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Everything posted by FeelingBlessed

  1. FeelingBlessed

    Growing Spiritual Children

    This article was written by our new minister, William O. "Bud" Reeves, and appeared in the August 18, 2006 issue of Arkansas United Methodist: Parenting is a sacred mission, a spiritual trust. If you are in charge of raising a child, as a parent or a grandparent, that is at least part of the reason God put you on the planet. It can bring great joy and great frustration. It's a challenge most of the time, but I can't think of a greater, more awesome responsibility than to prepare a young life for productive adulthood. The Bible is full of wisdom on family relationships. The Fifth Commandment tells us to honor our father and mother (Exodus 20:12). Jesus would often take the children into His arms and bless them; He said they give us a glimpse of the Kingdom of God. He also warned that "If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea" (Matthew 18:1-6). Paul exhorts children to obey their parents, but at the same time cautions parents not to be harsh on their children, or they will turn away from the right path (Ephesians 6:1, Colossians 3:20). There's always a balance to be struck, and different circumstances call for differing amounts of law and grace. As parents, our role is defined in two words: limits and leadership. We are given the responsibility by God to mark off the field on which our kids can play. Some of the boundaries should be like brick walls -- health and hygiene, proper diet, doing as well as possible in school, alcohol and drug abuse, sexual activity, and spiritual training. Other limits can be more flexible -- extracurricular activities, music and TV and video game enjoyment, curfew. Some things, frankly, aren't worth fighting about -- length and color of hair, neatness of bedrooms, etc. (Can you tell I've raised teenagers?) The limits we set reflect our priorities. If we want to be faithful to our mission as parents, we cannot let our children set the limits. This is not their job; we are the parents. Unfortunately, our culture condones an atmosphere of permissiveness. For years I have heard well-meaning parents say, "My little one just doesn't want to come to [insert church activity here], and I just don't think I ought to make him." Usually this statement is followed by the excuse, "When I was a child, I was forced to go, and I don't want to do that to my children." I always try to be relational in my response, but depending on my mood, I think inwardly, "That may be why you turned out to be a decent human being," or "I guess they made you brush your teeth as well. Have you stopped doing that?" Some things should not be optional for our kids; in our secularized culture, total immersion in church should be one of the priorities. The other L-word is leadership. Setting limits is necessary but negative. Leadership is positive; it shows our children the way they should live. There are three E's to leadership: example, encouragement, and enthusiasm. As parents we lead by example. Our kids watch us more than they listen to us, and they get their real cues from our behavior. If we are not actively involved in church, then it won't do any good to tell our kids they ought to be. We can also lead by encouragement, by praising every little thing they do right or well and by being involved in their activities as much as we can. Within the boundaries that we set, our kids need to know we love them unconditionally and are supporting them 110 percent. Enthusiasm goes hand in hand with encouragement. If we are constantly critical of school or community activities, or if every Sunday dinner includes a course of "what was wrong at church today," how can we expect our children and youth to want to participate? It all works together -- example, encouragement, and enthusiasm -- to provide leadership for positive outcomes. So what is the positive outcome? A friend recently shared with me what a blessing her family is to her. She has two grown children who grew up in church. They are now married and active in other churches. Both have good jobs, and they have given this woman and her husband three beautiful grandchildren. Her face just glowed as she told me, "You just can't imagine how proud I am of them, and how I thank God every day for the way they turned out!" That's the promise of our mission. There are no absolute guarantees, but chances are if we set the limits and provide the leadership and make the spiritual growth of our children a priority, they will become a blessing to us and the Kingdom. To that end we strive!
  2. FeelingBlessed

    Baby Announcements 2012

    Well, I can't think of a better reason for us NOT to have you guys over in Hot Springs anytime soon! CONGRATULATIONS, Grace and Nathan! Hopefully, we can make a road trip to LR to meet your new daughter soon!
  3. FeelingBlessed

    Age of adoptive parents

    When our youngest graduates from high school, my husband will be 67 and I will be 60! YIKES! Do we think about being older parents? You betcha. And, we do everything in our power to "stay young" and plan for the future -- the kids' and ours. We are forever grateful to Abrazo for being one of the very few adoption agencies that didn't immediately write us off the books for our ages when we first started our journey to being a family in 1997. But, the reality of the situation is that there ARE many age-related things we now must consider if we truly want to be the best parents possible for our girls. Serious things, like maintaining life insurance, having a good financial plan in place, updating wills and designations of beneficiaries, determining guardianships, and keeping physically fit. And, there are some light-hearted things too, like knowing what Dubstep is, dealing with grey hair (and no hair!), understanding that Flo Rida isn't the same as Florida, staying awake past 8:30 p.m., dealing with menopause (and MAN-opause!) symptoms at the same time the girls are PMSing, and graciously coping with being called "Nana" by the Walmart cashier (AARGH!). In fact, probably one of the most eye-opening experiences I ever had as an "older" mom came when I was on a school field trip with our youngest daughter's class. I rode in the car with another child's mom, who lamented the entire way about her upcoming birthday. When I asked her how old she was going to be, she sadly said, "Twenty-nine. Next year I'll be 30 years old!" To which I took a deep breath and announced, "Wow! Can you believe that my husband and I were married the same year you were born?!" Yee-haw! Viva the Mature Mamas of this world!
  4. FeelingBlessed

    Food for Thought for Busy Parents

    Just a friendly reminder for each of us to really "live in the day" ... SLOW DANCE Have you ever watched kids On a merry-go-round? Or listened to the rain Slapping on the ground? Ever followed a butterfly's Erratic flight? Or gazed at the sun Into the fading night? You better slow down. Don't dance so fast. Time is short. The music won't last. Do you run through each day On the fly? When you ask, "How are you?" Do you hear the reply? When the day is done, Do you lie in your bed With the next hundred chores Running through your head? You better slow down. Don't dance so fast. Time is short. The music won't last. Ever told your child, "We'll do it tomorrow," And in your haste, Not see his sorrow? Ever lost touch? Let a good friendship die? Cause you never had time To call and say,"Hi." You better slow down. Don't dance so fast. Time is short. The music won't last. When you run so fast To get somewhere, You miss half the fun Of getting there. When you worry and hurry Through your day, It is like an unopened gift ... Thrown away. Life is not a race. Do take it slower. Hear the music Before the song is over.
  5. FeelingBlessed


    I know some birthparents may think that having their child grow up in a Texas home will make it easier for periodic visits, but I guess it all depends on WHERE in Texas you live and your mode of transportation! Beaumont to El Paso is 742 miles and Beaumont to Chicago is just 770 miles and El Paso is actually closer to California than to Dallas!
  6. FeelingBlessed

    What made you pick Abrazo?

    lovefaithhope -- Welcome to the Forum! You might try reading this thread to get an idea of why people choose Abrazo! (Adoptive Parents/Looking to Adopt/References & Testimonials) http://abrazo.org/forum/index.php?showtopic=3302&st=0
  7. FeelingBlessed

    Frank Talk about Open Adoption

    Heather -- We haven't heard from our birthmother in five years now, but we do have two framed pictures of her on our family picture wall. Our girls are 10, 9, and 6-1/2, and they do occasionally ask about "C" and where she is and what she is doing and why she doesn't call (in contrast to our birthfather, who does call fairly regularly). In our circumstance, we thought it better to put up pictures of "C", even though she's been MIA for a while now, so that WHEN (not IF!) she does contact us, the girls will "know" her as much as is humanly possible for now. To date, having the pictures up has not been a "sad" reminder for any of our daughters, just as having pictures up of cousins and nieces that we don't see very often aren't sad reminders either. "C's" picture is just a part of the mix of all our many relatives that we have hanging on the wall.
  8. FeelingBlessed

    Cancer Survivors Welcome Here!

    Cancer is so limited ... It cannot cripple love It cannot shatter hope It cannot corrode faith It cannot destroy peace It cannot kill friendship It cannot suppress memories It cannot silence courage It cannot invade the soul It cannot steal eternal life It cannot conquer the spirit.
  9. FeelingBlessed


    Wonder if our Webmaster could put up a banner on the Forum homepage (kind of like the announcement banners we've had when annual reports are due) that includes the candle link so that you could remember to just click on the link everytime you logged on to the Forum?
  10. FeelingBlessed

    ThirstQuenchers: Encouragement for the Parched

    Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, Diet Coke in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming: "WOO-HOO! What a ride!"
  11. FeelingBlessed

    Baby Announcements 2007

    No, no! In the really "olden" days, we had to be happy with the AFFINITY announcement ... and we ALL know how long that takes to get! Heartfelt congratulations to ALL the new families! What a great day (and way!) to catch up on my Forum reading!
  12. FeelingBlessed

    Putting up a Praise!!!

    As per weadoptedthree's request ...
  13. FeelingBlessed

    Why I Love My Child's Birthparents

    Why I love my children's birthparents: Because they created three of the most wonderful human beings I know; Because they had the strength of character to put the girls' needs above their own desires; Because in the time the girls actually lived with them, they instilled in them an amazing ability to love and be loved; Because they see the value of staying in our children's lives; Because they are willing to help us do a better job of raising our children by sharing information; Because I love my children with everything in my being, and everytime I look at them I see a little piece of our birthparents too!
  14. FeelingBlessed

    Growing Spiritual Children

    Karen -- One thing I would suggest is that you and Amanda (and maybe even your youngest daughter) see if you can start or join a small group Bible study with other mother-daughter teams in your church that may have more "history" of being active in the church. There are several really good studies out there specifically designed for mothers and daughters. And, there are also several good studies about growing up as young women with Christian values -- that may be a good place to start with Amanda so that you can ease into the subject. I do think it is very important for you to be involved with her in this religious journey she is undertaking -- she needs your support right now, and she needs to see you "modeling" the behavior of turning to the Bible and spiritual leaders whenever you have questions. If you can't get involved in a study with other moms and daughters, then think about asking an older woman in your congregation whom you respect to act as a "mentor" to you and Amanda -- you can design your own script of how your meetings will go -- maybe have dinner once a month where the three (or four) of you discuss some relevant "growing-up" issue in the context of what the Bible says about it -- maybe have a "craft" time where you work on a project together and talk "religion" at the same time -- the possibilities are endless. Or, if your church (or even another church in town) has a Stephen Ministry program, ask to be assigned a Stephen Minister that can help you and Amanda work through some of these difficult issues. Whatever you do, please don't ever think that it is too late for Amanda to get over this fear of Christianity ... which is probably just a lack of understanding what Christianity is all about. Yes, it is going to take an investment of time ... and I know time is a precious commodity in the lives of busy families. But, you are talking about an eternal investment here, something that is well worth the time it requires. The Bible says: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8) So, ask God in prayer to help you with this situation; seek out help (as you are doing) through your church, reading the Bible, and talking to other believers; and keep knocking at Christ's door because only He can open the door to Amanda's heart. My prayers are going out to you and your family for lots of spiritual encouragement ...
  15. FeelingBlessed

    Picking & Choosing

    Agreed. And, I know that many of us who have adopted older children do feel a certain sense of loss when we think of the "firsts" that we did not get to personally witness. But, as one who has "walked the walk" with toddler adoption, I would hasten to add that not having these "experiences" does not diminish the impact of becoming "family." Missing some of the "firsts" does not limit your ability to love. Missing some of the "firsts" does not limit your ability to bond. Missing some of the "firsts" does not take away from the wonder of becoming more than just a "couple" or a "single." "Firsts" are what you make of them ... and missing those "firsts" will also be what you make of them. No denying it, "firsts" can be wonderful ... but the reality is that, for most of us, they are not the end-all to everything. In our case, missing some of the "firsts" easily faded into the background the day we watched our newly-adopted toddler point to my picture and clearly say, "Mommy! Mommy!" with a smile on her face.
  16. FeelingBlessed

    Picking & Choosing

    Sometimes I wonder if our PIWs are dealt a small injustice when we so strongly encourage them to come home from orientation and prepare their "nursery" (READ: "baby" room) ... rather than thoroughly search and prepare their hearts. I know toddler adoption isn't for everyone, and it definitely comes with its own challenges. But perhaps we unintentionally set up our PIWs to "expect" infants rather than "embrace" a child. Sign me, One who adopted a 31-month-old and wouldn't change a thing
  17. Prior to the adoption of our first daughter, I remember my mom saying to me, "This is so hard for me to admit, but I'm scared that I may not love an adopted grandchild the same way I do Joseph" (my brother's newborn baby -- the first grandchild). Although it kind of hurt that she said it out loud to me, I was (and am) appreciative of the fact that she felt involved enough in our quest for a family that she could share her concerns and fears too. Not to worry though -- all it took was for us to walk in the doorway that first time with Brittany in our arms and there was NO separating the two of them! In fact, I would even venture to say that, today, both my mom and dad feel closer to my children than to their other six biological grandchildren. The love is definitely there! Although George's parents are now deceased, they were in their early '80's when we first adopted. Prior to Brittany's arrival, I can remember my father-in-law pointing out every negative news story there was about adoptees and their adoptive parents. But, all of that "negativity" vanished once Brittany appeared on the scene. One of the sweetest memories I have of George's dad and Brittany occurred when we were staying with him while he was dying from lung cancer. He couldn't get out of his chair in the den, and I had put Brittany on a blanket on the floor in the den while I fixed lunch in the kitchen. I could hear George's dad whisper, "Come here, baby. Come on. You can make it!" And then, in a minute, he gruffly yelled to me, "Karen, come get this baby! She's crawled all the way over here to me and is trying to stand up on my leg!" I would no sooner put her back on her blanket and go back into the kitchen when I would hear him whisper again, "Come on, baby! You can do it! Come here!" Ah, sweet memories ... It seems that, for our parents, many of their fears and concerns went by the wayside once they actually saw and touched our children. Openness was scary to them, but I think I can honestly say that today, my parents "get it" and see how it is beneficial for our girls. I kind of get amused when I hear my mother explain our openness to her friends -- as the old commercial jingle said, "She's come a long way, baby!"
  18. FeelingBlessed

    Just For Laughs

    IMO, you can NEVER laugh too much or too often! So, with apologies to Baptists and Methodists (of which I am one!), here's my offering for the night: A little boy was walking down a dirt road after church one Sunday afternoon when he came to a crossroads where he met a little girl coming from the other direction. "Hello," said the little boy. "Hi," replied the little girl. "Where are you going?" asked the little boy. "I've been to church this morning and I'm on my way home," answered the little girl. "Me too", replied the little boy. "I'm also on my way home from church." "Which church do you go to?" asked the little boy. "I go to the Baptist church back down the road," replied the little girl. "What about you?" "I go to the Methodist church back at the top of the hill," replied the little boy. They discovered that they were both going the same way so they decided that they'd walk together. They came to a low spot in the road where spring rains had partially flooded the road so there was no way that they could get across to the other side without getting wet. "If I get my new Sunday dress wet my Mom's going to skin me alive," said the little girl. "My Mom'll tan my hide too if I get my new Sunday suit wet," replied the little boy. "I tell you what I think I'll do," said the little girl. "I'm gonna pull off all my clothes and hold them over my head and wade across." "That's a good idea," replied the little boy. "I'm going to do the same thing with my suit." So they both undressed and waded across to the other side without getting their clothes wet. They were standing there in the sun waiting to drip dry before putting their clothes back on when the little boy finally remarked: "You know, I never did realize before just how much difference there really is between a Baptist and Methodist!" (And, BTW, here's the OTHER site for rib-ticklin' stories in the Corner Cafe thread: "Laughter, the best medicine" -- http://abrazo.org/forum/index.php?showtopic=2704&st=0)
  19. FeelingBlessed

    Celebrity Adoptions

    Can I just add that having "the comfort of that which smells and feels and sounds and looks familiar" is not just important for children in international adoptions but also is important for children in domestic toddler age-on-up adoptions too. When the decision was made to disrupt the adoption of our "son" after 11-1/2 months and he went to live with his true "forever family," we sent EVERYTHING with him -- clothes, towels, bedding, crib and mattress, carseat, toys, boppy pillow ... you name it, we sent it. And, I didn't send it freshly laundered either, which "A"'s new mom knew -- we both wanted him to feel as much "at home" as he could under the circumstances. The same thing occurred when we took placement of our second daughter at 31 months. She had her blankie, her favorite bear and ball, her clothes, sandals, and sippy cup. Although they were definitely worn and in need of replacement, we didn't get rid of them for HER comfort ... and today they sit safely in her keepsake chest as part of her adoption story.
  20. FeelingBlessed

    Baby Announcements 2007

    "Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children." -- Proverbs 17:6 Maury, Debra, and Samantha -- What a crown for Maury's father! Heartfelt congratulations to you on the arrival of your son, and blessings to his birthfamily.
  21. FeelingBlessed

    Picking & Choosing

    Can we ever attest to that!!!!!!
  22. FeelingBlessed

    Picking & Choosing

    Lest we forget, sometimes parents who take placement of a child with the full intent of completing the adoption plan can experience such a drastic change in their own life circumstances (or that of the child's) that they become compromised in their ability to continue in the parental role. Then, the decision about that "silver case" no longer rests solely in the APs' hands -- it involves the social workers and the supervising agency too. "Deal" or "no deal"? IMHO, no one here on earth is ever truly in charge of what ultimately happens, although we sometimes like to fool ourselves into thinking that we are.
  23. FeelingBlessed

    Medical Insurance Coverage & Requirements

    Adam -- Let me preface my reply by stating that I am no accountant or tax specialist (just a "retired" labor-and-employment attorney), but I think I can offer some guidance. I do not believe you will be able to claim the birthmother's medical expenses on your tax return (i.e., the labor & delivery charges, etc.). Although you assume responsibility for the birthmother's (and baby's) medical expenses through Abrazo, the birthmother most likely does not meet the IRS' definition of a dependent since she doesn't live with you and hasn't been your financial responsibility for an appropriate amount of time under their guidelines. Again, though, these are just my thoughts ... I'd definitely check with your accountant to be sure.
  24. FeelingBlessed

    Putting up a Praise!!!

    Hey, everyone -- thanks so much for the well-wishes on our anniversary! It was a great day filled with lots of memories and feelings of gratefulness for our time together. In response to suebee's request for the G-rated part of our anniversary celebration, we went to see "Hairspray" at the theater last night -- it was loads of fun! But, for the X-rated part of our celebration ... well, that will occur this weekend as we travel to Dallas for two days of fun "sans" the kiddos! As the Pink song goes, "Let's get this party started!" (Hmmm, and maybe I better put my mom and dad on the prayer list since they will be keeping the girls??!! )
  25. FeelingBlessed

    Putting up a Praise!!!

    Putting up a praise today for a wonderful man named George, who made his wedding vows to me 25 years ago today and faithfully has kept them ever since. He has given ... and continues to give ... me a million reasons every day to be FeelingBlessed!