Saturday, April 12, 2014

Celebrating Eight



All this pain,


I wonder if I'll ever find my way?


I wonder if my life could really change at all?


All this earth,


Could all that is lost ever be found?


Could a garden come up from this ground at all?


You make beautiful things,


You make beautiful things out of the dust.


You make beautiful things, 


You make beautiful things out of us.


All around,


Hope is springing up from this old ground.


Out of chaos life is being found in You.


You make beautiful things,


You make beautiful things out of the dust.


You make beautiful things,


You make beautiful things out of us.


Oh, you make beautiful things,


You make beautiful things out of the dust.


You make me new, 


You are making me new

(Beautiful Things, Michael Grungor)
.

Today has been a day of celebration!


This beautiful little girl turned eight years old, and we are so proud of her!
I can't wait to share an update on how well Sophi  has been doing these past few weeks.
She has made so much progress, and I am so thankful for all of you who have been praying for her.


We've seen a sparkle return to those beautiful brown eyes of hers.
We've seen that precious smile and heard her sweet laughter more and more.
And we are so very, very glad that the Lord chose her to be part of our family!


I never in a million years could have imagined
what life would look like with
eight kids
eight-and-under!


Can you count them all?

One, two, three...


Occasionally, I lose one {especially my mischievous, littlest brown-eyed beauty}, but not today! Today, they are all accounted for!

Four, five, six, seven,
EIGHT!!!


This week we had even more reason to celebrate!
We are celebrating eight!

Since Haddon was born, we have had to update our home study, our medicals, and our fingerprints. We've been waiting for a call from our adoption agency, expecting to hear that our court date would be soon and that we would be traveling later this summer to bring Faith Ana home. But, instead, we got a phone call with even crazier news...

She's already ours! We've already passed court! 
Faith Ana is officially the newest Blackmon! 

And she's coming home soon! Lord-willing, I will bring her home in early June!


I will share more when I find the time!!!


In the meantime, these guys are keeping me busy!


But I wouldn't trade these precious days for anything in the world.


Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be the big things that you do - but the one little person you love.
Ann Voskamp



XOXO,
Melanie




Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Boots and Bottoms



Sometimes we are fresh for a prayer meeting but not fresh for cleaning boots {or bottoms}.


Being born again of the Spirit is an unmistakable work of God, as mysterious as the wind, as surprising as God Himself. We do not know where it begins, it is hidden away in the depths of our personal life. Being born again from above is a perennial, perpetual and eternal beginning, a freshness all the time in thinking and in talking and in living, the continual surprise of the life of God…

Being born of the Spirit means much more than we generally take it to mean. It gives us a new vision and keeps us absolutely fresh for everything by the perennial supply of the life of God.

Oswald Chambers


He's the littlest of the big kids, and he's the biggest of the little kids! Barrett, this little one, makes me laugh every single day! 
This is an actual "conversation" we had not that long ago!



Barrett: Hey Mom! (Yelling loudly from the backyard)

Me: Hey Barrett! (Yelling equally loudly back to him from the kitchen)


Barrett: I poo-pood! (Even louder)


Me: Oh, Barrett, NO, not in your underwear! (Mentally, bracing myself to clean up another mess)


Barrett: No, Mom. I poo-poo outside. Can I have my gum ball now? (The big boys who were nearby riding bikes quickly scattered! Maybe they caught a whiff of Barrett's accomplishment!)


 
He was so proud of himself! Hmmm....I guess I need to be a little more clear about what's ok to do outside and what's not ok! 

Life with a bunch of little boys {and girls} is never dull



A few weeks before Haddon was born, I decided that it was time to get Barrett potty-trained. He turned three the end of December, and although none of the older boys were potty-trained until they were 3 1/2, I decided to give it a try with him. He was pretty motivated because he knew that he would be rewarded with gum balls, and I was highly motivated because I could not imagine having 5 in diapers at the same time... 


{We know that Faith Ana will have to be in diapers until she's older, and we are able to explore some different options for children with spina bifida. And with the regression we have been experiencing with Sophi, we have had to put her back in diapers for a while even though she has been potty-trained since last winter.} 

So, between Barrett, Evie, Sophi, Faith, and Haddon, I knew we would be going through lots of diapers!!!


I am happy to report that Barrett was successfully potty-trained by the time Haddon arrived. We had a few messes and a few traumatic days, but, overall, he did great, and I readily add this to my list of mercies! I'm thankful for every small victory these days!


Evie insisted on sitting on the potty every time Barrett did, in part because she is fiercely competitive like her momma and wants to do everything her big brother does and also because her daddy gives her candy every time she tries. This smart girl has learned the system! Anyway, she is yet to be potty-trained, but I 'm optimistic that we will celebrate another victory with her before bringing Faith Ana home.



We've since abandoned the diapers with Sophi. Like mostly everything with this little girl, she always chooses whatever is easiest and requires the least amount of effort. 

{For example, she prefers food that requires the least amount of chewing. Without being pushed, she'd be more than happy to have us dress her, although at almost 8, she is perfectly capable of doing it herself. Unless we encourage her to say the whole word, the few words that she is capable of saying, she's content to just say the  beginning sound. I could give you countless other ways this plays out every day, and wearing a diaper is just one more example.} 

Wearing a diaper caused her to regress even more, and so we threw out the diapers and opted for cleaning up lots of messes and washing lots of sheets. Lots and lots and lots! Every day, sometimes multiple times a day, for more than 2 months, we've had messes, and it's been incredibly frustrating , especially because we know this is a way that she's expressing her anger and frustration and seeking to be in control. We have tried many different strategies, including rewards and consequences, and like many kids who come from hard places, we have had very little success with either. Finally, finally over the past few days, I feel like we've had a breakthrough. She's been dry five mornings in a row, and this is huge! We are definitely celebrating this victory, and we are so thankful for all of you who have been faithfully praying for Sophi!

Learning to follow instructions and listen to Momma's voice when we go for walks!

Celebrating waking up without an accident with candy and learning to use our eyes and concentrate to open the wrapper!

Thanks to so many generous friends, I've yet to buy a diaper for Haddon, which is pretty remarkable considering how many diapers newborns go through! This is yet another example of the Lord's faithful and perfect provision.


So, in lots of little ways and quite a few big ways, prayers are being answered. It's been messy along the way, but that just goes with the territory



Sometimes it's hard to choose thankfulness, especially when it involves something unpleasant. It's much easier and comes much more naturally for me to dwell on what's hard and frustrating. But that's when I have to remember that being thankful is a choice. {Thankfully} I'm getting lots of opportunities to put this into practice! 



Make friends with the problems in your life. Though many things feel random and wrong, remember that I am sovereign over everything. I can fit everything into a pattern for good, but only to the extent you trust Me. Every problem can teach you something

The best way to befriend your problems is to thank Me for them. This simple act opens your mind to the possibility of benefits flowing from your difficulties. You can even give persistent problems nicknames, helping you to approach them with familiarity rather than with dread. The next step is to introduce them to Me, enabling Me to embrace them in My loving presence. I will not necessarily remove your problems, but My wisdom is sufficient to bring good out of every one of them.

Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

I laughed when I read these words by Sarah Young, but it's so true and such a good challenge. There are so many times that I catch myself either saying aloud to Will or just simply muttering under my breath, "this is miserable!" especially when it applies to these particular kinds of messes! And, lately, the Lord has really convicted me to change my vocabulary and just to eliminate that word miserable altogether! I've yet to come up with a nickname like Sarah Young suggested, but I'm working on it. 
In fact, maybe I should commission the boys to help me since they have no problem when it comes to "potty talk."


Boots and bottoms...

Stinky, little boys and stubborn, brown-eyed girls… 

I'm celebrating each of them today, messes and all!

in everything, give thanks

1 Thess. 5:18

XOXO,
Melanie



Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Little Update

Among those who fear the Lord there are little and great. Some are babes, and others are giants. But these are all blessed. Little faith is blessed faith. Trembling hope is blessed hope. Every grace of the Holy Spirit, even though it be only a bud, bears a blessing within it. Moreover, the Lord Jesus bought both the small and the great with the same precious blood, and He has engaged to preserve the lambs as well as the full-grown sheep. No mother overlooks her child because it is little; nay, the smaller it is, the more tenderly does she nurse it. If there be any preference with the Lord, He does not arrange them as "great and small" but as "small and great."

Charles Haddon Spurgeon


Just down the hall, two brown-eyed girls are napping. Out in the backyard, four boys are enjoying some very welcome sunshine and an afternoon adventure with their Dad. And one more boy, my littlest one, is snuggled up here next to me, enjoying these few moments of calm and quiet.

Two + Four + One = SEVEN


I'm counting heads a lot these days.



One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six…


SEVEN!



Seven little people.


Seven lively little people.


Seven noisy little people.


Seven messy little people.


Seven very needy little people.


Seven! It's a lot of little people, especially when the oldest is still pretty little himself.


As I reflect on this past month, {a month that included numerous trips to the doctor's office for everything from a lyme disease scare to pink eye to an ear infection to strange rashes to an upper respiratory virus that has swept through every person in our family}, I am extremely thankful to turn the page on the calendar to a new month that will include popsicles and open windows and sunny afternoons in the backyard with the little people I love most!




February proved to be a very challenging month on many levels, but the Lord consistently reminded me time and time again of His faithfulness. There were so many times when I would be awake in the middle of the night feeding the baby, wondering how I would make it through the next day, only to find an abundance of mercies waiting for me in the morning from a Father who knew all along just what I needed. Like the manna the Lord provided for the Israelites in the wilderness, the Lord has faithfully and perfectly provided the strength and energy I've needed as we've transitioned into this crazy family of nine!


Haddon, the littlest of all my babies, has probably been the easiest of them all, and I can't even begin to tell you what a big mercy this is! The Lord has also been so gracious to keep him healthy despite all of the germs floating around our house.


The other kids have done great adjusting to life with another little baby, and both Barrett and Evie are especially smitten with their little brother. One of my favorite memories during this first month home was the countless times Barrett asked me, "Can I keep him, Mom?"


It's especially sweet to watch Evie with Haddon. The first word out of her mouth every single morning is "Baby!", and she absolutely cannot keep her hands off him! When I'm counting heads these days, hers is definitely the little head I'm always looking for. On more than one occasion, I've found her "helping" the baby, playing in the potty, rolling toilet paper through the house, climbing on the counter, sneaking treats from the candy jar, and getting into more mischief than all of the boys combined ever got into when they were her age. Oh, my! How I love this little girl!




Sophi has continued to struggle over this past month, and we have had some extremely trying days with this precious little girl. {On the particular day when I took these pictures, she was not having one of her best days.} We continue to pray for wisdom and direction as we come up with strategies to deal with the regression and behavioral problems that we are dealing with. Mostly, we are praying that the Lord will keep all of our hearts soft towards her and fill us with the compassion and grace we need to love her in a way that she can comprehend.


There are times in the middle of the night when the house is finally quiet, and I find myself worrying about the future. But in these moments, when my faith seems so little, He meets me. He meets me in my exhaustion, in my fears, in my places of greatest weakness, and He has used the challenges and changes of this month to, once again, draw me closer to Him. Without fail, He has continually reminded me that as we transition yet again in the upcoming months, His mercies will keep coming, just as they are now, new every single morning!


A special thank you to all of the neighbors, friends, and family who have been such a tremendous blessing to our family. We have been showered with meals and diapers and many, many prayers, and we are incredibly grateful! We continue to ask for prayers for Sophi as we work through the many issues we are dealing with and for Faith Ana as we are still waiting on our court date in Bulgaria to finalize her adoption. The timeline for bringing her home is still very uncertain, and we are trusting the Lord to work out all of the details as we prepare to add one more little one to our family! We also ask for your prayers that everyone in our family will get healthy soon!


The Israelites in the wilderness were continually exposed to change. Whenever the pillar stayed its motion, the tents were pitched; but tomorrow, ere the morning sun had risen, the trumpet sounded, the ark was in motion, and the fiery, cloudy pillar was leading the way through the narrow defiles of the mountain, up the hill side, or along the arid waste of the wilderness. They had scarcely time to rest a little before they heard the sound of "Away! this is not your rest; you must still be onward journeying towards Canaan!" They were never long in one place. Even wells and palm trees could not detain them. Yet they had an abiding home in their God, his cloudy pillar was their roof-tree, and its flame by night their household fire. They must go onward from place to place, continually changing, never having time to settle, and to say, "Now we are secure; in this place we shall dwell." "Yet," says Moses, "though we are always changing, Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place throughout all generations." 

The Christian knows no change with regard to God. He may be rich today and poor tomorrow; he may be sickly today and well tomorrow; he may be in happiness today, tomorrow he may be distressed, but there is no change with regard to his relationship to God. If He loved me yesterday, He loves me today. My unmoving mansion of rest is my blessed Lord. Let prospects be blighted; let hopes be blasted; let joy be withered; let mildews destroy everything; I have lost nothing of what I have in God. He is "my strong habitation whereunto I can continually resort." I am a pilgrim in the world, but at home in my God. In the earth I wander, but in God I dwell in a quiet habitation.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon


And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need, be self-sufficient (possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work…).

2 Corinthians 9:8, The Amplified Bible
XOXO,
Melanie


P.S. I love this song by Matt Redman. I've listened to it countless times over this past month! Enjoy!