head, but that's fine...I respect those boundaries and have been since she asked me not to give her a kiss. I told her that she doesn't need to remind me everytime, to which she responded, "You might forget." OUCH!!

After she left for school, I considered the power of the tongue. That a 6 year old's words could pierce my heart so sharply stopped me in my tracks... It reminded me that my words to others have the same power.

But then this evening, as I put her to bed, I looked at a place on her hand that has been causing me some concern... It's not looking any better and she immediately understood that this would mean another trip to the doctor.

All of a sudden she looked at me and said, "I not talk about God, He do this." Where on earth did that come from? So I tried to explain to her that God did not hurt her hand...

And then came the discussion about China...

"In China, I NOT go to the doctor..." "I NOT have sore on my hand..." "I NOT cough..." "I NOT go to the dentist..."

Funny how Israel always wants to go back to Egypt...if you don't know what I'm talking about, grab a Bible and read the book of Exodus. God delivered the Israelites from Egypt and every time something didn't go their way, they decided that slavery was better than a little discomfort.

I don't mean to imply that we're Abby's deliverer...but the point is that somehow we always forget the reality of what we've come from... Abby didn't have a forever family... No real security...or even much hope for the future... Through an amazing blessing, we are able to offer her that... But like the Israelites, somehow Egypt just looks better to her.

So I told her how sorry I was that she was so unhappy...that I loved her so much and that is why I take her to the doctor when she's sick and to get her teeth cleaned. I tried to explain to her that when you really love someone, you do the things that are hard, even if it hurts a little. I said "Abby, if I didn't love you so much, I would let your hand get infected and your teeth rot out. But I do love you so I take care of you."

She just sat and stared at me... "Why you look at me? Why you sit on my bed?" After a little bit I said "Abby, I think it's interesting that when we talk about birthday parties and presents and friends, you like being here... But when it comes to things you don't ike...doctors... dentists... coughs... hurt hands ... cleaning... you prefer China."

To which she responded, "Mommy, you tell me it's time to go to bed." Hmmm... she clearly doesn't like to be called on her stuff.

Abby is clearly angry with me today... I guess it could be related to my going away this weekend, but something tells me that that is not what is going on...

I think this has to do with the grieving process... She finally has language to express herself and it's all coming out. This is not the first time, and I'm sure it won't be the last. I guess I should be thankful that she is beginning to feel secure enough with me that I'm the one she's lashing out against...but I admit, it pierces my heart.

But again, it made me think about my relationship with my Heavenly Father... I may not say I want to go back to the slavery of sin...but sometimes I sure act like I do. I treat His provision as if it's not enough. It hurts when your children aren't content with your provision... there's no doubt that my own spiritual tantrums grieve my Father's heart..

I pray that tomorrow is a better day, but I have a sense that we may be entering in to a season... the walls of her heart are trying to come down and she is lashing out against loving us and receiving our love. I pray that someday she will rest in the truth that she is ours...we love...we will never leave her...we are hers forver.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Princess Puppy-Cat!

As Abby becomes more and more comfortable with us, more and more of her little personality emerges... Some things are frustrating, she's learning the American way of "me, me, me" but she is also incredibly creative and funny...just a bit precocious!

The other night I was putting her to bed and reminding her and Mackenzie that they needed to clean their room the next day... Abby looked at me and said, "I NOT Abby... I Princess Puppy-Cat!"

Stifling a giggle, I said, "Ok Princess Puppy-Cat, tomorrow you have to clean your room." "But I not want to clean my room." We are still in the mode of teaching her what it means to be a family so I reminded her that as a family, we take care of our chores. To which she said, "I not a member of this family." "Ok, but you sleep in this room, so you have to help keep it clean." To which she responded, "I not have to do this in China." Now that one I have a hard time believing since I have a picture of her sweeping!

More and more I'm hearing, "In China..." "In China, I not cough like this..." "In China, I not have to clean..."

I'm sure she's still processing a lot of what it means to be leave her country...her culture...her language...everything that is familiar to her and begin life in a family that is nothing like her. I guess I'd be wondering if this was all it was cracked up to be too.

She's doing amazingly well...we've not had any significant adjustment/attachment issues, but we are clearly not there all the way. I still sense this wall, almost like a veil, that we just can't seem to get through. It's as if she's just not willing to really let go and just trust herself to us...letting herself really love us. I'm trusting that this will come in time... She let's me hug her, although she doesn't hug me back the way I wish she would...but a step is a step. She will not let us give her a kiss, even just on the top of her head, but it's clear that she is becoming more and more dependent on having us around.

She doesn't like it when she doesn't know where any of us are... She gets frustrated with me if I have to go somewhere, she has this fear that I'm going to leave her alone... If I have to go somewhere and Zack is staying with the girls, she'll look at me confused for a minute and say, "You leave Abby alone?" "No honey, I would NEVER leave you alone..."

We've been blessed not to have to really deal with tantrums and some of the other things that I know other families live through, but there are so many subtleties that we have to be watching for, things that I would normally breeze by, but I know I just can't with her...

She is such an amazing little girl... we are so blessed to have her in our family... I pray that someday soon, she will let down her walls and fully immerse herself in our family....she'll be amazed at how much she's loved!

I was looking at a friend's blog the other afternoon and Abby asked who they were... when I told her it was a friend, she said, " have LOTS of friends. I not have so many friends." At that point, I started typing a list of everyone who loves her... I had about 3 columns full of names... I said, "Abby, look at how loved you are...all of those people love you!" Her little face lit up and she said, " print for me?" Sweet assurance for a precious little girl!

So to leave on a funny, last night as I was putting her to bed, I told her "Goodnight 'babycakes." I tend to call her different pet names and it drives her crazy! She looked at me and asked, "You not remember my name?"

"Yes, Princess Puppy-Cat... I remember, I remember!"

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Thought Provoking Movie...

Scott and I just finished watching a very thought provoking movie, "Flash of Genius." It's a true story about the man, Bob Kearns, who invented the intermittent windshield wiper. Sadly, his invention was stolen by F*ord Motor Company.

The movie is his battle for wasn't about the money, he simply wanted them to acknowledge that they had committed a wrong. At one point, before the jury decided the case, they offered him $30 million as a settlement, but wouldn't agree to their wrong doing. He rejected the offer and ended up winning the court case, for less money.

I was a little taken aback at my emotional response to this movie... Perhaps it is a product of our current times, but I was so appalled by the greed that motivated this theft, that even though it's years later, I would have a hard time ever purchasing a F*ord product again.

But the thing that really surprised me was my response to his wife who ended up leaving him in the midst of his fight. I realize I've never walked in her shoes, but why are there so few people in this world who are really willing to fight the fight of injustice? I so applaud Mr. Kearns, that he fought for what was right instead of just rolling over and taking it.

I've been thinking alot about our schools. Things have gotten worse at Zack's school. Another kid was beaten up in the bathroom this past week, his jaw was broken and another kid we know, who went in to help was also beaten up. According to what's been said by faculty and the kids at school, this is a battle between a group of 'Goth' kids and an African American Gang. Turns out Zack's friend, that I wrote about last week, just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But I what I've been wondering is when is it time to take a stand and say enough?! When is it time to be like Mr. Kearns and let the fight for what is right just consume you? I know these battles are hard, they come with a high cost, but aren't some things worth fighting for?

A few years ago, Victoria Secrets started their campaign of putting scantily clad, very life like manequins in their store windows. I couldn't even take my sons to the mall any longer without exposing them to what I would consider soft porn. Two of our local papers printed an editorial that I wrote. Funny, people applauded my stand, but they weren't willing to stop doing business with V.S.

I realize we can't fight every battle, but when is a battle worth fighting? When does the cost of walking away become higher than the cost of fighting it out? Are we going to let hoodlums take our schools? Are we going to let marketing execs with no morals create environments for us and our children that go against what we believe? What are we willing to fight for?

If we don't find something we're willing to fight for, eventually we will lose our right to Is there anything worth fighting for?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Prayer Changes Things!

In my last post, I wrote about a situation that occurred at my older son's school in which one of his closest friends was attacked by a group of boys for no reason...

I was angry when I wrote that post... In my heart, I wanted them to get their just due... And we live in a society, that when it works, people pay the consequences of their choices.

But I have to be honest, my initial desire for justice was not just a pure desire for what's right... It was flowing from an angry heart that wanted these young men to pay for what they did to my son's friend, who is a treasure of a young man, and I wanted them to pay for stealing my sense of security. I was furious that they made me feel angry and out of control, that they created a situation where I was afraid to send my child to school.

But as I've prayed and prayed over this situation, my heart has changed. I am still angry at a system that doesn't protect our children and I am still angry at a world that reaps this kind of evil...but my heart is becoming heavier and heavier for the young men who did this...

Young men who have had no real love in their lives... If we love our children, we will make hard choices and parent them. Love sets boundaries and keeps boundaries... Love takes the time to teach... to care... to be consistent in it's discipline... A parent who loves well is constantly looking inside themselves to see where they need to grow and change, they want the air of character that their children breathe to be as pure as possible and that means sacrifice. It means living for a bigger picture than our personal desires of the moment...

I have learned over time that love means that I don't gratify my desire to inappropriately express my anger with yelling... or that I don't always watch things on tv or in the movies that my seem appealing... that I listen when I don't think I can listen any more... it means that I give up what's easy and consistently follow through on my discipline... Love is not letting our children do as they please... Love is choosing to BE a person of character that is worth emulating... That is what will prepare them to live well.

So it is clear to me that these young men have not been loved well... they have no respect for life... for another person's rights... they simply propagate what they have learned at home and in the world.

And that makes me sad for them... to know that they've had no one to love them well. I am not by any stretch excusing their actions, laying responsibility at someone else's feet, or absolving them of their crime. They are fully responsible for their choices, but I am sad for the life they've lived that led them to make those choices... that made them so desperate to belong that they would join a gang... that made them so angry and so mean that they beat up on an innocent young man. I am sad for young men who are simply reflecting the life they've lived and the people who have influenced them.

As I have prayed for this situation, God has given me His eyes to see them... His heart to feel compassion for them... His Spirit to forgive them. Forgiveness doesn't mean doing away with the consequences, but it does mean that I can think of them without anger and disdain and a desire for them 'to pay.' I want justice to be served, but whenever God serves justice, it is always with a bring about change and transformation.

I pray that these young men will be disciplined in a way that will bring about change in their lives... That perhaps somewhere along the way, someone will love them well, with the love of Christ... I will probably never know who these young men are, they are under 16, so their names will not be released, but God knows their names.

I don't even begin to understand the mystery of prayer, but the Bible makes it clear, God has chosen to use the prayers of His people and God teaches me over and over that prayer changes thing... But one thing is clear... Before prayer changes anything else, it changes me first! It gives me a whole new perspective and replaces the seeds of anger, fear and judgement with seeds of grace, mercy, compassion and above all love.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Spirit of The Home... The Spirit of a Nation...

My oldest came home from school today and told me that one of his closest friends was beaten up by a gang of thugs...thankfully, he was being watched over (from above...certainly not by any authority at school) and after he was knocked out, they didn't continue. It could have been so much worse...

There are regular fights at school, but they've never bothered me that much because it's usually the gangs beating each other up or some dispute that's gotten out of control. Maybe I should be more concerned, but if they want to beat each other be it. Yea, I may have a heart issue on this one.

But today was different... Zack's friend was simply walking to class with another friend. Someone asked them for a cigarette and when they didn't have one, they first attacked one boy and then Zack's friend.

This comes on the heels of a proposal by our county's school superintendant to cut security in our schools by $2,000,000! Has he lost his mind?

I am so angry that I can't send my child to school and feel certain that he will be safe... When Zack found out where all of this occurred, he said, "Oh, the gangs hang out there all the time." He also told me that during last semester, when he had a class in this area that they used to watch the fights from the classroom windows and his teacher, on a fairly regular basis, had to go and break up these fights.

The school knows about this area...they know it's a problem...but it's not during daylight savings time, it's pitch black and while there's usually a security officer who patrols the area, he had gone for training today and no one had bothered to replace him.

We're talking to Zack about some safety measures, but I'm not naive, I realize there are no guarantees...these kids have no respect for life.

But how could they? We live in a society where life, at it's most basic, innocent stage means is viewed as disposable matter by far too many. And I believe with all of my heart, it's affecting our children. My cousin sent me this quote a number of years ago and I go back to it time and time again...

"A child's character is forming under a principle, not of choice, but of nurture. The spirit of the house is breathed into his nature, day by day.

The anger and gentleness, the fretfulness – and patience – the appetites, passions, and manners – all the variant moods of feeling exhibited around him, pass into him as impressions, and become seeds of character in him; not because the parents will, but because it must be so, whether they will it or not.

They propagate their own evil in the child, not by design, but under a law of moral infection. The spirit of the house is in the members of the children by nurture, not by teaching, not by any attempt to communicate the same, but because it is the air the children breathe. Understand that it is the family, the organic life of the house, the silent power of domestic godliness, working as it does, unconsciously and with sovereign effect – this it is which forms your children to God."

I have been a parent for 15 years now and I know that what is written above is truth... does our teaching impact them at all? Sure, but only if it is followed up by the way we live. AND, if the way we live is real and sincere...not a mask we wear for the world. Our children know the difference, even if we think they don't.

But in this day and time, it's not just the air, the spirit of the home that infects's the culture around them.

I don't know what has happened that has brought about the evil in the kids at school, but I am quite certain that it began in the home, and it had a ripe environment in the rest of the world in which to grow...

On the news, over the last couple of days, there has been a report about how more and more people are turning from their faith... We think we can remove God from our society and still be ok... NOT! We are reaping what we have sown for years and years. It began in the spirit of the infected the spirit of the home and over infected the spirit of a nation.

Our seemingly insignificant choices, that we think only impact us, are impacting generation after generation... As much as we like to believe that we can behave like we live in a vacuum...that our individual choices only impact us...that we each have a right to do what feels good to's just not so...our actions, our choices, our attitudes affect everyone around us.

In faith, with a little bit of fear, I will send my child to school tomorrow... I believe with all of my heart that that is where he is supposed to be...we're called to be a light and Zack is a bright light. But starting now, I will pray harder that God will have mercy on our nation and begin the process of drawing hearts back to Him...only then will things begin to change.

Monday, March 9, 2009


One of my favorite stories in the Bible is in John 4, the woman at the well. In the story, we find that Jesus has gone out of his way and has stopped in a town where most would have said he shouldn't be... But Jesus had a divine appointment that day. There was a woman living there who had had multiple husbands and was living with a man who was not her husband, she was a thirsty woman, looking for love in all the wrong places, seeking fulfillment from things that would never satisfy her. And Jesus went there to tell her that He was the Living Water, that if she would drink from His well of eternal life, she would never go thirsty again.

A few years ago, during a really hard time in my life, God showed me that I was a lot like the woman at the well, seeking satisfaction in all the wrong places. I wasn't cheating on my husband, but there are a lot of places that we can seek satisfaction apart from Him... We can escape in the television...we can look to our friends...our ministry...our work...our children or our husbands...even the mall or the refrigerator can be places we run to when we're thirsty...spiritually thirsty. And what God taught me during that time is that everything in my life was His blessing to me, but these things could never be a source, only Jesus could be that source that would satisfy and fill me up.

I wish I could say that I had learned that lesson well and that I never found myself empty again, but I'm a slow learner and sometimes I just have to be reminded.

This morning, I found myself very tired...physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually tired. Abby has been sick for 3 weeks, first with bronchitis and now with a sinus infection... She has coughed up so much gunk that a few times she couldn't was incredibly scary and so I find myself not sleeping well, always listening for her in case she needs help.

Zack is still out of soccer and will be for several more weeks with his ankle... My computer died, the diswasher broke and now the washing machine is on the fritz and in the midst of it all, I got sick too.

But life doesn't stop when chaos takes over, somehow we have to find a way to get through it all. A wise friend taught me years ago that the mom is the emotional hub of the family...I've also heard us compared to a thermostat. So I feel a great responsibility to be peaceful and calm, even when things seem to be falling apart... It doesn't mean I can never get upset, it just means that I can't wallow in it... I don't want things to cause me to be unfairly short with the kids (want doesn't always translate to reality) but that is what I strive for... In a stressed economy, I don't want to lay unnecessary emotional burdens on my husband... I want to live the life that Jesus said He came for, "I have come that they might have life and have it to the full..." aka, the abundant life...even in the midst of the daily annoyances of life!

So when I found myself at the end of my rope this morning, I started asking 'why?' And I didn't have to search far for the answer... In the craziness of life, I had taken my eyes off of my Source... I had started looking to other things to rest me and refresh me... television... candy bars... a trip to the mall... alone time.

And once again I was reminded that Jesus is the Living Water, He is the only true source of refreshment...if I would always look to Him, I would never run dry. It doesn't mean I would never have problems, but it does mean that He would sustain me through those problems.

I am so thankful that even though I wander, God is always pursuing me and drawing me back. During these hard times that our country is going through...during times of trials and suffering, it is even more essential to remember to give time to our relationship with God. He is the only one who will sustain us and carry us through.

I love the words of the psalmist in Psalm 73:25-26

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

If you will look to Him alone, He will be the strength of your heart...your portion that satisfies...He will carry you through whatever your facing with peace and joy... He will be your Enough...

Monday, March 2, 2009


Ok...I love snow! I love snow days... I love watching the kids chocolate...warm blankets...the excuse to park the car and stay home...taking photos and the incredible beauty! We aren't blessed with a real snow very often in the south so I took advantage and headed out with my camera...

There are more photos of Abby because she's still struggling with bronchitis so I kept her closer to home while the others went to the sledding hill... She finally got to build a full grown snowman!!

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Isn't he handsome! Scott...not the snowman!!

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I happened to catch the boys on the way back from the sledding hill...

This is what teenage boys do in the the the the sun...our friend K. looked at me and said, "Ms. Sharla, they do this all the time!" YEP!!!

It started with a face plant... (Actually, Nick started this by planting his own face first, Zack just decided to help him out the next time!)

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They do this too...INCOMING!!

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I think Nick has had enough...ya think?!

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After everyone went inside, I took a walk down to where the lake runs into the back of our was so are few photos.

I thought the contrast of the branches...the snow and the vibrant blue skies was just stunning!

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All the pretty blooms wearing a coat of white...

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It was a really fun morning!