Friday, December 23, 2011

For the Love of Boys

It's no great secret that I adore my sons. I mean, look at these cuties.

 Frodo has an artistic flair and is a very talented artist. He's been drawing since he could hold a crayon and I have pictures of him crashed out, asleep on a coloring book, holding a marker. He's gentle and really easy to get along with. He makes friends easily. He is also quite a politician. But lately I'm most proud of how well he's been playing with Charming AWAY from the TV.
 Anyone who has met Mr. Charming knows what a character he is. He tells long, detailed stories and he really cares if you listen. He's imaginative and bright, and he's also obedient (when it really matters, like at Sunday school.) For some reason he thinks he's the boss of me and the center of my universe, but I'm pretty sure I'm responsible for that quality and a healthy dose of self-respect comes pretty naturally from his father. And, MAN, look at those dimples!
And my Eldest.....this child is a delight. My son. He has a servant's heart and he's a giver. Mercy, I don't even know where to start....He really detests the spotlight. He hates getting into trouble. And he's such a pleaser. He's strong willed, but has learned to channel that will into something that is immediately recognized by every teacher, every coach. He's just amazing. The fours and the eights were intolerable, but if this is what I get at 11 for enduring those years, I'll take it.

Lately I've noticed boys getting an awful rap. It seems as if every bad behavior is explained away as "boy behavior." A child is loud: He's a boy. A child throws something: Well, he is a boy. A child is naughty: That's a boy for you.


Boys are rambunctious. Boys are active. Boys are daring. Boys can be nutty. Boys are risk takers. Boys might even be somewhat destructive.

But when boys are being rotten, they are being children. Rotten children who need to be disciplined.If you allow them to blame their gender for every bad behavior by doing so yourself, you are doing them a disservice.

If you ask my Eldest what his number one job is at school, he'll tell you (I think): Stand up for Princess.

Because boys are also protectors. Providers. Keepers. Rescuers.

IF you cultivate that in them.

Yeah, it takes time. Yeah, it takes energy. Yes, it does involve spending time doing the things they like to do. It requires taking an interest in the things that interest them. Which also requires constant statements like: "Here's a tip for life; girls don't like it when you fart around them. Keep those for your guy friends and take it to the bathroom when you are with mom." And: "Huh-uh. That's your sister. When a girl says, 'no' you get off, even when you think she doesn't really want you to stop wrestling." And, "NO HITTING. NOT ACCEPTABLE." And: "Finesse, not force!" And one of my favorites: "Kindness matters."

I'm not feminizing my boys, I'm preparing them to be decent adults. What gentleman do you know that farts at the bank and laughs about it with the woman next to him? What gentleman do you know that steals virtue from women? What gentleman do you know that goes around hitting people just because he is angry? What gentleman do you know that breaks things by being too rough with them? And what gentleman do you know that is consistently mean?

I didn't say "man," I said "gentleman."

The difference? Parenting. And yes, personality, but I'm convinced that the men who grow up to be large undisciplined, disrespectful boys in big bodies were allowed to use "boy behavior" as their excuse for too long.

Boys are wonderful. For the most part, if you keep their tummies full, they will love you to their dying day. There are no emotional games to play. Very little back-stabbing. They are genuine, through and through.

Don't diss on my boys. 

Which brings me to another point: Of the 100 children for which 10 of us bloggers were trying to find sponsors, most of the ones left are boys.

In Africa.

Where AIDS is rampant.

Who do you think is spreading this disease?

You have the opportunity to pour into a boy, to tell him monthly that he is valuable and cherished. To tell him that he can make good and honorable choices. That he doesn't need to take from women and leave behind sickness and disease and contract it himself. He, like the girls being sponsored, won't have to sell himself for food. He won't have to take to the streets. He can get an education and use it for good. He isn't a destructive little taker. He is made by God to do Great and Mighty things, if only someone will give him a chance.

This is your opportunity to love on a boy like I love my sons. Will you take it?

*update: ALL of my kids are spoken for. There was such a rush in the last 24 hours and the person running the show is off for Christmas, that we aren't sure who got these precious boys. I will let you know ASAP when I know who is their sponsor. Meanwhile, if you missed out on these boys, but would still like the opportunity, visit Megan's blog. She still has several! Let's find sponsors for all 100 kiddos!

3. Kazru: Now Sponsored!
By the Mathis family!
8.  Zekarias: Now Sponsored!
By the Dorazio family!

Look at all that sweetness. 

I promise you, this experience will bless you 100 times more that you could EVER bless these boys. 
$34/month = one boy loved, fed, and remembered.

and... I WILL GO VISIT THEM FOR YOU. But we are running out of time. I need two more sponsors before Monday. Can we do it? I believe so. For the love of boys.

Are you a blogger who would like to advocate for these children by taking on your very own 10 Kids?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Boroite

Yesterday morning I woke in a full on panic.
I had a to-do list a mile long with things on it like:
renew Arbonne consultant thingie.
Verify airline tickets.
Print out lists

But I had a list specifically for tearing around the 'Boro.
Return Rio
Return Library books
Deposit money
Drop off journals
LP gift certificates
Beads out
Get school party snacks

So, right around 9, Charming and I took off in the ice storm to get the list taken care of before we got ourselves snowed in.
(The snow just never really hit us. If we got 1/2 inch, I'd be surprised. But that is beside the point.)

First we headed for the bank (thinking: if I start at the grocery store and we get snowed in, I'll be stuck telling my kids "no" until they have consumed NINE boxes of Little Debbie snacks and FOUR cases of Capri Suns. And who wants to do that?) At the bank, I signed several checks, filled out the deposit slip and pulled up to the teller.

Sounds boring, no?

Wait for it....

When the teller opened her little drawer I told her, "I believe you have a $24 check in there for me."
"Oh! I do! (XXXXX) told me (XXXX) didn't know what (XXXXX) was buying but here it is."
I held up the journals, and put them into the drawer. Took out the check, signed it, put it back in the drawer with my deposit, and drove away.

Two things done. And all in the drive up at the bank.

This was Brent's favorite story. But it is not the only one.

There is the one where the daughter of the woman I usually talk to at the grocery store checked me out. I presume her mother works mornings and the daughter works evenings. Sounds really familiar, right Mom? (I decided school wouldn't be cancelled after all.)

Or there's the one where I go to the hardware store to drop of my UPS package only to pull up and find the UPS truck sitting out front. When I walk up to the store, the UPS man comes out of the gift shop down the street loaded up with purchases only to see me on the street with a box and offering to take it off my hands. (I handed it over.)

There's the one know what? I'm going to keep that one to myself, because I don't want to get him into trouble. But it's a goodie. And it ended with me clicking my heels in public.

Love the 'Boro.

All in a day in the life of a Boroite.

Hey! Don't let my fluffy posts fool you. I'm still very serious about combating poverty. Come on over to my 10 for 10 post. I still have three kiddos that need a sponsor. Is it you? I'm so excited at this opportunity. I grew up in a time when sponsorship was brought into question and people weren't really sure they were sponsoring an actual child. I feel so privileged to be on the ground and verify that these kids really do exist and are being cared for. Join me!

Monday, December 19, 2011

The benefit of insomnia

I got to watch the full lunar eclipse. I woke the kids for the end of it. They are the ones that reminded me to get a camera which is why you only get the tail end.

And yes, I got to see this doozy.

Of course anyone with a job could have seen both as it only really requires a 6:30 wake up. But if, by 6:30 I have already had time to imbibe a couple cups of Joe, read my Bible, pray and fret and can just sit and absorb the sunrises. Yes, with butterflies in my stomach and often with a to-do list. But lately, with quite a bit of awe.

How To Make A Grown Woman Cry

Acknowledge her paper pregnancy.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Adoption Bug

Adoption Bug is doing the 12 days of Christmas giveaway. Today's challenge is to blog about them and tell the one thing we'd like to win. My item is this:

Though I also like this:
And this:
Oooo, and I love this:

I pretty much love their stuff and if you've seen me, you know I sport several of their t-shirts on a regular basis.

Hey, don't forget my 10 (now 7!) kids! If you can't sponsor one of them, join with me in praying their families will find them!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Things I've Learned About God From My Kids (Take 814)

Actually, this should probably be entitled Things I've Learned About How I Treat God From My Kids, but that isn't the series I stared a zillion years ago. This comes close enough.
It's the sweetness factor that saves his hide.

So, Charming has been going through this I Must Play With Mommy All Day phase. We're going on five years now and I don't see it coming to an end any time soon. And the game of choice is Cars. Not just any old cars, oh no. CARS cars. Lightning McQueen. Chick Hicks. The King.

We set up elaborate sets for the Cars to act out their scenes. We have Radiator Springs scripts. We have Racetrack scripts. Sometimes we go off script and Lightning is the bad guy (but ONLY when we use "mad lightning." Never when we use "happy lightning." And Sally never cheers for Chick, even when mad Lightning is on a rampage.)

But I'm starting to catch on to the kid. He doesn't really want me to play. He wants me to be present. He wants me to watch him play. He might even make a demand of me every now and then. Be the Girl Cars on command. "Say, 'Go Lightning' Mommy!"

"Go Lightning!"

He likes to tell me it is time to find the racers. He puts me to work building the town out of Legos. He wants me to dig out the obscure Tokyo Guys so we can be modified and go harass Mack. But does he want my input? N.O.

He keeps up a steady stream of conversation with me, but doesn't usually listen for my reply. Except when he wants one and he says, "Are you listening, Mommy?! I said, 'Aren't I awesome?!'"

"Yes son, you are awesome."

Yes, this was during our "We are going to Africa, so we should paint the kitchen" phase. Ignore the background.
He wants me to push the cars, but only when he tells me to. He wants me to be the girl cars, but they don't get to play a part unless he says so. No girl cars get to talk until I've been informed that they should.

It doesn't matter if my ideas would make the game a whole lot more interesting. It might just revolutionize how his game is played. Nope. Not interested.

And as I was perched on my floor, cross legged in the midst of Cars galore, drinking my tea and thinking about everything and nothing because I didn't really need to be engaged, just present I had my "Ah-ha! moment."

Wow. This must be how God feels with me.

Hi God! Wanna come play with me? No, no. Don't tell me what to do God, for crying out loud, I have got this game under control. Just watch me play. Aren't I awesome? HEY! GOD! Are you paying attention? I asked you to do something! Why didn't you do it? Wait, wait, wait.....No. Not that way! You're doing it all wrong! Here. Let me show you how you should do it. Wait! Where are you going? I thought we were playing here! I know I was ignoring you, but that doesn't mean I didn't want you present. Well.....not that present. Give me some space. You know. Just...there. In case I decide I want you involved. Would you play the part of the friend today? Never mind. I didn't really want to play with you. This other thing caught my attention. Carry on. See you later. If I decide I want you, that is. And I'll expect you to drop everything and be there for me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

10 For 10

One thing I've discovered about international adoption is that getting very emotionally involved in another country's well-being becomes a by-product. 

In addition, we need to remember that adoption is based on loss. The loss of a child, parent, country, village...any number of things. Yes, it is beautiful, but we must never forget that it first began with a loss. 

My friend, Missy, and I have "talked" extensively about how to help reduce that loss. HOW to we help a mother before she loses hope? Until the only choice she has is relinquish custody or watch her child starve to death? HOW do we keep a child with his family? HOW do you help a country that is starving to death? We came up with this. And by "we," I mostly mean Missy, but I have fully jumped onto her bandwagon. 

And with that intro, I will let her speak:

Last night, my daughter fussed after I put her to bed, telling Mama that something wasn't right. I went in to check, and found a wet-diapered little girl who was trying to fall asleep in a big wet circle of spilled bottle, shirt soaked through.
I let Daddy deal with diapers and fresh PJ's while I handled the sheets. As I tugged off the wet ones, my heart sank. I thought of all the big wet puddles on the crib sheets in the Enat Elam video, and the newborns with bottles propped up against blankets learning to self-feed...

I thought of my own two adopted babies, waiting for me in a care center in Ethiopia, rocking themselves to sleep.  My babies.  

I'll be honest. I lost faith for a moment.

The immensity of the AIDS and orphan crisis finally did what it does; it punched me in the stomach and told me that anything I can do is not enough.
As I scrambled to pull myself together and manuever crib sheets around bumpers, I prayed that God would keep my candle lit. I thanked Him for fresh sheets. I asked Him to handle the dark voice that did not belong to Him and remove it from my brain. (He did, because He does.)
I am battling that dark voice every day. We all are. The one that tells us that we are not big enough to make a difference, because the problems of this world are too overwhelming.

So we do nothing.
And yet we have a responsibility as Christians.
It's right here in black and white. Actually, it's in red lettering.
What EXACTLY does GOD say about our responsibility to the hungry?
To those in Africa who are "sentenced to die" by starvation?
Well, it's harsh, and you aren't going to like it. The first time I heard these words on Daily Audio Bible, I was floored:

11 Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to die;
save them as they stagger to their death...
12 Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.”
For God understands all hearts, and he sees you.
He who guards your soul knows you knew.

He will repay all people as their actions deserve.

Soul-crushing, right?

So what can we do?
Where is the solution for this impossible situation?
After reading this post by author Tom Davis, I read his book, Red Letters. I found an answer, amidst all of the statistics that reek of death...

It lies within our five small barley loaves and two small fish.

The disciple Andrew asked:
9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” John 6: 1-14
The boy had faith.
The disciples had statistics.
Don't let Satan use statistics to trick you into thinking that you should not offer Jesus your small lunch because it won't make a difference.
Have faith. Be the boy.

Ready and willing to help? Confused about what to do?
I understand. I am, too.
I will never fully figure this one out.
Not everyone can adopt.
Not every child is adoptable.
I know that.

How about sponsoring one?
How about being the disciple who tells a lonely child of God that they are not forgotten?

The benefits of sponsorship go both ways. You and your family can write letters telling that child that Jesus has not forgotten them, and neither will you. You can back those words with a year or more commitment to sponsor them in education and health care.

Jamie Says: HOLY MOLEY she looks like my little girl!
You get to watch God work.
And He DOES.
Want to see what your tiny fish and barley loaves can do when placed in the hands of Christ?
Want to see Jesus feed the 5,000 all over again?

Do you want to be the one to hand over your lunch while everyone else stands around asking questions?

Do you want to see what He can do with your tiny fish...

And your 5 barley loaves?

Offer it to Him.
(He still puts on a show.)
Why am I doing this today, when I am sure we would all prefer a nice post about homeschooling or a walk in the garden?
Because I have a 6 month old, 9 pound daughter...
(I have a waiting 6yo the size of my current 4yo)

who will not grow up sitting in the dirt begging for water,
and a son who will never beg for food.
Because I have prayed and searched for the right charity to point my readers to, and I believe in this one, because sponsorship programs allow you to impact one person's life in a way that can change the future.
Any of these kids could have been ours.
And I mean all of ours.

These are God's kids, and they belong to all of us.
We must mark the lives of the lost
with the love of Jesus Christ.
We must TEACH them LOVE.

These photos are the proof of lives changed through
Children's HopeChest

You can be the hero by doing something that will give you more joy than you have ever known.

You can tell them you remember.

You can be the one to love "the least of these."
- Matthew 25:40

Today, you can a part of this miracle
The blog hosting this guest post is joining together with 9 other bloggers to find 100 children their sponsor families. 
10 Bloggers x 10 Kids = 100 children.
100 children loved, fed, remembered.
The children pictured below were chosen specifically for this blog.  
Choose your child today, and email with your child's name in order to request their sponsorship package:
Once you do, let me know and 

*update: ALL of my kids are spoken for. There was such a rush in the last 24 hours and the person running the show is off for Christmas, that we aren't sure who got these last two precious boys. I will let you know ASAP when I know who is their sponsor. Meanwhile, if you missed out on these boys, but would still like the opportunity, visit Megan's blog. She still has several! Let's find sponsors for all 100 kiddos! 

1.  Balyo: Now Sponsored!
By the Day family!
2.  Temesgen: Now Sponsored!
By the Foy family!
3.  Kazru: Now Sponsored!
By the Mathis family!
4.  Rebka: Now Sponsored!
By the Siyajuck family!
5.  Asamech: Now Sponsored!
By the Bernas family!
6.  Habtamu: NOW SPONSORED!
By the Dalke Family!
7.  Aman: Now Sponsored!
By the Brandt family!
8.  Zekarias: Now Sponsored!

9.  Algayenesh: Now Sponsored!
 by the Gruner family!
10. Tderder: Now Sponsored!
By the Clemens family
I promise you, this experience will bless you 100 times more that you could EVER bless these children. 
$34/month = one child loved, fed, and remembered.

Says Jamie: Commit to one of these children before December 26 and I WILL GO VISIT THEM FOR YOU. Every one of them is within driving range from where I go to court. I will deliver hugs and letters and love and I will bring it back in return. Commit to one of them AFTER and I will still deliver hugs and love and will bring them back, but it will take a couple more months before I can do so. ;)

Are you a blogger who would like to advocate for these children by taking on your very own 10 Kids?