Dec 23, 2009

We don't do Santa either

OK ... to be fair, I had numerous people ask why we don't participate in Halloween at all and I wrote my point of view.  (It was wildly unpopular by the way).  I've been asked our stance on Santa.  And to be fair, I figured I'd might as well finish the job of ticking off ALL my friends. LOL

Dan and I grew up in a church that disallowed Christmas in any way shape or form. Thought not much of it.  I could tell you all their reasons for not celebrating it.  (Many are interesting, by the way.)

But here was always my problem ... the "Christmas story" is in the Bible!  Seems a baby was indeed born to a virgin named Mary.  There was a star. There was a manger.  There were wise men and shepherds.  The story is actually T R U E.

Now most of the world understands that Jesus was born likely in the Fall, not December 25 but the truth is ... He was born and since we don't know the day, one was picked.  I know the whole story about how this day was picked (rooted in paganism apparently) but I also believe that we could pick ANY of the 365 days to celebrate it and there would be "something" wrong with those days as well.  So to me, December 25 is as good as any.  (My dad, for example, usually shares the Birth of Jesus story in the Fall at a sermon.)

Now about the rest of the stuff that goes with it ... some are just plain commercial, some have roots in paganism, etc.  So much of it we have chosen to ignore.  But we tell the Birth of Jesus part.

"But it's rooted in paganism" was the argument growing up.  Look up that word "Pagan" and it means celebrating other gods besides Jesus.  Uh .. er,   anyone get the irony of that?  Christmas (to most people) means that Jesus was born and people are celebrating HIS birth  (Yes, with a lot of commercialism and odd things added in I will give you that.).  They are not worshiping the tree, the presents.  (And yes, I understand that many people completely leave Jesus out of the whole day.) But celebrating a different God than Jesus?

Santa specifically ... in the church I grew up in, he was akin to Satan himself almost (OK, I exaggerate).  But as I see it, he is just a make-believe character.  (Yes, I know the history of St. Nick.)  I allow the pretend characters of Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Dora, Elmo, etc in my home ... I just make sure the kids understand that Superman isn't able to fly, Spiderman can't spin webs, Dora doesn't have a talking monkey, etc. etc.  It's just fiction.  Santa is also a fictional character.  (I put the disclaimer though that most kids don't know he's fictional yet so don't ruin it.)  So we don't personally have Santa's in our house, don't tell them about a jolly old fellow who will mysteriously leave presents in our house, etc.  I do the best to tell the truth, the whole truth (as I understand it to be).

OK ... so now that I've completely honked off ALL my friends - both those who Believe and support the Santa story AND those who think ALL of Christmas is completely pagan ... maybe people will stop asking me what I teach my kids! Ha ha.

In summary ... if you do Christmas and Santa and the whole tree/present thing ... Good for you.  No judgment here.  And Hope you have a Merry Christmas.

If you do NONE of it ... good for you.  No judgment here.  And hang in there, only a couple more days and it will be over.

Dec 21, 2009

What kind of mark do you leave?

A child's life is like a piece of paper on which every passerby leaves a mark. ~ Chinese proverb

I read this quote and felt it mighty and profound.  It made me consider it from many angles.  For example, all of my children are adopted so each of them has a birthmother and birthfather.  These people left the mark of their DNA, their genetics, etc.  They even left the mark of drugs and their effects on some of the kids.  Then there are caretakers (some were amazing, some not so much).  Teachers, friends, siblings, grandparents, neighbors, etc.  They have ALL left some kind of mark ... and to think otherwise is to be blind to the effects. 

It also makes me extremely aware of the need to make sure there are positive and not negative influences on their lives.  I need to make sure who is "writing" on them.

I am keenly aware that *I* am  leaving a mark.  Very early on I would contemplate (OK ... to tell the truth ... I would worry) about what kind of mark this was.  But the truth is ... I don't think I'll know for a long time.

You know how you don't really see your kids getting taller for example on a day to day basis because it's so microscopic but then you buy them jeans at the end of the summer because they've grown 6 inches?  Well, as a mother, I don't know the daily influence I'm having on them.  I hope it's good but there are those days, you know THOSE days. 

So if I consider these marks on their paper as permanent ink and not just pencil marks that can be erased, the gravity seems almost too much to bear.  Yesterday I heard a definition of the word "grace" ... we do our part to the best of our abillity and God applies GRACE to make up for the rest to be where it needs to be.  I LOVE that definition.  I hope it's right and that He daily gives me grace with my children.  I'll need it. 

But as I consider the mark I am leaving, one thing I'm proud to be leaving on their minds and hearts is the love of God towards His children.  HE is the Father of the Fatheless.  HE cares how we take care of HIS kids.  My kids get that to the core of their being.  They see how much time and energy I'm putting into Destiny's Crossing ( ... the orphan care programs we're launching.  And they happily give me the chance to help. 

This quote is so profound to me, it's the quote on our front page at Come by and check it out along with all the exciting things we're planning to do in Northern China in the upcoming year. 

And as you do ... consider this ...

What kind of mark do YOU leave?

Dec 15, 2009

New Start

So today I purchased the new website name and started creating the website from scratch.  It still has a lot of work we need to do on it (like some pages are still blank, others have bad fonts, etc.) but it's a start. 

Check it out! 

We still need tons of manpower help too.  Pretty much if you have a skill and an interest in helping special needs orphans, I need you!  So let me know what you can do and I'll see if there's a fit for your specific skill set. 

Some specific suggestions:
Director for the SHOES project (
Someone to write grants
A person to create a blog for the SHOES project
Someone to coordinate manpower (to keep track of who is doing what)

I also am needing people who work for companies to consider talking to your company about how they might donate supplies or money. 

OK ... that's enough for one update.  Back to updating the website!  Thanks for joining me on this project

Dec 8, 2009

Why Do I Continue To Be Surprised??

OK ... so after the HORRIBLE meeting with the Psychologist yesterday, I was fully prepared to go in loaded for bear.  I had copies of the law, copies of his past records, etc etc.  I had so much documentation and ammunition that I felt prepared.  Yet I felt so anxious and nervous.  (I actually have pulmonary hypertension - not related to high blood pressure but where the artery between the heart and lungs ... if you have PH you are not getting enough oxygen to your heart.  Yesterday, I started having some MAJOR symptoms.)

Late last night, I asked my mother (A PhD Licensed School Psychologist) to come with me for moral support - if nothing else, she could serve as a witness to what happened.

Today, I felt the need to just pray, praise and generally beg for H E L P before our meeting.

10:30, Mom, Dan and I walked into the school.  10:42, we're still sitting in the front office waiting to be invited to the back.  (Power play).  Even Mom was feeling a bit uneasy at this point.  Then the Psychologist walks in and I whisper, "there she is" and mom says, "Hey Leah, it's Sunny".  Leah and Mom know each other ... Mom was her boss on a job this summer!!  LOL (Yesterday she was making fun of my "so called expert" and today, she had to acknowledge my expert does indeed know more than she does! haaaa haaaa)

So as we walk to the meeting, they're chattin' it up, chummin' in up.  Dan and I are walking in back and I giggle and whisper "I think we don't need to talk in this meeting."

Then the meeting opens (it's run by the psychologist) and she has a completely different tune.

It became clear to everyone in the room that everyone in that room (except the two teachers) was  completely "on board"!  The Vice principal, for example, cut through all the proverbial cr*p and was able to articulate the need, stand up for Jacob, etc etc.  It was awesome.  I wanted to give her a standing ovation.  (There were even times she was rolling her eyes at the two teachers when they would make comments which showed just how little the understand about modifications, accommodations, asperger's, autism, the 504/IEP process, etc  And it was clear how misunderstood Jacob is by those teachers.)

During the meeting, we were told the Psychologist had given Jacob's letter to all of them and they had read it.  This VP said, "It almost made me cry."  She was offended that a child at HER school could perceive his school that way.  And she was determined to make sure this turned around.  SHE will hold those teachers accountable!

We got an official 504 started with an understanding that we would draft up an IEP as well.  (ahhhhh).

Bottom line - I got EVERYTHING that I wanted and then some.  I never needed to take out one shred of evidence, cite one law, etc.  They even started asking ME how to handle some things.  They also asked Mom on some of the School Psychology things and said they would use her as a resource if needed.  Cool beans.

Before this meeting, I was saying I wasn't sure what all had to happen before I could feel like I could safely send him back to school.  But it happened.  I feel a peace.  Not all the issues are fixed.... it's all about implementation ... but I feel we have all the pieces in place FINALLY!  And if things aren't working I can go to all those people in that room who were on our side - the Special Ed teacher, the Psychologist, the Guidance Counselor, the Vice Principal.  They all "get it".

So God went before us, cleared the way, parted the seas and we walked in on dry ground.

When I left for the meeting today, I posted that I want God to get all the glory for this.  So THIS is why I'm writing this miraculous outcome.  GOD did this.  HE is the hero.