Thursday, September 29, 2011

At Four in the Morning I Think About. . .

Ministry. On my mind this morning as I lay in bed were several things. First and foremost in my mind is Orphan Sunday, which is coming up November 6. I spoke with my pastor and his wife yesterday about it and neither of them had heard of Orphan Sunday, which is no surprise. I only know about it because I used to go to a church in San Antonio that made it a priority. Not many churches do. Whether that is because they just don't know or because they don't feel there is a need, I'm not sure. The month of November is National Adoption Awareness Month but I was trying to explain to my pastor last night that Orphan Sunday is about more than that. It's not about encouraging others to adopt. Not entirely. While that may be a seed planted in someone's heart, certainly, it is not the entire purpose of setting aside the first Sunday in November. Orphan Sunday is about raising awareness of the need for orphan ministry. To take statistics from one of my favorite orphan ministry organizations, Hope for Orphans, "There are over 130 million orphans worldwide. There are 408,000 kids in the foster care system in the United States." Orphan Sunday is about telling God's people about the need to love his children. Children who have no parents to love them and provide for their needs. I'm praying about how I can be a part of that on a local level.

Other things on the horizon on a ministry level that I've been thinking about this morning are the upcoming Christmas programs at church. The three younger children are singing with the kids' choir this year. They are doing material that they are familiar with. It is a musical/skit called "The Christmas Present" that we did at another church when we lived in San Antonio. The songs are familiar to the girls but Daniel was too young to remember so he's having to learn them all. Willow, Lilliana and Daniel all have speaking parts this year and Lilli has a solo as well so we've been listening to the CD in the car again. Rhythmic music and children's voices ring through my head at the mention of anything Christmas lately. It's a good thing I have patience for those sorts of things. Better than my husband who can't stand whiny children song. We have to listen to it when he's not around. Noah, who also moans in agony at the prospect of another run through of "A Holy Silent Night!" has had to cope by carrying his Mp3 player and ear buds in the car.

Our Christmas Cantata that the adult choir is singing (and Noah too because he sings with us) is a beautiful arrangement and I'm really excited about it. Our choir is small but sings quite well and there are some beautiful harmonies there. I have missed being a part of a choir! I haven't sang like this in a group since high school and often skills that haven't been used in 18 years get a little rusty but I'm enjoying myself. Because our choir is so small, I may be singing a solo in one of the pieces and while I've done it in the past, it's been so long that the prospect kind of makes me want to choke on my own seizing vocal cords.

Finally in ministry news. . . also on a musical level. Our dear pastor's wife has asked me to sing a special song at our upcoming women's retreat. It's one that's been popular on local Christian radio called "Blessings" by Laura Story. It's a great song with a powerful message but I've been practicing and lack confidence about the arrangement. A good portion of the song hits me right at the break in my voice where I switch from "chest voice" to "head voice" and breathing is a little complicated as well. She's also asked me to prepare a 10 minute testimony about my Christian life. I'm used to telling about the twins. I've done that several times but to try to fit my whole "christian life" into 10 minutes is going to be interesting. I'm kind of at a loss of where to start. I'm praying for the right words. . . what to say. . . what to leave out, etc.

At 4 in the morning I think about. . . friends. I have a dear friend from high school that's going through a rough time and I've been praying for her and her family. I prayed again this morning when she came into my mind. She's currently at the hospital and they are hoping to find some medication to help her on a long term basis. I'm praying for that but also for peace and healing and spiritual guidance as well.

At 4 in the morning I think about. . . future. The Army is down sizing again and while Matt had plans to make the Army his career, he was told yesterday by his Sergeant Major in an official statement that in the next fiscal year (which begins October 1) only the first 12,000 (or was it 14,000) troops were going to be allowed to re enlist. The exact number wasn't that important to me. What is important is that it's a small. . . ok. . . tiny number. Of course, because Murphy (of Murphy's Law fame) tends to be my best friend in situations such as these, guess who's up for re enlistment! Did you get the prize? That's right. Matt! To add to the stress of the situation, our EFMP packets for the children are in the process of being updated which is required for enlistment. For those of you who don't know what EFMP is, it's the Exceptional Family Members Program which keeps track of families with members with special educational or health care needs. It just so happens that Noah's medical and 3/4 of the kid's educational information needed to be updated. I've gotten all but 2 of the paperwork updates back from the offices that needed to take care of them. I have to pick Noah's up from the pediatrician's office today and call to try to track down Willow's educational packet from the special ed office at school. Those are the ones I'm missing. It's not just a matter of turning them in and he'll be able to re enlist. . . no! Then we have to wait for people who don't really care what your situation is or that you are in a hurry to re enlist to enter all that information into a data base. It could take a couple of weeks. . . or longer. It just depends on how much of our paperwork gets "lost" or what their workload is in the office, etc. There's not much that irritates me more than waiting for someone else to take care of something that's important to me. So frustrating! I do know one important thing: God is in control of Matt's career. While I was thinking about all of this. I don't feel anxious about it because I really believe that if one door is closed to us, another will be opened. If we end up getting shoved out of the Army because of the EFMP paperwork/ re enlistment issue then there will be something better!

At 4 in the morning I think about. . . teaching Lilli. I'm still homeschooling her and one thing that I'm not satisfied with in the curriculum we're using is sentence diagramming. The instructions in the book are vague and there are no visual examples. I am blessed to sit in choir next to a lady named Ms. Eileen who is a retired high school English teacher though and I asked her last night at choir practice if she would be willing to help us so that I don't make a mistake in teaching her. It isn't something that I learned in school and I know that they aren't teaching it in the local elementary school because I get the privilege of seeing what comes home from the 5th grade there too. I do think it's important though because it not only challenges her a little bit but it also gives her a good grasp on grammar and sentence structure which will make her a better writer. We all could use a little help with grammar. I know I could. It's obvious from my writing since everyone tells me that I write like I talk. I'm pretty sure that's not a good thing.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Blog: Long overdue!

So much to catch up on since I haven't blogged in months! We didn't end up buying the house I posted pictures of before. We got a different one but it's equally beautiful. We're all moved in now and we love it. It's smaller than we hoped for but we make it work. The picture you see above is one of the ones that Matt took of the house before we moved in. We have taken out the palms you see behind the hydrangeas. Too much clutter. The trees were too close to the house. We're always making other changes too. It's a work in progress. . . A LOT of work in progress but so fun! We enjoy having the freedom to change things and make them ours.

The kids are enjoying school in our new "home town." We're back to being as busy as ever with appointments, dance classes, sports and activities. Life has settled into its usual hectic normal for us. For those of you who know us from facebook some of this will be a review but I wanted to catch the rest of you up. Willow's health seemed to decline this winter. So much so that she was actually on oxygen full time for a while. We were able to get her a bipap machine at night though. Nothing is perfect and this machine causes a major drooling problem which we are still trying to deal with but it has helped her oxygen requirements during the day IMMENSELY. She's now only using her oxygen when she walks for more than 2-3 minutes in a stretch. It's not often since she tires so easily anyway. She's able to take it off in the classroom now which helps with her mobility and independence. We are hoping with some of the new things we are doing that she'll be able to get off of the oxygen all together.

Lilliana is the only one of my kids not in public school this year. She's doing a home charter school program that allows her to work at her own pace which she loves! She's almost finished with an entire year's curriculum and there's still 2 months of school left. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of next year's math curriculum in the mail.

One major thing that's happening in our lives is that we're turning over a new "healthier" leaf. We've purged our cupboards of processed foods and we're trying to eat foods that are more clean, more raw and just better for you. We decided to do this to see if it would help the kids with some of their health and behavior problems. I'm also seeking some more alternative treatments such as chiropractic care to see if that helps. I'm tired of traditional doctors pushing pills. I woke up one day to realize that my kids were taking a total of 18 different meds and STILL had most of the same problems that they had in the first place and I decided enough is enough! I'm in the process of weaning kids off meds now and have only had positive results. Noah's gotten off of 2 of his medications so far and is still doing well! Daniel's going to be the hardest one to wean I think. I'm willing to try though!

We've been doing this for two weeks and so far only Noah has noticed a difference. He told me that he feels more focused. I've noticed the kids sleeping better. Even Lilli, my insomniac is falling asleep better! The people at school noticed that Willow has more energy and today when I picked her up, she was walking down the hall without her oxygen. She told her teacher she didn't need it. She was doing just fine without it. All good news to report so far. I am hoping to find the time to blog more regularly so I can keep track of our progress with our new healthier life!