Monday, August 31, 2009

A Sweet Saturday

It was another busy weekend and my creative writing juices were all used up on living instead of writing:)

Saturday was a sweet day for me...I got to spend some extra special time with a few of my favorite people (not all, but a few of them!:)). The day started out with Bryan in the kitchen, which is always a sweet thing!:) Daddy made Samuel's day by making eggs in a nest for him and the rest of the kiddos! Samuel loves eggs!

I took the girls out for a long overdue mom and daughter time! We headed to North Town (of course!) and I was so excited to give them a couple of special gifts....Starbuck's mugs that I had been holding onto since Valentine's Day clearance (gotta drink a hot (or iced) drink like mom does when she has her quiet time!) and devotional books to help them form a habit and grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. We had bought one for Micah to do when he first started reading well and I completely forgot about it until a couple of weeks ago. They have the "girl counterpart" and we ordered it for Grace and Faith. I really like the set up...a verse, a story, some questions, a prayer and a small activity. It's not super deep but it is also not overwhelming and was a great way to help Micah develop the habit of Bible Study. The girl's book takes a look at a bunch of women in the Bible...and I am praying that it is a blessing in their lives!

So, anyway, we went over the devotional book so they understood the set-up and then we put together a puzzle! I am really enjoying doing puzzles with the girls once in a while! Our local Value Village (like a Goodwill) has used puzzles for .99 cents and I have gotten in the habit of picking up one or two when I go there.

And, that night, I had the privilege of going on a date with my husband...the first date since being home from Ethiopia! (Thank you Benedetti's!!!) After dinner we went to a park and just walked and talked and walked and talked (Bryan's knee held up for about a mile and a half!) felt like when we were newlyweds! Truth is, though, I would never want to go back to those days. I was selfish, my love for Bryan was, so often, conditional instead of unconditional. The Lord has done some serious work on my heart...and I know He has so much more to do...which excites me to think that our marriage will continue to get better and better (and it already is so precious!) as we become more like Christ and continue to grow in our understanding of God's love in our marriage.

I have other things to share...but I'll give it to you in bite size pieces this week!:)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Stepping Heavenward

My eyes filled with tears and my heart overflowed with thanksgiving to the Lord for the timely posts of one of my very dearest friends.(You can check out her blog on the left column of mine...under adoption "K and W")She shared a couple of quotes from one of my favorite books of all time..."Stepping Heavenward" by Elizabeth Prentiss. Though I may not have a baby, I have two new "big bundles" and her words ring just as true today as they did the first time I read them and the time after that, and the time after that! (HINT...if you do not have this it now!:))

I am going to freely copy and paste from my precious friend's blog (thanks for the time saver, Wendy!:)) and hope you are blessed too. Or, even better, head over to her blog and hear how God has been working in their family as they have added two new, precious little ones through foster adoption (if your heart is not warmed to adoption by what she need to make sure it's still ticking! :)).

The following is a journal entry:

"It is not always easy to practice as it is to preach. I can see in my wisdom forty reasons for having four children and no more. The comfort of sleeping in peace, of having a little time to read, and to keep on with my music; strength with which to look after Earnest's (her husband) poor people when they are sick; and, to tell the truth, strength to be bright and fresh and love able to him--all these little joys have been growing very precious to me, and I must now give them up. I want to do it cheerfully and without a frown. But I love to have my own way, and that at that very moment I was asking God to appoint my work for me, I was secretly marking it out for myself. It is mortifying to find my will less in harmony with HIS than I thought it was and that I want to prescribe to Him how I shall spend the time, and the health, and the strength that are His, not mine. But I will not rest till this struggle is over, till I can say with a smile, "Not my will! Not my will! But Thine!"

And, in another section of the book she says of her new baby:

"Here is a sweet, fragrant mouth to kiss; here are two more feet to make music with their pattering about my nursery. Here is a soul to train for God; and the body in which it dwells is worthy all it will cost, since it is the abode of a kingly tenent. I may see less friends, but I have gained one dearer to them all, to whom, while I minister in Christ's name, I make a willing sacrifice of what little leisure for my own recreation my other darlings had left me. Yes, my precious baby, you are welcome to your mother's heart, welcome to her time, her strength, her health, her tenderest cares, to lifelong prayers! O, how rich I am, how truly, how wonderously blest!"


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Things we keep learning!

One thing that seems to be a common thread amongst adopted children, at least from what I have read and the adopted parents I have talked to, is a desire to keep and hold onto things. Or, to put it more bluntly...not to want to share.:)

Having said that, it has not been uncommon for me to find toys in very odd places(and, of course, I had to snap a couple of pictures for you!) and, generally, they have been hidden there by either Samuel or Caleb so that no one else can play with it...
in the hall closet, in the corner of the garage...pretty much in any corner that seems out of the way.:) In fact, a little while ago, Samuel had pulled out of the bin a bunch of hot wheel cars and asked me for a bag. I thought he just wanted something to help carry his cars as he played with them. Nope, I was wrong! He put all the cars in the bag, tied the bag tight and placed it in his underwear drawer!:)He never pulled it out to play with once! I finally made him put them back in the bin so that he could share and everyone could play with them. They have never really tried to "hoard" or "gorge" on food (maybe it would have been different if we had adopted a girl!:)tee-hee), but they love STUFF!:) They are learning what the word "share" means although, I think if they had their way, it would not be a word that they would add to their vocabulary!:)

Speaking of food, just thought I'd share a tidbit that has worked really well for us. We bought several sets of plastic bowls, cups and plates from IKEA (at $1.99 for a 6 piece could you go wrong?!)...and the reason for it was that they came in 6 different colors. We then assigned a color to each child (as well as bath towels!) and it has made things in the kitchen run very smooth. Everyone knows what cup is theirs and that is their cup for the whole day and there is no fighting over who wants the spiderman bowl, etc... Plus, when dishes are left on the table, I know exactly who the culprit is! :)

In other adoption news :), Samuel broke out of his shell a little bit more and "shared" another rap with us...and I had to pass it on and make you smiletoo!:) video

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It's not 4 hours lost!

A couple of days ago in my post I mentioned that, with homeschooling, I was "losing" 4 hours a day and that it would take time to figure out a new routine and how I was going to get the things I needed to get done in 4 less hours a day.

I wanted to share with you what my husband shared with me tonight that really encouraged me and also gently rebuked me, too! I was feeling tired and overwhelmed tonight, so much to little time, feeling like I was not enjoying my children but "herding" them from one thing to the next and not with the gentle and quiet spirit that is precious to the Lord. It's not so much that school was hard (it really has been going well), as much as I just felt overwhelmed by all that was still to be done when our school day came to an end. I was sharing this with Bryan...seeking his wisdom and council over how to "make up" the time I was losing...and he came at it from an angle I was not expecting but that I really needed to hear.

Those 4 hours are not "lost" time...they are hours spent doing exactly what the Lord has called me to do and 4 hours of privilege to have our children around the table, in our home, teaching them! And, all those "other things" that seem to take up so much time, though they may seem "necessary" or "super important" to me, often they are not.

It's very easy for me to be a Martha instead of a Mary when it comes to my family...busy but not sitting and enjoying. My eyes started to fill as Bryan reminded me that Micah is half way to 18...half way to leaving our home. That may seem like a long time, but we know how quickly the first (almost) nine years have gone. What is he going to remember? What do I remember of my childhood? I can tell you that I have no clue how often the sheets were changed or how often my mom cleaned the house or even what we had for dinner most nights...but I do remember a donut date and a movie date with my dad, Mario Kart award night, lots of camping memories... I do remember lots of rides in the van with our kid's Christian music songs blaring (thanks mom!), I remember a special dress my mom had bought for me for no reason at all, I remember my mom letting us take all the cushions off the couch, bring the little tykes picnic table in and jump off it into the cushions as we did "gymnastic routines" and how she let us take the dining room chairs into the living room, drape sheets and blankets over it and make a fort and even sleep in it during rest time!

Elizabeth Elliot once said, "Do the next thing", and Jim Elliot is famous for his quote, "Wherever you are, be all there" and I want to live like that. To live each moment for the glory of God and with a thankful heart FOR THE MOMENT, not wishing it would pass or that rest time or bed time would come quick. And, as I do that, to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, asking for His wisdom to know what the "next thing" is and then to DO IT...whether it be the laundry, a bear hug for one of my kids, a quick email of love to my hubby, another peek outside as the kids show me something exciting they just did, preparing lunch or giggling with my girls!

There is still much wisdom needed and much praying to be done as I assess what is truly a priority each day and plan accordingly...but I am so thankful for my precious husband and his willingness to show me that the "thought train" I was on was going in the opposite direction from where I needed to go and for the encouragement he gave me to sit and listen...first and foremost to Jesus and then to our kids. I have been so blessed and I don't want to waste a minute of it!

"The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." Proverbs 16:9

"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward...blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!" Psalm 127:3,5

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Promise to Cling too!

"I have learned that my students are not going to learn a significant amount of what I teach. But, what they do learn is what I am most excited about."

I read this quote by D.A. Carson last week and it was one worth pondering because, the more I thought about it, it really was so true! His perspective is so important as we teach and train our kids...whether we home school or not! So much of what we teach them they are going to forget but there IS one thing that we teach them that has the promise of NOT returning void or empty or forgotten...and that is the Word of God!

"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;it shall not return to me empty,but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:10-11

Is that worth getting excited about or what! We have a guaranteed promise from the Lord that when His teaching is on our lips it will not return will accomplish His purposes. There is nothing else we can teach that carries a promise like that!

Truths like that renew my mind,encourage my heart and give me a heavenward perspective that brings great joy to my soul and excitement to even the most menial of tasks. What a weight of responsibility we have in training our kids in the way of the Lord...but what a promise we have knowing that it WILL produce fruit, maybe not the kind of fruit we thought and maybe not even on the "tree" we were intending, but God uses God's Word to save and sanctify God's people and that is a precious promise to cling to and live by!

PS...and let's not forget that this same promise applies to our relationships with our husbands, friends, neighbors and...well you get the gist! :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

A New School Year has Begun!

I had to remind myself as I started this post that I have always promised to be transparent. Why? Because today was REALLY hard!!! And, it would be easy to try to sugar coat today for any of you out there who are even remotely thinking about home schooling...or those of you who think I am CRAZY to home school:). Because, to be honest, I really do WANT every day of school to be a joy...I really DO want to be able to constantly give a glowing report about the beauty of home schooling. The problem is that school involves a teacher and students, all of whom are sinners and all of whom sin everyday, including during home school!

Today was a day of adjustments and I think it will be that way for the rest of the week. It wasn't that it was was just long and tiring and I was quickly reminded that "losing" an extra 4 hours a day while we school is going to take a while to get used to and is going to require some serious brain power and prayer to figure out how to get the things I need to get done in a day, done with 4 less hours.

Ugh...I feel like I am complaining...please know that that is not what is in my heart. I just don't want to paint a picture that life is easy and peachy and I am some sort of "one of a kind" woman who can do way more than the average woman...because I can't! :)
And, as those thoughts ran through my head today, I had a crazy urge to go and check out the "Girltalk Blog" in the middle of home schooling. The computer is typically a NO-NO for Kristin during school is just too distracting for me...but I really believe it was the Holy Spirit's prompting as the title for today was, "School Days" and could not have been a sweeter encouragement!

Okay, so with all that out of the way :), it really was a good morning of school! I bought 4 bins (thanks to some suggestion I read somewhere) and, last week, put all the kids school work in each bin along with scissors, crayons, colored pencils, pencils, a ruler, paper, folder and journal. In other words, all they would need each day for school. It actually worked REALLY one was searching for a pencil or asking for crayons and there were not books and papers all over the place as everything came out of and went back into the bin. Today, I had them decorate an index card with their name on it for the bin. I would highly recommend them, home schooling moms!

Samuel did really well...I started him with some pages working on his colors and then he joined Titus and Caleb to watch a "Leap Frog" DVD on the alphabet. After that, I had him work on tracing and writing the letter A. That was all for Samuel...but it took him a while, although he seemed to enjoy being apart of everything!

I have decided to bump Faith up a grade and so I am teaching 2nd grade to both Grace and Faith. I believe it will be a decision that benefits both girls and I was really pleased to see the way they were coming alongside each other today as they did the same school work!

Micah continues to be a hard worker...and fast!:) He is using "Rod and Staff" curriculum for English and I LOVE all the Bible emphasis!!! He truly does love the Word of God and it blessed my heart to see him get excited to have so much of it as part of his school work!

Titus and Caleb...well, on a positive note, they are playing together so much more and I love hearing them laugh and giggle together! The downside is that, in a 1300 square foot house, noise travels everywhere and I don't think they played one quiet game or activity all morning!:) I am going to have to think through some things for them to do that does not including driving and crashing cars all throughout the kitchen and dining room where we are working!:)

And, the newest members of our family, Fenway and Dugout are going to be spending the morning in the garage from here on out...or at least for a while! They knew we were just a few feet from them...what they did not understand is why we never picked them they (or, should I say, one very loud Dugout)proceeded to cry and whine while I tried to teach. It's a good thing they finally fell asleep or there might have been a box on our front porch with the words "FREE" on it!:)

So, there you have it. A new school year has officially begun in the Pichura Household and so has yet one more opportunity for God to refine us, sanctify us and remind us all why we need Him every moment of every day! And how could I complain about that?!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Camping at Rimrock

We were all very tired and even more dirty as we pulled in to our house this afternoon but also so thankful for the time that we got away with our dear church family (well, at least some of them!:)).

We really did have a great time and it was so neat to see 16 kids playing together non stop...well, there were a lot of breaks asking for help, asking for a drink, wanting something to eat, needing help with a life jacket, wanting a sweatshirt put on, needing to go to the bathroom, wanting to play in the camper, did I mention needing to go to the bathroom :), wanting to hold a puppy, needing to put pants on, finding tissue to wipe noses and, yes, going to the bathroom AGAIN!!!!:)It was a lot of fun!!!

Isn't it amazing how the blood of Christ...His salvation...His adoption...places you into a whole new family, a beautiful family and you can have nothing else in common but because of Christ you are!!! I just love it!!!

Here are a few pictures to show you just how much fun we had with our adopted family!

It got pretty cold (colder than we had planned!) at Rimrock and Caleb kept making sure I new about it!:) I couldn't help but giggle and take a picture of one of the ways he let me know. He held up two fingers and said: Mom "two" cold!:)

The trip was the first time Samuel and Caleb had eaten hot dogs and, once again, Caleb had me laughing when I looked over and saw how he was eating it...just like corn on the cob!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I just can't think of a fun title for today's post! :)

Today was another busy day and it was not my favorite, I'll be honest. The house needed to be clean...but I still had 6 children who needed many things more (even if their need was not a need to me!). So, I battled my flesh and my spirit warred within me. I am very goal oriented and I tend to lose sight of all else when I really want to get something done. That may be a good thing when it comes to some things but not when it comes to tending to my children! (Funny, huh, how I just blogged about the reality that having a messy house meant dear children messing it up...and yet here I am today blogging about the reality of cleaning! If you saw some areas of my house, though, you would know that it has gone from messy to bio hazard!:))

The house did get clean, my spirit was renewed (by the grace of God) but I have realized that, once school starts next week, I have to implement the daily cleaning schedule that I have been working on for the kiddos and, prayerfully, we will just have to take an hour or so on Saturday morning to fill in the gaps. I'll let you know how that one goes!:)

Caleb's second cavity ended up being what looked like a space that had been already filled but the filling had fallen the dentist was able to fill it without novicane!!!

We are headed to Church Family Camp tomorrow afternoon. What could be better than a years worth of fellowship all in one weekend??!!! Not that I am saying that we should not seek to fellowship and be involved in others lives throughout the year..but what a neat blessing to be able to have so much time with a bunch of families during the course of a whole weekend! We are all really excited! Prayerfully, that enthusiasm will be just as high on Sunday when we come home! :)

I'll leave you with a blog post I read over on the "Biblical Council of Manhood and Womanhood" website. They have been posting some great thoughts lately and, as a mom who desire to glorify God in all areas of life and to encourage my children to see all that they do in life as an opportunity to glorify God...I loved this guys thoughts when it comes to our children's eating habits! Hope you enjoy it too! See you next Monday!:)

Gospel Implications of Picky Eating
John Starke
August 11, 2009

One of our kids has developed a bad habit of being a picky eater - she won't try new foods, tends to like only certain kinds, etc. My wife and I are trying to form strategies to counter this recent development. Yet, whatever strategies we use, practically speaking, I hope that one thing that we are able to get across to her are the implications of "picky eating."

Picky eating does not simply make life difficult for the cooking mom or cause dinners to go longer while we sit and wait for the child to finish dinner. Picky eating doesn't just imply that their taste buds are simply narrowly focused. Picky eating says something about the heart. For parents, the picky eating of their children may be a good, Gospel teaching moment.

At the risk of overstatement, picky eating could be viewed as the first few steps down the dark and hollow path of Romans 1:21, "For although they knew God, they did not honor him or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened."

Romans 1:21 has a larger context within Romans 1-2 and while much more is implied, at the very heart of Romans 1 and 2 is the refusal to recognize God as Creator and ourselves as creatures. Everything we have is derived from Him. The proper response of the creature's heart is thankfulness and gratitude, but their sinful response was to not even recognize God as God and Creator.

I don't want to necessarily jam the entire context of Romans 1-2 into my child's picky eating. Yet, in a very real sense, there is no heart of thankfulness, contentment, or gratitude in picky eating. In fact, it is the opposite of thankfulness, contentment, and gratitude. Instructing the child's heart in the little mundane things like eating what their mother has prepared for them begins to prepare them to have a thankful heart, being content in the Lord and in what he has ordained for them. Instruction at the level of a finicky appetite just might be the place to begin pointing our little ones to the One who became the Bread of Life to rescue ungrateful eaters.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Linnea....and other news :)

There is so much I want to share, little things the Lord is teaching me, but just not enough time in the day to write it all, it seems! :) So, for now, I am perfectly content and overjoyed to share with you the most wonderful news of the baby sister, Kimberly, just had her first baby, Linnea Joy Johnson. She weighed in at 6 pounds 5 ounces and is 20 3/4 inches long.
My sister has sought to glorify the Lord both in her pregnancy and even her labor and delivery (she actually read a paper on glorifying the Lord in your labor and delivery! I can't wait to read it myself!) and I believe the Lord blessed her greatly in a quick delivery (although, not painless!). She woke up at around 3:15 am and had sweet girl at 9:37 am!!! As her big sister (and only sister), my heart aches to be there and share in the joy but I am so thankful that my mom is there and will be there for another week!

In other news...Caleb had his first cavity filled today. It was shallow so they only needed to do the "gas". In true Caleb form, it did not relax him but got him giggling and talking even more.:) He did GREAT though, not even a squirm! I don't know if that will be the case tomorrow afternoon...he has to get his second, deeper cavity filled and the dentist will have to give him a shot for that one!

Before the dentist appt., I made a trip out to Walmart for some things we need for our Church Family Camp this weekend and had the blessing of meeting up with two precious gals (sisters) from our church. They were SO SWEET and took the kids while I got the groceries I needed. The picture says it all as to where and how I found them when I was done! I am glad that Walmart "theater" doesn't charge for seating! :) They also taught the kids "Cat's Cradle" when we got back to the house...Samuel is a whiz and both he and Grace cracked me up at how excited they got each time they were able to complete one the right way! Sarah and Lori...thank you SO much for your servant's hearts...for showing my kids the love of Christ...I pray my girls grow up to be like you!

This morning I read a Proverb that I have read many times before and have been blessed and encouraged by it each and every time. I know I said I only had time for updates...but my fingers are typing pretty fast and my brain hasn't shut off let me share and hopefully your heart will be encouraged, too!:)

"Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox." Proverbs 14:4

Maybe I am a little goofy in the head...but I always have felt this relates so beautifully to life with our kids (and no..I don't think they are cows!). How often do I wish my house was clean and that it would stay that way for more than a few minutes. How often do I get discouraged in having to do the same tasks over and over again because things get messy SO FAST! But having a clean house all the time would mean that I did not have children messing it up, did not have little feet making muddy marks all over the bathroom floor, did not have sweet little fingers leaving marks on the wall and chairs and wherever else their hands went before they got washed up. It would mean that I would not have some of the greatest blessings the Lord has ever given me and I would not have the sweet privilege of raising them up to, prayerfully by the grace of God, be little fruit bearers for the kingdom of produce an abundant crop! Not because I can make them bear fruit but because God chose to use the means of me, their mom, to help accomplish His purposes in them!

So, I am learning that, while there will come a day when my house stays clean for more than 5 minutes, I should rejoice that that day is not now and thank God for the blessing of a mess!!!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

One Month Home!

Today, August 17th, marks one full month since we have had Samuel and Caleb in our home. In some ways it seems like they have always been apart of our family and in other ways, it is still very real that they have only been here a month!

For many of you who try to imagine having 6 children, 2 of whom do not speak English,all within 5 years of each other, you may feel that it would be your worst nightmare:), you can't imagine the day in and day out living and the craziness that ensues...but I just want to tell you that what God calls you to, He gives you the grace to carry out...and not just the grace to carry it out, but the joy as well! I can't tell you how many days I have sat back after they are in bed just praising the Lord for His sustaining grace...the day was harder than I could have imagined but God's grace was right there to not only match, but surpass the trials! It has been full of stretching, full of exhaustion, there have been many tears, many frustrations, many "I don't know what to do"...but there has also been the ever present reality that "The joy of the Lord is my strength".

If there were never any trials, we would never see the need to depend on Christ. We would feel like we have it all together...have everything under control. We would begin to live as though God did not exist. How can we not praise Him for the "days of rain" when they are what keep us close to our Heavenly Father?! I don't know what the Lord may be calling you He may be asking you to "store up for yourself treasures in Heaven", but I do know that, as you obey Him, you will see His faithfulness in breathtaking ways, learn that His plans are unimaginably glorious, that His strength and power are limitless and that what may seem impossible is no match for the God in Whom all things are possible!

We are praising the Lord for this past month and look forward with excitement at all the months to come as a family of 8!

Snapshots from the Weekend

So, I have to start with a lack of posting for the last two days has nothing to do with two new puppies:)...really, they have added very little to my daily routine although they have shaken up Grace's routine quite a bit...amazingly, she seems to be loving it, no complaints yet from her...of course, there might be a small bit of concern on her part as to what she might lose if she complains.:)

On Friday, my husband (and brother) so graciously watched the kiddo's while I took off for 6 HOURS. It was the first time that I had the chance to get away by myself for a while since we have been home from Ethiopia. I had grand plans of sitting at a Starbucks and putting together a cleaning schedule as well as a homeschooling schedule and, in the end, I opted to simply SHOP away my birthday money!:) I also got a pedicure and manicure that my hubby got me for my birthday.

It was a needed break and I enjoyed being gone, enjoyed thinking and praying without interruption but I am also so thankful that my thoughts and prayers often turned home and, as good as it was to get away, it was just as good to be home!

Last night I cut Samuel's hair for the first time and, when he realized what I was going to do, he started sobbing and repeating the name of one of the older kids that had been at the orphanage and then at the care center with him ( he, along with 2 others are being adopted by a family in Montana and we can't wait for the opportunity to reunite them and visit!).From what I could gather, he was the last one who had cut Samuel's hair and I think he was just crushed that "one more thing" from all that he left behind was changing! It was his way of holding on to what he held dear. My heart ached for him but I knew there was nothing I could do, unless we were okay with one of our children having a serious "fro"!!!:)Praise the Lord, he had calmed down by the time we got to the bath and was all smiles after that! He does not always "rebound" so quickly, so I am thankful he did last night. And then, today, we were sent some more pictures of those same friends and he was so glad to see them!!!

The kids continue to plead (all the time!) for us to come out so they can ride their bikes, skateboards and scooters down the driveway into the street.
Even Titus is going down the driveway on his skateboard...I think I am more scared for him than he is!:)(and, no comments on Titus' shoe choice or how poorly Caleb's helmet is on his head at the moment of the picture!)

At church, we have been having a family Sunday school class and Bryan has been teaching using the material "The Righteous Shall Live by Faith" by Children Desiring God (John Piper's ministry). It is a study on the Ten Commandments and has been just wonderful!!!! The reason I mention it is because some of you have asked in the past about devotionals to do with your kids. I would HIGHLY recommend this one. While the Sunday School class has been great, you can do the book without it. If you are looking for a material that can be used whether your children are young or older and a family devotional that will challenge your own heart as well, order this! :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

It's a wonderful, crazy life

The title to this post is one of the things I am learning more and more. Life can be crazy and wonderful, exhausting and exhilarating, painful and beautiful...all at the same time. I think it might have been a little bit of what James had in mind when he said in James, "Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials...". When we see each day as a gift from the Lord, each child as a magnificent creation fashioned by a Perfect Creator, each moment as ordained for us by a very intimate God who knows exactly what we need to be exactly who He has called us to be...we have reason to hope greatly, for our God is great. We have a reason to rejoice even through the tears and we are able to see that God truly does make everything beautiful in His time!!!

Last night was rough...Faith was up in pain, Micah woke up in the middle of the night and I couldn't go back to sleep after all the interruptions... so I stayed in bed a little longer and spent some time in the Word...I needed to be fed with more than Chex this morning!

My brother Paul came to visit mid morning and we are so thrilled to have him with us for a couple of days. He watched 3 of the kids while I took the other 3 to the doctor's (Caleb is staying under mommy's watchful eye, for now!). Faith had her post-op appt. and he said everything looked great and she was on track for healing...I just wish her body would tell her that...she is a WRECK a good part of the day and night! Micah had one tube "hanging" in his right ear...well, it looks like the infection took care of the hanging part of things and it came out at the doctor's office. Sadly, the hole that was left behind in his ear drum is too big and the doctor says it would take a small miracle (we know that is possible :)) for it to close up on his, we head back in three weeks to get it checked out and then, it may be his turn for surgery to repair the hole and hopefully retain hearing in that ear.

The kids have been enjoying riding their bikes, scooters and, the latest for Micah is Daddy's old skateboard. I would never have believed it last week as we sweated in the heat that we would be wearing our sweatshirts tonight but we were! What a blessing the cooler air has been! What a blessing all of life is, really! Each moment is full of God's grace and mercy. Each breath we take is one more than we deserve and each moment we live without getting into a car accident or without the kids breaking a bone on the numerous tumbles they take every day or not getting sick or...well, let's face it, the list is is all undeserved favor and kindness given to us by our precious Savior. And that makes for one crazy, wonderful life that I am so thankful to be living!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Rejoicing in Our Day

Today started in a way that made me want to go back to bed.:) Faith crying that her throat her, the kids fighting over who knows what...and, as I was praying for strength, a very common verse came to mind and reminded me that living it out is actually very fact, it's impossible apart from Christ:

"This is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it."

I was so thankful for that very needed reminder from the Lord...the reminder that THIS day, THESE moments were from the Lord for my good and His glory and, as a result, that should leave me rejoicing and glad in HIM...and with that our day got underway. I came out to find the boys cuddled up together (which is always a precious sight!). Actually, Titus was already dressed and desperate for some breakfast but I made him whip of his shirt and dive in so he could be apart of the picture!:)

We finally headed out today to run some much needed errands. I have not been out of the house since Faith's surgery. And with Micah's ear infection and then Samuel throwing up (just once each night tonight and last night...we think it was from the antibiotics they have had him on...he finished up today and we are praying that he returns to normal or we'll head to the doctors again. On a side note, it was so awful having him in pain and throwing up and I couldn't understand, and he couldn't explain exactly how he felt to me...made my heart hurt for him)...anyway, even Walmart felt like a treat today!:)

We made a stop at the library too...something I have only done a couple of times since we have moved here...and, well, the picture says it all :) Bryan says he wanted to write today's blog post and say: "A picture is worth a thousand words but this picture only needs 4: MY WIFE IS INSANE!!!"
It's a long story...but to make a long story as short as daughter Grace was just beside herself over wanting this pup...and although we are not a family that gives in to wants, this one we decided to allow. There are LOTS of stipulations...she is responsible for every aspect of taking care of this dog...FENWAY is his name (after the Red Sox baseball stadium of course! He is a $30 Jack Russel/Pomeranian mix:)))...from feeding to potty training to learning how to use the steam cleaner when the potty training doesn't go so well...or we find the dog a new home. Sounds heartless, I know, but taking on a dog, even if it is only the size of my shoe, is not as simple as it sounds...and we had to lay the groundwork for this adventure :)(She seems to be taking it pretty serious...before dinner she said she thought maybe she should take a nap because she might be up tonight with the dogs :)) Plus...there is another one just like it living with us.:) The plan is to potty train them both together and then give the other one to my parents.
As I write this I am starting to wonder if maybe I really am insane!!! The verdict just may be out on that one!:) I am sure I will have plenty of stories to tell, if nothing else!:)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Filthy Rich

Do you ever "stop by" a blog and then see a link off to the side that seems worth investigating and next thing you know you are at someone else's blog that you don't know from Sam but you read something so cool that it sticks with you?:) Er...well...maybe that is just me, but that is what happened last night. My rabbit trail only lasted for a few minutes but what I read had great impact later that night as I was reading the Word of God.

Let me start with what I read from the Bible...1 Timothy 6:17-19:

"As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life."

What a beautiful passage, huh? Problem is, I almost skimmed over it without thinking much about it. Why? Because verse 17 started with the words, "As for the rich..." and, as far I am concerned, I am not rich. So, while I could glean truth from those 2 verses (and it is FULL of precious truth) I almost lost the DIRECT command that it was to ME, because the word "rich" and "Pichura Family" has never been in the same sentence in my least it wasn't until earlier that evening when I was on my rabbit trail and read this:

If one hundred people represented the world's population, fifty-three of those would live on less than $2 a day.

If you earn more thna $4000 per month, you earn ONE HUNDRED TIMES MORE than the average person on this planet.

Which is more messed up--that we have so much compared to everyone else, or that we don't think we are rich? That on any given day we might flippantly call ourselves "broke" or "poor"? We are neither of these things. We are rich, filthy rich.

Those words were penned by Francis Chan in his book "Crazy Love". (I have added that book to my list of books I want to read, not just because of that quote, but because I have heard some great stuff about the book and read a book review by Tim Challies which is always an added bonus when he endorses a book!) Boy, did it quickly change my perspective and my view of what being rich by the world's standards really looks like (you would think just being in Ethiopia and seeing all of the poverty would have made me well aware of that already!).

And, just like that, those verses came alive to me...they convicted me, encouraged me and prompted me to self evaluation...and I was reminded, again, that EVERYTHING (and I clearly have A LOT more than most) belongs to the Lord and I am to live, not just knowing that, but opening my hands, my home, my everything to be ready to give, share and sacrifice at all times! And, in so doing, I grab hold a little tighter to "that which is truly life".

Monday, August 10, 2009

An Imprint of the True Hero

Real superheroes? I don't think so :)....but they do carry the imprint of the only true HERO. I loved this quote by Mark Chanski ( in his book "Womanly Dominion:more than a gentle and quiet spririt")

"...we see that in man and woman, God left imprints on the earth, that are profoundly to be representative likenesses of Himself. As the castle-building child presses his hands into the wet beach sand, leaving an impression of the sculptor, in man and woman, God pressed His face to the earth, leaving an impression of the Creator."

"Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." Genesis 1:26a

Homeschooling without fear

"If you put these things before the brothers,you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe....Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers." I Timothy 4:6-10, 15-16

With school starting up in a couple of weeks my thoughts are turning towards the curriculum that I have ordered, the curriculum that I have and need to go through, how I want to schedule the days of school and what exactly I want to teach for Bible and History. This is my first year homeschooling 4 children and obviously the first time I have ever homeschooled a child who does not speak English.:)

I'll be honest, it becomes very easy for me to start to become anxious...anxious that I will not teach the kids all they need to know...anxious that the curriculum I have chosen is not "well-rounded" enough and they won't be at the same "level" as the rest of the kids in their grade...anxious that I'll miss something and they will fail in some way because of my mistake. I even feel guilty sometimes that they are missing out on the "fun" of a classroom...special projects, arts and crafts, special field trips, etc... I know that, because we homeschool, we have a lot more flexibility but that does not mean that I have a lot more creativity. Truth is, I am not a creative person at all and field trips make me tired just thinking about them.:)

So, when I came to this passage in 1 Timothy it was a needed reminder as I preach to myself instead of listen to myself. I have to remind myself what our ultimate goal in home schooling our kids is...The ultimate goal is that they will be trained in GODLINESS in all areas of their lives as we study a variety of different things and as we live out life day by day as a family. I am not trying to downplay the importance of science or history or arts and crafts ( there is a purpose!) but, as the Bible says, being trained in those things will only be of SOME value...while, being trained in the truths of the Word of God and growing in an understanding of the very nature and attributes of God has value IN EVERY WAY!!! Above all, in my home schooling and in my teaching I am to keep GODLINESS as the goal, as the reason I home school, as what is most important for my children to learn and grow in and I am to make sure that I am spending the brunt of my "toil and striving" in teaching them the ways of the Lord.

I do pray that they excel in all areas of school and that God gives me extra creativity to make it fun...but, if I remember the goal...if I live out and pursue the words in 1 Timothy 4, I can and will have a school year without fear and without guilt. The burden will be lifted and I will be left rejoicing that I have been given the greatest of all point my children to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords and to show them what it means to live a life that glorifies Jesus...whether they are eating, brushing their teeth, writing a paper, doing math problems, cleaning the bathroom or helping make lunch.

And, on a completely different subject...if I was an inventor here are two inventions that would be at the top of my list:

1)Self-cleaning sheets (do you know what a pain it is to change the sheets on THREE sets of bunk beds?!!!!!! not that I am complaining or anything :))

2)Motion sensors in all the bedrooms, bathrooms and hallway. If there is not movement within 30 seconds...then the light shuts off. If I didn't know better, I'd think they literally hit light switches at random as they walk by just for the fun of it.:)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Parasites, Pain, Primates, Parenting,Pictures and Praise

I'll warn you now that this is going to be a fully loaded email to fill you in on our fully loaded weekend and I think some of you wonder how I find the time to write as often as I's because, just like anything else we really love to do, we make the time...and I honestly love to write! Truth be told, though, some days it takes me half of the day to write a post with all of God-ordained "interruptions" that I am blessed with!

Okay, so let's start with the parasites.:) Caleb's stool sample revealed a very common parasite (giardiasis), but one that needs to be removed from his body...and our doctor put Samuel on an antibiotic just to be safe, as well. Samuel is doing great taking his pill with some water, but Caleb's pill is like an asprin, it starts to dissolve as soon as it hit liquid. He is not liking his pill (he has to take it 3 times a day)and has actually thrown it up a couple of times from gagging. We have been trying all sorts of ideas of how to crush it up and disguise it. We thought we had found a great solution in ice cream...but at lunch today he was a wreck and I don't think that I have ever said to any of my other children, "Eat your ice cream or you are going to get a spanking!" It was awful!

On to the pain...poor Micah is in so much of it that my little heart is just aching for him. Praise the Lord, Faith slept through the whole night but Micah was up burning with fever and crying that his ear hurt badly. It didn't take much of a look inside is ear to see we added to the growing medicine stockpile with some for Micah, too. Faith is doing great...still needing pain medicine as soon as she can get it...but she is drinking, eating "rough stuff" (which the doctor said is very important) and chewing gum. She is following her post-op directions very well!:) I think the non-stop movies have been a big help and distraction and she is taking full advantage on the privilege! She is "holed up" in the boys room with a blanket over the window and pillows galore. It is like her own personal movie theater.:)

Primates...the kids rented "MXP:Most Extreme Primate" from the video store's all about a monkey who snowboards. So, today they have been reenacting the movie...first with a pretend cardboard snowboard that Bryan made and then they moved on to the skateboard outside (one board between 4 kids...the sharing started to get REALLY hard) and then they ended up with a board for each of them. When Bryan went down to Walmart to pick up Micah's prescription he found skateboards for $8 and well, we now own 3 more! :)

The parenting...I think I will save for another post...but we are really starting to see some issues with Samuel creep up and I want to share what we are learning from that. Nothing awful...but definitely praying for for wisdom in how we handle them!

As for the pictures...I think this part of the post will please my mother in law more than anyone!:) She has rightfully been asking me for photo updates for a while now and while the following pictures are not perfect, we are pleased with them!

I said a couple of days ago that I would post a video of Samuel.So, here it is...I thought he was going to sing "The Lord's Army" but he must have changed his mind. I don't know exactly what song he ended up singing...but I do know that it was praises to Jesus! video