Thursday, April 21, 2011

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Jonny and Dennis can be two peas in a pod during the day. Often Jonny reads to his little brother... which is too precious for words.

But kids are not cute little angels all of the time.


Jonny and Dennis were goofing around. Jonny, the big brother was leading it up. The end result-- a new haircut for Dennis. Later, Dennis had to sit in the corner for opening up a can of soda without permission and cutting up playing cards with the same scissors that cut his hair. Monkey see, monkey do.


After a visit with Grandma and Grandpa, cards have become the hottest toy in our house.

Even Dennis and Alex like to pretend play poker.


Annalyn built this house of cards...


and now everyone is doing it. Monkey see, monkey do.


I have not posted much about Alex because I am embarrassed.. ashamed... not in the mood to hear-- "I told you so." To say that he challenges me to the ends of the earth would be an understatement. Many days I feel like he brings out the worst in me and I resent it when I let him set my tone for the day. Thankfully, the school sees it too because if they didn't I am sure that would add a whole new dimension to my frustration. At this point, I know that I need to love him more, cuddle with him more... and intentionally engage in his life way more than I do. It is just hard to do when a child screams in your face, gags and vomits if he is not in the mood to eat, hits and more recently bites, and pushes the limits to see what he can get away with. His smile can charm the pants off a stranger, but often it feels like salt in my wound.


I know... I know... I know that this has way more to do with me than it has to do with him. What better way to teach patience than to be paired with a child who demands it to the very core? If I can look past the behaviors and see the little boy that stole my heart the first time I laid eyes on him, I will have learned what it means to truly love. Because right now, I am having a hard time. I want to get past the love out of duty and back into the love from desire.



Lord, help me to set my own selfish feelings aside... my pride.. and my desire for the easy life. Help me to see Alex's joy, his honest attempts to do what is right, and may I let my guard down enough to experience the joy of loving him for who he is.

I share this with you because our life is not all about smiles all of the time. If you have someone in your life that is hard to love... I am here to say that it is okay that it is hard. I have recently realized that. Though I am embarrassed and ashamed to admit that it is hard for me to love every single person the same no matter what-- I just can't use it as an excuse to stop trying. Because I can't. I am called to love. We are called to love.


Recently the house has turned into a crocheting/knitting parlor. Boom-- overnight-- and all the girls are doing it. Monkey see, monkey do. Anastasia could not get the hang of knitting so I encouraged Julia to teach her how to crochet. Anastasia picked that right up and is now on her way to crocheting a whole scarf.


The girls love to listen to music while they are busy with their yarn. Sveta is taking a break while listening to one of her favorite songs. Julia crocheted this hat today and is nearly finished with another one. If you ask me, it looks like the girls are preparing for another fundraiser or something.



Paul and Jonny were begging Julia to teach them how to crochet. Since it was past their bedtime, I told them it would have to wait until tomorrow.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

It snowed today !

Christine is out so I thought I was sleeping in today!



But nope!


At 7:00am kids were screaming about the snow!


(first time ever for many with snow at their house!)




Here's a shot from my bedroom:



Here's more!


And finally a movie of William destroying the snowman Julia built.

(Of course with permission)



--JR

Friday, April 8, 2011

More Than A Blur

As I sat and watched my children do their watercolors in art class yesterday, I couldn't believe my eyes. The transformation from a blur of colors to a unique and beautiful display of art made me once again see the miracle of adoption and raising children. At first my kids could not see how their painting would amount to much, but as they continued to pour their love and effort into it, it gradually became what you see now-- the labor of their hard work, faithfulness to see it to the end, and though they all had set out to do the same task-- each turned out unlike the other.

They are all so beautiful in their own way-- I love them all!


If you didn't notice, Andrew's is missing. That little stinker took it to his teacher this morning.


The immense satisfaction of creating something so beautiful made my children so proud of themselves. If only all children had an outlet for their inner creativity. If I ever did a summer camp for children in orphanages, I would definitely encourage this activity.

~~~

Hope you have a wonderful weekend. I am heading out in a few hours-- running around doing last minute food preparations and home school.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

It's All How You Look At It

How is that your glass can be half empty... much of the time and then all of a sudden it is spilling over with this intense gratitude for your children and husband? One moment you feel like you are up to your eyeballs in frustration, impatience, and discontent and an hour later you can see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

It all matters how you look at things... or don't look at things. Are you intentionally looking for God's blessings that creatively take the form of all your daughters giggling and laughing at their spur of the moment leg shaving slumber party, or a little boy proudly boasting that he brushed his teeth all by himself, or your first worm in your compost pile? Do you even consider things such as a cold coke hiding in the back of the fridge or having a pleasant conversation with a sibling a blessing?

How are you doing life? Are you going through the motions or are you choosing to look for the little things that can make your cup runneth over? Do you dread pulling back the covers in the morning or do you give your hubby one last snuggle before waking up the kids as you thank God for your good night's sleep? Are you excited that your freezer has tonight's dinner fixings or do you loathe having to cook yet another meal for you family?

As I get older, I can finally feel the loss of having looked at my glass as half empty for so many years. Though I have recently began to live life in closer intimacy with my Father God allowing Him to fill my cup, I do wonder what I have already missed out on. Maybe I would have other children, maybe I would be living somewhere else, maybe my loved ones would also have a relationship with Him.

I know that with God it is never too late, and I can see how my past has paved my desire to live in His will today--- he has even used my past to passionately share the Gospel with my children so that they can realize what a blessing it is to living their life for Him now in the present.

Wow! All I can say is wow! I probably sound like I am rambling, but I can't help it. I just know, and feel, and can see all the little things that make my cup runneth over. Nothing huge by any means, just lots of little things-- but I can see them clear as day. It makes life so much easier when I have my cup as a reminder of all the good things in my life. It doesn't keep the bad things from happening-- I rather see the cup as God's gentle reminder that there is always goodness in my life simply because He gave me life. He chose to breath life into me-- little ol' me. And He breathed life into you too.

So how do you view your cup? Is it needing a refill, or is it plenty full with the little blessings that God brings you through your family, your morning devotional with Him, your extra hour to sleep in, your job, your church, your freshly washed basket of laundry, your husband, your morning cup of coffee, or your good morning kiss from a little boy with a milk mustache?

I encourage you to take a few moments and spend some quiet time reflecting on the last few days. Jot down five blessings that fill your cup. Even if they seem insignificant by themselves, when they are coupled with other little blessings they add up to something so much more. Together, God uses them to fill your cup so that it could runneth over with His love and grace that He has for you. And if you have time, I'd love it if you shared them too. As a friend always says to me as we part from our conversation-- "Be blessed!"

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Anticipation

This week has flown by. I am in awe of what God is doing in our family and I guess being in the midst of it all makes the time fly. Reading Redeeming Love to the girls in the evening has become such an anticipated event that the evenings run fairly smooth-- or else I don't read that night.

Nearly every one of my kids has been to the dentist in the last two weeks. Eleven kids and ten cavities later-- I can't wait till we are dentist appointment free for the next six months. One of my children said we should move to another country where people don't go to the dentist. I told her to be careful what she wishes for.

The morning of my mammogram, I had to reschedule because they didn't have the right code. Thankfully, I had only waited for twenty minutes before they figured that one out. I took Galina across the street for her blood test not because she needs one, but because our new doctor routinely gives them for physicals. Wouldn't you know it--they couldn't find a vein to poke and sent us home with instructions to drink more water. I was nearly in tears about the hour of waiting being lost until the tech promised that she would not make us wait when we came back. Let's just say-- Galina has been floating for the last thirty-six hours.

Paul went on his first field trip today. His smile was pretty darn big when he got home indicating that it went well. I'm glad except for now Jonny keeps wondering when the home schoolers are going on a field trip. Good question.

Today we discussed Rachel's high school plan. What it boils down to is this-- Rachel needs an IEP. This will help determine her curriculum all through high school. Without one, she will be expected to take regular classes where she will struggle all over again. I am expected to put my request in writing and see what happens. If getting Rachel tested turns out to be a battle, I will seriously consider homeschooling her on my own without the help of a charter.

While shopping at Costco tonight I learned something new about my newest daughter. Not only does she love fish, but she loves smoked salmon even more! Only having cooked fish sticks a handful of times in fifteen years, it was a stretch for me to put the fresh salmon in our cart. As I looked at Galina's smile with delight, I felt it was the least I could do to show her my love. She would have preferred the smoked salmon but I told her that would be saved for her birthday!

In just two days, I am off to my women's getaway on the beach! I am so excited! Though some might think I could really use the time away, there are ladies that are coming that need it so much more. If you could just take a moment to lift them up in prayer, you would be blessing them a whole bunch.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I Really Don't Enjoy It

Funny how my kids think that I "enjoy" being the parent. I get to tell them what to do, when to do it, and if they don't-- I get the fun of disciplining them. Oh yea, what fun. If only they knew how hard it was. And so I told them. "It is not easy. It brings me so much sadness to have to take this away from you. I wonder if I am making the right decision. I battle with picking and choosing which issues I want to address by deciding which one is bigger or if I should not fight a particular battle at all. I wish you could understand how hard it is to have to discipline you even though I am doing it out of love. Only when you are a parent will you truly understand. Once you are grown we can be friends, but for now, I am the parent and you are the child."

Now I share, a few stories.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
One of my older boys was "addicted" to an online game. He plays it all the time and gets grumpy if he has not had his "fix". It has nothing to do with the opposite sex-- in fact it is fairly harmless. The main issue I have is that he plays it too much and cannot keep it to a few hours a day. He still gets excellent grades. On one hand I am incredibly thankful that this is where his interest lies rather than with girls, going out, and getting into trouble, but on the other hand, I feel like I am tolerating his endless hours on the computer to keep him from moving onto more risque activities. After trying to come up with a reasonable schedule for his computer usage resulting in chores and family members being ignored, I took away his computer privilege. When I did this, I literally almost cried for him as I watched him end his membership. At first it was hard on him, but he is now participating in the family more, and returning to his old self. Yes, I may have my son back, but nothing about this was fun. Though I questioned my decision, I can already see a different child.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
One of my daughters likes to "dress up". From the shadow on her eyelids, to the chain around her neck, to the bow in her hair, to the lotion on her hands, down to her shoes, she likes to look attractive. There is not necessarily anything wrong with this except for the fact that it appears that this is where she finds her worth-- in her appearance. For church on Sunday when she especially wants to look her best for God, I have questioned her motives. Is she really wanting to do this for God, or is she so insecure that she needs to look beautiful in order to draw attention to herself? I remind her how beautiful her heart is (and her natural beauty on the outside) and that if she were really wanting to be her best for God she would spend time preparing her heart for His message and make sure to keep the attention off herself by not "dressing up" so much. Afterall, Church on Sunday is where we come together and worship as a body of Believers in God-- not to worship one the Reed girls. Praising God for her response.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
It is easy to assume that with such a large family with many kids in the same age range, we would be dealing with most of the same issues. In some ways that is true, but on most levels that is so not the case. Each child has such a unique personality, and each child is in a different place in their life. Six of my girls are seventeen months apart from youngest to oldest, but their maturity levels vary greatly. While vanity is an issue with a few of my girls, some of them are so far from it.... like a breath of fresh air. Some are characterized by helping around the house without no lip service while one or two of them insist on finding the loophole and then arguing till they are blue in the face once their behavior is brought to light. A few of my girls are content loving animals, while some are planning their weddings. What I find truly amazing, is how God stitched our family together. He knows how I am... and He knows how they are. Though our personalities clash at times, and our lives would hardly be considered peaceful and quiet-- we compliment each other in ways only God could have orchestrated. He has blessed us beyond measure with each other.

Through the good times and bad.... the smiles and trials-- he never gives us more than we can handle.
And during the times when I question that, I remember....
With Him all things are possible.

For Some Crazy Reason...

my girls have this overwhelming desire to learn Russian. As I type this, they are next to me learning how to pronounce certain words. :)

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Example to Live By

Adoption has been a life changing journey in my life. As a daughter to just my earthly mother and father, I only knew a love far greater when I was accepted with open arms into my Heavenly Father's eternal family when He adopted me as His beloved daughter. At that moment, I felt so special... rested in peace for the first time knowing that I was to be forever His.... forever and forever.

My Heavenly Father is so much more than just my Father-- He is my example. And I am totally undeserving of His love.. His grace... His perfect presence in my life.

The romantic side of me hopes that my children felt the same way when we first adopted them. It would sure make adoption so much easier. But oh how I know all too well, that that most likely wasn't the case. It's not their fault... they are merely children and to expect them to understand adoption at that level is way too much to ask. As the parent, I want to teach them that their adoption was just as special. Though I've been welcomed into His family with open arms-- I struggle moment by moment with living up to my redemption. I think we all do.

I am jealous of others. I am envious too. I yell and I scream and I make countless mistakes. I fight the temptation of other idols... daily. I compare my sins to others. I seek justice--better known as revenge-- often seeking to do things better, faster, and more to my liking. I am manipulative without even trying, and I pretend that I have it all together when I don't. I get angry, I can be resentful, and I struggle to find the joy that surrounds my very being. I'm not very gentle, I worry, and keep a record of wrong without even trying. I put myself above others, I put others above God, and I struggle to accept that in God's eyes I am beautiful.

And yet He gives His love unconditionally.... never ceasing.... and though my faith walk comes and goes with the tide.... I always come back stronger than ever because I know that He hasn't turned His back on me. He is my Father, I am His child--- only through adoption.

This is my example.
My gentle, gracious, wonderful, amazing, example.

When one of my children yell at me... this is my example. When one of my children disobey me day in and day out for days on end... He is my example. When one of my children hits another one of my children, pulls out my freshly planted flowers, and pees in the pool on purpose... He is my example. On the days that I have been pushed to edge, instigated to lose my temper, and left made to feel inadequate by one of my children... He is my example. When one of my children become forgetful,manipulative, or disrespectful... He is forever and ever my example.

And so I have a choice. What am I going to do with that example? I could ignore it and allow myself to slowly suffocate in the endless sea of muck that sin represents... and eventually... I would either stop fighting and drown, or I would become bitter and hardened to it and let it feed into me-- thus destroying us all.

Or I can daily ask him to fill me with grace, enough to pour over into my children. They need it too. As time goes on, and I learn to joyfully.... wholeheartedly live because of my adoption, I pray that God uses me to help my children live life bathed in grace because of theirs.

May I follow God's example as to plant a deep desire in my children to grow closer to Him-- the One who began it all.... and showed through example, the redemptive love that only adoption can provide.