Friday, March 12, 2010

Thank you for all the birthday greetings!

Let's just say right off the bat that it was an....uhhm....interesting day.  It wasn't what I would characterize as a fun birthday, nor would I care to ever repeat today's experiences on a subsequent birthday, but it was...well....interesting. :)

First thing this morning I had to get ready to go to the city for 2 appointments to fix different aspects of the van, because a family in our church is renting it next week to take their daughters and their friends on a ski trip to Colorado for Spring break.  After we had our windshield replaced in January (due to Paul hitting a deer), the windshield quickly developed an air leak.  The day it was installed it was cold and snowy, so the adhesive didn't set up correctly.  Yeah, we should have known better than to schedule the replacement that day, but oh has a lifetime warranty, so the repair today didn't cost anything.

The second scheduled repair wasn't totally necessary, but we thought it might be nice for the DVD player in the van to work for our renter's entertainment on the long trip to Colorado.  Today was the only day this week that both auto shops could schedule the appointments, so I left all the little ones home with our more-than-capable teenage daughters in charge.

I had to leave home by 8:30 to make the first appointment, and even after taking an unexpected detour to clean up a mess on the little boys' carpet (don't ask), I was still on schedule.  But then just as I was walking out the door, I saw that Jaden was sitting in a puddle of....well, for your sakes, I won't mention exactly *what* he was sitting in, but trust me, it wasn't a pretty sight.  I quickly yelled for HELLLLLPPPPP!!!!, and then Jamye and I tag-teamed the clean-up....poor Jamye got the worst end of the deal (if that gives you any indication what sort of puddle I am referring to).

This setback put me a few minutes behind schedule, but I was able to make up the time by driving just a tad over the speed limit...yeah, I know, it's the little foxes that spoil the vine.  I justified my rebellious behavior by thinking if I got pulled over and the officer saw on my driver's license that it was my birthday, he surely wouldn't be heartless enough to actually give me a ticket.  ;)  Thankfully, I didn't encounter a single cop on the way up or back.

The first appointment went fine, it was very quiet in the shop's waiting room, and the theater-style seating was comfortable and perfect for curling up with the historical fiction novel I had brought with me to read while I waited.  The repair bill was a little more than we expected, but having a working DVD player in the van to keep the little ones entertained during long road trips is worth every penny.

I had just enough time between appointments to eat lunch, and I decided on a Chinese buffet on the other side of town.  As I was filling my plate, I came across a dish I'd never seen or eaten before....spicy octopus.  Feeling just a bit adventurous (since it was my birthday), I decided to go for it and try one.

Ok, so I'll admit, I'm pretty much a chicken when it comes to trying new foods...I'd never eaten lobster until my first official date with Paul on my birthday 23 years ago, when he took me to a upscale seafood restaurant in Colorado Springs.   But back then I was young and "in love", so trying a new dish was exciting and romantic, whereas today, on my own and without a dining companion to impress, I was having a difficult time working up the courage to take a bite of the pathetic little creature looking up at me with such sad, soulful eyes. When I had finished off the entire plate except for the octopus, with its eight tiny little tentacles all curled in toward its body in self-protective gestures, I just didn't have the heart to consume it.  I finally just pushed my plate away and said, "Rest in peace, little guy."

(Ok, so the picture is a little out of focus....use your imagination.)

After I paid the bill, I had just enough time to drive back to the downtown area for my second appointment.  When I walked into the auto glass office, it was totally empty.  I looked at the clock on the wall and was surprised to see I was 30 minutes early, because according to the clock in the van, I was right on time.  A quick check of my cell phone verified that the office clock was correct, and the van time was wrong.  Then I remembered that the radio shop had probably needed to unhook the battery to work on the DVD player, and they hadn't bothered to reset the clock, so it was 12 hours and 30 minutes off.   No wonder I was early.

The person who set the windshield repair appointment said the shop techs took lunch until 2pm, so I had time to go pick up a bottle of water to drink while I waited for the repair to be finished.  When I got back to the office at 2pm, it was *still* empty.  Weird.  Then I noticed a sign on the desk... "For assistance, dial 4109."  Ah HAH....looks like the recession has hit the auto glass industry as well...the owners could save the cost of a receptionist by hooking up the office phone to the shop area, and then make the shop techs answer their own phones.  It's a little off-putting for customers to walk into an empty office, but whatever.

I was pleased that the estimated 1.5 - 2 hour repair was completed in 1 hour, so I had time to do a little shopping before heading for home.  I went to two different Target stores to exchange Jaxon's Easter shoes, which I had ordered online, but when they arrived it was immediately apparent they were one size too large. After checking the in-store stock, Jaxon will have to settle for a different shoe in the smaller size, because the original shoe doesn't come in a smaller size.  Oh well, Jaxon will still be the cutest little 2 yr old in the nursery on Easter morn, even if his shoes don't exactly match big brother Jaden's. ;)

In our family we always let the birthday boy or girl choose where they'd like to eat out for lunch or supper, so my plan was to go to my favorite local Mexican restaurant, Playa Azul, for supper tonight.  But when I arrived home I quickly realized that we wouldn't be eating out tonight, because little Jaxon was feeling "out of sorts", so I settled for take out from Long John Silver's.  Not exactly "haute cuisine", but still enjoyable, since I didn't have to cook. ;)

All things considered, this wasn't up there in the top 10 best birthdays ever, but on the other hand, it wasn't the worst birthday I've ever experienced either. It was just another typical day in the life of a mom of nine kids.  Even so, I wouldn't trade the unpleasant clean-ups and hectic schedule irritations that made up this "ordinary" birthday as the mother of nine for a lifetime of spectacular birthdays if it meant being without the love of my beautiful family.  I have ....*truly*.... been blessed beyond measure.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

an open letter to my brothers and sisters in Christ who serve in leadership to homeschooling families:

March 1st, 2010

On February 6, 2010, Lydia Schatz, the seven year old homeschooled daughter of Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz, died after having been brutally beaten for mispronouncing a word while reading out loud to her mother. Butte County, California District Attorney, Mike Ramsey, reported that evidence shows the child was severely and repeatedly whipped, most likely for several hours, with a 15” piece of ¼” plumbing supply line, the same instrument that also left her older sister with severe kidney damage and in critical condition. The other seven Schatz children are now in foster homes, their parents having been charged with torture and murder.

While it might be comforting to believe that this is one horrific, isolated case of abusive behavior, the fact is that Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz were Bible-believing Christians who welcomed not only their own children into their home but three adopted ones as well. Their friends reported how shocked they were to hear this story about parents whom they called “loving” and “warm” and children who were “polite and well-behaved,” words that could describe most homeschooling families.

But Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz were also devotees of the book To Train Up A Child and its authors, Michael and Debi Pearl, and they patterned their “discipline” methods after the Pearls’ instructions, down to the very instrument they used to beat their children.

This is not the first time a child has died at the hands of parents who embraced the teachings from TTUAC. In 2004, four year old Sean Paddock suffocated after his mother also beat him with ¼” plumbing supply line and then wrapped him tightly in a blanket to keep him from getting out of bed. She is now serving time in jail for first degree murder.

The killing of precious children in the name of “discipline” must stop and those of us who desire to come alongside and encourage homeschooling families must do all that we can to see that this sort of tragedy never happens again. I believe that the Pearls’ teachings on chastisement unto repentance, found in their books and magazines and on their website, is not just one among many approaches to disciplining children, but rather, is a form of child abuse and even one that is considered to be assault and battery of a child and punishable by law in many states.

As Christians, it is even more important to understand that the Pearls’ philosophy is based on the aberrant theology of “sinless perfection,” a perspective that leads to the notion that parents are able to change a child’s sinful heart and save a child’s soul. Here are some excerpts from TTUAC:

“The parent holds in his hand (in the form of a little switch) the power to absolve the child of guilt, cleanse his soul, instruct his spirit, strengthen his resolve, and give him a fresh start through a confidence that all indebtedness is paid.”

“The guilt burdened soul cries out for the lashes and nails of justice. Your child cannot yet understand that the Creator has been lashed and nailed in his place. Only the rod of correction can preserve his soul until the day of moral dawning.”

“Let the guilt come, and then, while they are yet too young to understand, absolve it by means of the rod. When their time comes, the principles of the cross will be easy to grasp.”

The Holy Word of God tells us that only by faith in the finished, atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross, an act of His mercy and grace, is a person saved. (“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”~Titus 3:5) Physical chastisement by a parent cannot truly absolve a child of guilt nor can it cleanse his soul. To teach this and to lead any parent to think otherwise is promoting false doctrine and false hope in the works of man.

To that end, I would like to ask those who serve as homeschooling support group leaders and others who seek to serve within the homeschooling community to join the growing number of voices who are expressing their outrage and horror at the death of little Lydia Schatz and I would ask you to remove any recommendation of Michael and Debi Pearl’s teachings you have on your blogs or websites. Please stand with me and publicly say “This is wrong and it must stop.”

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” ~ Proverbs 31:8-9

By His grace,
Karen Campbell,
homeschooling mother and grandmother

P.S. I would like to ask any readers of this blog to copy this letter, add your name, and send this letter along to your homeschooling support group leaders and to any homeschooling family you know and ask them to do the same.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Great news!

Jared has been accepted into the Missionary Assistant program, and as soon as he raises adequate monthly support, he will be leaving for an extended mission trip to Nepal to work with missionaries Jason & Kristi Loper. He is tentatively planning to leave this fall and stay until the Lopers return to the US in May 2012.  

Jared spent two months ministering with the Lopers in Nepal during the summer of '09, and in his words, experienced the "worst month of my life followed by the best month of my life". When you follow the Lord's call on your life, you should be prepared for and expect the enemy to try to discourage you in an attempt to derail God's message of salvation from being proclaimed. 

My prayer for Jared as he follows God's leading to Nepal is found in Jesus' words in John 16:33...."In Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]" (The Amplified Version)

Jared produced a short video about his Nepal internship last summer, and as soon as I figure out how, I'll post it here.   

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Minn. bridge collapse widow adopts Haitian twins

By JEFF BAENEN, Associated Press Writer Jeff Baenen, Associated Press Writer 

Betsy Sathers wears the glow of a new mother as she perches on the couch in her living room, smiling and chatting with visitors while still managing to keep an eye on the two-year-old twins burbling and cavorting at her feet. 
BLAINE, Minn. – Betsy Sathers wears the glow of a new mother as she perches on the couch in her family room, smiling and chatting with visitors while still managing to keep an eye on the 2-year-old twins burbling and cavorting at her feet.

Sathers — whose husband was killed when a Minneapolis freeway bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River in 2007 — is realizing her dreams of being a mother with the adoption of Ross and Alyse from Haiti.

The twins, brought to Sathers' home just days after the earthquake in Haiti, suck from baby bottles and drag toys across the floor. On the wall hangs a framed wedding day photo of Sathers and her late husband, Scott.

"I wasn't sure if I would ever be a wife again, and I was really all right with that. But I knew that I wanted to be a mom and I thought about it and I prayed about it a long, long time," Sathers said.

Betsy and Scott Sathers had been married just 10 months when the Interstate 35W bridge fell apart in August 2007, killing 13 people and injuring 145.

The young couple had talked about starting a family. At the time of the collapse, Betsy Sathers had thought she might even be pregnant. She later found she was not, adding to her pain: "I was grieving the loss of my husband and the family we had hoped to have together."

Now the children she hoped to have are finally here.

"I don't think I rescued them," Sathers, 33, said of the twins. "I feel like if anything, they've rescued me."

Sathers started the paperwork to adopt from Haiti last January. On Aug. 17, she received the referral — boy-girl twins.

She made three trips to Haiti to visit her children, the last one over New Year's Day. The quake hit Jan. 12, killing at least 150,000 people. Sathers, back home in her northern Minneapolis suburb, didn't know if her children were alive or dead.

The answer came in a phone call from a stranger — Rob Kramer, chairman and co-founder of Global Water Trust, which works to bring clean water to developing nations, and CEO of PopRule, an Internet technology company. Kramer had flown to Haiti after the quake and was helping legally process children who already had been adopted when he got an e-mail from a friend of Sathers' who told him about the twins.

Kramer was in a car leaving an orphanage when he received the e-mail. He asked the driver to stop in the middle of traffic and went to the van behind him to talk to Lucy Armistead, the founder and head of Kentucky Adoption Services. Armistead had just been at the same orphanage, picking up children eligible to be adopted out of the country.

Kramer said he asked Armistead if she knew "the boy and girl twins, Schneider and Schneidine" — Ross and Alyse's Haitian names — and explained the story. Armistead figured the twins were back at the orphanage. Still, she and her co-worker looked around the van, which was carrying about nine children, and found the twins in the back seat.

"I said, `You've got to be kidding me,'" Kramer recalls. "I said, `Let's just dash to the (U.S.) Embassy.'"

Ross and Alyse had survived the quake along with the 45 or so other children at the orphanage. The building in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Carrefour, at the epicenter of the quake, was destroyed, and the children were sleeping in tents and under tarps on a concrete slab across the street.

 By Jan. 22, Kramer was on a private jet to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with the twins. Sathers and her mother rushed to get on a flight to pick up her children.

The twins arrived a little dehydrated and, at 22 pounds each, a bit underweight, Sathers said. But she said the children are gaining weight and taking to American food.

Sathers, a consultant who plans to take a year's leave to be home with the twins, said she hopes people will continue to support Haitians through prayer and donations or volunteer work for relief organizations. 

"It's a happy ending for my family, but there's still so much devastation there. There's so many other kids that it's not a happy ending there." 

Monday, February 8, 2010

Comparing Apples to Oranges

Saturday evening we took our four youngest kids to a pancake supper fundraiser for a local church, and we sat with a German Baptist family who we've known through our homeschool support group for many years.  But because neither of our families are members of the support group anymore, we don't see each other very often.  We had a very nice time catching up on what our older children are doing now that they've finished high school.  

Another German Baptist family came by our table to say hello, and as we talked we realized their newest little one was born the exact same day as our little Jaeci.  But sharing a birthday is where the similarity stops....their daughter is quite a bit bigger than Jaeci and is walking and talking already.  She is even more developmentally advanced than Jaxon, who will be three in two months, yet still isn't walking or talking.  

I try not to compare our little ones to "typical" kids, but being a "typical" mom, sometimes I can't help myself, even though it's like comparing apples to oranges.  But thankfully, after six years of parenting special needs children, it doesn't take long for me to remember the blessing of their altered developmental timetable, which helps teach me how to slow down, to savor each moment and celebrate each milestone as precious gifts from God, not to be endured, but to be lovingly embraced.  

The Creed For Babies with Down Syndrome

My face may be different
But my feelings the same.
I laugh and I cry
And I take pride in my gains.
I was sent here among you
To teach you to love.
As God in the Heavens
Looks down from above.
To Him I’m no different
His love knows no bounds.
It’s those here among you
In cities and towns
That judge me by standards
That man has imparted
But this family I’ve chosen
Will help me get started.
For I’m one of the children
So special and few
That came here to learn
The same lesson as you
That love is acceptance
It must come from the heart
We all have the same purpose
Though not the same start
The Lord gave me life
To live and embrace
And I’ll do it as you
But at my own pace.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Adopted for Life....and in Death

(This is a reprint of a blog post from

Arno was inseparable from Mr. Penguin. The little Haitian boy was almost three years old, and the plush penguin with the word "love" inscribed upon it was his most treasured object. The orphan and his penguin were always seen together.

The boy had been given the penguin just after his birth. A Dutch couple was in the process of adopting him almost from the start of his life -- they had been matched to him when he was only two months old. The penguin represented a promise.

The process of adoption took two years -- the length of time considered adequate to determine that no living relatives might claim him. According to official estimates, there were over 50,000 parentless orphans in Haiti before the earthquake came and orphaned many thousands more.

Richard and Rowena Pet were the young Dutch couple who wanted so badly to be Arno's mother and father. They had struggled with infertility for years before deciding to adopt. As they awaited the adoption of Arno, Rowena became pregnant. Last August she gave birth to Jim, who was left in the care of relatives as Richard and Rowena flew to Haiti in January to claim Arno and complete the adoption process.

The story of Arno's adoption is movingly told by reporter David Charter of The Times [London]. As he reported, "Arno was shy at first but within 30 minutes of meeting his adoptive parents he reached for Rowena’s hand and took the Dutch couple on a tour of the orphanage in Port-au-Prince where he had spent most of his short life. He began to call them Mummy and Daddy."

Richard had shared their joy with a friend in an e-mail:

“We got to the orphanage feeling a bit strange. We went around a corner and immediately saw Arno walking towards us. He was OK until he was about half a meter away, but then he panicked. The woman from the orphanage helped out and half an hour later he took Rowena’s hand for the first time. I’m sorry but I can’t help crying at the moment as I type this. Arno has been showing us everything in the orphanage. He showed us an old car they have for the children to play on. He was holding a birthday card we sent for his second birthday.”

According to Charter, adoptive parents often stay at the Hotel Villa Therese in the PĂ©tionville district of Port-au-Prince. That is where Richard and Rowena took Arno. That is where they were when the earthquake came. And that is where they died together.

David Charter tells the story, with comments by Chris Spaansen, the friend to whom Richard had sent the e-mail:

Dutch TV cameras were on hand during the frantic search by an international rescue team with members from the Netherlands, Britain and Canada. . . . Lying there amid the rubble was the unmistakable blue and yellow toy bird, Mr Penguin, marked with the word “Love”, that went everywhere with Arno. “That toy helped them to make their first contact with the little boy. It had a really special place in the family. It was a very emotional moment for all of us,” Spaansen says.

Then this:

What the cameras did not show were the three bodies, found intertwined together, as if Rowena and Richard had tried to put protective arms around Arno as the masonry began to fall. The disaster cruelly destroyed the new family, creating its own orphan back in the Netherlands. Jim, just five months old, will be brought up by Rowena’s sister, who already has her own three-year-old boy.

The bodies of Richard and Rowena and Arno Pet were taken to the Netherlands together, just as they had been found together in the rubble of the Hotel Villa Therese. They had been a family for a few hours, but a family all the same. Arno had a tragically short life, but he ended that life in the arms of a mother and a father.

Who can read this account without heartbreak . . . and a heart warmed? Is there a heart so cold that it does not feel the pathos of this report, and sense the sentiment of this family's tragedy? At the same time, this is not a tragedy in the classic sense. The love of Richard and Rowena and Arno Pet transcends tragedy. That is why The Times published this report, and why it stays with you so long after you read it.

Of course, for the Christian there is far more to this story. In the story of Arno Pet we find a picture of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians:

But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a virgin, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying "Abba! Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. [Galatians 4:4-7]

Adoption is perhaps the most powerful depiction of the Gospel found in the Bible. We are all orphans, born under the curse of sin. By the sheer grace and mercy of God, those who come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are adopted as sons. Redeemed sinners are adopted as sons "through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise and glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved." [Ephesians 1:5-6]

Arno Pet began life as an orphan, but he ended life as a son. He was abandoned at his birth, but he died in the arms of his parents. He did not die as Arno, he died as Arno Pet.

In the rubble of the Hotel Villa Therese the film crew found the bodies of Richard and Rowena and Arno Pet. In that same rubble, we find a picture of the Gospel of Christ. He who has eyes to see, let him see.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Freed to Visit Orphans

This beaufully moving video was put together by Brannon McCallister for the organization Together for Adoption.

Treasure of Jesus

What can I do
How can I live
To show my world
The treasure of Jesus

What will it take
What could I give
So they can know
the treasure He is

And if I can sing, let my songs be full of His glory
If I can speak, let my words be full of His grace
And if I should live or die
Let me be found pursuing this prize
The One that alone satisfies
The treasure of Jesus

Treasure of Jesus by Steven Curtis Chapman from the album All Things New by Steven Curtis Chapman.
© 2004 Sparrow Song / Peach Hill Songs / BMI / Admin. by EMI CMG Publishing.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.