Saturday, May 31, 2008

An Update on Potty Training Twin Boys

I have made a few unsuccessful attempts at potty training the boys since my last posts on the subject (see here, here and here) Honestly, I had pretty much given up on the whole potty training thing, and then it happened...

I was getting the boys dressed one morning and, I asked Twin 1, "Do you want to wear a diaper or undies?" (a half-hearted question to somewhat convince myself that I was still attempting to potty-train) To my great surprise he chose undies. And, to my even greater surprise he actually asked to use the potty throughout the day!

He even made comments like, "I like to go pee in the potty mom." and "Going pee in the potty is fun mom."

This is the same child that days (maybe even hours) before would say things like "I go pee in the potty, NOT mom."

Even more surprising, he continues to ask to go potty. I'm not sure what happened, but the thought of having only one child in diapers is thrilling!

Part of the continued motivation could possibly be the bag of starbursts I have in the cupboard. Although, the starbursts were not around when he first made the surprising choice to wear undies. The first time he used the potty that day, he asked for a treat. At that time the only thing in the cupboard was a half eaten chocolate bunny from Easter, so I tore off a piece and gave it to him. Strangely, it seemed to be as motivating as the starbursts (but a half eaten chocolate bunny can only last so long).

As for Twin 2, he sees Twin 1 getting treats, wants the treats, sits on the potty to get the treats, goes as little as possible to attain the treats and still prefers diapers at this point. Hey, at least we are making progress!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Listening In

To give a better frame of reference to the "Not" at the end of yesterday's wordless wednesday, please listen in on a common conversation at our house as we are getting ready for quiet time:

Mommy: Jonah, do you want to pick out some books for quiet time?

Jonah: Yes, mom

Mommy: Which ones do you want?

Jonah: I want this one, and this one and this one (I reach for all the books as he points to them), not mom.

Mommy: You don't want this one?

Jonah: I want this one, not mom.

Mommy: Okay, just tell me the ones you do want, not the ones you don't want.

Jonah: Okay mom, I want this one. And I want the train one, not mom.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Wise Words from John MacArthur

Mya starts kindergarten this fall. It feels like we are getting ready to graduate to the next level of parenting, and there are times when that feels hard.

I know that school will ultimately be a good thing and once we make the transition to our "new normal" it will be exciting. I am looking forward to watching Mya learn new things (like reading). She is ready and I am excited for her.

But I have my concerns. The main concern being that she will suddenly be bombarded by a host of other influences other than myself. A lot of these influences will be good, but some of them will go against what we are trying to teach her.

So, I was listening to a FamilyLife podcast on my ipod (side note: take my ipod and couple it with my favorite radio broadcasts and quiet kids - okay semi-quiet - or at least not screaming kids- and I am a happy woman!). The topic was "Teaching your kids to be Wise" and the guest was John MacArthur.

John was exhorting parents to teach their children to fear God and guard their child's heart. One thing he said struck a chord with me.

He said, "Primarily, guarding the mind is a function of the knowledge of the word of God. From the beginning we need to pour into our kids' hearts the Bible... In the end what protects the child is not that you don't ever let them get any bad information in, but that you fill them with what is true and that itself become the protection. "

I can't tell you the peace of mind that statement brought me. The reality is I will never be able to protect Mya from all the bad influences and ideologies that she will encounter in school and life. But, I can pour into her God's word and truth - that will be her protection.

It also reinforced to me the need to model what it looks like to be in the Word on a daily basis and protect myself from bad information (aka guard my own heart) by pouring God's word into my own life.

Parenting is not a job for the faint of heart. It is a responsibility that overwhelms me when I think of the magnitude of the task. That is why I am so thankful my Heavenly Father is there to guide me each step of the way. I can't imagine doing this job without Him.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Please pray for the Steven Curtis Chapman family

I just read this on Shaun Grove's blog and wanted to pass it along. I can't imagine what the Chapman family might be feeling right now, it breaks my heart.

From The Tennessean:

One of contemporary Christian music star Steven Curtis Chapman’s six children was killed this afternoon when she was struck by a car said to be driven by her teenage brother in the driveway of the family’s Williamson County home.

The child, Maria, age 5, was taken by LifeFlight to Vanderbilt Hospital, which confirmed the death, according to Laura McPherson, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

She was hit by an SUV driven by her teenage brother, she said. Police did not give the driver’s name.

The teen was driving a Toyota Land Cruiser down the driveway of the rural home at about 5:30 p.m. and several children were playing in the area, McPherson said. He did not see the 5-year-old in the driveway before the vehicle struck her, she said.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - "That's Right - I'm Cool"

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Listening In

Mom: Jonah, you need to pick up your puzzles before I make lunch.

Jonah: No Mom, I too busy.

Mom: Oh really, what are you busy doing?

Awkward pause

Jonah: I busy doing this mom (aka nothing)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Compassion International - El Salvador - Pictures from the Trip

We made it home safely. It was so fun to be welcomed home by my kiddos at the airport. I am so glad I went. I hope I do not get so caught up in the busyness of life that I forget what I saw. Thank you so much for your prayers, they meant so much to me!

One of my take aways from this trip is a desire to create an awareness in my children of what life is like for kids around the world. I want my kids to do great things for God's kingdom, but in order for them to do that, they need to be aware of the needs. But I will share more about that later. For now, here are a few pictures from the trip!


At one of the projects we visited, the moms drop off their children and wait for them at the project. They make these bags while they wait and sell them. It has become a "moms group" as well as an extra source of income.


The view when we stepped off the bus at one of the projects. This is the one where the marching band played and we were all given crowns!
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Me and Rocia. Rocia works with Compassion in El Salvador and was our tour guide for the week. She is amazing at her job and has such a love for Christ, the children of El Salvador and her country. It was an honor spending time with her this week. She is also very ornery! At one of the projects she told us to make a noise like our favorite animal. What she told the children is that we were making the sound of the animal we look like!


Visiting one of the classrooms in a Compassion project.


The home of one of the children in the Compassion program. There was a full bed and twin beds in this home (and room for nothing else). 5 people live here.


Me, Yesenia and her mom

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One of our group members getting his hair done! Compassion tries to teach the children job skills. They teach them to sew (Yesenia made me place mats as a gift to take home!), type, and use the computer. One project started a chicken farm which teaches the children to work and makes money for them to help their families. At the project where this picture was taken, they teach the girls hair salon skills!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I met my sponsor child today!

I met a girl, my girl, Yesenia Elizabeth today. What an experience. She had the sweetest spirit and a beautiful face. I can't wait to post pictures when I get home, but I must warn you, pictures do not do her justice!

She came with her mom and a Compassion worker from her project.

Her mom cannot read, but Yesenia can. She is learning English. She wants to be a doctor. She is in the 8th grade and is working hard to keep her grades up.

Yesenia turns 15 in September. Turning 15 is a big deal in El Salvador. She said I was her 15th birthday present!

Honestly, I still can't believe I met her. It feels like a dream.

I always knew she was a real person, but to actually see her face to face, to talk with her, and see her laugh was an amazing blessing.

I feel at a loss for words. How do I tell you about an experience like this?

And now, as I think back, I start to doubt myself. Did I take advantage of the time with her? We don't speak the same language, but I felt a connection - did she? Was I what she expected? I know she exceeded my expectations.

I didn't get emotional while I was with her. I was so happy to see her, but I didn't cry. But thinking back over the day as I stumble through this post, I feel the tears welling up. And, I don't know what to say.

Thank you for your prayers. If you don't already sponsor a child, sponsor one today. If you do sponsor a child, write your child. We heard the testimones of 4 young adults who graduated from the Compassion program and each one of them talked about the letters their sponsor wrote them and the impact that had on their lives.

I have always thought Compassion was a worthy cause, but as a result of this trip, I have seen Compassion up close, first hand and I have been blown away.

Compassion allows you to impact a child on the other side of the world for Christ. I can't think of a greater honor.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Remember when I said we were treated like a rock star...

Our welcome at the Compassion center this morning blew us all away (Compassion staff included). As we got off the bus, a band (think marching band) started to play. Children put crowns on our heads, and led us through a walkway of kids blowing kazoos and waving flags. Children holding the American flag and the El Salvador flag led the way. It was a literal parade. And then, as we entered the center we were showered with confettii by the Center's staff. Let's just say, we felt very welcome.

We found out that we were the first outside group to ever tour this center. The staff and the kids were so excited. It was an honor to share the experience with them!

And what do you imagine is a child in El Salvador's favorite food? Would you believe corn flakes. It was the most popular answer to the question, "What is your favorite food?"

Tomorrow I meet Yesenia, my sponsor child. They are driving her and her parents (or at least parent) over 3 hours to meet me. She will be traveling with us to the center we visit tomorrow. We will be spending the morning together.

Please pray that God would bless our time together and use it for His Glory. I am not the best conversationalist and the thought of making conversation (especially with a language barrier) for that long makes me a bit uneasy. But, its not about me right? My prayer (please make it yours too) is that Yesenia will feel the love of our Father. And if he chooses to use me, then Praise God!

Compassion and El Salvador, Take 2.5

As I was heading up to my room last night after posting, I kept thinking things like, "Oh I should have said that,"or "I should have worded that differently." or "I should have linked to Compassion straight from my post." There are just so many experiences and things I would love to share, but there just isn't time, the right words just don't seem to come, and sometimes (i.e. at night when I am tired) my brain just moves a little slow! If you have any questions about this trip or Compassion feel free to leave one in a comment and I will do my best to answer.

So, it is Wednesday morning. I woke up at 5:30 this morning and couldn't go back to sleep so I decided to get up which is why I have time to write this post before the day starts.

At the two Compassion centers we visited yesterday, when we arrived we were treated like rock stars. It was a very warm welcome. We were then treated to a program. One young boy ministered to us by reading John 3:16 and then shared a message on that verse. Children sang and acted out skits. And then at the end of each program, a surprising thing happened (at least to me). The children placed their hands on us (on me) and prayed for us (me). I was so touched. I was so blessed.

Today we will be visiting another center. Then tonight we will be having dinner with kids who have graduated from the Compassion program. I am looking forward to the day.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Compassion International in El Salvador, Take 2

Well, I just completed another day in El Salvador. It has been such a good day. Two things stand out to me that I want to share before I shower up and hit the sack.

1. We visited the home of a little girl (about Mya's age). Her house was smaller than my master bathroom and housed a family of 5. We got to talk to her parents. Her mom and her dad. It is very rare for a dad to be involved. As we were talking, the little girl started to cry and whine a little. She was tired and needed a nap. Jill made the comment that kids are the same no matter where you are. It is so true. Circumstances and environments may differ, but we are all human.

2. As we were about to get off the bus at the second project we visited, one of our guides Roberto referred to the Bible verse where Jesus says that if you minister to the "least of these" you minister to me. As we went into the project the kids led us in worship. Two little girls were sitting beside me. As I sat there listening with my arms around these little girls, it hit me that I was treading on holy ground. I had my arms around Jesus. I felt so unworthy to be there in that place. To put my arms around Jesus. Words fail.

3. I know I said two, but I have to add one more. The work Compassion is doing is amazing. They are so well-organized. They are making a difference and changing the world. And, the amazing thing is that for $32 a month, you can partner with them. You can impact a child for Jesus. This organization is the real deal and if you don't sponsor a child, I would highly encourage you to (if you scroll down to an earlier post with a picture of my sponsor child Yesenia, you will find a link to their website).

That's all for tonight. I am tired and am looking forward to my bed! (By the way, they are putting us up in a wonderful hotel - as a friend said on a trip to Ukraine - "Hey man, anything for the kingdom!")

Love you all, hopefully I will be posting more throughout the week. Thanks for your prayers, I can truly feel them.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Coming to You, Live from El Salvador

Greetings from San Salvador. I can't wait to crawl into my bed tonight! We got into Houston late last night (around 12:00), and had to be back at the airport at 7:30 this morning. I never sleep good in hotel beds the first night, so I feel very tired today.

We arrived in El Salvador around noon. Unfortunately, my bags won't arrive until later tonight. They did not loose them, they just decided to leave them behind in Houston (along with 55 other bags).

So far, I am very impressed with Compassion. We visited their El Salvador headquarters today. We will be visiting the centers that work with the kids tomorrow.

There is so much to say already, but I have to meet the group for dinner in about 5 minutes so I will just list a few facts I learned:

- there are 33,000 children in Compassion's program in El Salvador.
- approx 800 letters are received from sponsors each week
- approx 1500 letters are sent to sponsors every week
- there are 25 people on this trip with me from all over the U.S., all with a platform of some kind, all here to learn about Compassion and spread the word back in the U.S.

This post feels very random and disjointed, but my brain is not really working at full capacity right now. So, I will post more when I can. Keep us in your prayers. I think this is going to be an interesting week. :)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

A Good Reminder

I read this prayer over at Julie Barnhill's blog and was convicted. How many times do I quickly judge someone instead of opting to show them grace. How many times do I get annoyed at their infringment on my time instead of putting myself in their shoes. This prayer is a good reminder to me to love more.

Heavenly Father,

Help us remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry and spend a few precious moments with her children.

Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young man who can't make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old college student, balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting his student loans for next semester.

Remind us, Lord, that the scary looking bum, begging for money in the same spot every day (who really ought to get a job!) is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares.

Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slow through the store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are savoring this moment, knowing that, based on the biopsy report she got back last week, this will be the last year that they go shopping together.

Heavenly Father, remind us each day that, of all the gifts you give us, the greatest gift is love. It is not enough to share that love with those we hold dear. Open our hearts not to just those who are close to us, but to all humanity. Let us be slow to judge and quick to forgive, show patience, empathy and love.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

An Unexpected Opportunity

Kory and I have had the priveledge of sponsoring children through an organization called Compassion International. Originally, we decided to sponsor a child because it felt like a way to directly impact a child. It was a tangible way to make a difference in someone's life.

Over the years we have written letters to our "kids," and "added to our family." We currently sponsor three children: Lorena from the Philippines, Yesenia from El Salvador, and Jose from Ecuador. It is a unique relationship. Writing letters to children we have never met and receiving letters from them. Praying for each other even though we have never seen each other's faces.

I never thought I would get the opportunity to meet one of my sponsored children. But, next Sunday evening, I will be boarding a plane heading towards El Salvador. Not only will I get to see how Compassion works up-close, I will get to meet Yesenia. A 14 year old who we have been sponsoring for over 7 years.

How did this happen? Here's the scoop. Hearts at Home has partnered with Compassion for several years. Compassion asked Jill Savage, CEO of Hearts, to travel to El Salvador with them to see their ministry first-hand. Jill, her two daughters, and Hearts at Home's Director of Development will be going. And, because I am the only staffer at Hearts with a sponsored child in El Salvador, I will be going as well.

I am very thankful and excited for this opportunity. I never dreamt I would be able to meet my sponsored child face-to-face (although I am afraid her first words to me will be "Why don't you write me more!"). But, I am also nervous. It is always hard to leave my kids, especially when leaving the country. And, although I am glad Kory will be home with our kids, I wish I could experience a trip like this with him!

So, I want to ask for your prayers. Prayers for travel safety. Prayers that I will be Available to His purposes. Prayers for safety for my kids and hubby (and sanity for their babysitters!). And, prayers for peace of mind and courage (this trip is WAY out of my comfort zone).

Jill will be blogging about our trip throughout the week on her blog and I hope to as well. If you want to make a tangible donation to the trip, check out Jill's blog here for ways to help.

Sponsor a child online through Compassion's Christian child sponsorship ministry. Search for a child by age, gender, country, birthday, special needs and more.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Time Flies!

My little man is 5 months old. My baby girl registered for kindergarten this week. Kory and I celebrate our 9 year anniversary next week. I turn *** this year. Where does the time go?!

Or, the more important question, am I using my time wisely? Time marches on whether I want it to or not. The days slip away, whether I am cherishing the moments or worrying about what will come tomorrow. Am I using my time wisely?

Do I use my time for kingdom purposes or selfish interests? Do I invest my minutes in building relationships (with my Maker, family, neighbors and friends) or do I use my minutes to serve myself? Time is flying, how are you using yours?

"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12