Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Fresh Perspective

This job is hard. 

Being a caregiver to 10 hurting and broken boys is hard. There are days when it feels like everything is chaos and nothing turns out right. Two of my kids got suspended this week, one got in two different fights at school, one stayed home from school with a stomach bug, one is so close to going to live with family forever but was told once again that he has to wait, one dumped a whole trash can on a freshly mopped floor and another threw a shoe at me and said more curse words than I can count. Most days, we're a mess. 

Recently I've been struggling with the reality that on this side of heaven, sometimes things are just going to be a mess. I've been struggling to accept that fact and I've been feeling really frustrated by it. 

What I've forgotten recently is that God is still God even when, from my perspective, everything is a disaster. I have desperately needed a new perspective. I've needed, like it says in Romans 12:2, to be transformed by the renewing of my mind

A friend recently shared with me Habakkuk 3:16-19 and I've decided to make it part of my new perspective. I want to renew and train my mind to recognize and remember that God is my strength and God is good and I have a reason to be joyful, always.  

Habakkuk 3:16-19 says... 
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
    to come on the nation invading us.
Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,    I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.


So here we go, I'm going to begin renewing my mind and renewing my perspective, I redesigned my blog just for the occasion and I hope to actually regularly post on here sharing with you all the joy and the peace God has been showing me amongst the chaos. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

9.1

It's not that I haven't had anything to say... but maybe more so there is just too much to say, too much that God is doing and has done and will do that I just haven't sorted out enough to be able to write it down. So for now we'll fast forward and here we are mid-november and I want to share with you one of my favorite moments from this past week.

"Guess what my grades are!!" he shouted as he swung open the front door and threw his backpack onto the ground. "9.1!!!" He shouted before we could even have a chance at guessing.

An average of 9.1 out of 10!!

These are the grades of a child whose very highest goal for last year was to get an average of 7.5

What's the secret? What's the key to his success? I wish I could say that it his great tutor or all the extra hours of academic work we've put in together. But neither of those are true. He doesn't have a tutor... and despite my college degree as a teacher, I haven't been pouring in hours of academic prep.

Do you want to know why he got a 9.1?

It's because he knows he is precious. He knows he is valuable. He knows he is loved and adored and smart and incredible and important.

He doesn't just know it... he believes it.

And the results are... 9.1... that would have been a 9.7 if he wasn't so chatty in class. Don't worry he has vowed not to speak at all for the next grading period :)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

School.

I guess it was October that the notes and reports started coming home from school.

"he refuses to do his work"

"he was disrespectful"

"he chose to lay on the floor and say curse words for an hour instead of participating"

It wasn't just one... but three, and they were all in the same class.

So the meetings began. And for the past 9 months I have been at the elementary school meeting with the principal and 5th grade teacher at least once a week. Sometimes it feels like a burden... and I can get frustrated with them, myself, the teacher, director and especially with the Mexican school system. However, what has been so cool to see is the way that God has granted me favor within the school. I have spent our meetings teaching and explaining the ways that the trauma my kids have experienced affects their current behavior, how the teacher can best work with them and designing plans for how to help serve them educationally within the context of their school.

School is especially hard for our kids for many, many reasons. The trauma in their lives has left their brains underdeveloped. Years of neglect from busy caregivers has left them unaccustomed to the routine of homework. Other kids call them "the children's home kids" and make fun of them for being dirty poor orphans. School is a tough place for our kids. So the fact that God has allowed me to be so involved to improve their school experience and bring them up to the level of their peers has been an incredible blessing.

One bittersweet experience seems to sum it all up for me.

One day at school a girl taunted one of my kids by saying "you're such a loser, your mom doesn't take care of you and nobody wants to take care of you"

And he defiantly yelled back at her.

"If nobody takes care of me, why is it that I do my homework everyday and you don't?"

It breaks my heart and makes me swell with pride all at the same time. The hours of homework and the hours of meetings are all worth it. They are heard. They are valued. They are worth fighting for.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Giving Back

 A few weeks ago at church the kids of Casa Hogar Douglas were given the opportunity to give back. During our church service the kids got to learn a little bit about a children's home Back2Back support in Port au Prince, Haiti. They learned about the kids that live thousands of miles away from them and learned that they barely have enough to eat and that their meals never ever include meat. So they were asked the question "what can we offer?". After some time spent debating they decided what they had to offer was themselves. With that in mind they set out for a car wash. It had been arranged with a U.S. donor that for each car the kids washed 15 dollars would be donated to buy meat for the kids in Haiti.
I was so proud of the way the boys worked. They actually got really into it and loved washing the cars. In total they raised around $400 to buy meat for the kids in Haiti.

That night we talked about how great it feels to do something to help someone else.

We prayed for the kids in Haiti and prayed they would enjoy their dinner.
My prayer was that my boys would be filled up by pouring out.

 
A lot of the circumstances in their lives have left them victims and the temptation for them is to believe that is all that they are, the victim. But what I loved about this day is that for once they weren't the ones that needed help. They weren't the poor orphanage kids that had people donating food to them. Instead they had something to offer. They were the ones doing the giving. My prayer is that their car wash sparked something in them. I pray it sparked the desire to give to others and the understanding that they don't have to be the victim. 

They are awesome, incredible, precious, blessed beyond measure and they have something to offer.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Day of Adventure

Each week, as a prize for our boys good behavior, we go on a field trip. For quite awhile we've been planning a hiking adventure. It is well known among my boys that I am not the biggest fan of hiking... or the outdoors in general. So they had a wonderful time in the weeks leading up envisioning me whining complaining and crying on my way up the mountain.


We set out early Saturday morning and began the journey to Chipinque. As much as they pictured my being out of place on the mountain, our orphanage raised street kids were just as out of place as I was. We started at the visitor's center and each grabbed a map and together we set out on our hike.


Much to their dismay I didn't cry, complain or whine even once. In fact, it was one of them that said "What!?! We walked all this way just to EAT?? If that is all we were going to do, we should have just eaten back there where we parked the car!"

We walked along enjoying the fresh air and the beautiful views of the city. They had never seen anything like it. We hiked for awhile and then sat together to enjoy a picnic lunch. And as it turns out... we ALL loved it. Me included.


More than anything, I so enjoyed the time it gave us with our boys. We didn't know it at the time, but the following week 2 new boys would join our dinner table. I loved the peace, awe, wonder and joy that we got to experience together. I see it now as precious time with them before the chaos of new arrivals.

At the end of day they rated our adventure as "Very cool" and all agreed we need to go back again very very soon.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A miracle.

Last Friday I witnessed a miracle.

Meet Luis.

Luis is in 4th grade in a regular public school and up until this point in his life, he has never been able to read. He is the second youngest of 5 kids all with a range of cognitive delays. Therefore, he has been pushed to the back of the class and ignored for most of his elementary school career. Last year I began to give Luis homework that revolved around the various letter sounds but we didn't work super consistently and honestly, I felt discouraged that we would ever see progress. Not one of his siblings can read.

On Friday Luis started reading.

Bit by bit, sound by sound... he read.

As we said prayers in his bed that night I thanked God over and over for the day Luis began to read. He was so proud of himself he couldn't wipe the smile off of his face.

His whole life he has been sent the message that he just wouldn't be a kid who reads, he wasn't worth the extra time or the extra effort, or he's just not smart enough for that.

But last Friday... God chose to prove everyone wrong... and Luis learned how to read.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Chart

When I first began this crazy new season of life 2 months ago I think we all had ideas in our heads of how this would go. I expected they would behave similarly to the way they behaved the one day a week I cared for them last year... and I think they thought it would be the beginning of a nonstop party of nintendo 64 and peanut butter sandwiches.

Well needless to say our expectations clashed a bit... or more like smashed into a giant head on collision. After a few weeks of battling over literally EVERY SINGLE thing in their day... we needed a new plan. Therefore, their behavior chart was born. Their charts list out each thing they are required to do in the day and when they complete each activity they receive a point. If they earn enough points during the week they win the chance to go on a Friday field trip. So far we've taken them to 3 of our favorite ice cream shops, the movies, the mall, out to eat and to an all you can eat buffet and arcade. It's a win win win all around. They can now clearly see what is expected of them, they have positive motivation for their behavior each day and they are getting all sorts of life experiences and social development through our field trips.