Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Human video...

update:
The link to the video isn't working because the church decided to edit it a bit... I will repost it when I hear that it is up:)

Here is a copy of the human video that the St. Pauls youth kids did last Sunday that I posted about yesterday...

Still so touched and grateful for those precious people...


https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CuW8vCLeBH8

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Now that is caring from the heart...


This past weekend we were super blessed with the opportunity to go back to our home church (prior to seminary life) for their 150th celebration...

Greg was asked to preach at all the services Sunday... 

We even got to be a part of their 150th gala celebration dinner on Saturday...

It was a joy to be in the midst of precious friends once again:)

Today, to start the service the youth director/ 8th grade teacher, whom we had known well in our days serving there, started the service with a remake of a human video that Greg had done with the teens when he had first started serving there almost 10 years ago...

It was to the mercy me song... I can only imagine... Greg had started the tradition of using human videos there and they have continued doing them since we left...

It was beautiful seeing the kids act it out... They did a great job and then at the end it happened...

Picture after picture, the kids held up...
Sweet Pastor Krug, who had served with Greg there, but has since gone to Heaven not too long ago...

One by one... Saints who have gone before us... 

The previous pastor...
A members dad...
The sweet lady who had served lunch to the school kids... 
Another's older member...
The choir directors husband...

And then there it was... Our precious infant son Samuel...


The tears came ... From me... And as I looked down the row... From almost everyone of our kids...  

And not just us...(In fact it was precious... The youth director was choked up as he was introducing the human video ) 

We didn't lose Samuel while serving at this church...  We lost him years later while already serving in our first congregation in OK after the seminary...

But yet he mattered to them... 

We mattered to them... 

His precious life counted and had value to them even though he never lived outside of me for a moment... 

And for that precious time yesterday, this mama will be forever grateful... 

I am sure some might have thought... We can't include him... That is kind of inappropriate, a picture of a stillborn baby, a baby that was already dead... And that could have been the end of it...

 But not yesterday... Not for a moment, that young lady boldly held up the picture of my son already with jesus....  Without a bit of hesitation...


 What an impact on my heart!  I can not tell you what that means to still 6 1/2 years later to have someone mention him, show a picture of him, ask me to speak about him... 

To do the much harder thing, when at this point no one would have even expected him to even be mentioned...

And why is that so with mentioning? When you have been on the other side of things, when people clearly knew you when you were expecting, and yet even a week or two later, after his death couldn't mention it... Couldn't talk to you... You know that kind of boldness, caring, and  tender heart to willingly step out doesn't come naturally in the situations surrounding stillbirth... Yes, our son was born still...

 But he was still... born...

And you feel that with a sting time and time again... My baby didn't count to them...

And yesterday you feel it... But a totally different wonderful feeling surrounding your baby...

Yesterday I felt the body of Chrsit at work, in a BIG BEAUTIFUL way!!! Supporting still...
Loving still...
Being the hands and feet even to us as a pastors  family no longer in their midst on a daily basis... STILL...

That doesn't always happen and isn't taken for granted for a second...

What a gift to my heart right from the hand of God, who at this moment my Samuel, is getting to be in the presence of continually...

So very thankful for the kindness and love of people and for the amazing, ever present hope of Heaven...

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Family pictures...



As usual, on a holiday, I wanted to get some family photos and everyone was a good sport about it...
This was much warmer than the Christmas photo in the snow on the roof of the church!!!:) 
It is pretty rare that we are all dressed up at the same time, so we had to go for it:)


My favorite shot of my favorite people... 
How did I get so blessed to have these precious kids and land this special man?


Annnnnddd..... that is our Hopie girl... she cracks us up... What an expression:)
I am so thankful for a beautiful Easter 2015... 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Easter week... Holy Week...


I know this is a bit overdue... but at the pace we are running these days... I am thankful to get a chance to document anything... time is just zipping by...  We have jumped back into school after a 16 hour soccer tournament weekend... Super fun... but a bit exhausting:) 

We were so blessed with a beautiful Holy Week leading up to Easter... 
This was the altar on Good Friday at the Family service we had... It was pretty amazing and I am so thankful to be at church that is willing to think outside the box a little to make services even more meaningful to the members... 

Christ's death on the cross means everything to us... and obviously we don't need anything other than that to make Good Friday special... 

But I know the kids will remember laying down their chains at the foot of the cross and the sacrifice Christ gave to carry all our sins and burdens to the cross...



Hopie and Levi outside of church...


We were so blessed to be able to see some of Levi's biological family on Saturday... (I still am blown away and so thankful that God moved us closer to all of them by moving us to Illinois... what an added bonus:)

Yay!!!!  We FINALLY have made resurrection rolls... Thanks to our special company...

Every single year I say we will make them and then between all of the extra services with all the kids, it hasn't happened till this year... Super easy and super delicious....

We won't miss making them from  now on:)




Anna is totally smitten with this little one... It was pretty precious to watch!




Easter at Grandma and Grandpa's after the egg hunt with a bunch of cousins... It was a bit chilly but so much fun!

There was a lot of cousins running back and forth between the houses, the goats and trampoline...


Because Easter Sunday Greg is a bit busy, the kids and I had a wonderful Easter Breakfast up at church, went to the service... (loved hearing the beautiful Easter hymns:)  and then we hit the road for Grandma's... So it took till Monday for them to get a chance to find their own baskets:)  



Isaiah... not to thrilled with his peep horn... We couldn't help ourselves!:)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

1000th post



Just by happenstance I noticed that this is my 1000th post...

The Lord has taught me so much since we started this blog back in 2007 to keep friends and family updated on our move to the Seminary...

I never could have imagined all that we would walk through in the following 8 years...

How God walked us through moving our family away from such a precious community of friends at the seminary to our first congregation...

How God somehow sustained and carried us through the very lonely and devastating loss of our son Samuel...

How God wove into our hearts new passions and desires for adoption and serving the orphans in Uganda and Haiti...

How God  knocked our socks off by His amazing faithfulness and provision ALWAYS...

And how He  knew exactly what we need in moving our now family of 9 across the country again...

Don't ever for a moment think that He can't provide for you and move mountains to bring beauty from your ashes...

So I thought I would share 10 things today that the Lord has taught me since I started this blog 8 years ago...

And just so you know... I know that I won't ever be finished learning till I reach my heavenly home... What a work in progress I am... But I am so VERY thankful for His gentleness in teaching me new things...

So here we go... 10 bits of advice or lessons learned from the Lord by this busy, frazzled, grateful mama...

1.  Stop comparing... I think the comparison trap is one of most used tactics of the devil... "My car isn't as nice, my kids aren't as well behaved, my marriage isn't as fulfilling, my house is so much smaller, I wish I was smaller like her..."  Comparing ourselves with others breeds discontentment in our lives.  In this day and age with social media the draw to compare is even more present... I challenge you to step away from the comparison trap and begin working towards being thankful in all things... And remember, things aren't always as they appear... It is pretty easy now to portray a certain image to people who don't really know you in real life... Rest in the knowledge that God has plans all designed for you... specifically you... that no one else could fulfill.

2.  Trust that no matter the hardship He WILL bring beauty from your ashes   It is as if he can take and plant the shattered pieces of a broken heart and bring a new beautiful life forth from all the hurt that you experienced.  It possibly won't look like the life you had before... but it will be a new life with a richness that you didn't know before...
Know that no matter how alone you feel... HE IS ALWAYS THERE... Even in the darkest of times or when the Lord seems to be silent... Cling to the promises of His word.  Our feelings can come and go but His word is always true!    Never will I leave you, Never will I forsake you...


3.  Have fun and enjoy your kids.  It is so easy to get overwhelmed by all we want to teach our children.  We want to instill our values and faith, we want to fill them up with all of the best experiences so that they can be the best that God has for them to be.  It is easy to get consumed with all the world promotes as most important when it comes to raising kids...the world's view of success... But ultimately, it is so important to relax at times and to spend time having fun, not taking life or yourself too seriously and enjoying the precious children that God gave you... Time passes far too quickly and I don't want to look back realizing that I missed out on the best and most fun part of raising kids that God had available to me.

4.  Realize that when you have fun and enjoy your children, you are tying heart strings with them.  These have to be in place to be able to do the hard parts of parenting... the disciplining and training.  That way there is a firm foundation of love in place when the training times have to come along.

5.  Live for an audience of one... the ONE!!!  The easier we lay down our desires and hopes to measure up to what everyone else thinks the sooner we will experience TRUE JOY!  We are living for an audience of ONE... As long as we are doing truly what we feel God leading us to do... we don't have to aim to please man...  Living for Him is a far better place to be than striving to please the masses:)


6.  Stop judging and start loving.  Try to see others as he Lord sees them... a perfect 10!  Really we have no place judging till we ourselves are perfect... (and that will NEVER happen:) We need to try to take the plank out of our own eye before we attempt to take the speck out of someone else's eyes... We need to put on different glasses and stop looking through judgmental eyes, but rather with loving eyes...  Reaching out and loving our friends and neighbors is what we need to be about...

7.  Serve someone... A lot of times when we are struggling with the challenges of this life our eyes can be so self focused... Who am I kidding?  I think as humans our eyes are more often on ourselves than not... But when you put your focus on others and look for ways to serve someone else, usually our challenges seem to be put back into perspective...

8.  Be compassionate to others... Realize that almost everyone is struggling with something and we may not know the morning they might be having... Again, Love... Love... Love...

9.  Step out of your comfort zone and open your heart to things that stretch you or things you never thought possible... Taking that leap and step of faith will enrich your life far more than the worry or fear that might be holding you back...  Just go for it... He will be walking with you every single step of the way...

10.  Do not let your age... no matter young or old to hinder you from following the call you feel the Lord has put on your heart. I remember on my first trip to Uganda we visited one special needs home that had been started by two 19 year old girls and then the next day we visited an orphanage started by a woman in her 60's. God does not call the equipped... He equips the called and don't let anyone tell you that you are too young or too old to do anything that God has put on your heart!

I am constantly in awe and amazed at all the Lord teaches me and how much I yet have to learn... I would love to hear about some of the things the Lord has taught you lately... Keep resting in HIM friends!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

That's my zay!!!



The house has been full...
overflowing with extra teenagers all of this past week... The big boys Arizona friends are in town as well as two of my nieces... and other friends... you know they all had to meet the Arizona friends!  
And tonight we traded one teenage niece for the tween niece:)

And all amidst the added noise and fun this little man is learning how to continue to navigate the terrible twos...

Although I have NEVER called it the terrible twos...I actually LOVE this age and stage...

He is curious, funny as all get out, so affectionate, full of the hootspa, quite the bull dozer, learning to talk so well, so kind to Levi,  full of the best deep belly laughs, and a real JOY giver!!! 

All of this while learning...
You can't just whine for Anna because she is your favorite...
You can't climb into the cabinets and sneak candy...
You can't cry on and on and on and on... (you get the picture)
You can't throw tantrums...
You can't eat ALL day long...
You can't throw toys EVERYWHERE...
You can't just eat the frosting off a dunkin donut...
You can't stall bedtime by getting out of bed, time and time again...

Being two is hard work for both this little guy and his parents...  But so worth it!  :)

Everyday as I put Isaiah down for bed or nap I pray over him from head to toe....
I consider it a total joy and priviledge to be his mom... 
What a precious gift his birth mama gave us in choosing us to raise, love and get to experience life every day with him... I am forever grateful!


This is what happens when you are a 7th kid and your girl cousins get a hold of you and a flat iron:):)  He didn't seem to mind one bit:)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Welcome Spring... Well maybe not:)

The cousin crew at the Above Rubies land... 

My niece Ella is volunteering at this ministry and since we have never seen Nashville we thought we would head down to TN, visit her, my cousin, and take in the beautiful city of Franklin...



It doesn't take long and the fun starts happening... like immediately!  Family is a gift and these kids are getting their fill of cousin time these last few weeks:)



Jojo, loved the land where Ella is staying... I think he told me at least 5 times that He loved the country and said it was his favorite place!  I love my little Jojo's  heart for the outdoors:)


Selfies in downtown Nashville!


We were so thankful to be able to stay in Franklin with my cousin Cathy and family!
Franklin... such an incredibly charming city... I have always thought this part of the country was beautiful with it's rolling hills and horse farms .

They were so incredibly hospitable!  We had loads of laughs while playing games, enjoyed catching up over walks through the woods, and loved seeing our kids get to know each other better... 



The kids with their second cousins:)


And...
This is what we woke up to following morning after we arrived home...
Praise God we had clear roads traveling all the way home... 
I would say that we got about 6 inches of new fresh snow... It is beautiful, but thankfully it is melting...

This family is officially ready for Spring:)