Archive - March 2015

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All Things New
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Yard Work, Space Ships and Calming Down
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REVIEW: Nashville’s Adventure Science Center
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REVIEW: Wilderness At the Smokies Resort (Gatlinburg, TN)
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Home of New Beginnings- Sponsorship Opportunity

All Things New

I often find myself cringing while reading certain publications and blogs about adoption. There is a common theme of misusing adoption theology as application for the adoption of children. While I understand that this provides a beautiful picture of Salvation for the parent or other witnesses to the adoption, it, while unintended, places a level of shame on a child. Comparing their past experiences and orphan status to sin is a stretch and in my opinion, inappropriate. James 1:27 provides all the conviction and charge that we need to make adoption part of our Christian culture.

It is no secret that we live in a fallen, hurt and sinful world. As a result parents die. Families split. People starve. Children live in orphanages. This is another reason for pause when speaking about orphan care and adoption in relation to God’s will. I don’t believe that it was God’s will for children to grow up apart from those who gave birth to them. It is a traumatic severing of what was intended to be beautiful. A loss at best.

What I do believe is this: When everything fails, when everything breaks, when everything falls apart, God has a plan. For our children that plan was adoption. And in His infinite goodness and beauty He picked up the broken pieces of my story and wove them anew with the stories of two children from across the waters. He created a new plan, a new beginning and while we are desperately inadequate at times we rely on his grace to equip us for the journey.

Let us be careful with our stories. Let us be respectful to our children.
Let us give glory to God who makes all things new.

Yard Work, Space Ships and Calming Down

We recently put our home on the market. And I have OCD tendencies. I also bite my nails. I always assumed this was some form of anxiety or a form of weakness until recently, when my husband shared this study with me. Apparently it’s a habit linked with perfectionism. And boredom. My life is finally starting to make sense.

House selling, combined with these character traits can make for quite the disastrous situation. However, pat on the back, I’ve been pretty even keeled thus far. Yesterday I decided the lawn needed some extra attention, so once the big kids were in school and the littlest was enjoying Mother’s day out I hauled out the lawn equipment and got to work.

We have an electric lawn mower that my tree-hugging husband insisted upon. I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen one of these contraptions but you literally plug it into an outlet and mow away. Men in big trucks laugh as they drive by because it looks like you are vacuuming the lawn with a space ship. You also get to play a fun game of don’t run over the cord and get electrocuted.

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Once the lawn care items were pulled out, plugged in and ready I ran inside to open the upstairs windows and back door as well. It was a great day for just letting the house air out. We live in a great area and leaving the house open isn’t really a concern. As I was working I noticed several police cars patrolling and assumed it was routine, we see them from time to time as they monitor traffic etc. I continued to work around the front and back yard, pushing the space ship and just enjoying the sun. I checked my phone after a bit and noticed several text messages. One of my friends was sharing that there was a criminal on foot and police were looking for him. She named the neighborhood and I was immediately concerned, the area was one street away from me and my wide open house. I quickly began shoving items into the garage, locked the car and secured the back door. As I ran around to the front door it occurred to me that while I was in the back the front was open.

I wasn’t terribly concerned, you know, because I’m so fast. As I entered the house I heard a loud swishing noise. I took a couple of steps into the house to make sure it wasn’t my imagination. Indeed a loud swishing, banging noise was coming from the family room. I whistled, grabbed the dog and ran outside. I called my husband on the phone and explained the situation. As he urged me to call the police I chose a different plan. I locked Chips, our dog, in the car grabbed the metal rake and approached the door. I could hear the noise as I walked up and was convinced that someone was inside. I held up my weapon rake and yelled, “if you are in there just run out the back door!” I was answered with the continued swishing, banging noise from the rear of the house. I kept Calvin on the phone and decided to move further into the house.

With the rake.

As I approached the family room I began thinking, man that sounds like the washer… but I didn’t do laundry today! (Side note: If there are criminals that sneak in to do laundry, they are welcome in my house) I inched closer and the noise got louder. I raised my rake higher.

And indeed, the washer was on with a few rags and a random toy swishing and banging away. One of the lovely Goodbye Kids had pushed the timer button again.

I’m still trying to discern the moral of the story here. It might be Don’t do Yardwork, Ever, it could also be Don’t Approach your House if you think there is a criminal inside, but most likely the moral of this particular husband is rolling his eyes at crazy wild-imagination wife story is Calm your Life down.

In the recent days I’ve felt such pressure to be perfect and to look perfect as people inspect my home. And in an effort to make things faster and smoother I end up spending a lot of time chasing perfection instead of believing that things will happen at their given time. You see, Calvin had promised to work on the yard when he came home. And instead of focusing on other things I jumped the gun and did it myself. And as a result I ended up looking pretty silly. So yes, Calm down. For me, for you, for everyone.

REVIEW: Nashville’s Adventure Science Center

During the snowpocalypse charade that happened this month we found ourselves with days upon days off school. Once the roads were clear and school remained closed the goodbye kids and I really started to lose our minds.

To avoid total meltdown we loaded up in the van and headed to Nashville’s Adventure Science Center. I haven’t taken the kids in years and I was excited to see many new attractions and experiences. Our daughter Lola is legally blind and isn’t always able to fully participate in museum or center settings. We did not find that to be the case with the Adventure Science center. There were many instances were information was projected in large print and the hands-on activities were plentiful.

The large play structure that takes up the entire middle (and three floors!) of the Science center allowed the kids to explore music, sound, texture and even crawl and climb their way through the human body. My children were literally crawling through the chambers of the heart, talk about Kinaesthetic learning! This was huge for Lola, instead of struggling to look at a diagram or picture of a spine she was able to climb down one.

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The kids also enjoyed the woodworking area. They were free to choose their own materials and build whatever their minds could think up. They loved the the opportunity to use real tools and feel creative independence. Best part? You get to take your creations home!

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There is so much to do and see at the Science center, I’m barely scratching the surface here! After woodworking we enjoyed the planet/space area with LARGE scale planets and solar systems as well as a chance to experience walking on the moon. Then we headed upstairs and went through the digestive system. Just be prepared for the real-life sounds that accompany that experience. My kids found them to be excellent and hilarious.

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The Adventure Science center has a great membership plan. It was $100 for our family for an entire year. This was both affordable and cost-effective for us. The membership cost was actually less than the cost of 2 visits for our entire family. We have already made a second visit and discovered even more things to love about the Science Center. An additional membership perk was the access to free or discounted admission to 300+ science and technology centers around the country. For more information on the Adventure Science center click here.

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REVIEW: Wilderness At the Smokies Resort (Gatlinburg, TN)

It seems so appropriate, on this very snowy day, to share what we did on the last Nashville snow day. We Nashvillians aren’t really snow people. So after enduring days of school cancellations and snow and ice accumulation the kids and I jumped at the chance to get out of town once the roads were cleared. We live about 3 1/2 hours from Gatlinburg/Sevierville so it has definitely become our weekend getaway choice whenever the opportunity presents itself. There is so much to do and see as a family. We have our favorite spots like the Donut Friar, located in The Village Shops, and after this trip we have a new favorite place to stay, Wilderness at the Smokies.

Wilderness at the Smokies is a water park resort. They have both an indoor and outdoor water park area. The indoor water park area features 3 raft style water slides, a wave pool, regular pool, toddler water play area, washout mountain kids water play area (our favorite!), surf rider and a huge indoor/outdoor hot tub. The kids and I enjoyed swimming in and out of the hot tub area while the snow fell on our heads.

We left daddy at home during this spur-of-the-moment “cure our winter blues” trip and while it felt a little crazy managing the four with water around we still had a wonderful time. Because our kids ages range from 3-7 we spent most of our time at the Washout Mountain attraction. It has two kid friendly slides, waterworks, climbing structures and exploding geysers. I was able to position myself at the front while my kids ran wild. It was very safe for all of them. Wilderness does furnish life jackets so we took advantage of those as well.

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Special Needs Accomodation: When booking our room, the staff placed us in the same building as the indoor water park. This allowed us to stay in the building and have a shorter commute to the water park. This was huge! Lola had a great time on on the Surf Rider attraction. Because Lola could not see the boundary lines or navigate if she were to fall off the board they positioned a staff member on each side of her. I was so pleased to see them happily accommodate her and empower her to do the same activities as her sighted siblings.


We stayed in a studio suite and really enjoyed the rustic styling of the room. The ceilings are super high and there is a small kitchen area located in each studio suite. This made the room really functional for us as a family. The resort also has dining options and an arcade area. We did leave the resort one morning for our donut run and a trip to the outlets, which are super close, but it’s definitely a place you can just park the car and stay awhile.

The best thing about traveling alone with four kids to an indoor water park in the winter? They are so tired by bedtime from all the splashing and swimming that everyone sleeps solidly through the night. I didn’t hear a peep and got a great nights sleep! Bliss.

We can’t wait to head back to Wilderness at the Smokies and tackle the big slides and outdoor water park with daddy. It’s such an affordable getaway, as the water park tickets are included in the nightly room rate. If you are ready to cure your winter blues check out their spring break specials, because at this rate it’s still going to be snowing when Spring break rolls around in a couple of weeks.

 

Home of New Beginnings- Sponsorship Opportunity

Human Trafficking. An evil that has become large reality in the world we live in. We know about it now, it’s become a buzz word of sorts. Instagram is filled with red X’s proclaiming our stance against the practice, yet most of us still don’t really know how to help. What if you had the opportunity to help a victim dream again? What if you had the opportunity to support someone as they transition from victim to VICTOR??

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The Home of New Beginnings sponsorship program is that opportunity. Monthly commitments of $10-$100 per month support young women as they find healing and recovery in a family based residence program. New Beginnings is located just 3 blocks from one of the major red light districts in Bangkok, Thailand.

Through the program the girls are able to complete their high school education and go on to either university or vocational training. The girls also have the opportunity to make hand-crafted items that are sold for additional income and support. (more on these later!) Classes in computer literacy, conflict resolution, budgeting, parenting, child development, and English are all taught at the home as well.

While education and stability are key to healing, New Beginnings recognizes that true healing will only come as the girls see their worth in Christ. Bible study, mission trips, retreats and church community are the core of the program. This is beautifully stated on their website: “It is when we understand that we are all wounded in need of hope, forgiveness and love, that we can grow together as a family. We believe that internal transformation is superior to external conformity. Transformation is God’s work in all of us.”

My sweet friend Ashley is highly involved with New Beginnings and I’ve had the privilege of watching her serve with and advocate  for this ministry. They are the real deal and these beautiful young women need our support. Would you consider committing today? Would you consider a monthly sponsorship amount $10-$100 per month that fits within your budget?

If you are ready to get started, you can contact Ashley at Momi0121@gmail.com , in turn she will send you the list of girls needing sponsorships. This list is not public and cannot be shared publicly because it contains the pictures of the girls. We appreciate your willingness to take a few extra steps to protect the girls during their time of healing.

Once you express your desire to commit you will receive a packet in the mail that looks like this:

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I hope and pray that by the end of this week we will see at least 5 girls sponsored. Will you join me? While you are considering your role in this fight check out the New Beginnings website, get educated, and join us as we become a voice for these brave young women in Thailand.

All Content © Erica Ho, Goodbye Normal