Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Oh the sweetness of this boy....

Oh the sweetness of this little man melts my heart every single day....

Today he said he wanted to marry his mom mom... My heart was warmed:)  (honestly, that was right after he totally stood next to me, didn't utter a word and peed in his underwear:):)  Little stinker:) 

Levi... our little miracle...


Just last week as he was heading down for a nap in our room, (since every other room had a cousin or sibling already down napping) I found him in our bed with this picture of the kids with Samuel right after he was born... 


He kissed the picture... he hugged the picture...  he wanted to sleep with the picture... I said ok:)

Even Levi knows that little Samuel was and still is a treasure to us...

 He loves his brother even though he has never met him face to face... (That awesome day will come in Heaven... Oh to see Samuel meet the little miracle who is a part of us... I know that through the loss of Samuel, God used all of that to prepare us, change us, and encourage our hearts to step out into the unknown and to pursue embryo adoption... I don't think our life would have EVER included that with out our Samuel:)  Samuel helped bring us to Levi... that is a miracle... To me, Levi's whole story is miracle upon miracle...:)



And so he did... Levi, sweet as a button slept with the picture of 5 of his older siblings:) 

What sweet precious quiet moments that we stumble upon in this normally very busy, noisy, commotion filled home...God is so good to give us that extra dose of sweet love here and there sprinkled through out our days:)   

Monday, April 7, 2014

Mountain mover

Are any of you waiting to hear from the Lord?

Are any of you waiting for an answer to a specific prayer?

Are any of you just needing mountains moved in your life??/

I remember specifically my prayer request almost immediately after the stillbirth of our Samuel...
Lord please bless us with another child... if that is your will... sooner rather than later...

When you were ready to be a mommy again at any moment and at 40 weeks and 1 day you have nothing but a container of your baby's ashes after growing that sweet precious one for so long... Waiting another day... week... month... seems too long... ( I know this may not really make sense fully if you haven't experienced it for yourself... But 9 months to grow another baby feels like forever... (clearly... I NEVER wanted to have another child to replace Samuel EVER!!!  But my heart and arms were longing for a baby to hold and love!:)

I remember praying that same exact prayer... a WHOLE year later...
Lord please bless us with another... if that is your will... sooner rather than later...

But at that point I knew I was in the later already... but I still wanted the new sooner rather than the new later... Oh it was so hard...  Now I knew that maybe it wasn't in God's plan for us to have more children or to adopt.  And if it wasn't... then I just wanted him to change my heart so that I could accept it if that was His will... but my hearts desire was another child...

About 2 months later... the Lord gave us our Hope with an on going up and down, uncertain adoption case... now that was a tough 7 months of not knowing if we could keep her or not.  And just before we heard that she would indeed become ours forever... we finalized the  adoption of the 7 embryos. And along came our precious miracle  Levi 10 months later...

Sometimes those answers to our prayers come hours, weeks, or months later... sometimes years later.

If you are waiting for God to move some mountains... I want to encourage you today... that our God is IN THE BUSINESS OF WORKING MIRACLES AND MOVING MOUNTAINS... Just like He did to bring us our Hope, our Levi, and our Isaiah... all miracles from His precious hand... (as are our first 5 kids as well:)


Just a few weeks ago, Greg and I were discussing a upcoming future decision for our family... (I can't really share the specific details right now... but trust me, I will when it is the right time... I am not trying to be secretive, but my whole hearts desire on this is to encourage you in how amazing and faithful our God is!!!) Greg and I clearly had 2 VERY DIFFERENT opinions on this issue...It was a pretty BIG area of family life... One with lasting implications for all of us...  The discussion went round and round... We never did agree at all...The conversation pretty much ended with us being at totally different ends of the spectrum with me telling him that I wouldn't bring it up again... (I did not at all want to pester him about it) That if God changed His heart he should let me know...

I TOTALLY wanted the Lord's will for our family in this decision... I know that Greg wanted it too... But let me just say... this is not an area where I normally could keep quiet on... I knew that I would have to be in prayer just to truly keep my word and keep  my mouth shut:) Sometimes, even when I plan on bringing something up,  my timing isn't always the best... but I was determined to not mention it at all...

I also expressed to him... my sincere desire that if God's will wasn't in line with my desires, that I would want  the Lord totally change my heart and make it easier to accept that and change my will and make it in line with what His desires were for us... I meant it 100%... I did not want my way... I TOTALLY WANTED GOD'S WAY FOR US!  AND I WANTED GREG TO  LEAD AND BE IN CHARGE IN THIS DECISION!

This area of life is an area that I knew on my own, I could not surrender easily... I also knew that if I didn't bring it up, it might never come up and I had to be ok with that... I knew that it could take months for God to change His heart or mine...

My heart was really sad... The whole fact that we were so not on the same page, kind of came as a shock and was going to take some getting used to for sure.  I even enlisted the prayers of some close friends that I knew love our family, want God's best for us, and are prayer warriors...

I committed to praying about this issue... everyday it was something that I had to lay at the Lord's feet... It was on my mind A LOT!!   But at the same time,  I really had a peace about it, and wasn't worried... I knew God was in control of it and I knew that he would take care of me no matter the outcome... But in my heart I felt like it would take A LONG TIME to resolve this, especially if I wasn't going to bring it up in conversation...

Well just a couple of weeks later Greg came to me clear out of the blue... actually I was working out... I was overjoyed that he was bringing it up SO MUCH EARLIER THAN I EVER EXPECTED, but  I almost wanted to clobber him because it takes everything in me to not keel over to begin with when I am working out... :):)

In a sort of round about way he started talking and told me his heart had done a total 180...  We were now totally on the same page... I was SO SHOCKED... I honestly said, "Do not joke around about this if you aren't serious!!"   Oh my heart rejoiced... And the Lord had done it in record time... so much more quickly than I ever would have expected... The Lord moved mountains to bring us to a point of being united in this one big area... Huge... Huge... blessings for us to be on the same page....

God is continually teaching me to trust Him... trust that He has control of every single situation we lay at His feet... That He won't disappoint us (even if it had been my heart that was changed... I know He would have given me TOTAL peace about it!!!)

He didn't just answer... He knocked my socks off with how quickly and preciously He answered my prayers... I am in awe... He is so good and faithful...

Sunday, March 30, 2014

They call him Dark Zader...

d



Could this little sweetie get any cuter... 
I am so in love...
We are so blessed each and every day by this mover and shaker...
The Zader Tator... 

(as you can tell the number of  nick names for this little man continues to grow:)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Almost 17???



How can this young man, my son, be almost 17...

Goodness ,that makes me old:) 

There are some days, I just wish I could be his mom and not his mom and his teacher... But I am so very thankful for the wonderful opportunity to teach my son, daily share our family values, and experience all that he has grown up into being in the last 17 years... It has been a joy and treasure for me to be able to spend all of that extra time with him over the years... such a gift to me...

Pregnancy never came easy for us... I wondered... will this ever happen for us... Louis was such an answer to prayers for us...

And now... even as he thinks, wonders and plans all that he wants to do in the coming years... (today when I went into his room, he let me know he would love to be a mattress tester... he loves his bed...funny kid...  this of course, just days after him reiterating how much he wants to be a missionary to Uganda someday... ) Obviously, the mattress tester idea was just a joke... and really he is a funny kid... there are days I just want to clobber him because he will be joking during school... I just want him to be focused, but he is so funny, I can't help but be distracted and laugh... He adds joy to my days:)   God gave him a good sense of humor:)

Truly though, I so often pray that God makes it abundantly clear what HIS plans are for Louis... 

I see God molding and making him into HIS precious work day after day... I can't wait to see the finished product, although I know we are all a work in progress... always growing, learning, changing... hopefully becoming more of who God intends us to be, all the time... So I guess, I can't wait to see the finished product when he leaves the nest of our home... but there is a part of me that doesn't even want to think about that... This growing up thing, happens WAY too quickly for me!!

Just last week, he was asked to do the Children's message at church for 2 of the services... a task usually taken on by the Children's minister or Elementary school teachers... kind of a big task for a 16 year old kid...  We are not a small church by any means and he was a bit nervous... but he did great!  He also was a part of the human video that Greg used for his message in all 4 services.  I am so thankful for the kind heart that the Lord has given him and the willingness he has to serve at church... I am so grateful and in awe of who God is making him to be... 

Is he perfect... by no means... (and sometimes I hate to admit I focus on those imperfections more than I should)  neither am I... but I am so very grateful that God gave him on loan to Greg and I... 
He is a treasure and gift from God...


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

June can't come soon enough...

I have a friend...

Just 2 days ago she messaged me about a friend of hers whose baby girl was found to no longer have a heart beat at 37 weeks pregnant...

This was the 3rd such message I have gotten from this same friend in the past 10 months...

All of these 3 young women live pretty close to me...

I have been blessed to get together with 2 of these precious young women in the past few months... There is for me an undeniable automatic bond I feel to someone whom I know has experienced the same  heart wrenching loss of a child.

My heart absolutely breaks for this young couple whose sweet baby girl is already safely in Heaven...

Don't get me wrong... I am the wife of a pastor... I know FULLY the HOPE we have in HEAVEN... and my heart fully rejoices now in the reunion I will one day have with Samuel, baby Joel we were to adopt, and baby Taylor (the baby we miscarried in February 2010)

But in all honesty, when Samuel died even Heaven seemed TOO far away... what if I lived to be 70... or 80?  That meant that I wouldn't be with my baby, that I so desperately wanted right then, for at least 33 years... That thought was unbearable...

So even though I don't know this young mama... my heart hurts with her... my heart grieves with hers... She is not far from  my mind... She has been in my prayers so often over the last few days...

For this reason... June can not come soon enough... Of course I am happy to offer any help or support right  now at any time... but I can not wait to have MEND Chicagoland up and running where women like these young ladies can know that they do not have journey through this loss alone...

We will be there to support them, listen to them, remember their babies with them, care for them, pray for them... cry with them... As much as I hate that there is another family that will walk the hard journey of life with out one of their child here with them...

I am so thankful that there will soon be a place here where they can go where people really do get it... they get it because they too have experienced the same... walking forward each and everyday missing their babies... walking forward in HOPE of eternity... walking forward with the support of other moms and dads who truly understand...

I appreciate any prayers for getting MEND going here... All of our brochures and sympathy cards are being printed and soon we start the push to promote MEND here in the Chicagoland area in Hospitals, church, funeral homes, and Doctor's offices... Thanks so much friends...


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Missing...

My heart is heavy tonight...
Tonight I miss...

Cuddling up with these precious kids...( inevitably one was asleep in my arms in minutes... a safe place to finally relax)


Seeing the joy on their faces even with so little of anything that belongs personally to them...


Watching sweet Grace worship our same Savior...( Such a deep thinker at times....)


My Daniel... (Here as I get ready for bed... I wonder... Did he eat today?  When was the last time he ate? Where did he find a place to sleep last night on the streets?  Is he safe?  I miss his fun loving personality and passion for scripture... My heart hurts just thinking he has lived on the streets for 11 years... Oh Lord be with Daniel and all the street boys in slums tonight....)

Loving on Lawrence... I would bring that little sweetie home in a second... What a precious child...


Seeing the joy, laughter, love, and passion these orphaned children had for life and their Savior...


Watching the absolute delight in Lawrence's and the other 70 kids eyes as they picked out their Christmas presents...

Singing... "Higher Higher" with the street boys...


Being able to serve, love, care for, diaper, pray with, feed, the precious kids of Uganda...

It is wonderful being home...
It is hard being home... life gets busy and takes over...
The daily grind of raising, loving, homeschooling my 7 kids (which I totally 100% love doing and thank God for every single day) takes priority, which it should...

But I miss Uganda, the kids, and the ministry there...
My heart has been changed...
I don't EVER want to forget it...
I don't ever want to forget them...

As I head to my comfy bed in my warm cozy house... I am Praying for every single one of those precious orphans who have so very little... I am so very thankful for the opportunity to have spent time with them, and am praying continually for how the Lord wants to use those experiences to grow, shape and change me.  I continually pray for God to show us how we as a family can continue to be used in their lives...

I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you... John 14:18

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

This kid... and another young one...(at least young compared to me:)


So today his birthday wish finally came true....
He was able to use his money to bless some very special kids in Uganda...
Jojo has been bugging me for the last few weeks if we could finally purchase something for a special friend in Uganda.  He was so excited!

He was sort of hoping to get a washing machine, but when he heard the real need was for cribs... he jumped at the chance...
So today when our friend finally went public with the launching of her new ministryhttp://www.thegemfoundation.com/  to special needs orphans in Uganda Jojo said, "Let's do it now!"

And he did...  You should have seen his smile! Almost every penny he has to his name... but he couldn't have been happier!
I do not share this at all to speak boastfully... but truly to share how God can move in anyone's heart... old ... young... sick... healthy... anyone...
And He will take a willing heart and do so much more than we ever thought possible in our own minds...
And that is exactly what He is doing in the life of Jojo and of our young friend Emma in Uganda.
Here she is 20 years old starting a ministry to some special treasures in Uganda... at 20 years of age!!!

I continue to learn from Jojo... and Emma:)

Never squelch a generous heart... let the holy spirit work in the hearts of your kids... (Greg and I almost wanted to encourage him to give less and purchase a smaller gift... He insisted, and I know God will be glorified in it!)

Never underestimate what God can do through anyone... yourself included!  He will take the most ordinary people and do extraordinary things through them for His glory!

Please go look at Emma's new ministry, The Gem Foundation and consider supporting this amazing missionary and her new ministry... She is the real deal!  http://www.thegemfoundation.com/  I know you will be blessed by seeing this amazing young servant!


Here is Emma at our Christmas party this past January,  for some very special orphans:)