Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Treasured friend

God has brought me some pretty amazing relationships out of losing my sweet baby Samuel.

My sweet friend Katie lost her baby girl Emily about 2 1/2 years after Samuel died and my very first conversation with her was the night before Emily's funeral.  And the very first time I met her was the day she buried her baby girl.  One of the things I admire most about Katie is that she see what you get. She is transparent, kind, generous, and sincere.  She is funny and oh so honest!

Never could I have imagined all that we have experienced together since meeting 4 years ago.  We have stayed close even thought now we are 12 hours apart from one another... She used to live literally 5 minutes away when we lived in Oklahoma and I can't tell you how many times she helped me fold laundry while Caleb made her bacon.  :)  Katie was went on my first trip to Uganda with me!  What an amazing thing to experience together!

I am old enough to be her mom:) Truly! She loves my kids and we all love her!

Lucky for us she has a special friend about 2 hours away from us so we have been blessed to be able to spend some time with her lately!

Here we are at Feed My Starving Children making meals in memory of Samuel and Emily!  We packed enough for  56 kids to eat for a year... LOVE IT!!!

We even got to go check out my old stomping grounds where Greg and I met at Concordia on the lakefront in Wisconsin.  The campus is even prettier than I remember it:)  You can't tell by his expression in this picture, but Isaiah loves her so much:)

 





My heart is amazed and thankful that God ALWAYS proves himself faithful!

He is fully capable of bring beauty from the ashes and does it a million times over!  

He is able to weave these amazing friends, relationships, right directly out of our hurt!



Saturday, August 8, 2015

Why Heaven will be my eternal bora bora...

I've had a lot of time to think this summer...

In MANY ways my life (as well as some of yours) may  not be what you would have anticipated it being... and then again there are many ways it is more than I dreamed it could possibly be...

I never would have dreamed my life would include...

Losing a child...
Moving so many times...
Moving my children so many times...
Being married to a pastor...
Spending so much time away from my husband or my husband away from me...
Running an infant loss support group...

It can be easy to become discontent... or disappointed at times...

In our crazy social media driven society today, especially with facebook, instagram, and twitter blasting every one's "perfect and happy life" right in your face, it is easy to compare your life to others and become disappointed... discontent... and even disconnected...

Did you know that there have actually been studies that have confirmed that there is an association between Facebook use and depressive symptoms. (Not depression in the debilitating clinical sense, but a milder manifestation)  An article reported in TIME magazine showed the results of a scientific study where scientists studied 600 people who logged time on the social network and discovered that one felt worse after visiting the site- especially if they viewed vacation photos.   

On those days where you are still in your Jammie's at noon, when the kids are arguing,  where there have been tubs of juice spilled, multiple pairs of underwear to clean up (yay for potty training), you feel like you haven't had a shower or adult conversation in days... it can be easy to feel that maybe the grass could possibly be greener...

Or maybe it is one of those days where you missed a deadline at work, you had to waste hours of time in city traffic, you possibly lost a job, or you realized that friend you thought was a true friend, really maybe isn't... 

It is easy to long for something more... something better... maybe what some one else has or has done... dreaming for that to become your reality too...

(In all honesty,What they portray probably isn't completely their reality anyways... )

Whenever I feel that bitter little bugger of discontentment, rearing it's ugly head...
I think of Heaven...

(That is one thing that Samuel's life has given me... an eternal perspective... I am so so very grateful for that beautiful blessing amidst the pain of losing him... He has me longing for Heaven in a way that I had never experienced before)

Truly, I do... I think of Heaven... and  no matter what it is that maybe I feel I am missing out on... I focus on Heaven...

This world is like the tiniest of beginnings... while it feels like life might move slowly some days... This life is just the tiniest of dots, the start of the entire line of eternity... going on and on... FOREVER...

ALL THE THINGS WE LONG FOR OR WISH WERE DIFFERENT IN OUR LIVES... THEY PALE SO GROSSLY IN LIGHT OF ETERNITY...

That  beautiful trip to Tahiti...
Really I will have eternity in somewhere FAR MORE beautiful than Tahiti... Forever there...  It will be like waking up every single day in a place that is so much more beautiful and perfect than the best tropical paradise vacation  I can even imagine:)

That perfect body... Thank you Jesus, that we will be given new bodies in Heaven... perfect bodies... FOREVER... (on a personal note...for me, there will be...  no more kidney stones, pink eye, etc....:)  Yay!!!

That perfect marriage... (Who really has that anyways... two sinners married to one another... Ha!)
We will have that perfect Heavenly marriage... Christ married to the church... His followers... FOREVER... for all eternity...

The perfect chore helpers...(While I am sooooooo very thankful for all 7 of my kids, and so thankful for all of our possessions... With 9 of us... no matter what... we create a decent sized mess.) And sometimes the exhaustion sets in... But in Heaven, I hardly think the tedious job of  changing out seasonal clothing for the kids will be happening... nor the loads and loads of laundry... It will be a permanent vacation from the jobs that sadly take me away from my kids at times.  Can you imagine just worshipping Jesus and sitting at His feet... that being your only real job:):)

That perfect family relationship... Heaven... worshiping our Savior for all eternity... I have a feeling relationships in the sense that we have them now, will be a thing of the past...

That perfect HOME and manicured yard... I can not wait to see the mansion the Lord is preparing for me... Maybe Samuel will be the first one to show me around... CAN NOT WAIT!  That mansion is going to blow doors on any wonderful home or kitchen I could ever dream up here on earth!

That heart that is no longer hurting... He says in His word that He will wipe every tear from our eyes... Tears... no longer a thing to even worry about in Heaven... Can you imagine all the physical, emotional pain, and turmoil we feel in this life... NEVER AGAIN... Wow... just WOW!

Please hear me loud and clear... If your life contains great trips to Bora Bora every year... a beautiful 10,000 sq. ft. home... A near perfect marriage... I am not saying that is a bad thing... I am not saying anyone should not experience such wonderful things here on earth...    Truly I am happy for you...

What a special gift and blessing God has blessed with you with in this life.


 I am only saying for me... in this life...

There are many days that focusing on Heaven gives me just the perspective I need to put my heart back where it NEEDS to be...

I am only speaking from my heart...

I know that anything my heart may potentially be longing for here on earth... That Heaven is going to just blow it all out of the water...  times 100!  Have a blessed day friends!








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:)