Monday, July 27, 2015

22 years...





Greg and I have officially spent more of our lives together than apart...
22 years of wedded bliss... HAH!!

In all honesty, my heart is full of gratefulness... I would be lying if I said that all 22 years were good years... But I will say, that all 22 were growing years...

It was through some of those most difficult years, especially after the death of our son Samuel, that my heart truly knew even more the reasons the Lord put us together...

 Not many would have loved me through that darkness that consumed me at times...
Not many would have been so faithfully patient with me through my grief...
 Not many would have continually encouraged my heart that "WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS..."

He never pushed... always accepted where I was at... tenderly loved me when I was probably hard to love at times... He loved me through the WORSE of the for better or worse that we vowed to 22 years ago...

When I think of the man that God gave to me... I think... Wow, we couldn't be more different than each other in so many ways... That makes for some challenging times when wading through a life of 7 moves, 8+children, job changes, mountains of dirty diapers and dirty cars/bedrooms/garages:)

But that also makes for a balancing out of our lives... What would we do without our Safety Patrol Man to reel me back in and set more realistic ideas before us some days? What would we do with our goofy dancing daddy who can get us all to laugh? What would be do without the faithful provider and protector of our family?

He is loyal, funny, compassionate, hardworking,  a steady eddy, patient, faithful, one who is willing to be stretched and grown, and one who beyond a shadow of a doubt loves his kids and me deeply...

He has allowed me to passionately pursue the things I love... orphans, adoption, homeschooling, leading MEND (our local infant loss support group), missions, traveling... He has graciously and joyfully sent the kids and I off on numerous loooooong road trips entrusting us into the Lords care so willingly while he stayed back to work hard to provide for our crazy adventures:)

We have walked through...
So many joy filled years, along with difficult years....
So many challenging parent moments, along with so many amazingly beautiful miraculous moments..
So many days full of laughter, along with tears...

Together we have watched God crack open our broken, fault ridden hearts and seen God bring new life to our marriage and hearts...

Together we have cracked the door to God's plans for our family wide open and said yes to moving away from family and heading to the seminary with 4 kids...

Together we have walked through cancer, the death of a child, disappointments, and joys beyond our wildest dreams...

Together we have said to our gracious God again and again, "Our family is yours..."
And time and time again He has blown us away with the births of all 5 of our biological kids and knocked our socks off through the adoption of Hope and Isaiah...

Together we have watched God breathe life back into what was once frozen... FOR FIVE YEARS.... and miraculously bless our family with Levi Ryan... (I will forever stand in awe of his power, might, and healing touch to bless us in such a way)

The past 22 years of our marriage are NOTHING of our doing... (well I am pretty sure the rough, stubborn, ugly parts were probably all our doing:)

But the growth and the beautiful parts, they are all GOD'S DOING...

It is because of HIS abundant faithfulness and grace that we stand here 22 years later, loving each other more, relying on each other for love and support as we daily parent the beautiful, sometimes wild blessing of our 7 kids here with us now, and stand committed together for the long haul...

Committed to see what God has in store for the next week, next year... Lord willing, the next 22 years... (Maybe the Lord will come back before then... wouldn't that be AWESOME?!!)

I can still say, 22 years later, just like I did the day that we were married... That HE HAS CHOSEN YOU FOR ME...

And I am still so grateful to God that HE Chose you for me... always will be...

I Love this song by Steven Curtis Chapman... says a lot of what I feel today:)



Monday, July 20, 2015

Family time... And yay daddy got to come too...



Louis, Anna, and our "adopted" daughter Jillian kayaking on big Fence Lake:)


2 little buddies hanging out in the hammock:)

Jojo at the Minocqua bat Waterski show... Even though the show has been about the same for the past 35 years ( or for as long as I can remember) the kids still beg to go each year... 
And talk about cheap entertainment... Free :)

What a fun night to hang out, watch a great show, and take in some of that great northern woods air :) 

We always have to hit up Paul Bunyans for their Huge lumberjack breakfast...
The doughnuts are out of this world!!!

Anna and Jojo enjoying grandma and grandpa:)

The crew with Paul and babe, the big blue ox...

Side note... I unfortunately have pink eye and passed a kidney stone... But thanks to the app, doctor on demand, I think my eye is on mend...God willing!


We were so thankful that the daddy of the house could come join us for a few days...
We are so very thankful that my parents so willingly share their home with us... We are a lot of people creating a lot of noise and mess and we don't take it for granted to have this chance to get away as a family to such a beautiful place to enjoy God's beautiful creation...
\I am so very thankful for family!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Rescuing Ruby and the Saunders

And here she is... Ruby, the miracle girl... 

Found at an orphanage after being abandoned in a field...
13 mos old and only 6 lbs...
What a smile!!


And our sweet friends, the Saunders...
Who clearly walk the walk and mean what they say... 

And when they told the orphanage director, they would do anything to help her... 
They meant it!!!
They brought her home and she is thriving and blowing away all the doctors that said she wouldn't do anything...



What a blessed couple of days we had with their family!  

The kids had a blast together!  Lots of bike riding, trampoline jumping and laughs!
Literally, right after they left, Jojo was  asking when we could see them again?


As well as lots of reconnecting  of three teens (liberty, Louis, and Caleb) who served in Uganda together!!!


Even the mamas got to run out for a quick coffee before they shared their heart and stories of "international Voice of the Orphan" and "The Gem Foundation" with our church and blog friends.
#2mamas21children

They are in the process of adopting their 13th child... A 13 year boy from China:) 


And how precious to my heart to just sit, visit, And laugh with Dwight and Linny...
They are such an encouragement to me... 

Understanding ministry, homeschooling, large families, and adoption...  It was such a blessing to us...

Their Isaiah, Liberty, our Isaiah, and Anna:)


Love... The photo bomber above!  

What an amazingly beautiful group of kids...

So until next time...

Our prayers go with them as they share their heart and love for...
orphans...
Special need treasures...
And sharing the faithfulness of Jesus with 
Anyone and everyone who will listen...

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Overweis splash pad

Someone asked me today if we liked living in the country more than here in the suburbs...

It got me thinking...
The part of the property where we live with acres of soccer fields behind us... It is the best of both worlds... A piece of country right here in the big city!

And we are a 5 minute walk from the Oberweis Ice Cream shop and splash pad...

 Does it get any better??

Every day I am once again amazed by God's blessings in moving us here to Schaumburg...
We love it here:)


And clearly, so does Isaiah...


and Levi...


and the bathing beauties Anna and smiley Hope...



and our sweet Jojo...



These were taken a couple of weeks back... and goodness we have now had a cold spell!

We are hoping for some pool or splash pad days soon:)

Friday, July 3, 2015

Nutella beard

He melts me!
Every single day he melts me...

Whether it is the Nutella beard, or how he remarks, "I didn't see THAT one comin!"  This kid is hilarious, sweet, and such a love bug!

Levi Ryan, One of a kind, for sure:)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Company:)



Some of my most precious memories of seminary life were with my dear lady friends...

My Sunday Night Club girls...

Oh the laughs we would have as we shared half price appetizers at Applebee's after 9pm on Sunday nights:)

Oh the deep conversations that were shared as we all adjusted to the fact that each of our husbands had left  "real world"jobs to answer Gods call to go back to school to become a pastor...

Oh the fun we would have at the Seminary Wives Valentines Dance... seriously memories that I still smile and giggle about to this day...

Oh the fun of Friday night family BBQ's right outside our back door on campus in the Woods...

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was blessed by my upstairs Seminary neighbor MaryAnne coming to stay the night while Greg and that big boys were in Haiti... 
Last week I got to visit over the phone with my dearest most precious Friend Becky... oh the passions, and loves that we have in common!
 And last Monday my sweet Sunday night club friend Shari and her family came and visited from Texas! 

We used to be right on their way when we lived in Texas and were able to be a good stopping point for them on their road trips home... 

It blessed my heart to be with their family... The big boys got to experience exploring downtown on Segways with them.  And most of all, I just loved getting to visit!  

What a gift to my heart to either see or hear from 3 of my dear precious Seminary friends all in the last couple of weeks...
All 3 of these families tied blankets for our 4 kids after Samuel died,  and all together (with one additional family) made a huge family blanket for us... They stood tying that blanket and praying over us ... Those gestures won't ever be forgotten... And all 5 blankets still get loads of use in this house! 

Tonight my heart is thankful for friends... new and old...

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Family is more than blood...



And this is how we found them early in the morning last week... Heart melter!!!


We are family!  
We are different...
We don't all look or act the same...
But God creatively wove us together...

Biology makes us family... Adoption makes us family... Sacrificing birth mama's made us family... Setting aside fears made us a family...

God made us a family... I could never have dreamt it up to be any better...

Are we perfect... NO way!! 
But we love him first, then each other...
Thankful and blessed!!