Monday, January 2, 2017

Homeschool Helper: MLK Unit Study

Homeschool Helpers

A new addition to the blog will be homeschool helpers.  These may be my own unit studies or links to other site with great tools/resources.

First helper- Martin Luther King, Jr Unit Study  (Grades 4-6)

Unit study covers early life of MLK, state of America during the time of MLK, review of Jim Crow laws, Vocabulary, and timeline of events.  Unit can be covered in 2 weeks or extended to accommodate your homeschool lesson plan.


Comment with a link for your favorite unit studies for MLK.

One Word for 2017

I had a friend post her one word for 2016 and I was intrigued.  Life sped past and I never made an official choice for 2016.  As 2017 has arrived I decided to choose my one word.  One word to encourage. One word to remind.  One word to cling to in 2017.  An alternative to the list of New Years Resolution fiasco and the ability to focus in more intently.

2017 will be FREE. Now this doesn't mean I will become a super saavy coupon lady or I will give away everything we have.  I will focus on the freedom in Christ I have.

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness and the result is eternal life.  Romans 6:22

What is freedom?  You could argue that freedom exists for all outside of Christ.  We can make our own decisions and way through life. But true freedom only seen in Christ is the freedom to walk away from sin, regret, and inadequacy.  The freedom to know the debt for my sin was paid and I now can be as God originally designed for me.  Pure and holy.  A pursuit that will not be fully reached until the day I stand before God but one that is a reality.

For me personally, freedom is no longer clinging to insecurities, fear, and worry.  No longer concerned with tomorrow.

Does this mean all my troubles will disappear simply for remembering my freedom.  Absolutely not, what does happen is that my joy...true joy is in the Lord.  My house, my job, my relationships all very important but they do not bring me my joy.  I will enjoy life on Earth until I am called home but my every day happiness cannot be in those things that are temporary....that will pass away in time.

Every day happiness....

Knowing Jesus Christ my savior.  Understanding what HE has already done to bring me the life I have.

Every day happiness....

Despite the rocky roads of life.  Death, loss of job, financial trouble, relationship problems, health issues....what remains true is Jesus.

And THAT my friends in freedom.  The assurance that I have him.

Bring on 2017 and what lessons both joyful or full of pain may come.  I will cling to Jesus and rejoice in the FREE.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Been Awhile Ya'll

Life got busy and life was hard so stopping to write something to inspire the masses just didn't seem fit.  So I hid.  I hid in the busyness of each day.  Pushing through each day hoping the next would get better. And then it happened.  I witnessed my daughter wishing for something different than what she had.  Wishing for the bigger prize all the while missing what she had right now.

I stopped in my tracks and broke down.  I could see in my daughter what I had done for years.  Thinking of better days.  The future when things would make sense.  Days passed.  Years passed.  And each met with its own challenges, sorrows, and happiness.

Maybe it is because I turned 39 this year.  Maybe it is my hormones. Maybe it is because God is bringing me to a place of complete content.    Finally after all the years of a twinge of discontentment God was showing me just how wrong I was.

When I consider all the blessings I have seen in my life, why or how could I ever dream of more.  When I focus on my salvation how can I ever desire more.  I have everything I need and more.  When I envision my most loved thing in my life it pales in comparison to my Lord and Savior.  THAT is where you can reach contentment.

By no means have I arrived but slowly God is chipping away at my selfish human nature and molding me more and more in his image.  It is painful.  It is heart wrenching.  But it is beautiful at the same time.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Why do my black daughters fear black men?

Our girls are black.  We are not.  Nothing I do will change this fact.  My husband and I work diligently (and have from early on) to monitor our comments and thoughts  always viewing race in light of what God calls us to do as Christians.  This was simple to do because neither of us held any racism and never considered ourselves better because of our skin color.  But even without our influence our girls formed an opinion of black men and not a favorable one.  In hindsight I can see what shaped their opinions.  I know in my heart that I did everything I could to avoid causing a negative opinion.  However I think my fault lies in my naivety that if we just didn't speak of color/race then our kids would grow up colorblind.  They would not form any negative opinions.

I can look back through the early years and recognize interactions that helped shape the reality we have today.  I remember early in her life our oldest daughter would refer to young black men as "What's up dudes".  These were not all men but those with saggy jeans, caps turned backwards or longer braided hair.  When we asked her about her comments her answer was "They always nod at Daddy and say 'What's up'.  We didn't think much of it, life went on, and we giggled about her comments.  I mean her comments were not mean or hurtful and we compared it to her comments about cowboys and how she would mimic them with her twang. Today she considers "What's up dudes" as gang members.  Media helped to shape that opinion not me but I never countered it.

As John became involved in community sports the girls were exposed to more diversity than our home and church could provide. We met wonderful people and always enjoyed being involved in the community.  But as with most youth sports there were those whose maturity did not match their age.  So the girls observed fights, belligerent outbursts, and angry words yelled at their dad.  Now before I move on I want to share why I think the negative opinions of black men held true for my girls but not negative opinion of white men because I assure you the ignorance and immature behavior was by all colors, shapes, and sizes.  You see they had a frame a reference for white men....their own dad, their grandfather, uncles, church members.  But as a parent I failed to offer any experiences (or at least limited experiences) to contradict those opinions of black men.  With very few in our social circle and none in our church tipped the scales for their opinions.

Time rocked along and we didn't give much thought to any of it as we were busy living life.  Then the world seemed to shatter and the angst of the black community and the perceived (and actual) injustices of the black community were front and center.  Our girls older now watched things unfold.  We knew with dating, college, marriage, and all things of that nature just around the corner we had to begin having open honest conversations.  Those conversations yielded nothing that raised a red flag.  The girls (as well as our other children) did not have fear or concerns.  Rooted strongly in faith they knew God was in control.

With our move to the DFW area we were excited to find our place in a much more diverse world.  But we realized the church we had began visiting clearly was not diverse.  Even in the midst of a large populated area our girls were yet again the only black attendees.  My heart was heavy and we decided to look at other churches.

We visited a church recommended by one of John's co-workers.  We arrived the first week and the roles were reversed.  In a service of 200+ there were only about 10 other white attendees.  Our girls who I thought would feel more comfortable sat at odds through the entire service.  Afterwards one commented I am not sure that service was appropriate.  I felt like I was hit with a brick.  The two in the family who I thought would leap with joy that they were no longer the odd man out were more uncomfortable than any of the others.  I mean the sermon was theologically sound and the music was some that we had worshipped to in the past (just in a more boisterous manner than our norm).    We opened up conversations again with them and that is when the truth finally emerged.  Our girls were scared.  They were afraid.  And my heart wept.  How did I miss it?  How did I raise two daughters who are black to fear others who look just like them?

The answer simple...because I never showed them an alternative.  Men of the faith that loved the Lord and their families.  Men who were gentle, loving just like their father.  Men who put God before others. We interacted only on a limited social level but never got to know them well.  Never had dinner in their homes.  Never attended church or gatherings.  Never truly got to know them.

So my mistake was walking through the years thinking that just because my girls were black and that we never had any prejudice in our home they would automatically connect with others that looked like them ...and boy was I wrong!  Now we realize we must be more intentional.  intentional in the same way that we were with all other areas of our parenting.  So what does that look like?

Our first step is our family attending a black church.  John and I sitting in a congregation of 200+ black members.  John and I being out of our comfort zone with worship music (but I must tell you I love to see the joy and excitement of praise).  We will listen to a pastor that preachers a much different style than we are used to and a congregation that yells "Amen", stands to clap during the sermon, and is active during the preaching.  It calls us to be uncomfortable to give my kids an experience they deserved many years before.

I know this will not fix all the issues of the world and my girls will still struggle being caught between 2 cultures but what it does is open the door for experiences and conversations.  In the process I will have grow as a person and my life will be enriched.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Live for the Chaos

Having a house full of kids there are certain problems that are just inevitable.  Many nights I will share with my husband how our kids are so destructive....or loud....or messy. He is constantly saying "It is just because there are so many of them."

I know this is true but man oh man do I wish that I could run my house like a boot camp.  Everything on a schedule.  Everything in place.  No room for off schedule interruptions.  Then I wake up from my daydreaming.  Let's face the reality of our lives as a parent.

There WILL be interruptions.
Appliances will break.
Items will be broken and need replaced.
Our kids will make poor choices.
You will be embarrassed.
Jobs will be lost.
Illnesses will happen.

But we MUST  live for the interruptions, crazy days, and troubles we will face.  In those moments we can impact the lives of our little humans the most. In those moments when things don't go our way we can show patience.  In the hectic hours we can show strength.  When everything falls apart we can show our faith.

I will be the first to admit that I lose sight of this.  Thankfully my husband and I make a great team.  We are able to remind the other of this when we have our own "moments".  So here are a few things we can do to help us remember and not get tossed around in life's daily chaos...

1.  Quiet Time:  Now I am not talking about a GNO or weekend getaway (I will have to blog later my views on those) but a true time when you shut out all the world.  A time when the sounds of the dishwasher, washing machine, and endless fighting/bickering/whining is silent.  A time when you can hear yourself breath.  A time when you can truly hear God's voice speaking to you.  Twill be honest some of my quiet time is simply sitting.  I do not read scripture or pray.  I sit quietly thinking about life.

2.  Laughter:  I LOVE to laugh and fortunately for me I have plenty to laugh at.  Whether it is the crazy stuff my kids attempt or my silly husbands jokes, I laugh....and a ton!  Just the other day I was watching my girls bicker more and more and behind the harsh words I could see that they truly were hurting each other.  So one night as just us girls were out for dinner,  I had them share something they loved about each other and something they did to make each other laugh.  Within minutes we were laughing and giggling.  The girls were thinking of happier moments with each other. The disagreements are inevitable but the memories and moments we focus on are impactful.

3. LET IT GO:  Seriously we are not in control.  Life moves along wth too many moving parts for us moms to control every detail.  So let it go.  Enjoy the ride.  Trust in God.  Most of us can recite Philippians 4:13 .

I can do all this through him who strengthens me.

But have you have you ever read the entire passage?

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4: 11-13

Although we use this scripture as a good luck chart or an insurance policy that we can do whatever it is we have set our mind on doing this is not the true meaning.  The meaning is that NO matter what you are facing you have confidence God will strengthen you to face whatever comes your way.  And THAT helps me face my day....each and every day!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Tough Question

If you have followed my blog long enough or read our story, you know we have been blessed with 7 amazing children through adoption.  What began as a calling to love those in foster care grew into what is my family now.  Two of our precious daughters look different than me.  Black or "brown skinned" as they like to refer to themselves.  I hate describing them in this way but in order to express my point I must.  You see I don't refer to our youngest as the brown eyed one or my middle son as the blue eyed one. So for me to refer to skin color seems ridiculous. (Moving on now)

We have always been open with discussions with the girls about adoption and how our family was formed.  It is hard to hide the fact they look different than us.  Funny thing they don't really recognize it.  I can tell you of several instances where one will say "I have Momma's eyes" or "I have Dad's nose"  And that is true for all of our kids. In fact as the years pass and those who don't know our adoption story will remark how one child favors us so.  We just giggle.

Recently our daughter was asked to complete forms to participate in a sport.  One of the questions was about her ethnicity.  She had selected "Other" and we told her she had to select "African American".  She was perplexed.  She responded as if she thought we were ALL African American.  We explained that it was only her and one of her sisters.  She was lost as to why.  I had to bluntly say because you have brown skin.  Her eyes burned with disbelief and she said "But I have never been to Africa and I was not born there so how can I be African American?"

Then there was silence.

How was I to respond?  What was my answer for that?  In that moment her innocence was apparent.  She was unaware of society's struggle.  The plight of those discriminated against.  In her world (our world) she was just like us.  Her skin may be a different color but that is no different than Dad having red hair and her having black hair or Mom's eyes being blue and hers being brown. She identified herself not by her skin color but by who she was with us and more importantly in Christ.

So where did that lead us?  What or how was I to respond?  Did we fail to open her eyes to the historical plight of slavery?  Did we allow our point of view and limited exposure to prejudice cloud our parenting?

Before you start shaking your head, we have shared about slavery in America and the world.  We have talked about how others judge you based on skin color, the type of house you live in, and what country you are from.  We have traveled with the girls outside of our local community and the US for that matter.

So where does that leave us?  Just where we are.  Our children growing and learning about the world around them.  Figuring who they are and what they stand for.  And what am I to do in the  midst of all of this?  Reflect with them about the world around them always pointing them to Christ for all their answers.  I don't know how to navigate through each of these situations but my faith in Christ allows me to feel confidently I am not navigating this alone.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Tears on Mother's Day

I cherish each of my children and I am thankful for God's blessing in my life through the good and the bad.  Mother's Day is a mixed bag for me.  Although there is joy and happiness there is also sadness and tears. I know you are thinking why would I be sad on a day that celebrates ME!

Whenever I consider the blessing of motherhood, I am faced with the harsh reality that my children's first mother may not enjoy the day.  My mind considers is her day one of longing to know about her children or to revel in past mistakes that brought her to her reality.  Is she at peace?  Does she know they have a wonderful mother who stepped in the gap? Yes I understand she made those choices in life but my heart breaks at the thought of her pain. I myself can list a dozen poor choices in my life and can only thank God for his grace and protection during those times.

My heart breaks for my children who are keenly away of the additional family and the barrier to see them.  As our oldest grew up a divide emerged.  When their two worlds collided together as they began to grabble with the reality of having birth parents and foster/adoptive parents added to the tough reality of growing up.  No one wins in this situation but everyone is left longing for more.  I know when we began this journey that time would be needed to heal.  My idea was a few years.  No where could I have imagined over 10 years and still fighting for healing.  No way I could have imagined the children I had chosen to adopt and love would walk away and not look back.  Loving me in the only way they know how but incomplete by most standards.

As I consider my blessings, I cannot help but to go back to a time where I struggled with infertility.  Those days with celebrations of mothers was almost too much.  So much so that I could barely find the joy and gratitude needed to celebrate my own mother.  Being blessed with children doesn't erase that pain and I know so many who are still longing for child.

So on this Mother's Day I am overwhelmed with joy at the reality I am a mother.  Something that with this crew I consider often.  But in the quiet moments my heart weeps at the pain.  So I hold on to love on this Mother's Day.

Love is patient; love is kind. Love is not jealous; is not proud; is not conceited; does not act foolishly; is not selfish; is not easily provoked to anger; keeps no record of wrongs; takes no pleasure in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.  1 Corinthians 13:4-7