Sunday, June 24, 2012


This is when what we are doing becomes completely 110% worth it:

*I watch one of our girls holding Jasper and he leans in to give her a kiss on the cheek and says, "I love you, ______."

*One of the girls looks me in the eyes and asks me if I love her and I can say, "Yes.  I love you."  And when that happens, I know it might be one of the first times of her life that she has heard it and might actually start believing it's true.

*We have our nightly bible verse discussion (whoever has laundry that day picks a verse out of the chapter/book of the week and we all talk about it), and someone asks a question that I remember asking or wondering about when I was a teenager.  I realize that we are giving them the knowledge and love of Jesus that they wouldn't be receiving at all if they were still in their old situation.

*Bennett and Jasper are laughing and playing and running around our house, feeling exuberant and happy to be alive and to be a part of what we are doing here.

*Someone talks about being the hands and feet of Jesus, and I know we are blessed to be living it.

*I take the girls shopping and they are so thankful for simple little things.

*I see how much the girls adore Jasper; they all want to hold him, play with him, talk to him.

*I find a collection of the random little notes I write the girls from time to time, and I realize they are saving them.

*We are driving home from church in our giant 15-passenger van and one of the kids excitedly tells us what they learned in class that day and they all start interrupting each other because they are so eager to share.

*When I take my rest time after church on Sunday and then I come back out into the common area where everyone is relaxing, and a chorus of "Mama!" and "Mama J!" greets me because they have missed me being gone for a couple of hours.

*I get hugs goodnight from all of my kids (all eight of them) when it's time to go to bed.

*The parent or relative of one of the girls thanks me for what we are doing for their child because they can't do it themselves.

*I watch the girls begin to interact with Michael and I and with each other in healthy, positive ways and I know this is the first time they have witnessed and taken part in a healthy family unit.

*The girls are so relieved and thankful to come home, whether it be from the summer rec program, a mission trip, family visit, relief week, etc., and I know that it's because God has given Michael and I the grace and wisdom to make a comfortable, safe haven for each of them.

*One of our kids reaches a sought-after goal that they have been striving for, whether it be physical, emotional, spiritual, etc, and I know God let me play a part in it.

*When I do something like baking homemade cookies or mashed potatoes, or we make popcorn for a good movie and all watch it together with the lights off, or we go to Six Flags, or we play hide and seek in the dark with another cottage, etc etc. and I get to watch one of the kids' eyes light up and hear the awe in their voice when they say, "Wow!  I have never had this/done this before!"

*One of our kids makes a wonderful, polite, generous, gesture that shows me how they are trying to be more like Jesus and my heart nearly bursts because I am so proud.

*One of my girls asked me if I would sit on the front row when she gets married, and if I would be there when she has her first baby someday.

*One of my girls asked if she could always call me and always come see me, even after she graduates, and even after we leave this place and season of life.

*Bennett and one of the girls have a giggling fit together (almost always happens during dinner :) ).

*When the girls are away on our relief week and Bennett asks where they are, and then tells me he wants them to come back because he misses them.

*We celebrate one of the girls' birthday and she is SO excited because it is the first party she has ever had where she got to choose a cake and a theme and actually receive gifts and most of all, feel loved for who she is.


There are so many more things like this that make our time here so worth it.  I need these reminders.  This is what I need to dwell on in my heart.  I have been under attack and felt down and discouraged for a lengthy period of time now.  God has been sweetly, gently reminding me of the beautiful things He is doing here, and that He has chosen to use us to do it.  When it gets hard, when I feel stressed, when I feel overwhelmed deep in my heart, He whispers these things to me.  He is good to let me feel like I am making a difference, and to let me see glimpses of this.

God is so good.  He has been so good to Michael and I to answer our cries when we asked for purpose and meaning with missions and children - goodness, He answered our prayers!  He has been so good to these girls - they have new lives here.  The Lord Almighty ripped them out of Satan's grip - a grip of family addictions, abuse, pain, mistrust, lies, neglect and more - and has warmly, gently, perfectly placed them here to see His face and hear His voice clearly, to know how much He loves each one of them.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


This school year with Bennett and Jasper was a lot of fun.  I feel like both of the boys learned a lot, and although I can't say I was as consistent as I had hoped I would be, for a preschool year, it wasn't too shabby.

We did a bible story a week, and a memory verse each month.  With the bible story, we did an accompanying craft most weeks, and we did three major themed units this year (dinosaurs, the ocean, and insects).  I used some great books to teach basic phonics skills, to master writing and sounding out letters, to write and count numbers, and to practice fine motor skills such as cutting.

With Jasper we worked on basic knowledge retention with numbers, letters, letter sounds, shapes, colors, animal sounds, counting, one-to-one correspondence, etc.  He did great with everything but colors.  As I said in a previous post, I'm really thinking he might be color blind like his daddy.  Time will tell!

Next year, Bennett is off to Kindergarten with his daddy, and Jasper will go to a little two-day a week preschool program.  I am REALLY excited about these changes for both of our boys.  I think it will be really good for them, as well as for our family as a whole.

Here are some pictures of our big ocean themed unit: (this was Bennett's favorite, by far)

Trip to the Children's Aquarium
Touching slimy things :)
Me and my pals
Jasper practicing letters
Making a foam shark

Some of the ingredients for our jello aquariums.
Jello aquariums for our after school snack :)

We read lots and LOTS of informational books about oceans, which Bennett ate up like crazy, and we also made different glittery fish using different colors and worked on making patterns with them lined in rows.  Those pictures have disappeared from my camera somehow :).


1.  Michael and I were entertaining the idea of getting a dog when one literally showed up at our doorstep.  I knew I wanted a small dog that wasn't yappy and didn't shed.  What I really wanted was a Yorkie.  Low and behold a little male Yorkie shows up on campus and wanders around for about a week, visiting each cottage.  The teen boys' house mom knew we were considering getting a dog, so she called me and had me come look at him.  I kept him for a day to see what he was like and found that his little personality was sweet and docile.  The only time he barks is when we are leaving him alone at the house.  And best of all, he puts up with everything Bennett dishes out - nothing short of a miracle, since that includes carrying him around, putting him on the top bunk during rest time, trapping him in obstacle courses, wrestling, etc.  
Yep.  Jetson has been a gold mine.

Walking the dog :)
Best buddies nap together.
Jetson the Dog
**To put your mind at ease, we had him checked by two different vets to make sure he wasn't chipped, and we looked in all of the surrounding neighborhoods for flyers for a missing dog.  Nothing turned up over the course of a month, so we officially declared him ours :).

2.  A few weeks ago we surrendered to the inevitable and bought a mini-van.  I am SO glad we did!  I totally understand why people drive these things!  I used to be worried about driving something so big and bulky, but that was before I had to drive the behemoth that is Big Bertha (what we call our 15 passenger van).  Comparatively, driving a mini-van is a cake-walk, and I had no idea that remote opening doors, having all of your controls on the steering wheel, a DVD player for long trips, super comfy seats, and all of the extra storage could be so fabulous.  I believe there will be mini-vans in heaven for those whose wings get tired, or maybe while your wings are in the shop :).


Okay, here it is.  The post that is almost three months overdue.  Special.

Jasper's birthday is on March 14th, and J's is March 15th.  We split them up and celebrated a week apart because J was visiting her family during Spring Break, and because I wanted them both to feel special.

For Jasper's birthday we just had family over and two little friends that live here on campus.  He wanted a construction theme because that child loves ANYTHING with wheels.  Here are some pictures from the day:

Construction Cake

Jasper's vocabulary has exploded since he turned three.  He says the funniest things and keeps the whole house laughing; he is our comedian, our little clown.  When he's "fustwated" (frustrated) he hunches his shoulders and tromps around heavily, his mouth stuck out in a pout.  When he's mad, he uses what he thinks is an angry voice where his voice gets loud in short bursts and he kind of barks in his high-pitched tone.  Since he's three, this happens once a day or so, and we all have to work really hard not to laugh :).

I think Jasper is probably color blind.  He can count to twenty, knows his ABC's - letters and sounds - can count backward from 10, knows shapes, animal sounds, etc. etc., but he gets his colors mixed up on a regular basis, even though I have worked with him on this skill more than any other.  Michael is color blind too, so at least he will have someone who can help him out.

He is left-handed, but I'm convinced this is because of his early on muscular problems, not because he was born that way, because he often switches back and forth with his hands.  But I'm pretty sure favoring the left hand will stick, so that will be something to work through in school.

Next year Jasper will go to a two-day preschool, which will be so good for him.  I think socializing and learning from someone besides his mama will be kind of fabulous.


J loves animals and nature.  She plans to be a zoologist someday, so her party theme was a mix of nature and wolves (she loves wolves especially).  Jenn is also very artistic, so she got new paints and gardening materials for her birthday.
J's wolf cake
Blowing out the candles

J is such a sweet, generous girl.  I have told her again and again that she is going to be an amazing mom someday.  No matter what is going on in the house or what unexpected things happen, she is a rock.  I just love having her in our house, and we loved celebrating her special day.