The Googegs - Strangers in the World

The Googegs - Strangers in the World

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

I've Lost My Focus

I started this blog in 2008 when we were in the midst of an international adoption.  It wasn't really my idea, I had seen other "adoption journal" blogs. Considering my fondness for writing and the far-flung family members, I thought it would be great fun.  It was great fun.  I was constantly writing blog posts in my head and taking pictures.  Anything funny, humorous or noteworthy would be deemed "blog worthy", even if it never really made it there.  Seven years and two adoption processes completed, I have lost focus.

Every so often I attempt to post a birthday or update or summer highlight, and it falls flat. I struggle with blog worthy items. Quick pictures have gone up on instagram and the deep telling of the story has been left in my heart. To be honest, some of the hesitation is due to the privacy of my children. The process of adoption is fairly safe ground as is the first adjustment period. However, some time down the road and the onion peels back and the deep layers are exposed - These are not necessarily public fodder. If we were all in agreement about sharing the story -- that would be fine, but I have never broached the topic; in some cases we are still wrestling through things.

My desire for my children, well for all of us really, is to gain the victory in Christ over whatever sin sick area the soul suffers in -- adopted or not.  I don't find it blog worthy anymore. There have been mighty struggles in our family and mighty victories and a whole lot of ordinary days and I can't seem to communicate it in a fashion that I deem interesting or purposeful. It's just my family.

At the time I began I was telling our story as we navigated an adoption process and even after as we continued to adjust and adopt again.  I wrote to keep my family updated, I wrote because it was on my heart to write, and it was a good story to tell whether anyone was reading or not. I still have a great desire to write -- and OH there are stories all over the place, but I can't tell them yet.

I have prayed for my writing -- Am I just done? Is there another venue I should be looking at?  Should I just keep writing and not care whether it gets out of a journal or not?  Should I pick a topic say, "homeschooling" and go again? Should I set a self inflicted schedule and just crank out weekly articles?

At this time I have no answers, no focus, just a nebulous idea that I should be writing something somewhere. However, life is busy and I can just keep going and never make time to put words on a page -- It is not hard to just keep zooming.

Sometimes I visit my blog and just remember our family stories and the pictures of the kids when they were so young. I cry and I smile and I generally enjoy myself.  I really wrote it all for me I suppose.  I will write again I believe, here or somewhere.  I am just waiting for the focus.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Appointed Day

It is a sad day in our house today.  It is the appointed day.  We have made the very difficult decision to put our dog, Dexter, down.  I have made the appointment for this afternoon.

We have had him for at least 13 years. Six of our children have never known a day in our family without Dexter in it.  My niece and nephew have swiped baby hands at his tail and stacked blocks on his head.

We made the decision to have a dog when Riane and Braydon were 5 and 7 years old.  We visited the pound and picked out this beagle mix who seemed very calm and "smiley".  We got home and had to pick ticks swelled to half an inch in diameter off of him.  I cleaned him up and then wondered why he didn't eat.  He tried to sit at the table like one of the children and thought their bathroom must be his bathroom.  We quickly trained those "people" habits out of him and took him to the vet.

The first news was devastating.  He had parvo.  I had just gotten him from the pound, I wasn't going to pay close to $1000 to have him hospitalized.  I took the medicine and advice they gave me and went home.  Just so happens we received our first foster placement that weekend.  I spent the next few days cleaning up after Dexter who vomited regularly.  Using Turkey basters to force feed water and a little mushed up dog food down him with his medication.  They told me I had a chance if I kept him hydrated.  At the same time I was dealing with CPS workers and a baby in a cast.

He lived -- I lived and the dog was forever devoted to me from that point on.  He loved me and wanted to be with me every moment.  I thought that I could cage train him to sleep downstairs in the laundry room.  Jerome left for work and wished me good luck.  After over an hour of that very rhythmic "RAR, RAR, RAR"  I capitulated.  For years he slept in the basket in the corner of my bedroom.

When we moved to a new house I thought he should sleep upstairs closer to the children.  I put his basket upstairs.  New house -- he would get this.  He wandered the house all night and sighed hugely at my bedside every hour or so.  He won again -- more years in my bedroom.

He was faithful, but in his early years he was an escape artist.  When we lived in town he was constantly finding ways out of our fenced backyard. I was forever looking for Dexter. We plugged every hole and attempted every fix -- he was truly an artist at getting out.  However, we lived on a very busy street and he eventually got hit by a car.  He never had a visible wound.  I thought he was dead for sure and we tearfully bundled him off to an emergency vet that Saturday afternoon. He was observed for a weekend and we were told that he was hit in the head and he didn't know what kind of dog we would end up with, but there was nothing he could do.

For weeks he looked confused and stumbled on the steps. He could not bark or make any noise.  One day we came home from shopping and he barked!  Dexter was back.  Of course, every goofy thing he did for years after that we blamed on his car accident and any brain damage he may have received.

But 13 years have passed.  Dexter is gray, is on arthritis medication, falls on steps often and the worst part, has no real control of his bowels.  Despite the every other hour schedule that the kids faithfully keep to march him out to the yard -- he usually has a problem every day.  He hurts.  We routinely purchase antibiotics for the swelling in his mouth -- eating has to be soft. He stopped rummaging for the trashcan -- he slowed down on drinking out of the toilet.  Things I was grateful for, but I know it is only because it's painful that he let those annoying habits die.  He hurts and we are so tired of mopping the floor. He can't sleep in my room anymore -- he doesn't make it through the night without a problem.  He has been relegated to a cage in the garage with a heat lamp.  He usually can make it through the night without an accident, and the heat lamp is warm, but he hates that cage.

It is hard, but if we are going to put him down after all these years and all these memories I sure didn't want to piggy back on some event that would forever be remembered -- like Easter week, or someone's birthday or graduation.  I picked a non-descript day -- just his last day.  The tears are falling the hearts are breaking -- he has been a good dog.

The early days.

One of his favorite spots.

Always at my feet.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ain't It Fine; Heaven is Nine!

It was a fine day celebrating Heaven's ninth birthday.  As homeschoolers, we do not have school on birthdays.  Other than Jerome had to go to work and we went to evening church, it was a relaxing day.

Heaven really wanted a stacked cake.  The local library has a new feature, cake pans to check out!  What a great idea -- Riane -- my local librarian took care of getting the pans in.  Mary is our cake decorator and let us use some of her tools while she was gone.  I will just be honest, I do not have patience for the decorating.  I was plopping frosting all over.  Adela took over and patiently finished the cake.  It turned out lovely.

She Looks very grown!

Here she is trying on her new outfit.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Still Here, Still Writing

It's been an interesting season.  I am still writing, but technology is making me slightly crazy.  Jerome got me my very own laptop.  I am really enjoying that! It is just handy to carry around my own and use it as needed throughout the day.  However, moving my itunes to a new computer totally wiped me out, consequently that's a job only half done.

I decided flikr would be a great service for my pictures, but there are some snags there, and I have had to download some pictures to my hard drive for different things -- like my new wordpress blog. So, I have been writing, but not necessarily posting.  It just takes so much effort to navigate my technology.

Things at home have been vacillating between intense and very busy and sometimes both.  The kids have been striking out in all directions.  Five of them are in a community production of The Wizard of Oz.  Braydon is making plans for his high school graduation this year and the rest of us are hanging on.

I thought I would take a few minutes to post a couple of fun pics.

Riane's creation -- mother/daughter

Just Wokelle

My own selfie...

My Stuff

Mary's New Hobby

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Christmas Letter

Mark 5:28  For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.

Another Christmas letter and another challenging verse from which to write.  Jerome is always thinking and praying about a verse to carry us through each year.   Just like last year, I find the verse ever so hard to write from at first, but as I consider our year and the direction our family is moving in, I usually gain great clarity.  In last year's letter, I talked about a family settling in after a series of changes.  Well, this year, we had no great changes to our family and we are really centering on endurance and deepening our lives.  We are no longer adjusting, settling or catching our stride.  The challenge is becoming whole in Christ and that can only be done by reaching out in faith to "... touch but his clothes...". 

As I prepared to write I was perusing The Valley of Vision which is a collection of Puritan Prayers.  The title is taken from Isaiah 22. To give some sense of our year I will quote verse 5:  "For it is a day of trouble, and of treading down, and of perplexity by the Lord God of hosts in the valley of vision, breaking down the walls, and of crying to the mountains." That may sound a little gloomy, but verse 14 is coming "And it was revealed in mine ears by the Lord of hosts, surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord God of hosts." Discouraging?  Maybe at first, but here's the introduction to the Valley of Vision:

Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory. Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision.

We have had our share of struggles this year, but it has been a year of going "deeper" and getting more genuine, and what we may have perceived as a rough patch was actually a great valley of vision. We have seen Christ more clearly and depended on Him more faithfully. I can remember clearly praying at the beginning of the year that my children would have a vision for their lives.  My prayer came from Proverbs 29:18 -- "Where there is no vision, the people perish:..." Well, the Lord answered with a valley and truly it is a place of vision.

Riane is 20 and moving forward in her life.  Entrenched in library work and college she is prayerfully considering her options for life after college. This year, the manager and assistant manager at the library both left their positions. Riane, the library aid, was the last man standing, so to speak. A new manager was hired and Riane was promoted to assistant manager and put in charge of youth services. This is still part-time, but she absolutely loves all her story times, craft programs and visits from the school classes.  She is still studying college online and now has junior standing.  Visions are definitely centered on teaching, maybe ESL and perhaps travel, but for now she is working the plan for college.

This has been a year of hard work for Braydon. He ended last year being the first full-time homeschooled student to integrate the sporting program at the local public high school. He did well, making friends and lettering in cross country. For his efforts, all he wanted was a letterman jacket. We gave him one.  He earned it.  The validation of his efforts came at a school awards ceremony where the coach said, "I am grateful to the powers that be that would allow homeschooled students to participate, Braydon has been an asset."  It was an experience that I am glad he didn't miss. He kept up with his 4H Shooting Sports club serving as Vice President and taking the top honor at the State Fair -- THE clock trophy (1st Place) senior rifle -- what a moment! The rest of his year has been spent pursuing difficult high school subjects, applying to colleges, taking tests, and ardently pursuing the Naval Academy.  There have been applications, essays, senator committee interviews, physical tests, medical exams and on and on...  He has soldiered them all and is still waiting. He was invited to a Candidate Visit Weekend at the Naval Academy. That was a great short-term reward and it solidified his desire to attend in the Fall.  As of this writing, Braydon has received a congressman nomination for the Academy and for "Plan B" a 4 year NROTC scholarship. We can't wait to see where the Lord will lead.  Getting a vision is not his dilemma -- he is pursuing it with all his might.

Mary is 17 and growing into such a fine young lady. She is always cleaning up something or jumping in to fill a need.  Mary is so crafty and has such an eye for artistic projects. She has crocheted a beautiful bowl for our living room and is always drawing or painting something. Mary also loves music and has been playing the violin, singing and practicing the piano. She has also turned her hand to baking.  Our family has been so blessed with all sorts of sweets and delights. This year the Lord led her to her own ministry at our church and she has been baking bread for the kids arriving each morning for Sunday School. Mary does not have a clear cut vision for her future, however she has toyed with the idea of doing something in missions. I believe the talents she is developing would serve her well if that is where God sends her.

Adela at 15 has entered her freshman year of high school. She has discovered some things she didn't know she liked--such as studying first aid and things about the body.  Who knows where this will lead.  She could never really enjoy crochet or knitting, but this year discovered sewing.  She has a done a bit of very good hand sewing and has begun to try a bit of machine sewing.  For Adela it has been a year of trying a few things and being surprised by her interest.  I don't know which ones will grab her vision, but for now she keeps trying.  One thing is sure -- her absolute love for animals.  Her laying chickens are doing well and she has survived a few losses (too many roosters and some unhealthy ones), but she keeps faithful to their care.  Caring for our dog has been an ever present issue for Adela and for the whole family.  He is aging and Adela has taken the job of making sure he gets his arthritis pill every morning.

Ricky is 14, so he has been casting about for things that really fit him in his life.  I mean "fit" in more ways than one!  He has grown so much this year I can hardly keep him in clothes.  He does love the outdoors and is a crack pistol shot -- he earned his sharpshooter certificate at the shooting sports club. Developing a good vision for his schoolwork has been a challenge.  We kind of hit the wall and then things just clicked.  I changed his curriculum (BIG SIGH) after I had already planned out a lot of the year, and taught some new study techniques and things have been taking off.  I believe he now has the vision for being able to complete his work and do well at it.  He also took a big step and started training for cross country with Braydon over the summer. He then ran on the school team for middle school. He made great friends and started the year out as the fastest runner.  He did such a good job, we are so proud of his efforts.  He is looking forward to trying his hand at squirrel or rabbit hunting. He is our family fix it man when Dad is not home and is forever hanging bookshelves in Riane's room.

Wokelle is 9  and truly "All Boy".  Running everywhere -- a natural at most sports and athletic events. He runs 5 K's when he is given the chance. Lately, he has developed into quite a proficient ping-pong player and can even give Braydon a run for his money.  He loves to play any game going.  He absolutely adores stories, but would rather not have to read all those words! Wokelle wanted to learn the piano for such a long time.  He learned a few things on his recorder and we asked him to pray about the piano.  I hadn't thought a whole about it, until one day he came and told me that he had been praying almost a year and he really still had the desire.  The time was indeed right and he started lessons.  He has done a great job and had his first recital this November.  His most earnest longing is to know the meaning of his name.  We are all in prayer that the Lord would reveal this to us in some way. We researched all the avenues that we know about and have even asked a native Liberian -- so, we will keep praying.

Our little songbird, Heaven, is turning 9 in February. She does love to sing and knows the words to almost all her hymns. She has a sweet disposition and a beautiful smile. She has learned to crochet this year. It was quite a challenge to get it down, but now she is making some nice things. Her next idea is to learn how to knit.  When the holidays slow down, I will have to make time to teach her.

Isaiah is our youngest at 7. Smart as whip -- he is in the first grade and I suspect will start 2nd before the year is out. He usually quotes verses at our nursing home ministry, but has been known to insist on reading his favorite passage.  He isn't much for public displays or new people, but when it is just us -- he is quite a talker.  He has mentioned being a preacher.

Jerome and I have learned much this year. One is that what we think we would like our children to develop, we cannot force feed or fix. We realize it must be a real and genuine part of our own lives. We must walk the talk.  To realize that impossible vision, we   "... but touch his clothes..."  One of the greatest lessons that we have been meditating on, is the power of Christ in our life.  We may feel that our to-do list is too long, or that we are too disorganized, but the truth is that with Christ we have unlimited power for all that He has for us. The challenge is to remember that Jesus' greatest power is the power of love. It was his love and its great power that went to the cross for our hope of heaven and it started at Christmas when he stepped out of his royal robes to live as a humble servant to the lost and dying.  We are forever grateful.

We sincerely pray that you will reach out and touch the Saviour. He has so much for us if we will "but touch his clothes" in faith.