A New Place

We are rapidly approaching our one year anniversary of life here in Ukraine.

Has it already been one year?  Has it been only one year????

So much has happened in this past year it feels like a million lifetimes have passed since we touched down in Kyiv that cold November night.

Before we moved we’d been warned by other missionaries and in missionary books and missionary blogs that the first year overseas is a beast. We tried to prepare ourselves for that, but how can you really prepare, emotionally and spiritually, to leave everything you have ever known and held dear- and start over? How can you prepare to go from being a pretty smart person to feeling pretty much dumb pretty much all the time? How can you prepare for what it will be like to watch your children hurt and struggle and feel lonely? How can you prepare to go from being a vital part of a vibrant community of like-minded people to living on the fringes of society?

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You just can’t. You can try, but you just can’t be prepared. You just have to jump and trust that your loving Father will catch you.

This first year has been the hardest time of our lives. It has stretched us and jostled us and turned us upside down.

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And yet…

How can you prepare to have your heart invaded by 80 boys tucked away in the middle of nowhere? How can you prepare for the joy of knowing young men and women with special needs who can light up the room with a single smile? How can you prepare to watch God fling open doors that have been shut for years? How can you prepare to feel the absolute smile of God and joy of the Father as you walk right down the center of His will? How can you prepare to watch young men and women loving your children with utter abandonment?

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You just can’t. You can try, but you just can’t be prepared. These things are what you experience in that catch of the Father.

My heart came to a new place this past week. I was washing the dishes and thinking about our upcoming Ukraine-iversary, and I realized that I’m good. I’m okay. We will most likely live here for a very long time, and I’m okay with it. When we moved here we sold everything except what we packed in our 12 suitcases (and a couple tubs in storage). We came here with the mindset that this is our new home until God says otherwise. We knew then that if we came for a set amount of time we would forever be looking at that deadline and we wouldn’t settle in for the long-haul. We know that about ourselves.

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I can’t know the heart of God, and His ways are higher than mine. Maybe He’ll have us leave here next month, but I highly doubt it. I can’t say I know the future, but I can say that the dreams God gave us are big HUGE dreams that are going to take a loooooooong time. So, as things stand now, I expect us to live in Ukraine for many, many years.

We are here for the long-haul, and I’m good. I’m sad, but I’m good. Thinking about the long-haul a few months ago only made me cry. I’ll be honest. Now it makes me cry and it makes me smile. It makes me cry because I miss my family and my friends across the ocean. I saw pictures of a bunch of my family all together last weekend and I bawled my eyes out. I should be there with them. How can I not be there with them? How can we raise our children so far away from family? How can we bear all the missed holidays, all the missed birthdays, all the joys of daily life? Christmas is coming. How will we bear it? I don’t know and I don’t even want to think about it. I guess I have to trust that God will catch us then too. It’s so hard, but we just have to trust Him that He will fill those empty places- for us and our family in the US.  That part is incredibly hard.  I can’t even tell you how hard.

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The long-haul also makes me smile. It makes me smile because of our dear ones here. How could we ever leave our Boys???? How??? How could we leave and not be a part of their lives? How could we walk away and not know what happened to them, where they lived out their days? How could we stop fighting for them? And what about our young adults with special needs? We love them! How could we leave? And what about all our friends? Our church? Leaving here would be just as devastating as it was to leave Salem. I’ll even dare to say it would be more devastating deep down, simply because our loved ones in America are daily loved and care for by many, but our Boys are not.

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Sigh. There just aren’t any simple fixes. It’s just painful and joyful and trustful and tearful. All we can do is trust and keep hold of the hand of our Father.

So, I’m in a new place. I’m in a place of seeing the long road stretched out before me and feeling okay with walking in that direction for many more years. There will be plenty of tears and joys along the way, I’m sure of that. But oh the peace that comes from saying YES to Jesus- one step at a time. There’s just nothing like it.

The Value of a Life

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“Did you just end up on this earth?  Was it all an accident?

The Bible says it wasn’t an accident.  It was a plan.  

You didn’t just end up here.  God put you here on purpose.   

God wanted you here, and he had to have you here right now.  Because he has a wonderful plan for you- something that only you can do.

Every single thing about you- the color of your eyes, your name, what you love, every day you will live- God knew before time began.

Even before you were born, he loved you.  You began in God’s heart.

You are his.  Made by him.  Made for him.”

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, by Sally Lloyd-Jones

 

A young man the size of a small boy rocks back and forth in his bed tonight.  He is surrounded by others just like him, yet he is alone.  In the bed next to his, another boy hits his head with his hand over and over, his attempt to feel something.

I’m not there with them, but I know what they are doing.  I know because it is what they are always doing- every hour, every day, every week, every month, every year.  Their lives are empty shells.  They’re here on this earth, but not truly living.

On Tuesdays and Fridays a group of smiling people come to their room and offer them love and bananas, but with vacant eyes they can’t seem to respond or engage.  They shrink away from touch and scream when too much unexpected action occurs.

Their lives consist of one hallway with several identical rooms, where every day is the same.

And there they live out their days, so alone- like dead men walking.

And yet, their lives have infinite value.

Each one lovingly formed and crafted in his mother’s womb.  Our Father God has always known every single detail about them.  He knows what lies behind the blank faces.

He knows.  He loves.  Oh how He loves.

And in His great love and mercy He has not forgotten them.  Even as they sit and rock right at this very moment He has plans for them.  Our God has a future and a hope for them.  He promises it, so it is so.

I picture God the Father looking down on them with eyes so full of love He can’t contain himself. I see his eyes brimming over with tears at the pain and suffering they have endured.  But I hear him whisper ever so softly, “Don’t you worry sweet baby.  Daddy’s here and it’s all going to be okay.”

The infinite value of a life.  

A young woman heads to work on the subway, her favorite music keeping her company along the way.  She looks at all the strangers around her and feels small.  A man pulls his truck in to the parking lot at his office, right on time despite the traffic.  Another day, another dollar.  A harried mom makes lunches and checks homework and ties shoelaces before hustling her brood out the door.  An old man, nearing the end of his days, waits for his caregiver to come help him in to his chair so he can peruse the morning news.  Oh how he wishes he could still do it himself.  It’s hard to have to rely on others.  A teacher welcomes her class with a smile- yet behind the smile she wonders if she is really making a difference and how she will manage to make it through another day.  A Grandma, a taxi driver, a teenager, a child, a seamstress…

…and you.

Each one infinitely valuable.  Each one made with a purpose and for a purpose.

Oh how He loves.

From the weakest boy at our orphanage to the strongest and most alive among you- God sees you and He knows you.  He created you with so much value.  What will you do with it?

You have choices and abilities and loves and talents.  How will you use them?

Will you use your life as a yes to God?  Will you let Him use you fully as you He intended you to be?  Can you imagine how beautiful that would be?  -If each of us lived our lives fully as God intended.  If we each invested the value of our lives in to God’s Kingdom and in to the ones who have no choices- the lost and forgotten, the discarded ones.

Please don’t dismiss your value.  Don’t squander this life you’ve been given.  It’s such a great gift!  Maybe today it seems really hard.  Maybe today you don’t feel you have much value.  Maybe you’ve squandered your days and live with regret.

I picture God the Father looking down on you with eyes so full of love He can’t contain himself. I see his eyes brimming over with tears at the pain and suffering you have endured.  But I hear him whisper ever so softly, “Don’t you worry sweet baby.  Daddy’s here and it’s all going to be okay.”

It’s never too late to say yes to God.

Your life has immense value.  Spend wisely today, would you?  I guarantee you won’t regret it.

 

 

 

 

 

The Hard Stuff.

Hello!…gasp…choke…sputter…(that’s me coming up for air)

We’re alive! Oh my, it’s been a doozy of a summer. Awesome? YES. Nevertheless, I can’t deny the dooziness of it. Wow.

Now we’re here in September, coming up for air, hoping you still remember us and will forgive us for being absent in this space. You will? Thanks!

Addy and Ezra started school last Monday and I’ll be honest, it’s been rough. We transfered them to a Ukrainian Christian school here in town and the school itself couldn’t be kinder and more caring. It’s just all around extremely difficult. There’s no way around it. We are in the trenches and it stinks. BIG TIME.

After the first couple of days I emailed a few of my homeschooling Mommy friends from back in the US and basically bawled my eyes out over email. “Please tell me I’m not ruining my kids’ lives by making them do something this hard.” “Please tell me this will get better.” “Please send me multiple boxes of chocolate and can you somehow figure a way to get a DQ Blizzard here intact?” (kidding…)

I was teary-eyed dropping them off the first day, I prayed all throughout the day at home, and then cried to their teacher (I know, humiliating…I couldn’t help it! Poor thing didn’t see that coming ON THE FIRST DAY) when I picked them up in the afternoon. Oy.

They want friends. They want to understand. They want to speak. It’s just so stinkin’ hard. They’re in first class again because they don’t speak enough Ukrainian, but the Director said if they begin to speak more, that after Christmas break there’s a chance of them moving up to second class. I know in the US they would be put at their grade level according to age, but that’s not really how it works here. There aren’t other foreigners, so the school is just deciding what to do with us on a minute by minute basis. They are so gracious to take on the Johnsons. It takes a village! Hahahaha….waaaaaaahhhhhhh.

The school system and inner-workings are just SO different here. Know one knows what we don’t know (everything) so we often don’t know what’s going on…or we don’t even know that we don’t know what’s going on. From school supply lists to parent communication to bathroom rules to class schedules- it’s all different.

We realized about two days in to the school year that it is absolutely necessary for us to get the kids a tutor. We avoided it last school year because our family was just so much in survival mode, the thought of someone else coming to our house and the thought of making the kids study more after getting their brains fried at school seemed like family abuse. 🙂 But, we are determined to not just survive anymore and we’re feeling like we can start to really dig in in some ways that we hadn’t earlier. It’s time for the tutor.

We had one name referred to us by a good friend, so we contacted that girl and found out she is willing to teach the kids! She will hopefully be able to come to our house after school Monday through Thursday for an hour each day to help Addy and Ez with their homework and get them speaking more. The kids are less than excited, because when they get home they just want to play (I don’t blame them!), but we are trying to explain to them how much this will help them in the long run.

That tutor can’t start until the end”ish” of October and we had no idea what to do in the meantime. We really felt the kids need help ASAP. Well, guess what? On Monday the kids’ teacher at school asked if she could keep them for an hour after school each day to work with them on their Ukrainian!! Oh my word. When she offered I almost cried again (but decided it would be best to get a grip). I am so extremely thankful that she cares and wants to help them. Praise God for such a loving teacher!!!! So, she will help them until the tutor can start and we’ll see what happens then. We’re bitin’ the bullet baby. Please pray with us for miraculous results! I’m hoping that this extra time alone with their teacher will really help them get more comfortable to speak out at school.

I started doing some homeschool Kindergarten with Havalah and Seth last week too. Hava is super eager to learn to read, so we’re focusing on that. Later this month they’ll start going to a little private preschool for 1.5 hours twice a week. I think that’s just enought to get them some language exposure and time with other little kiddos. So, they’re pretty excited about starting that! It’s literally a 2 minute walk from our house, so I’m pretty excited about THAT! 🙂

I’ll tell you what; this parenting-in-another-culture thing is not for the faint of heart. It has shown me, and is showing me daily, hourly how much control I like to hold in my own two hands. I like to be in charge. I like to fix things. I like to make people happy. I put my trust in myself and my ability to make things better.

Well guess what? I can’t control my kids’ happiness. I can’t make kids at school like them and seek them out. I can’t make Ezra bold. I can’t make Addy not lonely for a girlfriend. I can’t demand the school put them with kids their own age. I can’t fix the fact that they want real friendships and have almost zero ability to make them right now. I can’t make them happy that they are here in Ukraine instead of with their cousins in the US. I can’t snap my fingers and make things all better. Things are just hard right now and all I can do is trust.

All I can do is trust that the God who spoke so clearly to us to move our family to Ukraine has not forgotten our children now that we are here.

All I can do is trust that God loves my kids more than I ever could and He knows their deepest needs- and He will meet those needs. I get focused on their wants- but God is able to meet their needs.

He knows them. He created them. He knew when He was forming them in the womb that they would live here in this culture, with these people. He is able to give them everything they need to THRIVE here.

I get so focused on ensuring their happiness that I lose sight of what’s really important.

What is the most important? Sleepovers and sports and theater and homeschool co-op and too many friends to count? No. Those things are awesome, and not wrong, and I miss them more than I can say. But those are not the most important things.

What is the most important thing? The most important thing is to say Yes to Jesus. The most important thing is to listen to the voice of the Father and walk with Him. The most important thing is seek first His Kingdom. The most important thing is go where He says to go, to do what He says to do- to know HIM. The rest is gravy.

Our joy is to be found in Him. Oh my, not that we can’t enjoy the fun things available in life! I’m a fun girl. I love to have fun, to do fun things, to be with fun people. God knows that about me and He knows that about my children. He’s a loving Father- He loves to love His kids. But seeking happiness for my kids instead of seeking Jesus with them is second best.

So, I tell myself these things all day while they’re gone at school. I tell myself these things after I tuck them in at night. Saying yes to Jesus is worth it. It’s not always easy, and sometimes it can be fairly painful, but it is worth it.

I see how our kids are absolutely in love with the Boys at Romaniv and I get a glimpse of how it is worth it. They adore the Boys and think they are wonderful and beautiful and special. They know little things about them- their likes and dislikes, their habits. When they see a person with special needs out and about in town they get almost giddy, so great is their love for that population. Their eyes have been opened to brokenness in the world and they have felt the joy of being used by Jesus to bring about healing. All of that shapes them and forms them, and I am thankful.

Thank you for loving our kids and praying for them. May no thing stand in the way of them fully becoming who God has made them to be. So be it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mommy Heart on the Line

In ten days we’ll have been in Ukraine for six months.  Crazy.  On one hand it feels like “Where did the time go?”, but mostly it feels like a whole lot longer than that.  I don’t say that in a negative way, just in an honest way.  Every thing has changed.  Everything.  In Ezra’s words, “Everything about Ukraine is different…except McDonalds.”  It feels like a very long time since we and our 12 suitcases (TWELVE!!!) crossed the ocean. It feels like much more than 6 months ago.

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In many ways I feel great right now.  I feel like we’re in our groove with MTU.  We are loved there and we love many people there.  We have a bit of a schedule there and are able to be a very practical help to them.  Of course the work at Romaniv is AWESOME and we are loving that.  We are pretty good at shopping now, we know the bus routes, we were able to actually communicate with our landlady last week without calling any English speakers for help.  In some ways we have really grown and feel at home here.

In other ways we struggle.  I won’t speak for Jed about his struggles, but I thought I would share a bit of my own.  I think I have a tendency to always write about the good and neglect sharing about the bad or the difficult.  I don’t want to be a complainer, and sharing your struggles is really putting yourself out there.  Not many people enjoy doing that…but I feel like I need to do it.  It’s not a fair picture to only paint the good.  This is real life, and I’m determined to be a real person.  So, here ya go.

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The past few weeks were hard for me, probably the hardest yet.  Things are getting better now, but it was a bit rough, internally.  Let’s just say I’m having a harder time letting go than I had anticipated.  My Mommy heart has been struggling in big ways.

Of course when we were preparing to move here I anticipated that I would experience loneliness and isolation.  I knew I would miss my family and friends, my church, the familiarity of every day life.  I do miss all those things, but I can deal.  I know that I know I’m exactly where God wants me to be.  I am learning that He is enough, and He continues to give me the strength to say yes.

I guess what I didn’t anticipate was how difficult this road would be as a mother.  Really, how could I anticipate it?  I had no one to talk to who had followed this path before, and anyone with a bit of a similar situation experienced their story in a different culture than this.  I still have no one to talk to who has walked this road before in Ukraine.  But, I’m learning to be okay with that.

The thing is, I’ve been subconsciously trying to recreate my childhood, a middle class American childhood, in Ukraine.  Ummmmm yeah….not gonna work.   I KNOW THAT.  I know we don’t live in suburbia America.  I know that EVERYTHING is different (I said that already).  But knowing that, and living that are two different things.

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I’m just now learning how much of my mothering expectations and family expectations are based on American culture.  It’s all I know!  Of course I expect what I know.  I don’t know anything different.  I don’t know how to mother my children in this place.  Jed and I chose to come here.  Our children didn’t get a choice.  I don’t know what to do when they’re on the playground and they are surrounded by children they can’t speak to.  Do I push them to go try to make friends or do I let them just be their own little island, playing only with each other?  I don’t know what to do when my Hava comes up to me crying at a picnic full of kids because she has no friends and no one will play with her.  I don’t know how to continue to build their English reading and writing skills when they are in Ukrainian school.  Ezra was just really learning how to read and write in English, and now his day is spent reading and writing a language he doesn’t understand.  What do I do with that?  I’m not sure any of my favorite home school books cover that scenario.

Everyone says,

“The kids will be fine!”

“Kids don’t need language to play!  Just put them out on the playground and they’ll make friends in no time!”

“Kids learn language so fast.  Before you know it your kids will be translating for you!”

If I had a dollar for every time I heard those words…

Let me tell you, it’s not as easy as all that.  It just plain isn’t.  Maybe in some cultures kids don’t need language to make new friends, but in this culture they do.  This isn’t the most open culture.  Kids are shy.  Kids are more closed.  We are the oddity in our town.  We are like a walking zoo.  Ha!  There is no one like us that I know of in our town, and it shows.  Our kid are understanding more all the time, but they can barely speak to other children.  I know, I know, it’s only been 6 months, but I can vouch that 6 months feels like an eternity when your kids’ hearts are involved.  It’s just plain hard, and for the past few weeks I’ve felt tired and discouraged.

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I want my kids to be able to talk to other kids, just chat and goof around.  I want other kids to know them.  They are great little people, but no one knows that because they can’t speak.  I want them to have friends and to be able to respond when approached by other children.

I want those things, but then I wonder, how many of my expectations are based on modern American culture, and how many are really essential for their health and happiness?

The kids are happy.  Sure they are awkward in social situations, but otherwise they are happy.  They have each other and they love each other deeply.  They are happy to run and play together, regardless of what other kids around them are doing.  They are like a little tribe, oblivious to anyone else.  So I find that I’m putting expectations on their childhood that they don’t even have for themselves!  They don’t know what my childhood was, so they don’t have that expectation for their own.  They don’t see other kids’ lives on Facebook and compare them with their own.  What they are experiencing now is their own childhood, and it is shaping them just as my childhood shaped me.

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For instance, right now we’re reading through the Little House on the Prairie books as a family.  In Little House in the Big Woods, I was struck by how infrequently Mary and Laura had contact with other children.  They were mostly just home with Ma and Pa, yet according to the books they were as content as can be!  They weren’t pining away for sleepovers and play dates…the Big Woods was what they knew and it was enough.  When they drove in to town for the first time Laura describes how they saw children playing outside the houses.  Never was it mentioned how she wished she was one of those children with tons of neighbors all around.  They had the security of their family.  They knew they were loved.  They had each other and they were content.

My children don’t pine away for sleepovers and play dates and home school co-op, but I find myself pining away on their behalf.  I guess it’s because I know that’s what their American friends are doing and I feel they are missing out on what “should be”.  In my mind, those things are what make a childhood.  BUT, there are plenty of varieties of “happy childhood”.  Of course they miss their friends, and if given the option they would love to be a part of that life again, but they rarely talk about it.  Their life is here.  They have each other.  They have our love.  Their life is rich here and most of the time they seem content.  But then there is the occasional Skype or Facetime with a friend back in the US and things begin to unravel.  I want them to be able to keep those friendships, but it is hard on their little hearts.  Sigh….I think that’s another topic altogether.

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Those are the thoughts and ramblings that have been tearing at my heart.  My heart knows that my children were called here.  My heart knows that they need to live here and this needs to be their life experience in order for God to make them fully who He intends for them to be.  But knowing all of that doesn’t make this easy.  It’s hard to watch your children struggle.  It’s hard when everyone blows it off and makes it sound like all of this adjustment will come easily to them.  Maybe in the long run we’ll look back and see that the struggle was brief and it did, in fact, come easily, but in the meantime it doesn’t feel easy at all.  Just because a pregnant woman had a quick labor doesn’t mean the labor didn’t hurt.

So, I continue to work at letting go.  I give my kids over to God and trust that He knows what is best for them.  I trust that He will give us wisdom when no parenting or mothering book seems to apply (because none of them seem at all relevant right now).  I trust that this will get easier and slowly they will find their place in this culture.

Most of all I am working at letting go of my priorities and desperately seeking God’s priorities.  Who cares about sleepovers and play dates if their little hearts are far from the Lord?  This world is not all that there is.  We were made for eternity!  This life is a blink of an eye compared to what we were really created for.  Our main job as parents is not to find our kids more friends on the playground or insure they are happy and accepted at school.  Our main job is to point them to Jesus.  I want my kids to see that He is all that matters and living abandoned to him is worth it.  It.is.worth.it.  On the hard days when we are lonely and feel like we don’t fit anywhere- He is worth it.   I want to end my race having absolutely spent myself- holding nothing back.  I want that for my children.

The American dream is not what I was created for.  I was created for Him.  Our children were created for Him.  He is the priority.  May I never forget it.  May I let go of myself and my wants and cling to Him.  May our children live lives of YES.  Isn’t that what truly matters?  I’ve learned from experience that saying YES to Him brings the greatest happiness EVER.  That is the variety of happy childhood I want for my babies.  I just need a reminder of that every day or so.  🙂

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Favorite Time of the Day

Many moons ago, waaaaaay back in July of last year (not actually that long ago, but now it seems like another lifetime ago) I had the extreme pleasure of attending the Vineyard National Conference in Anaheim.  Oh the bliss!  I got to go with some of my favorite people on the planet, and Christen, Abby and I even got to go to Disneyland for a day!  I’m telling you, it was the stuff dreams are made of  🙂

 

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One of the best days of my life. No joke. I love those girls!

Anyway, at that conference I got to connect with some awesome leaders in the Vineyard missions world.  One of them, the oh-so-wise Jerry Reddix, had a sit-down with me and shared some invaluable wisdom.  He talked with me about being really intentional with our kids in this new season of our lives.  He talked of rituals and routines that will help their little hearts to feel settled, even when everything around them is completely new and different.  He talked about a Daily Examen.  I look back on that conversation now as one of the most valuable I had before moving to Ukraine.  Jerry, if you ever read this, THANK YOU!!!!!  Your words were just what this family needed.

Jerry encouraged us to read a book called Sleeping With Bread: Holding What Gives You Life.  It’s a small, easy to read book that describes how to implement the Daily Examen with your family.  We aren’t Catholic, but the Examen isn’t just for Catholics.  Basically the idea is to  end your day with asking each person in your family to share about their day.  Think back, reflect on your day and share the most life-giving moment, and the most difficult moment.  In our house we say “What was the best part of your day and what was the hardest part of your day?”  We each share, and then at the end we pray and thank God for the great parts of our day, moments where we experienced His presence, joy, and love.  Then we talk to Him about the difficult moments and ask Him to help us with whatever made it difficult.  Simple, yet beautiful.  In the book it phrases the questions as “What are you most thankful for today and what are you least thankful for today?”  At first I was like “Woah…I don’t want my kids talking about what they aren’t thankful for!”  But really, why do we have to ignore the difficult times?  We aren’t dwelling on them, but voicing them and inviting God to be present in our difficult times.  We are bound to have hard times.  Ignoring them won’t make them go away.  Let’s talk about it as a family and agree in prayer for those situations.

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The benefits of the Examen have been better than I ever expected.  Sure, sometimes there’s a night when everyone is hyper and silly and the Examen is less than contemplative (insert potty talk and fake burps…oh little boys…), but usually there is at least one gem that comes out of our time.  It helped us not-so-good-at-routine-Johnsons establish routine back in the US that we carried on here in Ukraine.  It’s something the kids can count on and it gives us a chance to key in on how everyone is really doing.

When we do our Examen we turn out the lights, we light candles, and we all take a turn sharing.  We also do our family read aloud during that time.  It’s called “Family Time” and it’s lovely.  Of course sometimes Seth won’t sit down, sometimes Havalah pouts, sometimes Addy or Ez has a bad attitude, sometimes Mommy and Daddy are really just ready for the kids to go to bed so we aren’t super patient.  It’s not always a romantic, solemn, introspective time, but it’s still precious in its own way.  I know we are laying a foundation of open communication and sharing with one another.  I’m excited to see how the sharing deepens as the kids grow in maturity.  Right now when sharing about the difficult moments the kids like to use it as an excuse to tattle on each other.  Ha!  So, we try to move it back to them focusing on their own responses in the situation.  “Okay, so maybe so-and-so stole your toy, but how did you respond?”  People will always let you down, but God is always near and always faithful.

If this strikes a cord with you I highly recommend giving the Daily Examen a try.  Anyone can do it!  If you are single, you could journal your Examen.  If you have no kids at home you can share with your husband or wife.  Take a moment to quiet your heart at the end of the day and look back for glimpses of God’s presence.  When did you feel His joy?  What about that moment was so great?  When did you have a difficult time?  Was there something that happened when wish you would have responded differently?

Sleeping With Bread is a great book for understanding the benefits of the Examen.  I definitely don’t agree with everything in the book, but I can take out the good and forget the rest.  I’m okay with doing that.   🙂  The general idea is great and doesn’t deter me from the stuff I don’t agree with.

Soon I hope to share some of our favorite read alouds from our Family Time.  I’m a sucker for a good book, hence the 6 ginormous boxes of books we shipped to Ukraine.  Be thinking of your favorites because I’ll be asking for suggestions!

What about you?  Do you have any great family night time routines you’d like to share?  I love hearing what others do at the end of their day.  Hmmmm?  Anyone?