5 days ago
Friday, June 25, 2010
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,[a] O God.
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!
Every day I wake up thanking God for the blessings He has given me. And yet, why me? I don't deserve anything, much less these children that He has given me to raise up in the admonition of the Lord. That is a HUGE calling...one that I'm afraid I fail at quite often. Some days I feel like the ONLY time I am doing any good for these children is while we are all sleeping!
Yet He chose me anyway. In willingness, He will give ability I suppose. I get told all the time how well behaved my children are, and I don't say that to brag. They are children after all...MY children! They have a LOT going against them in that regard!! And I don't feel like I have necessarily "raised them right". But for the grace of God...
What I have tried to always do is make them aware of those around them. When we go anywhere, people look at us. Why wouldn't you? We are a freak show to so many! If I weren't me, I'd look and stare! (Side note: I have those little stick people on the back of my truck...10 of them so far...and quite frequently, I'll have someone who was behind me, speed up to go around me, only to slow down when they get to my window as they want to see who this crazy person is with all these kids! I always hope that I am not what they expected.)
Back to my kiddos. I have always stressed that there are many of us, so we need not get in other people's way. At the grocery store, they have been trained to walk on one side of the aisle, behind my cart. If you are 2-3 or younger, you ride in the cart. When you turn 3-4, you are promoted to holding the side of the cart. When you turn 5-6, then you are promoted again to walking behind me with the big kids. (Samara was recently promoted and she is SO proud!) I don't want my big family to ever be a bother. I teach my children that nobody else should be able to hear their conversation in the store. If you are talking to your brother, standing right next to you, I shouldn't be able to hear you. We strive to stay out of the way of others and to be a blessing, not a bother. Many times I will turn around to find one of my big boys not with us...they will have stopped to hold a door open for others...without me asking them to! Those instances thrill my heart.
Lest you start cussing me, we are ALWAYS in training!! I don't know that there is ever a time that we go through the store without me having to say "Where are you supposed to be?" or "I shouldn't be able to hear you." When we get in the checkout line, my kids unload the carts (yes, I said CARTS...plural!) and then reload the bags. They help load the truck and then do all the unloading and putting away of the groceries. They have become quite efficient with the process.
So, we get through the grocery store without issue, almost always. (And yes, I almost always take all 8 children with me to the store to do our bi-weekly shopping...can't train them if they aren't with you!) But so what? Does it really make a difference that your children are well behaved if they don't have eternal salvation? Sure, it makes it a lot easier to take your kids places, but really? All of that daily training is pointless if I forget the most important training of all...the indescribable love and salvation of our Heavenly Father.
I have this verse posted in our school room: "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." 3 John 1:4 Isn't that the truth? But it doesn't just happen. It is our responsibility as parents of the children God has given to us to TEACH them...to "train up a child in the way he should go". This was not an "if you feel like it, would you tell your kids a little bit about me?" Nope...it is a COMMAND...whether you feel like it or not. You love your kids more than anything, right? Then shouldn't teaching them about Christ be at the very top of your to do list? (I may start stepping on some toes here...please know that I am not just talking to you, but as I type these words, God is totally speaking to my own heart.) Tell me what will be more important in eternity: that your child was the best softball player on the team, even though you had to miss church for most of his games, or that your child is walking in the truth? Now, I'm not saying that you can't be a good Christian AND play sports...I just used that one as an example...I don't even personally know anyone who does this...I promise! What I'm trying to say is that GOD should be at the top of our to do list. (Or for my homeschooling friends, at the top of your curriculum list!)
On June 13, 2010, we had Emma Claire dedicated at our church. I needed to get it done as quickly as possible...it's a stupid little fear that I know is totally ridiculous, but I waited two weeks to have Jacob dedicated...he died the day before his dedication. I also know that you don't HAVE to have your child dedicated in order for them to spend their eternity with the Savior. Our dedications are just that...we as parents, and the church, are dedicating this child to the Lord, and promising to train them in the teaching of the Lord. "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life." Psalm 139:23-24
Sunday, June 13, 2010
I promised you details about Emma's "gotcha" day, so here we go. But first, I want to give you a little background as to the court process when it involves DHS foster care and adoption. When you adopt privately/through an agency, you are given a finalization date, you show up, and that's that. Now, sometimes, depending upon the situation, you might have
been to the same judge when the birth parents relinquished.
In DHS court, under normal circumstances, you have been going to court with/for your foster children for 6 months to 3 or 4 years. You and the court go through a LOT together. Even if you haven't had the child very long (much like Emma's case) or you are doing straight adoption, in most cases the judge has been involved in the child's life since they came into care. These judges love to see these cases played out.
In our case, not only had the judge been overseeing Emma's case for 10 months, but he was also the judge in Jacob's case. Jacob was one of Judge Kirby's first cases when he moved to the juvenile court. And for some reason, Jacob touched that courtroom and those who worked there. I have no idea why, but they were all very fond of him.
So, Thursday morning (very early for us) we all piled into Judge Kirby's courtroom at 9am. It was just our immediate family's, but 18 people crowded in front of the bench looks like a bunch! Judge Kirby made sure everyone felt welcome at the bench. We chatted for a minute while waiting on one of the DHS workers. (HaHa...such irony.) And then Judge Kirby swore us all in...even the little kids! Our attorney questioned us as to why we wanted to adopt Emma, was it in the best interest of her and our family, etc. (All the while, she was beaming from ear to ear!) At one point, she asked if Emma had attached to us since coming to live with us and then she laughed and said, "Well, I see that she has!" It was very obvious in the courtroom that Emma was already a part of this family. And then it was done. The judge ordered it and congratulated us all.
But then...he looked at me and said, "How have you been doing. Are you doing okay?" I told him that we were actually doing very well, but I appreciated his concern. And he said, "Well, I pray for you...all of you (pointing to our entire family). You are a special family to this courtroom." I promised to keep him updated on our family and send pictures often. (The judges LOVE pictures.) When I send Judge Kirby pictures from the day, I think I will send him the story behind our Emma. (Oh...did I mention that Judge Kirby goes to church where ChildSHARE offices out of? Yeah, small world!)
We shook hands and walked out of the courtroom. And she was ours. Emma Claire Phillips. God's promise had come to fruition. God's faithfulness shown through in that courtroom. And 10 minutes later, our attorney handed us the papers that make it all official...the adopton decree. What a perfect end to such an
Remember that time when I wrote about this? Well, I still have this can of formula sitting on my tv stand in my bedroom as a constant reminder of God and His promises.
A year ago this week, I posted this picture:
We found out on June 13, 2009, that we were indeed going to be adopting a baby girl! God was granting me the desires of my heart. Now, if you have been reading this blog very long, you already know that we did not end up adopting this baby at birth, as was planned.
Today, June 13, 2010, we had this same baby, Emma Claire, dedicated at our church. God's plans CANNOT be thwarted. Even when everything around us looks as though it's going in a different direction than what we thought should happen, even then, God's plans CANNOT be thwarted.
I cannot put into words the feelings that I have toward this baby that God has given to us. I am not sure how it is when you finalize a private adoption, but when you finalize an adoption after having the child in your home as a foster placement, the relief, the joy, the connections, they don't just happen as you walk out of the courtroom. There is this wall that you put up...maybe a better explanation would be a wall of layers. With a foster child, the goal is reunification. A child can be in your home for 3-4 years with a goal of reunification. That's a long time. That's a LOT of layers on your wall.
I remember after Jacob's adoption was finalized, I thought all those walls had been torn down. After all, we had known for 10 months that we would be adopting him. His case was easy, nobody contesting anything, no worries. But not until the Judge signed the papers did that final wall come down. It was a wall I didn't even know existed. He was all ours.
That's what I am starting to feel with Emma. She is ALL ours. It's done. The walls have come down. I can now let myself love her completely.
"You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to know!" Psalm 139:5-6
Thursday, June 10, 2010
We were filled with laughter,
and we sang for joy.
And the other nations said,
“What amazing things the Lord has done for them.”
Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us!
Restore our fortunes, Lord,
as streams renew the desert.
Those who plant in tears
will harvest with shouts of joy.
They weep as they go to plant their seed,
but they sing as they return with the harvest.