Victory is NOT an Accident

Over the weekend my husband and I got away with about 400 of our nearest and dearest friends to go see a movie called "War Room".  This movie was made by the same men that made the movie "Courageous".   And if you haven't seen that one it is a must see!  We don't get out to see very many movies and Courageous was one that we saw on our annual anniversary trip in the fall about three years ago.  It a story about Fatherhood.

The movie changed our lives.  Literally.  We didn't know how much at the time and I can't even really pin point what in that movie talked to us the most.  My guess it that honestly the Holy Spirit did the talking and the movie was just the vehicle he used.  After that movie we went to dinner and all we could talk about was the possibility of adoption which was NOT what the movie was about at all.  Mind you I was NINE months pregnant with Luke who would arrive three weeks after this dinner conversation.  And two weeks after that Grant was scheduled for a surgery of his own.  We were done having kids!

A secret part of me wanted to just wait and see War Room on our own where who knows what the Lord would press upon our hearts this time.  As it stood we had 15 minutes to drive from the theater to the church to pick up the kids to discuss the movie before parenting and distractions take over.

For those of you who have never heard of the "War Room" it is a compelling drama with humor and heart that explores the power of prayer can have on marriages, parenting, careers, friendships, and every other area of our lives. [READ MORE here]

Here is one of my favorite clips from the movie that has me thinking:

Off and on for years now I have had a piece of paper in a ziplock bag taped inside my shower.  It's not fancy nor is it cute decor.  But it is functional.  My biggest problem with prayer is that I forget to do it.  True friends with real problems who I really care about ask me to pray for them and with my best intentions I truly want to.  Then 5 minutes later I forget until my memory is jogged again.  Life has distractions some of them are natural; you know the kids whining over "who touched who" and "I had it first". And some distractions are on purpose I'm convinced.  My thought life has NEVER been the same in this area after listening to "The Screw Tape Letters" by C.S. Lewis.  Satan and his angels are real and mess with us continually, we just dismiss them instead of acknowledging them and we certainly don't fight back.  I often see us believers as the weaklings on the playground being picked on my a mastermind bully who is just too smart to get caught.  Prayer is how we fight back.

That ziplock bag in my shower, it has my prayer list in it.  If I'm lucky I get 10 minutes a day undistracted and I can either stand there in the hot water day dreaming or be focused on the most meaningful things in my life and fight to keep them and myself on God's course.  Which brings blessings by praying and seeking God's wisdom for those I love on the list, those I care about and their needs, and those I know that are either far from God or who are just lukewarm.

I will probably mention more about this movie and how it speaks to me as I have to digest it and make my own battle plan.  I would love to hear your thoughts on the movie if you have seen it or tips for your "War Room" if you have one in the comments below.

I'll leave you with Psalm 119 from The Message it starts out:
You’re blessed when you stay on course,
    walking steadily on the road revealed by God.
You’re blessed when you follow his directions,
    doing your best to find him.
That’s right—you don’t go off on your own;
    you walk straight along the road he set.
You, God, prescribed the right way to live;
    now you expect us to live it.
Oh, that my steps might be steady,
    keeping to the course you set;
Then I’d never have any regrets
    in comparing my life with your counsel.
I thank you for speaking straight from your heart;
    I learn the pattern of your righteous ways.
I’m going to do what you tell me to do;
    don’t ever walk off and leave me.

And finishes with:

Let my cry come right into your presence, God;
    provide me with the insight that comes only from your Word.
Give my request your personal attention,
    rescue me on the terms of your promise.
Let praise cascade off my lips;
    after all, you’ve taught me the truth about life!
And let your promises ring from my tongue;
    every order you’ve given is right.
Put your hand out and steady me
    since I’ve chosen to live by your counsel.
I’m homesick, God, for your salvation;
    I love it when you show yourself!
Invigorate my soul so I can praise you well,
    use your decrees to put iron in my soul.
And should I wander off like a lost sheep—seek me!
    I’ll recognize the sound of your voice.

I'm prompted to ask if one of you has a request and you don't know anyone that would sincerely pray for you please let me know so that I may.  That I may add you to my list and pray over you and your situation.  


School Playgrounds

Well this was last week...and now I find myself in school playground envy!  The number of playgrounds in the area just shrunk to public parks.

This awesome place is Wolf Creek Elementary School Playground.  They have a GREAT one!  And a huge sandbox too, which my kids gravitated to after awhile.  I tend to keep buckets in the back of the car because you never know what treasure they might finding the sand or bug pet to carry around for the day.

The actual playground portion at this school is huge!  And the swings just go on and on.  For you walkers out there they also have a track!

Monkey See Monkey Do!

They were doing so good taking turns until they just couldn't stand it!  

The Strange World of Adoption

A lot of people ask how is Caroline doing? So I thought I would give a little update.  She has been home a little over two months now.  And although she has a great interest in airplanes (formerly known as wag-ees) she doesn't seem to have a great interest in hopping back on one and heading back to China.  So I guess we are doing something right :)
She is speaking a lot of English and surprising to me she is saying more phrases than individual words.  When a toddler learns to talk it is one word at a time when a 4 year old learns a new language it is by phrase apparently.  Do you know how many words there are in the English language???? It is exhausting.  And it must be for her too.  I about cried yesterday over the word "stick" because it was the 3000th object she asked about.  She mostly just holds it up and waits for you to name it.  I guess writing that I need to teach her the phrase "What is this called?" it would be her favorite!  But I'm not sure I can handle it!

She has had to learn a few concepts that we take for granted that children would know.  The biggest and most fun is Family.  That Mama and Daddy aren't just our names but it is our title too.  I'm not sure what she thought when we went to a park and other kids were yelling out Mama!  I think it might of helped in realizing that all the kids had "their" own Mama.  And that I am hers!  One of the kids got hurt and she wanted me to help him so I scooped her up and said "his Mama will help him" and then we watched together as his Mama comforted her son.  This morning we saw a dog and a puppy and she was processing that there is a Mama Dog and a Baby Dog.  Families are everywhere...except in orphanages.

If anyone has any tips on how to heal "boo-boos" on Asian skin I would love to hear them!  Up until two months ago she lived in a foam padded orphanage.  All the boo-boos and bruises you would normally get when you are two she is busy getting now and they aren't healing quickly and actually scarring it seems. We let her play hard and explore throughly which has helped greatly with her mobility and coordination.  We are even starting to see cute little calf muscles in those legs!

She still doesn't like bread (waffles, tortillas, breading on corn dogs) but will eat just about anything else well except Ranch.  She loves oatmeal, noodles, yogurt, popsicles, all fruit, chips, and pepperonis minus the pizza.

She has been an American citizen since June 17th but Monday I got the piece of paper to prove it.  So it looks like we will spend some time this week at the Social Security office trying to get her a # and such.  As not fun as that sounds I've been looking forward to that moment all summer!
This pic was taken Day 2 with us.  Two months later she looks like a different kid!!!  Crazy what a family can do for a child!

Somewhere I read that the first four months of adoption are the hardest and that seems about right.  Two months down and we are doing so much better together.  The reality is adoption is hard, scary and full of unknowns.  Everyone expects that it is hard on the child but the same is true of the parents.    Attachment goes both ways and just takes time.  There is the ideal child that you dreamed of from the files that you read, re-read and memorized and then there is the actual child with trauma from day one of life with needs not being met over and over again.  There is the child that was kept alive for four years by someone else (or lots of people) and the sad reality is that it wasn't you.  Everything they do is not like you would teach them to do it.  It takes time for that child to not feel like a stranger in your home but instead your daughter.   We loved her June 8th because we choose to love her. We love her now because we are starting to know her.  To me it is similar to my wedding day almost 8 years ago.  I chose and vowed to love Grant no matter what that day and I thought I knew him.  But today I love him because I KNOW him in a way that I could have never have known him then because it just takes time.

 Caroline is a tough cookie, she is a survivor, she is independent, a quick study, energetic, the best mimic I've ever met, a people pleaser (for Mom and Dad...well most of the time), a hard worker, and joyful.  She is learning to play pretend and take all the sand out of the sand box, and LOVES to swing.  (The teeter-totter is awesome and she can do it herself or with Luke).

I can't wait to see how the next two months with all that it offers bring us more together as a family.  Two months in I know she wasn't always with us and some of her actions or quirks remind me.  But I have a really hard time picturing the Caroline I know now in an orphanage.  I think we are in-between somewhere and that's ok.

Liberty Trail

I finally looked up the name of the bike trail that we have been walking/riding on.  It is named Liberty.  I like it but all of the other trails are named for the nearby Roadways (i.e. Mingo Trail, Riverside Trail, etc.)  but alas we have conquered another mile stretch there and back.  We were rewarded by a new underpass to explore.  This one even higher than the last which made me uneasy about things.
"Master live locust catcher"
I'm trying to let this boy of mine do "daring" boy stuff and conquer fears and the unknown.  I thought this one was safe but still gave me butterflies.
Look I can lift the bridge Mom!
We are new to all this walking and hiking and there is still one mystery I haven't figured out.  The potty and poop.  I live in tiny kid ville. And although 3 out of the 4 are potty trained during the day all the exercise has increased the "need".  Caroline finally just jumped out of the stroller after 5 minutes of squirming that lead to kicking that lead to her saying "Potty Here" while pointing to the grass.  We were a mile away from the car at that point and she has the squatty potty thing mastered so ....  The other kid I threatened with putting a diaper on him so he could poop after finding him pants down after rounding the corner.  The diaper threat did the job to get him home first thankfully.  So any tips Moms with how to handle the need when it arises and you are NO where near the car???  We go before we leave the house too!
Along the way this time we did notice this new to me plant/flower.  Any ideas of what it might be?

Red Bud Valley Nature Perserve

Hiking with Kids in Caves
Have you made a plan for your weekend yet? This is a great little spot not too far out of Tulsa in Catoosa.  The Red Bud Valley Nature Perserve is open Wednesday through Sunday for your enjoyment starting at 8am.  We made it shortly after 8am and though we never saw another human we knew they were there by the cars in the parking lot already.  However, I am sure that they heard us.  We have a long ways to go before they "walk quietly" and to actually see any wildlife that may be around.
Hiking with Kids in Redbud Valley

Hiking with Kids in Redbud Valley Nature Perserve

Hiking with Kids

This was our first attempt at a real hike.  And we braved it with the two little ones out of the stroller.  Strollers won't make it on this hike.  We did think about a backpack carrier towards the end of the hike though...but not much good did that did us!
Hiking with kids on Rocks

Sycamore tree roots in Redbud Valley

Nature Hike with Kids

Luke is 2 1/2 years old and despite his "I do it" attitude he was exhausted by the end of the hike.  It is a  lot of climbing up, down, and around rocks but very easily done by our 5 and 6 year old.
Hiking with kids around Caves

Exploring Caves with kids
Savannah and her Dad exploring a cave together.

The Persimmon Perch

Hiking in Redbud Valley Nature Perserve

Exploring Caves with Kids
Jack's turn to explore a cave.  I think a water comes out of this one at a different time of year.

We had seen a few pictures online but until you see the Bluffs and Caverns in person do you really appreciate this hike.  The kids were so excited when the path turned from forrest to all rocks and then this masterpiece unfolded.  I'm so thankful that places like this are preserved and are available for enjoying.

Oklahoma wildflower purple
Comment below if you know the name of this wildflower!
Oklahoma Hiking

The Persimmon Perch
Used the timer... at least we are all in it!
Oklahoma Caves

We had a few fears about bats and monsters but overall lots of squeals and "look at this".  And admittedly a lot of them were from Grant and I.  :)

Grant mentioned that we should definitely do this hike again in the fall as a lot of the trees are maples and will be really colorful.  (As a photographer who marks fall foliage for family pictures in our area this usually occurs around the first week in November.)

Things to pack in your backpack if you head to Red Bud Valley:
Small Snack (the best pick me up to keep little ones going)
Print out or take a phone pic of this map (Click Here)

A New Start

Back to School 2015 Last year with Stuffed Animals
Probably the last year she will be asked to bring a teddy bear to school.  Jack brought a walrus for nap time.
This day went as well as I expected.  Jack and Savannah were up early and dressed (with backpacks on) before 7 AM.  They told me they would just skip breakfast today and why couldn't they just go now?  Although I intended to be at Jack's school early (not my first rodeo at PreK. In fact it's my 3rd year in a row!) I didn't intend to be over an hour early!  And I had them re-think breakfast.
Back to School

Back to SChool

Back to School

Back to School Glasses

Jack was shy with his new teacher and didn't want to wear his glasses.  But did want to get busy playing with all the new stuff and new friends.  He refused the teacher pic adamantly so I didn't push it.  My hopes were dashed and fears confirmed when I had to carry both Caroline and Luke out of Jack's school all the way to the car because 1. That is too much fun to leave. 2. I didn't finish my puzzle I started while you were busy with Jack. and 3. Some form of "Why in the world are we leaving Jack?" "We forgot him!" coming from Caroline.
Back to School Broken Arrow Public Schools 2015

Back to School Broken Arrow Public Schools 2015

By the time we made it to Savannah's school I wised up and brought the little kids in the double stroller.  I laughed when people would say Wow you have your hands full....little do they know I left Mr. Full of Life at Pre-K already.  This is the calm and cool club. :)
Back to School Broken Arrow Public Schools 2015

Savannah did great and said "Hi" to all her friends from last year.  She also rolled her eyes when I made her take a picture with her teacher.  Thankfully other Moms had the same idea so she went with it this time.  I don't think I was prepared for how quick the goodbye is in 1st grade AND they sit in desks!  The class was basically full and QUIET.  The first graders seem so big!
Back to School Broken Arrow Public Schools 2015

Back to School Broken Arrow Public Schools 2015

The three of us left and went on our walk for the day and it was just BORING!  I miss my bikers.  They truly spice up life.  On the other hand I got 4 miles in this morning so that is a plus.
Siblings by Adoption

Now home to count down the minutes until I can squish those faces and hear how great their day went!

"Lord, I pray for my kiddos today as they start a new year of school.  That they will be all that you created them to be and that they won't hide their talents and abilities out of fear.  I pray for their teachers to embrace my children and to enjoy their year and delight in the children placed in their care this year.  I pray that Savannah will make and keep special friends and that Jack will look to help his friends and be the teacher's helper this year.  I pray that you will lead me to encourage them and to pray specifically for what each of them need over this school year and help me to be a help to their teachers with what I can offer.  Help us to trust you in all things and to follow your leading. Amen"
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