Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Ambulances and Mcd's... It''s time for summer school

This little lady of mine needs a little extra help this summer. We ditched the traditional curriculum and pulled in some new stuff. This week was the first week of "summer school". 


We did a photo shoot, grocery shopping then stopped at Mcd's for lunch and schoolwork.
We have some challenges not so much learning as behavioral when it comes to school work. I am hoping to catch her up to her age level by the end of summer. Step by step we are making progress! 


She wasn't so sure about doing school at Mcd's but we ended up having fun! 



 We took a field trip to the local Ambulance company... 




Mrs. W showed us all kinds of cool stuff. She was a great teacher and the kids had a blast! 


The boys tried on helmets... 


Mrs. W demonstrated the very cool stretcher! 


The kids had fun sitting in the ambulance... 


I had no idea what this symbol represents.... any none medical people wanna answer?!


My little crew!

This week's field trip was fun and educational. Our goal currently is to find as many free and/or low cost field trips as possible! We are having fun learning new things and getting out of the house! 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Spring time and mommy dates...



Spring seems to be in no hurry to arrive... it is slowly. slowly. getting warmer.
The kids had their spring concert with homeschool choir. We had a picnic at the park. Slowly we are getting into spring routines...



Can I just take a nap?

Playing at the park with friends.

Hanging out

This is 2 blog posts in one... so continue on to part 2. ;)

The other day Fayth and I did a photo shoot at the park. My kids love to be behind the camera....

#reallife moment. I said to the kids, look it's my new boyfriend!! My son replies, mom, you are weird. I don't want a scarecrow for a dad. 
=

Taking time to smell the roses, er tulips! 



She wasn't so keen on doing the weird things I asked her too. 


What are you doing?!


She liked this crazy scarecrow...

Sometimes in the craziness of life, the middle children need mommy dates... A photo shoot is a great way to connect and hang out. We did the photo shoot, stopped for groceries then Mcd's for lunch. #happygirl

Monday, April 28, 2014

Single Mom Finances Part 2

So continuing on yesterday's post...

This is an excellent post on trusting God...

God wants to provide for us. He has blessed us with incredible capabilities and he promises to be the Father of the fatherless and Husband of widow. We are also blessed to have google. :)  Prayer and google have solved many of my problems!



As a single mom, it is important to be able to learn many different skills... It is important to have problem solving skills... 

                                                         

Youtube and pinterest can be the answer to many a problem. I have figured out how to repair lawn mowers, refrigerators, done vehicle maintenance, learned how to care for african american hair, and how to knit by watching youtube videos.  As a single mom, you need to be able to be mom, dad and teacher...



Once a long time ago, as a young single girl living on her own, I asked a friend to change the brakes on my car. He gave me access to his shop, his tools, gave me instructions, then left me alone to figure it out. (I remember I was really mad at him) But I figured it out! He helped me out several times in this way, he was always willing to teach me, but he said he would only do it once, next time I was on my own. That was one of the most valuable bits of help I have ever gotten! I can change brake pads, batteries, head lights, fuses and even oil in my vehicle. Currently I choose to use a good mechanic, but should the need ever arise, I know I am able to do all the above and more! 



Whenever a repairman comes out to fix any of my appliances, I am in his face, asking why and how.  So then the next time said appliance breaks I can repair it. We also pray over our broken appliances and sometimes God brings them back to working condition. 


 I also get the  benefit of teaching my kids to "figure things out". God has given us each a brain and that brain is meant to be used to work life.


It takes a lot of hard physical and non traditional work to be able to figure out how to do repairs. It is also important to assess whether the saved funds are worth it. There are times when saving $5 will cost my kids more in emotional energy and that is not worth the trouble. 

When I first became a widow, I was scared. I did not manage the budget in our marriage. I felt a huge responsibility in following the footsteps of my very wise husband. (his financial decisions at 18 and 19 are still felt today)

I prayed fervently for wisdom. I begged for wisdom. I read scriptures on wisdom. I prayed scriptures on wisdom. I hungered for wisdom. 


Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, 14 for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. 15 She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. 16 Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. 17

 Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. 18 She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed. 19 By wisdom the LORD laid the earth's foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; 20 by his knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.

21 My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; 22 they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. 

23 Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble; 24 when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. 25 Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, 26 for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared. 27 



Sunday, April 27, 2014

Finances and the Single Stay At Home Mom...

 God is pleased continually to vary His mode of dealing with us, in order that we may not be tempted to trust in donors, or in circumstances, but in Him alone, and to keep our eye fixed upon Him.  George Meuller

#make sure you read all the way to the bottom, where I give my tips... 


My basement store house (blessing from a foster parent food program) 

Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. Malachi 3:10


My home canned goodies (blessing from my upbringing, knowledge and willingness to toil)

An Hour after He Prayed, the Answer Came 
George went back to college without knowing how he was going to pay his tuition. He did something he thought was a bit silly for a grown man to do. He got on his knees and asked God to provide. To his surprise, an hour later a professor knocked on his door. He offered George a paid tutoring job! George was amazed! This was the beginning of George Mueller's dependence on God.


Freezers full of food (blessing from the above two blessings and venison from hunters who like to hunt but not eat venison)
Praying Food into the Home
Each day as George walked the streets, he saw children everywhere who had no mom or dad. They lived on the streets or in state-run poorhouses, where they were treated badly. George felt God calling him to open an orphanage to take care of the children.
George prayed, asking God to provide a building, people to oversee it, furniture, and money for food and clothing. God answered his prayers. The needs of the orphanage were met each day. Sometimes a wealthy person would send a large amount of money, or a child would give a small amount received as a gift or for doing chores. Many times food, supplies or money came at the last minute, but God always provided without George telling anyone about his needs. He just prayed and waited on God.
More than 10,000 children lived in the orphanage over the years. When each child became old enough to live on his own, George would pray with him and put a Bible in his right hand and a coin in his left. He explained to the young person that if he held onto what was in his right hand, God would always make sure there was something in his left hand as well.

(blessing of helping hands from church who helped freeze corn and applesauce)

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.


(Blessings from friends who are just amazing)

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”


(blessing of the room and ability to raise our own food.)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.


(blessing of a childcare job out of nowhere)

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.

 
(Blessing of  my upbringing, the ability and love of raising my own food)

In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.



(Blessing of yardsale clothing and hand me down clothing)

To learn strong faith is to endure great trials. I have learned my faith by standing firm amid severe testings. George Mueller

(Blessing of Craigslist deals, direct answers to prayers)


She selects wool and flax

    and works with eager hands.
14 
She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 
She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 
She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 
She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 
She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 
In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 
She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 
When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 
She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 
Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 
She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 
She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 
She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 
Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 
“Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.



So the big question I always get from everyone, social workers to other single moms, to complete (nosey) strangers... How do you do it financially?!
The answer to that question is simple. I strive to live like George Mueller. I strive to bring my needs to God. The kiddoes and I pray for any major needs we have and often get to see GREAT results.


This does not mean I always get what I want. Sometimes God's answer is different from what my heart desires. But ultimately, God provides. Abundantly above what I could ever imagine. But I need to step out in faith. I need to do the crazy things. I need to trust that he will provide. It took a lot of stepping out of the boat in that first year. A lot of trust building. praying. fervently.

It also means hardwork, sacrifice and budgeting. It means tracking every penny, but finding the balance of not obessessing. It means working hard. It means waiting, for the right time and the right deal. It means sacrifice.

My children wear mostly brand name clothing (because I like the quality) bought at yard sales and thrift shops, or passed on to us by friends. My one friend cleans for this family, they have two boys. The family passes on their 2 sons clothing to my friend, who takes clothing for her sons, then passes the left overs on to me for my two sons and I pass what I don't want on to friends... God's provision.

I can not tell you the last time I shopped at a "regular" grocery store. Every 3 months, I make a run to the foster parent food program, where I buy cases and cases of food. I shop every other week at the local amish bend and dent stores. I am careful what I buy. I also find seconds on produce and can as much as possible in the summer time. We have our own chickens and hope to soon have our own beef. Currently I have a freezer full of venison and turkey legs, from local friends.

Vacations:
I do splurge on these. This is important for us. However I try to find funding when available and discounts etc. For ex, we do not do beach vacations. We do not stay in motels, VRBO.com is a much better option. We also camp. It is a lot of work but very affordable.

Budgeting... It never lines up. What comes in and goes out monthly is not realistic on paper. (try documenting THAT for adoption!)But I sit down atleast twice a year and assess where my money is going and if I can change that in anyway... sometimes I am shocked to discover where I have been very careless. So this is an important step.

Saving for emergencies is also crucial. So very important. The very key to staying afloat.

I assess what is important. Sometimes household help is more important then vacations. Sometimes vacations need to be priority. Sometimes that $4 coffee is what keeps me sane, other times its what makes me cringe.

We have found the perfect down the to word items we have prayed for...
the house we live in.
the camper we own.
the two vehicles we own, debt free due to some awesome God stories
the pool we have.
the clothing my kids wear.
the fun things I have bought recently for the kids.


God provides. He wants us to rely on Him.


The other week, I had a situation where I was tight and I did what I knew God wanted me to do. So, quite frankly I was not shocked when a couple days later, a neighbor, one we do not know, dropped by with a gift card for the local store where we buy diapers and formula. (they could not have known ANY of this!)


Every Christmas the kids and I fix a gift box for some family that we DO NOT KNOW. Every year we receive a gift from different random people, who do NOT know that we do the same thing. One year, a man in a creepy black van, stopped in and handed me a large amount of money. I to this day do not know who he was.


Vehicle Maintenance... one of my biggest expenses. Every time I schedule it, I get a gift. every time.




God will provide if you are walking in obedience and if you ASK! He wants to be your Jehovah Jireh, our God who provides.


The name Jehovah-Jireh is a name that is crucial for us today as we seek to know the Father. It is a name that assures us that our Heavenly Father is able to provide any need we have. Trust Him for that!






Saturday, April 26, 2014

What I needed to hear...

some more #reallife...
I can be very hard on myself. I can be very hard on those around me.

The past several days the kids have been listening to Odyssey's Truth Chronicles. Its been very enlightening for me. I have much to mull over...
What do I believe and why? the Truth Chronicles is meant to give kids the tools needed to speak up for what they believe and explains scriptural worldview like I have never heard before... I am learning just as much as the kids.

Then I went to the North East Adoption Summit for the evening... I cried. several times. My heart... it needed to hear that.  I needed to hear that adopting lots of kids is not "crazy", it's following God's heart.

 I needed to hear that I should be humbled but not beaten down by the "pain" and the tough stuff, I deal with. I needed to hear from the mom's with teenagers who were jailed, pregnant and even prostituting who were out there speaking about adoption. Encouraging.. connecting...

I needed to hear that adoption is a beautiful picture of God's heart... I needed to see the 9 yr old boy correct his dad (the great adoption speaker) on stage...

I needed  to be reminded that God adopted me, it was painful, painfully painful for him. Even unto death on the cross... Yet, he still adopted me and paid the price, willingly.

I needed to be reminded that I don't want the boring American life... I want the adventure of adoption.

I needed to hear that I need to be an advocate not an activist.
An activist is bitter...
An Advocate wants to make it better...



I needed to see these beautiful families... living out their dreams for God. Not caught up in the daily grind of American life. The one mom said it so beautifully in the last video. Stop worrying about what teenage years will look like, stop worrying what adulthood will look like. Look at the challenges at the moment, read a book, watch a video, attend a training... learn how to deal with it, raise a well rounded individual, because you have the ability to learn..


I needed to hear from the adoptive momma who said "I have struggled all my life with my stubborn nature, but now I see that I needed it for this time of parenting. This time of not giving up".




Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday Encouragement...

    
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see Hebrews 11:1



Sometimes life gets rough, the stress of coping with the day to day is overwhelming. The hamster wheel we are stuck on is spinning, faster, faster, faster.... It is hard to believe on those days. It is hard to "be sure" on those kinda days. 






5 who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.








But God promises strength for the bad days, peace for the stormy days, and wisdom for the crazy days. 










He doesn't promise a bed of roses, He doesn't promise prosperity, He doesn't promise the easy road. No, he warns us of the challenges, he wants us to be tested so that we can not survive on our own. Not because he is a mean God, but because he loves us. He wants to be our all in all. Our only hope, our peace, our strength. If only we allow Him. 












Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."






However if we learn to align our desires with his, our hearts to His, He will often bless us. The road to becoming refined is often painful and unpleasant. But oh, the rewards.



Be encouraged today. God is working, sometimes He is working on you and sometimes He is working for you. But either way, you are a beautiful part of His Great Plan. You were born for a time like this... 


























Thursday, April 24, 2014

TBT April 2010 and April 2011

 Read Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3  to catch up on the Story...
This is the final part of this story, a series of TBT. Be sure to read the entire story, to see how God worked! 

I was a love mommy to 7 different children. But I wanted kiddoes to stay, I wanted permanency.
That's when I got two beautiful little kiddoes. There is a long God Story for each kiddoe I adopted. Some day I will share those...



But for now the short version...

August 2008, Lee age 4 and Elizabeth age 4 came to live with me. We hoped to have the adoption finalized in 6-12 months.But foster care is never that simple and 3 years later on APRIL 15, 2011 they became legal members of my family!


In Sept. 2008 I got a call for another sibling set. 3 kiddoes, ages 10 mo, 2 yrs and 4 yrs old. At that point God opened the door for the younger two to come into my family. This was to be a temporary placement, 3-4 months.

Sept 2008, 
Pic taken 24 hrs after the second sibling set came to my house. I had 50 lbs of grapes to take to juice! 

But God had other plans, baby Ty went to live with his daddy after about 10 months,  on APRIL  9, 2009. Meanwhile in Feb. 2009, big brother David had come to live with us and we were looking at adoption instead of reunification. I was no longer lonely or alone...;)



My crew Christmas 2009. 
Miss C 12 yo (who lived with us off and on for several years) David 5 yo, Fayth 4 yo, Elizabeth 4 yo, and Lee 5 yo. 

David and Fayth were adopted on APRIL 14, 2010. Yup, they were adopted first!

In August of 2010 Nesiah joined our family through the this website.




With lots of hard work from my amazing caseworkers, we participated in another miracle and Nesiah was adopted along with Lee and Elizabeth.  ON APRIL 15, 2011.

My family was now complete, a perfect story of redemption... or so I thought.
However, you will need to wait for the final chapter of this story because at the moment I can not blog about that! 

Easter 2014.... Not the best picture, but it's #reallife with lots of kids on a Sunday morning! 


“Enlarge the place of your tent,
    stretch your tent curtains wide,
    do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
    strengthen your stakes.


For you will spread out to the right and to the left;

    your descendants will dispossess nations
    and settle in their desolate cities.

“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.

    Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.
You will forget the shame of your youth
    and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.

For your Maker is your husband

    the Lord Almighty is his name—
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
    he is called the God of all the earth.

The Lord will call you back

    as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit—
a wife who married young,
    only to be rejected,” says your God.

“For a brief moment I abandoned you,

    but with deep compassion I will bring you back.

In a surge of anger

    I hid my face from you for a moment,
but with everlasting kindness
    I will have compassion on you,”
    says the Lord your Redeemer.









Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Most everything I own has a story...


Most everything I have ever bought has been prayed for or bought at some great bargain, sometimes both.
We had long discussed a swimming pool for our backyard but considering we live on the side of a very long hill, there is very little flat area in our yard. So we mulled, dreamed and discussed. Finally decided to check with the landlord to see if they mind if we do some "yard work". They were fine..

So we dreamed some more and started searching craigslist. I found the most amazing deal, practically new swimming pool with everything we need including sand!

Last Saturday we took a road trip to pick up this set up. You never know what you will encounter with craigslist, but I had done a bing map search and the house was in a nice development, so I felt comfortable taking the kids along.

We drove through this cookie cutter development, house after matching house on postage stamp lots.. (I always find the BEST craigslist deals in these kinds of places!) The guy I had been emailing was out in front of his house, he had everything set out for us. It was perfect.

I think he was a little shocked to see a single woman show up with shovels and totes to haul sand and the entire pool set up! My boys happily pitched in with shoveling sand and with some heavy duty tugging, shoving, pulling and pushing we loaded the sand into the van!



Love it that my van can double as a truck with the bonus of a lift!!! 


Unloading the pool... 


Now lets move that sand out... 


More pushing and pulling. Teamwork makes things easier. I am thankful for my STRONG boys! 


You ok there bro?! 


The entire set up! So excited for summer!! 


We are hoping friends will help us level off the spot in the backyard. We are removing the old swingset and putting sand and woodchips down. I want to add a smaller kiddie pool and my hammock and make a nice little hang out spot for this summer!