God’s Providence

Justin and I often look back over the past 10+ years of our marriage and see God’s faithful hands in so many circumstances. It may be situations that didn’t turn out how we had planned but that was part of God’s greater plan, or circumstances that leave us in awe of God’s faithfulness despite our sinfulness. In every circumstance, whether He’s given or taken away, our hope has always been that we’re able to turn back and praise Him in all things. That we praise Him in the good and in the ugly. We always pray that if the Lord chooses to give or take away that we would choose to say, Lord BLESSED be your name.

Despite the incredible heartache of a miscarriage (that still grieves us and hits us at times), we wouldn’t have the incredible blessing of our princess Hazel. Without the painful heartache of losing our 3rd child, I know we would not value life as much as we do today or see our children as extreme blessings from the Lord. We wouldn’t have been able to see God’s providential hand throughout the entire adoption of Hazel, or experienced first hand the gift of our Savior adopting us, or seen the incredible mercy and grace of our Lord. Who knows how far the impact of adopting Hazel has been throughout the world, but for our family, the impact and the journey to adopt her was something that has had a profound impact on our family.

There are many instances since we first made the decision to adopt in November 2011 that we can look back and say, “Wow, Lord. Only YOU could make that happen.” It’s incredible. Too many to even name. And it continues to happen.

One instance that I’ve been wanting to share for 2 years is the funds that the Lord provided in order to adopt Hazel.

When we first started our adoption journey, the thought of $20,000 seemed impossible. We live very frugally, well below our means, have a written budget, and only have debt on our home; however, $20,000 was daunting. It would have been easy to use it as an excuse to not adopt, and we did at first, but the Lord told us to GO and we choose to be obedient.

So we started saving every penny we could. Every single spare dollar went towards the adoption fund. Once we switched from domestic to international special needs adoption, that amount increased to upwards of $30,000 plus additional medical costs. Again though, the Lord said GO and we knew He would provide. We knew she was more than worth it.

During our time of saving the money would literally just appear out of thin air month after month. We would look at each other in awe at the end of each month when there was this money that we never had before. Then, we had $1,000 in unexpected donations/gifts come in from anonymous donors. And two months before we left for Ukraine to meet Hazel, we had an unexpectedly large tax return that brought our total to exactly $30,000. Totally the Lord’s timing and hand in us raising the funds needed.

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We brought Hazel home June 1 2012, and she had heart surgery 6 weeks later.

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After our adoption funds, numerous doctor’s appointments, medicines, and a heart surgery, we were stunned when we looked at our finances. After paying for everything adoption-related and meeting our medical deductible, our total came to:

$29,989!!!

Can you believe how incredible that is?! The Lord had provided exactly what we needed and was even gracious enough to give us $11 to spare! To think that I doubted we’d ever be able to raise that amount and to come within $11 of what we needed is beyond fathomable.

I often shake my head in disbelief at how the Lord has provided for our needs or taken something away for our benefit, because we are so undeserving of any grace He has freely given us.  The Lord is always at work in our lives, in ways we often don’t expect. I pray that our eyes continue to be open to His everyday faithfulness and grace and being able to turn back and say Blessed Be the Name of the Lord!

Home Art Program for Children

As time allows, I hope to review all of our 2013-2014 curriculum. First up, one of my favorite ‘extras’ this year:

ART!!

Stained Glass Art Piece

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Teaching art intimidates many homeschooling moms, which is why it’s a popular co-op or it’s not taught all together. I loved my art classes growing up, and Justin is a natural-born and talented artist, so we both want to expose our children to this creative outlet.

I was SO excited last year when I happened upon a home art program taught by an art teacher via DVD.

Art wasn’t even on my radar for the year. The co-op art programs in our area are $100 per semester for 1 student, and they are all about a 45 min drive. That just wasn’t an option this year with a newborn, 2 other kids who were too young to participate, and a 45 min class.

Home Art Studio was a perfect fit for our family and I was extremely pleased with the overall program. I loved that we could do art when we wanted, all the kids could be included at some level, we could go at our own pace, and we could dive more into a topic or artist if we wanted. We often pulled out the Encyclopedia or jumped on the computer to learn more about an artist or culture while doing art.

Mission to Mars (Our Solar System)

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We started the year with the 1st grade DVD set per the recommendation of the instructor (who I met and talked with at the homeschool conference last year). In hindsight, I wish we would have just started with the Kindergarten DVD.

We loved 1st grade so much that we’ve since ordered the K DVD, 2nd grade for next year, and the holiday DVD.

Currently, the grade level goes up to 5th grade; however, I would say even if you start with the K DVD it is something every age level can participate in. We’ve had an 11 year old girl do a Kindergarten lesson with us, and she really enjoyed it. I love that older and younger kids can do the same art lesson together, which fits in with our homeschool model.

Korean Fans 

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I personally would recommend your oldest child be 5 before starting. Granger and Hazel loved doing what their older sister was doing, but I’m not sure they would have been as enthusiastic if it were just them.

Some of our creations this year included:

Peafowls of India and Sri Lanka (concentric circles)

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TV Self Portrait

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African Mask (symmetry)

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Egyptian Pyramid Sunset (Silhouette)

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Claude Monet (Impressionist Landscape)

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Symmetrical Butterflies 

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Rainbow Weaving

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 Paper Roller Coaster (3D Artwork)

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Waterfront Houses of Venice

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Caterpillar (Texture Hunt)

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Other lessons include: Mexican Poncho Art, Henry Rousseau Tiger, Greek urn, African printmaking, and Chinese Dragons for a total of 18 lessons in the 1st grade DVD.

The total start up cost for one DVD and the supply list she recommends (and you order online) was approximately $125. However, the supplies were plenty for 2 students for a year with leftover supplies.

The teacher recommends ordering the art supplies through Jerry’s Artarama because of the prices. I have compared prices to Hobby Lobby and Joannes and they are very comparable, often times even much cheaper, AND you don’t have to go searching for art supplies with 4 kids in tow! That’s a WIN in my book! Home Art Studio is already loaded onto Jerry’s site according to the program. I would recommend signing up for Jerry’s email list and then watch for sales. I was able to order next year’s supplies (including the DVDs) for 20% off, plus free shipping, and a few free items.

I have recommended this DVD art program to anyone who asks. We’ve had a blast doing art as a family and letting the kids explore their creative side. They squeal and jump when I say “let’s do some art today!” You can’t beat that.

Jackson Polluck lesson

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If you’d like to sample the program, she has some lessons online for free to try. These could be great summertime activities to do for free!

An example of the free 1st grade lesson (Aboriginal Australian Painting):

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I was not compensated for this review. Just an honest review of a program we love! Let us know if you try it out!

 

Hazel Olechka: 2 Years Home

Last weekend we celebrated Hazel’s Gotcha Day. It’s a big deal around here, probably more significant than her birthday, because it’s such a joyous occasion to celebrate!

Although we celebrate her birth, it can be filled with sadness knowing that it was the day she was abandoned and sent to an orphanage where there wasn’t much hope for her. Whereas, in stark contrast, her adoption into our family was the day her life truly began!

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She has now been part of our family longer than she was an orphan. She’s come leaps and bounds in the past 2 years and has blessed our family and countless others. I’ll scream it from the mountaintop until I die, adoption is 1,000 times worth it. SHE is worth it. There are millions of other orphans who are WORTH IT!

I hope to do a more extensive update on Hazel soon. God continues to amaze us as only HIS sovereign hand has orchestrated amazing events to unfold in Hazel’s life. I can say this, she has blown us away in her abilities. NO DIS-ability here folks.

To God be the Glory, great things he hath done!!

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Hazel with her namesake and great-grandmother

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Our Crazy Blessed Life

The blog has been quiet these past few months because we now have FOUR KIDS and life is busy. It’s crazy just typing that. Not in a always-on-the-go crazy (we really try and avoid that), but in a we-have-FOUR-KIDS crazy! Life is busy with home school, diapers, nursing, cooking, cleaning, laundry, therapy, fellowship, extracurricular activities, crazy work schedules, and getting a little bit of sleep somewhere in there. We’ve said NO to a lot these past 6 months while only saying yes to the best, yet life is always running at full steam.

I’m cherishing this time and have deliberately been stepping away from my phone and the computer to be present with our children, my husband, and in the Word. The little years FLY by as we’ve noticed with our oldest daughter, and I don’t want to miss these precious years by putting my attention elsewhere.

I hope to post in the coming months about our 3rd year of homeschooling (I seriously can’t believe it!). I’m learning more and more every day about teaching our kids, and I’m stretched and pruned by the Lord more every day. I’m so thankful His mercies are new every morning!

The home school magazines are flooding our mailboxes these days and I’ve got some planning to do for next year as I’ll be homeschooling TWO kids! Wowzer! 

In the meantime, here are some recent pics of our beautiful blessings!

(Please do not use our pictures under any circumstances without our permission!)

 

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World Down syndrome Day (2014)

Today we CELEBRATE those born with an extra chromosome! What a blessing and joy they are to everyone! Beautifully and wonderfully made by God.

We celebrate on March 21 (3-21) because individuals with Down syndrome are born with an extra copy (3 copies) of the 21st chromosome.

Hazel is a blessing sent to our family from The Lord. She teaches us more about ourselves and about others every single day. We don’t deserve her and we thank God for his hand in our family adopting her. She’s truly a gem that is worth more than anyone will ever know.

I pray that God continues to use her life to show the world how precious all life is.

Love her to pieces!!

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