Christmas with Kaden

One day my mom came down stairs to find Kaden busily occupied with something a little out of the ordinary. 
This is what she saw:
A Nutcracker tied up with white yarn to bulldozer,
and Playmobile Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus in a rescue boat.

"Kaden, what is this?" she asked.
"Well," he replied, "Him, (pointing to the nutcracker) Him made bad choices, so him had to go to jail."
Then Mom turned to Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus.
Turns out, this year they're speeding away to escape Herod in a rescue raft.
Hmmmm... What do I make of this?
All I know his that Kaden has a wonderful imagination!

Naptime Conversations - My Joy

Ahhh, the joys of being a big sister!
Right now I'm sitting in Bethany and Kaden's room just talking and talking away.
It's naptime, and I'm babysitting.
A wonderful thing about being a big sister is that I can spoil my siblings a little.
Not totally, of course, but I love to do it occasionally.
We're talking about my favorite thing - God and salvation.
It started when Kaden had a mini-melt down over going up for rest time.
He came up, but he kept telling me he was mad and frustrated.
I had two choices; I could brush it off and order him to go to sleep (and get the big sister of the year award, of course!), or I could talk it out with him.
I chose to talk it out.
We talked and talked.
I prayed for him and thanked God that his is my brother.  I prayed that God would take away the frustration and anger in his heart.
After praying, Kaden said he was still angry.
I explained that God would take the bad feelings away, if Kaden would let him.
I explained to Kaden had to chose to open his heart to God and allow him to take away the bad feelings.
It makes me so strangely thankful for what I've been through in my life.
Now I have the knowledge to speak from what I've experienced and what God has taught me.
I learned from experience just this past week about opening your heart to God, being vulnerable, and allowing him to come into your heart and heal you. 
I was taught this by the Holy Spirit during a painful spiritual attack I'm planning to post about soon.
We talked for so long - we're actually still taking as I type. 
It's an hour past naptime, and I don't really care.  (hope you don't mind either, Mom! :/ )
We're talking heart to heart, and its so worth it. 
It confirms what I've been feeling.
I feel so called to mission work among children, and that what I'm planning to go to college to learn to do better.
Sharing how the Lord has worked in my life is my passion, and I feel so fulfilled and alive doing it.
I want to share what I'm learning with those who are struggling and need encouragement.
There are so many dreams that God has placed on my heart, and I'm so thrilled that they are beginning to happen.
I'm growing faster than I ever have in my life spiritually, and God's been working mightily, healing me of so much.
Friends, I want to encourage you in the dreams and plans that you have.
What dreams has God placed on your heart?
What is He calling you to do?
Are you struggling with something, or do you need encouragement, or prayer?
Don't be afraid to ask for it.
I'd love to email or talk with anyone of you that needs help with something.
Please just comment below, and I'll certainly try to get back to you.
Summing up, I'll leave you with this:
"Finally, be strengthened in the Lord and in the strength of his power."  - Ephesians 6:10

Melt my Heart - A Kaden Update

Sweet, amazing Kaden.
Life with Kaden is so good.  And rewarding.  And exhausting. 
He's always done so amazingly well being home.
He has his days, of course, but all of us do.
He's learning right from wrong, and, like I mentioned in the last post, is our family's police man when it comes to "making good choices" and rescuing people. :)
And like any boy,
Kaden gets mad.  He gets his feelings hurts, and he gets sad.
He has needs like other children his age, but his needs are often met differently than the average child.
He needs security, predictability, and love.
He needs those things in ways that other kids don't.
He needs time to pretend to be a baby, and experience the love and innocents that babies get.
He needs to know that we will always have food to eat, and that he will never go hungry.
He needs to be allowed to "save" some of his food for later, if he feels the need to do so.
While we let him do that, we also try to stress that fact that it is unnecessary.
He will always be able to eat when he is hungry.
And he needs love.
He needs to know that we will always love him.
Always.  No matter what.
When he makes poor decisions, we love him.
When he has to be disciplined, we love him.
When he doesn't get his way and throws a fit, we love him.
Last night Kaden was crying.
He said that he thought I wouldn't "be his friend anymore", simply because he was acting up when it was time for bed.
Kaden, sweet Kaden, I will always love you. 
You are my brother, and nothing you could do will make that love disappear.
And so, the "Melt my heart" part of this post:
I have special goggles I use when I swim.
Most goggles hurt my eyes, but these don't.
It just so happens that Kaden loves these goggles.
It also just so happens that Kaden breaks things very easily.
Because of these two factors, I try to keep said goggles out of sight in my room.
Today Kaden found them, and was playing rescue (his FAVORITE game)  with them.
I sat down next to him and explained that those goggles could be easily broken and asked for them back.
Kaden gave them back easily, but got upset.
He started looking for his handcuffs, and when he couldn't find them, he got a rope and pretended to "put me in jail".
Bethany jumped to my rescue and ended up in "jail" (a closet) with me.
I thanked her for trying to rescue me and she said,
"It's ok.  'Cause youse is my favorite sister."
That sure melted my heart, but that's not even the best part yet.
Eventually we got out of "jail" and the little ones went down for their naps.
When Kaden woke up, he went downstairs to find me.
"Brittany," he said, rubbing sleep out of his eyes, "I sorry for bein' mean to you."
Oh.  My.
I quickly hugged him, told him I loved him, and ran up to tell my mom.
"He came in here first thing after he woke up," she said. "He told me that needed to go tell you he was sorry.  He's probably been thinking about it all of rest time."
Even now my mind fails to grasp all of this.
His heart, his loving, trustful, sweet heart... Folks, my little brother is pretty awesome.
Though it's hard to see it some days, Kaden is simply mind blowing.
I need to try harder to step back and appreciate what a treasure we have in our little man.

Bethany and Kaden Conversations

Kaden is all about being the police man of the family.
He has decided it is his job to make sure everyone in the family "Does good choices".
Yesterday I was typing up some school work on the computer when I overheard Kaden talking to Bethany.
He had her sitting down in front of him, his pretend handcuffs on her wrists.
The toy of offense was next to them, and Kaden had a serious frown on his face.
The conversation went something like this:
Kaden:  why you do bad choices, Defany?
Bethany:  Me wanted to play with this.
Kaden:  but I was playing with it first.
Bethany:  No, me was.
Kaden:  No, I.
Mom: Kaden, do you want a snack?
Kaden:  Wust a minute, Mom!  Defany, don’t do bad choices, ok? You not want to go to jail.
Bethany: (sighing) ok.
I completely cracked up hearing this!
Sometimes I forget how absolutely hilarious these conversations are when I hear them several times a day.
I need to take a minute and simply enjoy the stage we are at now as a family.
I love it!

A Dream about my Lost Brother

The title of this post may have grabbed your attention.
To clear things up, I want to tell you that the boy I will talk about was never certainly going to be my brother.
I will give more details later, but although he was never officially my big brother, he will always be in my heart.
That being said, here is the post I had planned to write:
Last night I had a vivid dream.
Before I tell it, I want to give you a pit of background.
After my parent were married, they hosted a sweet, young boy from Belarus in the summer.
His name was Stas.
He began coming home to spend summer with my family, before I was born, when he was 8 years old.

In fact, Stas was here in the US with my parents when I was at the time of my birth. 
It was a work of God for us through him that I was born at home instead of in VA.
My parent were going to Virginia to see family for July 4th, but Stas suddenly got a high fever and my parents decided to wait. 
And then I was born unexpectantly the next day 6 weeks prematurely on July 3d.
God worked for me and my parents through this sweet little boy, and I will always have him to thank for that, among other thing. 

Stas came every year for 10 wonderful summers.
My parents and I (though my parents remember it better) had the privilege of seeing Stas grow up from a sweet little 8 year old, to an even-sweeter-still 18 year old.
One year my little 6 year-old heart was broken when my big brother, Stas, never showed up.
I have missed him every year since.

Stas was wonderful.
My parents could speak more to this, I have absolutely ZERO memories of Stas misbehaving or giving us a hard time.
What I remember is my "big brother" playing baby dolls with Brandon and me,
swimming in the pool with him, his sincere smile,
 and - maybe my favorite - Stas reading Brandon and me a story book in Belarusian and not being fazed when we laughed our heads off because of how funny the language sounded to us.

And then he would leave.
I don't remember many of the early years,
but I do remember one year when I woke up early (after he had left) and I went upstairs to his room.
All his things were gone.
Every toy was put away.
Every trace of him vanished.
I looked for a picture of him, and couldn't find even that.
That may have been the last year he ever came.
Somehow my 6 year-old heart knew that I'd never see him again on earth.

Stas had a special possession.
It was a stuffed animal Pooh Bear, who he would never take back to Belarus with him for fear of it getting stolen.
 He loved it, and I, as young as I was, could see that.
Years after he left the last time, I gathered Brandon and David in my room and showed them the Pooh Bear. 
I told them how Stas had cherished it.
Then I told them that I had promised to myself that I would keep it for him every year until he returned.  I would not let it get thrown or given away.
I was Stas's, and Stas's it would remain.

But, in my dream,
I was standing in our playroom (of our new house, which Stas has never seen) with my parents.
Kaden and Bethany were there playing as well.
I turned around, and there was Stas, about 16 years old, not saying a word, only standing there with a huge smile on his face and joy in his eyes.
My mouth dropped open and I just stood there, speechless.
Words escaped me and I didn't know what to do.
Not like the awkward silence that occurs when someone forgets their line in a play or anything.
No, it was nothing like that. 
It was a total, joyous overpowering that rendered me speechless.
Suddenly, I ran from the room to get something.
I came back with the Pooh Bear, and placed it in his hands.
And then my dream ended.

In my dream, Stas looked exactly like this

I don't know what exactly it means.
Maybe I will see Stas again on earth.
Maybe God's trying to tell me that I'm released from my promise, as simple as it may be.
Maybe Stas has found a family wherever he is.
Perhaps I can stop remembering him with the twinge of sadness over my loss.
Whatever it may be, I know that God has it under control, and I can simply trust him.
I love you, Stas!