Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Special Needs Family's New Year's Resolutions

I'm sure that many families with members with special needs can relate: we don't make the same resolutions that most families do.  No, ours are just a little different. 

The Special Needs Family's Resolutions (aka: dreams...)

1. Re-toilet-train our son (third time's a charm?)

2.  Teach our son to sleep through the night (one can dream... but not while we're awake!)

3. Get son to eat some form of solids without vomiting (it will raise the food budget but cut down on the bleach and lysol!)

4. Find a combination of overnight diapering that will keep us from changing sheets in the morning (this is a health goal for the parents- to keep our backs from going out from crawling around on bunk beds daily!)

5. Re-toilet-train our son (Ok, he was only BM trained before, but this time, we're going ALL. THE. WAY.  But really, I'd take even BM trained again...)

6. One FULL WEEK, that's 7 continuous days, without any vomit.  (Reflux counts as vomit in this!)

7.  Find, Create, Beg, or Borrow a device that will keep our wanderer connected to our side.  10' radius.  No harm to said child, and no parent leashes.  (Ok, this is a resolution for YOU, help me out here, ok?)

8. Teach our daughter to eat One. Bite. At. A. Time.   And chew.  With her lips closed.  (C'mon moms... can I hear an "AMEN!?")

9. Housebreak a monkey.  Train it to sit, stay, heel, and play.  Then train it to find glasses.  And wash them.  And to find shoes.  And put them away.  Again.  And again. And again.  Then, teach it to climb higher than our kids can.  So he can get away.  (I think this may be the most realistic resolution on here...)

10. Re-toilet-train our son (what? I've already said that? Well, This is the list that we dream BIG on for the next year, right?)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

3 Years Home!!

Three Years Home! Can you believe it?? Today is three years since our plane landed first in Washington DC where Wesley and Aleksa officially became US Citizens when they went through immigration at the airport, and then our next plane landed in Orlando, where Michael, our 6 children already home, and grandparents met us along with Chris (Christine Harm)'s family for a wonderful homecoming! That is the only time we've had the whole family come for a child's entry in to our family, but it was well worth it and so fun! Especially since it was in the afternoon (not 2am like Micah and Emma's arrival!). We are so thankful as we look back and remember the special moments and 'landmark days'. Thankful for the path God led us on to each of our children, thankful for the family that was supportive of us in that, and thankful for great friends that helped to 'ease the burden' by going around the world with me to bring them home.

As we go in to 2014, I remember New Year's Eve of 2010 with our two new children, when we celebrated Christmas as a family after our Skype Christmas on December 25th, Chris and I with Aleksa and Wesley in Ukraine, and Michael at home with Emma, Kristopher, Brianna, James, Micah, and Lynae. At the time, we were sad about missing Christmas together. Now, we are thankful for the special memories around that not-so-traditional Christmas in Ukraine!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Uncomfortable Christians

The devil has a lie that he would like everyone to buy in to: “When you accept the forgiveness of Jesus Christ, life turns to sunshine and rainbows, and you’ll never have another problem.  Just call out “JESUS!” and the Lord will send angels down to lift you off your feet and take away all the uncertainty, stress, financial concerns, and all of life’s troubles.”

From this one lie, more people look at the lives of struggling Christians and determine that they are the ones lying, and Christianity is nothing like what they thought it was going to be.  Surely if life should be perfect as a Christian, then the one suffering through cancer treatments, or the one who lost a child, or the people going through financial heartbreak after a long job loss... surely they bought in to a LIE.

Oh, wait, that’s not what the Bible says?  How about “take up your cross and follow me…”  or “there is no greater love than this, that a man would lay down his life for another…”  But those sound so...Uncomfortable.

And there we have it, the idea that Biblical Christianity is not necessarily about happiness and the easy road.  If you’re not convinced, spend a few minutes in the book of Job and you’ll get a better idea of how life as a Follower of God isn’t meant to be without trials.

Wait!  There’s MORE!  

Look at some verses like Galatians 5:13- 13 (“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”) and James 1:27 (“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”).  John 13:12-14 tells us about not only serving one another, but taking the lowest position to treat others better than ourselves-- just as Jesus gave by His example (“When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.”)

The list goes on…
Matthew 23:11 (“The greatest among you will be your servant.”)
Matthew 20:26-28 (“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”)
1 John 3:18 (“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”)
Romans 12:1 (“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”)

I'm not trying to turn you off to the idea of Christianity, and to tell you that instead of sunshine and rainbows, it is really trials and tribulations, because that's really not it at all.  HOWEVER, if someone is looking at Christianity, they need to realize the Biblical worldview, not the lie that says that everything will be perfect.  By recognizing that life isn't perfect, we can also recognize that Christians are allowed to struggle, and it doesn't "disprove" their God.
The difference is... as a Christian, we have someone to call on during those trials, and we know that God will help us-- Not because we call out "JESUS!" and everything turns to beauty, but because we have faith in Jesus IN THE TRIALS.

But wait, this lifestyle that American Christians have bought in to is so different, still, from where we SHOULD be. It is by the EXAMPLE of Christians that the devil proliferates the lie of comfort.  It's because even committed Christians often buy in to the idea that "I can't do that, because it would be uncomfortable.  I can't go there because it would be uncomfortable.  I can't serve him because it would uncomfortable. I can't give that up because it would uncomfortable."  Not only that, but we project it on to our children as well, asking them to be the ones to hold the guilt for our resistance to God.  "I can't do that to my kids.  They deserve ______" Fill in the blank.  To have me home all the time, to get their favorite toys for Christmas, to have their own room, to have great vacations, to have me to themselves, to not endure any hardship, to live in a comfortable neighborhood, to attend a great school...  And we pass off our own displeasure with discomfort to our children.  Unfortunately, we also pass along the lie that says that CHRISTIANITY=COMFORT, and our children begin to buy in to it as well.  

How is it that we will use our freedom to humbly love, we will have pure and faultless religion as we look after orphans and widows, and we will act as the lowest servants to care for the every need of those around us?  Will we become the servant of others, and be a slave just as Jesus came to serve?  Do we love in actions, and offer our body as a living sacrifice of worship?  Do we need to lay down our comfort zones and begin living even in the “hard stuff” that God calls us to do because we call ourselves according to Jesus’ name as CHRISTians?

I truly believe that God is calling.  He is calling Christians to step up.  To serve.  To love.  To step out of our comfort zone and practice what Christianity started out as…  Not the satisfaction of an easy and uncomplicated life.

No, we are called to be UNCOMFORTABLE CHRISTIANS.  We are also called to bring our children up not to expect comfort and silver platters, but to respect the role of the servant, and to desire to serve with the same satisfaction in the uncomfortable as we are living examples of!