Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Twins Turn 2!

We began our day with some breakfast and then a photo shoot. Brooklyn on the left.

Vivian on the left:

Someone (ahem Vivian) did not want to cooperate and got very mad. How can such a sad face be so dang cute?! Forgive the mullet/hat hair.

It's okay, though. She eventually found some dirt to eat and was happy again.

We took the whole fam out for pancakes for lunch. The babies love pancakes and who doesn't love IHOP? Brooklyn enjoying her very own cup with a straw!

Vivi waiting patiently for her yummy lunch.

After the babies woke up from their nap, I set up the sand/water table complete with water and all kinds of toys. At one point, both girls were standing on the water table. They loved it! Brooklyn on the left.
Mad Brook, happy Vivi.

Brook is happy again. She's thinking, "Wow, I am glad Shermee got us these cute dresses! They are just perfect for getting dirty!"

Then, we dried them off and ate. For their b-day dinner, I thought long and hard to plan a feast they would enjoy. I was going to roast a chicken, but ran out of time and settled on hot dogs from Whole Foods that were so yummy. Here's what each girl ate:

1 hot dog
1/3 cup homemade mac and cheese (raw cheddar, brown rice pasta, Pioneer Woman's recipe, sooooo goot)
1/2-3/4 cup strawberries
jello snack cup (Gramm chose this as a treat for everyone)
1 sugar cookie (birthday cookie, anyone?)
8 ounces raw milk

Beautiful Brooklyn:

This is a classic Vivi face. So darling. I love it!

I am extremely thankful for two wonderful years with our sweet girls. What a blessing and privilege it is to be a mother. I pray that Vivian and Brooklyn will follow Jesus all their days, delight to show mercy and always, always, always love.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Foster Care Change of Plans

We had our final walk through on Monday. It went really well. As far as we knew, we could open our home to foster children immediately. On Tuesday, I received the following email from the caseworker who did our walk through:


Yesterday during your final walk through you indicated that you want to foster children between the ages of 0-12 months. Licensing standards state that a home can not have more two children ages 2 and under including biological children. Under these circumstances, you will have to foster children that are 3 years and older until your twins turn 3 years old. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me."

We read the licensing standards during our training in September and asked about this issue specifically, but were assured that because the need for foster parents is so great, we would still be able to foster infants in our home. We do not feel lead to care for foster children over the age of 3 years at this time which means we will not be foster parents until this time next year when the twins turn 3.

Interestingly enough, these licensing standards do not apply to adoption. We can still adopt a child younger than 3 years old if we are matched with one. We should receive a letter from an adoption specialist in the next three weeks stating that our home is officially open for adoption. The odds of adopting a child twelve months of age and younger through the state are pretty slim, but we are not without hope that there is a child waiting to join our family. My job as a perspective adoptive mother is to wait patiently and gently and consistently remind the adoption unit that our home is open and we'd like to adopt a very young African American child. There are more details, but I will not bore you all with them. Suffice it to say, plans have changed. Now begins the wait. :)

Over the past two days, I have felt deep disappointment. My expectations have not been met. I've been tempted to give up hope. We have a little crib all set up for foster babies complete with periwinkle crib sheets, new pacis and three different sizes of diapers. I even bought a couple of baby outfits that I just could not resist. In my worst moment yesterday, I told Justin to take down the crib and put it in the attic. I didn't want to look at it. I didn't want to be reminded to hope. I am so glad God's mercies are new every morning, because today I am hopeful. My sweet sister reminded me this morning to continue to hope and pray boldly. Plans have changed. The system is not perfect, but that doesn't mean we should tuck tail and run. I have said from the beginning that I cannot let my fear of hurt and disappointment keep me from caring for the orphans in our community. Granted, we may wait an entire year with no baby and begin this time next year in the same place we are now. But, you know, the Lord may have a child for us in the coming months as well. He knows if there is a little one who needs us. He knows. He knows. He loves us. He loves us. He loves us.

I have seen over the past few days that others are bewildered by my disappointment. Why would a mother with three precious children have a desire for yet another child? Why would someone who gets pregnant with no complications desire to adopt or care for foster children? Why would a busy and sometimes very frazzled young mother desire to take another child? Why would I want to do this when I don't have to? Here's why:

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! Psalm 127:3,4,5a

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 2 Corinthians 2:14

Monday, March 8, 2010

Thoughts on Teaching My Children to Follow Jesus

Below I'm going to list a few things I've been mulling over lately. God has been working in my heart to show me some areas I need to work on and I would like to share what He's teaching me.

  • Teaching my child scripture and putting God's word in his little heart starts in our conversations. Example: "This is such a beautiful day. Gramm, did you know that God made this world beautiful to bring glory to Himself?" Gramm says, "But, why Mama?" to which I reply, "Because scripture tells us that the heavens declare the glory of God. That means that the rocks, trees, birds, and beautiful sunlight point out to everyone on earth that God created this place."
  • With my little girls (who will be 2 tomorrow) I have started telling them that God can do anything. I will say, "Vivi, what can God do?" and give her a few seconds and then say "Anything! God can do anything! Say it with me." You get the picture. We sing songs about God's character and they hear big brother's convos with me about spiritual matters. I do not dumb down the Gospel for my children. I want to make His word understandable to them, but I also think it is very important that they understand the words used frequently in the bible, so I try to include those words in my parenting, discussions, etc.
  • Some examples of using biblical language in correction:
  • When a child has a conflict with a sibling or playmate, I encourage him to use the biblical model of restoration as laid out in Matthew 18:15-21. If my little darlin' comes to me to tattle on his playmate, I say, "did you talk to him about it first?" I encourage my child to take his conflict to his brother first and then come and get me if his brother does not listen. I will often quote a bit of this passage during the discussion with my little one.
  • When my child hurts her sibling, I will say something like "Matthew 7 (verse 12) tells us to treat others as we would like to be treated. Do you like it when sissy hits you?"
  • If we are struggling with selfishness, I will say, "Luke 6 (verse 35) tells us to share. Let's try to honor God by sharing." I could go on and on with examples and if you'd like more, let me know and I'll post more.
  • The biggest key for me in using scripture to train my babies is not to focus on my lack of biblical knowledge. I had to let go of the perfectionist desire in me to correctly quote and reference every single scripture I discussed with my children. This perfectionism kept me from imparting truth to those entrusted to me.
  • I have also seen that teaching my children by example in my behavior is just as important, if not more important, than spouting off scriptures. If I want my child to be accepting and non-critical of others, I must not openly criticize the decisions others around us make whether that be schooling, marriage, finances, parenting, etc. Before I say something about someone, I have to ask myself, "Is it helpful? Is it edifying (Ephesians 4:29)? Then, shut your trap, HB!" If I am openly opinionated, my children will learn to be openly opinionated. If I want him to love even the most awkward people and not gawk at someone who talks, walks or smells funny, I must openly love and accept this person as well and not be miffed by the outward difference between he and I.
  • I am not an expert at parenting. I am just a fellow sojourner trying to live a life filled with His love. Most of what I know has been learned by the example of Godly women who let me peak into their lives.
And, just to remind you all how big my girls are getting and how sweet the little guy is, a couple pics:

Vivi on the left, Brook on the right. Gramm was in a picture-avoiding phase.

Adorable boy, handsome hubby. ;)