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Christ's Haven Blog

  • Blessed to be called MOM

    This morning was a very busy morning.  I had two children who had to be at the office for an appointment at7:40.  Yes, I forgot!  Got the girls up and out the door in 10 minutes.  With 2 gone, I went ahead and started getting everyone else up and going!  Breakfast, Oh My! Lorrie,our  5 year old wanted eggs, sausage and toast.  Trying to explain to her this was a Saturday breakfast not a Tuesday breakfast, didn’t go well.  Lorrie wanted to know where Daddy was, he would cook it for her!  Mommy was being mean!  Well, Daddy was at work, and yes Mommy did make it for her.  Not only for her but for all 8 of My Little Darlings!  I had become Mommy of the Morning!  Didn’t last long, came time to get dress. Macey Lynn,who is 9  has a disability, today was blue bathing suit day.  I couldn’t find this bathing suit to save my life.  As I was looking, I could hear over and over “I need the bathing suit” “I need the blue bathing suit” I did find it, wet and in Macey’s  laundry basket!  I had 30 minutes until Camp, quick wash it was!  Yeah for Mom washed dried and then we didn’t want to wear it!  Finished up the morning with making beds, packing lunches, filling water bottles, throwing a load of towels in the wash and loading up, counting 8 children and off to Day Camp!  What a morning it was!  As I return home I finish with all the households chores, have a few minutes of quiet time then off to the grocery store for groceries!  My afternoon is coming to a close time to go get the kids!  As they load up in the van, their little voices ring with laughter, talking about their day!  As we pull into the house I hear Ice Cream time!  This is a very important time of the day for Macey Lynn. Her ice cream has to be just right.  4 scoops of ice cream, 2 scoops of one flavor, 2 scoops of another flavor!  Yes, it MUST be this way!  The evening approaches , Dad comes home from work!  Little voices Daddy’s Home!  Yeah, Daddy’s home!  As I’m cooking dinner, Lisa one of our 12 year olds is talking with me in the kitchen.  She reminds me of how she has been with John and I for 9 years next week! How thankful she is to live in a family with so much love and how lucky she was that CPS told her Mother to put her at Christ Haven. Lisa asked why her Mother picks drugs and beer over her? I really didn’t have an answer, but I knew God has a plan! This plan included Lisa coming to Christ Haven!  As the conversation continues, Lisa asked “MOM, You like being a mom don’t you?” Is this why you let Macey yell when she is angry? Also why you always help Macey and Lorrie all the time? I remember when I was little you always made me and Kacie peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before bed. I asked Lisa do you know why I did this? Yes, because before we lived with you we didn’t have food! Our Mother would make us go to bed hungry!  Yes, I replied! But also because I love you and that is what Mommies do!  You know You are my mommy!  My Mother has never come back to see me!  I took Lisa into my arms, held on tight, silently thanked God for her sweet spirit and heart!  Thanked God for bringing Lisa into our lives!  Yes, I had rough a morning and most morning are like this!  How Blessed Am I To Be Called MOM By 8 Little Lambs Of GOD!

  • A mom's story

    Hello all! My name is Peggy Smyers and I’ve been asked to write a blog.

    I’ve never written a blog before. I don’t think I’ve ever even had time to read a blog so I hope I get
    this right.

    Here’s my story...I’m a mom

    My husband, Terry and I have been houseparents at Christs’ Haven for most of our married life. We’ve been blessed to raise three wonderful and beautiful biological daughters along with 100 plus “bonus” kids that God has seen fit to trust us with, as well. People look at our colorful little family as somewhat of a novelty, but we’re not so different from you. We’re parents and we have a fierce love for our children.

    Our day starts early with terry off to work by 5:00 a.m. When he gets gone and my day begins, I get the girls up first so they can have plenty of time to do their girl stuff before heading down to the gym to have fun with their friends. My boys are much younger so I let them sleep as long as possible because they’re...well they’re boys...busy and chatty and full of energy and questions...and did I say busy??!!! I try to get all the important morning stuff done BEFORE I wake them up because I’m not usually able to focus on much else after that. Other mothers with young boys will understand.

    We have seven children for now. Our oldest, Sarah is 15, and she’s one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. She’s strong and sensitive and compassionate and funny, and she brings a sense of rightness to wherever she is. She’s loving her summer, hanging out and doing things with the other teenagers on our campus, and relaxing a bit from the extreme academic and extracurricular schedule she insists on carrying during the school year. She’s one of those people who always gives her best and others are drawn to her.

    Next is Dasha, which pronounced like “Asia” with a D in front. (It’s important to her that people get that right.) She will be 14 in about two more weeks and she can’t wait!!! She reminds us nearly hourly how long ‘til her birthday! I still have trouble wrapping my brain around how much she’s grown. She was only 8 when she came to live with us...small and scared and unable to even look into my eyes. She had lived through a hurricane with many moves afterward, as she and her mom tried to find a place to start over and get settled. My first and most important mission was to help her learn that she’s safe and that she belongs with us. Now she spends most of her time singing and dancing and talking and playing tricks on people (mostly me, I think)...and reminding us her birthday’s almost here!

    Chloe, or “Chlo BO” is our third oldest and she’s 13, going on 30. I first met her when she was just a baby and going to live with one of our smaller foster families. Her big brother was moving to our cottage, and I remember the day he got here that someone was carrying this beautiful tiny girl with big thoughtful, brown eyes and LOTS of dark curly hair. She still has those same beautiful eyes and the curly dark hair (which she hates and I love), but she’s certainly not a baby any more. She’s quite a young lady...sweet and kind and playful and patient and nurturing, and she’s destined to be a good mother.

    Our boys are much younger and, as I said earlier, they’re all boy. They’re 10, 9, 8, and 7. Kaden is the oldest and is still new to us, but has melded into our family very quickly. He’s funny and silly and is learning what it takes to be a leader. He has a really sensitive side, as well and he loves to please us and make us proud...which we are.

    Next is Chavous and he surprises me daily with his kind heart and his eagerness to help. I believe he
    will do anything for anybody just to show love and kindness. He has a gentle soul, but he gets wild and crazy when it’s playtime for sure, and his singing voice is off the charts during shower time! (We have several shower singers...J)

    Tonio is our soon to be second grader and is one of the sweetest little people I’ve even known...with one of the busiest little brains I’ve ever known, as well. He’s constantly in wonder about everything around him! I love to step back and try to see things through his eyes ...and he’s full of hugs!!

    Our youngest for now is Fernando...or Fernie...or Fern. I have trouble sticking with formal names sometimes.
    Fernie’s a whole lot of personality rolled into one little body. He’s sweet and silly and busy and laid back and loud and quiet and curious and wonderful! He’s just as likely to be running amuck outside playing pranks on everyone as he is to be sitting calmly for hours working on giant jigsaw puzzles or creating spinners with the magnetics...and he’s soooo cute!

    This is our family.

    Our days are filled with laughter and heartaches...giggles and upsets...triumphs and mistakes. One of us may be learning to tie his shoes or doggie paddle while another is talking about drivers’ ed and picking out what kind of car she wants (YIKES!). We have it all and our children amaze me. They’re so full of life and happiness and
    creativity and joy and I’m thankful daily that God picked me...ME to be their mom! Plain old me who didn’t want to go to college or have a career or even make a plan for my future. I believe with everything in me that this WAS my plan even before I knew it. This life is what Terry and I were put here to live. It’s not always easy
    for sure, but God never told us that it would be. He promised us joy and He has delivered that a thousand times over.

    For as long as I can remember (except for the short stint when I decided I would someday be a ballerina) all I ever wanted was to marry a prince and live in a big castle and have 12 children.

    I’m living my dream!

  • Helping your child have a productive school year

    Returning to school can be a stressful and anxiety provoking time for children and adolescents.  Attitudes about returning to school range from excited to dread.  Some may feel thrilled about getting to see all their friends again while others are nervous about being picked on by bullies.  Some kids are excited to meet their new teacher while others worry that their labels from the previous year will follow them.  Some feel accomplished for being promoted to the next grade and a new school such as middle school or high school while others are fearful about their ability to complete a more difficult level of work.  Many children experience some degree of anxiety about returning to school.  Based on your child’s outlook and educational experience this stress can be minimal or significant. 

    There are many things that parents can do to help their child or adolescent decrease school related anxiety.  First, ensure that your child has a nutritious breakfast thus stabilizing their morning blood sugar levels.  Research shows that brain healthy foods such as fruit, yogurt, eggs, oatmeal, or grain cereal boost children’s morning energy and increases the ability to concentrate and retain information.  Avoid sugary breakfast food.  A second, thing parents can do to decrease school related anxiety is encourage your child to talk to you about their day.  Listen empathetically as they describe positive and negative things that happened and let your child talk freely.  Do not try to solve their problem, help your child come up with a solution and above all do not tell your child that their worries are insignificant.  When necessary speak with your child’s teacher or principal about difficulties your child is experiencing.  A third thing parents can do to decrease school related anxiety is provide a structured time for your child to complete homework.  Be available during this time to assist your child, if needed, with their assignment.  It is recommended that children have a healthy snack before beginning homework in order to increase their ability to recall what they learned during class.  Structured homework time provides consistency and a routine which increases the completion of homework and decreases procrastination of projects.  If needed help your child with their assignment but do not complete the assignment for them.   Encourage your child to take a ten minute break from homework if they become frustrated with their assignment.  These simple steps can help your child have a happier and more productive school year.

  • Note from a House Dad

    Lucretia and I have a very stressful "job" - raising 7, sometimes 8, kids can be a challenge at best. Often I just argue and grumble (Philippians 2-14). Is this how I should repay the Father. (Deuteronomy 32.5) God has given us the task of building an Ark to ensure helpless children can weather their storms, lead them through their desert place and split the sea of a horrible world to make a path, show them they are protected from a lions den of torment. Why would I ever grumble when I have been given this honor. Psalm 111-2 Great are the works or the Lord, they are pondered by those who delight in them.

  • A Note from a House Mom

    We experienced a brown out last night from about 8:30pm to about 9:00pm. We had a house full of stinky, sticky, restless boys... it was right at shower time. We missed our electricity big time, but it taught us to be thankful for what we have. I wish we had some type of a warning, but of course no one knew it was coming.

    We have a new teen boy at our house; he is talkative, outgoing, and athletic. One of the best things is that he is very interested in learning more about a personal relationship with Jesus. He says he already feels at home with his 'brothers' here and asked if he could call us Mom and Dad. He came with only expired medication, two pairs of shoes, two pairs of jeans (one pair didn’t even fit), a few shirts, and a couple other items. He definitely had very little. Mary Lauren, Director of Children’s Services, gave me gift cards to take him shopping. He feels so grateful to now have nice clothes that actually fit him.

    I also want to commend the second oldest boy in our house. He is stepping up as a servant leader and mentor to the other boys in house; he is such a blessing. He wants to start an I Am Second Bible study group with his peers. He has also offered to host the group Fellowship of Christian Athletes at our home. It is great because he takes the initiative to read the Bible everyday.

    Last Sunday at The Hills Church of Christ we saw 3 of our former foster children at the church service. There are no words to describe the joy it brings me to see them worshiping God and learning more about Him. I'm so proud of them! Thank you, Lord.

    Now we are preparing to head back to school. I can't believe it's already here. We have seven kids going to FIVE different schools this year. The kids are looking forward to going back, especially to see their friends. Even though it has been an extremely hot summer, we thank the Lord each day for the blessings He bestows.

  • Summer Fun for Our Kids!

    Each summer we try to ensure that the kids are able to have fun while still maintaining structure in their lives. We also make sure that God is a priority in their daily lives. The Lord is, as always our main focus along with the children.

    This summer each Monday through Friday is set up as a day camp experience. Monday, Wednesday and Friday the kids stay on campus and do different activities. In the morning they assemble, have prayer, play in the gym, and work in the computer-learning lab. Next they have lunch. Once finished, the students are responsible for cleaning up after themselves.

    In the afternoons they do arts and crafts, then move to the Lounge where they watch TV or play games. After this they head back to their cottages where they resume the normal nightly routines of each family unit.

    On Tuesday’s and Thursday’s the kids take field trips. They go to places like Six Flags, parks, public pools, etc. This gives them the opportunity to spend time off campus, while still being in a safe environment.

    On occasional weekends, some of our gracious donors offer the children opportunities to attend special events. They have already been to the Texas Ballet Theater to see "Don Quixote” and to a Rangers Baseball game.

  • Charles is Second

    One of our Christ’s Haven teenagers, Charles, will be a senior next year and wants to be a firefighter after he graduates. Charles is a huge fan of Josh Hamilton, a Texas Rangers outfielder. Mr. Hamilton is very active with I am Second. I am Second is a movement meant to inspire people of all kinds to live for God and for others. Last week Charles made a kind gesture and bought I am Second bracelets for his entire household.

    It is amazing to see the kids taking initiative to spread the word of God and help others do the same. It is times like these that help us see that what we are doing matters. We would not be able to continue this work if not for the kindness and generosity of our supporters. Whether you are able to support us financially or by volunteering it all means so much to us.

  • Abby's Generous Spirit

    Recently, while taking Abby to a doctor’s appointment, we were stopped at a red light and saw a homeless man holding a cardboard sign asking for money to buy food. We quickly drove past him.

    When we left the doctor’s office and were driving back to Christ's Haven, Abby asked if I remembered the homeless man we had seen earlier and went on to say "you know most people don't make eye contact with homeless people, they drive right past them and don't even think about them." She continued "the next time we are here, can I bring some of my money to give to that homeless man?"

    I praised her and then we talked about one of the ways to show God's love is to be kind and generous towards others. We talked about the effects of being kind to one person and how it makes them want to show kindness to others. Toward the end of our conversation I told Abby that most children don't have compassion for the homeless and that I admire her. I then had to explain what admire means.

    Abby's eyes lit up when she realized that I think highly of her. Looking back I realize that I was humbled by Abby's generous spirit. I was one of the people who did not make eye contact with the homeless man and drove on by, but Abby wanted to help, she wanted to change a life. I want to be more like this child.

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