Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dear Me in 1992,


I'm writing to you from the future to tell you something no one will tell you. You don't have to date. Despite what everyone is telling you about dating lots of guys so you'll figure out what you want in a husband, there is a better way. That thought in the back of your mind that you already know what you want in a husband is right. You want a husband who loves and serves the Lord. You don't need to date anyone to figure that out.
There's another way of finding a mate that won't require you to leave little bits of your heart with lots of guys who won't become your husband. Trust the Lord! All that time you're spending with all your friends-- that's the best way to see a guy's true character. Spending time alone with men, that won't tell you the truth. One on one, all these guys will put their best foot forward. You'll only get to know their best sides. That's not enough.
If you want to find out how a guy handles conflict, whether he respects his parents, or how he treats people, watch him interact with your friends. Watch how he treats the adults at church.
And wait.
Wait for the man God has for you. He should go to your Daddy first, not you. That's how you'll know he respects his parents. He'll respect yours. Don't waste your time dating guys you don't know well. There's a better way.
It's called courtship.

Love,

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Meme: My Top Three


My top three. . .

1. favorite books:

any Jane Austen (except Northanger Abby)
the Evidence Bible (I absolutely love this bible!)
our Lamplighter books (haven't yet found one I didn't love)

2. favorite desserts:

my Dad's cherry pie
tiramisu
gingerbread cookies

3. favorite ways to spend time:

chit-chatting with friends while our kids play together
home dates with Kyle
reading a book in bed


Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Word in Child Training


There is no shortage of child training material based on behavior modification. Here's the problem with behavior modification strategies: Children have a sin nature.
Modifying behavior and ignoring the attitude of the heart will produce a child who behaves well, but has a heart of rebellion. If we don't use God's Word to correct the sin in the heart, we accomplish nothing in child training.

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul
-Psalm 19:7

The law was our schoolmaster, to bring us to Christ
-Galatians 3:24

How this works in real life:

Scenario 1:
Lydia pinches Chloe, so Chloe pinches Lydia back. Chloe is quick to tell me that she didn't start it.
I pull Lydia aside and say: Were you being kind? Love is kind.
Then I pull Chloe aside and say: Were you responding with grace or did you repay evil for evil?

Scenario 2:
Maya is making Daniel's sandwich. Daniel whines: I told you I want LOTS of peanut butter!

I pull Daniel aside and ask: Are you being thankful? This is God's will for you.
Or I might say:
What were you doing wrong?
-Complaining (this is a common offense among certain Clarks, so this script comes up a lot)
Right. What does the Bible say about complaining?
That's right. What do you need to do now to make it right?
-Apologize to Maya and be thankful.
{smile} Great! Go do that.

Scenario 3:
Elena makes a joke using potty words.

I say: It's not appropriate to make jokes like that. Ephesians 5:4 says that foolish talk and crude joking are out of place for believers
(This is a new one we're learning, so I don't ask what it says, I tell them.)


Even when Julia fights to roll over when I'm changing her diaper, I quote God's Word to her. I sing: "Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Ephesians 6:1"

God's Word will not return void. It will accomplish His purpose.
-Isaiah 55:11




*Image taken from cover of Shepherding a Child's Heart, a book I highly recommend.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I Need Phonics Help

I couldn't figure out who to ask, so I'm asking all of you.

Maya has a really hard time distinguishing between /a/ and /i/ (she writes: I hope you hive a good day!) and between /o/ and /u/ (she would write: Let's have an Easter egg hont.)
We have been working on auditory processing training, but because of her Liberian background, she just can't hear the difference between those pairs of sounds.
This morning she got really discouraged and it broke my heart. I'm at a loss.

If you have any ideas at all, I'm open!

Homeschool Persecution


How far would you go to protect your right to educate and disciple your own children?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Mom Defies Doc & Has Baby Her Way

On Thursday, December 2, as Aneka sat at home nine months pregnant, the phone rang.

It was her obstetrician wanting to know where the heck she was. Did Aneka forget that today was the day for her cesarean section? How could she have forgotten?

No, Aneka hadn't forgotten. She hadn't shown up intentionally.

"She told me, 'You're being irresponsible. Your baby could die. You could die,'" Aneka recalls. Then the doctor hung up.

Ginger's shortened version: With Aneka's first birth, her doctor decided that 10 hours was too long for anyone to labor and he ordered a C-section. Since her first was a C-section, he said her second one had to be too. And her third. Finally, when she was pregnant w/ #4, she started reading up on VBACs.(Vaginal Birth After Cesarean)

On December 5, three days after the C-section that never took place, Annan Ni'em was born at home. He weighed 9 pounds, 6 ounces and was delivered after 20 hours of labor, and, she says, just four minutes of pushing. He was completely healthy.


Read the whole story here.


I love stories like this! Doctors are your hired help. You should be the boss of your own labor.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Book Review: Love at Last Sight


I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah for my honest review. Love at Last Sight is a 30 day challenge for developing closer, deeper relationships. Unlike The Love Dare, which I heartily recommend, Love at Last Sight is not just for marriages, but for all relationships. The Shooks make a clear case for the hard work that relationships require if they are to be Christ-glorifying. In an age when many relationships are now solely online via Facebook, blogs, and texting, we all need a refresher course in what it takes to truly maintain a real relationship.
Ultimately, this would be a great book for a teenager or a young believer. The authors do not include enough scripture reference for deeper study, although the truths they present could have been backed by scripture.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Big Families & How They Do: Christmas

We do several things differently at Christmastime. Some because we have a big family and some just because we're Clarks.
Ornaments are sentimental to me. Each of the children get a new ornament every year. For my sister and me, that's all we get each other's children for Christmas, so it's a big deal. We really look forward to it.
We put up the Christmas tree right after a big breakfast the day after Thanksgiving. Pajamas are the official work uniform. (But that doesn't stop Elena from donning her favorite boots.) I love the smell of a real tree, but I don't love the mess. Therefore, I love my artificial tree. ;)


One at a time, the kids unwrap an ornament and hang it on the tree, discussing the story behind each one. We have an ornament for each of the homes we've owned. We have an ornament for each pregnancy and each child's birth. One ornament I got while we were in the adoption wait for Maya, Isaac, and Daniel. Another I got for their first Christmas in America. One for Pedros' first car. I could go on. I love our ornaments.

As soon as we finish the arduous task of decorating the Christmas tree, hanging all the stockings, and putting up the nativity sets, we turn on some Christmas music and dance.

Another tradition we have is Stocking Stuffer buddies. The children draw names at the beginning of December to determine who their buddy will be.
They get so excited; they all start begging me to run them out to the store the next day so they can get a present for their buddy. Our stocking have been stuffed since the first week of December!
They spend their own money on their buddy, so they take it very seriously. I take them to the thrift store and they always seem to find something they know their buddy will love. It always impresses me how well they know their siblings' likes and dislikes.

What Christmas traditions do you have?

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

PRAISE GOD!!!

Have you been watching Olga's numbers as often as I have? Olga's adoption grant is now up to . . . . {drumroll}


$10,964!!!

Amazing! God is so good. He is a faithful father to the fatherless. (Psalm 68:5)

Please keep praying for her!

Teaching Discernment


As part of our homeschool curriculum this year, I began reading a book about St. Francis of Assisi. A little ways into it and I was beginning to really wonder if I had made a mistake.
I was reading that St. Francis, at one point, decided he wanted to become a hermit. But praying to God about it, God told him that he should instead go out and preach the gospel.

So I stopped reading and we talked about whether it would be right for a Christian to be a hermit. What might be wrong with that? Well, God made it pretty clear to St. Francis: he wouldn't be able to fulfill the great commission and preach the gospel if he lived a life of isolation. He'd be in disobedience to God.

St. Francis immediately went out and preached the gospel to a flock of birds. He totally missed the point. (Here's a problem with depending on what you "hear" from God, instead of just reading His Word.)

So I stopped reading and we talked about what eternal value there is in preaching the gospel to birds. (None.) Would the birds go to heaven now? Will they be saved now that they've heard the Good News? (No and no just in case you're wondering.)

Next St. Francis went out and rebuked a wolf who had been tormenting the town.

I stopped reading again and we talked about what St. Francis could have done instead that would have had an eternal impact.

It turned out to be a good lesson in biblical discernment. Nevertheless, I don't recommend the book we chose. ;)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Trying to Relate


Kyle and I had a long talk after that party. In fact, we were still talking about it the next day. Aside from the lady who was burdened by her surprise twins, I got into a long talk with a mom who was genuinely interested in our family story. She was very sweet and very encouraging, but she couldn't understand most of what I was trying to communicate.

For instance, she said: Ok, so your oldest at home is 13, so she's in 8th grade, right?
I smiled and said: Well no, she's in about 5th grade.
{look of confusion}
I explained how it is taking a long time for our Liberians to "catch up" academically.
She said, with much concern: Well, what are your expectations for her in the future? What about college?

At this point, I realized my mistake in even mentioning this. Why did I think I could quickly explain how our expectations are completely different for our adoptees who were malnourished their first several years of life? And that we're ok with where they are.

Anyway, I said: Well, she's our domestically-gifted child. She excels in all skills related to homemaking. Her goal is to be a mommy and she won't need higher math for that.

Her look of pity told me she felt sorry for the poor girl whose only goal is to be a homemaker. Just a homemaker. No college degree. No graduate studies. No prestigious career.

I told Kyle: I know they can't relate since they are on a totally different path, but I wish I could have communicated better, so she could at least understand.

Kyle, in his wisdom, replied: They're not going to understand.

{sigh}

Of course, he's right.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Oops Babies


Kyle and I went to a party recently with a bunch of people we don't know. (Obviously we knew some of the people.) Most all the women there were working women with children in public school. To say that we stood out would be an understatement.
One woman had just been telling us about her kids: 2 boys, three years apart, and then 7-8 years later "OOPS! We had twins!" (said as she rolls her eyes) She looked and sounded totally miserable with her lot in life. When she then asked if Kyle and I had any kids, and Kyle replied, her very dramatic response was OMG! (Except she said the real thing.)

We have eight gifts from God and this woman's response was to blaspheme the Lord who blessed us with these precious children.

It was so sad! She later, upon finding out we have a baby, said: "Ugh, you're going to be just like us! 50 years old with young kids still at home!" She was clearly disgusted with the idea.
I wanted so badly to say something encouraging, something wise. But I was heartbroken and couldn't think of anything to say.
Seeing life from her perspective was downright depressing. She actually felt sorry for us that we're going to have children in our home a decade from now. What on earth is depressing about that?! What should I rather be doing? Living alone in a beach house collecting seashells? What a waste!

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Most Important Post I Didn't Write

This is Olga.
Sweet, 4-year-old Olga was born in Eastern Europe where babies with Down syndrome are deemed unacceptable at birth. Next month, when she turns 5, she will be transferred to a mental institution. Forever.

If it turns your stomach to hear about children like Olga, I understand. If you're thinking: I want to rescue Olga from that life! then Praise God for you!
If you're thinking: I'd love to help, but I can't adopt her! then praise God for you too!

Are you familiar with Reece's Rainbow? RR is an international Down Syndrome orphan ministry that provides adoption grants for children most in need of families.

Patti, the mother of 10, her youngest with Down Syndrome, is hosting a MASSIVE giveaway for Olga's sake. She's going to be giving away a $35 scrapbook kit, two $15 iTunes cards, a $100 Macy's gift card, an iPod touch, and a whole lot more (honestly I lost count of all that's been donated).

AND GUESS WHAT?!

She has already raised $12,549 just for Olga!!

Here's what you do:
  1. Go to Reece's Rainbow and give to Olga
  2. Go to Patti's blog and let her know that you did.
  3. You can enter her giveaway up to 5 times! (See how at the bottom of her post)

*I didn't write the most important post ever written; I just restated it. For Olga's sake.
** Note: Olga's page on Reece's Rainbow is static. Her grant total has to be updated manually. The amount above is the most current.

UPDATE: A family has now stepped up to adopt Olga!! Praise the Lord!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Why Do You Cook?

I was just surfing cooking websites and stumbled upon a 37 step recipe for brandy snaps. Honestly, I sat scrolling through the whole recipe thinking: Who takes the time for this mess?
I mean, seriously, I'm sure they're absolutely delicious, but why would I go to so much trouble? Surely if I had a craving for something delectable I could find something like it at my supermarket and spend 5 minutes on the hunt.
Now, my sister loves to bake so she was a bit more sympathetic towards the cooking-as-a-hobby concept, but I really can't fathom it. I cook because I like to eat. I bake because I like to eat sweets.
It's not fun to me.

Do you like to cook or bake?


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Book Review: The Connected Child





Most of the books I review, I receive from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing. This book, I picked up from the library and loved it so much, I just had to tell you about it.
This is the absolute best adoption book I've read. It talks a lot about the fear that drives common institutionalized behavior. That is, kids who have been in an orphanage for any amount of time develop fear in the primal part of their brain. Fear of going hungry (which leads to food hording and hiding), fear of punishment or abuse (which leads to lying), fear of loud noises or sights (caused by staring at a white ceiling for hours on end in an orphanage crib). These fears cause their logical brain to shut down, resulting in behavior that is driven solely by survival instincts.
I had read Beyond Logic, Consequences, and Control (which talks about this same fear-driven behavior), but it had too much psycho-babble thrown in. For instance, it states that when your child lies out of fear, you should reassure them that they are loved and safe and just ignore the lying. Then, hours later when they are calm and non-threatened, you talk to them about why it's wrong to lie. But little ones don't respond well to delayed consequences. It's like coming home to a dog mess and rubbing the dog's nose in it. The poor dog has no idea why he's being punished.
The Connected Child had a better solution. Reassure the child that they are loved and safe, and then give consequences for the misbehavior.
I learned so much from this book and I was so encouraged by it.

I highly recommend it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Blog Pet Peeves


I just have to get this off my chest. These are my blog pet peeves:

  1. Music on blogs. I'm listening to my own music, or the kids are listening to an audio book while I do some blog catching up, or I just really don't like your taste in music. :p Regardless, playlists are a real distraction.
  2. LONG blog posts. So you have a lot to say and it's all really great. No problem! Write a multi-part blogpost. Please don't try to say it all at once. It hurts to stare at the screen for that long. So I just don't. (Thus I miss most of what you're saying.)
  3. People that blog about their pet peeves. What could be more annoying? Sheesh.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Book Review: A Time to Embrace

I decided I wanted a break from non-fiction for awhile. Karen Kingsbury is one of those few Christian writers who thinks Christian fiction should be more than just clean fiction. I trust her as an author and she didn't let me down. I really enjoyed this book. It deals with forgiveness, trusting in God's sovereignty, and the covenant of marriage. A Time to Embrace is a follow up to A Time to Dance, which I loved but read so long ago, I only vaguely remember the details of it. No matter. This book stands alone.
I was a little irked that all the loose ends are tied up in one perfect bow at the end. Life doesn't always work that way, and more importantly God is glorified whether we receive the answer we wanted or not. But other than that, it was a great read. Not just pleasant, but convicting-- what Christian fiction should be.

I received this book from Thomas Nelson for my honest review.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Big Families & How They Do: Birthdays

Here at Clark Chatter, we do birthdays a little differently. Instead of individual birthdays, we do just 2 birthday parties each year- the Spring Fling and the Fall Fest. These parties are for my children and my sister's children. All the January-June birthdays are celebrated in April; all the July-December birthdays are celebrated in October.

What I love about this is:
  1. the grandparents aren't worn out from once a month parties.
  2. all the parties take place at a park, which means no cleaning up before or after :D
  3. we generally get group gifts, so we always have a membership to the zoo, the nature & science museum, the aquarium, etc.
On the day of the child's birthday, they pick one friend and spend the day with them. One of us, Kyle or I, will take them out to eat at their choice of restaurant and the rest of the day they spend at our house or the park, just playing together. Good quality time but little expense.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Annual Growth Contest

It's tradition. It's fierce competition. It's the tall vs. the short. It's emotional.

Julia doesn't understand all the hype. And she's none too excited to take her turn against the wall of terror.
I've been preparing Maya that she might be done growing. Her sweet and loving siblings have been telling her that her days of growing up are nearing their end and from now on she'll just be growing out.
Her fake boo-hooing didn't change the facts. She grew one measly inch in the last 12 months. Poor thing.

She got happy again real quickly after I asked her to help measure Julia. Anything involving JuJu brings a smile to Maya's face.

So here's the lowdown: Isaac won, with 4" of growth. Daniel and Lydia tied for 2nd place. They each grew 3" (which is some kind of record for a biological Clark). Chloe and Elena maintained their petite status, each growing 2".

And although Julia was disqualified for being under age, she blew everyone away with her stats. She more than doubled her height since her utero days a year ago.