Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Not Blind Sided, Blown Away

- Have you seen the movie The Blind Side? You have to see it. Now. Today. If Batman won't go with you, I will go with you! - My sweet friend Jilly Girl (if this is your first visit, everyone has super anonymous nicknames on my blog) said this to me last Monday. Batman & I went to see the movie, and it was like we were watching our life unfold on screen! But we didn't feel like we were being Blind Sided so much as we were being Blown Away! Blown Away by the fact that we realize more and more with each passing day that we just can't out-give God. We think we have experienced all the goodness He can possibly have in store for us, we've been so richly blessed, and then it's like he's our daddy on Christmas morning & he's more excited for us to wake up than we are because we've grown warm & comfy in our beds. We re-enter consciousness knowing that God is good, and anticipating that He has a little something for us under the tree, but really we aren't expecting much as we sleepily tip-toe down the stairs. We have no idea the magnitude of love the Father has for us.

So here's what happened:

I went to the local grocery store for my morning coffee on Thanksgiving. You know how God works in mysterious and wonderful ways...? I ended up having one of those *divinely appointed* conversations with a sweet 19 year old girl (Sorpresa Bellísima - "Bella" for short) and her friend (Super Estrella) who work there and that we've been getting to know over the last year or so. It went a little something like this (in a very tiny nutshell, because in truth I am never this efficient with words):

Estrella: Sra. Smith, you have to tell Bella about your kids and how you got them!

Me: Well, we adopted the boys out of foster care, and Hermosa was a private adoption who came as a complete surprise.

Estrella y Bella: Do you still want more kids?

Me: Oh, sure! In fact, just 2 weeks ago a pastor got our name from a friend & called to tell us about a baby boy, but it didn't work out. It happens once in awhile, because people know we are open. It doesn't get us down too much when things don't work out, because we sincerely believe that God divinely ordains families to be together, and even in an adoptive situation God already has a family chosen for that baby or that child. So if it isn't us, we just wait. We don't worry about missing out on a child that is supposed to be ours because we know God will work it out.

Bella: I am so glad you told me that story! I actually grew up in & out of foster care.

Me: Oh, wow! And were you adopted?

Bella: No, I wasn't.

Me (fighting very hard my desire to go around the counter, grab her and take her home with me immediately, instead attempted to calmly ask): So are you in touch with your family? Where do you live? What are you doing for Thanksgiving today?

Bella: No, I am not in contact with them. I rent a room from a couple in town, and I am spending the day with a family who has been more like family to me than anyone. I mean, they're not my family, but they say they're my family and they're really great.

So, knowing she was taken care of for the day, and also knowing that if I stayed around another minute I was for sure either going to cry or go grab her and bring her home... I said, "Happy Thanksgiving" & left. When I got home & told Batman he couldn't believe I didn't bring her home right then :) I couldn't even go hug her neck after she told me because I knew I wouldn't be able to let her go if I did!!

Well, long story short... that conversation led to us inviting Bella to church & lunch the next Sunday and then spending pretty much every moment of free time we had together over the course of the week. She got to be in our house both clean & not clean, with the kids both behaving & not so much, and nights when I cooked as well as nights we broke the diet & drove through Taco Bell. We wanted her to really see us as we are and have a glimpse of an idea as to whether she might be able to see herself in our family. Then, on Saturday night after much prayer and seeking, Batman and I asked Bella to join our family through adoption (you can legally adopt a 19 year old, who knew?!) and she said YES!!! We moved her in Sunday, and now we are in the process of getting her settled & preparing to spend our first Christmas together. In January we will begin the legal process of making her ours forever.

Bella is a dear sweet girl, who had endeared herself to us already over the course of many months. She grew up in & out of foster care, and ultimately petitioned the court for emancipation at 17. She's been on her own since then, living with friends or renting a room from a couple who's children are grown. She is a full-time college student, and she has a strong faith. God has protected her in so many ways, and she has done a great job of taking care of herself. We just want to lighten her load & let her be taken care of for a change :)

The night we approached Bella with joining our family, one of her many questions was "why?". She said she knew why it made sense for her to want a family and to want to be with us, but that she didn't know what in the world would make us want her, especially at her age. I thought for a second of how to respond, and then it came to me. I took her by the hand & brought her to the dining room table. I told her that that one seat had been empty for way too long & that we thought it just felt right when she sat there. We're simply a better family when she's here. I think she got it then. At least a little.

It is now my hope and prayer that I remember being her age well enough to be able to be there for her in all the right ways. Help her make good decisions, guard her heart, finish school, etc. Obviously parenting a teenager is new to us, and we will soon have 2 of them as Capitán turns 13 before she turns 20 :) but we are buckled up for the exciting ride and holding fast in prayer and scripture to guide us. Already she has added so much to our lives and hearts. We are blessed indeed.

Oh, and if you haven't seen The Blind Side yet, go see it asap! We really did feel like we were watching our lives unfold on screen in many ways (except for the part about the parents being uber wealthy and the kid being a big black football player, that is!! wink.)

Monday, August 10, 2009

To Know Him More

Yesterday morning's worship service began with a hymn I was not familiar with, and the first lines of the piece brought me to tears:

We have not known You as we ought
Nor bowed before Your pow’r

I was immediately convicted of sin, not necessarily something committed, but omitted as my great- aunt, Pig, used to say. "I look back over my life and it is full of sin; not so much of commission, but of omission. Don't let that happen to you." She said that to me when I was young mom of one little baby, and I thought I had taken her words to heart. I thought I was busy about God's work, serving others. I'm not implying that I am not also guilty of sins of commission, just that her words motivated me to be on the lookout for what I needed to be doing, and not leave those things undone. And then these two lines revealed the truth: I've been a Martha. Busy, but not with that which is necessary.

-And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving.- Luke 10:39

Lord, forgive me. I do so want to know you more.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Four Things I Know About Benjamin Franklin

by Paco

1. When he was 7 years old, his mother gave him some pennies and told him not to spend them foolishly. He bought a whistle and paid four times as much as a whistle was worth. When his mom told him, he threw the whistle down and cried!

2. He had sixteen brothers and sisters.

3. His father was a candle-maker and soap-boiler.

4. He loved books, so his father thought he should be a printer like his brother, James. He became James' apprentice, but James did not treat him kindly. Benjamin ran away to New York and then he went to Philadelphia.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Stewardship by Jirafa

Stewardship is taking responsibility of the things you have been given or put in charge of. Some examples of things in my life that I am responsible for are the dishwasher, my room, my bird, and the money I earn. All of these things are my responsibilities and privileges, but they really belong to God. In this essay, I will talk about three areas of my life in which I can be a better steward – money, time, and possessions.

I wake up every morning and do my morning routine, which includes making my bed, making sure my room is clean, taking care of my bird, and emptying the dishwasher. By doing the dishwasher, I earn a commission of .50 per day. I also earn money by doing other things such as yard work for my parents or neighbors, taking care of my sister while my mom does other things, and this year I had a business selling Christmas wreaths. I give 10 percent of my earnings to the church as a tithe. Sometimes I also give an offering, which is when a person gives more than their tithe. One way I can be a better steward with money is to learn how to increase it, and so be able to afford to give more and save more for important things in my future. Matthew 25: 14-30 tells the Parable of the Talents, where three servants each received a sum of money from their master who was going away on a trip. Two of them used the money wisely, and one did not. I would like to be like the two who used the money wisely and heard the master say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!” I want to be faithful in a few things so that God can put me in charge of more.

In my study about stewardship, I also read scripture about how God feels about the things he trusts us with and what we do with them. He is interested in much more than just what we give to the church. He is interested in how we spend our time, and whether we spend it diligently or foolishly. He is interested in whether we take responsibility for our actions or if we do not. Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” I know I do not always use my time wisely, because sometimes I dawdle when I'm supposed to be doing my schoolwork. And sometimes I spend more time playing than I spend taking care of my responsibilities or reading God's Word. Colossians 3:23 tells me to work with all my heart as unto the Lord, not for men. If I would obey that command, I would be a better steward of my time.

A way I can be a better steward of my possessions is by remembering that they belong to God and not to me. I should treat God's things the way He would have me treat them. One example is my bird. I feed him, keep his cage clean, and take him out to play with him and give him exercise. Another example is food. I can be a better steward of food by only taking as much as I can eat, and by putting food away when I have finished. That way the food will not spoil. I also want to make sure to eat only healthy things so that my body stays healthy, as the Bible says that my body is God's Temple. In that way, my body is a possession that I need to be a good steward of.

This study of stewardship has been very good for me. I now have goals of how I can be a better steward for God, and I hope to accomplish them so that my life will be pleasing to the Lord.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

His Eye is On the Sparrow

Every year we have a little family of sparrows that nests in a hanging basket on our back porch. It's really fun, and I've wondered if it's the same family group year after year? I should do some research on that...

It always happens like this: Lush, beautiful ferns go on sale, and I buy 2 immediately. I hang them on the back porch - taa daa! I'm ready for spring. Then, a few days later, it freezes. And I forget about the ferns. I bring them in too late, and the damage is already done. I hang them back out, hoping that I can revive them, but no. I finally decide to throw them away and start over, and when I take them down there is a nest in one. So, of course, I cannot replace that plant! I carefully try to keep it watered and leave the nest alone, meanwhile the plant itself dies a slow pitiful death. Well, this year I decided to "mask" the nest-bearing plant, because it is in the worst shape of all of them thus far. I bought 2 more ferns, and hung one in front of the nest-bearing plant on the same hook. Out my kitchen window, I can see mama bird sitting on top of her nest, and the pretty plant hanging on the other side gives her a prettier backdrop than the dead plant she's in.

Last night I brought in the pretty, green, living, ferns because it was supposed to freeze. OH, it was so so hard to leave the dead plant with the baby birds outside! They hatched a few days ago, and I was so worried about them in the cold. But there was nothing I could do... if I brought them in, the mama would be worried sick. Where would she go all night? She might even reject them when I put them back out in the morning if she didn't die of a heart attack in the night (I don't know if birds do that, but my own mind gives them human thoughts & emotions). Through the night the pathetic little plant hung there, and mama & babies kept each other warm. This morning, after she left to find food, I took a peek just to make sure they were okay, and a little eye peeked back at me!

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" Matthew 6:25-26 (ESV)

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." Matthew 10:29-31 (ESV)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Whether You Eat or Drink

Yesterday marked the meeting of a new challenge for our family as we avoid all grains and sugar... The Lord's Table with our church consists of unleavened bread and grape juice, aka grain and sugar! What to do? Well, I made our own! Using almond flour, eggs, carrots, ghee, and a little honey, I made our bread. And since there really was no way for me to ferment grape juice (reasonably), I made ginger tea & then cooled it down. We took our bread in a little baggie, and bottled our drink so it wouldn't spill. When the time came, my husband passed some bread to each of us and then we poured our drink into a cup which we shared. The ginger had much the same effect as the grape juice typically does; a little "bite" that reminds us of Christ's work on the cross, taking on the punishment for our sins. It made me consider, that if Christ can do that for me, I can certainly make it through this diet for my son.

"So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Fun Food

When your food choices are limited, sometimes presentation makes a heap of difference! I found these cute little pancake molds in an Avon catalog for $14.99. I think they've gone to $9.99 now. There is a butterfly, a heart, and a duck. So when the kids have their squash & nut butter pancakes, they can pick a shape. This was Paco's duck, along with his "leaked" eggs ;o)

This is one of our soups - Paco's favorite way to eat it is when he can see each vegetable and know what it is. He gets suspicious of me if things are blended or chopped too finely...

My kids think I'm weird for taking pictures of food, but I like the visual presentation. This is Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride's recipe for Tuna Salad found on page 125 of Gut and Psychology Syndrome. When I was making the salad, I wondered why I was taking pains to layer everything as opposed to just mixing it all together. Then when I was finished I knew why - it is so pretty! And it was pretty tasty, too :o)

Happy GAPS cooking!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"La Sopa Smith" Takes on New Meaning!

Little did I know when I started "La Sopa Smith" that our soup habits were going to take on such major changes, nor that our title would take on a whole new meaning!

When I started this blog, it was really more to keep in touch w/my homeschooling friends; to share what we're up to, what we're learning, etc. It was also to have a way to share our journey and the kids' school happenings with grandparents & other friends & family. Just the things that we want to share publicly, really. The struggle of what to write or not, what to share or not, and whether to just take my tag off my email signature since I'm updating so infrequently, etc., sometimes made it easier for me just to pretend I never started a blog in the first place - hah! And I don't really have just *one* focus like some blogs do. A cooking blog, a homeschool blog, a faith journey blog, a financial blog, an organization blog, etc. This is just our life, so I guess just skip what doesn't interest you?

Here is yet another attempt for me to get motivated to start writing again! We are making a lot of soup, and I mean a LOT of soup! Broth, to be exact :o)

Paco's doctor has him on a diet called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. I then found another diet, the GAPS Diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome), which was developed by a doctor who had tweeked the SCD to make it more healing. The companion book, written by a mom in Canada, is called Gaps Guide. So the first book is all the medical background, and the second puts it all in practical step-by-step terms. We are in our fourth week on this diet, and I am amazed at the changes in Paco! So I just had to share. I may continue to share :o) It's a difficult road, as those of you who know us personally have witnessed. And for those I'm just getting to know, I hope that as we share you will be encouraged along your way as well. I truly am amazed that we already have this sense of healing less than a month into it, but we do.

If you or someone you love has digestion problems, any kind of what our society calls "mental" or "emotional" problems, has ADD/ADHD, or is on the Autism/Apserger spectrum, or even has eczema, please take a look at those two websites. Between the diet, some supplements, and detoxification, you can find healing! I always knew that somehow Paco's diet played a part in his issues, but I never understood that therein lay not only the cause, but the cure! I won't go into all the details, as that is done very well between the links above. But I do want to spread the word to anyone who, like us, has been searching for an answer for so long.

I have not turned away from raw food preparation completely, as ultimately I expect to get back there. However, where we once swore off meat completely, now I think we will always include meats and animal fats. Right now I have bone broth cooking on the stove almost 24/7, chicken or beef (you can also do fish, but Batman has a severe fish allergy). And to that we add a variety of meats and veggies. We've been going through the progressive additions, and now have added ghee, eggs, nut butters, avocados, olive oil, and roasted meats. Yesterday I made carrot juice that the kids drank down to the last drop! In the next few days I will make some grain-free bread (made with nut flour) and prepare a few raw veggies.

What I still need to do is learn how to ferment vegetables... for now, probiotic supplements are our only source of probiotics. But we'll get there! Next time I post, I'll include some pictures.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Charlotte Mason Words I'm Pondering

The wonder that Almighty God can
endure so far to leave the very making
of an immortal being in the hands of
human parents is only matched by the wonder
that human parents can accept this divine trust
with hardly a thought of its significance (Vol. 1, p. 333).

It is as the mother gets wisdom liberally from
above, that she will be enabled for this divine
task (Vol. 1, p. 348).

Mothers and fathers do not well to forget that
their children are, by the very order of Nature,
their disciples (Vol. 2, pp. 66, 67).