Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hard Decisions and Mistakes

For those of you that follow my blogs you know that I pretty much live my life as an open book.  I really do this because I know that there are plenty of people in this world that are going through some of the exact same issues as I am.  Perhaps my transparency will help some of you work through some areas in your life without making quite as many mistakes as I have.  I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I sure have messed up enough to tell you what NOT to do.  What makes me different from other people is that rather than living my life dwelling on my past failures, I chose to learn from them.  Not not only do I learn from them, but I also write blogs about what I’ve done so that you can perhaps learn from my mistakes as well. ;)  

Having said all that, the question on my heart for the past 3 weeks or so has been the following:  How do I discern between what may be God opening a door and what is actually just an opportunity in life that will in fact to steer me off course of God's perfect will for my life?
I've found sometimes I can pray and seek God and it seems Scripture is clear.  Yet then I'm reminded of how subtle the devil switches God's words around throughout the Bible and then I doubt.  If we are all honest with ourselves, we can make Scripture say whatever we want it to say to us at the time and claim it as “God’s will.” 
Three weeks ago we were presented with a wonderful opportunity for the kids to attend a beautiful, new private school in our area.  The job situation worked out.  The finances worked out.  The school is in a choice setting only 7 minutes from our home.  There are sports for Brandon, advanced courses for Katie and new classmates for Kylie and Haley to make friends with.   There is more flexibility in the clothing the kids can wear.  As an employee myself, I would be allowed to wear dress pants daily instead of skirts 6 days a week.  The list could go on and all arrows seemed to point to this as the "perfect" school for our children.  Yet, one thing was lacking.  Peace.  In its place was relentless doubt. 
I wrote to one of our pastors at Berean Baptist Church and I asked him the above question about discernment of God’s will.  He did not know my situation or dilemma.  He wrote the following reply: 

That is not the easiest of questions to answer because Scripture is not always clear on the specifics of "what" we are to do in many situations. Of course there are general principles that we find to guide us and provide us with some direction, and we have the Holy Spirit to provide peace and guidance as well.

I would say that when we first begin thinking or considering something, we first need to examine our motives and begin praying that the Lord would show us if it is His desire for us or just something we desire.  

Next, we need to ask God and the Holy Spirit to speak to us through His Word either in personal reading or through the preaching/teaching of it. Then if a door is opened, we need to pray for peace to know whether to go through the door or not. God will provide peace and the Holy Spirit will confirm in our hearts whether we should or should not go through the door. I have also always found it helpful to get counsel from others at this point and then make a preliminary decision but not lock myself in yet. After the decision is made, it may be normal to doubt some, but in my experience, the Holy Spirit will confirm it one way or the other and if it hasn't been officially locked in then it provides me the opportunity to change direction. When there is doubt, continue praying for the Lord to give guidance and direction and peace. 

I guess the short answer to your question is the peace that God gives us when we are in the center of His will and doing what He would have us to do. Satan is not the author of peace so when there is no peace, we can assume that God is not in it.

I went back and forth several times with the decision to leave the kids at Berean or to send them to the new school.  I probably drove a dozen or so people nuts in the meantime.  One thing is sure; I do not want to make a mistake when it comes to the kids. Finally, when the doubt would not subside, I took that as the Holy Spirit speaking and I made the final decision to stay.  Through the course of events, and reactions of those towards me in this decision, I can say without a shadow of doubt, God clearly revealed to me that the decision to stay was the right one.  I'm just a simple woman who loves the Lord with all my heart and I want to follow Him closely all the days of my life.

Thank You, Lord for discernment in hard decisions, for Your grace when we make mistakes and for peace when we are in the center of Your perfect will. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Honey Moon Is Over

Well, two months has gone by since Brandon arrived at home and the honey moon is officially over.  The newness and the bliss?  Done. All 4 kids have taken turns having in-depth battles with differing teams ganging up against the others in their love/hate relationship.  Brandon has indeed learned that his bedroom is his own and he can throw anyone out that he pleases.  His sisters have taught him it is acceptable to stick out their tongues if they are not happy with the other.  He also is an expert in the art of tattling. So needless to say the damage control team (a.k.a. Mom since Dad is in Vegas living the high life at a Computer Geek Conference) is working over time because all of that behavior is clearly unacceptable. 

 We’ve had to get tough on Brandon for his lack of motivation on his studies.  I had never had to yell at him before last week when he went limp (who says only girls are drama queens?) when I tried to go over his multiplication tables with him.  I am a busy women and I am trying to help him even come close to passing the 3rd grade.  I finally yelled, “Brandon.  You are NOT 5.  You are 11.  You need to SIT UP and LEARN THIS MATH!!!!!”  His face went stone cold white and 30 minutes later he knew the times tables 0-3 families.  He is a very smart boy.  He is just unmotivated and hasn’t ever really had to sit down and learn anything if he didn’t want to.  His little 45 minutes of tutoring per day is going to seem like a walk in the park once real school starts and he will have to learn and work hard 7 hours a day.  Please pray for his teacher.  He/She will have their work cut out for them with our son!  They will definitely require a pay raise after they teach Brandon for the year.

He also has had a vicious rash from head to toe for the last several weeks that we cannot get rid of.  We have no idea if he is allergic to something he is eating or coming in contact with or what.  We’ve changed to all dye free and allergy free laundry soap.  We’ve done the same to his body wash.  We have taken him to 2 different doctors and consulted with another and the rash is still just out of control.  We worry about him because he is starting school soon and kids are very cruel.

All in all, even though the Honeymoon stage is clearly over, we can’t complain like some adoptive families who go through horrible, trying days and serious issues with their newly adopted “older” children.  We are very blessed to have Brandon.  We are thrilled at how well he is adjusting to our culture and family life.  His appetite has finally slowed down a bit this month.  He doesn’t binge eat any longer with 3 or 4 helpings.  He generally skips breakfast or simply has yogurt.  For lunch he eats a sandwich or pizza with a few side items like applesauce or fruit.  And then he eats a hearty dinner usually topped with ketchup while we mock him for being a “crazy boy.” (I’ve seriously never met anyone that can take ketchup on absolutely every meal!)  We feel he is picking up English quickly.  I would guess he has about 1000 English words under his belt and he’s finally putting them together in sentences.  He cheerfully contributes to the family by doing dishes, taking out the trash, keeping his bedroom in order and carrying in groceries.  He also considers it his duty to recruit his sisters to help out as well (which might help explain part of the reason behind the love/hate relationship).  He loves to push the cart at Walmart and help me cook in the kitchen.  He often says “I love you” out of the blue.  He goes to bed happy and wakes up happy and never declines a hug, but usually offers them first.  And best of all, he has already learned the importance of praying before each meal.  If anyone dares to take a bite of their food before praying and thanking God, he is the first one to say, “No. Pray.  Thank you for the food.”  It’s moments like these that make the little trials we are having worth it all.