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I believe the last time I mentioned the foster care process it was stalled. At this point I’d say it is dead in the water. Not long after we started the process G’s unit received alert orders that they would be deployed. At the time it was a year out so we thought we’d go ahead and foster for a year until he departed. We waffled a bit, went ahead and took the CPR class, then stalled. Frankly, I realized that as long as G is First Sargent here, he is not really available for family – he’s not ours. It eventually reached a point where I couldn’t even count on him to take B twice a month while I went to Bible study. Therefore, foster care would be all mine all the time.

Now I’m not meaning to complain about G. That is just where we are right now. Not to mention the rough waters we just came through with G’s mom the last few months of ’08. I had to come to terms with the fact that foster care was more than I could handle all by myself, and would add stress to G’s already maxed out life, as well. So, that is where we are. Perhaps after deployment, when G ends his military career, we will begin again.

In the meantime I think prayer and soul searching are in order. We really thought this was where God was calling us, but have found ourselves to be in error. Perhaps He’s just preparing us for something down the road. Who knows, at this point. Our steps have not led where I thought they were going, and I’m resigning myself to B being an only child for a little while longer. And that’s not proving to be so bad, for now.

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For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.                 Hebrews 13:11-16

Recently, while teaching on 2 Thessalonians, my pastor made reference to the above passage in Hebrews. He was speaking of standing firm in the promises of the gospel in the midst of persecution (1:1-12). He had recently attended a conference where John Piper spoke on the Hebrew passage and asked whether we are willing to go outside the gate. What does that say about us in America that we don’t know persecution? There are many passages that speak of it. It seems it should be something to be expected if we are following Christ (John 15:18-25). But here in this place, whether in the city, the suburbs, or the country, do we really ever suffer persecution? Why is that? Is it because we are not willing to go outside the gate and “bear the reproach He endured?”

I am very convicted on this as I have struggled with whether to proceed with becoming foster parents. But my delimna is that my husband, who is the leader of this family, has not taken the lead on that front. I’ve been wondering whether that is my “outside the gate” or not. I could easily move forward and complete the paperwork on my own, schedule the interviews and tell him when to be here. But is that the right thing to do? None the less, I have to admit I have not been willing to find that gate and proceed out of it to endure the sufferrings of Christ.

Whether or not the foster care is what we are supposed to be doing at this moment in time, I know there is something. But I haven’t really wanted to find it that badly. I’ve been perfectly content to carry on in my own little comfort zone.  God clearly spoke to us back in October during our church’s Missions Conference that our mission field is right here. But I’m still not sure I’m on the right track for that calling. Since G has a deployment on the horizon and his parents are having some health challenges requiring our attention, I’m not sure that foster care is for this time. I have gotten involved in a local food pantry and work there with B each week. Perhaps the gate is there? Or is it at the new Pregnancy Resource Center that just opened nearby? Is it a neighbor that is struggling with cancer? Or is it right in my own family caring for aging parents? Whatever it is, am I willing to go outside the gate?

I am not the only one pondering these things. There’s a discussion on the FIAR boards, where someone mentioned this blog post: What Can We Do? That is what spurred me on here. She brings up some issues that I haven’t even considered. We have become so detached, so unaware of what is going on in our own cities, much less across the world. Sure, we all say how busy and overwhelmed we are. But are we filling up our time and our minds with the right things? What is really important? And how much of what we are consumed with is just “fluff?” It seems we put up barriers to the gate to block our view of it and avoid it altogether. Are we content in the city of destruction (for here we have no lasting city) or are we seeking the “city that is to come?” Where is the gate, and what will it take to go through it?

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Stewardship of my time and home is one of those ongoing challenges in my life. A few days ago I purchased the Motivated Mom’s chore list to help get me on track developing chore routines and stop so much from falling through the cracks. So far it looks like it will help. They’ve thought of so many things that I do struggle to remember, from cleaning the toaster to trimming B’s nails (not to mention my own!). These efforts have kept me from spending as much time in blogland as I used to. Sometimes I feel guilty about that;and I miss reading some of my favorite blogs. But I think I have my priorities straight. I do take some time each day to check on the FIAR boards and ran across this blog-post today: Why Bother? Here’s one quote, among so many wise thoughts:

I want to be a gracious wife, not just a gracious hostess. Not just a lovely face to the public, but a comfort and a blessing to my husband. So, why bother with homemaking? Because God call us to be virtuous wives and He tells us that virtuous wives live in well-ordered homes.

As she says after that, ouch! After 18 years of marriage I still have so far to go. I’ve recently begun a mentoring relationship and often wonder what in the world I’m doing trying to mentor someone else. I may be 9 years older than my mentee, but I certainly very often don’t feel any wiser or more established. Actually, she has four kids, three of which are older than my one, and has been homeschooling much longer than I. And I’m supposed to mentor her?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a beautiful experience and we have a wonderful relationship. Basically, we’re in the same stage of life, and have many of the same struggles and goals for ourselves. We’re walking along side one another and encouraging each other along the way. It’s just that title of “Mentor” that gets me sometimes. I have to remember that it’s not about being perfect or having it all together. I have often likened myself to a cactus. My personal growth at times seems so painfully slow. But I am growing, and God is using me in spite of my many weaknesses and shortcomings.  That is encouraging

These past few months since the move have really clarified my priorities. Through G’s encouragement, I know I should keep this blog. Although I have had to greatly reduce how much time I spend here, and virtually stop reading other blogs. As much as I miss those blog friends, the “real-life” face to face people in my own home and community are my priority. Perhaps in another season, after I grow some more, I’ll be able to spend time reading all those wonderful blogs again. Until then, I am more focused on my family and local community and will write here as the spirit leads.

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It is almost upon us again! Time to turn off that TV for a whole week and see what happens. Yes, National TV Turn-Off week is less than a month away: April 21-27. I just picked up a great book: 365 TV-Free Activities You Can Do With Your Child from Paper Back Swap. There are all kinds of books like that if folks need help with ideas for filling all that time you’re not watching TV. But I have faith that you can come up with your own ideas – each family has their own unique personality. Here’s another great resource: Unplug Your Kids. Come on! You can do it! And you’ll be glad you did.

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Wow, 2008 is already flying by as we’re halfway through January. Time just keeps slipping, slipping slipping, into the future . . .

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. 🙂

Well, this year should be interesting. Here we are in a new place, getting to know new people, and looking towards new events to occur for our family this year. I guess the biggest news for us as we head into 2008 is that we are in the licensing process to become foster parents. So, in light of that, we have no idea what God has in store for us this year. It’s somewhat exciting, yet I have my moments of anxiety when I think about it too much. I will have more to say about that in future posts as we inch closer to taking the plunge.

I haven’t been browsing blogland much lately. But I’m sure there have been many posts regarding resolutions for the new year. I don’t have any of those. You see, those require the strength, motivation, and fortitude of the individual making the resolution. If I had all that, then the stuff I want to resolve to change probably wouldn’t be an issue in the first place. Ah, but I was inspired by the elders of our church this past Sunday to set big goals to pray over for the year. Yes, that is relying on the will and strength of God to make the changes, not myself. So, here are my prayer goals for the year:

  • In the Word: I have daily devotions with B and and work on his AWANA memory verses. But I’m not having my own personal quiet time. It’s like I only spend time with God in a group context, but rarely one one one. I really need that one on one.
  • Become a prayer warrior: Not that I don’t pray, but, there’s always room for improvement. I want to be a person who thinks of prayer first, not as a last resort. I want to actually remember to pray for my friends and loved ones when I say I will pray for them. I want B to see that God is real and a part of our daily, minute by minute, life.
  • To be a kind and gentle mom: I don’t always respond to B’s antics in a gentle manner. He knows my buttons and I raise my voice in response to this more than I like to admit. As I look toward becoming a foster mom, it is so important that I grow in the ability to maintain that patient gentleness in my correction.
  • To grow in my abilities to manage my time, my household duties and my resources, so that I may be a better support to my husband and reduce my own stress as I find myself frequently behind or even embarrassed at the condition of my home when I have unexpected guests.
  • In light of the above, I am praying fervently this year for the blue carpet to be gone from my house! Have I mentioned the blue carpet before? Sometime in the past I posted a picture of our dog – a white & tan Basset Hound. Imagine that white dog hair on royal blue carpet . . .
  • To make a difference in my community: This may be through foster care, but I think there are other things for me outside of the house. I want to get more involved, but also want to choose wisely. Remember the time management thing above. 🙂

I could probably go on and on, but those are my biggies.  I have also updated my reading list. Although I have already checked off several books this month, there are some books carried over that I didn’t get to last year. I mentioned that I joined Paperback Swap. I already have a couple of books on the way from there, and I’m sending one off for someone else to enjoy. I want to be a good steward in all areas of my life, so no more book hoarding. 🙂

I would love to hear from others about your goals and plans for the year. And I wish everyone a year full of the power and love of our Creator. Happy New Year!

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Well, it seems I need to put blogging on my schedule along with the chores and homeschool stuff. 🙂 Once again a month has gone by since my last post. I’m trying to figure out what has prevented me from posting. I think mostly guilt. Every time I even think about writing a post, I can think of at least five other things I “should” be doing. So, I head off to do one of those things. Right now I’m supposed to be sweeping the kitchen. But, I’m home with a sick kid today, so gave myself permission to do this first.

It sure didn’t take long to fill up our weeks. We have school time every morning, soccer practice Tuesday evenings, park days on Wednesday afternoons, I go to a women’s Bible study every other Wednesday evening, Farmers Market every Thursday afternoon, soccer games on Saturday morning, worship on Sunday, then choir practice for me and AWANA for B. In and around all of that I try to keep up with the house, plan for school and meals and weekly shopping, spend time with my guys, and neighbors and friends, too.

Although I know many have much, much more squeezed into their weeks, that seems to be about all I can handle. Yet, I want to add more kids to our family and get more involved in the community! We’re never satisfied, are we. So, I need to do some real thinking on what my priorities are and where I should be spending my time.

I’ve been questioning myself on whether I should be involved in the choir right now. That’s really putting a squeeze on Sundays. Practice is 4:30, then AWANA is at 6. I jumped in when they started practicing the Christmas program. I did decide not to sing with the worship choir on Sunday mornings. It’s more important to work on training B in that portion of the service right now. But I still want to participate in the Christmas program . . . Hmmm.

B loves AWANA! As a matter of fact, I’ve started using his AWANA book for our Bible lessons. He’s learning at least one Bible verse each week. The structure of the program really seems to motivate him. We’ve even started saying the pledge to the flag each morning as we begin school. And I thought I was going to “unschool!” But, structure seems to be something that B really needs. I’ve learned these past few weeks that we function much better together with a structured framework for our day.

Of course, structure is not one of my strong points. 🙂 I really have to work at it. But it’s worth it to avoid the struggles that ensue when I let things get too loosey goosey with B. Whew! Those days are tough. So, I keep on learning as I go through trial and error. Now, I think I’ll have another look at my schedule and make sure that what’s important gets in there, like blogging here with all you nice people.

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OK, fellow obsessive bloggers. Here’s an additional challenge. BIG sigh here. Can we limit our blog time during TV Turn-off next week? I know this will be a much bigger challenge for me than ignoring the TV. Here’s the goal from Mom Unplugged:

A maximum of one hour per day online. It will occur after the kids go to bed, no “peeking” at my email during the daytime. This one will be hard since the computer is in the kitchen, tempting me, taunting me, CALLING OUT TO ME!!! OK, this is getting weird. As I said – only one hour per day.

The no “peeking” at my email outside of the allotted time will be tough. My laptop is also on a desk in the kitchen. I think I’ll just have to leave it off until my allotted time. Oh, this will definitely take much more discipline than leaving the TV off. That will be challenging for B & G, my challenge will be the computer. I was planning to spend time with my husband after B’s bedtime, so need to think about when in the day I do get to check on my email and blogs. Perhaps I should set a timer . . .

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