Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Parenting 101: Wisdom from experienced parents

We had a wonderful couple come and share with our small group last night about parenting as Christians. They had so many INCREDIBLE words of wisdom for all of us who are in the beginning stages of raising tiny humans. Their three children are all grown, and they have beautiful relationships with each of them. They shared so much, and I want to hold on to all of it!! Here are some of the key things that really stuck out to me:

- It is never to early to discuss the tough topics. It may go over their heads, but that's ok! It's better to go over their heads than for them to not be prepared for tough situations. (i.e. sex, lying, stealing, bad movies, etc.)

- It is ok to be different than your friends in your parenting style. Even some of your best friends may have differing opinions on things as children grow older, and it is important to stand firm in your own convictions on how to parent your children. (i.e. what age to give a cell phone, facebook accounts, buying cars, how to celebrate holidays, punishment, scheduling time on weekends, choosing friends, etc.)

- Parent your child's heart, not their behaviors. So many times, parents tend to focus on the child's behavior instead of looking deeper to the state of their heart that caused the behavior. Instead of just doling out punishment, sit and talk with your child (even at a young age) about why they did what they did, then explain the punishment to the child before it is given. This will allow the child to be able to recognize the need for change instead of leading them to rebel against authority.

- Get to know their friends. Pour into their lives and offer support where support is needed. 

- Always make it clear how much you love them. period. no matter what.

- Give them grace; give yourself grace. You will make mistakes. Your child will make mistakes. There is enough grace for all of you! It's amazing how willing your child's heart is to forgive your mistakes if you humble yourself and ask for their forgiveness. This also teaches them that it is ok to admit mistakes of their own.

- Develop a family "mission statement". What does it mean to be a SHARP?! Remind your children to remember their last name: what they stand for and who they represent. This will teach them to take pride in their family and it's values, and it will give them a clear compass by which to make decisions in the tough moments of life.

There was SOOO much more that they shared, but these are the big ones!! Austin and I discussed last night, once we got home, what we want for it to mean to be a Sharp. We are currently working on our mission statement. I encourage you all to develop your own. I think it might change the way we function as families!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Superman was Adopted!

Done. The theme of the past few days is "We are DONE!" I can not even begin to explain how ready we were to FINALLY have Bug be officially OURS. Praise the Lord that everything went so smoothly, and it was such a sweet time for all of us.

We finalized the adoption in Fort Worth, so we decided to make a special weekend out of the experience. Our families came from out of town - Georgia, Austin, Amarillo - and we all celebrated all weekend! It was a blast!

We chose a theme for the adoption: "Superman was Adopted". We chose this because we love the redemptive themes of the Superman story: His parents wanted to give him a better life, sent him to earth, his adoptive parents loved and supported him, he realized he had powers and used them to save lives, he knew his weakness and fought against it throughout his life to triumph over it. We see so many Spiritual parallels with the Superman story: Bug came to live in our home to have a better life/more opportunities, we will love and support him throughout his life, he has a power within that is greater than any power on this earth (The Lord), our biggest prayer is for him to claim the Power of Christ and use it to lead others to saving grace, we pray that he will know his weaknesses and triumph over them using Scripture. He is our little Superbaby!! I don't care that I am cheesy... it's fun!

The ceremony was short, but it was powerful! We stood before the judge with all of our family and friends. They asked us all to raise our hands and swear to care for this child and do everything in our power to give him the best life possible. Then they asked Austin and I specific questions. Some were just asking about the facts: his name, birth date, has he lived in our home for 6 months, etc... Then came the tear-jerkers... "Do you, Austin, promise to love, cherish, and care for this child, fulfilling all of his needs, physical and otherwise, and love him as if he was your natural born child? YES!!! And do you, Elizabeth, promise to love, cherish, and care for this child, fulfilling all of his needs, physical and otherwise, and love him as if he was your natural born child? *tears* YES!!! Then, because of your testimony here today, I grant this adoption and therefore change this child's name to..." *gavel bump* PICTURE TIME!!! 

We took pictures with the judge, caught the whole thing on video, and then had a celebration in the lobby of the courthouse with some special cookies made by my talented friend with Sweet Emotion cookies. (you MUST check her out... they are THE BEST cookies EVER!!!)

The sweetest thing, to me, was when we were all done with the ceremony, Bug latched on to my neck and dramatically laid his head on my shoulder. He is usually not still long enough to snuggle like this. Within a couple of minutes, he was sound asleep! It almost felt like he KNEW that something BIG happened, and he was simply so content and relaxed that he just fell asleep! This might not seem like a big deal for most babies... but this baby is NOT one to just fall asleep. He is BUSY!!! He is so interested in everything going on around him that he doesn't have time to sleep unless we remove the distractions and lay him down. It really warmed my heart. It felt like the perfect ending to this whole journey.

 My mom gave Bug a Bible with his full name engraved on the front and his adoption date inscribed on the inside. It will be such a special treasure to commemorate this day for him for years to come. We all went to a big breakfast afterwards and enjoyed each others company. It was such a sweet time!! We will never forget it!!

I can not express how much I appreciate all of the love and support we have received from people far and wide... even those of you we don't even know! We have gotten so many emails, calls, texts, comments on the blog, comments on facebook and instagram, and private messages offering so much love and encouragement. My heart is so full. I wish I could express how much this means to all of us! We are so blessed.

Romans 8:14-16
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God"

Monday, April 14, 2014

Picture time!!

I will do a whole post about this weekend and the adoption ceremony - so sweet - but for now, here are just a couple of shots of the cutest baby in the world!! Btw, we chose a theme for his adoption weekend: "Superman was adopted". I'll write about that too, but I just wanted the picture to make sense! Didn't want you to think we randomly took the baby to comicon or something... Not that there's anything wrong with that... Just not our style...Enjoy!!

 I am SOOO excited for you all to get to FINALLY see this sweet little guy!! He's the best!! :) I can't wait to tell you all more about this weekend! It was beautiful and so special. Much love!

- The Sharps!

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Brain Work

I have always had a thing for memorizing facts, data, quotes, and most importantly, scripture. Yes, it has been established that I am a total, hopeless nerd. I am ok with this. 

Well, I found this app called "fighter verses" that is AMAZING!! It gives you quizzes and activities to help memorize scripture verses. It even puts the verses to music - which I think is super helpful, even if the song is overwhelmingly cheesy! ha.

I think Scripture memory is absolutely vital for Believers' minds. Think about it. How many times are you in the middle of a crisis or not quite a crisis but still a hard time and you wish there was something that would help you know how to overcome or deal with the situation in that moment? It happens to me often. If you have to stop, find your Bible, search for verses, look on the internet for something that applies, read and try to understand, there is a LOT of time that Satan has to try to play on your mind and emotions before the Truth has an opportunity to sink in. (do not get me wrong. I think reading Scripture is absolutely necessary. I just think in times of crisis, having Scripture memorized is more readily accessible to fight the evil one.) If you were able to just pull up the Truth at a moment's notice and extinguish the fiery arrows of the evil one in that moment, think about how much more effective and powerful that makes you?!

I really believe we are in the middle of a Spiritual War at every moment. Regardless of what you believe about the spiritual realm, there are clear powers of evil battling against clear powers of good. All I know is that I want to be equipped to fight when I need to!

It usually takes me a week or two to really memorize a passage to where it becomes a part of me. The reason why I recommend this app to you is because I memorized a fairly long passage in one hour yesterday with its help! It was amazing to me! I just thought I would share. :)

I can't wait to overwhelm you all with massive amounts of photos of my little bug after his finalization on Monday!!! Wahoo!! It's just a few days away!!

Now, I must show off my scripture memory from yesterday:

Philippians 3:7-11
But whatever gain I had, I considered it loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I consider everything loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord. For the sake of Christ, I have suffered the loss of all things, that I may gain CHRIST and be found in HIM - not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ,  the righteousness from God that depends on faith - that I may know HIM and the power of His resurrection, and may share in His sufferings, becoming like HIM in His death, that by ANY MEANS POSSIBLE I may attain the resurrection from the dead.