Okay, lovely friends, here goes with answering some of your questions. I’m going to try and group the things you want to know by subject–Haven, adoption, how do you KNOW a child is yours, Hailee and Harper, my busy days, homeschooling, the other kids in Hailee and Harper’s orphanage, etc, as separate posts.
Today I’ll start with some of the basics–just the ordinary everyday life stuff.
Nikon D90. We bought this camera last year and it has been so absolutely worth it. I am not a very good photographer, but I have had a great teacher in my hubby. As a model in many places he learned from some of the top photographers in the world. I still have so much to learn. Some of you asked how I captured Hailee flying in my last post–this camera has a fabulous setting where you just hold down the button and it clicks away non stop. So much fun.
Where do your children sleep in this house?
We have four bedrooms, so we pair them up. The boys are all in one room. The big girls are together, and the little girls share a room. It works just fine.
When will you start painting your new house?
This was funny–it seems that many of you know about my little obsession with paint. Um, like yesterday would be good to start. Me and white walls do not go very well together. Already I am seeing little hand prints everywhere. My only problem is that I am having a bit of a mission deciding on what colors to use in this house. Do I go with historic colors? Colorful? Pastel? Oh, I just don’t know. One morning I wake up and have decided in the middle of the night that the paint just has to be bright, and the next thing I know I’m standing in Lowes looking at pale greens and blues. Fickle, fickle, fickle.
How do you blog so honestly, I am afraid to share too much on my own blog?
Because if I’m going to blog I have to be real. How sad it would be if I portrayed someone I am not, or posted only the good times in my life. That’s not the real world, neither is it the real me. What you read here is who I am in real life. I know that blogging honestly opens me up to the ever present critics, but that’s okay. I know who I am in Christ and just hit the delete button without giving them a second thought.
How do you and Anthony stay close?
We rarely have dates. With so many children and no family around to help us out, getting time alone out of the house is a challenge. Instead of allowing our lack of dates to become an obstacle in our marriage, we have found ways to steal moments together. When Anthony comes home from work our children know that the first thing he does is spend time with mommy. We usually go into our bedroom and catch up on our days, what happened, what struggles we had, what funny things happened, etc. It is so important for our children to know that our marriage matters and that they need to respect our alone times.
We try to communicate a lot. Communication is so very important in our marriage. I must confess that it is something I have struggled with at times during our marriage–I am still trying to learn how to be a good communicator, especially when there is a disagreement between us.
And then we pray. A lot! One of my deepest prayers is that Anthony and I would be on the same page–that we would always be united as a team. Early in our marriage I often felt like we were on opposite playing fields. I hated that feeling. These days we work hard on hearing each other out and coming alongside one another. Like with adoption. He shared his heart in this post and in this post.
The most important thing for us if we are to remain close is to always, and I mean always, put Jesus first in our marriage. When we’re close to Him, we’re close to each other. It’s just one of those Goldy principles that works. When we’re not walking closely with the LORD we’re not close to each other. Life gets out of control, things become overwhelming and the first thing that suffers is our marriage. We’re learned that the hard way.
How has having children with special needs affected your marriage?
When we’re obedient to what God has commanded us to do, when we’re surrendered to hear His voice and walk on the water, He WILL meet us on the other side. And that includes in our marriage. Raising our adopted children with special needs has been no different to raising our biological children without needs. As with all things, God gives us the grace to do the things He has called us to do, and to do them with excellence. And so the answer is absolutely NO, our marriage has not been affected negatively in any way.
Does that mean it is always easy? No way! We have tough days and face many challenges in raising these whom the Lord has blessed us with. I will share more on this when I do my post on adoption.
I know you’re Christians, but what kind of church do you attend?
As I was searching for your blog one day I came across a ministry sight called No Greater Joy Ministries. Is this where your name came from and does your family practice in this?
I have heard about this ministry, but don’t know what they believe in. No, I took the name of my blog straight from the scripture.
3 John 1:4 says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
Where in Africa did you minister?
We mainly ministered in South Africa, in Port Elizabeth. But we traveled to wherever the Lord gave us opportunities to share the love of God. We were missionaries there for five years before we moved to serve the Lord in Australia. If you’re curious you can read about our journey here.
I am curious about your boys… how are they reacting to having a bunch of “needy sisters” in their lives?
I asked Connor, Kellan and Cade what their thoughts were on this question. Here’s what they said.
“Our lives are different to other kids, but we would not change anything.”
“It is fun having all the boys healthy and normal, and the girls with special needs.”
“I think that every family should pray about adopting a child with special needs.”
“We love to play with Hailee and Harper.”
“They are so cute and funny.”
“It is so much fun babysitting when mom needs help.”
“We have learned how to communicate with our sister (Haven) who does not speak.”
“I think it is all good.”
Our children’s lives have been changed forever. The seed of adoption is planted in their hearts. They get that every child deserves a family, no matter what is “wrong” with them. They are learning what it means to love unconditionally. They are learning daily what it means to serve another human being, even when they don’t feel like it.
I get so many e-mails asking me about bringing children with special needs into a family with healthy children. One of the first concerns Anthony and I had when we considered adopting Hannah-Claire (our first adoption) was, “what about our boys?” The fact that she was a Hep B carrier made it all the more scary. I know that it is so normal to want to protect our biological children.
But you know, friends, if God’s in it–He WILL take care of the other children in the family. We have faced a few challenges with some of our children, mainly with our youngest son. When we brought Haven home he became like his sister…non-verbal. He would absolutely NOT speak. It took several weeks for him to get over it and learn that he did still have a voice and that he did not have to imitate his sister. It was just his way of adjusting to having a new sister in the house. He has also struggled a bit with Hailee and Harper’s addition into our family. No longer having his place as the baby in the family has been tough for him. He has dealt with it with some pretty nasty behavior and acting out in ways that he normally would not do. Thankfully though, things are getting better and better.
Having walked this road a few times now, I can honestly tell you that things do work out with the other children in the home. Children have an amazing ability to adjust to new situations. It may take time, a whole lot of patience, and time on our knees–but God truly does work out ALL things to the good of those who love Him.
Do you like where you live?
Yes! I am so happy to be back in VA. I miss friends in Colorado very, very much, but this is where the Lord has planted us. We are so excited to see how things unfold here and what the Father has in store for us.
Do you miss your home country?
Oh my goodness, yes, I do. Very much. I miss my family and friends something awful. It’s probably worse now as I have just said goodbye to my Dad. That was hard. I have a precious little niece who I long to see. I have a brother and sister-in-love that I adore.
But you know what? Following the Lord, and being completely abandoned to His will is not an easy road. We know this is where we are meant to be. We know God has positioned us here. That sure does not mean it has been a walk in the park though. I have days when I ache to be in South Africa. Some days I would give anything to get on a plane and go and visit my family, who I am very close to.
I only have to look at the sweet faces of our four adopted children to know that I would not have them if we lived in South Africa. If I had had my way, done things my way, and gone “home” a long time ago I would have missed out on four of the greatest blessing in my life. Taking my life into my own hands is just not worth it.
I am learning daily that my God is more than able to take care of every care I have, every burden I carry, every bad day I have, every homesick feeling I have, and every longing of my heart.
How do you find time to blog with so many children?
Usually late at night when the kids are in bed. I try hard not to spend too much time on the computer during the day. There are times when I will sneak five minutes here and there to work on a post or answer an e-mail, but most of it happens at night.
Whew, that was long!
Off to unpack a few more boxes, do the third load of laundry for the day, make our bed, figure out what’s for lunch, tidy up the house just a little, make a few phone calls, and then go swimming with friends.
Have a happy day, everyone.