Sunday, June 28, 2015

Family Growth and Reflections

The 2014/2015 school year has officially come to a close. I am overjoyed to have 2 months with my kids where we can just be together. I love our family time more than I can say and having them away for the past year was very difficult for all of us, yet I wouldn't change it for anything. You see, through the hardship of transitioning to school for them and balancing work, teaching, and family life for me, we all grew a lot.
Each of my children went through a very difficult trial in the last year, some trials were sorted within a month or two and some continued throughout the whole school year. One child did not remember how to show proper respect for a teacher, which really shocked me because that was not a problem during homeschooling. After much consistency and creative discipline, the child turned out to be more respectful than I thought they ever would be. The character development of this child BLEW me away, and to God be the glory! One child had to deal with another student, who they felt was bullying them, and they had to learn to deal with the other child and learn to control their temper. I wish I could say that this issue resolved itself, but it is still a work in progress. God is growing this child to know who they are as a child of the King, and it is beautiful. Another child felt left out and ignored by others due to differing interests and many tears were shed. Many conversations happened to encourage the child, but it was a long hard lesson taught. This child learned what it means to compromise and the opportunity for give and take in relationships. I see a new love for others and their opinions in this child, and I praise God for the growth.
I cried many tears of pain, frustration and brokenness for each child at different points in the year, but God was faithful to us all, and we are all stronger and better people. Sometimes watching a child walk through something hard makes you feel like you failed, or they would not have to walk through that, but I really feel like God was telling me over and over this year that He was refining my kids. Wow, turning them over to their Maker should be the easiest thing to do, but it was so painful to let go of the imagined control I thought I had in their lives. So many lessons were learned by all of us this past year, and God is so incredibly good. The 3 kids who walked out of school on Thursday are not even close to the kids who entered that school 9 months ago. It still brings tears to my eyes as I remember the really hard days, and then I see the amazing growth that God brought out in each heart. God is so good.
As for Bryan and I, it is hard to know where to begin. What a year! Bryan has been walking through some pretty hard spiritual battles for over a year now and God has brought him to a new and better place. Running BG takes so much of his time, energy and patience. Making sure there are funds here for staff to be able to do their jobs with excellence is huge, not to mention the countless "fires" needed to be handled daily with the government, staff and projects such as Beautiful Gardens. He is my hero because he handles it well and the last 2 months have shown an even better and stronger side of him, and I praise God for his growth. He loves the kids and staff here with all his heart and it is so amazing to see and hear him when he talks to the staff and plays with the kids. I wish the demands of the job were less so he could be with the BG kids more, but with the countless teams and volunteers here, the children are not lacking attention :)
Working at BG has been a real blessing for me these past 8 months. I feel more connected with the staff and their hearts for what they do at BG. I had the opportunity to get to know a lot more teams and volunteers because I was not stuck in my house teaching all day :) I also found that I was a ton busier than before as I have way more meetings than I am used to, but it is good because we are working together for the glory of God in this place! I continued teaching on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons (yep, I am the science teacher at the school) and then each day, needed to spend an hour or so with my kids helping make sure homework was done. I still have no idea how we made it through and I am thankful for a calendar, or I would have missed hundreds of things cause life was full. I need prayer that I will balance the next year better than this year, because I did feel like I could not give 100% to all the different things I was doing, and I want to be sure I do all things with excellence! All this to say that I am thankful to God for the growth He has given each of us this past year and I feel so blessed by all God has done for each of us.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Special moment

Holland Christian High School has a team of students who are serving at Beautiful Gate this week. They offered to lead our Wednesday chapel time, and surprised our staff by washing their feet. The students read a few verses and thanked our staff for serving the BG kids. They decided to take it one step further and paint the nails of our female staff after washing their feet. Our staff were smiling and laughing and mostly, they were relaxing which was perfect. I started off in the chapel with all of them, but was needed to cover a baby house half way through.

I enjoyed my time in the baby room because I found a couple really good books and read them to the 7 babies in the room with me. The kids loved the book that had a mirror on every page. After reading and tickling the little ones, I decided to check on the kids who were still sleeping in the other room and found one of the older girls just getting out of her bed. She has been struggling with a fever for a few days and when she saw me she began to cry and reached out for me. I grabbed her and sat her on the bed in the room and rocked her back and forth. She held on tight to my shirt and laid her head on my shoulder as we rocked. She swayed her body back and forth as I rocked her to show me that she did not want me to stop. How long has it been since her mom rocked her? Am I a comfort or am I bringing back the longing of having her own mother back in her life?

Love was bursting from my heart and in that special moment with just the two of us, the most unexpected song popped in my head. I used to sing my 3 kids a song I made up. I would rock them as I was getting them ready for bed when they were infants and I would always sing this little made up song. As we rocked I sang the song and tears welled in my eyes. I am amazed by the love that God continues to give me for His children year after year, and I am amazed that He gave me such an intimate moment with one of His precious little children. To Him, she is not an orphan, but His beautiful handiwork. She is not fatherless because He is her Daddy. She was not an accident but was fearfully and wonderfully made by the best Artist. God is good even in her pain.

PS. Thank you for all your prayers over the last week or so. They have been felt and while we may not know all the reasons and motivations for our trials, it is nice to be reminded that we do not walk this journey alone. God is holding onto us and He has placed so many good friends and faithful family members along our journey. My friend gave me a great verse today and I want to share it with all of you.

Exodus 14:13-14 " Moses answered the people, 'Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.' "

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Love does not seek its own

God has a way of turning our eyes to Him and to His glory and goodness despite our own worries. Today, He slapped me in the face with an emergency which arose on campus. A 7 month old baby was throwing up and then began to aspirate. Her house mother actually sucked her nose clear so she could breath and ran out of the house looking for help. At the same time the emergency arose, Terp needed something out of the office and I offered to go with her to get some papers for my Sunday School class. I knew I was driving my kids in the Rav 4 so I put the keys in my pocket (which is really not my usual way to be so prepared so I know God had this planned out for His glory) and I headed out the door to the office.

As we were on our way, the house mother ran at us with the baby. Her breathing was labored and the house mother was still working to clear her nose. Terp and I grabbed the baby, ran for the car and started rushing to the hospital. We had to pause for the house mother to catch up to us as she had run in for some slippers. Praise God that the hospital had no wait and got her straight back to get her on oxygen. She is doing well right now and we are so thankful.

As we were getting discharged, I looked into the baby's eyes and then looked over at her house mother and tears welled up in my eyes. She saved the baby's life through her quick thinking and willingness to do something that most people would not have thought to do, by sucking out the child's nose with her own mouth because there was nothing else to use. I am amazed at the true love that I see here between the staff and the kids. It is so beautiful and it is such a reminder of the love God has for each of us.

1 Corinthians 13:4,5 "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil." NKJV

I see love that does not seek its own when I am here. People who will drop everything to lend a helping hand. Thanks Melisa for teaching my Sunday School class and Bryan and Tyler for stepping in to get our team and volunteers to church and getting the medical book and my glasses to me. We are a community working together to take care of the kids and staff here and I am blessed beyond measure to be a part of this awesome team.

One final note that has all of us laughing in stitches now that the emergency is over...the house mother realized when she got to the hospital that she never put any pants on because she got called out of a bath to help the child. The way she was telling the story of figuring it out in the emergency room is sooooo funny. Thankfully her work house coat is a little long and she had that over her pajama shirt. There is joy to be found in the most unexpected places and love to be found in a mother who is not the biological mother of this child, but loves even better than some biological mothers would. Thank you once again Lord, that you chose this life for me.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Corrupt Words

My dear friends who are walking this journey with us through faithfully reading our blog, I am in need of your prayers. We have been wounded deeply and we have been walking in pain for many weeks and I ask that you please help us by praying for us as we seek God's guidance and wisdom.

Harsh words spoken and judgment given without complete information or understanding has fallen upon us, and it is dragging down our spirits and faith. Some people do not think of the power of a word, spoken in anger or said flippantly, but words can scar the soul deeper than they might expect.

We have been praying for God to help bring truth and revelation to the situation, but His timing is not ours and it seems that we are being refined by the hottest fire. We do not know the best way to proceed so please pray. Please pray for us to be covered by the armor of God and for the spiritual warfare to be over. I do not want to go into details of all of our hurt as I do not want to add to gossip or slander, but please keep us in your prayers.

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Ephesians 4:29

Please remember that when you hear people talking about others, check with the person that was being talked about to see if it is true, do not contribute to gossip or slander as it is in no way edifying to anyone.