Sunday, December 18, 2011

WE HAVE WORDS!

It's official.
Miles is talking.

Well, talking might be a bit of an exaggeration.
Miles is saying words.

Sign language is still our main form of communication, but he is adding new sounds/words every week.

We are struggling big time with behavior stuff, but for today, we are celebrating the little things. The baby steps. We are celebrating the gift of words!

:: Miles eating an ah-po ::

Friday, December 16, 2011

THE 'FRO

Miles' hair is crazy so we finally caved in and got it cut.
It was time.
I was in complete denial, but it really needed to be done.

His ends were getting dry and knotted real easy, making getting ready in the mornings a bit of a nightmare. So, in an effort to make it healthier, we cut it.

I really did not think he would do good.
I had braced myself for the worst.
So, my super fabulous hair girl came in before the salon opened to cut down on noise and we armed ourselves with a bag full of candy, toys, books, and electronics. Turns out, all we needed was a lollipop. Well, two to be exact.

:: All picked out and ready to go ::

:: Miles getting his hair cut like a big boy ::

:: Two lollipops later, all done ::

Thursday, December 8, 2011

CHRISTMAS BAND CONCERT

Alex is in the 6th grade band this year at school. I was surprised when he told me he wanted to try band because he's never been into music, but he loves it. It's his favorite class.

He plays the trombone and actually really good.
I now know more about the trombone than I thought I ever would.
I found one at a flea market, had a couple of dints removed from the slide, and it has turned out to be a nice starter instrument for him (for a fraction of the cost). I love flea markets!

The Christmas Band Concert was tonight and the students did a great job!

:: Alex getting his music ready ::

:: Alex introducing the 2nd song ::

:: The brass section ::

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

READ THESE POSTS IF...

...you are praying about adoption or foster care.
...you are in the process of adopting.
...you have adopted.

Seriously, you have to read them.
They are so good!

Monday, October 17, 2011

LOVE IS A CHOICE


I am married to the most amazing man in the world.
I don't deserve him.
But I am better because of him.

He lives out Jesus to me.

He's not perfect.
But he is quick to extend grace, love and forgiveness.

He knows my flaws and my shortcomings and loves me anyway.
He forgives when I don't deserve it.
He's quick to say sorry, even when it's my fault.
And he doesn't hold a grudge.

Who does that?
My man, that's who.

By choosing to love me as Christ loved the church, Jesus shines.
Which makes me want to be more like Jesus to him.
Which makes me better. And our marriage better.
All because he made a choice.

I am so blessed to have a man who is willing to lead.
He leads gently.
By example.

After we got married, he told me that if I leave him he's going with me.
I thought it was funny.
He makes me laugh.

But 15 years later,
I am surprised at the security that statement has brought me.
Because I know they aren't empty words.
He means it.

The statement comes from a place of insecurity for him, but God has used it in our marriage to get us to the place to not only say we are all in, but to live it. To choose it. To fight for it.

So, good, bad, or ugly,
'till death do us part' is the only way we are getting out of this marriage.
And I love that.

Today isn't special.
It isn't the day we met, our first date or our anniversary.
It's just a Monday.
And today, we choose love.

Monday, September 26, 2011

THE HAIR...

I love Miles' hair.
LOVE IT!
But it is Crazy with a capital C!

Fixing Miles' hair in the mornings is usually a battle, so when days come around where I can put it off until after his nap I jump at the chance.  He has serious bed head so it helps to only have to fix it once.

Even though putting it off until later in the day is an option (an option that we only take when we don't have to leave the house), his hair MUST be done everyday.  If not, it is a tangled mess the next day.  Not only do we have to get the knots out, but we also have to empty it of any stored food.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Miles uses his big beautiful curly hair as food storage.
Not by accident.
On purpose.

It's not hard to see the food if it's a potato chip, like the picture below, but when it's something like chocolate cheerios, it could be a couple of days before we find them.  And that may have actually happened, but I would be too embarrassed to tell you if it did :)





Saturday, September 3, 2011

MAKING PROGRESS


It has been a few months since I've given an update on Miles.
Miles has been in therapy for over 6 months and is making some real progress.

We have been able to see little differences here and there, but the last month or two it's been amazing. He is now making progress that people who don't see him everyday notice. It is so exciting to watch his little personality come alive.

Miles is now making great eye contact, responds to his name, babbles (lots of consonant sounds), waves bye bye, lets us hold/rock him, doesn't bang his head near as much, doesn't spend as much time upside down, and initiates play with us. His hips and core are also getting a lot stronger. His balance is really improving and he can walk at more than one speed. He does good going up stairs, but going down is still very difficult.

Our biggest struggle with Miles is communication. He is constantly frustrated and expresses it through biting and pinching. The only word he says regularly is 'bye' and he usually says it when he wants someone to go away. He also says words that sound like 'mama', 'dada', 'book', 'apple', 'duck', and 'no'. He will sign 'more', but we don't always know what he wants more of. So, since his motor skills are getting better, they have started sign language with him at therapy. I am so amazed and excited how quick he is picking up on it. I have learned over 80 signs in the last week to be able to work with Miles at home, and we are having so much fun with it. Miles has started consistently signing yes, no, eat, milk, book, car, and monkey. If he doesn't know how to do a sign, he will put his little hands in my hands so I can help him say it. It is so sweet! I think this is going to be a huge help for him.

His therapy schedule was adjusted this summer to combine therapies so he could move from going 5 days a week down to 3 days a week. It has helped SO much! It allows his daytime routine to be more consistent, which means no more falling asleep during lunch.

So, now that we are on a schedule that gives us some breathing room, we are finally going to start Developmental Therapy. Miles' little quirks can be overwhelming sometimes, but this will give us the tools to make the day to day stuff be more manageable.

A new book on Sensory Processing Disorder was recommended to me yesterday that I can't wait to get my hands on. The more I learn about SPD, the more I am amazed how complex our bodies were designed. "Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! You workmanship is marvelous - how well I know it." {Psalm 139:14 NLT}

Friday, August 19, 2011

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALEX!

Alex turned 12 this week.
We spent the evening tonight celebrating his birthday with lots of family and a few friends.

Alex LOVES baseball cards.
He is a big collector.
So, this year, he wanted a Baseball Themed Party.

We couldn't find any invitations that we loved, so we made our own.
We took unopened boxes of Cracker Jacks, attached his party info to the back, stuck on address labels and mailed them.



Here are a couple of pictures from the party...




Friday, August 12, 2011

MIDDLE SCHOOL

Today is Alex's first day of school.
First day of 6th Grade.

I thought I would be a little stressed when he reached Middle School.
But I'm not at all.

I'm so excited for him.
He is so ready to move on to this next phase of life.

He is a leader.
He makes good choices.
He puts a lot of thought into who he surrounds himself with.
He has a big heart and cares about others.
He really is ready.

Alex- You are such an amazing kid! You were created with a purpose and you were made to change your world. I love you so much and I'm so proud of you. Your mission this year hasn't changed... {Love God, Love Others, Go Tell}. I have know doubt that you can do it!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

ONE MAN'S TRASH...

I've been in the market for a headboard for our bed for a while now, but I just can't seem to find something that I love - in my price range. I was looking for something that looks kind of old. A brand new bed would look out of place because there are several pieces of furniture in the room that look kind of rustic.

Pieces like this...


This is my FAVORITE piece of furniture in our house.

We picked it up in Roanoke, Texas six years ago from a little shop that was going out of business. It's about nine feet long, made out of old barn wood and complete with a glass top. It was one of those 'right place at the right time' moments because we ended up getting it for a hundred dollars! I've been offered a couple of thousand dollars for it, more than once, but I'll never sell it. I'm not a real sentimental person, but this piece has a story and it's very special to me. Keith says everything is for sell for the right price, but even he knows that does not apply here.

Another treasure that we have that Keith found for me about eight years ago is an old screen door. He found it on the side of the road in Albany, Georgia and it survived our moves to Texas, Florida, and Arkansas. The movers always gave us funny looks when they loaded and unloaded it. I think they thought we took it off the house.

When we moved to Arkansas, the door never found a home.
Until yesterday.

I had to get something out of the attic yesterday and saw my screen door in the back corner. I had forgotten all about it, but when I saw it, I immediately thought...

...HEADBOARD!

So I drug it down and had Keith help me hang it on the wall.
I went ahead and made a banner to hang on the door out of the leftover burlap I had from Miles' birthday party.


I LOVE how it turned out!
(And I love the fact that it cost me nothing!)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MILES!

I can't believe Miles turns TWO today.
It just doesn't seem possible.

He is such a blessing to us.
I can't even begin to imagine doing life without him.

Miles has so many people in his life who love him and would love to help us celebrate him, but he's not at a place yet where he can handle all the attention.

So, we had a small party yesterday at our house with our immediately family.
We didn't want to overwhelm him.

I even started singing 'Happy Birthday' to him several times a day for the last week in an effort to help him get ready.

It didn't work.
He was overwhelmed.

Happy Birthday Sweet Miles!
God has big, big plans for your life.
After all, you were His idea!









Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What is the GOSPEL?

G - GOD | O - OUR | S - SINS | P - PAYING | E - EVERYONE | L - LIFE


The irreducible minimum of the gospel message can be communicated in an acrostic with six letters in it that happen to spell out the word "gospel".

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sins separate us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds. (Genesis 4 - Malachi 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew - Luke)
Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John)
Life with Jesus starts now and lasts forever. (Acts - Revelation)

Click here to read about about the GOSPEL Journey message.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

MOTHER'S DAY

I am so blessed to have these two little guys in my life.
So blessed to be called their Mom.
Alex surprised me this morning with this...

Yes it's a bottle of Coca-Cola.
But not just any Coke.
It's 'Hecho en Mexico'.

And 'Made in Mexico' means that it is made with real sugar.
Which means it's not made with high fructose corn syrup like regular Coke.
And that's only a big deal if you have crazy food allergies like I do.

This year, we gave our Mom's this...
Keith and I were both blessed with amazing Mom's, so in their honor, we gave to help provide clean water to a village in Ethiopia, which will free women from the responsibility to search and fetch water and make it possible for them to lead productive lives of hope and dignity.

This is the second Mother's Day Miles has been home.
And the second year we get to celebrate Fikirte, Miles' birth mother.

I am so thankful for her.
So blessed by her sacrifice.
And I proudly share the title of Mother with her.

Happy Mother's Day, Fikirte!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

PRAYER BOX

UPDATE: {1/12/17} I have changed this system over the years as our ministry has changed. I also went to a smaller box to make it easier to travel with. So I updated the pictures and some of the information to make it more accurate.

A couple of years ago, I started helping Alex with his personal time with God.

I knew he needed to learn to do it on his own, just him and the Lord, but I struggled with feeling like he was too young.  I liked spending that time with him and the thought of stepping back and letting him do it on his own meant that he was growing up.

But, I want his faith to be his own.
I want him to know what he believes and why he believes it.
And I want him to know, first hand, that God's Word speaks to every area of his life.

So, I started looking for a devotion book that would guide Alex through God's Word, not act as a substitute for it. I wanted something that would not only walk him through scripture, but help him learn to apply it to his everyday life. There are so many great resources out there, that I didn't have any trouble finding something.

After we found a way to help him read his Bible, I started looking for a way to help Alex organize his prayer time.

To simplify it.
To help him stay focused.
To help him keep up with who he was praying for, what he was praying about, and when God answers those prayers.

There are not a lot of resources on practical ways to helping children learn to pray.
So we created our own system.

Several years ago, a good friend showed me the way she was taught to memorize scripture, and we discovered that we can use it to organize our prayer.

I absolutely loved how the system turned out, so I ended up, not only making a box for Alex, but making a box for myself also and I use it every single day.


Here is my Prayer Box...



Everything and everyone I am praying for gets their own blank index card and that index card gets filed in one of these three sections...

DAILY
I have several index cards behind my Daily tab... Keith, Alex, Miles, then friends and family who have somewhat urgent prayer requests, each have their own card. And on that card, I write out the things I am praying for along with the date.

WEEKLY
My weekly tabs have very specific things that I want to make sure I pray for at least once a week.

Monday {Small Groups, Leaders, and Bible Study Girls}
Tuesday {Local Church}
Wednesday {Relatives}
Thursday {Friends}
Friday {United States of America}
Saturday {Lost and Unchurched}
Sunday {Missionaries, World Missions, and Church Planter Friends}

MONTHLY
The last section has 31 numbered tabs. One for everyday of the month.

This is where most of my index cards are filed. I have made cards for our family members, friends, staff, ministry friends all around the country, couples in our small group, the other small group leaders, etc... I think you get the idea.

Each of those cards are placed randomly behind a number.

This is how it works...

Let's say that it is Tuesday, April 6th.

First, I start by taking out the index cards behind my Daily tab and pray through those.

Then, I would go to my Tuesday tab, which is the day I pray specifically for our Church, and pull out the cards behind that tab and pray through those cards.


Lastly, if it's the 6th of the month, I would jump to the number 6 tab and pray through those cards.



I love how easy and organized it is.
I also love that it keeps the answered prayers in front of me.

When we lived in Florida, a staff member found out he had cancer. So, I found the index card that had his family on it, wrote down the date and the prayer request, and moved it behind my daily tab so I could pray for him everyday. After he went through treatment and finally got word that he was cancer free, I wrote the date that God answered the prayer and moved his index card back into the monthly section. Now, when I pray for his family, I can also see how God has been faithful to them and it reminds me to praise Him and thank Him for that.

I realize that this might not work for everyone. I have a lot of friends who keep prayer journals, but since I can't read my own handwriting, journaling never worked for me.

You can also use this system for children who are too young to read by adding pictures of friends and family members.

What are some ways you encourage Spiritual Habits in your children?
What are some resources that you think we should know about?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

THE MUSIC MAN

The 5th graders at Shiloh Christian School have been working very hard the last few months to get ready for their 5th grade musical, The Music Man. They had three performances the last two days and they did an amazing job!

Alex has never done anything like that before and I was so surprised how much he enjoyed it. He played Ewart Dunlop who was a member of the School Board and part of the Quartet.

Thank you Mrs. Darr & Mrs. Duell for investing in our children!
What a blessing!

Great job Shiloh 5th graders!





Wednesday, April 27, 2011

MILES (update)

Miles has done a lot of testing and evaluations in the last 3 months.

He is either in Speech, Physical or Occupational Therapy 5 days a week.
He works so hard and we are so proud of him.

It's a lot, but it's necessary.

We received his approval to start Developmental Therapy, but we are putting that on hold until we can get him on somewhat of a normal schedule.
Mainly, because this happens everyday...



At Miles' 21 month check-up, his Pediatrician referred us to a Neurodevelopmental Pediatrician and a Pediatric Neuropsychologist. We were able to meet with them for over 2 hours and left very encouraged.

The one thing we have to factor into every equation with Miles is the first 8 months of his life... and before.

The unknowns.

Things like prenatal care, delivery, nutrition, illnesses, etc.
Some things we know, most we don't.
Which makes trying to figure out neurological stuff more difficult.

They said besides his sensory issues, he may be dealing with some possible attachment issues. So, we have contacted an Attachment Counselor for an assessment. Since Miles is difficult to engage, makes such poor eye contact, and has serious social issues, that can make attaching a little difficult. Even though he seems to be bonding just fine, we want to make sure we have the tools necessary to help him continue to form a strong, healthy bond with us.

They want to do an MRI to further rule out neurological issues, and blood work to do some muscle enzyme testing. But, they are going to give us time to see how he does in therapy before going that route.

If you don't spend time with Miles everyday, you probably wouldn't notice the progress he's making. But we see it. He still has a long way to go, but we love celebrating the little things he is doing.

His girls at Children's Therapy T.E.A.M- Kara, Melissa, Holly, Tabitha (and occasionally Julie and Cindy)- are so good with him and we are so thankful for all their hard work and patience.

After our assessment with the Attachment Counselor and Miles' up coming eye appointment, he will be DONE with all his testing and evaluation appointments.

We are continually reminded that even though there are many details of Miles' first 8 months are unknown to us, they are absolutely not unknown to God. He made Miles wonderfully and perfectly and we are so thankful for that!

::

"You made all the delicate,
inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of san
And when I wake up, you are still with me!"


{Psalm 139:13-18}