Popular Posts

Powered by Blogger.

Total Pageviews

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Don't Miss It!!

I have a sweet friend, named Andrea. We’re fellow adoptive, homeschool, bloggy, orphan ministry mommas. Our children are all about the same ages. We both live in the Atlanta area. Clearly, Andrea and I have a lot in common. Over the last year we’ve become fast friends. Even our husbands are buds and meet for lunch occasionally in the midst of their work days.

I don’t know that I’ve ever met anyone quite like Andrea before. She’s crazy crafty, she’s a great cook, she’s a photographer, she decorates… the list goes on. But even with all this talent up her sleeve, Andrea’s heart beats for two things in particular: orphans and adoption.

For several years, Andrea and her husband have felt a call on their lives to minister to adoptive families. She and Richard organized our Atlanta-area African Family Fellowship group and they host nearly 100 people at their home every time this group gathers. Andrea also organized our monthly adoption support group, called Adoption & Chocolate.

But around this time last year, God laid a major project on Andrea’s heart. A crazy project. He asked her to organize a retreat for adoptive moms. Not just Atlanta area moms – but for moms all over the country.

Andrea responded to this call in obedience. She recruited a few friends to help, reserved a small book of hotel rooms at a conference center in Buford, Georgia and talked with several potential leaders for the event. She named the retreat “Created for Care.” And Andrea imagined that about 25 women would attend.

She didn’t promote the retreat, except through her personal blog. She had no idea if anyone would sign up at all. But in faith, Andrea opened registration in September of last year.

Over 250 women signed up in less than 48 hours. And it became quite the retreat.

I was there with the rest of the SixtyFeet ladies:



And it was literally one of the highlights of my year. I cannot WAIT for the 2012 retreat! Which is actually why I’m writing tonight. Created for Care 2012 registration opens on September 1. Will you join me there next year?

SixtyFeet is privileged to be one of the featured orphan ministries of this event. Our team will be there along with 147 MillionOrphans, Wiphan and others.

I’m also moderating a bloggy panel with Missy from It’s Almost Naptime, Lara from The Farmer’s Wife Tells All, Kristi from We Love OurLucy and Lovelyn from Moments with Love. How fun is that?

This retreat isn’t just for adoptive moms. It’s for anyone with a heart for adoption, for anyone considering adoption or anyone who loves orphan ministry.

It’s a MUST attend. And I would LOVE to see you there!

For more information (or to get your hiney registered!!) visit the Created For Care site. Tell ‘em Crazy Shelly sent you ;-).

By the way, do not dawdle here. This year there are 500 spots for the retreat (Jan 29-27, 2012) – but they’re going to go QUICKLY. If you plan to attend, sign up on September 1. That's just over 24 hours away.

See you there!
Sunday, August 28, 2011

Too Good Not to Share #3: Colorblind

This is our Baby Charlotte:

And this is Baby Charlotte with her babies:

Charlotte loves these babies something fierce. She won’t nap or go to sleep at night unless both babies are safely tucked into the crib with her.

As you may have noticed, one of these babies is black and one is white. But that’s perfectly normal to Charlotte.

We adopted Hannah and Joseph when Baby C was just 12 months old. I think it’s pretty fair to assume that she'll never remember a time when our family wasn’t multi-racial.

Skin color just isn’t a factor for Charlotte. It doesn't register with her. She’s colorblind.

This blesses me so much. I take great comfort in clinging to Charlotte’s worldview when the rest of the world gets me down.

This week, the kids and I were playing at our neighborhood pool when I was approached by our pool manager. She asked me if I could please remember to pay our “guest fees” for the day. For a split second, I was thoroughly confused – until I realized that she assumed Hannah and Joseph were guests of our family. They couldn’t possibly be part of our family – because you know, they’re black and we’re white.

It’s in those times that I remember Charlotte and her crib babies. And I can’t help but think that my 20 month old already has it all figured out. When she looks at people, she just sees them. Not the color of their skin.

And I think that means she sees the world as Jesus does. After all "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galations 3:28

So yes, I just shared some wisdom from a baby. But she's a smart baby. Her sweet and pure perspective refreshes me. And that's just Too Good Not To Share.

“…. And a little child will lead them all.” – Isaiah 11:6
Thursday, August 25, 2011

Too Good Not To Share #2

So there’s this book. People have literally been recommending it to me for years. But I’ve always shied away from it, for an admittedly lame reason. The title completely turned me off. I know, I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But I’m shallow like that.

I actually hesitate to share the title with y’all now. Because once I do, you’ll probably stop reading this post immediately. Although chances are, you're not as shallow as me.

So I'll share it. Do you promise not to laugh?

It’s called this: "Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit."

Yep. It totally conjures images of women in denim jumpers with stringy hair who quietly instruct their knee-sock clad children. Sort of like this:



Anyhoo. The book I didn’t want to read. A precious woman named Teri Maxwell is the author. Now, in defense of my shallowness… Terri is wearing a floral, polyester vest and a white collared blouse on the back cover of her own book. So cut me some slack for my ugly, judgmental heart.

But y’all. I finally opened the book. And I read and read and read. Teri rocks my world.

This is good stuff. And it’s SO not just for homeschooling moms. Actually, it’s not even just for moms. It’s for anyone. Like I said, Teri rocks my world.

I am literally dedicating multiple posts to Teri in this Too Good Not To Share series. So you might just want to go ahead and purchase the book yourself instead of reading all my blog posts with the ridiculous videos and other distracting information.

But here’s what I want to share for today (from my girl, Teri):

Our goals for our children should not match our expectations.

It's true. Let me explain…

I start everyday during the week with the same goal in mind. I have a goal that my children and I will have a productive day of school. I will teach, they will sit quietly and listen and learn. We will complete all of our work by lunchtime and then, after a nutritious lunch, we will take a nature walk through our neighborhood and perhaps stop to visit and chat with some elderly neighbors.

In reality… that typically does not happen. Not even close. Often my children do not sit quietly. Often, the baby and my two Ugandan treasures have “urgent” needs that must be attended to throughout the morning while I’m trying to teach. Often I find myself completing a 2nd grade grammar lesson at about the same time my husband is walking in the front door from work, around 6pm. And we never went on our nature walk. And our lunch wasn't all that nutritious. Did we even eat lunch?

Goals are great and necessary things. We should all have goals. But they shouldn’t match our expectations. I should pretty much expect that my day will not go exactly as planned. And that'll save me a whole lot of anxiety, anger, frustration and irritation in the end.

That little minor adjustment helps me respond to my days better. It helps me take the interruptions in stride. And it makes me a happier momma. Which means I have happier children.

And that's some advice to live by. It's definitely Too Good Not To Share, if you ask me. If you're interested other such tidbits from Teri, check out her website at www.Titus2.com.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011

On Addiction and Faith

I’ve received permission from the family involved to share the following story. Please note, I’ve changed several minor details in order to protect the privacy of this family and to keep their identity anonymous. Please thoughtfully consider your words before commenting on this sensitive post.

About this time last year, Dan attempted to check the husband of one of my friends into rehab. This man, “Jay,” had literally lost everything dear to him. His extreme addiction to alcohol had stolen it all away. He was estranged from his wife and children, he’d lost his home, his career and even what had once been a flourishing relationship with the Lord.

Dan had spent the day at Jay’s home with several other men. They were cleaning, repairing, replacing and doing various other odd jobs that would help Jay’s estranged wife, my friend, to get their house on the market and get it sold. Jay’s wife, “Sally,” was still paying the mortgage, all on her own, and mothering (and fathering) three small children. Oh, and homeschooling and running a small business in order to keep her family afloat.

Dan and the other men worked for a full day while Jay slept, in a drunken stupor, on his couch. At one point, Sally came by the house with her children to see if the men needed any help. The oldest walked to the couch where her father slept, took one look and turned and ran upstairs. Dan said he actually had to turn away at that point...

When Jay finally awoke, the men took turns speaking with him. They urged him to face reality and to seek help. Immediately. After many words and various heated conversations, he finally agreed. Dan and another man loaded Jay up in his own car and drove him to a nearby shelter and rehabilitation center.

Although Jay passed the breathalyzer, he was turned away from the shelter because he treated the admissions director with such disrespect and anger. And at the director’s recommendation, Dan made a last ditch effort and took Jay to the local emergency room.

They pulled into the ER parking lot and parked the car. Jay refused to get out. He refused to get help. He'd become such a prisoner to his addiction that it had basically rendered him incapable of thinking of anyone but himself. And at that moment, Dan did the most loving thing could think to do. He took Jay’s car keys and buried them in the dirt under a bush. And then he turned and walked away.

Dan came home that night shaken to his core over the things he’d seen and experienced that day. He prayed and searched the Word and wondered if he’d handled the situation in a loving and biblical manner.

Eventually, the Lord brought peace to his heart through a most unlikely account in scripture: the story of the rich young ruler. This story appears throughout the gospels – in Matthew 19, Mark 10 and Luke 18.

Basically, a rich young man approaches Jesus and asks him what he must do to inherit eternal life. And Jesus just tells him, straight up. You need to make some changes. No co-dependency, no tickling of ears. He loved him enough to speak the truth. You need to make some changes – your eternal life depends upon it.

Dan and I will never, ever forget that day. We still pray for Jay, for his children and especially for Sally – who is now essentially a widow raising three children on her own. Amazingly, her faith has never faltered through this ordeal.

Our family has been deeply moved by this experience and our hearts truly go out to those imprisoned by addiction. And I’m convinced of this: the only true freedom from addiction, any addiction, is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

At the moment, I’m working on a little side project related to this conviction. This doesn’t have anything to do with Africa or orphan care or adoption or any of the stuff I usually write about… but I always assume that if I’m convicted then I should respond…after all, it’s the Holy Spirit that does the convicting.

I’m helping my sister-in-law and nephew build an expansion onto a Christian men’s rehab facility located in Pikeville, TN. It’s going to cost $17,000. But that’s nothing in God’s economy.

If your heart is pricked for this type of ministry and you'd be interested in coming alongside Dan and me in this project please let me know. Perhaps you could make a donation in honor of Sally or someone like her who's touched your life?

I don’t have a fancy paypal button or anything to offer for this one. It’s simple and bare bones. But I’d love to tell you more if you'd like. If you’re interested in contributing in some way, please email me at shellyowens at SixtyFeet dot org. And if you think about them throughout your day, please lift Jay, Sally and their children in prayer.

Thanks, friends, for hearing me out on this one. I know it's not my usual stuff. But sometimes God throws us a curve ball. And even (and especially!) when it's out of our comfort zone, we need to respond. Kingdom needs are truly all around us.
Sunday, August 21, 2011

Living Simply III: Money & Contentment


Thanks to everyone for the comments and emails on the LivingSimply: Time Management post. To those of you who think I took the easy road and copped out on that one, I’m sorry to have let you down. But at the moment, I need some help around here. I’m woman enough to admit it.

I have five small children. I homeschool. I help my husband run an international ministry. And so I have someone who helps me clean every other week. We share a lawn mowing service with our next door neighbors. And I have a babysitter who comes for several hours, once or twice per week, so I can grocery shop or go to the dentist without five small people in tow.

But I’ll be the first to concede – I know all of those things are luxuries. I'm not saying we're right or wrong. That's just how we're doing things right now.

Dan and I pray over this and daily, we beg the Lord for guidance. Because we know that our hearts are wicked and deceitful. We can’t simply “follow our hearts” on these matters or just do whatever feels right.

There's a name for that kind of stuff with low cost and little sacrifice. It's called cheap grace.

Besides, Proverbs 14:12 says “There is a way that seems right to a man. But in the end it leads to death.” And when I read those words, I know I'd rather not do it my way.

I'm not an authority on this subject and I'm not suggesting that I have this all figured out. I'm just a sinner, saved by grace, and I struggle with this stuff like everyone else. I can't tell you how to live simply.

But Jesus can.

The answers that we're all seeking are readily available. They're in the Word -- in black, white and sometimes in red. I could quote a myriad of verses to make my point here. And I started to. But you really shouldn't take my word for it.

The one thing Dan and I can offer is this: some unique perspective. We've been privileged to spend a good bit of time on the other side of the world. We’ve seen it and smelled it and shared meals in people's homes. Through our ministry, we interact with our friends in Africa everyday. We know how the third world lives and the struggles they face each day.

Dan in Uganda, May 2011


And I can attest to this – for most of the western world, even our simplicity is pretty indulgent. We're far wealthier than most of us realize. Or even want to realize.

Based on what I've seen, heard and experienced from our brothers and sisters across the ocean, I know this is true -- we'd all do well to simply be content with what we have. Or better yet, be content with less and give away more.

In 1648, Jeremiah Burroughs wrote this "The art of contentment is not to add to our circumstances but to subtract from our desires." And 363 years later, human nature hasn't changed a bit.

True contentment is not getting what you what. It's wanting what you have. Stuff will never fulfill you or make you happy. But Jesus will.

Live simply by chasing after Him instead.
Friday, August 19, 2011

Too Good Not to Share #1

Here's something that's Too Good Not to Share:

Ann Voskamp's printable document: 10 Points of Joyful Parenting.

My personal favorite is #7: the moment when I am most repelled by a child’s behavior, that is my sign to draw the very closest to that child.

Click to it now. Print it, hang it on your fridge and implement immediately. Thank me later.

It will bless you. Happy Friday, friends!




Thursday, August 18, 2011

Too Good Not To Share

A dear friend recently made a comment to me. She said “being a homeschooling mom must put you on the fast track to sanctification."

Of course she said this jokingly – but I tell you there’s some truth in that statement. Nothing in my life has made me more aware of my own sin, my own deep need for Christ and the pure ugliness in my own heart, quite like homeschooling my children.

All of that stuff I thought I’d already dealt with and conquered? Apparently, not so much. A rough day of homeschool will bring it all right to the surface.

Maybe it’s the non-stop days and the late nights spent prepping. Maybe it’s the various ages, the almost terrible-two-year-old and the challenges unique to each child. Maybe it’s just being home all day everyday with such little adult interaction… but believe me, I’ve had some days where I’ve felt exactly as I imagine Noah must have felt.

Not Noah the righteous dude who was saved from the floods. But Noah the crazy guy who sat in a finished ark, filled with stinky animals, in the middle of an open field, without a cloud in the sky – for SEVEN days before the floods actually came (see Genesis 7:10).

How many times in that seven day period do you think Noah cried out to the Lord in confusion and frustration and asked… “um, Lord? Did I really hear you correctly on this one? This is getting kind of weird.”

I’m right there with you Noah. This is all getting kind of weird.

And yet, I know I heard my calling correctly. So did Noah. Just because it’s hard (or weird) doesn’t mean you’re not called. In fact, I doubt God calls anyone to anything because it’s easy. Easy is not how He shapes our character and makes us into His likeness. Homeschool is hard. Adoption is hard. At the moment, life in general feels hard.

But all is not lost.

Over the next few weeks, I want to share with y’all about some of the things that have saved my life and preserved my sanity through this difficult parenting season. And this stuff isn’t just for homeschoolers or adoptive families – so much of it could apply to any challenging parenting situation.

These are gems – the best of the best that I’ve picked up from wise friends, amazing books and from some serious and desperate time spent with the Lord over the last few months. It’s stuff that’s too good not to share.

So stick with me. I’ll do the first installment on this little "Too Good..." series tomorrow (maybe… depending on how our school day goes).

Also -- I've not forgotten to write the next post on Living Simply, that one's coming too. Stay tuned.
Monday, August 15, 2011

Living Simply, Part II: Time Management

It’s funny. I posted last week on “living simply” and I asked for some feedback. And I got some. More than I bargained for, actually. When I wrote the post, I was thinking exclusively in terms of material simplicity. I was thinking about simplifying stuff -- homes, wardrobes, cars and so forth.

But then y’all had to go and mess me up. So many of you wrote to me about how you’ve been simplifying LIFE and simplifying the ways you spend your time. I was intrigued.

So I’ll do material simplicity in another post. For now, let’s discuss this… how do you generally organize and manage your time in order to keep life simple? After all, we've all only got 24 hours in each day. There's always so much to do -- and so little time.

For me, living a simple life used to mean this – I kept life easy. Five years ago, I had a 2 year old, a baby and a husband. I cared for my toddler, I nursed my baby, I served my husband, I cleaned and decorated my home, I attended church, I occasionally entertained friends – and that was about it. Back then, living simply meant that I kept life as uncomplicated as possible. I avoided undue “stress,” I kept my calendar uncluttered, I tried to stay home as often as possible and I maintained good boundaries with my outside commitments. Easy, safe and uncomplicated. That was simple.

These days, living simply means something different to me. I’d say my life is probably far busier, much more complicated and exponentially less easy than it was five years ago… but it’s simple. It’s simple because it’s singular in purpose. Dan and I know where the Lord wants us to focus and how we should spend our time – and it’s those things we chase after. We do our best to simplify by shutting out the clutter of the rest of it.

But here's the thing: Sometimes we do have to spend money to achieve this kind of simplicity. We only have 24 hours in each day and we all have to sleep… if you’re focused in one area, another will likely suffer. We not only have to prioritize -- but sometimes we need some help to make it all come together.

My friend, Alysia, sent me this email in response to my last post:

What in the world is a simplified life, especially for growing families? For me it's this: whatever reduces financial debt and frees up time for you to be available to God's precious moments each day.

If that means you can sit by a friend who needs a shoulder to cry on because you drove over in your gas guzzling SUV and then throw a frozen pizza in the oven when you get home- that works.

If someone pays for a lawn service so their husband has time to reach out more to his family and community, then there’s nothing wrong with that. He could live "simple" and buy a push mower and clip the edges with scissors...but imagine how much time he'd spend by "simply and greenly" taking care of the lawn.

I could live simpler by only eating what we grow in our yard...but I can tell you I would never see another living soul all year because we've tried gardening and it takes some serious time and attention.

So here’s where I'm landing on this one: I don’t think living simply necessarily means living bare bones. But I definitely don’t think living simply means making life as easy, comfortable and uncomplicated as possible.

When I die, I want to enter Heaven bloody, bruised and completely exhausted from the work I’ve done here on Earth. After all, that’s why He's left me here. I’ll rest and live a comfortable, uncomplicated life once I’m Home.

To me, this is simple living: To hear His voice, to know your callings and to chase after those things with "gladness and singleness of heart." 
Thursday, August 11, 2011

Updates & Reminders


First, I want to thank you all SO very much for the amazing comments, emails and facebook messages related to my last post. I am humbled and totally overwhelmed that so many would take the time to thoughtfully write so much!

I’m blown away by the depth of your responses. It’s definitely going to take me until next week to get my thoughts together on this one. Living Simply. That’s a doozie of a post. Stay tuned.

Second, please don’t forget the fabulous baby shower I’m hosting over at The Farmer’s Wife Tells All. Please support Lara and Jon as they prepare to bring home Baby A from Uganda… we’re still about $3,000 short of our goal. And you’re probably still short one Canon EOS Rebel T3i Digital Camera. So get yourself on over and sign up! Suggested entries are only $15 a piece!

Finally, I wanted to update y’all on my trip to China. I’m not going. Sad for me but happy for my friend Lydia. Turns out that her husband, David, was able to go over and stay for the entire two week period. So, my travel companion services were not really needed. Even if I am super fun to travel with...

Anyways, I know it's for the best, as I’m planning to return to Uganda in October – and two international trips, and two different weeks away from the kiddos, this fall was going to be a bit much for everyone. (But if you really want to know how I feel about traveling for missions and leaving my children for a brief period of time, read my post entitled Judgment. It’s one of my all time faves.)

Please do pray for my China-bound friends, Lydia and David, as they come to mind this week. They’re leaving for China today and David, who struggles with serious health issues (as you might remember from my post), is experiencing flu-like symptoms at the moment. Certainly not an ideal situation for a long international flight and a two-week stay in China.

And that’s a wrap. Have a great weekend – it’s almost here!!
Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Living Simply, Part I


I have a post on my heart that’s been brewing for some time now. I’ve been mulling it over and seeking the Lord on this subject for many months.

I feel like I’m finally ready to share my heart on this matter – but first, I’m hoping to hear from YOU. If you’re so brave to take a stab, will you tell me… how do you define the phrase –“ Living Simply?”

It’s a phrase that Christians like to throw around. Myself included. But what do those two words really mean and how do we apply them to our everyday lives?
In order to live simply, is there an invisible line that a Christian should not cross? Is there a list of rules we should follow in order to live a Biblically appropriate lifestyle? I hope not… because those things sound pretty legalistic to me.

And yet – what’s the alternative? Should everyone just “do what is right in his own eyes,” as was done in the time of the Judges? Because that doesn’t sound quite right either.
I pose these questions in all seriousness – because I really don’t know the answers. I pray that you’ll consider these words and send me your thoughts in the comments below.

What does it mean to you to “live simply?”
And is simplicity a call on the life of every Christian – or only on those who “feel called” to live that way?

I’ll post again on this subject next week and let you know what we’ve come up with…
Sunday, August 7, 2011

Party Time!

I'm actually not here tonight. I hijacked borrowed another blog for a few days... 'tis true! But I committed this dasterdly deed for a really great cause -- I'm co-hosting a virtual baby shower!

Hop on over and party with me at The Farmer's Wife Tells All.

My fabulous co-host and I may not be able to serve you cupcakes or punch for joining us -- but we are offering some pretty serious prizes.


GRAND PRIZE:



Canon EOS Rebel T3i Digital Camera (Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS II Lens included)

AND



Canon EF 75-300mm f/4.0-5.6 III Autofocus Lens


2 RUNNER UP PRIZES:




A $25.00 Wild Olive gift certificate

If you don't know the Dinsmore Family, you should. They have an amazing story and they're an incredible Ugandan adoption family who I love dearly. Trust me, this is one e-baby shower you don't want to miss!

See you at the party!