Sunday, October 31, 2010

You know I don't hate Halloween...

Yup weird......maybe. It just doesn't really bother me. I don't love the scary crap and we don't go all at or anything. But I love seeing my kids excited when they get to dress up as something special. I love seeing all my neighbors out and loving on my kids. I love warm evenings seeing families doing something fun together. I love getting to play games with neighbors and I have a soft spot for the CANDY.
So this year we got all dressed up and enjoyed an evening at our neighborhood's block party. Families dressed up, neighbors set up games for the kids to play, we ate food, and just had fun. Then Adam took the babies home for bath and bedtime and I took the boys trick-or-treating. THEY LOVE to TRICK-OR-TREAT. It was especially fun because Bryce actually talked this year. Last year he more or less mumbled a "trick-or-treat" and a "thank you". This year, he loudly exclaimed "TRICK-OR-TREAT" and then said "Thank you" and then (my favorite part) a cute "Have a nice night, Happy Trick-or-treating". Poor little kid doesn't even know it's called Halloween.
Now if there is one thing I don't love about Halloween it's all the freakin candy. I mean my boys literally came home with 10 pounds of candy. I'm not a fan of that much sugar so we tried something new this year.
Each boy got to pick 2 pieces of candy out to have that night. And then 7 pieces of candy to have each day this week (if they obey, respect others, and eat healthy food first). Then we bagged up the rest and I "payed" them for it. Tonight we went to Target and the boys got to pick a $10 toy with their candy money. (I tried to do $5 but those all had small parts and we have little babies) The boys choose wisely (with my help) and got a fun little game to play.
At the neighborhood party, playing on the pirate ship. The boys and our little "kitty" Alexis

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fall is in the air?

Ah fall in Texas, it just doesn't exist. You see the temperatures are still in the 90's and there are no leaves that change colors, but you get to go pumpkin hunting and trick-or-treating in the sunshine. I grew up trying to avoid rain, wind, and cold during most trips to the pumpkin patch. And trick-or-treating was always fun but many times we did it in the pouring rain. Does it make me sad, that my kids won't ever know the season FALL? Yes, I miss jumping in piles of leaves, apple cider, cold evenings inside watching movies. But man I love that we still get to spend evenings outside riding bikes, playing at the park, and feeding the ducks. And I love that I get the best sunny pumpkin pictures.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to

Last Thursday night I had a good old fashion pity party. It was silly and dramatic. But it was what I was feeling (and probably what I needed).

We got more news about J-man's case, and again we have no idea what is going on. He could be reunifying with Bio Mom in a couple of weeks or maybe a couple more months. We just have NO IDEA! This is frustrating to me for so many reasons. One because we love this little boy and every day that he is in our family, he becomes more and more our son. Lately, he has been having a hard time with separation anxiety with me and cries every time I leave the room or his sight, stand up to leave, or think about moving away from him. It's hard on him and me. We're also sad for Bio Mom cause she is doing great but the system is just flawed and it might just take a little more time. And then there are the emails. I keep getting email after email of little babies our agency wants us to apply to adopt. We don't feel like we can do this until we know what is going to happen with J-man. So I get these emails with pictures of sweet little babies who need a Mommy and a Daddy and it just makes everything that much harder. Could you imagine getting emails like that EVERYDAY! It starts to just hurt your heart.

And on Thursday it just all hit me. HARD!

I got mad.

I got sad.

I felt ready to throw the towel in.

I said things I didn't mean.

I just sat in silence.

I threw myself a pity party.

But after some good healthy time talking with Adam, getting into the Word, and hearing an awesome message this morning I feel back on track.

So I start this week with two things in my head.

1) My God is bigger than any challenge or situation. He is in control and His plan for me and my family is absolutely perfect.

2) I'm putting my big girl panties on and trusting in Him.

Pray for me my friends....

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Little Sister is T-rouble!

Oh my word! My daughter is about the cutest thing I've ever seen. (Yes I do have to say that cause she's all mine, but she really is) She is also the most stubborn McManus baby EVER! Connor was a dream baby and a true first born. He loved talking and obeying and just being good. Bryce was a little bit of a stinker, and didn't talk for FOREVER! But he did do sign language so that worked for us. Then came Alexis.

She does not speak much at all a couple words here and there. She instead speaks some kind of pixie or elvish which almost sounds like little cheeps and chirps. It's adorable but come on the girl has got to talk! So I began teaching her sign language. She is VERY SMART and knows all the signs. But will only use the signs when she wants to. The other night she walked up to Adam and really REALLY wanted one of his chips. So I told him to make her say please. Which he tried to do. But our cute little STUBBORN daughter was NOT going to sign it. Instead she looked down and to the side and furrowed her brow. She wouldn't make eye contact and just stood there. Adam and I busted out laughing which probably made it worse. So she didn't say please and so she didn't get a chip. I know that she can say please because she is very good at it when she wants to say please, but it has to be when SHE wants.

She is a little pistol. Who has learned that screaming when a brother does something she doesn't like means someone will come to her aid. She has learned that Daddy will always pick her up. And that at the gym if she finds the right teacher, she will let her go into the room she is not supposed to be able to be in yet. This little angel is going to be T-rouble!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A wife who submits?!? (You've got to be kidding)

So Adam and I are teaching a small group of newly weds (and one engaged couple). This is our second time doing this since we moved to Austin and WE LOVE IT. There is something so fun about talking marriage-stuff in a Godly way. This week we talked about one of the toughest subjects (I say one of the toughest cause we still have your past, finances, sex, and in-laws. Maybe I'll write about those too, whatcha think?). We talked about submission and headship.

It's a difficult subject for two reasons.

One because it's thought to be pretty old fashion and out of date. I mean come on after the women's suffrage movement and the recent equality of woman in the work place, is there room still for a submissive wife? And to be honest the woman I picture that comes to mind when I hear the word "submissive" is not the woman I want to be.

And two because deep down in every woman we REALLY don't want to be submissive. We (women) have a very deep desire to NOT be submissive (more on that later).

Let's start at the beginning. In Genesis 1:26-31 we see that God created man and woman differently but VERY equal. There was no man does this and woman do that. We were equally perfect. And then sin entered the world. We chose to live separately from God and so we had consequences to our sin.

Men had to toil and work for the first time in ETERNITY! And woman had to have painful childbirth AND (yup even I overlooked the next part). In Genesis 3:16b it says

Your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you."

For the longest time I just saw this part of the verse and thought, yup we will desire to have a husband, makes sense to me. But if you read Genesis 4:7 ("If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.") you see that "desire" means more like wanting to control or dominate or rule over. So after the fall, woman will want to rule over, control, and dominate their husbands. INTERESTING huh??? Because of sin we will FIGHT being submissive. So it makes sense that when we (woman) read all this stuff about being the helpmeet of our husbands our first thought is: "Yeah no thanks!"

So now that we have this new knowledge hopefully the rest of this post won't be too hard to read.

Definition of Headship: The divine calling of the husband to take primary responsibility for Christ-like servant leadership, protection, and provision in the home.

Definition of Submission: The divine calling of the wife to honor and affirm her husband's leadership and help carry through according to her gifts.

So, our husbands have to stand up and be the leader of our family, but then we have this job of being honoring and affirming. NO where does it say that we roll over and listen to everything our husband says. NO where does it say that we say "Yes sir" to every command our husband gives us. NO where does it say that our husbands should ever command us to do anything that leads to sin.

I've been wrestling with what it means then to be the Biblical wife for a week now. And here is what I've come up with. Being the wife God has called me to be does not mean that I'm a weak woman. Not at all. It just simply means that I NEED TO SHUT UP sometimes. You see, I'm a natural leader and since God made me that way it is not bad. But I have to be careful that it does not crush my husband's leadership role in our family. I have to WATCH OUT and not dominate or rule over Adam. I have to stand back and LET HIM LEAD. I don't have to blindly obey him or be some weird timid little woman, not at all. That is not the woman Adam fell in love with. Nope I just need to SHUT MY FACE. It really is a lot easier that I thought.

The second thing I do is pray. I'm a helper and cheerleader and a kind of inspirational speaker for my husband. And the best way I can do that is if I am praying for him daily. I can't be the one who changes my husband's heart when it needs to be changed, it has to be the Holy Spirit. I can't nag him when I want something done, I need to speak to him about my needs and what he can do to help me, step back and SHUT UP, and then pray for my husband.

SO what do you think??? Agree? Disagree? Did I at least make you think?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My Amazing Race Dream

Alright I admit it I'm really quite competitive. (Trust me knowing this will help you understand this post and why it is really quite funny)

Adam and I are leading a small group of newly weds (and one engaged couple) for a second time this year. WE LOVE TEACHING NEWLY WEDS (I'll write more on it later). Every Sunday we have a lesson and then on Wednesday night everyone comes over to our place to go over the material a little deeper and have fun time in community.

On Sundays we've always played little get to know ya games or team building games. And I admit last semester Adam and I did not have a good attitude about these games. And most Sundays just sat around with our group and talked. BUT this semester!!!!! They made the 8 weeks a competition between small groups and the winning team will ACTUALLY win a "major award" at the end of our time together. Plus there's a super lame but oh so cool trophy that gets passed around to the group who is in the lead each week (that trophy has never left our table, but more on that later).

So Adam and I are super competitive with each other and others around us. So when someone created a game with points all of a sudden those kind of lame games BECAME FREAKIN' AWESOME. And our small group is UBER cool and love the competition as much (and sometimes more) than we do.

SOOOOOO this morning there was a scavenger hunt around Austin. We (Adam & I) weren't going to compete at first, but at the last moment we decided to play. We had been prepping our small group for a week about this scavenger hunt and felt like we could totally do it too. I mean come on just because we have 4 kids and EVERYONE else is a newly wed couple with no kids doesn't mean we won't have a chance, RIGHT???? We packed the kids up, loaded up a million snacks, talked to the boys about the "treasure hunt" we were going on, and headed to the first spot. We got our clues and it was game on. Unfortunately for us we don't know much about Austin and every clue was a location on the north side of the river and we live on the south (the COOL side) on town. So we began internet-ing, tweeting, and mapping out the spots. Once we had a plan we took off. Once in a while we saw one of our couples along the way, and we gave them a high five and a friendly threat that they better not let us (WITH OUR 4 KIDS) beat them. On our way to one of the hardest destinations we got the message from one of our couples that they had WON! Perfect timing for us because we were trying to figure out how we were going to get 4 kids up to the top of Mt Bonnell, a 105 stair walk straight up 785 feet above sea level. We knew that only the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place teams got points so we headed to the last check-in. When we arrived we learned that 2 other couples from our team had finished 3rd and 4th. (GO TEAM)

We had a blast, but learned why you DO NOT get to take kids on Amazing Race. 1) They have to go to the bathroom at inconvenient times. 2) They want lunch at 11:15am, NO matter what you are doing. 3) They don't like getting woken up from a little nap to run out and get a picture taken with a tree(we have a picture but I can't post it cause J-man is in it grrrrr). 4) It really does hurt your time when you have to unbuckle and buckle 4 kids into car seats at every destination.

My dream to compete in the Amazing Race is not dead and I feel like Adam and I only proved how totally AWESOME we would be on the show. Right?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It's a good weekend when.....

You show up for a day at Sea World and realize that the park is practically empty!

You bring a grandparent along to watch the kiddos while you and your hubby walk onto every extreme roller coaster in the park! Thanks Dad.

And you end the day with this site.....(again I hate that I have to edit J-man out of every picture but he and Alexis are in the middle row completely passed out too)

Court Update

So Friday was our 1st permanency court day. The update is that J-man is still in our home and will be for another 3-4 weeks. Thursday night we got a call that CPS was trying to postpone court for another 30 days and this really confused us. We thought that maybe they had some more stuff on Bio Mom, but after Friday it all made sense. CPS pretty much dropped the ball and didn't do what the judge had wanted them to do. So we wait a couple of weeks while they get everything worked out. It was sad because I know Bio Mom and us too thought that J-man was ready to go home. So we wait just a bit longer. Meanwhile we start praying about being submitted for straight adoption babies or continue to foster with the intention to adopt when it's needed (knowing that there is a chance that we get another placement who doesn't stay with us forever)

Prayer Requests:

Please continue to pray for Bio Mom as she keeps up the great work

Pray for our kiddos as we start preparing them in a few weeks to say goodbye to their brother

Begin to pray for our next step in this journey

Monday, October 4, 2010

So what if I can't adopt?

"So Jen, super neat quotes and stats, but seriously we/I can't adopt right now or maybe ever. So what do you have to say to me?"

Dude I know what you are thinking! I've been there. So this post is all about what you can do to help the orphan, the widow, the needy right now. (And guess what some of the things you can do DON'T require money)

1) Sponsor an orphan. For a little more than $30 a month you can CHANGE a child's life. Your money will help this child get food, clean water, shelter, and many times SCHOOL. So, not only are you caring for their physical needs, but you're giving them a HOPE for the future. We love our sponsor daughter and pray for her each night, write her letters, and talk about her. I love seeing how my kids are learning to have a heart for those that don't have what they have.

I can wholeheartedly put my name behind each of these organizations:

HELP (Help End Local Proverty)


World Vision

2) Throw a garage sale party. I love this one, because it is SO easy. Just talk to a bunch of friends and get a bunch of your crap together. Hang out for a Saturday morning and SELL SELL SELL. Then donate the money to your favorite organization. Or, donate it to a family you know is trying to raise money to adopt. We did this with our community group and donated everything to HELP. They have a great website called Garage Sale for Orphans. You can even see where your money is going.

3) Buy Christmas presents this year that can help the world's poorest. Trade as One let's you buy jewelry, shirts, purses, scarves, chocolate, coffee, and even spices from around the world. You can be confident to know that the money goes directly to the people who made the product.

Whether it's a unique gift or an everyday product like fair trade coffee or chocolate, your spending can connect you to a story of hope and dignity for the poor.

That's what it means to trade as one.

4) Sacrifice one of your Christmas presents or ask your kids to and buy a present for someone in need. Participate in an angel tree and know that you are giving a gift to a child or family who wouldn't get one otherwise.

5) Donate gently used toys and clothes to your local fostercare agency for foster parents and children to use.

6) Contact your local fostercare agency and sign up to become a CERTIFIED babysitter. You see, foster parents cannot just call up a babysitter for a much needed night out. They have to have CERTIFIED babysitters and it can be really difficult to find one without a couple weeks notice! This could be a HUGE blessing to a family who is really needing to feel blessed. In most cases, all you need to do is fill out a background check and take a short class.

7) Get a group together and collect new teddy bears or other stuffed animals. Give them to your local fostercare agency. Imagine that the moment a child is taken from their family they are given a new stuffed animal to hold onto.

8) If you know a family who is in the process of adopting, organize and provide dinners when their little son/daughter comes home. We do this when our friends have a newborn, but sometimes forget to do it when families adopt.

9) GO! Go on a mission trip to love the poor, the widow, the needy, the orphan. Adam and I are going to take the money we have saved for our 10 year anniversary cruise and go on a mission trip together instead.

10) Talk! Spread the word. Talk about James 1:27 with others. Talk about what we (the church) are doing right and what we are doing wrong. Talk to your pastors about an orphan ministry. Talk to your friends. Find other blogs and twitter accounts. Spread the word. I know for me personally I was just NAIVE to the orphan crisis and really had no idea what an epidemic it had become.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Together for Adoption

This weekend, we attended the Together for Adoption conference here in Austin. I totally wish I was a good writer and could ACTUALLY do a good job sharing with you about this weekend. I can't, but I will try to share with you the things God did lay on my heart.

1) Adam and I are doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing. I've never really doubted this, but this last week was a hard one on me. Lots of talks about J-man's case and a few phone calls from Bio Mom. This next week is going to be even harder because this could be our last with our son. This weekend was like someone hitting the refresh button. I needed that, and I needed to be surrounded by 1,000 people who are living radically to love the orphan.

2) Again and again this weekend, I felt sick to my stomach. Sick because the orphan crisis could be DEMOLISHED quite easily by the Christian church. Sit on that for a second. We, my brothers and sisters in Christ, could make it so that NOT one child is ever waiting for a family.

In Texas there are 12,191 children waiting to be adopted. There 18,466 Christian churches in the state of Texas.

3) Just the chance to meet so many incredible families/couples was so very enouarging and challenging to me. Encouraging because I didn't feel alone, and I KNEW that every Mother in that room could understand some of the feelings I have sometimes. Challenging because these couples/families are FREAKIN' Rockstars.

4) The time I spent worshiping our perfect Savior was indescribable. To have time to praise our perfect Father, weep (yes there were many tears from me), confess, and pray was EXACTLY what I needed.

5) It was just fun spending time with my hubby and our friends (new and old). It was fun to laugh, go on a date, stay up WAY too late, drink coffee (still hate it), and sharpen each other.

Again, I wish I could do a better job sharing with you, but I will leave you with some of my tweets from this weekend.

You could have 15 biological children and would still have to start at square one w/ an adoptive child." Dr Purvis

"You can't care for the orphan if you let the world corrupt you." Dave Gibbons

"We'll vote for pro life politicians but we turn our back on the children when they are actually born." Dave Gibbons

Could Satan's strategy simply b 2 make the church think we're doing something when we're really doing nothing? Dave Gibbons

There is a kind of religion that makes God smile -James 1:27

Over 19,000 children age out of the fostercare system every year in the US. Brothers and Sisters who will love these kids?

If every church took in one child there would be a waiting list for parents not children. Doesn't that sound freaking awesome?

Worried about the cost of adoption? God is not a deadbeat Dad and he will take care of you.

Just talked to couple that has adopted 9 kids from California's fostercare. Freakin Rockstars. God is moving, wanna move with Him?

Listening to Dr Karyn Purvis bringing it (and she's rocking skinny jeans). This lady is my hero.

"We need to serve, mentor, teach, and love our foster bio moms." @sjfults is teaching on radical and missional fostercare.

How can an orphan ever understand the love of God the Father when they don't know the love of an earthly father? -Matt Carter
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