Friday, May 23, 2008

Destined for Greatness

Today is a big day here at the Dunn house. Michael, our 18 year old is graduating from high school tonight. We are so proud of him. We know that God has great things for him in his future. He has always made us proud. Michael, we love you little buddy!

All the kids are doing good. Ana and Diogo won trophies in Children's Church Wednesday night for the pinewood derby races they were in. They built their cars from blocks of wood and they won 3rd place for their age groups. Also, Diogo and Gabriel have taught themselves to ride their bikes just over the last few weeks. And I do mean they taught 'themselves.' Nobody helped them. That's pretty amazing to me. These kids have so much potential and so much tenacity to stick with things. We know God has great things in store for all of our kids. Destiny... greatness! I think today's children need to be told about the greatness that God has for them. Don't you? I don't know how you were raised, but in my house there was a serious dilema. On one hand, I had a God-fearing mother who took me to church every Sunday. On the other hand, I had an abusive, alcoholic father who never went to church. To say the least, I didn't have the greatest example of how to be a father. As I grew up, my mother (bless her heart) was doing the best she could to raise me and my brother to love God; but, as a boy, when you see the man of the house not serving God, it causes confusion.

My parents eventually divorced when I was 11 years old and suddenly, I was the man of the house. My mother still tried to take me to church, but it was hit or miss. When I was at church, I heard a lot of "don't drink, don't smoke, don't listen to that music and don't do drugs." I never heard anyone tell me that God had a destiny and a purpose for my life. It was always don't do this... but never, "God has greatness in store for you." You see, I think that we as parents (and ministers) spend so much time trying to get our kids to be good when we need to be spending more time showing them how to be great. We need to be continually motivating them to be great men and women of God... men and women whom God has destined to change the world! If we could show them Jeremiah 29:11 and instill in them the fact that Acts 1:8 applies to them, and that if they truly embrace the potential of what God has planned for them... then their motivation for not drinking and smoking would go from good (my parents told me not to and it makes God mad) to great (God has a detailed plan of greatness for my life and to mess it up with sin would only diminish His Glory!) When is the last time we told our children about the great plans and purposes God has for them? When is the last time we really focused in on helping them find out what their God given talents and abilities really are? I encourage you to talk to your children about the plans God has for them. Help them realize that God has a specific purpose for their life. Don't be guilty of just telling them what their "not" suppose to do all of the time. Start showing them what they are "suppose" to do. It doesn't matter that you didn't have a good example of how to be a Godly parent. You can be the one to break the cycle of ungodly parenting. The Word of God is rich with wisdom on how to parent our children and to show them that they are "Destined for Greatness!"

Love you guys!


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Where's the Fire?"

Tonight Mary Jane and I were sitting at the kitchen table watching all of the kids playing in the back yard. Because of the way the sun was shining, they couldn't see us but we could see them. They were all in a big group in the middle of the yard trying to work on their bikes. All of them were there except for Robert. He was on the trampoline by himself. But then we saw him get off of the trampoline, making his way toward all of his brothers and sisters. But he was walking funny...? wait a minute. His diaper had fallen off, half way, and was hanging through one of the leg holes on his shorts. We could tell it had some pretty good weight in it because of how far down it was drooping. We started making bets on who would notice it first and help him. MJ said, "it would be Ana" and I said, "I thought it would be Matthew." These kids really do help each other out quite a bit, which is amazing. Anyway, we were sitting there watching as he walked awkwardly toward everyone... no one noticed him. As he got closer to the herd, we started cheering on who we had picked as our choice as the one who would help first. But then we noticed... his diaper wasn't full of #1 but it was full of #2... and it was almost a neon green in color! As he stepped up to the rest of the kids, I think they all noticed him at the same time... and they all ran like there was a fire! All the kids ran in different directions and were yelling different versions of eww!We were laughing so hard... you had to see it. But speaking of fires we actually had one last week here at the house. It seems as though Matthew, Marlon and Diogo had a magnifying glass and used it to start a log on fire. Not that big of a deal, right? All boys do that at least once in their lifetime. But my boys took it one step further. They decided to walk around the yard with their flaming log. They walked around the side of the house and a piece of the fire fell off into a landscape bed containing an assortment of plants, including a perfect hedge of 25' tall leyland cypress that spans the entire length of the house. The bad thing is that they didn't notice it fell off. When they walked back to this side of the house about 45 seconds later, they heard a crackling noise and then they noticed that the tree was on fire! They ran inside to get MJ and she tried to pull the hose over to the fire but it was too short! She tried to arch the spray of the hose to reach the fire but it was barely reaching. All the kids ripped off their shirts and were trying to 'beat' the fire out as MJ was frantically trying to fill up pots to dump on the fire and spray the hose at the same time. Maryssa called the fire department as everyone tried to put out the fire. It was spreading rapidly because it was very windy that day. It was only about 10' from the house and everyone was freaking out because the fire was about 15' high and 10' wide! They were finally able to put it out, after what seemed like an eternity. It was a very stressful time for my little wife, to say the least. Other than that, things have been going great (except for having to take Matthew to the Emergency Room the Monday before that. He was riding his bike in flip flops and ripped half his toe off!). We've been home for a month now and there is never a dull moment at the Dunn home.

There have definitely been a few challenges though. One of the things is never seeming to have any time to just enjoy the kids. It seems like we're always having to referee and discipline and entertain... non-stop all day long, without just being able to just have fun. That gets very exhausting ( for MJ mostly because I'm usually at church). Also, not having anytime to just relax (except when it's time for bed.) is very wearisome for my wife.The other thing is being able to spend quality time with the kids one on one. We don't want to just provide food and shelter for these kids. We want to love on them individually and make sure that each one feels special. Dealing with everyone as a group doesn't achieve this. So, we're praying for wisdom so that we can come up creative ways to make this happen. As far as never having time to relax... I told MJ to fill up our big cooler with water (we wouldn't want anyone to dehydrate) then make all the kids go outside to play and just lock the door! Problem solved, right? Seems reasonable to me. Now I'm not talking about all day or anything just for an hour or so each day. If someone has a droopy diaper filled with poop hanging to their knees, or if someone severs their big toe off or if there's a fire... then they can come in. Sounds like a plan to me.

Love ya,

Jim and MJ

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

A couple of years ago I made the stupidist comment I've ever made during my 19 years as a husband and father. It was Mother's Day and I totally forgot all about it. I didn't remember until I got to church and then it hit me... "oh man, I didn't get MJ a card or anything!" After church we went out to eat and when we finished eating all the kids gave her cards and stuff they bought for her in the bible bucks store at children's church that day. It was their way of honoring her on her special day. When they were finished I could tell she was wondering where my card was... or my little gift I had gotten for her... it was an awkward moment because I didn't say anything. How could I tell the mother of my children that I had forgotten all about her? After what seemed like an eternity I changed the subject but I could tell she was wondering what was going on. When I got home I began to look around for something I could give her or something I could re-gift or something I could make for her at the last minute (what was I thinking?)... please Lord, I'm dying here, help me because I can't come up with anything. We finished out the afternoon and that night when we were in bed she asked me the million dollar question... "what did you get me for Mother's Day?" Before I could stop myself, these words rolled off my tongue... "you're not my mother." What? Did I actually just say that? Did those words just come out of my mouth? Man, am I in trouble now! Why couldn't I just tell her I forgot? No, I had to say, "you're not my mother." But my sweet little wife didn't even bat an eye she just said, "just wait until Father's Day!" Father's Day rolled around and sure enough... nothing. I thought she would walk in forgiveness because she loved me so much, but nope, I got nothing, zero, nada, zilch! What's up with that? Lesson learned. I've never forgotten Mother's Day again. Actually the next few years I really went overboard so that she would know the deep level of repentance that I had concerning this special day.

It's funny... the other day I had another one of those moments where I couldn't believe I said something. You know, after it comes out of your mouth you think, "that was stupid." I had just gotten home from the office and when I walked in MJ said, "I've had a rough day today and I'm glad you're home." Rather than saying, "sorry, tell me about it" I said, "you should have seen what I've had to deal with today." Now in the past that comment could have carried some weight and I would have probably received some sympathy. But now it means nothing. As soon as I said it, my brain said, "you're an idiot... look around." There were 7 kids running all over the place just being kids, dogs barking, dinner was cooking, laundry was washing, the house was buzzing with activity. I thought, "there's no way my day could have been anywhere near this hectic. I looked at MJ and said, "you win." Your day was worse than mine... hands down." "That was stupid for me to even try and get sympathy just because I was a little fatigued." "Come here and let me hug you for a minute." My wife is amazing. She does so much for us all. Most of the stuff she does goes un-noticed but she does it anyway and never complains. She always keeps the kids looking good. She's also an amazing cook. The way that she keeps the house together amazes me. We had a couple of neighbors stop by last week unannounced. When they came in they couldn't believe how good the house looked. They said, "our house was cleaner than theirs and they only had 2 kids!" She spends time with the kids and is always there for them. I was laying in bed one morning and I could hear her out in the kitchen feeding all the kids and making them laugh as she was talking to them. She is so much fun to be around. I'm amazed at how she is always giving and giving. I have no idea how she keeps it up??? She is so consistant and the way she manages to keep all 10 of us in line is truly a sight to behold. I am so blessed to have her as not only as the mother of my children, and as my wife... but as my best friend. I don't always remember to say it but, "thank you" for all you do. I love you, Mary Jane... even though "you're not my mother."

Sorry we haven't blogged over the last 2 weeks. It's been very busy at church and with our business. The kids are doing great though. I will blog within the next few days with some new pictures and updates. We've been receiving your emails, wanting to know how everyone's doing, and we're going to try and be more consitant with the blogs again (maybe 2-3 times a week). Please continue to pray for our family as we try and get a handle on being the parents that we need to be for our children.