Monday, October 20, 2014

So hard... so real...

I just had to repost this...

From the mother of our missionary friend Emma, who recently opened a special needs orphanage in Uganda...

I rarely think of the details of the many  extremely tough things that she faces in her calling... everyday...

Please take the time to read this to get a clear picture of ALL that it means to follow the Lord's calling on your life... the beautiful and the really hard stuff...

and then...

Please support them however you can... through prayer, encouragement or even financially...

Hug your little ones tight tonight:)

http://aplacecalledsimplicity.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-stuff-no-one-talks-about.html

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Back for "Moore"

And the St. Peter crew goes back for "Moore"...

Our precious friend Emma from AZ who came with us to Uganda last year, came a few days early to hang with the family... 
(Lou and Emma when we picked her up at the airport...  Sweet Friends reunited :)

And off she, the boys, Greg, and about 10 others headed last week.  

I am always amazed at the amount of fun they have while serving... this trip was no different as you will well be able to see in the following pictures...



They did some minor building and strangely were able to abundantly help out a family who had some hoarding issues...

They were able to help this gentleman make some really big progress...

Which in the end will help reunite a family that has been torn apart...

They were a part of changing lives and changing the future for this family... and they loved every second of it...scorpions and all... YIKES!



It warms my heart to see how the Lord can unite His willing servants into an unstoppable team from HIM... being His hands and feet and showing HIS great love to others!



Can you see the evidence of God's love poured out on this homeowner by the group?  Makes my heart smile!  No judgement... just the love of Jesus poured out on HIM...


So thankful to God for this willing team of teens and adults...
So thankful for all that God can do with willing hearts...
He is so good and so able...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Those eyes...




Those eyes that speak
joy... love... of a comforted heart... 

Those fingers that wrapped
right around mine the first day I met you...

That nose that flattens 
at the bridge whenever you smile big...

Those cheeks that have grown
 a wee bit with each warm bottle you down...

Those soft silky hair that curls
 so sweetly all over your dark head...

That body that can relax 
and melt right into me

Every moment with you sweet baby boy is a gift... 





Tuesday, October 7, 2014

His family is bigger... and what a gift it is...

So, can your child really have too many people that love them?

Can cheeseburgers and a common loved one, bring many families together making them one? :)

What does opening up your heart to all the hidden blessings God may have for you truly look like?

How can God take many broken hearts from many different families, and creatively bond them together into something beautiful?

My heart was so full last Saturday night... 
I have had to take a couple of days to mull it over:)

We were invited to a cheeseburger challenge in memory of Levi's biological dad Ryan. 
It was time to remember a special man and fund raise for Cystic Fibrosis, which is what he had died from over 6 years ago...

It is a strange thing adoption... It is a beautiful thing...

And embryo adoption is no different...

But each adoption situation is SO different from another... 
And God has had a way of knocking our socks off with all 3 of our adoptions...

When we adopted our 7 embryos... we had lots of communication with our embryo donor and pretty much left the nature of the future of the adoption in her hands... whether it would be open or closed or how we would communicate as time went on...

I am so thankful that she chose to be a part of Levi's life and ours...

The fact that her first husband had passed away because he had Cystic Fibrosis immediately connected me to her... we shared a commonality of loss... My heart broke for her... 

I have ALWAYS tried to put myself in her shoes... (I know that really isn't possible...) What if I had lost my husband and there was a child out there that was part of both of us... how would I feel?  We have always felt that we wanted them to be a part of Levi's life and ours if that was possible..

We have been blessed to get together with our donor mom, Kristin and her twins who came from the same batch of embryos as our Levi, a few times over the last few years....  And boy does Levi look like his biological sister... crazy amazing!!!  

God worked an amazing thing on so many levels by moving us up north... ironically we are MUCH closer now to Levi's biological family, which is a TRUE blessing in our lives... 

In fact, strangely we now live less than an hour from most of Levi's biological dad's family. 


In time, while still in Oklahoma,  I connected to Levi's biological dad's mom... My heart went out to her as well...

We share the same loss of a child, a son... I have often tried to put myself in her shoes... 

I have asked myself a million times... How could I keep a piece of their loved one from them?  Honestly, the only reason I could is if it wasn't in the best interest of Levi... :)

But that just isn't the case... they are amazing Christian people... 


Greg, Levi, and myself with our Sweet donor mom and her other two kids...

 I am in awe of her sacrifice to our family and how incredibly blessed we are each and every day because of her gift to us!

The whole group at the CF cheeseburger Challenge Dinner... remembering Ryan Sweeney...
I loved meeting so many of them, seeing the wonder  and tenderness in their eyes as they met Levi... Hearing their special stories of life with Ryan when he was alive.  There were some tears and many were sharing how much Levi looked like Ryan...



Cousins... the stare down...These two were cracking me up:)


Levi with his biological siblings and cousin... They had so much fun... Anna loved hanging out with Levi's sister and cousin... and Levi still is saying that his biological brother is his best friend... I can't help but think ahead to the moment that any of this makes sense to Levi...

I am thankful that it won't ever need to be something that is a mystery to him...


This is pretty much how 90% of Levi's pictures were that night... He would not stop yelling
"CHEESEBURGER CHALLENGE"  for every... single... picture... :)


We now have had the chance to meet all of his grandparents... I can not tell you how precious it was to me to have a chance to get to know them more... I can see how much they all love Levi... It warms my heart more than I can describe...

Can your child ever really have too many people in their life to love them?

When I think of them... I can not help but think of all the time and love they poured into their kids, Kristin and Ryan, who biologically make up my son... They are all so precious to me because of all they did for their kids over the years,  which in turn helped make Levi who he is...

 We even got to meet more of Levi's biological aunts and uncles.






I feel so blessed to have these two ladies in my life and especially in Levi's life...


Many have asked me over the years..."Is it weird seeing them?"  "Are you overwhelmed or nervous when you get together?"  

I can honestly say, I 100% look forward to it... I have a total peace in my heart... Another testament to the ability of God to work is shown when I recalled Kristin's words to me after we met for the first time... She said something to the affect of Loving Levi in a special way, but that God had given her heart total peace and that it felt just like a good friend had a new baby... Wow... that simply amazes me... 

I never would have imagined it in my own small human mind, the ways God would beautifully knit us all together... 

Just as God so beautifully and perfect knit Levi together as a tiny embryo almost 8 1/2 years ago and held him safely as he was frozen for 5 years...

Just as God so perfectly knit him together in my womb... 

He so creatively and beautifully has knit our families together... I truly am blown away...

Blown away by His blessings... Blown away by His amazing goodness to us... 
Blown away by the amount of people that love this little man...

Tonight my heart is so full, knowing and seeing first hand the continued miracles of Levi's story and the way God knit him into our family...

His story is really God's story and it will NEVER get old to me:)

Levi's family is bigger... and that is a really beautiful thing:)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A runner in the family...

One of the highlights of this fall has been Anna running Cross Country for our church school...
She is really loving it and is really doing a great job:)


Anna and her sweet friend Ava... two peas in a pod...



And the are off...


Some of the other kids enjoying the beautiful Illinois weather...


It has really been fun for the other kids and I to hang out while the teams are running at the meets.  

I am so proud of Anna... she has been really busy this fall running and playing soccer... She has worked really hard to get school work done before her practices...

Here are Levi and his buddy... They were having a great time.   It was like they were riding a rollercoaster... and the neat thing was, it was entertaining the little guys and the really little guys:)





Go out and enjoygreat this weather before the artic tundra retruns:)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

HE knows....


The familiar phrase... hind sight is 20/20...

One of the things I love most about our Savior is when you can look back at the beautiful way HIS plan has unfolded in your life or in a certain situation...

Something I love even more is when you get that special feeling... knowing at that moment that you can actually recognize, in the here and now, HIM at work in your life doing something really special...

Meet the Dinks...

Literally the Lord has woven our friendship together from across the ocean and across the nation...

When Samuel died, I struggled so deeply... I was hurting like I never thought possible... I was struggling to process my own grief while caring for our 4 kids and making sure they were doing ok through the whole process of losing a brother...and I was incredibly lonely in my sadness... 

I think I cried through church every Sunday, sitting in the pew alone just me, my kids, my tears, my broken heart... 

And then they walked in one Sunday... sought me out... and low and behold in that moment I knew I had found a friend....

God was moving them from Sweden, of all places right to our town in Oklahoma... we had a ton of mutual connections at the church I had grown up at in Wisconsin, they were close to my college roommate, and I will never forget asking them if they knew so and so from my home church... Their response, "They get custody of our children if anything ever happens to us!"  We had so many connections...

The next time they came to visit before they moved was just 2 days after Joel was stillborn, the baby that we were supposed to adopt.  I remember when  Nik asked how I was, I gave her a very real honest response... Not so good... I shared with her a little about what had happened, how we had gone to see him at the hospital, how we had spent time with his birth mom... 

And that is when I saw it... a tear falling down her cheek... She cared... She wanted to hear... She was sympathetic to our new loss... She could step beyond herself and maybe even her possible uncomfortableness of an almost stranger sharing a recent personal experience of death with her...

But it didn't stop her from caring for a single second.  In that moment,  I knew God had done a beautiful thing moving them all the way from Sweden to our back door...

 This sweet precious family walked with us through a very difficult Samuel's first birthday in heaven, our crazy adoption with Hope, our embryo adoption and scary pregnancy of Levi, and our premature birth and adoption of Isaiah... She was even with me when I got the news that the pregnancy I was experiencing would end in a miscarriage... They supported us compassionately through all of that as well as doing regular fun, exciting life together with the rest of our kiddos and their sweet 3...






And as if once wasn't enough... 

While we have finally settled in here in Illinois after arriving a year ago...
They are now newly settling in less than 30 minutes from where we live...

God has moved them once again right to our back door...
And we couldn't be more grateful to God for moving our precious friends so close:)
 
(I am so thankful for the many precious friends we made during our time in Oklahoma... this is just like the cherry on top that they are now here with us too:)

The Lord's good plans for us amaze me sometimes... As much as we teased them to move up here... I honestly, never really saw it coming... 

What a beautiful, fun, wonderful surprise and addition to our lives here in Illinois...
 
I am amazed at the Lord's goodness to us! 
 
 He sees the full picture...  All the way from Sweden to Tulsa, to Illinois... And all the way from my heart to the Heavens...
 
He always knows... He is so faithful...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Life...


I know everyone says it,.. but the days are just flying by... 
and I feel like I am at times just along for the ride... 
Trying to get "it" all done and cherish the precious moments along the way... 
Levi just absolutely cracks us up... tonight he stayed up extra late because he napped late and it was one silly thing after another out of his mouth... Greg and I just kept looking at each other and laughing... such a treasure Levi is...



Last week the big boys and I were blessed to get tickets to the Cubs game at Wrigley field... (Greg TOTALLY would have been there, but work had to take priority that night)
Wow, it was such a neat stadium, totally reminded me of the old County Stadium in Milwaukee... '
We had a great time, lots of laughs, and enjoyed the fun opportunity... such a gift to us...
Sometimes I am ABSOLUTELY amazed by the sweet things people do for us at this church... The generousity and kindness abound.  We have been blessed with so many wonderful people in our lives in such a short amount of time...I continually thank God for that:)




Hopie and the Zader Tator... She did a great job with him scooting around tonight...  For the most part she took really good care of him and didn't get too wild:) That girl LOVES to get wild and crazy... But she safely took him around with her and he loved it!  I was really proud of her:)  And he just keeps getting yummier and yummier... he has the best cheeks that giggle when he runs and the most amazing eyes:)


Anna and I have been having so much fun working on different hair styles... www.cutegirlhairstyles.com has super cute videos that show you exactly how to do a ton of different braids.  It has been so much fun... I love that special time with my girl... 

Anna has been running cross country this year with our church school.  She has been loving it and is really doing great.  I knew she was fast on the soccer field when she pours it on :)...  I really think we have found a niche of hers... She enjoys it and is good at it.  She struggles sometimes with things and this is a great positive fun thing in life for her right now:)

One of these days when Greg passes through... I will catch a picture of him:)  Kidding... he has been super busy though at church... I am so proud of him for how hard he works to provide for us.  I think he has 12 weddings this fall which keep him super busy...

Living on campus has huge benefits for our busy dad... He can pop in and say hi and take lunch back over to work or pop in between meetings for dinner... All things that never would have been possible before and I am SO GRATEFUL for it!